A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 15, 2010
“Downtown Dallas” (joke punchline)

Texas has much real estate, but few parcels as valuable as the properties located in downtown Dallas. A popular joke from the 1950s usually has a woman asking a Texas millionaire if he’s into oil, or has much cattle, or has much land. Another version has three men (perhaps playing poker), and the other two tell that they own thousands of acres of land. The Texan replies that he owns about 35 acres of land. The woman (or men) ask what the land is called (or where it’s located), and the Texan replies, “Downtown Dallas.”

In the 2000s, the joke involved a Jewish Texan saying that he owned “Downtown Dallas,” and the joke appeared on Jewish websites. U.S. President Ronald Reagan told a version of the joke to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s.


Google Books
The Supervisor’s Journal
By American Railway Supervisors Association
v. 1-6 - 1954
Pg. ?:
“Tell me, are you an oil man?”
“Nope.”
“Cattle?”
“No. ma’am.”
“How about real estate?”
“Well, I reckon, I have about 36 acres.”
“That doesn’t spund like much,” the lady commented dubiously.
“Maybe not,” the Texan said slowly, “but my 36 acres are called downtown Dallas.”

25 April 1957, Rock Valley (IA) Bee, “Only One Opinion” by Paul Dean, pg. 1, col. 1:
The best story I’ve heard in a long time—that doesn’t have to be cleaned up for our readers—is the one about the tall, distinguished looking gentleman who was sitting in a restaurant reading a menu when a woman came over and interrupted him by saying “you’re so tall and hat sort of thing that I thought possibly you are a Texan?”

“I am a Texan, maam,” the old boy said.

The woman was a nosey gal as you’ll see and she asked him if he was one of those fabulous Texans that was loaded with money.

“I have a comfortable income maam,” the diner said.

The woman asked if he was an oil-millionaire and he said no. Her question asking him whether he owned cattle got the same courteous reply and she got the same answer when she asked if he was a huge landowner.

He said, “I do own a little land in Texas.”

She asked him how much. It was her idea that a “little land in Texas” meant at least a million acres and she was taken aback when he said “35 acres.”

She was beginning to doubt his wealth when she asked him what he called his little 35 acre plot until he replied.

“Some people call it Downtown Dallas.”

22 May 1957, Sandusky (OH) Register-Star-News, “Much Suffering Goes On Through Casual Joke” by Doc Quigg, pg. 12, col. 5:
For instance, a Texas millionaire comes to New York and goes to a nightclub where he meets a lady who guesses from his hat where he’s from and the conversation goes like this:

“Hi, are you from Texas?” “Yes, ma’am.” “You one of those rich Texans?” “Reckon so, ma’am.” “You in oil down there?” “No, ma’am.” “Oh, you own a great, big ranch?” “No, ma’am.” “You don’t own any property?” “Only about 40 acres, ma’am.” “Where’s that?” “Downtown Dallas.”

13 August 1957, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, “Heel Who Mentioned High Heels” by Inez Robb, pg. 4, col. 1:
If it isn’t now, I have a hunch it will be, like the current one about the Texan, (If I hear it again, I’LL SCREAM!) who explained to a visiting fireman that he wasn’t an oil, timber or cattle baron. “All I own is 30 acres,” he explained, “in downtown Dallas.”

Google Books
The Investment Dealers’ Digest
v. 23, nos. 26-34 - 1957
Pg. 100:
“You must own an awful lot of land, then. How much is there?”

“Just thirty-two acres.”

“Thirty-two acres,” repeated the babe. “That doesn’t sound like much, at all. What do you call it?”

“Downtown Dallas.”

7 April 1958, Janesville (WI) Daily Gazette, “Dinner Stories,” pg. 6, col. 2:
At a dinner party one evening, a lady was inroduced o a tall, rangy Texan.

“Oh, are you one of those rich Texans I’ve heard so much about?” gushed the lady.

“Wal, ah guess so,” answered the other.

“Tell me, are you an oil man?”

“Nope.”

“Cattle?”

“No, ma’am.”

“How about real estate?”

“Wal, I reckon. I have about 36 acres.”

“That doesn’t sound like much,” the lady commented dubiously.

“Mebbe not,” the Texas said slowly, “but my 36 acres are called downtown Dallas.”

Google Books
The Public Speaker’s Handbook of Humor
By Helen Eisenberg and Larry Eisenberg
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
1967, 1972
Pg. 145:
Valuable Property.
Yes, there was a Texan who made his wealth on only thirty acres. “They call it ‘Downtown Dallas,’” he says.

