Hello Girls

Women operate a telephone switchboard in an undated photo from the Denton Public Library’s collection. The Denton telephone office decided in 1918 to continue having the “Hello Girls” give the time of day and give wake-up calls.

100 Years Ago

From July 1918

Several arrests for bright auto lights

Several arrests were made by City Marshal Swinney and Night-watchman Tom Price Tuesday night for operating automobiles with glaring lights.

The officials announced a few days ago that the use of glaring lights on cars in the city must be stopped, and the campaign against the practice was begun Tuesday night. As a result, several local autoists have been summoned to appear at the city hall. Marshal Swinney announces that every autoist running with bright lights is to be arrested.

Denton ‘off-limit’ for military aviators

For several weeks Denton has been avoided by airplanes from Love Field and it transpires now that the avoidance of the local field was under orders from the commandant. No planes from Love Field have alighted here since the order was issued.

The order is reported to have been given because of an alleged discourtesy to a visiting aviator on the part of an individual at the landing field. A lone aviator from Love Field was forced to land here two weeks or more ago, according to this story. When he landed he asked a passerby in a car to let him ride to town to get gasoline. The man refused the request and jeered at the aviator. On his return to Dallas he reported the incident and Denton was scratched off the list of landing places authorized.

Denton citizens were at a loss to know who the person could have been who mistreated the visitor and it was declared he must have been a passer-thru. “Either a German spy, a German sympathizer or a plain fool” was the description suggested by one Denton man.

‘Hello Girls’ to continue giving out information

The Denton telephone office will not discontinue the practice of telling the time of day, the location of fires, waking people at night and giving other information for the present time at least, Manager E. H. Eagan said Wednesday, but it is probable the practice will be stopped eventually. Some other towns, notably Dallas, have discontinued the practice to increase efficiency.

Mr. Egan estimated there are between 700 and 800 calls every day for the time of day. The calls for the location of a fire “balls up” the telephone traffic and makes sending any important information almost impossible. Regular requests to wake up subscribers number about 40 and some ask to be awakened several times a night for the purpose of giving medicine.

75 Years Ago

From July 1943

Books added to library

A number of new books have been bought by Mrs. Bess McCullar for the negro library, which is sponsored through the Denton County Library.

Allotted $60 by the City Commission, with which to purchase the books, Mrs. McCullar has bought a number of juvenile and religious books, adult fiction such as One Foot in Heaven, and books on negro leaders, such as Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington and Negro Builders and Heroes.

The library which is open to all colored people for use, is located in the Jones Undertaking Parlor, and Stella Garrett is in charge.

Roy Acuff

Roy Acuff, second from left, performs with the Smoky Mountain Boys at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., in November 1943 — a few months after Acuff and his band played a show in Denton. From left are Lonnie Wilson, Acuff, Jimmy Riddle, Pete Kirby and Velma Williams, partially hidden behind Kirby.


WSM GRAND OLE OPRY presents, IN PERSON — ROY ACUFF and His Smokey Mountain Boys. With Pap and His Jug Band; Rachel & Oswald; Jackie & Jessie. And in addition, Fiddlin’ Art Wooten; Uncle Dave Macon; the Dixie Dewdrop and other Grand Ole Opry stars. Denton (One Night Only), Tuesday, July 27th, Under Big Tent at Old Cotton Yard on East Hickory Street. Show starts at dark. Admission: Children under 12 years old, 30 cents; Adults, 60 cents. Reserved seats, 25 cents extra.

Hartlee control room keeps check on planes

Set off on one side of the field proper at the Hartlee Flying Field is a small unimposing-looking building that houses one of the most important parts of the training program for the would-be pilots. The person who sits in that small building has the job of knowing at all times where every plane is, who is in it and how long it has been gone.

Two girls, Misses Vale Jackson and Ruby Belew, alternate at this job dispatching the planes during the training periods and in their spare time, they fill in color charts that are kept for each student to show his progress.

When a plane is ready to leave the field, usually the student and sometimes the flight instructor will come to the dispatching tower and give the number of the plane, the name of the student, the name of the instructor if the flight is a dual one, and the time it takes off (all watches are synchronized with that of the chief supervisor, H.W. Bahman).

As each plane has about a three-hour supply of gasoline, a searching party will begin looking for the plane if it has not returned at the end of that time.

In between dispatching planes and checking them in, the girls in the dispatching tower are busy putting the instructors’ opinion of how the student executes each maneuver each day on a check sheet; blue is used to fill in a tiny square of satisfactory execution and red for unsatisfactory execution.

50 Years Ago

From July 1968

Denton’s passenger train service ends

From now on, if you see a passenger train in Denton, it will only be a ghost from the past.

At 1:30 p.m. Friday, the Dallas stub of the Texas Chief pulled out of the Santa Fe station in Denton, the last passenger train which will ever pass through Denton again.

Not since a wood-burning Texas & Pacific engine chugged into Denton on April 1, 1881, which was 87 years ago, has the city been without passenger train service.

Although it was an historic passing, and although most of those who made the last trip out of Denton to Gainesville and points beyond thought it was a sad day, the discontinuance of passenger train service is really a mark of the progress made in transportation since 1881.

Everyone has at least one car now for short trips and jetliners are incomparably faster for long ones.

Leslie Shelton, 10, flew on a jet long before she rode her first train Friday.

John E. Weeks Jr., who will become assistant news director at North Texas State University this fall, bought the last passenger train ticket out of Denton. Weeks, a long-time railroad buff, got his ticket on No. 116 to Gainesville just in time to catch the train.

After unloading at Gainesville’s depot, the crew pulled the last passenger train from Denton into the yard at a fast clip.

Ironically, the crew members had to hurry to catch a bus back home.

25 Years Ago

From July 1993

Cochran leads effort to save historic depot

Mike Cochran once earned a plaque called the Alamo Award. It was for his valiant effort to save a historic building, the old Texas Woman’s University gym, from demolition.

He failed.

Today his battle cry could be “remember the gym.” He has turned his attentions to saving the 112-year-old Union Pacific Railroad freight terminal on East Hickory Street from the wrecking ball.

And he’s looking for help to assure victory this time.

The terminal, built in 1881, belongs to the Union Pacific and they can tear it down as soon as a demolition permit is issued, according to Jackie Doyle, city of Denton building inspections supervisor. It does not sit in a historic district protected by city ordinances.

“You hate to see a structure that has been in service that long go down,” Mr. Cochran said. “We’ve been in contact with Union Pacific. They have an office that handles donating old structures to non-profit agencies. We’re trying to find some local organization to take it on.”

Main Street program director Jane Biles said the city Landmark Commission members will discuss the possibilities for the depot at the Monday night meeting.

— Compiled from the files of the Denton Record-Chronicle by DJ Taylor

DJ TAYLOR resides in the Sanger/Bolivar area. He can be reached at 940-458-4979 or djtaylortx@centurylink.net.

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