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 ...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 10.6 – The He-Man Women Haters’ Club – No Wheels

In the image above, our wheels deficit is fairly well summarized….the 1960 student parking lot on the right of the school building held about 200-cars and not a damned one of them belonged to the Class of ’63 boys.  The overall school population at that time was about 1000, suggesting there was in all about 500-boys, 1/3 of whom did not drive a car to school…leaving about 333 boys to have been driving those 200-cars out in the parking lot…I’m assuming that not many girls drove cars to school in those days.

A few years ago, Kendall McCook wrote eloquently of his close circle of EHHS friends that continued their friendships decades beyond their EHHS graduation.  Actually, most of that same group plus a few more formed their initial relationships at Meadowbrook Junior High.  Their common interests were lively senses of humor, intelligence, dashingly handsome, pimples, and competing with one another in just about everything….sports, grades, and the girls’ attention. 

The collage shows the aforementioned group of Meadowbrook boys as they were pictured in the 1961 CLAN at age 15.  Only Mike Cooper had wheels and a driver’s license which he probably got at age 14.  In those days you could get a license at age 14 if you had your parents’ permission and a legitimate reason for needing one.  I never knew how Coop got his license and car so early but it probably had something to do with his Dad’s paint store business somewhere on Lancaster. Pictured are Bobby Dillard, Paul Tate, Mike Cooper, Tom Koebernick, Steve Means, and Sam Scott; lower row: Bob Larmer, Kendall McCook, Danny McCoy, Larry Guthrie, Paul Shields, and Guy Perkins.

Above the lads are several of the Meadowbrook girls they collectively coveted and who, but perhaps for Steve Means, had not dated.  Grouped at upper left are members of the Meadowbrook girls’ clique as I recall them, and just to the right are a few others who had achieved recognition at MJH…mostly, they were really smart kids.  Shown in that grouping are Sharron Ballem, Celia Beall, Gay Burton, Susan Begley, (2nd row) - Carolyn Marcotte, Kay Humphrey, Julie Hudson, Dianne Hardin, and lower row - Carol Stallcup, Tee Matthews, and Judy Hill.

Handley added a number of fine young people…we noticed the Handley girls (Dianah Barton, Suzanne Hoffman, Alice Bretz, Mollie Howell, Linda Dunham, Pat Lambert,and Dyanne Cunningham), of course and generally ignored the boys.  However, there was a truth that existed from those first few weeks at EHHS that we probably didn’t realize at the time; that being, our friendships and preferences were firmly formed by the time the two schools merged into one.  On the order of 30-40% of us had been in school together since the early elementary grades and those were the ones with whom we were most comfortable.  This interesting characteristic could be seen repeated over the decades of reunions where many of us would group together for photos with our best old friends from the separate communities, Handley and Meadowbrook.

There were some others in our particular circle of friends that were not too closely aligned on the social side but, were no less exceptional young people.  A few of them are shown in their Sophomore versions at the right.  Bill Hoffman, Mike Grizzard, and Joe Dickerson were some of the most serious youngsters I recall back then and each of them were very intelligent.  The girls tended to be of the super-quiet type...except perhaps, Crowder, Acuff, and Blackstone.

We kicked off that 1960 Sophomore year with the “traditional” Howdy Dance, which was a somewhat puzzling social activity.  “Tradition” for a 1-year old school challenged one’s sense of reasonable application of the word; nevertheless, I suppose it was a continuation of the “mixer” approach to encouraging social connections. By this time we were getting very close to the magic 16th birthday and the driver's license that would certainly follow.  During the previous year or so, we had tried some "double dating" which served a couple of purposes....wheels by someone else, for one; and some assistance in getting and keeping conversation going.  But, since most of these dates involved a dance of some sort, they also involved our girls wearing those massive "princess" style formal dresses which made it difficult to close the gap between us.  It was clear by this time that effective and enjoyable dating was going to be a one-on-one, freestyle affair that would permit a more spontaneous evening together...but, we still had to wait for that all-important driver's license.

Probably one of the more unanticipated and ultimately fortuitous happenings at the beginning of that 10th grade year was provided by the gravel-voiced Mrs. Charlotte Ballard (Spanish & English) and the very quiet, even tempered Roy Perry (Mechanical Drawing).  Mr. Perry put me across from the year older, amazingly beautiful, Margaret Farrell who had been a standout Meadowbrook cheerleader during my first year at that school, just 2-years earlier.  And the often ill-tempered Mrs. Ballard placed me right across from the incredibly beautiful, Carol Reeder who was easily the most beautiful girl in our school during the two years we shared the EHHS halls.  The neat thing about them both was that they were also smart, interesting, and gracious....color this little Sophomore happy--they were mine for a whole class, for a whole year!  I'm fairly certain that the friendships that developed with both of them paid a significant dividend before our EH days together ended...but, that's another story.

Carol's '62 sidekick in that Spanish class was Linda Schwotzer, another attractive '62...they gossiped incessantly.  And for some reason, Jean Ferguson was another '62 who was quite friendly to this bewildered Sophomore...Gus was a lucky lad.


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!"