Monday, August 30, 2010
Over the weekend, Glenn Beck, a Fox News TV personality, invited people to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. for a "return to honor" rally. About 500,000 came; CBS says 87,000; NBC reported 300,000; Fox News stayed quiet and let the leftist media churn over how to deal with the event...or ignore it.
Meanwhile, our prez donned a helmet, an iconic symbol of his timid generation, and rode a bicycle on his 10th or 12th vacation this year.
Al Sharpton reportedly retorted that the "return to honor" demonstration changes nothing! I didn't read the article beneath the headline.
The annual end of summer crazies have returned one more year...like the swallows to Capistrano.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
“We are what we have been.” Shelby Foote attributed those words to Jane Austen in an interview, maybe more than once. To me, the words simply say that how we act, think, do, and a myriad of our other personal traits can be traced to our direct ancestors. My eldest offspring reacts intensely to a light huff on the back of the neck…my mother reacted in exactly the same way. Now, I’ve huffed on the back of a few necks over the years, but I’ve seldom seen such a reaction from others.
Family lore had it that one of our ancestral lines went back a long way in this country, all the way back to its founding. However, whatever proof of that claim might have existed was either packed away in a relative’s closet or lost or forgotten over the generations. Only when my own focus and the power of the Internet was brought to bear on the matter was I able to ferret out the truth…and the truth is, the old family lore was correct. I qualify for membership in the Jamestowne Society.
Many years ago I toured Jamestown and walked amongst the recreated ruins of the ancient village along the James River. The picture above pretty much tells the story of today’s Jamestown. For a young man lacking certain specific knowledge of his connection to the place, the stopover was somewhat disappointing; yet, there was something about the place that seemed to murmur…this is where it all began.
Many years later, after learning of my connection to the place, we visited Jamestown again. This time the place came alive, the spirits were jumping, but only in my head…it was palpable. One of my 10th great grandfathers (each of us have about 2,048 of those!) jumped off a small sailing ship onto the banks of the James in 1621 when the tiny village was in its 14th year. He was an indentured servant who, after working off his indenture, became a substantial citizen of the early settlement.
Sometimes I wonder what traits of mine were also his…I wonder if he or his wife reacted as intensely as my mother or my offspring to a light huff on the back of the neck.
A 2005 film, The New World, told the story of the earliest days at Jamestown. However, I found the picture a bit artsy for my taste…but, the photography and scenes are very well done, giving an accurate visual portrayal of the life and conditions of the place and time.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
If you take a look in Facebook and find the “remember Fort Worth when” group, you will find a lot of interesting pictures people are posting, including the 1957 class photo above showing some of our 1963 Highlanders. Thanks mostly to Susan Begley, Bruce McDonald, and Bob Dillard we know all of these former moppets and a number of future 1963 Highlanders.
I would be very interested in getting a HQ scan of the other 1957 Meadowbrook and Handley 6th grade classes to ID like this one. There should be at least 1 and possibly 3 more pictures out there somewhere.
These days, after years of compounding experimental "education" initiatives, teechers' unions, about twice the number of "administrators" than when we were in school, and LBJ's GR8 Society, we get this kind of crap...
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I’m on Facebook. Search for Gus Highlander; the one with the Clan 1963 picture, or I might be Belushi with pencils in his nose, or Arte Johnson's dirty old man, or W.C. Fields. Add me as a friend, if you wish. I know my transparent approach is odd, but please humor me…as I am experimenting with online things for possible uses elsewhere.
Ex-Highlander recollections and stories from the following classes: 1961 – 1962 – 1963 – 1964 – 1965, would interest me most.
I’m also interested in hearing from folks from the Handley High School classes who might be able to tell some stories of earlier times in the area.
The Clan cover pictures in this posting are the first 6 Clans issued.
Sept. 2011, a little more: I’ve been described as a maverick, someone who marches to a different drummer…and I wouldn’t dispute that description. My favorite ancestor was a frontiersman who served in a company of frontiersman during the American Revolution.
After the Revolution, he continued to move westward to the edge of the frontier, explaining to his grandsons that when he was able to see smoke from a neighbor’s fire, the neighborhood had become too crowded for him. Three of his grandsons wrote down a lot about the old gentleman when they themselves were old men during the 1890s. I’m reasonably certain that I carry a fair concentration of his genes.
