Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.5 – The He-Man Women Haters’ Club – The Starting Shuffle

With a nod to the school just starting its 2nd year, in retrospect it’s fair to note the seeming maelstrom of confusing and cross-purposes start of year activities, rates a modicum of forgiveness; but, boy did EHHS come on in a rush that first few days.  It seems that we elected class officers, cheerleaders, and formed football teams within the first week, without much time to campaign or consider what we were doing or who these new people among us were. 

The result was a newly elected slate of class officers, all of them football players, who bore little resemblance to those we had been electing back at MJH and not a HJH grad among them.  Brandon and McCoy were well liked boys back at Meadowbrook but, had never been elected to anything so far as I know; and who the heck was Louis Miller?  Never heard of Louis before…a new arrival from William James JH along with 2 or 3 others, Gene Cartwright among them, I think.  Surprising election results were reflecting changes in our electorate! 

We got 2 brand new cheerleaders that we Meadowbrook kids had never seen before, and the “B” football team was immediately divided into halves…half with numbers on their jerseys, and half without.  And some of us got an introduction to a tall, somewhat scarecrow-looking coach with a mean streak, named Ron McBee.  McBee, an ex-Handley coach largely unknown to us at Meadowbrook, was in the midst of a divorce about this time that had rendered him so disagreeable that an even a temperate spirit such as Danny McCook quit the varsity basketball team in disgust…lucky us…

Handley’s Dianah Barton and Suzanne Hoffman pulled off an unexpected upset of epic proportions when they displaced our seasoned Meadowbrook cheerleader squad of Gay Burton, Celia Beall, and Julie Hudson to serve as the EHHS “B” team cheerleaders..  After drubbing the Handley pups 36-14 and winning the City Championship the season before, we had no reason to think that there would be any significant changes to our fall football world…but there was.  Suzanne and Dianah were very successful Pups who joined Meadowbrook's Charlie Rigby and Danny Tekstar to form our Sophomore cheerleader squad, and later became our Varsity cheerleaders the following years.

So, now I had two new cheerleaders to yearn for in my rapidly approaching social life, had never seen either of them before, and it had taken nearly 2-years to get some attention from Gay’s gang…what a perplexing development that was!  And I think Suzanne came with an existing boy friend, don’t know about Dianah, and it didn’t matter in either case….still no wheels, no money, and no damned driver’s license.  What we needed was something else to soak up the down time…hmm, something like a, “He-Man Woman Hater’s Club.”

Next...No Wheels

Monday, April 20, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.4 – The He-Man Women Haters’ Club - Summer

What a day for a daydream; it’s Spring, 74┬║ and time once again for those delicious spring afternoons, and gentle breezes.  It has been ever thus for as long as I can remember.  Finishing off our Meadowbrook Jr. High days having fun with the 1960 Stars Over Meadowbrook program and looking forward to our first year in high school just a few weeks ahead.

Summer 1960.  I don’t remember it.  Well, not much of it.  For me, summer baseball was in the rear view mirror so, whatever happened that 9/10th grade summer was a blur.  There might have been a party or two at Gay’s house which were by now I think, ad hoc affairs, or we might have gotten a swim mob or two together at Lucas or Burgers.  Getting a girl up on your shoulders for a pool joust was much more about touching and enjoyable views than it was about anything competitive. 

The Meadowbrook bowling alley was a favorite hangout…good fries and cokes.  But once again, getting together with some girls to roll a few 50¢ lines was not so much about high scores as it was observing feminine forms.  On the other hand, if the girls weren’t available, it was just about as entertaining competing with a friend…old hanging-out habits faded slowly.

Sophomores.  When, for the very first time, we entered the new Eastern Hills High School as Sophomores we had little idea what was in store for us on the other side of those doors.  As 15-year old youngsters, we had little understanding of what had been developing within our social psyche the past 2-3 years, puberty, and all.  But, we were immediately aware that we were no longer the big kids at school, as we had been the previous year at one of the junior highs.

