I love learning about history. Not the history you learn in textbooks, necessarily, although knowledge of those things is an important background. I love the little things. The obscure things. Things important to the people of a specific time and place but not noted by the country or the world. That’s why I love the Dallas History Conference.
This year we learned all kinds of cool things—about the fact that SMU had a medical and pharmaceutical school that opened and closed its doors before the undergraduate liberal arts school had its first class, about the red light district in Dallas from 1910-1913 and the efforts that brought about its demise, about the outlaw Shilo Scrivnor, about the long-forgotten Long’s Lake pleasure park, and about “Dad” Garrett and his inventions. What? You haven’t heard of most of that?
Precisely! Isn’t that fun? While none of those actual topics may find their way into my stories, I learned lots of little things—like the name of one of the biggest employers in Dallas in the early 1900s, several bank robberies that occurred in Dallas in the late 1910s and early 1920s, what hospitals were up and running in Dallas in the early 1900s and some of early medical men whose legacies remain today. I learned some of the history of traffic signals and radio stations and fire and police alarms and an African-American newspaper. Tidbits that can enhance a story and that are just plain fun to know!
Here’s a bonus for you: Did you know that the first car in Dallas was delivered by train to Terrell then driven to Dallas? It took 5 hours and 10 minutes to make that drive!
Someday I’ll have more time to research on my own, but gleaning from the research of others is an amazing thing, too. I’m so glad I live in a place where I can take advantage of that!