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, 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.

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