It’s easy to imagine that our Sophomore girls were getting a lot of attention from the “older men” (juniors & seniors) already at EH, waiting for them.  Their first weeks of encountering those grown-up opportunities must have ranged somewhere between flattering and terrifying.  In actuality, to my mind it was something more akin to a flock of predator Gulls circling over a herd of hatchling Sea Turtles (our girls) flapping like hell to gain cover in the surf….and the girls getting picked off, one-by-one….to go steady.  

For the boys, it was flatly the most miserable year of our lives….or, at least it was for me.  Why?  Well, think of it this way….we’re still those little baby goats looking for someone or something to butt or snuggle up to, we’ve got no wheels, no driver’s license, no money, and our girls are being picked off by those older “EH men” at school every damned day! 

MUSIC.  Before launching into this 10th grade recollection, a couple of old songs from that early sixties period come to mind…they perfectly describe a couple of powerful aspects of those days.


What a day for a daydream
What a day for a daydreamin' boy
And I'm lost in a daydream
Dreamin' 'bout my bundle of joy
And even if time ain't really on my side
It's one of those days for takin' a walk outside
I'm blowin' the day to take a walk in the sun
And fall on my face on somebody's new mowed lawn

Another Saturday Night

Another Saturday night and I ain't got nobody
I got some money 'cause I just got paid
How I wish I had someone to talk to
I'm in an awful way

Next…The Starting Shuffle

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.3 – The He-Man Women Haters’ Club, Part 1 - Gay B.

This brief digression is for house-keeping purposes in order to better set up the next few articles…all of them about the “He Man Woman Haters’ Club.” 

Gay Burton.  Gay, my luv, if you ever stumble in here…please forgive me for calling you out like this.  If I were to summon memories of a single person who had a significant influence in coloring my very earliest notions of love and the fairer sex, it was, beautiful, vivacious, and perhaps most importantly at the time….a cheerleader. 

Since my first introduction, in 7th grade at Richland JH to the spectacle of an all-school pep rally presided over by several cute girls, Judy, Betty Kay, Paula, Karmen, Linda, and Patsy, I had set my nascent amorous ambitions on dating a cheerleader.  And Gay, who was at the top of my personal MJH rating stack, fit that bill just fine. 

With no older siblings, there was no one at my house to help interpret how best to become a 13-year old Valentino, or equivalent….and as the new kid at school, Gay didn’t know me from Adam…and she was in serious “like” with that damned Roby (see numerous other references).  Never mind that the sultry 13-year old Celia nor the pixie-like Julie weren't showing me any love either.
Anyway, a couple of years went by and Gay & Co. finally deigned to nod at me in the halls….still no love, though.  Since in my mind, Gay owned MJH for those couple of years I’ve tended to file away obscure snippets of information as I’ve been occasionally writing pieces for this blog, wondering how she originally came to prominence at such a tender age.  A 1964 Highlander sent me a collection of scans, now about 57-years on, that to my mind satisfactorily answers the question…Gay had help and she got it before I got there…read on.

The first EH Class of 1963 MJH cheerleader was not Gay, but Celia Beall, elected to the squad as a 7th grader; after Celia, there would be just one more 7th grade cheerleader on the varsity squad--Sandra Fish; after that, just 8th and 9th graders. 
The 1957 football team picture shows the cheerleaders seated in the front row.  Gay’s not there; no, she was elected the following spring, 1958 and was on stage my first semester at MJH so, she was simply a fact in my experience of those years.

The accompanying article describes the spring election of cheerleaders for our upcoming first Meadowbrook Buffalo City Championship football team.  Future Classes of 1963 & 1964 are represented there and the girls from both classes would continue to comport themselves very well at EHHS.

So, how did Gay propel herself to such prominence, so early?  Well, I’m pretty sure big sister Melany had something to do with it.  The first time I ever saw Melany was at EHHS as a Class of 1961 cheerleader…and in that 1957 MJH football team picture, there she is sitting in that same front row as Celia.   But, that’s not enough to explain it.  No, take a look below at the Meadowlark Staff …there’s big sister Melany, the editor.  O.K., now consider the huge front page picture of 7th grader, little sis Gay, promoting the 1958 Stars Over Meadowbrook variety show; the issue of that edition just 1-month before cheerleader elections.  Seventh graders NEVER got their pictures in the paper for much of anything, much less a quarter-page, above the fold feature on the Front Page! …and suddenly, there’s my friend, another future unrequited love--Gay. 

