Introduction

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 fadingshadows40@gmail.com or leave a comment. We could use old pictures of movie houses, drive-in theaters, and other nostalgic pictures related to our youths.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pilgrim Theater


PILGRIM Theater, featuring The She Creature and It Conquered The World. Ah, for the days when such theaters in towns showed great movies (LOL).  I wish everyone would share pictures of their local theaters, if you have them. They are such a delight. More, please.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Yet Another Old Newsstand


Here’s yet another old newsstand. Two young boys are reading Mutt & Jeff comic books. To the left is a stack of pulps, but I can’t make out the titles.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Another Old Newsstand

Here's another old newsstand that shows a youngster reading a magazine from the rack. Ah, those were the day, my friends.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Old Newsstand


Old Newsstand: Here’s another old newsstand. The young boy is reading a Golden Age Captain America. I see some pulps to his right: Clues, Ten Detective Aces, Black Mask, and others. There’s a Blue Book to his left. I remember reading comic books at Kress’s on Indiana Street in Wichita Falls at a rack like this.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Black Widow


The Black Widow is a 13-Chapter serial from Republic in 1947: An Asian mastermind hopes to take over the world. He’s using his daughter Sombra (Carol Forman) to act as his agent in America. She uses a gimmick in her spiritual parlor to force men to give her secrets or she kills them with the bite of a black widow spider. A chair is fixed up with a fake spider that comes out of the back to inject spider venom into her victims. The Daily Clarion publisher, Walker (Gene Stutenroth), is hot on the news, and calls in author and criminologist, Steve Colt (Bruce Edwards) to investigate. Walker assigns his top reporter, Joyce (Virginia Lindley) to assist him. Now, I can’t be positive that it was the first serial I ever saw, but it was close, if not. It was playing at the Gem Theater in Wichita Falls when we moved across the street from the theater in 1947, so it could have been. I’m not sure if my VHS copy has the complete serial, as I remember some things different from the copy I have. For one thing, these chapters are all very short. One thing that I’m sure is missing, is the lead in to each chapter. I remember the scene of the spider coming out of the chair at each beginning, but that wasn’t on my VHS copy. In fact, the scene is played in Chapter One when Sombra kills a victim, and then is used again in Chapter 13, as she attempts to kill Steve Colt. It is only twice in the whole serial. One other thing that is curious is the newspaper, the Daily Clarion. All pulp fans know that Frank Havens owned the Clarion (also called the Daily Clarion in many novels), not someone named Walker. And the idea of the newspaper owner calling in a special detective to solve the case sure sounds like The Phantom Detective doesn’t it? Sadly, Steve Colt doesn’t wear a domino mask, but I’ve heard The Phantom Detective was being considered for the movies around this period. I can’t help but wonder if The Black Widow was what ended up instead. Overall, this is not a bad serial. Carol Forman is good in anything – she’s a master of disguise in this, taking over the identity of three different women. Of course, three different women play the part, but we’re supposed to think that it’s Sombra.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Jungle Jim: Killer Ape


Jungle Jim: Killer Ape. I recently watched this one again. I have all the Jungle Jim movies on VHS and still enjoy them. I’m sure I originally saw this at the Gem Theater in Wichita Falls. Johnny Weissmuller moved over to the Jungle Jim series after his stint as Tarzan, which the Gem Theater was also showing back in the 1940s. It was a wonderful time to be a kid. I’ll always remember paying nine cents for the Saturday Matinee double feature.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Retro Rocket Ship


Retro Rocket Ship: I loved science fiction movies, books, and comic books when I was a kid growing up in Wichita Falls. This painting is of a retro rocket ship of those early days of SF and what we thought of as space exploration.