He was a 3rd great-grandfather; the first of 5-generations to serve this country in a war...the 5th and last one in that line was me.
And if that's not enough, here's some more and/or more still.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Wikipedia relates, “The "Spy vs. Spy" cartoon was symbolic of the Cold War, and was Antonio Prohías's comment on the futility of armed escalation and détente.” I’ve long thought of the Spy vs. Spy cartoons as a simple metaphor for foiling the wishes of others…they keep trying to screw you so you keep developing defenses.
For instance, telemarketers have been doing their best to ruin our afternoon naps and any of our meals they could for as long as I can recall. They did this by buying into the phone companies’ sales pitch of “telemarketing” as a great “business model.” Did you ever buy anything from those people? And how long was it until you came to the conclusion that it was O.K. to be rude and hang up on them?
We took the receiver off the hook, so the phone company countered by sending that loud, irritating signal to let us know what we already knew…the phone was off the hook. When the little quick connectors replaced the hard wired phone sets, the phone companies’ nuisance signal was effectively neutered.
After bringing us the problem in the first place, the phone company then offered us a Caller ID feature, at extra cost, so we could see who was calling.
Next, we bought answering machines to screen calls and found over time that it wasn’t really necessary to answer the phone at all…and along came Voice Mail and Call Forwarding, at extra cost, of course.
Enter email, quickly followed by spamming, email filters, and multiple disposable email addresses. How about proxies and 3rd party email forwarders?
If that’s not Spy vs. Spy, I don’t know what is.
Friday, August 13, 2010
For instance, I thought that if you invited your new neighbors over to your new house for dinner, they would know how to conduct themselves properly in a social situation. He had a low alcohol tolerance, even for wine, and after his second glass of a nice Cabernet, ended up face down in his dinner plate. She had a better tolerance, but once over her line, she ended up oblivious that her husband was face down in his dinner plate. We tried it one more time with that couple and suffered the same result. Several other attempts with other young couples to establish a group of 30-somethings up and comers yielded different, but similar disappointments, so we said to hell with it and stopped trying to emulate our parents' social practices.
About that same time the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market, driving silver prices to $50/oz or more, effectively killing the market for new sterling flatware. At that price a sturdy 2 oz. sterling fork had over $100 of silver in it and a lot of fine old sterling flatware was melted down. Sometime later the price of silver dropped back to the $4/oz range but the sterling flatware industry never recovered, probably due to the materials cost problem, but also probably due to the fact that our generation was not headed in the same direction as before, socially.
I thought of these things recently as I looked over my mother’s c.1955 sterling service and another service that dates to my great grandmother’s day, c.1891. Both patterns are nicely detailed, even fussy. Mom treasured hers and saved it for special occasions such as holiday dinners and special guests. I clearly recall washing and drying all that stuff by hand and carefully packing it away, ready for the next special occasion. Same for her special china.
Those traditions date back at least to the 1880’s when machine stamping capabilities were enhanced by a large influx of immigrant European artisans and highly skilled craftsmen to produce a dazzling variety of intricate designs. Meals were a nice way to combine good food, good company, and excellent craftsmanship into a memorable event. That is, until our generation screwed it up, starting about the times my neighbor stuck his face in his dinner plate. Dumb bastard.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
During the past couple of days, broadcast news outlets I don’t patronize are all atwitter about Mrs. Obama’s poor “optics” on her recent trip to Spain. My favored news commentators assembled video collages demonstrating the old-line news commentators using nearly identical scripts. “Optics” was the common buzzword. You may recall the repugnant overuse of “gravitas” in the old-line media attack on Mr. Bush a few years ago…”he lacks gravitas …gravitas…gravitas…gravitas…” ad nauseum. (Note to fledgling news producers: Don’t use talking point words not commonly used by us common people…overused odd words are conspicuous, especially when FNC sticks them all together and rams them down your throat or up your…)
I recall a movie line attributed to Sun Tzu that roughly went something like, “All warfare is based on deception. If your enemy is superior, evade her. If angry, irritate her. If equally matched, fight and if not: split and re-evaluate."
When we took the field for the kick-off all those years ago, we had butterflies in the pit of our stomachs; however, we also had the benefit of a pretty thorough scouting report on our opponents. If they had a snazzy tailback or a big fullback, we knew which ones they were.
