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, May 24, 2014

Radio Days - The Theater of The Mind

Radio Days – The Theater of The Mind

Growing up in Wichita Falls my parents usually had an old tabletop wooden box radio, or sometimes a floor model that I would sit next to, my ear right up to the speaker. Radio was the home entertainment of the 1940s. In fact, we didn’t have a television set until 1956, and by then I was listening to Rock ‘N’ Roll on radio – remember Snuff Garrett? – as television had not caught my interest yet.
But back to 1940s and early 1950’s radio drama. My mother listened to several of the soap operas, like Hill Top House, Our Gal Sunday, Ma Perkins, et al. On Saturday mornings I listened to Let’s Pretend. Sunday evenings I listened to The Shadow. My family liked Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, Gunsmoke, Gangbusters, and Lineup. X Minus One was my favorite science fiction program. But I also listened to The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Tarzan and Superman. I’m sure everyone had his or her favorites.
Today, the Theater of The Mind has been replaced by the visual media we call television, and we are the sadder for it. There is nothing left to the imagination. With radio the visual was in our mind, and we were alive. Fortunately, people still collect the old radio drama on tape, CD, and reel-to-reel, so many of the programs still exist. There are Internet websites when old fans can listen and download the programs. I have a closet full of CDs, record albums, and cassettes with my favorite shows. Locally, you can choose from a number of daily scheduled programs, running 24-hours, seven days a week, here I am a constant listener.  Don Leary, who started it while living in Seymour, Texas, maintains the Site.

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