Thursday, August 13, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 11.2 – Early Cowtown Society - Part 1

One might wonder how we 10-11 year old Texans, growing up in mid-20th century Ft. Worth, managed to find ourselves out on the front lawn of the East Side’s  Meadowbrook Elementary School one evening wearing bright white sports jackets, dancing the minuet with pretty little girls wearing, delicate light lace and tulle party dresses with ruffle sweetheart busts, nipped waists, lace overlay and super full cupcake poof circle skirts, made up of one lace layer with attached tulle cascading ruffles, one layer of tulle and fully lined with taffeta material.”
Scarcely 50-years before that evening on the Meadowbrook lawn, our hometown had just gotten its first paved downtown street and the Wrights had just begun their ventures skyward in a Wright Flyer.  To imagine there was a deep tradition of high society soirées for which we were preparing, was wrong.  Until only a few decades before our time, most of our ancestors made their living from tough jobs and working the land.  Fancy soirées, such as those in which we began to participate in the early 1960s had not been a multi-generational tradition.  I think they may have actually gotten their start sometime in the late 1930s, perhaps in conjunction with the 1936 Texas Centennial celebration.  There was certainly a large pavilion hosting frequent dances at Casino Beach on Lake Worth by this time.

Ft. Worth’s social history isn’t very deep and is probably best explained by a cursory look at the principal contributors to the city’s growth; a few people and their occupations.  As youngsters, we probably got a brief look at the last days of the parochial nature in which a lot of small to medium-size cities conducted their variously unique, yet significantly similar “social orders” after WWII, after which things got a lot larger and our options expanded.

The term, Cattle Barons, is a general nod to the area’s more industrious, earliest Texas settlers that flowed into the new Republic after it gained its independence from Mexico.  Since this early Texas history is varied and largely unrelated to my EHHS “social order” exploration, I'll mention a few of our earliest settlers only in the context of noting their contributions to the development of Ft. Worth itself.  Their contributions started the process of setting down the initial premises for our notions of  “polite society” almost a century later.

The 1833 Map - This is the earliest map I’ve found showing good detail of Texas just before Independence--have a look, it's a large map.  Just 3-years before this map was published, some of my early ancestors put down stakes in Arkansas, just across Red River where they opened a couple of taverns to serve the flow of newly arriving Texas pioneers bound for Austin’s Colony.  Their location is marked on the map, as are the approximate locations of (future) Ft. Worth and an arrow marking the point where the famous cattle drives would cross Red River about 30-years later.  Note that the crossing shows a then known trail leading to it from the northwest....most likely an ancient Indian crossing.

1850s - Dan Waggoner (1828-1903) was one of the first settlers in our area of North Texas and his arrival was described by another writer thusly….

“In the 1850s, he moved from Hopkins County to Wise County, Texas with his son, an African slave, six horses and 242 Longhorn cattle.  They settled on Catlett Creek, near Decatur.  The land was 'open range' when they first arrived.

In 1856, he purchased 320 acres of land near Cactus Hill, and moved his family there.  He later purchased more land on Denton Creek, seven miles east of Decatur.  Each time, the whole family moved with him.  Over the next three decades, he purchased more land in Wise County as well as Clay County, Wichita County, Wilbarger County, Foard County, Baylor County, Archer County, and Knox County.

Waggoner's landholdings became known as the (535.000 acre) 'Waggoner Ranch.'  With his son Tom, he also owned five banks, three cottonseed oil mills, and a coal company.

In 1883, he built the Waggoner Mansion, also known as 'El Castile', in Decatur, where he resided with his family.” 

“El Castile” is still standing but has been uninhabited for years.  As time passed, his son Tom Waggoner and his offspring would make a lasting impact on early Fort Worth by constructing several large homes in Quality Hill and River Crest…more about him later.
 ***  ***  ***

Khleber M. Van Zandt (1836 – 1930) arrived in Fort Worth in August 1865 and found "a sad and gloomy picture," as the town had a population of only 250 people and lacked "even a saloon." 

