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, July 2, 2017

King of The Congo

King of The Congo, a 15-Chapter Serial from Columbia in 1952: With Buster Crabb as Thunda/Roger Drum, and Gloria Dea as Pha, the Queen of the Rock People. Roger Drum is sent to Africa as a spy where enemies of America are trying to bully the local natives and locate an important radioactive ore. When Drum’s plane crashes, Pha and her warriors rescue Drum and take him to their caves. The enemy is searching for him too, as he is supposed to be carrying an important message to them. While in the cave the enemy attacks, and Drum lifts a heavy club to strike the warning gong for Pha’s warriors. By lifting the great club the Rock People believe he is Thunda, the only one capable of the feat, thus they make him king of their tribe. I believe this was the seventh and last serial Buster Crabb made, and possibly the weakest. He appeared still in good shape and all, but the acting and directing was just weak. The growling Cave Men tribe and Rock People have numerous battles, and there was a lot of fake growling. Thunda’s fight with the gorilla is the best scene in the film, I think. This was the only serial that Gloria Dea was in, and she just wasn’t very good in the part. Jungle Drums of Africa, the 12-Chapter Serial from Republic, would follow in 1953 with a similar plot (minus the muscular jungle man), but with better acting and directing. Even with the awful giant claw monsters, it is a better serial than King of The Congo. But then anything with Clayton Moore and Phyllis Coates is going to be good. Still, it was fun finally getting the chance to see this serial thanks to my friend Ralph Grasso. And it did provide a serial weekend for me. So that can’t be all bad.

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