Texas Bookbindery

It is a wonder that Oak Cliff is, to this day, home to a bookbindery. 

The Book Doctor on West Davis is sort of like a telephone repairman. Books can be repaired, but there’s little call for it unless they’re antiques or of irreplaceable sentiment.

But in the mid-20th Century, before all these screens, bookbindery was in demand. The Dallas Public Library had a mending department, where torn pages were patched using tissue paper. Seriously damaged books were sent to the Texas Book Bindery in Arcadia Park. There they were rebound, the pages trimmed and the covers embossed with gold lettering.

On Dec. 29, 1962, all of the Texas Book Bindery’s 67 workers were taken to the hospital after fumes from a gas heater knocked out 16 of them. Five ambulances were called to the one-story sheet-metal building at 714 N. Justin Ave.

The building filled with gas a little after noon that day, and workers, who were mostly women, started dropping one by one.

“Some women were lying on the front porch, and one was across the backseat of a car,” fire captain Joe Hardman told the newspaper. “A lot of the women, 12 to 15 maybe, were pretty sick, and some had a hard time breathing.”

They were given oxygen and rushed to the hospital, while others were taken by car. Everyone recovered. 

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.