See, kids…thought you got away with it clean, didn’t you?

 "Book 'em, Danno!"

Friday, February 06, 2015

EHHS Social Order - 10.2 - Members Only

Country clubs had been around Ft. Worth for almost 60-years before most of us got our first look at the inside of them during some of our dances.  Since Dad didn’t play golf or tennis and did business entirely within the fledgling aerospace industry, he never had the urge to join one of the clubs.  Nevertheless, in the 1950s, a growing middle class was beginning to see their fortunes expanding and a few of us had parents who were doing well enough to join one of the clubs.  Don’t know for sure who they were but, a good guess would be those in our class who played on the golf and tennis teams.

Since Ft. Worth had not yet developed any really high quality hotels downtown, as Dallas had by the time we graduated, to my knowledge all the local high school proms were held in one of the local country club facilities.  Certainly for me and probably for most of us, rounding up a date and attending one of those proms was the first time we got to see a venue that was much fancier than the school gym or the plain MBCC clubhouse room.  They were also our first introduction to a higher lifestyle that few of us had ever experienced to that point in life.

The club descriptions that follow came from a 2013 article in the Ft.Worth magazine.  They provide a good introduction to the venues we would encounter during our early 1960s trek toward graduation.

While the history of the clubs in this town is important, it’s the significant members of those clubs that are interwoven in the fabric of the city.
by Jennifer Casseday-Blair and Paul K. Harral

Back in the 19th century, we were a nation of joiners. A man was largely defined by what fraternal organizations he belonged to,” says local historian Rick Selcer. “Every organization of any importance was just another glorified boys club sans the tree house.”

Aside from the countless perks offered by many of the clubs in Fort Worth, such as pristine golf courses, resort-style swimming pools, tournament-quality tennis courts, state-of-the-art workout facilities and gourmet meals, the benefits really come down to the camaraderie and personal relationships formed after joining.

That need for camaraderie is no new notion. Since the establishment of the city’s first club in 1906, Fort Worth clubs have churned out many of the most interesting and vital characters in local society.

The Fort Worth Club
founded in 1906

The Fort Worth Club is the oldest and arguably the most important, although a statement like that tends to provoke heated discussion among members of other clubs. It traces its history to June 10, 1885, when the Commercial Club of Fort Worth was chartered by the state of Texas. It became The Fort Worth Club in 1906.

No story about clubs in Fort Worth would be complete without recognition of the power wielded by men who were members of The Fort Worth Club. More properly the Citizens’ Committee and then the Good Government League, it will always be remembered as the Seventh Street Gang. It’s often associated with Amon G. Carter, but in truth, it rose to power only after his death.

There are two kinds of power — the power to make things happen and the power to stop things from happening — and the Seventh Street Gang possessed both. In those days, the Seventh Street area was a bastion of local and nationally prominent businessmen, and The Fort Worth Club was their hangout. Open meeting laws and a switch to single member districts for City Council members loosened the group’s grip on Fort Worth politics. 

Don Woodard, a local insurance man who got his start as a landman in the oil and gas business and spent many years with the Texas & Pacific Coal & Oil Co., was a close observer of those days. “These were all good citizens interested in the future of Fort Worth,” Woodard said. “And that’s what they were, every damn one of them. They were city builders. They were for Fort Worth.”

River Crest Country Club
founded in 1911

River Crest Country Club opened in 1911 with a barbecue for 500 guests, a golf tournament and a sale of the surrounding home sites. River Crest was the first country club in Texas to include a residential housing development on its acreage. Amon G. Carter was chairman of the opening tournament, and by the end of that first year, the club had 221 members.

The polo field at the club doubled as a runway for the area’s first charter airline and flew wildcatters to the oil fields. However, the families that formed the nucleus of River Crest made their money in cotton, cattle and the conveyances that transported their goods to market. Many of the club’s charter members were self-made men.

