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Legend of the Ding Dong Daddy
What is a Ding Dong Daddy & Dolly
This is a question most visitors to Dumas Texas ask after arriving in the county seat of Moore County, lodged in the northwestern top of the Texas Panhandle.
Let’s go back to the beginning…First of all, the man who developed the town was named Louis Dumas, and the town was his namesake. This took place in the late 1800’s, as the panhandle was one of the last areas of the State of Texas to be developed from the raw prairie.
Dumas, the town developer, stayed in the city with his name only a short time, but the name remains to this day. What began as a dusty crossroads on the prairie above the “big blue”, north and west of Amarillo, above the Canadian River, began to grow. The town was given little chance to survive, but the pioneer stock was hardy stuff, and they stuck it out. The small village was only 571 souls in the 1920’s and late in that decade, a man who was to become a moderately successful band leader and song writer, Phil Baxter, chanced upon Dumas. He spent a few weeks in Dumas getting acquainted and after he had a stake, continued his journey. Less than a year later Baxter penned the words and tune to a song which he named “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas”. The catchy song gained national recognition when Phil Harris, band leader for the Jack Benny Radio Show recorded the song.
Dumas, like many smaller towns, grew and prospered during the years prior to and during World War II. During this time several industrial plants had been constructed and the town boasted 2,117 populations in 1940.
Shortly after the end of WWII, local Dumas residents organized and began operations of radio station KDDD. The three D’s came from the song “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas”. KDDD used the song as its theme song and early radio station manager, and later owner, Ken Duke, commissioned an Amarillo commercial artist, Hut Hutson, to create an image for the Ding Dong Daddy of the song.
As a result, Hutson created the “Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas” caricature, complete with a radio microphone. The radio station copyrighted the caricature and used it as its trademark.
The little Ding Dong Daddy became popular and in the early 1950’s KDDD loaned the logo to the Dumas Chamber of Commerce for use in promoting Dumas, with the provision that the logo not be used by any commercial business other than to boost Dumas.
A few years later, the Chamber of Commerce created a counterpart, giving life to the Ding Dong Dolly from Dumas. Plastic pins of both the “Daddy” and “Dolly” have been given wide distribution over most of the world, as Dumas residents who travel hand out the small caricatures of plastic.
Today, the Windows on The Plains Museum has on display the original artwork of the “Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas”, along with an autographed copy of the sheet music by Phil Baxter. Also a copy on tape of a portion of a radio broadcast interview with the songwriter and KDDD’s Ken Duke made during the Dumas Dogie Day celebration in June, 1957.
So, you can see that there really is a “Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas” and holding or wearing on the “Daddy” pins gives the owner an attitude of being a part of the great heritage of the Panhandle and Dumas, Moore County, Texas!