Martin & Marfa, Texas

Army Air Base, Giant, Gliders, Lady Bird, Movies & the Marfa Lights

Alpine

Marfa Texas postcard

 

Martin was born in Marfa, Texas (the facade, right, from the filming of Giant was visible from the highway to El Paso for many years).

Marfa Texas medical clinic where martin was born in 1946

He was born in the Marfa, Texas Searls Hospital clinic (pictured above).  The clinic is on Austin Street in Marfa.

Marfa, Texas clinic in 2009

Martin's parents chose to live in Alpine while Martin's Dad was stationed at the Marfa Army airbase and they returned to live in Alpine permanently after a brief return to Ohio after World War II.  Due to a dispute between 2 Alpine doctors (one not allowing the other to use his facility), Martin's Mom and Dad went to Marfa where martin was delivered by Dr. W.E. Lockhart.

 

picture of James Dean in front of Marfa's Gaint movie facade

James Dean in front of Giant facade just West of Marfa, Texas.  It was pretty exciting when the movie business came to the area. The house Reata, gradually fell a part and even the frame has not been visible for years.

Reata the house for the movie Giant West of Marfa Texas    Frame of old Reata house used in the movie Giant West of Marfa, Texas

pictures of Giant movie stars in display at the Paisano Hotel

The Giant pictures are on display at the Paisano hotel in Marfa

Martin lived in Alpine, however he was involved in many events and for awhile worked out of the Presidio County courthouse in Marfa.

 

 

Marfa Texas postcard

Martin's Mom and Dad were the post card, newspaper and magazine distributors for the Alpine, Marathon, Marfa, Ft. Davis, Ft. Stockton area.

Marfa, Presidio County Court house where Martin worked for the Texas Department of Public Welfare in 1969 and 1970.

 
Paisano Hotel Marfa, Texas
 

Paisano Hotel, Marfa, Texas   Paisano Hotel, Marfa, Texas

 

Paisano Hotel, Marfa, Texas   Paisano Hotel, Marfa, Texas

 

Paisano Hotel, Marfa, Texas  

 
Marfa Army Air Base
 

Martin's Dad, Denver 1942

Ollie Theophilus, Denver 1942

After completing Basic Training in Denver, CO, Martin's Dad was stationed at the Marfa Army Air Base where he was a Link Trainer instructor (right).

 

  

Dad's uniform jacket end WW II 

   

WWII US Army Honorable Discharge Patch (left)

Army  Air Forces Training Command Patch (right above)

Ollie (rt) with Air Corps friend McCulleys at Mitre Peak in 1944


Marfa Army Airbase class year books are available in pdfs at this link.  classes available are:  1943-K, 1944-A, 1944-C & 1944-E.

 

Marfa Army Air Base Marfacts - more

 

Aerial view of Marfa Army Air base in 1943

Oblique airphoto of Marfa Army Airfield, looking north about 1943, with several hundred aircraft on its parking ramp

Aerial view of Marfa Army Air base in 1945

Another oblique airphoto, looking east, probably in 1945 just before the airfield's closure. Note the lack of aircraft on the ramp, but many, many exhaust spots from where they were parked.

© The above 2 images are a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made during the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the images are in the public domain. Below July 2011

 

Poster for Trans Texas AirlinesThe Marfa Army Airbase became a destination for the Trans Texas Airways.  Martin's Grandmother flew out of the airport on her way to and back from Scotland in the early 1950's.   In September 1966 President Lyndon Johnson's wife Lady Bird Johnson, flew into the old airport to dedicate Fort Davis as a National Historic site.

 

 

 

In the mid 1960's 2 Mitchell B-25 or B-26 Marauders showed up at the decommissioned Marfa Army Air base.  Lee McCollum and Martin looked around them and at one point were able to look through one of them that remained open for a long time.  We were told they were bound to Mexico.  These were in the old large main hanger before it was destroyed.

B-25 Mitchell like the ones that were stationed at the Marfa Army Airfield during World War II.  B-26 Maurader like the one at the Marfa Army Air base after it was decommissioned

Martin spent a lot of time at the old air base where his Dad had been stationed.  It was fun going through all the boxes of all military equipment that laid around.  There were stories about a large underground cache of retired military items, however we never made any serious attempt to find them. 

 

Lee and Martin did chase rabbits up and down the runaways on many occasions.

picture from Marfa Army Air Field  1944View more pages from MAAB booklet 

Link Trainer UK  view UK video

Aerial view Marfa Army Air Base  1943 Plans

More about Marfa, Texas air base

 

 


Martin's Dad started the "Link Letter" to help keep folks who served at the Marfa Army Air Field in communication with each other.  I am listing some of the names I found, hoping that may help others still connect.

