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, February 15, 2014

Gail McAbee's Guest Post Boston Blackie

Today, we are honored to have K.G. “Gail” McAbee on board to talk about one of her favorites, Boston Blackie. Gail is an award-winning author, and just happens to be my favorite writer of fiction. We’ve even coauthored a fast-paced action story in the pulp tradition of heroes. SHADOWHAWKE: First Flight is still available from the authors. She also writes Blog entries like this one on her own Blog Be sure and check it out. Now, without further ado, the lovely and talented, Gail McAbee! (Note: Boston Blackie can also be heard three times on Sunday at this url )

Boston Blackie

"Enemy to those who make him an enemy. Friend to those who have no friend."

This was the opening line for The Adventures of Boston Blackie, a TV series syndicated in 1951. Since I personally wasn't syndicated until late 1950, it seems strange to say that this was one of my earliest favorites on television, being still in diapers when it began, but it was. Luckily, there were 58 episodes and they were repeated throughout the 50s, so as I grew up and out of diapers, I got to know Boston Blackie well. I also got to know Superman, the Cisco Kid, the Lone Ranger and Tonto and lots of guys with six-guns.

But Boston Blackie was my first love, and we never forget our first. Here's a list of things I learned from him and which have influenced me throughout my misspent life full of pulp, comics, movies, science fiction, horror, fantasy and such like fun things:

One: Men in thin mustaches are cool. Corollary: what happened to thin mustaches?
Two: Reformed bad boys are the best kind of bad boys.
Three: A good character name is worth its weight in rubies.
Four: Dogs are everyone's best friends.
Five: Solving crimes and punishing evildoers wasn't just for Doc Savage and crew.

If your parents stuck you with a name like Horatio Black—my apologies to any Horatios out there—wouldn't you rather be known as Boston Blackie? Of course you would. Blackie was a jewel thief and safecracker in the original stories by Jack Boyle written in the early 1900s. By the time he got to movies and radio, Blackie was areformed safecracker and thief who often had to solve a crime to clear himself from suspicion. This state of affairs continued from silent movies, to the string of 14 talkies starring Chester Morris, to the brief radio series.

The TV series, however, was a different matter. Blackie had deserted his former East Coast environs and moved to LA. He acquired an assistant and girlfriend named Mary Wesley, a seriously smart dog named Whitey, and a string of awesome convertibles. He also had a tenuous connection with the LAPD through Inspector Faraday. Kent Taylor starred as Blackie, with Lois Collier as Mary and Frank Orth as the perpetually irritated Faraday.

A scene which perfectly captures Inspector Faraday's opinion of Blackie is early in Season 1, Episode 2, called "Cop Killer." Faraday is in his command center, sending out messages to his patrol cars about an emergency concerning a robbery, when Blackie and friends enter. Faraday say something like, "Hi, Mary. Hi, Whitey." Remember, now, Whitey is the dog. Then the inspector seems to finally notice Blackie—who is holding Whitey—and says, "Oh, it's you, Blackie."

I love that!

The beginning of every episode started, as many early TV series did, with an announcer shouting out the title and the aforementioned "Enemy to those who make him an enemy. Friend to those who have no friend" as Blackie's shadow appears, looming on the wall of what looks like an alley. He walks forward, lighting a cigarette in the nonchalant fashion of the time, and saunters past a news stand…where the announcer is revealed in a ball cap, looking admiringly at Blackie as he ambles by. So cool! It can still bring a chill to my spine. I assume the need to shout out the promo—common to other of my favorite 50s TV shows such as Captain Video, Captain Midnight, Captain Z-Ro and more—was a holdover from radio days—which were still going strong, of course.

Here's a link to an episode guide for Boston Blackie:
And several episodes are available at Youtube.

Go watch some now and return to those thrilling days of yesteryear…wait, wrong series. Sorry. Just go watch some Boston Blackie. I think I'll do the same….

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