We grew up in a big white house at 1721 Marburg Street in South Dallas. I lived there from 1928 until 1949, when I married. Four houses to the left of us were Southern Pacific Railroad tracks for freight trains and steam engines. To the right of us, there were three houses, and at that end of the block the Ervay streetcar ran on a track. The end of the line was just a few blocks south, so the motorman reversed the seats and moved his moneybox and other equipment in order to go in the opposite direction.
We often dressed in our best clothes and rode the streetcar downtown to shop at all the great department stores. Students could purchase a card good for 20 rides at a cost of 60¢, 3¢ a ride! We started from Sanger Bros. at Lamar and walked all the way to Titche-Goettinger at St. Paul. Mama even purchased her largest supply of groceries at Sanger Bros., and they delivered them to our home. My favorite visit was to the dime stores to pick out new coloring books and paper dolls.
On special occasions Dad put on his best suit and we rode downtown to see the latest movies, usually Mae West, W.C. Fields, Shirley Temple, or Will Rogers.
Our most exciting ride was when Mama took us to see our favorite cowboy movie star, Gene Autry, in person. There were so many screaming kids, they had to put them in two different theaters. My heart was pounding like crazy!
When we were in the seventh grade, in 1939, we rode the streetcar for the first time without an adult. Such maturity!
We even rode the streetcar on one of my first dates to a formal dance at the Masonic Temple for the Rainbow Girls. Can you imagine wearing a long evening dress and velvet cape on a streetcar?
After the War in 1945, there were very few automobiles to purchase and they had long waiting lists, so again we rode the streetcar to go swimming, to visit friends across town, to eat out at what few restaurants there were, and to go to the Fair Park Summer Musicals. We never gave it a thought, even though our destination required transferring to a second streetcar.
In 1944, when my twin sister and, I were seventeen, we went to Wee Saint Andrew’s Miniature Golf-Course in Oak Cliff—on the streetcar, of course. We had just started playing when I hit a golf ball right into the eye of a boy who was playing in front of us. It was awful! He was with two boy friends, and they had come to Dallas from Wichita Falls to spend the weekend. Since there were three of them and three of us, including our friend Jean, they wanted us to go out together. We said absolutely NOT! When we got on the streetcar to come home, we were amazed to see their old Model T Ford on the tracks behind us. They followed us all the way home. When we got off the streetcar, we ran to Jean’s front porch, and her mother came out to see what was going on. The guys stayed all evening, and we let them come back the next weekend, and actually dated them off and on for several years.
I loved the roar of the streetcar, and always felt fortunate because we knew we had a ride we could count on. I never understood why they did away with the wonderful old streetcar.
By Carolyn Selzer for Dallas County Pioneer Association’s Proud Heritage, Volume III.