He began a dry-goods business that succeeded and allowed him to participate in other business endeavors. In 1875 he organized the Tarrant County Construction Company, which built the Texas and Pacific roadbed from Dallas to Fort Worth. In 1874, with John Peter Smith, James Jones Jarvis, and Thomas A. Tidball, Van Zandt organized Tidball, Van Zandt and Company, forerunner of the Fort Worth National Bank.  According to his biographer, he was a typical Texan, "one of the quiet men who built homes, . . . engaged in business, promoted towns, . . . opened schools, and enforced law and order."  (The page at left is from a c.1914 special publication entitled "Makers of Fort Worth" showing a contemporary bio - good read)

Van Zandt built several homes over the span of his long life, one of which was a small farm plot on which the Ft. Worth Cultural District stands today.  His last residence was a fine, large home befitting his later life stature as the prosperous banker.  It sat on the land just east of and straddling the West 7th Street bridge, as you approach the city’s 7th St business district…right where I got pulled over for my first ($10) speeding ticket as we motored briskly over the bridge after a date on the west side.

...more in Part 2

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 11.1 – Dating May be a Contact Sport – Part 2

Having wheels available and the charter to get on with dating was only a preliminary hurdle we had to overcome.  Now what?  Where the heck do we go and what are we going to do?  Of course, there were school sponsored dances and individual club sponsored gatherings, but they were infrequent and always seemed like an office party to me.  Why socialize with people you spend so much of your daily life with, a significant percentage of whom you scarcely know and a few that you flat don’t like? 

The house parties seem to have quickly faded as the rush to find some boy/girl friends ramped up; their function as mixers no longer serving their purpose once pairings increasingly emerged and solidified.  The time was at hand to start fogging up some car windows.

Along with the realization that we were going to need some money for expenses, came the realization that in order to make a date somewhat interesting, we were going to need to tap into some creativity.  Our 1961 East Side really lacked much variety for entertainment…a couple of drive-in movie theaters and hamburger stands.   The Gateway Theater was there but, we had been going to the Gateway movies since we were kids…these early dates needed to be something more special than the old Gateway. 

There were a couple of drive-in movie theaters but, by the time we got our hands on the steering wheels, they were showing “B” films and some of them perhaps passing for raunchy in those days.  Bowling was always there but, it wasn’t very conducive to quiet conversation and maybe some snuggling.  We weren’t yet sophisticated nor well-heeled enough to try dinner dates, although the wonderful Italian Inn stood ready on East Lancaster, should we need it.  The Italian Inn was started by Janis Smith’s (EH ‘64, if she hadn’t moved to Highland Park HS) dad, Sid and his partner, Armand Jones.  It had a terrific atmosphere for our early romantic ambitions…private booths with doors on them!  But, we weren’t yet old enough to order the Chianti. 

Now, these early dates really called for some quick o.j.t. …you know the kind, which way to tilt your head on the approach to avoid bumping noses, how to keep from clicking your teeth together…stuff like that.  Then there was the arm around her shoulders ordeal that called for struggling with some serious muscle fatigue while holding it still so as not to risk screwing something up …etc.  Of course, these were minor adjustments that once mastered, faded into fond memory. 

Since young boys/men are naturally curious creatures, once their curiosities are satisfied, their focus and inquisitiveness tends to quickly wander on.  If our girls had only known, it might have behooved them to simply accept the curious attention, secure in the knowledge that his mind would very soon shift to something else.  But no, we were all treated to that amusing female affliction…the twitching shoulder often accompanied by the forearm deflection or swat.  It was actually kind of fun to make a feint just to see her reflexive defenses deploy….sort of a Pavlovian thing.

