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The Salvato Family Collection - Trip to the Houston Zoo

Dixie Salvato Flint

Silent | 1950s

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  •  The children take a ride on a small fire truck 
  •  The Pioneer Memorial Obelisk at Lake Overlook and Molly Ann Smith Plaza 
 
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This 1950s home movie shows the Salvato children accompanied by two women at the Houston Zoo. For the entirety of the film, the group spends time outside at Herman Park. The children take a ride on a fire truck around the Pioneer Memorial Obelisk, and the women walk around the park. Everyone takes a break on a park bench and eats snacks at a picnic table.
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.