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.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Jungle Jim

Pygmy Island, a Jungle Jim film with Johnny Weissmuller. Jungle Jim always played at the Gem Theater. At least I never saw the movies anywhere else when I lived in Wichita Falls. Thankfully, I lived right across the street from the Gem, and if there was a Jungle Jim showing, I didn’t go anywhere else. I loved the character, and Johnny Weissmuller was great – of course, he was great in all those Tarzan films too! I have all of the Jungle Jim movies, including the serial that featured another actor in the part, but I prefer Weissmuller. I recently watched Pygmy Island again, and still found the thrill of the kid in me as I watched it once more.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

DC Comics

DC Comics: Superman changed comic books forever. I remember discovering my first comic books when we moved to Wichita Falls in 1947. I was seven years old and had never seen such wonders before. Although Superman was fantastic, Batman and Wonder Woman became my early favorites – until Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family came along and I discovered Mary Marvel (Sigh). But those were wonderful days. I read comics for 33 years before finally giving them up. Either they had lost their appeal, or more likely I just didn’t care where they were going by 1980. Next year at this time, if I’m still around, I plan on watching the 1948 Superman serial with Kirk Alyn one more time, seventy years after first seeing the serial at the Tower Theater in Wichita Falls in 1948.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Jungle Jim

Jungle Jim: I remember those Saturday Matinees at the Gem Theater in Wichita Falls when I was a kid. Although I loved the B-westerns, if Tarzan or Jungle Jim was playing, so much better. Here is a poster of one that I saw back then.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Views From The Past: Wichita County, Texas

It has taken 8 years for this book to happen, thanks to all of the great people who have sent me photos over the years. There are so many wonderful memories in this book: Funland, Short's Pig Stand, Westmoreland Pool, and Sand Beach. There are photos of streets that no longer exist and places that are no longer there: Underwood's and Brownie's BBQ, Tac Burrito, Tastee Freeze. There are photos of the 1979 tornado, police and firemen, fires and wrecks, churches and schools. Memories are timeless treasures of the heart.

Views From The Past (Pictorial History)
“Wichita County, Texas”
By Julie Williams Coley
Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN #978-1541217843
Price $26.95
612 Pages
Rating 5-Stars

“History of Wichita Falls, Texas In Pictures.”

This is the third volume the author has collected with photographs depicting the long history of Wichita Falls, Texas, where my family lived from 1947 to 1956, then again in 1968-’69 while I was stationed at Sheppard AFB. And again, from December 1978 until after the 1979 tornado, when we moved away for good. But I still hold fond memories from those early years growing up in Wichita Falls, and attending San Jacinto elementary and Carrigan elementary, as well as Reagan Jr. High. We lived in so many places, and I had so many friends that I will never forget, and it’s wonderful to view these old pictures. There are still places not seen yet, and I always hope for a future volume with more memories.

This volume contains photographs from the 1920s to 1930s, 1940s, 1050s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s to 2000. Chapters on Churches, Schools, and hospitals; Burkburnett, Electra, and Iowa Park; Fire Department, Police Department, Fires and Wrecks; Pony Photos; Sheppard AF Base; and The 1979 Tornado. I remember the Army & Navy Store on Ohio & 7th Street with fond memories, as well as the Westmoreland Pool, Funland, Short’s Pig Stand, the Strand Theater, and so many other places (volume one or two had many more photos of theaters). I highly recommend this series of books for anyone who has ever lived in Wichita Falls. If I had a complaint, it would be a request for the pages to be printed on better paper to provide more positive prints, as these books are collectors’ items to be cherished forever.

Tom Johnson
Author of ECHOES 30  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Five & Dime Stores

Five & Dime Stores: I remember in Wichita Falls going to Five & Dime stores like Kress’s and looking through the comic books. Even Martin’s Drug Store on the corner of 8th & Ohio had a nice selection of comic books.