As a bashful lad, unsure of how his own properties and features were seen by our lovely girls, my approach to the wonderful opportunity was a measured one.  Close observation of Gay and her pals at MJH had shown that when “the girls” liked someone, they tended to act like playful puppies…lots of laughs, playful punches, and in Gay’s case, an insufferable infatuation with that damned Roby.  Glenn Brandon and Charlie Rigby were favorites; so was Paul Tate and Bobby Dillard…their common threads were outgoing personalities and they were smart.  I had the smart part down pretty well but, an outgoing personality wasn’t my thing.  Recently, Girl #3 described me as an ironic wit, thoughtful, and intelligent…sounds good to me….I’ll  take it.  She also described our dates as, “egghead dates” which, well for heaven’s sake…I thought of them as sophisticated.  Hmm…they probably were sophisticated and on reflection, despite appearances to the contrary, she wasn’t…not yet. 

As Carl (’64) brilliantly observed in his Teen Canteen piece, seeing our distaff counterparts mature into increasingly serious potential romantic interests was something that snuck up on us.  Gone were the “sugar and spice and everything nice” days…and here was, well, we weren’t too sure what but, we knew we needed to find out.  The Harry Potter cast shown below as they made their same transition in public view is very illustrative of the phenomena.  Wow!

Very soon we started having to face the sad fact that a lot of our girls were going steady or otherwise engaged with someone that we may not have known or even noticed.  Not only had the ’61 and ’62 class “gulls” swooped in during our Sophomore year of wheelless purgatory, gulls from other schools had been picking them off, too!  What a miserable situation!  But, I’m told by several former classmates that taking themselves out of the game too early came back to bite them later, when they were Seniors, the older gulls had moved on, and us ’63 boys had become otherwise involved.

A light review of our CLAN mug shots from those years suggest a few things; one, our girls were probably right in looking to the gulls when they could…our ’63 crop of boys was seriously deficient in budding Redford or O’Neal prototypes and, our ’63 beauties were numerous, outnumbering the few of us devilishly handsome types by perhaps 6:1.  Doubt me?  Compare a picture of Dianne Hardin or Carolyn Almond or Cheryl Reeder as CLAN Sophomores and with most of the dozens of Sophomore boys in our class and you'll see what I mean.

Asking a girl out on a date was another psychological hurdle to overcome.  There was the direct approach, perhaps over a lunch table or in the hallway but, those were fraught with potential problems…the potential for embarrassment, having an audience for what was fundamentally an ad hoc private matter, and the risk of screwing things up with her nearby girlfriend if she were your fall-back position.  Of course, there was always that infernal telephone.

I don’t recall how I made my approaches to Girls #1 & 2 but, Girl #3 remains clear in memory…a simple, painfully brief, “ya wanna” was probably the extent of it since I didn’t have much expectation of success; she, still being the reigning goddess of the old MJH lunchroom table that had reconvened at EHHS.  But, I had a wonderful advantage…she was pinned to a table in the hallway tending to some club fund-raising activity and had nowhere to escape.  Flustered and unable to run away, she quickly looked one-way, then the other and said, “can I get back to you?”

“Sure,” I said….heck, it wasn’t a “no,” now was it?  And, she had bought herself a few moments to think it over.  This being a nothing ventured, nothing gained situation, I was neither anxious nor complacent since there was nothing to be lost in the venture!

An hour or two later came the Western Union response shown above, and Gus had effectively ended his sampling of our abundance of beautiful EHHS girls, sent Steve Means into a deep funk, and judging from some of their sporadic wistful hallway glances over the next couple of years, may have even tuned up the “Meadowbrook Ladies” a bit,.  The telephone was never again a menace…she kept saying, “Yes, I’d love to.”

Now, having bagged our 8th grade MJH lunchroom table’s unanimous choice as it’s foremost goddess, quickly came the quandary of what to do with her.  This was certainly uncharted waters and young Gus was but a pollywog in them.  Fortunately, Dad had a couple of nice, fairly new cars that he readily made available to me for the cost of the gas to run them so, I wasn’t faced with having to make do with a jalopy.  One of my recent correspondents mentioned that his banger was so rough that his sister refused to ride in it…and by extension, etc.  What other lads had to contend with, I really don’t know since we had essentially stopped sharing social intelligence with one another….this was yet another competition between us and a serious one, at that.

