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, April 26, 2014

Hopalong Cassidy

Hopalong Cassidy

The Gem Theater always offered great western fare for the kids at the Saturday Matinee. Yes, sometimes we found The Bowery Boys or Tarzan, and even Jungle Jim and Bomba, but westerns were a mainstay almost every Saturday morning.

One character was always a good draw for kids, and that was William Boyd’s Hopalong Cassidy and his white horse Topper.

Like most of the movie heroes, Hoppy was also delegated to other medias. He was a product of the pulp magazines, as seen above.

Comic books also his potential.

And later paperbacks and hardbacks.

With television also came product and toys. There were cowboy gun sets, lunch boxes, model statues, and numerous other items. I ended up with a coffee mug from somewhere. Hoppy also visited Wichita Falls and rode Topper in the parade. I missed it, but my mother saw him. As you can see from the picture above, William Boyd also appeared at military bases, even overseas. The shot above was taken in the early 1950s at an Army Post in Germany.

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