Peg & Oliver Theophilus, Doug McCulley, Walter T. Wilson, Al Raines, Jim Vizzini, Ed Stolzenburg, Ray Taylor, John Hofbauer, Bob Sterling, Bud Powers, Fritz Kahl, Joe Gugino, Gayhart Leland, Jesse newman, Bernal Slight, Valle Johnson, Al Renshaw, John D. Morgan, John G. Rueter, Ben Arndt, John Allen, Frank C. Bourne, Richard M. Knight, Al McGray, Wes Jungmeyer,  Ollin Crichton, Max Hohlbaugh, George Larsen, Frank Reay, Pascoe Grant, Ray Taylor, Sam Kassel, Bob Joslin, Chester "Chet Bell", Francis Angelo, Ernie Dunaway, Lloyd Dias, Ben Freshman, Phil Schoppe and Stanley Linsted .

Here is Oliver Theophilus 19880 MAAF Link Letter (click to enlarge)

1980 Marfa Army Air Base Link Letter produced by Oliver Theophilus

1980 Marfa Army Air Base Link Letter produced by Oliver Theophilus

1980 Marfa Army Air Base Link Letter produced by Oliver Theophilus

Martin's Grandparents visited Alpine during 1944/45 before moving there from Cleveland in 1947

Martin's Aunt Isabel waiting for a TransTexas flight out of the old Marfa Army airbase

 

 
Marfa Gliders
 

In 1967 Fritz Kahl brought the International Glider Championships to the old Marfa Army Airbase

Link Trainer UK  M

Martin's 1967 Marfa Glider meet movie

Glider post vard from Marfa Texas 

 

 Glider with chute deployed at 1967 Marfa, Texas glider meet

stills from Martin's movie of the 1967 Glider meet in Marfa

 

Martin's shots of gliders near the old Marfa Army Air Base hanger during the 1967 International Glider Meet

 
1970 Marfa Glider poster
 
More Marfa
 

 

Sul Ross Band preparing to play for Lady Bird Johnson's arrival at the Marfa Army Airbase to attend the Fort Davis National Historic Site dedication.  Tony Brons, Carol & Martin in center of photo.

Mom at Fort Davis dedication talking to Lady Bird Johnson

Mom at Fort Davis dedication talking to Lady Bird Johnson.  Mom gave Lady Bird some agate from the area.

Lady Bird Johnson dedicating the Fort Davis national Historic site.

 

 

The Thunderbird Motel Marfa, Texas

One of Martin's interesting on-location jobs occurred August 4, 1969 at the Thunderbird Motel in Marfa, Texas. 

Two brothers Hector and Jesus Flores from Ojinaga, Mexico were hired by Pepper Brown to provide some tracks for the background of a movie Pepper was producing. 

Martin set up a Concertone 800 in one of the motel rooms and miked the voices and guitars. The recording took place while the two players sat on the edge of the beds.  As midnight neared, the players realized they needed to be back across the border by midnight. 

One of Presidio County Commissioners was attending the session offered his car for Martin to drive them the 60 miles to the border crossing.  It was a fast trip, however they didn't make it.  The player s said " no problem, my uncle is the guard."

Additional tracks were recorded at Highland Sound's studio in Alpine on October 27, 1969.

Play Malagueña from these sessions. 

Listen to more clips

 

 

MPhWorkMarfaCtHse.jpg

Working out of the Presidio County Courthouse (only a couple of blocks from where he was born) Martin's office was just off the JP's courtroom.

Marfa, Presidio County Courthousepicture of Lupe Hernandez, Marfa, Texas  His coworkers were Lupe Hernandez (pic right) whose family lived along the Big Bend River Road.  Her family would alternately host folks passing by that include the US Cavalry, Poncho Villa and the Mexican army.  View movie from that area taken in 1969.

Martin's other co-worker was Georgia Kahl whose husband was Fritz Kahl, a pilot (first stationed at the Marfa Army Air Base during WW II), who was instrumental in bringing the glider events to the area.

 

Martin, Fran & Bruce riding motorcycles through Candelaria, Presidio County- Big Bend

picture of Mazda Pickup & motorcycle trailer

Martin going through canyon South of Marfa toward Candelaria Mazda & trailer

 

Jack O'Donnel and his wife and child in Marfa, Texas

Jack O'Donnell with his family in Marfa after taking position with US Border Patrol  

View video from 1967 while Jack was a Highway Patrolman in Alpine.  Jack and Martin worked together while Martin was a Brewster County Deputy assigned to Sul Ross State College.  Jack was great about riding with Martin on the night shift and having Martin accompany him on patrol in the Tx DPS patrol car (pictured below).

Jack O'Donnell's Texas DPS patrol car

 

Old red fire truck

Old fire truck in Marfa, Texas

Cathedral Mountain from Marfa, Texas  Cathedral Mountain from Marfa, Texas

Cathedral Mountain from Fort D. A. Russell in Marfa, Texas

marfa's Stardust Motel sign West of town

Stardust Motel sign

 
Marfa Lights
 

Marfa Lights phenomenon UFOs?

