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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Weird Stories #1

The FADING SHADOWS genre magazines kicked off in June 1995. By October 1996 we launched WEIRD STORIES #1, with a great cover by Albert Roberts, and containing six stories by Rick Brooks, Ginger Johnson, Sean Danawski, T.J. Glenn, Jeffrey Zverloff, and Tom Johnson. WEIRD STORIES only lasted for 26 issues, but each issue contained approximately 40k words, which amounts to a lot of fiction. Back issues are still available from Tom & Ginger.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Red Ryder BB Bun & Double Holster Gun Set

Red Ryder BB Gun & Double Holster Gun Set

Santa arrived a little early tonight. Ginger asked me a couple weeks ago, “What does the man who has everything want for Christmas this year?” I told her the only thing that came to mind was that double holster cowboy outfit my dad wouldn’t buy for me when I was a kid, because he needed the money for booze. I never did have a double holster gun set. Well, look what appeared on my wall. That Red Ryder Model 1938 BB Gun has a wooden stock and hand rest. The double holster set is real leather, and the gun set are twin Outlaw models. The belt is 35 inches long. I wonder if I’m still fast on the draw?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Robot Monster

Robot Monster

Ro Man has destroyed all humans on Earth but a family of six. However, he falls in love with the daughter of the family. Robot Monster was a cheesy 1953 movie best seen at the drive-in theaters at the time. In fact, that’s where I saw it. Although, I’m not sure which drive-in it was at, unfortunately. I accompanied my sister on a date – I was supposed to make sure her date didn’t get fresh with her. I was 13 at the time. But I had no interest in watching my sister kissing some guy in the car, so I went to the playground up front. A young girl my own age must have been in the same position, as we were the only two there. I wanted to see the movie, but even I thought it was cheesy. The robot monster was a gorilla wearing a space helmet, and he was after the daughter of the last family on the planet. When the gorilla carried the girl inside the cave, the girl I was with told me why, and mixed no bones about it. He wanted sex. I was shocked, and my stomach was queasy. She was embarrassing me something awful. I was almost willing to go back to the car. I think if the girl had tried to kiss me, I would have (LOL). But she didn’t attack me, and I survived the night my virtue intact. The movie starred George Nader, Selena Royle, and Claudia Barrett as the daughter. If you will look real close at the scene below, you can see the actress actually laughing at the guy in the gorilla costume.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Phyllis Coates

Phyllis Coates

Phyllis was born Gypsie Ann Everts Stell in Wichita Falls, Texas, on January 15, 1927. After graduating high school, she moved to California for further study, but was discovered and put into motion pictures.  She is best remembered today as Lois Lane in the first 26 episodes of The Adventures of Superman.

In 1951, I went to the State Theater in Wichita Falls to see Superman And The Mole Men, with George Reeves as Superman and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. This movie would kick off the TV series later that same year, with the same actors.

With her birthday coming up in January, I decided to watch again Jungle Drums of Africa, a 12-chapter serial from Republic Studios with Phyllis Coates and Clayton Moore. Clayton Moore also has a connection to Wichita Falls, having served at Shepperd Field in 1942.

Next weekend, I will watch again, Panther Girl of The Kongo with Phyllis Coates and Myron Healey, another 12-chapter serials from Republic Studious.

And the weekend after that I will again watch Superman And The Mole Men in honor of Phyllis Coates.

Sunday, November 30, 2014



I saw King of The Rocketmen in 1949, and I’m sure it was at the Gem Theater.  Released in 1949 from Republic, as a 12-chapter serial, it starred Tristram Coffin as Jeff King/Rocketman, and Glenda Thomas as Mae Clarke. It was the only Rocketman serial I would see as a child, but I loved it. I even tried to build my own rocket pack out of paper and glue; thankfully, I didn’t kill myself.

Radar Men From The Moon was a 12-chapter serial released in 1952, this time starring George Wallace as Commando Cody, and Aline Towne as Joan Gilbert. The great Roy Barcroft played the villain, Retik. This one, and the rest I would see as an adult when I started collecting the serials many years later.

Zombies of the Stratosphere was released later that same year, again in a 12-chapter serial, this time starring the third actor, Judd Holden to portray Rocketman/Larry Martin. Aline Towne plays Sue Davis instead of Joan Gilbert this time. A young Leonard Nimoy played one of the “zombies”.

A final Rocketman/Commando Cody was filmed for theater release in 1953, and later was released to television in 1955, where it played out in 12-episodes. Sky Marshall of The Universe also starred Judd Holden as Larry Martin. Aline Towne returns as Joan Gilbert. His sidekick this time around is William Schallert for the first few episodes before being replaced.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Ginger and I wish all of you a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving tomorrow. We will be staying home this year. Kevin and his family live in Kansas, and will not be coming down. Ginger’s niece is bringing us a plate, so we won’t have to do any cooking. I imagine we’ll spend the day reading.  We bought a new iMac computer yesterday, so most likely Ginger will be downloading stuff to it. God Bless, and be safe.

Tom & Ginger