Downtown Wichita Falls, Texas, in the mid 1940’s was a bustling metropolis for a boy of 7 just away from the farm and ranch community where he was born. My father, a cook and cowboy by trade, had just started as one of the first cooks for the Casa Manana restaurant in 1947. He moved us to an apartment on Ohio Street, right across from the Gem Theater, between 7th and 8th Streets. It’s here that we would stay for the next three years. The Gem Theater became a magic palace for a young mind. But it had to share that distinction with the rest of the magic that was Wichita Falls. I attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior High, and belonged to the Boys Club on 6th Street. Please join, and share your stories and pictures through a Guest Blog, of early Wichita Falls - or your home town. Contact me at or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Views From The Past: Wichita County, Texas

It has taken 8 years for this book to happen, thanks to all of the great people who have sent me photos over the years. There are so many wonderful memories in this book: Funland, Short's Pig Stand, Westmoreland Pool, and Sand Beach. There are photos of streets that no longer exist and places that are no longer there: Underwood's and Brownie's BBQ, Tac Burrito, Tastee Freeze. There are photos of the 1979 tornado, police and firemen, fires and wrecks, churches and schools. Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.

Views From The Past (Pictorial History)
“Wichita County, Texas”
By Julie Williams Coley
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-1541217843
Price $26.95
612 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“History of Wichita Falls, Texas In Pictures.”

This is the third volume the author has collected with photographs depicting the long history of Wichita Falls, Texas, where my family lived from 1947 to 1956, then again in 1968-’69 while I was stationed at Sheppard AFB. And again, from December 1978 until after the 1979 tornado, when we moved away for good. But I still hold fond memories from those early years growing up in Wichita Falls, and attending San Jacinto elementary and Carrigan elementary, as well as Reagan Jr. High. We lived in so many places, and I had so many friends that I will never forget, and it’s wonderful to view these old pictures. There are still places not seen yet, and I always hope for a future volume with more memories.

This volume contains photographs from the 1920s to 1930s, 1940s, 1050s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s to 2000. Chapters on Churches, Schools, and hospitals; Burkburnett, Electra, and Iowa Park; Fire Department, Police Department, Fires and Wrecks; Pony Photos; Sheppard AF Base; and The 1979 Tornado. I remember the Army & Navy Store on Ohio & 7th Street with fond memories, as well as the Westmoreland Pool, Funland, Short’s Pig Stand, the Strand Theater, and so many other places (volume one or two had many more photos of theaters). I highly recommend this series of books for anyone who has ever lived in Wichita Falls. If I had a complaint, it would be a request for the pages to be printed on better paper to provide more positive prints, as these books are collectors’ items to be cherished forever.

Tom Johnson
Author of ECHOES 30  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five & Dime Stores

Five & Dime Stores: I remember in Wichita Falls going to Five & Dime stores like Kress’s and looking through the comic books. Even Martin’s Drug Store on the corner of 8th & Ohio had a nice selection of comic books.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Bomba The Jungle Boy

BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY in The Swamp of Death by Roy Rockwood: Bomba enjoyed a long series of hardback novels, as well as a B-movie series starring Johnny Sheffield, who also played Boy in the Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan films I watched at the Gem Theater in Wichita Falls on Saturday mornings.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Man From Planet X

The Man From Planet X was another one of those early (1951) SF movies that caught the theatergoers unawares. Even with its, at times, poor stage props, and diving bell shaped spacecraft, the movie had content. Was the alien good or bad? Was it truly an invasion, or were the aliens in desperate search of a new home world. The alien shows a side of friendliness until the evil scientist, played by William Schallart, attacks him and tries to obtain scientific secrets, and then he turns evil and makes zombies out of them. Schallart would go on to better things in the following years, but this was still a good movie for him, even as the bad guy. Of course, we have Sally Field’s mother as the star (in my opinion). Margaret Field was excellent in the movie. And whoever played the alien did an outstanding job also. Plus, I loved the make up of the glass-helmeted creature (he wore the globe even in the space ship, but that was cool, too). The moors may have been the actual stars of the movie, as it presented a frightening and mysterious mood for the setting, not to mention the rolling fog and chilly dark nights for most of the scenes. It may not have reached the popularity of The Day The Earth Stood Still or The Thing From Another World, but in my opinion, it was right up there with the rest. I watched it originally at the State Theater in Wichita Falls when I was ten or eleven years old, liked it then, and still like it today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Old Newsstand

Old Newsstand, probably from 1939. The top row and bottom four shelves appear to be slicks, while the pulps take up all the middle section. I can see science fiction magazines, westerns, detective, and heroes like The Spider.