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Fire at Faulkner's Drugs (1964)

Gordon Wilkison

Silent | 1964

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  •  Firefighters attempt to put out the blaze 
  •  Employees and civilians at the scene 
  •  Firefighters still working to put out the fire 
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Footage from an Austin based network news affiliate shows firemen struggling with a conflagration at Faulkner's Drugs. On the afternoon of October 23, 1964, a canister of cleaning solvent exploded in the back room of the University Typing Exchange. Fire quickly spread from its roof to Faulkner's Drug Store, where the roof eventually collapsed and covered the entire foundation in smoke and fire. Fire fighters were on the scene from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. Faulkner's, located at 2552 Guadalupe, was often frequented by University of Texas students cash checks. The crowd in the film was reported to be an unruly group of students who dented a fire truck by standing on it. The fire cost sizable damages, upwards of $200,000, but no lives were lost. In its present-day location at 2552 Guadalupe stands a bar called Hole-in-the-Wall and a Jack-in-the-Box restaurant.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.