France met Spain last year (above) and they looked evenly matched to me, so they fought. When the USA met Spain this year, it looks like we decided to evade. We might have been better off splitting. Could have been a bad scouting report - maybe we should fire the scouts.
Flag...backfield in motion
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Did you hear that Judy Oxford died recently? She was one of the more memorable ’62 Highlanders—attractive, vivacious, an all-around nice person. Cancer, I think.
The Grim Reaper visited my door not long ago, but we managed to chase him off this time. Won’t bore you with tedious details—wasn’t the heart, nor the big C—still serious enough to keep me in ICU for most of a week. There was no pain and about 30-minutes is completely missing from my memory. My last recollection was an intense wave of nausea, then an abrupt awakening in the ambulance sitting out in the driveway—it was raining.
My wife has clear memory of my missing 30-minutes, she was there, her clear thinking and fast action saved my life; we don’t talk about it—except when I get cranky--she's my hero, but then she always has been. I was awake, feeling fine, and joking in the emergency room only an hour after the onset of the event. It was there that I first started hearing them say, “you came this close to dying” as they raised their forefinger and thumb in that well-known hand sign. I really didn’t believe them—I felt fine. But it continued during my stay, “you came this close, to dying” said each succeeding nurse and doctor—each one of them using that same hand sign with the thumb and forefinger. None of that jarred me...I felt fine.
About a week or two after my release from hospital, I visited my family physician. We went through the test reports and he outlined some follow-up testing. I felt fine. We’ve become friends over the span of a couple of decades such that we enjoy shooting the breeze with one another on my infrequent visits. He was going on vacation at noon that day, so he had fit me into his busy schedule as his last patient of the morning—we spent an hour together, mostly shooting the breeze.
As I left, he looked at me seriously and said, “by the way, you came this close to dying” and gave me that little hand sign.
That one finally jarred me.
Thank you, God
Monday, August 09, 2010
Let’s accept the notion that all high school elections are popularity contests regardless of whether they were called favorites, officers, or king or queen of this or that. A few win and all others lose. And didn’t it seem that the same kids always won? There were just over 300 in our graduating class, 23 spots in the grid above, and we chose 12 different classmates for those spots.
Well, there was a little ebb and flow to it. However, on balance I would view these people as terrific youngsters even from today’s perspective. We got it right.
Wonder what made some people popular with us…there were a number of other terrific people that didn’t make the cut. One thing most of our favorites had in common was that they were generally outgoing and usually smiling…except David Bane who was quiet but always ready with a wide grin when he was addressed. Girls liked him because he was good looking, and the guys liked him well enough to elect him their football co-captain. He joined us as a Junior and gained quick acceptance.
Even the coaches gushed over David...Gary Cooper type…? I don't think Glen Brandon played on that 1962 championship team, I think he may have moved away; Gene Cartwright was a solid kid in all respects; and Tom Koebernick was one of the best people I knew during those years.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
In combing through a lot of vintage pictures looking for good illustrations for a piece I’m writing, I sometimes come across an interesting picture that tells a story beyond the obvious. For instance, the marching sailors above were on parade in a 1908 Santa Barbara festival as a part of the United States Navy Great White Fleet trip around the world President Teddy Roosevelt had ordered.
The hidden story in the picture that amused me is centered on the 2 sailors marked as being out of step with the rest. Closer inspection of the expressions on their faces show their amusement…the lead sailor is shifting his step causing the trailing sailor to shift his step to keep in sync. That sort skylarking can ripple down an entire file of marching military men, and takes place more commonly than you might think.
The 1961 Clan Pan-Am Club picture below suggests a different story. Carol Reeder’s expression tells the story that no one else in the picture knew…there’s some goofing off going on there. Felton Havins was probably up to something; he was a high energy sort, a cheerleader, and a bit of joker. Wonder what was going on?
Others in the picture are Mrs. Charlotte Ballard and Mr. John Psomas in the back row; both were Spanish teachers. Mrs. Ballard taught English also. From the bottom up are Mildred Eppes, Becky Welch, Jim Anders, Carol Reeder, Felton Havins, Dana Gant, Judy Wimbish, and Bob Hart.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Found this on a Poly reminiscences website...it fits my memories. Contributed by Sherry Newman Mallory.