Finding interesting things to do on the early 1960s East Side was a challenge…there wasn’t much.  Oh sure, you had the periodic dances at school or one of the rec centers but, never having had the time to pay much attention to learning how to look cool whilst dancing, I never took time to learn or, with the sports, never really had the time…I think she was the same way as she kept her plate full with lots of extracurricular activities.  You could double-date to one of the hamburger stands, then to a drive-in movie, and grub through the movie but, I had judged the reigning goddess of the MJH/EHHS lunch table gang to be classier than that.  Although double-dates could be a great aid in keeping conversation lively, Girl #3 and I never needed any assistance with that, at least none that I recall.  

Our time in history was within an interesting period of transition in the music industry.  We were evolving from “swing” which we sort of morphed into “rock n’ roll” with “bop, bunny hops, hokey pokies, strolls,” and when Motown entered the scene, it seemed that a “new” dance was invented just to go with each new song release.  There was no way in hell I was going to keep up with all that stuff; but, close dancing remained a consistent and pleasant just got a little closer as you got a little older.

Be that as it may, a happy transformation occurred in the boys’ favor about the same time we started exercising those new drivers' licenses…we got a new supply of girls as the ‘64s came aboard for their Sophomore year.  Just by the numbers, the situation was obvious…where we had had about 150 of our ’63 girls available, the arriving ‘64s roughly doubled that number to 300!!  Once again, things were looking up.

Movies were an old standby that had been serving most communities around the country since they were invented in the early part of the century.  Since I had judged the Gateway as not “uptown” enough for Girl #3, that left the downtown Ft. Worth theaters that had been around essentially unchanged, since the very early days of downtown and for something more modern, we had the newer Ridglea theater on the West Side that usually screened first-run films.  Dallas had its own well established “theater row” on Elm St. but, I don’t recall our going that far to see a movie.  And all of those theaters were much fancier than our old East Side Gateway.
A job in the local neighborhood threw off enough to cover expenses and even enough to bump our dates a bit more "uptown"…the live stage musicals at Casa Mañana and occasionally, the Dallas State Fair Music Hall....the Egghead dates.
But, there was something else afoot during these years…the thing that most likely set in my head the notion of EHHS being an odd social culture.  Ever since starting this blog and canvassing others about their recollections, I’ve been impressed and amused by the responses from some of our top former classmates.

“An in-crowd?  Yes, definitely.”

“I was a good girl.”  (ed. note: yes, I'm sure you were.)

“I dated a lot and never paid attention to it but, yes it was there.”

“I sort of regret it.”

“Snobs”  “Snobby”

“I was a goody two-shoes.”

“I wasn’t near the level of that crowd to have any knowledge of it.”

“I left there after graduation and never looked back.”

“The Meadowbrook Ladies.”

…and a number of others responding along those lines.  Interesting that their thoughts and recollections fairly closely matched my own, which I had for nearly a half-century put off to Bible Belt religions, parochialism, and a fairly common adolescent thoughtlessness.  But, there was more to it than that.

If Carole Stallcup hadn’t erupted in the hall all those years ago, it’s very likely that I wouldn’t have had any knowledge of them…Thaelis, that is.  And it wasn’t until making some inquires in the past few years that I even knew Delphi existed.  Both of them, I think actually skewed our EH social life to some degree and I’ll tell their story after a couple of introductory pieces that must be inserted here, to better explain them.

Until then, 

Next, The Cattle and Oil Barons

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 11.0 – Dating May be a Contact Sport - Part 1

Ending our Sophomore social isolation about the end of that year, presented us with not only our first opportunities to ask some real girls out on dates but, with our first encounters with rejection.  Pimples aside, ol’ Gus, being a devilishly handsome and charmingly witty lad didn’t experience much rejection but, neither did he date many girls before settling on one special one. 

Probably similar to many others, I was nervous about how to best go about this dating stuff.  Perhaps I should have kept going to those sock-hops, even without a date…surely something would have come of that effort; if nothing else, I might have learned to dance and be more comfortable in close proximity to our lovely ’63 – ’64 girls.  Well, that slow dancing was pretty easy and to my way of thinking, much more pleasant, too.

