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, 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.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Red Barry


Red Barry, a 13-chapter serial from Universal from 1938, featuring Larry “Buster” Crabb as detective Red Barry, and Francis Robinson as reporter, Mississippi (I loved her southern accent). Edna Sedgewick plays a Russian dancer, with a pretty good French accent. This serial was almost five hours long, but lots of fun. Many twist, as the good guys weren’t always good. Everyone was after two million dollars in bonds that Russia sent to Wing Fu to buy bombers for the war. Plenty of good fight scenes, as usual and Tom Steele is around for this. The best fight scene was when the Russian cafĂ© erupts in a free-for-all, and everyone was fighting. While white men were playing a couple Asian bad guys, it was nice to see Philip Ahn around as a real Asian actor. Buster Crabb gets to show off his swimming abilities. The cliffhangers weren’t as good as those from Republic, but none of the studios beat Republic with cliffhangers. Still, another great serial.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Invisible Monster


The Invisible Monster, a 12-chapter serial from Republic in 1950, starring Richard Webb (may be better known as TV’s Captain Midnight) as Lane, the insurance investigator for Apex Insurance, and Aline Towne, as Carol, a criminal scientific investigator assigned to assist him. The Phantom Ruler, well played by Stanley Price, has a robe and hood soaked in chemicals that under certain light make him invisible. Strangely, the mysterious Phantom Ruler reveals his identity from the very start, so there’s no real mystery about who he is. The Phantom Ruler has brought highly intelligent illegal immigrants to America to do his bidding, or he’ll notify immigrations and have them returned to their home country where they may be wanted. The plan is to build an army of invisible soldiers to take over America. It has the usual great cliffhangers that only Republic can do. In fact, I’ve seen them all before, but they’re so much fun. Tom Steele is great in the fight stunts, as always, and there are plenty of these. Spent about three hours over Saturday afternoon watching this great old serial.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Marvel Gang


The Marvel Gang: I loved reading all the Marvel superheroes back in the day, my favorite being The Marvel Family: Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel, Jr. A shame Mary Marvel isn’t featured on this poster (sigh).