Google Books
Nothing down for the 90’s:
How to buy real estate with little or no money down

By Robert G. Allen
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1990
Pg. 27:
Three wealthy old poker buffs were playing a very important game. The stakes were high. After several hours of playing, there came a hand in which all three of them had been dealt excellent cards. The antes increased, and finally each of them ran out of (Pg. 28—ed.) cash and began to gamble with the deeds to their various real estate holdings. The rancher from Montana began the last round of raises by ledging his enire 10,000-acre ranch, including all of his cattle and equipment. The oil barron from Oklahoma met the challenger by pledging his entire 2,000 acres of oil-producing wells with all of his oil derricks and equipment. The wealthy Texan ended the bidding by offering his seven acres of ground in Texas.

“Seven acres!” gasped the other two partners. “Here we have pledged thousand of acres, and you expect us to accept your measly seven acres?

“Yup,” replied the Texan. “My land is right in the middle of downtown Dallas.”

Google Books
Translating History:
30 Years on the Front Lines of Diplomacy with a Top Russian Interpreter

By Igor Korchilov
New York, NY: Touchstone
1999
Pg. 349:
Reagan: I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you a joke about the way our people look at land. Texas is our biggest state. It has ranches that take up hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Sometimes rich farmers from Texas or the ranch owners go to New York to have some fun. And, of course, there are ladies of the evening who want to meet them. So one of these girls one evening meets one of these Texas ranchers and asks him, “How big is your ranch?” And the rancher says, “Thirty-five acres.” And the girl says, “Thirty-five acres! And you call it a ranch!” And then the rancher says: “Yeah, but it’s the whole of downtown Dallas!”

Jewish Indy
‘’What’s the tradition?’’
Posted Sunday, January 24 (2001?) @ 18:45:33 EST
(...)
Two Texans are sitting on a plane from Dallas and an old Jewish Texan is sitting between them.  The first Texan says, “My name is Roger.  I own 250,000 acres.  I have 1,000 head of cattle and they call my place The Jolly Roger.”

The second Texan says, “My name is John.  I own 350,000 acres.  I have 5,000 head of cattle and they call my place Big John’s.”

They both look down at the Jewish man who says, “My name is Irving and I own only 300 acres.” Roger looks down at him and say, “300 Acres?  What do you raise?” “Nothing” Irving says.
“Well then, what do you call it?” Asked John.  “Downtown Dallas.”

Google Groups: alt.humor.jewish
Newsgroups: alt.humor.jewish
From: “Joseph Toubes”
Date: Wed, 02 Oct 2002 01:45:31 GMT
Local: Tues, Oct 1 2002 7:45 pm
Subject: Texas

On a plane, headed for Dallas-Fort Worth, two boisterous Texans are sitting in the aisle and window seats, with an old Jewish man between them.

The first Texan says, “My name is Roger. I own 250,000 acres. I have 1000 head of cattle and they call my place “The Jolly Roger.”

The second Texan says, “Well, you can call me John. I own 2 million acres, with 5000 head of cattle. Folks call my place Big Johns.”

They both look expectantly at the old Jewish man who finally offers, “My name is Irving Mendelbaum, and I own, I think, 500 acres. Maybe a little less.”

Roger looks down at him and says, “500 Acres? What the hell can you raise on 500 acres?”

“Feh! I don’t raise nottink”, replies Irving.

“Well, then, what do you call it?” asked John.

“Oy, vat should I call it?” replies Irving. “I guess, Downtown Dallas”.

Google Books
Humour across frontiers, or, Round the world in 80 jokes
By Richard D Lewis
Warnford, Hampshire: Transcreen Publications
2005
Pg. 140:
A Texan was being interviewed by a New Yorker, whose daughter he wanted to marry.

“So you’re from Texas?”

“Yep.”

“So you must be na oilman?”

“Nope. Don’t have no oil.”

“No oil? Oh well, I suppose you’re a cattleman.”

“Nope, don’t own a single steer.”

“No oil and no cattle! Well then I suppose you must be a big landowner.”

“Nope. I jast have 10 acres.”

“10 acres! And you a Texan! Where are these 10 acres?”

“They call it downtown Dallas.”

The Rabbi Candy Box
Monday, December 14, 2009
Owning Downtown Dallas - Joke
Two Texans are sitting on a plane from Dallas and an old Jewish Texan is sitting between them. The first Texan says, “My name is Roger. I own 250,000 acres. I have 1,000 head of cattle and they call my place The Jolly Roger.”

The second Texan says, “My name is John. I own 350,000 acres. I have 5,000 head of cattle and they call my place Big John’s.”

They both look down at the Jewish man who says, “My name is Irving and I own only 300 acres.” Roger looks down at him and say, “300 Acres? What do you raise?” “Nothing” Irving says.
“Well then, what do you call it?” Asked John. “Downtown Dallas.”
Posted by Rabbi Avi Rapoport at 8:02 PM

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Monday, March 15, 2010 • Permalink