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The Salvato Family Collection - Dixie’s Birthday Party

Dixie Salvato Flint

Silent | 1950s

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TAMI Tags
  •  USS Balao, SS-285, in Galveston 
  •  Children swim at the Ritz Motel in Dickinson 
  •  Dixie’s birthday party 
 
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This compilation of home movies from the 1950s begins with footage of the USS Balao submarine, one of the most important ships during World War II. The vessel made numerous goodwill visits to ports in the southern United States during the 1950s. (The submarine also starred in Blake Edwards’ 1959 film, Operation Petticoat, featuring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.) The next clip shows Dixie and Jimmy Salvato swimming at the Ritz Motel, owned by their father, Peter Salvato. The last clip captures Dixie Salvato’s backyard birthday party in Dickinson. The children play outside on the slide and jungle gym.
The Salvato family played an integral role in the early development and community of Dickinson, located about 20 miles northeast of Galveston. Peter Salvato, born in June of 1911 to Joseph B. Salvato Sr. and Dominica Cucchia, frequently appears in this collection of home movies with his young children, Dixie and Jimmy. He had seven other siblings, including Joe, Sam, Mike, Tony, Lena, Katy, and Sister Mary Henry. 
 
Peter, Mike, and Joe Salvato operated numerous night clubs in Dickinson. They partnered with Anthony J. and Victor J. Fertita, another notable business family, on the Cedar Oaks Club. They also worked with Sam and Carlos Emmite on the Dickinson Social Club, located on Farm to Market Road 517.
 
Besides night clubs, Peter Salvato owned and operated other businesses, such as auto shops, service stations and restaurants. One of his operations seen throughout this collection of home videos is the Ritz Motel and Cafe. The Salvato children often spent time swimming in the pool, while the adults sat and lounged on the patio. 
 
In 1957, State Attorney General Will Wilson began a massive campaign of raids in Galveston County, ultimately closing around 47 night clubs, casinos, and brothels for illegal activity. Galveston and its surrounding cities had become known as the Free State of Galveston during the 1920s due to the prevalence of vice-oriented businesses and lax law enforcement. Venues across the county, including the Cedar Oaks Club and Dickinson Social Club, lost their licenses for violating gambling and liquor laws. The move effectively ended the Free State of Galveston, gravely impacting the city’s tourism industry.