As a who’s who of Fort Worth, River Crest had such members as Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Don Looney. Other notable members were pianist Van Cliburn, movie star Fran Bennett, Heisman Trophy winner Davey O’Brien, and Major League ball player and manager Bobby Bragan.

As a child, golf legend Marvin Leonard’s daughter, Marty, played River Crest mainly because she grew up nearby. “I learned to hit the ball pretty straight because if you don’t, you’re out of bounds all the time,” she says.

River Crest members founded the Women’s Texas Golf Association in 1916. The club’s history also notes that “Olympic superstar Babe Didrikson Zaharias took golf lessons at River Crest and became such a fixture that the ladies created a tournament for her — the Texas Women’s Open, which brought top competitors to River Crest from 1935 to 1955.” Member Aniela Goldthwaite played on the U.S. Curtis Cup Team in 1934 and 1936 and won the Texas Women’s Open in 1937.

Glen Garden Country Club
founded in 1912

Mr. Horace H. Cobb of the O.K. Cattle Company, Glen Garden Golf and Country Club founder, was denied entry into River Crest Country Club and decided he would take his land and build his own course.  In the early days of the club, members would arrive by horse and buggy or by use of the Cleburne interurban.

Glen Garden began as a nine-hole golf course with sand greens, but a few years later nine more holes were added. Course designer, John Bredemus, was the same architect who designed Colonial Country Club.

It was at Glen Garden Country Club that two of the greatest names in golf, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, began their golf careers as caddies in the early ‘20s. In 1927, 15-year-old Nelson had a one-stroke victory over Hogan in the annual caddy tournament, which is one of the most revered moments in Fort Worth’s golf history.

Fort Worth Boat Club
founded in 1929

Fort Worth clubs have a long history with water. The Fort Worth Boat Club was established in 1929 and moved from Lake Worth to the newly impounded Eagle Mountain Lake in 1934, located on just more than 13 acres of land that are still its home.

As one of the oldest yacht clubs in Texas, the Fort Worth Boat Club was established by a group of businessmen who all had a desire to sail.

“The club today is made up of members who sail and partake in all aspects of water sports along with a large number of social members who just enjoy the gorgeous view, fine dining and camaraderie the club offers,” says Commodore Philip L. Schutts.

For nearly 40 years, the Fort Worth Boat Club has held annual regattas and races such as the Ol’ Man of the Sea Regatta. Amenities include a full-service restaurant and bar, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a harbor and boathouses for sail and power vessels. Sailboats are available to resident members.

“But, we also offer the best sunset views in all of Fort Worth from our dining room, pool or beautiful lawn,” Schutts says.

Colonial Country Club
founded in 1936

Colonial Country Club was founded in 1936 by Marvin Leonard of Leonard Bros. fame.

“Colonial is a championship golf course. It was built to be a championship golf course, and, as you know, hosted the [U.S.] Open, which had never happened in this part of the U.S. before until Daddy got it here in ’41,” Marty Leonard said. “That’s what attracts people mostly I think — somebody who wants to play that kind of golf course.”

Colonial, of course, brings national television exposure to the city every year with the PGA tour.

"The private clubs in Fort Worth have played a major role in the history of golf and the prominence the game holds in North Texas,” says Kevin Long, the executive director of The First Tee of Fort Worth, a program aimed at promoting golf and its values to youngsters with a stress on diversity.

In April of 1991, Colonial accepted the applications of the first six black members in its history, solicited with the assistance of the Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce after the PGA of America adopted a no-black, no-tournament rule. Club officials thought the separate PGA Tour might adopt the same rule, threatening the long-running Colonial Invitational.

Club officials said that Colonial did not have an exclusionary policy and had admitted Hispanic, female and Jewish members. But cost of membership — $25,000 for a golfing membership or $5,000 for a social membership at the time — was a financial barrier for many.
Dee Jennings, head of the Black Chamber, says that private clubs without minority members “were seen as being very significant in the early years because they actually were where the powerful and the promised met in a casual setting which lead to business and civic opportunities.”

That has changed somewhat over the years, he says, because other venues for meetings have become available, and while private clubs “are still very useful for social and civic endeavors, I do not think that they are seen as the exclusive place where big decisions are exclusively made any more.” Black churches became significant meeting places in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement because minorities had no other places where they were welcome to hold meetings.