My first solo date was to have been a date to the year-end picnic out at Burger’s Lake.  Got all spiffed up in brand-new matching Jantzen shorts and shirt…very dashing.  She broke the date at the last minute so, that one really didn't count.  However, right out of the gate it introduced the notion that this game was going to have two players, not always having similar motivations nor, perhaps even in possession of equal social schooling. 

Girl #1, my second date, the very first solo date as driver-in-command was a little too young but, a lovely ’64 nonetheless.  As she matured, she would later come into her own and be elected to one of the several Queen honors…one of those getting a full-page picture in the CLAN.  Hmm, I might have moved on too soon...well, that would be a lesson to be learned later.

After Carole Stallcup once again gushed in the hallway about her upcoming Pink Cotillion, to which I was not invited, I gave up on our Meadowbrook clique girls (the "Meadowbrook Ladies" to some) and looked to one of our lovely new ’63 Handley classmates for the next date.  Everything was great about Girl #2 and she, too would become one of our sports Queens a year or so later with her own big picture in the CLAN.  In retrospect, Gus had developed a good beginners' eye, was gaining confidence, and hadn’t yet bent-up the car…things were looking up!

It always appeared that our girls had everything locked down, which must have certainly included fielding a steady stream of date invitations.  It was easy to infer that all girls were highly experienced telephone conversationalists but, several ladies have informed me that most of their phone traffic was with their girlfriends.  And, the waiting for one of those special boy calls was nerve-wracking and sometimes heart-breaking.   

Anyway, for me and for any boy with adolescent confidence challenges, that damned telephone was a menace.  Before gathering courage to make the call, he went through maybe several hours of mental preparation…when to call, don’t want to interrupt anything at her house, don’t call too early, don’t call too late, don’t call in the middle of the TV shows, do call at the commercials, and what in the heck am I going to say? 

O.K., prerequisites met, make the call…the line’s busy, she washing her hair, or worse, she’s not home.  Well, that was actually a relief because it provided more time to ponder and anguish.  Of course in nature’s way, those uncertainties melted away instantly when she answered, a pleasant conversation ensued, and most importantly, she replied, “I would love to.”

For me, that special EH girl was Girl #3…the one that drove Steve Means into a deep funk when he learned we were dating.  He had stolen a kiss from her back in grade school and had been a key member of that notorious Meadowbrook lunch table that spent its time evaluating MJH girls around the lunchroom.  From my very first few days as a new 8th grade transfer to MJH, I had never forgotten that they had unanimously picked Girl #3 as a budding stunner.  She was not a member of the MJH-EHHS in-crowd (the clique)…she was a GDI.  And,by that time, partly due to Carole Stallcup's hallway gushes, Sharron Ballem's indifference, and that neither Gay Burton nor Celia Beall were yet showing me any love, so was I. 

The latter months of that Sophomore year and the first few weeks of the Junior year were the seminal ones that for some, determined the rest of their domestic lives.  Quite a number of EH romances that started then are now approaching their 50th Anniversaries.  Yes, some of them managed to land in my “knocked up” folder but, at ease folks…that folder is locked!  I know that some have been dreading this point in the story.

I'll dog this off as Part 1 of the "Contact Sport" story and take it up in Part 2.  For now, keep in mind that not all of our social challenges were visually obvious.

Continued in Part 2...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Marine Phantom + comments

I monitor a couple of groups where Vietnam vets post some of their “private stock” photos; those they took themselves.  Unlike the more familiar published photos we’ve commonly seen over the years, these are often more gritty and show detail.  Infrequently, the thread will take a personal tack where recollections of the same or similar events from differing perspectives develop.  This was one of them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.8 – The He-Man Women Haters’ Club – The Club House

Of course we weren’t women haters but, if we were to be excluded from the Sophomore dating scene for a few months, it seemed only reasonable to find something else to do with our spare time.  Going anywhere with parents was by this time, a veritable scuttling of any independence we had managed to carve out for ourselves…bikes were out of the question…motor scooters were too juvenile…  Walking wasn’t cool and the bus…well, give me a break, not even Tony, the bus driver could make the bus cool anymore!  So, that left Cooper’s old Chevy, and a sturdy old steed, it was.

