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, December 26, 2013

Some Christmas Comic Books

Here are a couple comic books with Christmas covers that I like. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends, and Santa brought all the toys you asked for! Now let's pray for a better year ahead. God Bless.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Ginger and I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, and please remember our men and women in uniform, wherever they are serving. God Bless America, and peace on earth.
Tom & Ginger

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tom's Top Five Kindle Books In 2013

As we close out the year, I tallied up my Kindle sales for 2013, and wanted to share the top five sales of the year with my readers. Actually, two books tied for 4th and two books tied for 5th, so my top five sales actually cover seven books this year.

The Soul Stealers remains in the #1 slot for the third year in a row. It’s not surprising, as I’ve had many private comments about this book.

Bad Moon Rising also comes in second again this year. It has been a favorite among the Vietnam veterans. I’m just not so sure about that fellow on the front cover in Tiger Stripes, though.

The Black Bat’s War slides in at #3 this year, which isn’t surprising either. The Black Bat is a favorite among the pulp readers.

Guns of The Black Ghost continues to be one of my best sellers. Possibly one of the best new pulp heroes ever created, it pulls in readers from around the world.

City of Phantoms ties with Guns of The Black Ghost in 4th place. This one features both the Phantom Detective and The Black Bat in a new pulp tale.

Lost Land of Jur and Drums of Jur tie for 5th place. The Jur series has been a big seller for years, and remains popular among the lost land and Jurassic fans.

Why not check out some of these Kindle books and see what is bringing the readers back for more every year? All of Tom’s books can be found on his Amazon Page at

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Blond Street & Sputnik

Blond Street & Sputnik

In 1953 we moved from the San Jacinto school neighborhood to Blond Street, about a block from Carrigan elementary school where I would attend 7th grade. We lived in a duplex apartment behind a drugstore located on Holiday Street and Blond. Across from the drugstore was a neighborhood grocery store. I don’t recall any of the names of the establishments, but I went to school with Bobby Lee, the son of the grocery store owner.
Tom & Gene Evans In Front of Duplex

I hated to leave San Jacinto and the old neighborhood, and especially my friends, but I quickly made friends with the neighborhood boys and girls, on Blond Street and had a crush on my Home Room teacher again. But the year passed much too fast, and before I knew it I was going to Reagan Jr. High, where I spent the next two years in the 8th and 9th grades, before once again moving.
Blond Street was something of a growing up period for me. I was now a teenager, and Rock ‘N’ Roll was taking root. We went to bops at Haven’s Park, the MB Corral, and probably some other places that I’ve forgotten. When Russia launched Sputnik we were watching the skies. We listened to Snuff Garrett on the radio, and I started liking girls.
Sputnik Mania

I took Driver’s Ed at Reagan, and obtained my driver’s license at 16. It was at Reagan that I also started delving deeper into the sciences of biology (though I didn’t care much for botany at the time), especially paleo biology and entomology. I wanted to become an entomologist, actually, but the study of prehistoric life also fascinated me.
During the summers I was a dishwasher at Cecil’s Drive In, working the 3 to 11 shift. I may have even started the job during school, but was only working Friday and Saturday nights while school was going on. I earned twenty dollars a week working full time, but my paycheck was actually $18.75. $1.25 went for taxes. But that paycheck gave me spending money for bops, the swimming pool at Haven’s Park (and Westmorland), as well as all the carnival rides at Haven’s Park.
I don’t remember all the names from that period, sadly. Bobby Lee, as I’ve already mentioned. Eddy Walker, Douglas Aldredy and his brother. In the duplex next to us were brother and sister, Allan and Gene Evans. There were several girls in the neighborhood, but I’ve forgotten their names. Other good friends that used to visit me, and we were very close, were brother and sister Madison and Laverne Spencer. I made contact with Douglas again recently, after almost 60 years. He told me that Bobby Lee had passed away. But it would be nice to make contact with the others.
In 1956 my father took on the foreman’s job on a ranch, and we moved from Wichita Falls after ten years. He was tired of cooking in cafes and went back to work as a cowboy again.
But that’s another story.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kemp Public Library

It was probably my third grade teacher who caught me with a comic book, and gave me “Dr. Hudson’s Secret Journal” by Lloyd C. Douglas to read, which greatly influenced my reading from that day onward. The idea of stories in books thrilled me, and I wanted more to read. A family friend saw me reading the novel, and the next night brought me a box of classic literature to read. I found Tom Sawyer, Call of The Wild, White Fang, Heidi, and so many more great books in that box.
Sometime around 1953 I discovered Kemp Public Library. Two interests had led me to the public library. At 13, I had discovered science fiction novels, and had a deep interest in bugs, spiders, and snakes. I found that the library had books on every subject I was interested in.
Not having money to spend, the library was a godsend. I was already a voracious reader, and since discovering books could take me to Mars, Jupiter, Venus, and beyond, I think I started in the “A” section and read through the “Z” section. Hmm, thinking about it, maybe there wasn’t any in the “Z” section at that time, but certainly from Asimov to Wellman, and everyone between.
I used the library from 1953 to 1956, before we moved from Wichita Falls, and must have read every book on spiders, insects, and snakes they had on the shelf.
While going to Reagan, Jr. High in 1954 & 1955, I saved my lunch money and put the three-book collection, “The Animal Kingdom” on layaway at Lovelace Bookstore in downtown Wichita Falls. I may have gone hungry until those books were paid for, but I still have the set. Even though they are out dated with the Internet, they hold a special place in my heart.
The Kemp Public Library was a gold mine for kids who loved to read. When I retired from the military I put in an application for a job there, as I loved books, but was not hired. I went to work for IHR instead. Today, I have my own library of thousands of books for my personal pleasure. I even owned a used bookstore for thirty years.
My life has always revolved around books. My favorite quote is:  "It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish." (S. I. Hayakawa)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Uncle Scrooge

Uncle Scrooge

I remember in school at least one classmate could talk like Donald Duck. It used to make me mad because I couldn’t even come close. Boys appeared to like the Disney comic book. I don’t know about girls, were they just reading Betty and Veronica in Archie Comics? For years I wondered what the appeal was of Disney’s Donald Duck series, then one day it dawned on me – it was the artwork.
Carl Barks Art

Although I wasn’t a big fan of Donald, I preferred Uncle Scrooge. Scrooge and his money always seemed to demand the best art scenes in the series. One of my favorite covers was of Uncle Scrooge sitting in his vault tossing his money in the air. What was not to love about that drawing? I don’t have that cover any more, but one cover by Don Rosi (or is it Rose?) pretty well captures the issue I had.
Don Rosi (or Rose?) Art

            In an age when super heroes like Batman and Superman ruled the comic book racks, Disney’s Uncle Scrooge vied strongly for my dime. I just wish I still had those wonderful comic books today.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Media And The Shadow

The Media And The Shadow

As a child, one of my favorite radio dramas was The Shadow, the mysterious man who could cloud men’s minds and thwart evildoers in a thirty-minute broadcast. The Shadow had an odd beginning. An announcer on Street & Smith’s Detective Hour began calling himself The Shadow, and listeners ran to the newsstands looking for Street & Smith’s Shadow magazine. It didn’t take Street & Smith long to copyright the character by introducing a pulp magazine featuring The Shadow.
The Pulp Shadow by Walter Gibson

Walter Brown Gibson created and wrote the original stories under the Maxwell Grant house name. The pulp Shadow was quite a bit different from the radio Shadow that appeared afterwards. The first novel appeared in 1931. He was a mysterious personage who wore all black – patterned somewhat after Dracula, and could fade into the shadows. He didn’t ‘cloud the minds of men’. But radio was a theater of the mind, while pulp novels presented printed text for readers.
The Comic Book Shadow

         Street & Smith got into the comic books when they saw Superman selling millions of copies. Pulps were lucky to sell 7 or 8 hundred thousand copies, and that was their more popular titles. So in the 1940’s The Shadow made his appearance in comic books and newspaper comic strips. Since 1973, there have been several comic book adaptations of The Shadow, each apparently losing much of the true background of the original character, until modern comic book versions only visually resemble the character created by Walter Gibson in 1931.
         But that wasn’t the end of it. There was a 15-chapter serial from Columbia in 1940 starring Victor Jory. Several minor movies were produced early on, but three late 1940's from Republic proved successful, though somewhat comedic. Even a TV pilot was shot, which thankfully didn’t make it. The 1984 movie starring Alec Baldwin proved fairly successful, though it was a mixture of the pulp and radio Shadow.
Paperback Shadow Novels

         Although the pulp Shadow ran for 325 novels, and was highly popular during the pulp era, for some reason paperback publishers failed to reach out to the character. In 1963, Belmont Books brought out a new series of The Shadow, updating the character to the popular spy rage of the time. Walter Gibson was brought in for the first issue, then Dennis Lynds wrote eight more stories, and the series ended. In 1969, Bantam reprinted the first pulp novel in a new series to run along side their extremely popular pulp hero, Doc Savage. Unfortunately, The Shadow only lasted seven issues. Some blame the covers for its failure. A final paperback series was again brought out in 1974 from Pyramid/Jove, lasting for 23 issues, with some great covers by comic book artist, Steranko. There were some hardback editions that also appeared, but overall, the series just didn’t seem to catch on to modern readers. Tony Tollin, of Sanctum Books, has done better. He has reprinted over 150 Shadow novels in his double novel series, reprinting the novels in facsimile format, including illustrations, and reaching new fans of the character. His goal is to release all 325 Shadow novels.
         The Shadow has reached all media formats, and has been considered one of the most iconic characters ever created in fiction. Yet he appears to remain mysterious to the modern generation.
         A shame.