“However, here in Fort Worth, things began to open up more freely because of compromises versus confrontation,” Jennings said, citing the decision by Leonard Bros. to remove white and colored signs in Leonard’s Department Store in the early 1960s before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Petroleum Club of Fort Worth
founded in 1953

In non-golf clubs, the Petroleum Club of Fort Worth opened in 1953 in response to similar clubs in other Texas cities and because of a perceived need for a place for younger men in the oil business who might not be able to afford the more expensive Fort Worth Club.

Woodard was around for the founding of the Petroleum Club and is still a member there. “We had all these young oilmen here, landmen, geologists, engineers and so forth. They didn’t have the money to belong to the great Fort Worth Club. So a few of us got together and the idea came up that we’d have our own club. And we put it together,” he says. “We had our first club there in the old Blackstone Hotel.”

Ridglea Country Club
founded in 1954

Ridglea Country Club property was once owned by Bernie L. Anderson and his partner Morris E. Berney. They operated it as a public golf course and had dreams of expanding it into a recreation center for the Ridglea area.

The Luther Group bought the course from Anderson and Berney, and Clayton Luther vowed that he would build the finest country club that could be built.

Originally to be called Western Hills Country Club of Ridglea, the club’s name changed to Ridglea Country Club before opening in 1954. The Luther Group contacted Hank Green and the Western Hills Group to help promote the country club and sell memberships. It took the Western Hills Group about a year to sell enough memberships to the point where they could get a mortgage. They took the membership money, the mortgage money, and the initiating fee, and built the clubhouse.

A teenage room was added, then a nursery, then they wanted many private dining rooms, a mixed foursome room, and a men’s grill, and so on. Burton Schutt produced plans for a gorgeous sprawling one-story country club. The course opened officially on September 1, 1954. It measured 6,138 yards from the back tees and played to a par of 71.

One of the things that stands out most at Ridglea Country Club is the family atmosphere. From the very beginning, the clubhouse included both a nursery and a teen room. Christina Toups, Ridglea general manager, stressed that founder A.C. Luther “wanted to make sure that Ridglea offered something for the entire family, especially providing an environment where mothers and fathers could enjoy themselves knowing their children were safe and welcome. We continue that focus today by hosting family- and children-friendly events throughout the year.”

Shady Oaks Country Club
founded in 1955

Shady Oaks Country Club’s founder is Marvin Leonard, one of Fort Worth’s best-known businessmen. With the advice from his doctor to get out of the office and enjoy the outdoors and fresh air, Leonard took up golf.

It was during a round of golf at Glen Garden Country Club that Leonard made friends with a young caddy, Ben Hogan.

In 1934 Leonard purchased 157 acres on the southwest side of Fort Worth and began to build a golf course. The Colonial Golf Club officially opened on January 29, 1936. After redesigning the course, Leonard persuaded the United States Golf Association to hold the 1941 United States Open at Colonial. From this tournament grew the Colonial National Invitational, with which Leonard was long associated. In December 1942 he sold Colonial to its members.

Leonard quickly became restless to build a new country club, and he bought 1,220 acres of farmland in the Westover Hills residential area in 1955. Before signing the papers, Leonard asked Hogan to walk the course with him and discuss his future plans. Hogan advised that Leonard not move forward because the site was hilly and too rugged.

Hogan’s comments did not deter Leonard. After commandeering many bulldozers, they set to work moving earth and leveling the land. Leonard was beyond particular. Some holes were laid out two or three times before he gave his approval.

Leonard turned his attention to the club. He was so meticulous in meeting that standard, he ran the club for a year before inviting any members to join. The membership now consists of the cream of Fort Worth golfers, most of whom belong to at least one of the city’s other golf clubs.

Member Larry Autrey says, “I also wanted a great golf club where it was not difficult to get a tee time and one that was well run with little to no debt and a waiting list for members buying, not selling. Shady Oaks with no debt, a great set of facilities and staff and challenging golf course that I can always get on to play was the answer.”

(Gus note:  The following two clubs were not yet built or established when we graduated from EHHS; however, they are worth mention since they date to about that same period.)

