Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Check Your Local Listings

Years ago, when people actually watched television shows on their television, it was necessary to know what was coming on when.  And the primary way to do that was to check your local listings.  That meant actual newspapers.

It was the 80's and without DVRs, the internet or program guides, the shows on the handful of available channels were difficult to keep up with.  So on an evening in a year like 1982, here's what your viewing options might look like in the DFW metroplex:

This was back when networks would show actual movies.  It used to be a thing.  You could have also seen actual TV shows like Square Pegs, M*A*S*H and Cagney & Lacey.  This was also the heyday of independent local channels.  In the 80's they were your go-to channel for for programming like Abbott and Costello movies, Godzilla films and a ton of arbitrary older content that you just don't find that much any more.

The programming of stations like these also consisted of a ton of classic TV reruns.  You'll notice that KXTX was airing the original Star Trek at 10:30.  In addition to shows like Hogan's Heroes and Little House on the Prairie (which were both also airing that night), Star Trek was a mainstay on Channel 39 for years and I spent a lot of my childhood staring at the space opera on that very channel.

That childhood was also spent watching quite a bit of Saturday morning cartoons.  So here's a look at what a Dallas area youngster had to choose from in 1982:

Again, this is the kind of thing that just isn't done anymore.  While we have entire networks devoted to showing cartoons 24/7 today, it wasn't always like that.  There was a time when cartoons were relegated to weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

In addition to a mega-block of the Smurfs, you also had old friends like Popeye, Spider-Man and Bugs Bunny.  If you want to see Bugs today you have to go to Six Flags.  That guy has practically disappeared.  At the time there was also a trend for live action shows to have animated counterparts.  That's why you had cartoon versions of The Dukes of Hazzard, Lavern & Shirley and Gilligan's Island in the form of Gilligan's Planet.

Saturday mornings were the best but cartoons were around the rest of the week too.  Let's turn over to Channel 21:

It's easy to forget how popular the Jetsons used to be.  It looks like the show was on 7 days a week.  KTXA also showed old favorites like The Little Rascals, a.k.a."Our Gang," He-Man and Inspector Gadget.  That's more than enough to prevent healthy, able bodied kids from going outside and playing.

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that there was TV before the 80's so as a bonus here's an ad for American's most trusted newsman, Walter Cronkite, in the 1960's on Channel 4 back when it was known as KRLD (it's now KDFW):

And that's the way it was...

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Review: Dairy Palace


 Years ago, as I kid, I showed Black Angus cattle at a variety of livestock shows across Texas.  Every summer brought us to the Van Zandt County Fair in Canton, TX and one of the definite highlights was getting burgers and ice cream at the Dairy Palace.  So it was with the high expectations of nostalgia that I return there for lunch.

The place has been in business since 1984 and has a reputation of serving real food with real ingredients.  And it's not just the livestock show crowd that fills the booths.  Every First Monday this is the place to be.  And of course, the Canton regulars and I-20 travelers keep the place hopping in between.

The menu is surprisingly extensive for a burger joint.  Sandwiches, salads, tacos and breakfast items are all in the mix as well as a daily special but, for me, the main event are the hamburgers.

But even then, there's a lot going on.  They grind their own beef in house but there's several more options.  They've got a big selection of wild game burgers including wild boar, elk, venison and duck.  On my latest trip I went with the Bison Burger:

Too bad it doesn't photograph anywhere near as good as it tastes because this thing was phenomenal.   The huge patty (it dwarfed the bun...not that I minded) was perfectly seasoned and clearly fresh off the grill.

One of their mantras is that they begin preparing your food after your order and "The little bit of wait will be worth it!"  But I thought the order was turned around fairly quickly...and I was there with a six year old!  And after the burgers, she was ready for dessert.

 The "Dairy" in Dairy Place means ice cream.  And in Texas, "ice cream" means Blue Bell.  You can get an assortment of frozen treats like banana splits, sundaes and shakes but sometimes you just want a scoop or two on top of a cone.  They also offer Plano based Henry's Homemade Ice Cream and Chef's Line Ice Cream if you want to try something different.

As you can probably guess, we left satisfied.  So if you're traveling along I-20 with an empty belly, make your way to Canton for some old fashioned refreshment.  And if the timing is right, pick up some antique "junk" at First Monday or stop by the Livestock Show to support youngsters like this little punk from the 80's:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tour of Duty

Sad Sack was a wartime comic strip about the misadventures of a well meaning goofball in the U.S. Army.  The strip was originally published in the military magazine Yank before becoming a comic book published by Harvey Comics.  I don't have a lot of info but at some point in the 70's Harvey published "Sad Sack U.S.A." featuring issues that focused on individual U.S. states...including Texas!

