Texas Archive of the Moving Image

TAMI Flashback: Central Texas Fun in the Sun


A Boat Is Not a Car

This article inaugurates Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

After a nearly two-year hiatus, it's great to be back on the Slackerwood TAMI beat. Since our first TAMI series ended in December 2011, TAMI has added a zillion or so new videos to its ever-expanding collection. The site also has undergone a slick redesign with lots of helpful features, including a monthly article highlighting new releases.

I'm kicking off this new series with a trio of 1970s vintage videos about outdoor fun in the Texas Hill Country, a popular destination for Austinites as the 100-degree heat of summer gives way to the crisp and refreshing 90-degree chill of fall.

Produced circa 1972 for the Highland Lakes Tourist Association and the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Ballooning over LBJ Country is a tour of the Highland Lakes, starting 85 miles northwest of Austin at Lake Buchanan and ending at Lake Austin. As a balloon drifts over the lakes and shows us stunning Hill Country landscapes, an earthbound family travels the same route in an RV, visiting Hill Country towns and landmarks.

TAMI Flashback: The Legends of Austin


Legends of Austin

This article is the twelfth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

I'm wrapping up a year of the nostalgic TAMI Flashback series by featuring a doubly nostalgic video. The Legends of Austin -- itself nearly a half-century old -- examines more than 70 years of Austin history that came before it.

Produced in 1962 as part of Austin National Bank's Progress Report Austin series, The Legends of Austin is a sequel to a similar program that aired a year earlier. (Sadly, the original video is not in the TAMI library.) This fascinating program presents an eclectic montage of the city's history, with plenty of old photos and stories about Austin's famous citizens.

Much of the film's content is familiar; we've all seen photos of an unpaved (and hopelessly muddy) Congress Avenue, an equally muddy Sixth Street and various long-gone courthouses, hotels and other buildings. But other images are less common, such as a shiny new Braniff airliner at Robert Mueller Municipal Airport in 1935 and a slightly erroneous sign at 11th Street and Congress Avenue marking the Chisholm Trail. (Austin was on the trail, but no one drove cattle up Congress; the herds crossed the Colorado River near the Montopolis Bridge and below Mt. Bonnell.)

TAMI Flashback: Blaine Dunlap Does Dallas


Sometimes I Run

This article is the tenth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

This installment of the TAMI Flashback series ventures north to Dallas and back to the 1970s. It's a place and time I know all too well, having moved to Big D in 1971. (Dallas wouldn't have been my first -- or even tenth -- choice of places to live. But as a 7-year-old, I had no say in the matter.)

Ah yes, Dallas -- a city that is the anti-Austin in almost every conceivable way. But even über-Austinites like me feel a certain grudging nostalgia for our soullessly suburban Dallas childhoods. So I was intrigued to find two superb documentary shorts about Dallas in the TAMI video library, East Dallas, Summer, 1974 and Sometimes I Run. Both films are by Blaine Dunlap, a relatively obscure Dallas indie filmmaker of the era.

TAMI Flashback: The University of Texas Tower Shootings


UT Tower Shooting

This article is the ninth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

August 1, 1966 may be the worst day in Austin history. On that day, 25-year-old University of Texas student Charles Whitman went on a shooting rampage from atop the university tower, killing three people inside the tower and 10 more on the ground below, and wounding 32 others. In the early morning hours before the shooting spree, Whitman also stabbed his mother and wife to death.

The horror of that day lives on in many Austinites' memories. Thanks to reporters and cameramen at Austin's KTBC-TV who covered the story at great personal risk, the horror also lives on in dramatic news footage of the tragedy.

The TAMI library includes several videos about Whitman's rampage. The best of them is Neal Spelce Collection, No. 1 - UT Tower Shooting, a 25-minute broadcast that aired on KTBC on the day of the killings. The video is a startling record of the day's events and a fascinating study in early television journalism.

TAMI Flashback: Touring Texas


Texas - The Big State

This article is the eighth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

Now that summer is here -- actually, I think it arrived in April -- it's time for many of us to head out on America's highways and byways for vacation road trips. In honor of this great tradition, this month I'm featuring TAMI videos you may find helpful if you're planning to visit any of Texas's many vacation destinations.

These videos may be more amusing than helpful, as they were filmed long ago; some of the attractions they feature no doubt are long gone. Then again, if you can't decide on a vacation destination, Texas - the Big State, Mondo Texas and the hundreds of home movies in the TAMI library may help you choose between Galveston (home of a great beach with ukulele players) and Glen Rose (home of the Creationist Evidences Museum).

Texas – the Big State is a 1952 film promoting the many wonders of Texas and the many ways the Santa Fe Railroad serves the Lone Star State. The film sets its Texas-sized tone at the outset, braggartly telling us that "In recent years, Texas has come to be accepted practically as the universal gauge of the ultimate of everything." Well, okay then -- show us why Texas is the ultimate of everything! And show us how the Santa Fe Railroad helps make Texas that way! (Texas - the Big State is a film of many exclamation points.)

TAMI Flashback: The More Things Change in Texas Politics, The More They Don't


State Capitol

This article is the sixth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

There is an ancient joke that the people of Texas would be much better off if the Texas Legislature, instead of meeting for 140 days every two years, would meet for two days every 140 years. Given the current legislature's less than stellar performance, I'm inclined to agree. (Molly Ivins said it best when she labeled Texas "the national laboratory for bad government.")

