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January 1, 2018

In the 1940s, Men Dressed in Short Shorts and Cowboy Boots Served Up Women at a Drive Through in Dallas

What’s funny is this isn’t a completely new idea in Dallas. In the 1940s, men dressed in short shorts and cowboy boots served up women at a drive through across the street from Love Field.

“At your service, ma’am” (AP Photo)

In 1940, Dallas was in a tizzy about the sudden fad of scantily-clad “girl carhops.” This scourge had made its way to Dallas from Houston, and in April of 1940, it was a newspaper story with, as it were … legs. For a good month or two, stories of sexy carhops were everywhere.

The girls started wearing uniforms with very short skirts — or midriff-baring costumes with cellophane hula skirts. Some of the women reported an increase in tips of $25 or more a week — a ton of money for the time.

The Dallas Morning News, Apr. 24, 1940.

The public’s reaction ranged from amusement to outrage. There were reports of community matrons who reported the “indecent” attire to the police department and demanded action. Other women were annoyed by the objectification of young womanhood. Lawmakers in Austin discussed whether the practice of waitresses exposing so much extra skin posed a health risk to consumers.

But it wasn’t until a woman from Oak Cliff piped up that something actually happened. She complained that she didn’t want to look at girls’ legs when she stopped in at her local drive-in — she wanted to look at men’s legs. Drive-in owners thought that was a GREAT idea, and the idea of the scantily-clad male carhop was born.

The Dallas Morning News, Apr. 26, 1940.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Apr. 28, 1940.

One might think that the woman behind this “equal ogling” campaign was sort of proto-feminist, until you get to the part where she said that the whole girl carhop thing was “wrong socially and economically and should not be tolerated” (DMN, Apr. 27, 1940) — not because of the skin flashed, but because men needed jobs, not girls. And that also raised hackles.

The Dallas Morning News, May 5, 1940..

The photo at the top (syndicated in papers via the Associated Press) ran in The Dallas Morning News under the headline: “Adonis and Apollo of Roadside Bring Trade to Daring Stand.” The caption:

  • “First large roadside stand Friday to bow to the demand of Dallas women and feature husky young male carhops in shorts was the Log Lodge Tavern at Lemmon and Midway where four six-footers found jobs. Above, in blue shorts, white sweatshirt and cowboy boots, Joe Wilcox serves Pauline Taylor who smiles her approval of the idea. Bound for another car is James Smith, at right.” (DMN, April 27, 1940)

There were other male carhops around town, some not quite so hunky. This guy — game as he was — really needed to reconsider his outfit.

Xenia Daily Gazette, May 3, 1940.

But back to the female carhops and their siren-like hold over their male customers. This was, by far, the best story to hit the wires:

The Dallas Morning News, July 16, 1940.

Top image originally appeared in The Dallas Morning News on April 27, 1940, and was then syndicated by the Associated Press. The Log Lodge Tavern was located at 7334 Lemmon Avenue, which was across from Love Field and adjacent to the Log Lodge Tourist Court.

(This original article was written by Paula Bosse on Flashback Dallas)


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