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Today, the Theater of The Mind has been replaced by the visual media we call television, and we are the sadder for it.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.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Book Vending Machines

Vending Machines

Believe it or not there are still a few book vending machines around, although this early concept didn’t really catch on. Instead, the popular spinner racks dominated the stores until the Internet and progress changed things forever.

Saturday, May 17, 2014



Fanzines have been around since the early 19th century. Basically, meaning fan magazines, early magazines popped up for movie fans, science fiction fans, monster fans, and who knows what else. I was familiar with some of them; my wife even subscribed to Soap Opera Digest – perhaps a prozine like the TV Guide, but the same difference Can you believe people collect TV Guides and Soap Opera Digest?

I became aware of book collector fanzines in 1970 when I discovered BRONZE SHADOWS, a fanzine devoted to Doc Savage and The Shadow, with interest in pulp magazine heroes. Pulp magazines ran from 1896 to the mid 1950s, the heyday being the 1930s and ‘40s. Most ended by 1953, though a few lingered. In 1965 BRONZE SHADOWS showed up, and others were quick to follow.

We started ECHOES in 1982, becoming the longest running (in numbers) fanzine dealing with pulps. ECHOES lasted as a magazine for 100 issues, then continued for another 57 issues as a newsletter, for a total of 22 years.

There are several still around today, but mostly electronic fanzines on the Internet. One Doc Savage print fanzine still around is THE BRONZE GAZETTE, which has been around for over twenty years now, has just reached Issue #70.

ECHOES released it 30th Anniversary issue in the summer of 2012, with a coffee table, 300-page monster, titled ECHOES 30.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Black Hood - From Comic Books To Pulps

The Black Hood
From Comic Book To Pulp

The Black Hood first appeared in MLJ Comics in October of 1940, quickly becoming one of their top comic books. MLJ would experiment with bringing the character to the pulps, as well as radio.
#1 Death’s Five Faces

The character was a police officer framed for a crime he didn’t commit by master criminal The Skull. “Death’s Five Face” was published in the September 1841 issue of BLACK HOOD DETECTIVE.
#2 The Corpse Came C.O.D.

Wounded, and left to die, he was found by The Hermit, who brought him back to health, and gave him a bit of extra power to battle crooks. Wearing his comic book costume in the pulp magazines might have been a mistake, as the pulp series only lasted three issues. He began in the comic books, and that was where he belonged. The second issue, containing “The Corpse Came C.O.D.” was published in HOODED DETECTIVE, November 1941.
#3 The Whispering Eye

Prolific pulp writer, G. T. Fleming-Roberts, brought the character of The Black Hood to the pulps. He was a short story writer, appearing in most of the pulp magazines of the time, as well as several single character pulps. Secret Agent X had only recently ceased, and The Ghost Detective, later called The Green Ghost Detective, was starting over at STANDARD. Roberts was an excellent writer, but sales must not have been very good, so The Black Hood was dropped from the pulps. It may have had something to do with the costume, I don’t know. But it’s interesting that a comic book character moved over to the pulps. Normally, it was the other way around. Many pulp characters made the transition to comic books.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pangaea: Eden's Planet

Pangaea: Eden’s Planet

My novel, Pangaea: Eden’s Planet has been picked up by First Realm Publishing, and scheduled for release in June for eBook, and July for paperback edition. More details will be forthcoming. Visit First Realm Publishing

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!