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, May 8, 2016

Jungle Drums of Africa

JUNGLE DRUMS OF AFRICA: A 12-chapter serial from Republic, 1953, starring two of my favorites, Clayton Moore and Phyllis Coates. Phyllis was originally from Wichita Falls, where I was raised, and Clayton (of Lone Ranger fame) also spent time at Sheppard Field in Wichita Falls during training in WWII. Alan King (Moore) and Bert Hadley (Johnny Spencer) are sent to Africa to develop an uranium mine for America, but run into trouble sponsored by Kurgan and his lieutenant, Regis, agents of a foreign country (this is 1953 but the agents sound like Nazis). Regis has promised weapons to the local witch doctor planning the downfall of Chief Douanga. Carol Bryant (Phyllis Coates), the daughter of a deceased medical missionary is feared by the natives for her powerful medicine, and Regis wants her dead also. This was another great serial from Republic. There would only be two more from Republic in 1954, then two more in 1955, and that would end Republic Serials reign. Republic and Columbia were the last of the great Matinee series of my childhood, both ending in 1955.

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