Diamond Oaks Country Club
founded in 1961

Diamond Oaks Country Club was built on Diamond H Ranch, part of the 3,600 acres jeweler G.W. Haltom owned a century ago. It is perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of land of any local golf course since legend says the land was a favorite shortcut for the notorious Texas bandit Sam Bass as he headed for South Texas looking for banks to rob.

The course has hosted USGA qualifying tournaments four times since 2005 but had faced financial difficulties and was bought in 2003 by Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Last year, longtime member and Dallas businessman George Sanders bought the club. “You could see the downward trend,” Sanders told the Star-Telegram. “I felt the club was just going to go away. I didn't do this to get wealthy.”

City Club of Fort Worth
founded in 1984

Owned by the Bass family, City Club of Fort Worth is now located in the D.R. Horton Tower downtown. The Bass brothers opened the club because they knew it would be a great amenity for their twin office towers, especially if it was a first-class operation.

City Club General Manager Peggie Muir says, “The Basses never do anything that is not first class. They felt like Fort Worth needed a fine dining restaurant that was similar to what they could find in New York.”

“Our saving grace here at City Club is our fitness center. The youth like the fitness, and they like what they get here because you get everything provided to you.” And it is affordable, she says.

“We all three [downtown clubs] have different things that people like about their club versus our club,” she said. “That’s how we survive. If we were all the same, it wouldn’t work.”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Yes Dear - Blizzard of ’15 Edition

Little overdue with my periodic commemoration of life…my second one.  Wife saved my life almost 5-years ago and after the last go around with the doc and his vampire, he just said, “keep up the good work, see you next year.”

So, thoughts drifted back to the beginning, long time ago.  An extended bachelorhood established certain benchmarks….a 4-roll pack of toilet paper lasts a week or two in a bachelor’s apartment.  Add a woman, and that 4-pack is shot in a day or so.

“Honey, we need some more toilet paper.”

“Didn’t I just buy some yesterday?”

“Honey, we need some more toilet paper.”  So, I buy two 4-packs.

Couple of days later, “Honey, we need some more toilet paper.”

“Didn’t I just, ah…oh, never mind.”  So, I buy six 4-packs and stack them in the front foyer…a small pyramid of toilet paper.   

My gesture doesn’t go over well.

Adding wife to my comfortably predictable home life all those years ago introduced a number of new concepts I had never before considered.  We quickly became major consumers of Kimberly-Clark, Georgia-Pacific and Weyerhaeuser forest products….Bounty Towels and Kleenex etc.  Bounty, the best picker-upper…she uses each towel once to wipe up a couple of stray drops then, tosses it.

“You can use those good ones more than once,” I suggest… response.

“If you’re intent on using each towel but once, why don’t we buy the El Cheapo towels, instead?” 

“Germs,” she sniffs.

Cases of Kleenex….a bachelor just uses the toilet paper…an elegant dual use concept.

No response.

“Look at that lady over there.  She’s getting her own stock of Bounty in ahead of the storm.”

No response... 

Well, at least we've figured out how to reduce the trips to the store for this kind of stuff to about every other week rather than every other day all those years ago.

...and the beat goes on...

Friday, January 23, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.1 – (More) Meadowbrook Moms

My musings about our moms tend to focus on how they might have interacted with one another and how those interactions might have affected our own social connections.  While they certainly had significant control over that aspect of our lives through the junior high years, I'm fairly certain their influence significantly faded after we started at EH fall 1960.  By then, we had substantially sorted out our own social preferences and had certainly done so as we started dating one another.  For the more precocious of us, dating might have started as early as age 13, or grade 8.  I think a common starting age for our real dating involving some preliminary romancing and testing of limits probably conincided with our obtaining that magnificent freedom ticket, a driver’s license…about age 16.  Maybe a year, or so earlier for the girls.

Partly due to our previously described staggered arrivals at puberty, boys were at a huge disadvantage to the girls in their own class during those seminal early dating years.  More about that in the next article or two.  Still, it's worth noting a few traces of the moms' involvement that survive, and appear as indistinct hints in our ancient scrapbooks.Published in a couple of c.1957-60 Meadowlark school newspapers are references to some of the parties, their hosts, and their venues where celebrations of various milestones and holidays were marked.  There is enough detail in the student authored newspaper articles to make a few assumptions about the social atmosphere of that time.