Again, I don't have a ton of info on the series.  I'm not sure how long it ran or how many states were featured.  Texas was issue #4 and other states like New York, Illinois, Washington and Michigan got their own issues.  I'd like to think they got around to all 50 states but for today we're just focused on their Lone Star State road trip:

Their isn't much of a story.  The premise seems to be that Sack, Sarge and Sadie have car trouble in the middle of Texas and need to walk to Dallas.  They weren't sticklers for geography in this book since they seem to start in the dessert and after a brisk hike end up in Big D:

I guess they showed up in October because Big Tex is out to welcome them.  No mention of the rest of the State Fair but from this point the locations are fast and furious, many of them only getting one panel.  After a quick stop to ride a nondescript roller coaster at Six Flags, the gang takes in the Fort Worth Convention Center and then decides it would be a good idea to head to Denison:

If you've never visited, you should.  Mainly because it's an important piece of Texas history but also so you can decide for yourself how good the likeness from this issue is.  Or you can just check out the pic from my last visit:

Not too shabby.  For some reason the crew heads right back to Fort Worth to see the Log Cabin village and then off to the panhandle for some Palo Duro Canyon sightseeing.   While they're up there they stop by Lubbock, Muleshoe and Happy, TX before heading south to San Antonio:

Like many of us do, Sack and his pals took some time to relax on the River Walk.  Now did this 1972 comic book inspire the filmmakers of the 1984 Dabney Coleman/Henry Thomas film Cloak & Dagger to set a scene on the River Walk?

Probably not, but I'd like to think so.  After a few drinks and some mariachi music, our intrepid explorers were finally willing to brave the humidity of Houston.  Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker who lets them know that Houston has a few surprises in store for them:

After a quick stop at the Battleship Texas it was beach time!  Sun, surf and sand greeting our weary travelers.

These guys just can't seem to sit still though because after a few beach shenanigans they began the long trek towards West Texas.  Anyone who's done that trip knows what a long haul it is.  Luckily, the gang found some interesting stuff along the way:

Just like Big Tex, the World's Largest Jackrabbit is colored all white in the comic.  I assume it's some weird publishing thing or a cost cutting measure or maybe they just mistakenly thought it was white.  For the record, here's what it looked like on my last trip:

Galveston, El Paso, Glen Rose and on and on.  Our trio or sightseers weren't slowing down and the cities, landmarks and attractions were piling up.  What could possibly bring this trip to its conclusion, you ask?

Yep, apparently Texas is so big that they ran out of pages before the gang could see it all.  I guarantee you don't see that kid of thing happen in New Hampshire comics.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Jake and Elwood Tour Texas

If you've traveled around any, you may have noticed that your old pals the Blues Brothers tend too hang out from place to place.  For some reason (don't ask me), tons of Jake and Elwood statues were commissioned and distributed across the country.  They pop up in bars, restaurants and places that can only be described as "miscellaneous." 

You can even still buy a pair if you've got an extra two grand lying around or try to get a better deal on eBay.  But for the thrifty sight seer that just wants to catch a glimpse of the boys, you're in luck.  They're no strangers to the Lone Star State.

Stroker's Ice House is biker bar in Dallas housed at the custom bike shop of Rick Fairless.  You might have seen it on TruTV's "Ma's Roadhouse."  It's got a ton of bizarre statues on top including dinosaurs, a hot dog man and...you guessed it:

There they are crooning to the bikers in some custom polka dotted threads.  The boys hold their own among other celebrity statues like Frankenstein, Dracula and Betty Boop.  It's getting crowded up there so let's head to the next stop.

