Cowtown Yoostabes: Cars, Cows, and Kilowatts

Here’s another six-pack of Cowtown yoostabes.

corner mccarthy 1

magers 1933 cdThe McCarthy Building (1927) at 2222 North Main, with its ornate brickwork and red clay tile roof, in 1933 yoostabe Cliff Magers’s North Side Chevrolet dealership.

mccarthy2Today the building serves as a billboard for Joe T. Garcia’s.

convert packardAnd this building (1925) at 1204 West 7th Street began life as a Packard auto dealership.

packard 26

ransom 45 cdFrom the 1930s into the 1960s the building housed H. B. Ransom’s car dealership. More recently the building yoostabe the offices of the Hyder family and of Fort Worth Weekly. Today it houses advertising and energy companies. (In the 1926 city directory note the LAmar telephone exchange.)

convert masonic dairy barn 1915This building (1915) at the Masonic Home and School (1899) on Wichita Street yoostabe the orphanage’s dairy barn. It was converted into the industrial arts shop.

silowhite dairy 17 21And near the intersection of Oakland Boulevard and I-30 this yoostabe a grain silo of W. F. White’s White Lake Dairy. The White Lake Dairy ad from 1917 locates the dairy a mile north of the Oakland interurban stop. The 1921 ad congratulates the Texas Hotel on its opening. (The silo is not really made of brick. The concrete is textured to look like brick.)

Reddy Kilowatt slept here. Well, sort of. Maybe he napped a bit after you closed your refrigerator door. Yes, this building (1926) on Race Street in Riverside yoostabe a power substation of Fort Worth Power & Light Company. It is now a residence.

substation collard 1928Still on the East Side, every school day in the late 1950s I walked past this anonymous little red brick building on Collard Street—still unpaved then—on my way to D. McRae Elementary. The little building hunkers now unnoticed and unused, but once it hummed—literally—with purpose: Fort Worth Power & Light Company built it as an electricity substation in 1928. After Fort Worth Power & Light merged with Texas Electric Service Company, the little substation helped Reddy Kilowatt “cook your meals, turn the fac-t’ry wheels, . . . wash and dry your clothes, play your ra-di-os.”

All together now:

Reddy Kilowatt-Music-LoResCrave more Kilowatt? Here’s fifteen seconds of a television commercial:

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Posted in Advertising, Architecture, Cowtown Yoostabes, Downtown, Downtown, All Around, East Side, Life in the Past Lane, North Side | Leave a comment

Leonard’s Department Store: A Buy-Gone Era

It was as big as a mall before we knew what a mall is. It was as well stocked as a shopping center before we knew what a shopping center is. And it was all in a single store.

leonard toylandIf you lived in Fort Worth—or even in a neighboring county—during the half century from 1920 to 1970, you probably have memories of Leonard’s Department Store: of riding its subway, of passing the legless street vendor on the sidewalk outside the store, of exploring the store’s seemingly endless departments, of throwing Hasbro hissy fits until your parents let you ride the Santa’s Rocket Express monorail in Toyland at Christmas. (Photo from Lauren Leonard.)

leonard 1949 cdLeonard’s called itself a “one-stop shopping center.” Hard to argue with that boast. Indeed, at Leonard’s you could buy a piano, a petticoat, or a packet of pumpkin seeds. A fur coat or a windmill. Leonard’s made its own pasta and candy. It even had its own creamery to make dairy products. It roasted its own coffee, baked its own bread, put its own Leonard’s brand on products: laundry detergent, bicycles, freezers. You could smoke a Leonard’s brand cigar while pushing a Leonard’s brand lawn mower lubricated by Leonard’s brand motor oil. Leonard’s contained a beauty salon, a grocery department, an auto service department, a farm department. Leonard’s even printed its own script as store currency.