For instance, two of the 8th grade girls (future EH Class of 1962) sent 88 invitations to a party they (their moms, most likely) were hosting at the Sagamore Hill Rec center.  Since their class numbered about twice as many as the 88 invitees, the clear inference is that half or more of their class did not get an invitation.  Although the reasons for omission could likely have been perfectly legitimate, the omissions could also have caused a significant amount of heartburn among those excluded from the list.  In contrast, the school-sponsored dances were open to anyone with a quarter and a desire to attend ....another Meadowlark article reported attendance at one of those school dances to also be about half the student body or, over 300.

Further reflections of our moves toward maturity and socialization were to be seen in the active attention given to clothing styles and a number of fashion style shows featured in the school newspapers of the day. 
Home Economics classes were popular and provided (girls mostly) the opportunity to showcase their budding homemaking skills as they prepared food and beverages to be served at a number of school functions.  Developing real men of the time didn’t take these home-ec classes…pity, we were dumb and missed a great opportunity to tilt the numbers advantage our way.

The 1950s was a decade of stay at home moms many of whom, after working during the war effort as young women, were encouraged by our government to quit working and raise families.  Some of those young post WWII families were ours although some of our peers’ parents could be up to 10-15 years older.  In some cases, that difference in parents’ ages could contribute to significant differences in our living standards since they had been in the workforce longer and had achieved some additional growth as a result.

During the 1950s, those families starting to see growing incomes, began to have disposable funds sufficient enough to join or consider joining one of the Ft. Worth country clubs.  Self-employed could deduct the cost as a business expense and those I recall of our classmates’ families that belonged to some of the clubs tended to be small business owners.  The Ft. Worth area country clubs had been established around the city starting roughly with the 1911 opening of River Crest located near the western terminus of West 7th Street in what was to become Ft. Worth’s most prestigious neighborhood of the same name.  Star-Telegram publisher, Amon Carter was one of that neighborhood’s early residents.  The next blog article is a summary of those country clubs.

The effect one of our peer classmate’s membership in those clubs had on our East Side social order was minimal and subject to the youngster’s own standing within our class.  Probably contributing to that situation was the fact that the clubs were all located in other parts of the city posing a bit of a restraint to easy, neighborhood access.  We had the city-owned Meadowbrook CC, which was a modest facility by comparison.  Nonetheless, the MBCC clubhouse was a common venue for parties and dances both school supported and private mini-shindigs.

As an indication of just how pervasive the influence of the junior high cliques could be, my Mother accepted participation on my behalf with some other Moms as they planned to host an invitation only Christmas dance at the MBCC.  Trouble was, she didn’t bother to consult with me first and sprung it on me along with a printed invitation noting the sponsoring youngsters.  There was certainly no problem with those youngsters, except they were NOT in the clique I was seeking to align with.  This was a horrible surprise to an uncertain 14-year old and, given the strength of those adolescent cliques could spell the death knell to about a year’s posturing to that point.  Amusing now, tragic then…and a sad commentary.

Reading some of these old bits of ephemera now provides an occasional hint of things to come; the things we couldn't have known or even recognized then.  One such instance is found in the nearby column that mentions the Women's Club as a venue for the MJH 9th grade end of year dance with music to be provided by "some college boys."

The significance of the "Women's Club" reference, I'm sure went right by nearly all of us.  Someone associated with MJH PTA either was a member of the Fort Worth Women's Club or had the notion to use the facility for the dance.  The Women's Club was established very early in the 20th century and is/was a solid connection to "old Ft. Worth" society activities.  In my mind, this connection suggests the reason so much attention was paid to getting our younger incarnations tamed, into white sport-coats, and introduced to dancing lessons and pretty party dresses.  More on this in the next few chapters....



Monday, January 19, 2015

Little School - We were poor, obviously neglected and deprived, and it was absolutely glorious.