Whatever your opinion of the Texas Legislature, you'll probably agree that the biennial proceedings at the Texas Capitol are endlessly fascinating. And in conjunction with the current legislative session, this month I'm featuring a few TAMI videos that remind us some things never change in Texas politics.

Produced c. 1965, Mr. Speaker is an entertaining and informative documentary about a day in the life of Texas House Speaker Ben Barnes. Only 26 when he took office in 1965, Barnes was the youngest speaker in Texas history. He served as speaker until 1969 and then as lieutenant governor from 1969 to 1973.

TAMI Flashback: Playing in Traffic


The Traffic Problem

This article is the fifth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

If you lament how Austin has changed over the years -- and what Real Austinite doesn't? -- at least you can rest assured that one thing about Austin hasn't changed in decades and probably never will: a lot of Austinites are very bad drivers.

According to the videos featured in this article, driving in Austin has long been a be-careful-out-there proposition. Having driven Austin's highways and byways since the 1980s, I'd have to agree.

Consider Progress Report Austin -- The Traffic Problem, a 1963 installment of a series of TV programs about life in our fair city. From its opening credits -- set against a backdrop of a swiftly moving, upper-deckless I-35 -- The Traffic Problem reminds us that reckless driving is nothing new in Austin. The Traffic Problem isn't great television; frankly, it's rather lousy television, full of interchangeable talking heads droning endlessly about traffic safety statistics, enforcement and court procedures. (Apparently, all early Sixties-era Austin traffic safety officials were balding, boringly earnest middle-aged white guys wearing horn-rimmed glasses.) But interspersed with the droning are many wonderful shots of Austin roads and landmarks, including the old Brackenridge Hospital building that was torn down in the 1970s.

TAMI Flashback: A Trio of TEA


Toward a Better Tomorrow

This article is the fourth in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

While poking around in the TAMI library for videos to feature in this article, I found three very interesting bits of Austin nostalgia from an unlikely source: the Texas Education Agency (TEA), which oversees the state's public education system. These videos are great examples of vintage state agency films, with high-quality production values, beautiful soundtracks and some surprising connections to Austin's fledgling film and music industries. (Then again, given the quality of these films, maybe these connections are not so surprising.)

The New American Schoolhouse is an early 1970s look at the career and technical programs the TEA's Department of Occupational Education and Technology offered to high-school students. Shot in Austin and Ft. Worth, it spotlights examples of career education in graphic arts, health care, retail, manufacturing, data processing and other vocations. (Remember data processing? I hear it was a career with a future.) Beyond showing these examples, the film promotes the then-novel idea that to prepare students for life after graduation, their education must combine classroom and real-world learning.

Like many films from this era, The New American Schoolhouse presents the expected parade of computer -- er, data processing -- equipment the size of refrigerators, hairdos nearly as large, yacht-sized American sedans, mini-dresses, striped sport coats, and hideous pantsuits that women now swear they never wore. (Such denial is pointless; there is plenty of photographic evidence of these fashion faux pas.) The film also has pleasantly artsy, film-schoolish visuals, from sometimes unflattering close-ups of students' faces to sweeping shots of urban vistas. The opening sequence's birds-eye view of downtown Austin is fascinating, as the camera pans over St. Mary Cathedral, City National Bank, I-35, and the hills west of Austin. One interesting scene was filmed at the Austin American-Statesman.

TAMI Flashback: 'Automobile Thefts' and 'No Chance'


Allandale Village

This article is the third in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

The classic noir thriller The Naked City ends with a memorable line: "There are eight million stories in the Naked City; this has been one of them."

There aren't quite as many stories in the River City, but Austin has plenty of crime nonetheless. And crime in Austin is the subject of two priceless TAMI videos featured in this article, Automobile Thefts -- A Police Training Aid and the provocatively titled No Chance.

Made in Austin c. 1953, Automobile Thefts is exactly the sort of mundane but now fascinating film that makes TAMI so special. Produced by the National Automobile Theft Bureau and the Texas Department of Public Safety, it's a training aid to help law enforcement more effectively combat car thieves. Thrilling it's not; its dry explanations of theft techniques and investigative procedures aren't exactly gripping entertainment. But like so many TAMI videos, Automobile Thefts captures mid-century life like no narrative film ever could.

TAMI Flashback: 'To Market, To Market' and 'Summer Fun'


To Market, To Market

This article is the second in a Slackerwood series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library.

In the late 1960s, Austin was rapidly outgrowing its sleepy small-city persona. Although the population was one-third its current size (there were 251,000 residents in 1970), Austin saw some fundamental changes that shaped the city we know today, including the birth of the high-tech industry.

As the population grew, Austin's surprisingly small media market became ever larger and more competitive. Today's Austinites may find it hard to believe that until 1965, Austin had only one commercial TV station, KTBC-TV (owned by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson), which carried programming from CBS, ABC and NBC (and the largely forgotten DuMont network until its demise in 1956). KHFI-TV (now KXAN-TV) signed on in 1965 and carried NBC programming starting in 1966, and KVUE-TV signed on in 1971, carrying ABC programming.

All of which brings us to the first Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video I'm highlighting in this article, To Market, To Market, in Austin, Texas. Produced circa 1969, this short promotional film is an overview of programming on the KTBC network's TV and radio stations. The film was intended to sell advertising time; I'm not sure how effective it was in wooing advertisers in its day, but today it's yet another intriguing peek at life in mid-century Austin.

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