Still, fries and cokes at the drive-in on Lancaster or sign-boarding on Hwy. 80 by Rose Hill, or digging divots in Kirby Halm’s yard and installing some “Replace Divots” signs borrowed from the golf course could only amuse a group like ours for so long.  Holidays like Halloween, where we could raid the little kids’ loot bags or blockade Weiler with old tires and inverted metal trash cans..the bottoms filled with gasoline and lit off, provided a few special occasions to break the monotony of our loveless conditions.

A new kid named Shields lived in one of the big new houses up on the hill, north of the school; a quiet kid, pretty smart, a crappy football player, too skinny, but grown tall in the past couple of years.  By some means or another, we set up shop at his house many of the weekend nights…the game was poker.  Also, seven-card stud deuces and one-eyed jacks wild…maybe one-eyed kings, too and more.  But, the most memorable game was the one introduced by Paul TateInjun Joe No-Peekie.

 Everyone at the table knew your card but you and the bet was who had the highest.  Just the kind of mind game Tate liked as it involved people reading more than anything else.  The table was round, adjacent to the kitchen, and the fridge was well stocked…almost a perfect venue for 15-year olds waiting for their driver’s licenses and the games actually served as a good basic training for the more serious games later in the service. 

This group probably had a variable attendance due to Cooper’s car only holding 6 or maybe 7 and the round table seating about that same number.  Several of the guys lived within easy walking distance of the Shields house.  Don’t recall all the attendees but, it was most likely Tate, Dillard, Means, Koebernick, Cooper, Perkins, Ruscoe, McCoy, McCook, Guthrie, and maybe some others.  Talk and humor at those tables was lively but, I don’t recall too much attention going to the girls.  By then we had learned to effectively bluff and part of that bluffing was to hide your hand regarding which girls you were favoring when the time came to try some dating.  If you didn’t keep those kind of things to yourself, there was a risk of some early intramural poaching…or, so the thought went.   

I have no clue what the girls were doing during this school year…although Kay and Bruce’s picture support a story supplied by another Highlander that he was driven crazy by the same sort of close proximity of another lovely Highlander in another lab class…so crazy that he flunked the course.

One of the activities recorded in that year’s CLAN was the image of some of our ’63 girls getting instruction in lady-like poise from the statuesque cheerleader coach, Mrs. Betty Taylor.  Mrs. Taylor had been a Tri-Delt sorority girl in college.

A lot of long evenings were spent at some dingy pool hall somewhere on Lancaster…Tate, Means, or Dillard found that one.   We got caught by Mr. Johnson as we tried to duck out of an Easter program in the auditorium to go play pool…had no idea he was in the habit of looking for escape attempts along that long line of windows at the back of the building, although we did know that Mr. Vaughn was stationed at the parking lot end of the building to nab escapees there.  It was a first escape attempt that resulted in Mr. Johnson’s instruction to Coach Graves to “give these boys some reminders after the program was completed.”  But Graves was a no-show after the program and we were left with the long weekend to anticipate the pain the following Monday.  Nothing came of it so, perhaps they knew the threat and anticipation were enough…who knows?

Sometime late in the Spring, our favorite brat, Gay Burton showed up driving a neat little Corvair and started doing some of the driving as we began to reassemble our little gang occasionally. I think one of our projects was a Cha-Cha dance class taught by Sam Scott's mom somewhere on the other side of town.  Anyway, it was a neat little car and any chance to knock around with Gay was a treat...and, fun.

Next:  Dating may be a contact sport

Friday, June 05, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.7 – The He-Man Women Haters’ Club – Still No Wheels

It was never clear just how much time we devoted to the sports teams but, in going through this look-back and giving it some thought, I was somewhat shocked to realize that participation in each sports team kept us busy about 16-hrs per day in season….up at 6:30 A.M. and to sleep maybe 10:30 P.M. or so each school day with no real down time between those hours.  That schedule continued all 3-years at EH.  Socializing with some of the many school clubs was out of the question, there just wasn’t any time for them.  That was a shame for, those clubs provided a variety of opportunities to meet and interact with others, especially our beautiful girl Highlanders but, that’s the way it was. 