 Little School Life
(aka Tater Hill)

Little School, now a modern facility known as JB Little in
Arlington, is an old country school.  It was built probably not long after the turn of the last century.

When I attended it was a single story white frame building containing 6 classrooms, grades 1 thru 6, and a principal's office.  The bathrooms had been added and were outside in their own building a few steps away. As I recall the lunchroom was also a separate building, as was a small auditorium.

The school served a very large area of rural
Tarrrant County.  Some kids probably lived 12 or 15 miles from others. All kids were bussed, on several different routes, to school. Few or none walked and no mothers drove their kids to school.  For this reason there was nothing much in the way of before or after school activities.  The classes were small, probably 15 or 20 kids per grade.  Because of this small class size there were no real "cliques", just a mild gradation from more popular to less popular.   We were all generally even lower on the economic scale than the Handley kids.  Most of us lived on acreages or at least large lots.  Many families did some small scale farming and several still kept livestock.

Our school experience was almost 19th century.  Not very different  from that of our fathers or even grandfathers.  When school started the boys went barefoot until the weather changed.  Besides maybe a swing set and merry-go-round, our recess activities were ad hoc, unsupervised and generally very rough. We had no gym, we wrestled constantly and freestyle, played Red Rover, Crack the Whip and a vicious form of Dodge Ball.  A favorite contest of the boys was to climb to the top of the 30 foot flagpole. Minor injuries were common.  Everyone in charge of the school today would be arrested for what they permitted us to do daily.

Many of the families had lived in the area for generations and were inter-connected by blood and marriage.  There were often several sets of related kids at the school forming "clans" across class levels, for mutual support and even protection.  I had several uncles that attended before me, and had my younger sister and three cousins there at the same time.  A most important social grouping was formed by which school bus route you rode. The wait at the bus stop,  the long rides to and from school were  an important social time, and if you were lucky a few of those kids of your age would live within a mile or two and you could socialize after school and on weekends. 

There were essentially no organized activities for us either during the year or in the summer, unless a parent was willing to go to heroic efforts. The exception was a small  Boy Scout Troop. We were, I'm sure almost exclusively one car families, so no soccer moms were available.  No little league baseball, no peewee football, no shooting hoops after school, no available swimming pools.  We learned to swim sneaking away to a muddy pond in the woods, and oh, watch out for water moccasins.

Two events of the year were of supreme importance to us.  A school sponsored trip to the Fat Stock Show, and just before summer, a trip to
Forest Park.  That trip to Forest Park was like a trip to Disneyland is now.  Then we were turned loose on the world for summer.  I was lucky in that there were a half dozen or so boys of close enough age,  that lived close enough to get together by bicycle.  We left home in the morning an returned just before dark.  We formed a small semi-feral pack that roamed the abundant woods for miles around, fishing the ponds, hunting with our (gasp!) BB guns and exploring the banks of Village Creek, this was before Lake Arlington. We were  searching for Indian artifacts that were found there. There were no parks with baseball diamonds or jungle gyms.  We did however have an area where wild grapevines had covered several acres of the tops of tall oak trees.  We would climb to the top of the trees 30 or 40 feet up and spend hours chasing each other through the dense canopy of vines from tree to tree.  We were poor, obviously neglected and deprived, and it was absolutely glorious.

What we were, was not very well socialized by the norms of the times.  When we were thrown into Handley and then Eastern Hills, it was almost like going to school in a foreign country, and we lived so far out we couldn't even try to participate in that social whirl until we got cars of our own.  By then it was just too late. We were more or less permanently marginalized.  We stuck together, hunkered down and survived. Very few of us actually thrived.  I was actually advantaged that I had moved around so often and attended all kinds of schools and was better prepared to cope.  I think many of my old Little, or as we called it Little's, schoolmates were just bewildered by it all. It was not a particularly positive or enjoyable experience. Maybe for that reason I was the only member of my "pack" to go on  to college as far as I know.  Most joined the military or went to work right out of EH.  Going to Little's School in the early 1950's was in itself a wonderful experience, and I sometimes pity my own boys who enjoyed a more "Meadowbrook" existence.  But the cost of that "idyllic" boyhood proved to be socially prohibitive at EHHS.