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, October 31, 2013

Halloween 60 Years Ago

Halloween 60 Years Ago

         I can’t remember if it was 1951, 1952 or ’53, but the school year around that time, sixty years ago, brings back a flood of memories today. It was probably my first experience of Trick-Or-Treating. But the fun of this event was that it occurred at our school that year. The teachers and faculty of San Jacinto joined with many of the parents to provide a safe and entertaining Halloween for the students. I don’t remember a lot about it, though I think only the downstairs rooms were decorated, and teachers and parents gave out candy to the students who ran from room to room. I had never been on a Trick Or Treat before, and it was a blast.
            It was the only time that I remember San Jacinto doing this, but there may well have been other years.  In fact, I wouldn’t celebrate the night again until I was a teenager and living on Blond Street several years later. I don’t know if my parents just didn’t allow it, or kids I knew didn’t do it, but Halloween was something I didn’t do.
            In some communities today, I think some teachers have a “Trunk” party on Halloween. They are not allowed to use the school facilities, but will set up in town, under supervised conditions, and children are brought to the area where they run from stand to stand, or car to car.  I’ve never seen this in action, but see the notice listed in some area newspapers.
Tom & Ginger In Costume On Drama Club Float During Parade

            As older people, my wife and I used to enjoy answering the door and handing out treats. For several years I wore a costume when we opened the door; the costume consisted of alien mask and ray gun. I had a lot of fun. One group of boys asked my wife if they could take me with them. One girl about 10 really shocked us, though. She wasn’t expecting a creepy alien to open the door, and she jumped back yelping a swear word. Unfortunately, my costume was a bit too scary for the younger children, and several of them started crying when they saw me. I decided to stop wearing the space alien suit when I answered the door, and in more recent years we have not participated in the event, preferring instead to keep our lights out, and have the children pass our house. As it was, I’m sure that some of the parents weren’t happy with me scaring their children in previous years, and avoided our house regardless.
            Halloween should be a fun time for children, but I agree with the supervised area where feasible. There is just too much meanness in the world today for our children to be running around alone in strange neighborhoods at night. I can’t help but remember how much fun we had that year at San Jacinto. I guess politics, religion, and liability put a stop to that for good, even though it was a safe and controlled environment.
I wonder if other schools participated in Halloween back then? Does anyone remember?

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