Now, unlike the boys, the girls weren’t troubled with this pressing need for a driver’s license and with all those older EH men (with driver’s licenses) hovering about like the gulls, picking them off for dates, a lot of our ’63 gals were willing and able to go out with those older men at age 15, or 14.   This was a rolling phenomena that existed well before we encountered it and of course, continued long after our brush with it.

Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Sara Tannahill, was even in the business of matching some of the younger girls up with “older men” and she wasn’t much older than we were then—in a sense she was compounding our problem while aiding the girls with theirs.  Others found their older men in their churches sometimes from other high schools (mostly Poly and Paschal), where they had likely been seeing one another in those settings for years.   

Suffice it to say, that our ’63 girls had and were taking advantage of dating opportunities that our ’63 boys didn’t yet have.  But, for some, those earlier opportunities would make things difficult for them in the later EH years as the boys caught up and settled their girl friend matters in due course, mostly by taking up with girls from the younger classes.  They had become the gulls picking off the girls from the trailing classes of ’64 & ’65!

Unknown to us, this difficult boy/girl situation would set up a social phase disruption within our class that, for some, could continue to affect us all the way through EHHS.  Not only did we have to wait for that all-important license…by the time we got it, a lot of our favorite girls were distracted or even attached to other, older boys….a classic example of the boy next door making out a lot better than the one down the street.

Since our 16th birthdays arrived at different times over the span of this 10th grade year, our freedom tickets arrived throughout that year.  I think most of us were Spring babies so, that time of year was jumping.  Until then, during this 10th grade year, we were somewhat adrift…well, the boys were, anyway. 

So, what to do?

Well, tearing up and down the Meadowbrook streets packed in Cooper’s old Chevy was one thing…mostly mindless, rambunctious fun filled with lots of laughter about what, I don’t recall.  However, our range was almost entirely within the boundary of our Meadowbrook-Handley neighborhoods…a very small domain.

A coke and fries at the burger joint on East Lancaster (the Driftwood, maybe?) near the Cox’s shopping center.  I don’t think anything else like it existed that early on our side of town…the Chuc Wagon hadn’t been built or, we would have found it.  But, finding variety in our cokes and fries wasn’t a priority and venturing too far from our home turf could bring us into contact with similar “gangs” from other high schools “cruising” around their neighborhoods.  In fact, I recall Glenn Brandon coming into school one Monday morning, all scuffed up from a brawl with some Carter boys.  I think that one occurred at the Driftwood.

About this time, some of the girls “gangs” would gather at someone’s house for a pajama party, news of which would find its way into the hallway chatter.  Those generally involved some of Vicki Held’s and Gail DeVore’s gang, probably many of those in the “Stars” picture below.  Don’t recall any of those kinds of gatherings at Burton Manor that year and Gay’s parties seemed to have become less frequent…what was going on?

For one thing, that year many or most of “our” girls got their invitations to join the Thaelis Service Club or the Delphi Service Club.  More about them in an article or two.  This was a big deal for the invitees….and like most others at EHHS, I would have had no idea they existed but for the nearby gleeful outburst Carole Stallcup emitted as she opened her invitation.  Carole was a beautiful girl, who for one reason or another I never did get to know very well.  Belying her demure appearance, she could be a little boisterous on occasion and as a later (college) Animal House member once appraised a college girl walking ahead of us, “looks like she swapped legs with a bird and lost her butt in the deal.”  Remember, I didn’t say that…he was a college “man” of 19.  Carole had very slender pegs. 

Anyway, this Thaelis deal was something else that stuck in my craw from those long ago days and ferreting out facts about it was one of the objectives of this blog from the beginning.  Pretty sure I understand it now and ease, girls...ol' Gus won't be spanking you much.  I would wager that you gals don't even know the background to this story.

Next, the clubhouse ...