leonard 1916 cdThe sprawling kingdom of commerce that we remember began humbly. John Marvin Leonard was born in Cass County in northeast Texas in 1895. His parents briefly operated a small general store in Linden. By 1915 Marvin Leonard was in Dallas, clerking for Lee W. Gardiner in Gardiner’s salvage and grocery business for $27.50 a week. Each morning before dawn Leonard and Gardiner went to the Dallas rail yards to buy unclaimed freight to sell at a low profit margin. (Green Thomas Leonard, listed above in the 1916 Dallas city directory as a painter at Dallas Coffin Company, was the eldest brother. Green and Marvin had the same address.)

leonard passportIn 1917, after the United States entered World War I, Marvin Leonard tried to enlist in the Army, but poor vision disqualified him. Instead he joined the Red Cross and applied for a passport for England and France. But the war ended on November 11, 1918, before Leonard was sent overseas. Within days Leonard moved to Fort Worth, beyond the sales territory of his mentor, Gardiner.

In Fort Worth Leonard bought the stock of a merchant who was going out of business. A month after the war ended, John Marvin Leonard on December 14, 1918, opened his own store at 111 North Houston, west of the courthouse, taking over the space of Texas Salvage and Storage. Leonard had learned his lessons well from Gardiner: On its first day the first Leonard’s store sold $195 ($2,900 today) in merchandise—mostly canned goods.

leonard 2 interiorsThe store measured just twenty-five by sixty feet. In the top photo Marvin is on the left wearing a white apron and holding a sack. In the bottom photo Marvin is on the left with hand on hip. Behind him is brother Green. (Photos from Lauren Leonard.)

leonard 1920 cdYoungest brother Obadiah Paul joined John Marvin in 1919, and the store became “Leonard Brothers.” In 1920 Marvin and Obie were living above the store. Brother Green Thomas also worked at the store but lived on Arlington Heights Boulevard (Camp Bowie Boulevard).

leonard 9-24-19This September 24, 1919, Star-Telegram ad lists the Leonard brothers among dozens of grocers selling a Quaker Oats cooker. I have enlarged listings of three merchants we still remember.

leonard classified 5-21-20This modest classified ad is from the May 21, 1920 Star-Telegram.

leonard salvage 10-19-20By October 19 the ads were bigger.

leonard prunes 1-30-21By January 30, 1921 the brothers had apparently cornered the market in California prunes.

leonard groceries 6-9-22By June 9, 1922 the store no longer advertised salvage.

leonard 1930 cdThe brothers prospered and expanded their stock beyond salvage merchandise and groceries.

second storeIn 1930 the brothers bought the block two blocks south of their original location and built a store that covered the block. Leonard’s had become the dominant retailer in Fort Worth. (Photo from Down Historic Trails of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.)

leonard pete 46By 1946 few shoppers would dispute the store’s claim to offer “everything you need under one roof.” (Ad from Pete Charlton’s “The Lost Antique Maps of Texas: Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Volume 2” CD.)

Leonard exteriorBut Fort Worth continued to grow, and so did Leonard’s. In 1948 the brothers greatly expanded their retail realm—to six city blocks. (Photo from Lauren Leonard.)

greater leonards

By 1950 Leonard’s had become “Greater Leonard’s.” (Photo from Down Historic Trails of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.)

leonard 48 fishingThe store’s advertising also expanded. This 1948 ad was in Fort Worth Press sports editor Pop Boone’s annual fishing special section.

leonards 1960

The 1960s brought more change. The M&O subway opened in 1963. In 1967, one year shy of the store’s golden anniversary, Charles Tandy bought Leonard’s Department Store for $8.5 million. The store (and its subway) continued to operate under the Leonard name until 1974, when Tandy sold the store to Dillard’s Department Stores. The M&O subway made its last run on August 30, 2002. (Ad is from the 1960 city directory.)

faces leonards

leonard obit 8-27- dmnJohn Marvin Leonard died on August 26, 1970 at age seventy-five. Obadiah Paul Leonard died on December 25, 1987 at age eighty-nine. The Leonard’s Department Store Museum is at 200 Carroll Street. Clip is from the August 27 Dallas Morning News.

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Posted in "Read All About It", Advertising, Downtown, Downtown, All Around, Heads Above the Crowd, Life in the Past Lane | 8 Comments