First we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because . . . we were always outside playing!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were okay.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendos, X-Boxes, no video games at all, no ninety-nine channels on cable TV, no videotape movies, no Surroundsound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms. We had friends, and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We were given BB guns for our tenth birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and although we were warned it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to friends' houses and knocked on the door or rang the bell or just yelled for them!
Little League had tryouts, and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!
The idea of parents bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They sided with the law!
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers, and inventors ever! The past fifty years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success, and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. And you are one of them! Congratulations!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.
And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?
Friday, August 06, 2010
I voted for an incumbent Democratic once…bought the baloney that he was an intellectual gadfly who voted his conscience; however, once in office he was no different than the rest. Just another straight party-line voter when our president, also a Democratic, was called to account for diddling an intern, herself another Democratic, in our White House.
When I discovered Don Imus late in his career, I loved his rapier-sharp humor, but more importantly, he could interact with both political sides and cut through their party-line crap. He was able to draw an impressive lineup of politicians and media people to his show. Although his use of a racial slur was cited as the reason for his removal from his TV and radio shows, I’m fairly sure the real reason he was dispatched in 2007 was that he couldn’t be bought off and the '08 election was closing in.
Imus' show was the only reason I tuned into MSNBC…I haven’t watched a single minute of that pathetic network since 2007. The old-line network broadcast news hasn’t been of much interest or credibility for years…I simply don’t trust anything they have to say.
There are plenty of available avenues for news dissemination these days. My current approved line-up of broadcast network news:
Imus endured himself to me in many, many ways; one of the best being when he commented on a medical research news story claiming some success in extending life by 10-years. Imus quipped something like, "we don't need 10 more years when we're 80, we need those extra 10-years when we're 25."
Good night Chet
Thursday, August 05, 2010
This morning as I was going through the store I spotted an old gentleman and his wife making their way slowly through the aisles, stopping now and then to confer with one another about something, and then something else. He was well into his 80’s.
The old timer was wearing one of those “I’m ex-military” hats that are hard to read from a distance. It was crushed down and he slumped forward as he walked. I thought it was a “USS Something” hat indicating he might have been ex-Navy.
I walked over to him and asked what ship? But, just as I asked, I noticed that his hat read U.S. Army…I corrected myself. There were a lot of pins on it—my father had a hat like that that he wore while he was attending his WWII bomb group reunions during the 1980’s and 1990’s. I found it in his things as I was cleaning out his place.
"Germany,” the man said quietly. I hadn’t asked.
“First or Third,” I inquired. He brightened, cocked his head, and narrowed his eyes, probably wondering how I knew to ask that question, but obviously pleased that I did. His eyes welled up.
“Third,” he responded quietly. Patton, I thought—the Army immortalized in the 1970 George C. Scott film.
“155mm,” he went on. I didn’t immediately understand him, but what he was saying was that he had been an artilleryman on a big field piece.
“You saw a lot, didn’t you,” I said. Tears welled again in his eyes. He replied, “Yes, I did.”
“God bless you, and thank you for your service,” I said as I broke away.
“Thank you,” he replied.
I won’t soon forget the encounter—I hope his day was brightened. I know that mine was.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
These 2 pictures reminded me of an old story that I really never knew very well in the first place. Sam and Steve played on the tennis team as sophomores (1961) and juniors (1962), then dropped off the tennis team in their senior year (1963).
Sam and Steve were close friends and I seem to recall there being some kind of rancor between both of them and Mr. Vaughn, the Vice-principal and tennis team coach. I recall them grumbling about something Mr. Vaughn had done with regard to one or both of them. However, as the pictures illustrate, there they were on the tennis team one year, and on an intramural PE softball team the next year.
That was the 1963 championship intramural team and no wonder—with a couple of all-district football players helping out. It’s an interesting comparison to see the differences in physical stature between other members of the team and Sam & Steve—a couple of tree stumps at each end of the lineup.
Monday, August 02, 2010
Dad came back from WWII to a new wife, a new baby, and with a driving desire to earn a college degree. He earned that degree in just 3-years and started working for a power company in south Texas. Within a couple of years, he was recalled to the Air Force for Korean War service, served an additional 18-months, and settled in Ft. Worth about 1952. He and mom were raised in Dallas.
As a child of the Depression, until WWII, dad had never ventured any further than SW Arkansas where his ancestors had settled about 1836. At age 31 he was finally free of military service and wars, and had accumulated both an opportunity and money to take his first real vacation, so we drove from Ft. Worth to Mexico City…in August 1953. It’s about 1200-miles to Mexico City, it’s very hot in August, and the car was NOT air-conditioned because dad was frugal and air conditioners were expensive then. That was 57-years ago and I have never forgotten that trip. I have never been hotter in my life!
We took turns soaking a hand towel in an ice chest, then draping the wet towel over our faces and letting the hot air blow on it, the theory being...evaporation cooling. It was better than nothing, but not much better. For the driver there was no relief. Besides being HOT, I don’t recall much about the trip other than narrow rough roads, widely separated gas stations, small villages, and no road food until we got to Mexico City. I think we had some lunch meat in the ice chest.
In working on the past few entries about early DFW roads and their fairly primitive state in the early 1950s, I thought about how miserable those Mexican roads must have been. Once in Mexico City, we turned the driving over to cabs and tour guides and enjoyed our stay. With the current conditions in Mexico, I wouldn’t want to give that trip a try today.
Dad was part of that generation who wanted to see as much as they could and for some of them, it was an opportunity to brag to their neighbors…remember all those travel stickers folks used to attach to their rear windows and bumpers? Dad wasn’t in to that, but he was a full-bore, long-range vacation driver. During my childhood, I recall us taking 2 other driving vacations, one to Colorado in 1955, and another to the Northeast as far up as Quebec in 1958. That last one was something like 6,500 driving miles which provided no time to see or do anything but drive. When we got home from that 2-week vacation, we were exhausted.
Since it was an early-life obligatory holiday in-law visit, I won’t describe the trip home from Ohio to Dallas to spend Christmas 1951 with the grandparents. That one was in dad’s first car, a 1950 model with NO heater—he had bought it in south Texas just after college and didn’t want to pay the extra money for the heater...he didn't see the need for it in south Texas. He hadn't anticipated being recalled to the service and sent to Ohio. I’ve never been colder in my life than on that trip.
After I hit the teen years, I declined any further travel opportunities with dad and when I started my own family we did things differently. We found places we liked to be, got there by the best practical means, and stayed put to enjoy the places we liked.
As I studied some of the old roadways, I marveled that so many people charged out on those early roads and drove such long distances. For the WWII generation, I think it was some kind of endurance contest. About 25-years later, I think it was this same bunch of people who fueled the motor home fad, that for a time clogged the roads with big slow-moving vehicles.
In the early 1970s I drove coast to coast several times and have made other long driving trips for various reasons, but I’ve never really enjoyed them much…I get bored. Nowadays a lot of our roads are in bad repair and many of them cut through dangerous neighborhoods. Most of the Interstate highways are about 50-years old, so the neighborhoods they cut through are no longer new—you have to choose your stops with more care. Too bad…it was much better in the late 1960s as the Interstates were completed and into the 1970s when there still wasn’t much traffic on them compared to now. Take a look at the 1977 film, Smoky and the Bandit, for a pretty good illustration of 1970s road conditions on the Interstates and secondary highways. Ah, those Targa tops.
Sunday, August 01, 2010
While reading a Ft. Worth Architecture forum yesterday, one of the guys who knew what he was doing praised a historic aerial website, so I took a look. The 4-picture collage above came from the site.
Each picture is the same scale and oriented with North at the top; Meadowbrook Dr. at the bottom; Monterrey at the top; and a portion of the golf course at the upper left corner. Viewing top row L to R, then bottom row L to R, the dates are 2004, 1990, 1963, and 1956, giving a 50+ year look at the changes.
I found the 1956 picture most interesting as it shows the land before site work had begun to build the school. It is believed that the land that EHHS sits on was formerly owned by Jud & Inez Perry. Of course, the 1963 picture is how we recall it, and the more recent pictures show the additions of buildings and reductions of school grounds open space...why do some of we humans feel compelled to do that? Progress and growth is the quick answer, but I wonder...today, even with the addition of the 9th grade there are about the same number of students assigned to the school, and I think fewer of them graduate.
You can visit the aerial site and dig around for your own house and those of some of your friends. The 1956 aerials show the Toll Road under construction and a lot of my friends' houses not yet built--their lots were still wooded land.