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. 



Monday, November 10, 2014

1963 – 1964 Lad and Lassie TARTAN Features

The Lad and Lassie feature in the EH student newspaper, THE TARTAN, are interesting reading and provide a glimpse of a number of young people just at the beginning of their adult life, now over 50-years ago.

There were 14 of these features published over the 1963-64 school year; all of them are published here.  I have no idea how the subjects were chosen, but do recognize that they are some of the more prominent members of the 1964 class. 

Last year’s Class of 1963 Lad and Lassies are HERE.

Steve Rose & Barbara Isham:

Leslie Jackson & Brenda Haire:

Steve Marsh & Sandra Vasquez:

Ted Moberg & Myriam Hubbard:

Stewart Mathis & Charlyne Woodard:

Roby Morris & Bee Sterett:

David Thurman & Sheila Ward:

Bob Hillert & Vickie Reas:

David Richardson & Sherri Sledge:

Mike Liddle & Donna Johnson:

Randy Kunze & Sylvia Callaway:

Tim Blocker & Karen Buckingham:

Buzz Gardner & Jere Miller:


Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick and Treat

James, my FB avitar is reminiscent of the last time that crew, we've had fun recalling, went out trick or treating.  The crew's composition varied a little but, nearly always included Tate and Dillard who were also the chief instigators of whatever mischief we got into.

We’re out, probably Halloween 1959 or 1960, 15/16 years old, raising hell around the neighborhoods in Cooper’s old Chevy when Tate or Dillard spot some tykes crossing a lawn, their bags stuffed with their loot.  Don’t recall who yelled out the suggestion…but, the call to mischief went something like, “Let’s trick or treat those kids”

Coop locked the brakes and 5 or 6 pre-juvenile delinquents jumped out of the Chevy, arms waving, yelling, “Trick or Treat.”  Now, if you recall that crew, they were all large lads, by this time at or past 6’ tall, most of them football players.

Those poor little tykes didn’t hesitate an instant…they dropped their loot bags and ran for the hills!  Of course, that left a lot of loot on the ground and saved the trouble of having to find a sheet to throw over a 6’ frame and suffer the adults’ admonitions of our being too old for trick or treating.

I hope we left most of that loot where it fell, although it’s likely, given that crew’s composition, some of it was picked up and taken away.  Always felt kind of bad about that one on account of the kids’ reactions being so instantaneous and unexpected. 
But it was the girls’ fault, of course.  They hadn’t invited any of us to a Halloween party, thus taking us off the streets; nope, this was the year they discovered the enchantment of older men….Juniors and Seniors with drivers’ licenses that none of us, except Coop had.  I’ll deal with that phenomena in the next blog piece or two.

This piece generated a funny exchange in Facebook.....

A.B. - So let me get this straight. You're admitting to strong arm robbery for candy? 

Gus - Gee, I guess you could call it that...always thought of it as an instantaneous misunderstanding...I expected a little argument, not complete surrender and rapid retreat. Hope the statute of limitations has run out.

A.B. - I think you're safe. Murder is the only thing that I can think of that would extend to 50+ years on the statute of limitations.

L.C. - Ya'll are hysterical !!!!             I was one of those robbed & running...
            So not all the girls were at that Halloween party!!!
            You have to be kidding!... 6' tall bulked football players "afraid" of knocking on doors for their own candy for fear of being mistaken as adults?!!!
            Well ... On second thought maybe The Steal was The Thrill !!!             Happy Halloween!!! Now give my candy back!!!

A.B. - You're not likely to get the candy back and even if you did, you probably wouldn't want to eat it after all of this time. Tell me, was that your first mugging?

L.C. - Yes just one mugging...but it was back in the old days of less crime!!! Lol

J.F. - The group (or gang might be appropriate) Gus is talking about was an incredibly eccentric, intellectually brilliant, and funny bunch of teenagers. EHHS early '60's was a gold mine of such folks.

Gus - Now L.C., I'm pretty sure you're funnin' me were a larger kid by then than the ones Tate and Dillard mugged, thus acquiring a nice Trick or Treat haul without all the work. Besides, since none of this crew was disguised that night so, you would have recognized us and most likely not been inclined to take off running. This was also the evening of papering the trees at selected homes, egging, and whatever other miscellaneous mischief we could stir up. Usually a midnight tour of Rose Hill was on the schedule. So, you see there was a lot to do. Topping it all off were cokes and fries at the Lancaster St. drive-in where other unattached revelers tended to wind down. If we were lucky, some of the Poly Chain Gang remnants were there also...and, if we were really lucky, so was Brandon, Sam, and a few others who knew how to fight...something none of us really perfected. That probably goes to the relatively elevated intelligence James suggests; that being, we likely understood there was little upside to be enjoyed from a fight and there could be some significant downside such as unnecessary discomfort. Can you believe it...there were no alcoholic spirits involved in any of these tours and I don't recall any smoking, either. Of course for some of them, that would come later.

Gus - James,'s nice to have 3rd party confirmation of what I recall about that gang of semi-delinquents. Otherwise, I might feel odd recalling them and the times as fondly as I do.

J.F. - That was my thought, Gus. You do need backup confirmation when you tell some of the tales of this group. Unbelievable stuff to many people. For example, one time when on a river camping trip to the Brazos River that included a few females who had the b...well, you know, to be there, Guthrie comes back to campsite from the river barefooted and wearing only soaking wet jeans, no shirt. Everybody else is sitting around in a group talking. Then, it was slowly noticed by everybody that Guthrie's crotch is larger than usual and is jumping around in an odd looking way. He had caught some kind of fish and put it in his underwear just for the laugh. And, it was so funny to all of us. Of course, the gals were the first to notice and freaked out, calling him all kinds of names. Guthrie acted the whole time like he has no clue what they're talking about.

Gus - One of my old classmates figured me out on the basis of humor. It was down to a choice between me or Guthrie. The tie-breaker was that my humor in his memory tended to be subtle where Guthrie was laugh out loud funny. He and McCoy had been classmates apart from all the rest of that MJH gang as they matriculated through Poly Ele together since 1st grade. By the time they joined us at MJH, they had their duet finely honed over a period of 6-years or so...then, we stirred in Dillard and Tate and McCook, et al.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Future Portent

Fifty-four years ago the 1960 Meadowbrook Awards were awarded to Steve Means, Mike Grizzard, Joe Dickerson, Susan Begley, and Sherry Balthrop. The Meadowbrook Award recognized 5 students whose grades were in the top 5% of their 9th grade class (of 220 prox) and who received the highest number of votes from ballots cast by the faculty.

Sherry went to Fort Worth Christian Academy while the other 4 all graduated magna cum laude with the 63 Highlanders. Steve became a successful Dallas commercial real estate developer, Joe and Mike became doctors, and Susan became an artist. That 1960 faculty vote was a pretty good predictor of future potential.

(Gus note:  This article was one of the first published to the blog in 2006.  It has taken 8-years to locate a good photo of this rare award.  Two of our '63s were unable to locate theirs, one has gone on to Buffalo heaven, another hasn't been in touch, and the fifth went to FWCA and no clue after that.  Thanks to our fine EHHS Class of 1964 and Nancy O, one of her Buffalo Class of 1961 recipients. for the's been stored away on a charm bracelet for a long time.) 

The  1961 Meadowbrook Awards (EHHS Class of 1964) went to David Tracy, Nancy O'Neill, Carl Johnson, Carolyn Mitchell, and Barbara Isham.  At EHHS graduation one of these students graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors, three with Magna Cum Laude honors, and one Cum Laude.