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.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Guest Post By Bill Nash

Guest Post By Bill Nash

I never lived in Wichita Falls although I owe a great deal to it as my parents met there.  I did spend several Christmases there at my grandmother's house but as a very young child.

I'm not sure of the dates on many of these events. I heard them from my mom and even if she mentioned dates I don't recall them.  William McIlheran and many of his family were in the movie business in Dallas. According to an article from about 1923 that I found in the Dallas Morning News, he opened the first movie theater in Dallas in about 1909.  Other theaters in Dallas had included movies as shorts among their other variety acts but the Theatorium was the first dedicated solely to movies.  According to my mom, her dad, Robert Crisman McIlheran and her uncle Aaron Alexander McIlheran, purchased the Gem Theater for their dad, William.  William died 18 Dec 1928. At that point, Aaron moved to Wichita Falls and began to manage the theater although I believe he and Robert owned it jointly.  Robert was working for Universal Film Distribution in Dallas. They asked him to transfer to NYC. My grandmother did not want to move and Robert resigned, moved to Wichita Falls and assumed joint management with his brother Aaron.  In 1947 my grandfather died (I was only a year old) and Aaron resumed sole management but with my grandmother as co-owner.  She eventually moved back to Dallas.  In 1954 Aaron died and I assume his wife Dorothy took over management of the theater.  By then I was old enough to recall some family discussion about whether my grandmother was receiving her fair share of the income.  I'm actually not sure there was any income as the theater was eventually closed and fell into disrepair including a lot of water damage from a leaky roof.  I believe it burned down or maybe it was condemned and torn down.

Something my dad told me about the theater after my mom died.  The Gem Theater was the first one to admit both blacks and whites.  It was still segregated however with the blacks restricted to the balcony.  I don't know if this started before my grandfather owned it or not.

The picture I have is one I obtained from Mary Kearby at The Museum of North Texas History in WF. If you publish it you should give them credit.  There are actually two pictures, one annotated and one not but the same shot.


Bill Nash
Austin, Texas

(Pictures Courtesy of WF Museum of North Texas History)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Pulp Convention

The Pulp Convention

There are conventions for just about every hobby you can think of, and some you don’t wish to know about. Folks like you and me probably like Comic Book conventions, Old Time Radio conventions, Serial & Western conventions, and Pulp conventions. My wife and attended several in our younger days, and is one that we especially liked, The PulpCon. The above picture was taken in 1977.  If you will start from the center, you have Nick Carr (cousin of mystery author John Dickson Carr). To his right is pulp artist Norman Saunders, and next is pulp publisher Harry Steeger, then pulp collector and airline pilot Jack Deveny, and then Walter B. Gibson, creator and author of The Shadow, pulp collector Earll Kussman is next, and the fellow that’s just out of the picture is Robert Sampson, pulp author, historian, and collector. Finally myself, Tom Johnson directly to the left of Nick Carr. The picture was representing Walter Gibson’s Shadow pulp cover, “The Lone Tiger, where The Shadow and his agents were seated at a table.

The above picture is me again, with SF author Leigh Brackett, shortly before her death.

Above is Norma Dent, the widow of Lester Dent, the author of Doc Savage under the Kenneth Robeson pseudonym.

And above is, from left to right, comic book and paperback cover artist, Jim Steranko, centered is Walter Gibson, and far right is Frank Hamilton, fanzine artist and outstanding black & white illustrator. The PulpCon is no more, but a new couple new pulp convention have taken its place, the Windy City Con, and PulpFest.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Blackhawk was a flying squadron of World War II veterans, The International Brotherhood is a private flying investigative force led by Blackhawk (Kirk Alyn). They uncover a gang of underworld henchmen, led by the notorious foreign spy, Laska (Carol Forman), who reports to a mysterious man called The Leader. During the 1952 serial's 15 chapters, Blackhawk and his flying squadron set about bringing these criminals to justice. Kirk Alyn and Carol Forman has previously starred in the 1948 Superman serial.

Blackhawk was first published in comic books, and was very popular in that media, appearing in numerous titles, as well as his own.

In 1982, Warner Paperbacks released a Blackhawk paperback written by William Rotsler, which everyone hoped would be a series like Flash Gordon and The Phantom at that time, but it was destined to be just a single title.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pangaea: Eden's Planet Discount

Discount For Pangaea: Eden’s Planet

A Love Story, 250 Million Years In The Making Seven astronauts en route to Mars encounter a time warp in space that disables their ship. Crash landing on Earth, they discover an alien planet sixty million years before the dinosaurs. Pangaea, the super continent, is filled with danger and terror, as they must survive against fierce reptiles that ruled the Earth 250 million years in the past!

First Realm Publishing is offering a 10% discount on Tom Johnson’s “Pangaea: Eden’s Planet” and their other author’s books throughout the month of August. The Code is 10D43ML

In conjunction with First Realm’s discount, I am also offering a 10% discount on paperbacks that are bought from me during the month of August. Regular Amazon price is $10.57, plus $3.99 postage. But if you buy from me my price is $9.46, plus $2.54 postage, $12.00. US only.