I'm not exactly sure what "America's Vice Stop" is.  I had assumed that it's one of those places that sells vaping stuff to horrible people but their Facebook page seems to indicate that they sell fresh fruit and vegetables.  I don't know why that would be considered a "vice" though.  Regardless, though, our pals make an appearance:

The guys are atop a great big storage container (which is apparently for sale) from time to time but recently they've been M.I.A.  I don't know if it got too windy to be safe or maybe the store owners are just temporarily storing the boys while they come up with a better way to display them.  The Blues Brothers come and go at their own discretion and they're missing from our next stop:

A few years back there was a restaurant housed in the historic Collin County prison in downtown McKinney.  In keeping with the theme, the outside was decorated with our friendly felons.  The "Prison Bars & Grill" closed down and afterward the statues left for parts unknown.  But while they were there we shot video of the place:

I wouldn't be surprised to come across the guys again at some point in the future.  So keep your eyes out and maybe you'll see the them too.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dallas Strip Club

The Dallas Morning News was founded in 1885 and, despite a downturn of the newspaper industry in recent years, continues publication to this day.  A little simple math tells us that the paper celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1985 and, of course, they released a special celebratory issue.  And if we turn directly to the comics page (as we frequently do) we get a special surprise.

Several cartoonist whose work was published in the hundred year old publication drew some custom congratulatory doodles for the big event.

Steve Canyon was your standard square-jawed adventure strip that had a great long run from 1947 to 1988.  Here, Steve takes a moment to slap a potential assassin and salute the DMN!  (Fun Fact: In Poteet, TX you can see a mural of Steve Canyon character "Poteet Canyon" and while you're there stop in for the Strawberry Festival.)

Prince Valiant started in 1937 and continues to this day.  It's known for its sprawling, ambitious artwork supplied by a variety of artists over its impressive run.  John Cullen Murphy is the artist for this piece and started on the strip in 1970.  (Fun Fact: If you've ever heard the term "Prince Valiant Haircut," this is what it looks like.)

In the words of the Gilligan's Island season one theme song, "...and the rest!"  At the top we have Betty Boop and Felix the Cat in black tie to send their regards.  The two cartoon icons shared a comic strip in the 80's to cash in on nostalgia and the popularity of "funny animal" strips like Garfield.

Next is Hartland.  Remember Harltand?  Me neither.  And there is VERY little information about it online aside from the website of the strip's creator Richard Torrey who seems to have moved on to drawing children's books.  So don't expect a Fun Fact about this one.

And finally we have well wishes "On the Fastrack" which I think I remember.  It was around for almost two decades and seems to still exist in a modified form online but with cast changes and characters who age.  So it's kind of like Funky Winkerbean, except...well I guess it's just like Funky Winkerbean.

Sure, funny page superstars like Snoopy or Cathy or Garfield might not have put in an appearance but I think we can appreciate this eclectic group of heroes and goofs who took time out of their busy day to congratulate our hometown paper.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Cele Store

Behold the Cele Store!

It's located in the middle of nowhere in Manor, TX and has been featured in several films like a few of the Texas Chainsaw Massacres although since there have been several sequels and remakes, I'm not particularly sure which ones.

Its rustic exteriors and interiors make it perfect for period pieces like the Clint Eastwood/Kevin Costner film "A Perfect World":

And for the film "Secondhand Lions":

Both films also shot interiors at the store but when I visited it was closed so I couldn't take any inside shots. You'll just have to wait until I make my way out there again. Both films also happen to be very good and have the rarity of getting thumbs up on the blog!

So whenever you have some free time on your hands rent them both and have a Cele Store Double Feature!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wooden Stone

The Petrified Wood Gas Station in Decatur holds a place in the pantheon of Texas roadside attractions.  It's got the triple threat pedigree that we are always on the lookout for:  Science, History and Culture.  We'll start, as we frequently do, with the historical marker:

     "Local businessman E. F. Boydston (1888-1945) purchased this site, a former feed lot, in 1927 for $400. Recognizing a potential business opportunity in offering services to the traveling public, he built a wooden shed and gas station in 1927. Travelers were allowed to build campfires during overnight stays, and by 1931 Boydston added three wooden cabins with garages to the camp complex. The buildings later were faced with rock, and more cabins and garages were added in 1935. The original wooden gas station was covered with petrified wood in 1935 when the highway was widened and remained in operation by the Boydston family until 1988.
     The Texas Lunchroom, a one-room frame building, was built in 1929. Renamed the Texas Cafe in 1935 and faced with stone to match other buildings in the complex, it was enlarged to provide second-floor living quarters. Popular with local high school and college students, as well as families and the traveling public, it was closed in the 1960s after a highway bypass built west of town diverted traffic from this area. The cafe reopened in 1993. One of the few intact examples of tourist camps built throughout Texas in the mid-20th century, this property is significant for its association with the early development of automobile tourism."

 And we move on, as we frequently do, to the video.  Devin explains the awesomeness of this location: