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.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The American Drive-In Theatre

The American Drive-In Movie Theatre (Popular Culture)
By Don & Susan Sanders
ISBN #978-0785829751
Price $8.95 (Hardback)
160 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“Once An American Phenomenon”

The authors collect photographs and history of the American Drive-In theaters that once dotted the American landscape. Every town had one, and they drew families in their automobiles out for a movie in their own living room – the car! Perhaps the height of the drive-in theaters came in the 1950s, with monster films and teenagers on dates. Today they are gone, but their memory remains with those who grew up in that decade of fast cars, invaders from Mars, and a neat place for teenagers to neck without parents watching from over the couch.  In the book also are pictures of the Snack Bars – remember “It’s Intermission Time, Folks” – and the playground up front for little brother to vacate the car while big brother sneaks a kiss from his date.

I came out of the 1950s generation, and remember the drive-in theaters with fond memories. Living in Wichita Falls, Texas, I went to the Seymour Road Drive-In, as well as the Twin Falls Drive-In, and probably several others. I also went to the Brazos Drive-In Theater in Seymour, Texas as well as San Antonia, Texas, but don’t remember the name. I do remember the last time I went to the drive-in, it was to see “Damnation Alley” in Grand Forks, North Dakota in the late 1970s. The San Antonio drive-in had “dollar night”, and my wife would pop popcorn and make cool-aid, and we went quite often. It was cheap entertainment at the time, and we loved it.

This book will bring great memories back to those who remember them, and introduce those who never knew them to an American icon of a bygone day.

Tom Johnson
Echoes Magazine

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