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, November 22, 2014

Views From The Past V #2

Views From The Past: Downtown Wichita Falls V #2
By Julie Coley
ISBN #978-1503078239
110 Pages
Price $15.26
Rating 5-Stars

In this second volume of Views From The Past, Julie Coley has gathered 99 more old photos of early Wichita Falls. Down town scenes, including shots showing the Tower Theater, Strand Theater, and State Theater, as well as the businesses that catered to the city residents from the 1920s through the 1970s. Streets where I walked and played as a kid growing up. There is Ohio Street, Indiana, Scott, Lamar, 7th, 8th, 9th, and many others. Gibson’s department store, the Casa Manana restaurant, and so much more. These pictures compliment the huge volume that precedes it.

Overall, the pictures are clear and detailed, though there were a few faded due to age and wear. As with any project like this, there are so many memories of places lost forever, and half forgotten until viewed once again. Maybe we remember other buildings, other businesses. Cafes, car lots. Theaters. But they are not here, and we hope for yet another volume, and more pictures. I don’t think any building should ever be torn down without first capturing it on film and recording its history. So much is lost to us now, and will never be re-discovered, unless someone finds an old box of memories in a forgotten trunk amongst family snapshots that also capture city scenes in the background. I wish everyone would dig into forgotten boxes stored in a basement or closet. You never know what pictures may bring that forgotten memory to light once more for someone.  

I spent my formative years in Wichita Falls, from 1947 to 1956, and attended San Jacinto and Carrigan elementary schools, as well as Reagan Junior, High. San Jacinto is gone now. Carrigan is a vocational school, and Reagan is an Admin building, though it still stands. We lived in many sections of the city, and I played all over town. Anyone who ever lived in the city will enjoy this book. Highly recommended to current and past residents of Wichita Falls, as well as anyone that enjoys viewing a city’s past.

Tom Johnson
The Gem Theater

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