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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Knox Street Theater

Knox Street Theater in Dallas in the early 1930s. I love pictures of old theaters, from anywhere.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Congo Bill

Congo Bill: This 1948, 15-Chapter serial from Columbia was a fairly nice entry from 1948. It starred Don McGuire as Congo Bill. There are a lot of similarities between Congo Bill and Jungle Jim, both in character, and plot to this serial. Bill is tasked to deliver a letter to the heiress of a circus in Africa, and there are rumors of a white jungle queen named Lureen, played by 24-year-old bombshell Cleo Moore, who turns out to be the missing heiress. Bernie McGraw, played by I. Stanford Jolley, wants the inheritance and tries to intercept Congo Bill. Congo Bill was patterned after Jungle Jim, of course, but I thought Don McGuire was better in the part than the actor in the Jungle Jim serial. Also in the Jungle Jim serial a 16 or 17-year-old actress played the jungle queen, but looked too young for the part. Cleo Moore, the actress who played Lureen in Congo Bill, however, did look the part, though maybe too mature for a 20-year-old jungle queen. My DVD was a bad quality, and hard to see and hear. It was probably recorded from a poor VHS version. Overall, I did think it was a better serial than Jungle Jim, and regret it’s poor quality. I would love to see a good film of this one.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Jungle Jim

JUNGLE JIM: This 12-chapter serial from Universal in 1937 starred Grant Withers as Jungle Jim, with Raymond Hatton as his sidekick, Malay Mike, and Betty Jane Rhodes as the white Lion Goddess, Joan. Jungle Jim has been asked to find the white Lion Goddess who is thought to be a the missing child from a shipwreck, and the heiress to a family fortune. However, her evil uncle wants the fortune and hires men to kill her, so he will inherit the fortune. To add to the mix, The Cobra and his sister Shanghai Lil rule the local natives, and Joan thinks they are her parents, not knowing the pair are wanted in England for murder. There were some nice animal clips from other films. Most of the action takes place around a rocky landscape with a cave, and some jungle scenery. The cliffhangers were pretty good, but Joan doesn’t work well for the girl raised by lions. Too educated in her speech. In fact, some of the natives were pretty highly educated too, I think. My real problem was watching all those Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan and Jungle Jim movies growing up. Grant Withers just didn’t match up to Weissmuller. And the only sidekick Weissmuller needed was a monkey. Overall, it just wasn’t the quality of Republic Serials, nor the Jungle Jim I grew up with.