Martin's Mom was fascinated by the Marfa Lights from the time she and his father arrived in three Big Bend area.  Judith M. Brueske, Ph.D. dedicated her book The Marfa Lights to Martin's Mom, Peg Theophilus.

Judith M. Brueske, Ph.D.'s book The Marfa Lights available from Ocotillo Enterprises 205 N. 5th (POB 195, Alpine, Texas 79831

Excerpt from Judith M. Brueske's book "The Marfa Lights" Excerpt from Judith M. Brueske's book "The Marfa Lights" - In 1985 the Junior Historians of Marfa Junior High School published a COLORING BOOK OF THE MARFA LIGHTS and circulated it for sale in area stores.  I, who had arrived in Alpine only a couple of years before, was working at that time for the late Margaret (Peg) Theophilus, in her store, The Shopper's Guide Bookstore.  Peg, who frequently rode out with her husband Ollie, to view the lights, had the coloring book prominently displayed on the checkout counter where it elicited a great deal of story-swapping about the Marfa Lights.

In 1982 Martin, his Mom, Peg Theophilus and Sherry Thorne drove down the old ranch road that was open and ran down the West side of the old Marfa Army Air Base.  As we drove South on the dirt road, a digital car clock Martin had given his Dad, flipped back an hour.  We turn around and went back to the highway, re-set the clock, and drove down the rode again.  Again the clock flipped an hour.  Pretty neat!

 

 

 

Ken, Chris & Martin at old Marfa Army Air Base having just finished walking the old runways at Midnight.  The actual Marfa Lights are in the background of the picture.   Picture was taken directly South from the old Main Gate.

In 1986, Ken, Chris & Martin at old Marfa Army Air Base having just finished walking the old runways at Midnight.  The actual Marfa Lights are in the background of the picture.   Picture was taken directly South from the old Main Gate at about 1:00 am using a long time exposure.

Jim Bunnell has published a book "Hunting Marfa Lights" and a video "Marfa Lights." He was a neighbor here in River Crossing until he moved to Marfa a few years ago. We met at a Neighborhood Night Out party and when we discovered we were both born in Marfa, the conversation evolved to the Lights. My Mom was a passionate Marfa Lighter and I shared her info with him. The Alpine Yahoo group also sent him info. Small world. Jim's web site is http://www.marfatxlights.com/index.html  National Geographic presented his information in their special on mystery lights.

pictures from the 2005 Alpine Texas High School reunion of the '60's  pictures from the 2005 Alpine Texas High School reunion of the '60's

Dee and Donna's presidio County Texas home and land South of Marfa is near where the Marfa Lights are spotted.  These photos were taken July 2005

Donna and Dee with Chris & Martin at the Paisano Hotel in Marfa, Texas - April 2009.

 

Not far from Dee and Donna's property, the Santa Fe railroad winds its way from near the Marfa Army Airbase to presidio, Texas.  While attending Sul Ross University, one of Martin's best friends was Louis "Corky" Thornton from McCamey, Texas.  Corky's Dad managed the miles and miles of Santa Fe tracks through this area.  He had warned Santa Fe that rocks slides were going to cause an accident if they didn't complete some serious work on the cliffs near the tracks.  Sure enough in the late 1960's a train derailed and we joined Corky and his Dad to view the damage. 

 

 

Cathedral Mt area Big Bend West Texas

Cathedral Mountain, Alpine TX 2002

 
Marfa Movies
 

poster for movie "The Andromeda StrainIn 1970 Universal Studios shot the opening of their new movie "The Andromeda Strain" in Shafter,Presidio County, Texas.  At that time Martin was working for the State of Texas and responsible for services in Presidio, Brewster and Jeff Davis Counties. Martin took the movies and some of the pictures in this section. He also had to stay behind a house where he'd just completed an interview when the helicopters began coming in for one of the shots.

Martin's picture of the church that was fixed up for the shooting of the Andromeda Strain in Shafter, Texas

Picture of church (left) and picture of church from movie (right)

View Martin's movie while driving around Shafter

Martin's picture of the church that was fixed up for the shooting of the Andromeda Strain in Shafter, Texas

picture of Shafter, Texas church in backgrounp as seen in the movie. 

Scene above from 1971 movie "The Andromeda Strain"

Helicopter for the filmUSAF helicopters in Shafter, Texas for shooting of the movie The Andromeda Strain

Universal Studios bus in Shafter, Texas during shoot of the movie Andromeda Strain

Universal Studios bus in Shafter, Texas

NBC lift truck at the filming of the movie The Andromeda Strain in Shafter, Texas  NBC lift truck at the filming of the movie The Andromeda Strain in Shafter, Texas

NBC Lift truck in Shafter, Texas for shooting the 1971 release of The Andromeda Strain.  Picture right is from the 1890's of the Shafter mines

  Shafter, Texas in the 1890's

Shafter mines in the 1890's

Other movies shot near Marfa, Texas

No Country for Old Men

There Will Be Blood

 

 

 

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