Monday, September 20, 2010

Raising the Flag

It's undoubtedly a right of passage that a few high school youngsters try to do something memorable that would place their mark on the old school and on their classmates.  Late in our senior year my group of co-conspirators determined to glass wax all the windows in the school as a final high school exit statement, but we either decided it wasn't worth the risk to our diplomas or more likely didn't have enough money to buy the Glass Wax, so it didn't get done.

Two years before our aborted prank, a member of the Class of 1961 set a high standard for any class pranks that might follow.  He climbed the 1311-foot WBAP broadcast tower just northwest of the school and hung an EHHS flag at the top.  That tower was about 100' taller than the Empire State Building and just a little short of the World Trade Tower roof.

My recollection of the event was fuzzy, but in digging around Facebook I saw a name that I recalled as being associated with the 1961 prank, so I decided to see if he were indeed the one whodoneit.  He was, and in response to my request, Tony Brogdon ('61) graciously agreed to tell his story...the one that follows:

Putting EHHS on the Map

My buddy Phil Morris and I used to meet in the lunch room and brag about what exciting thing we had done over the weekend.  After getting bored climbing the CNB  bank building fire escape and riding the revolving clock 3 times we knew we needed to come up with a more daring feat.  After discussing it with some of our buddies they dared us to climb the 1311-foot WBAP TV Tower and put our School Initials on top. 
David Townsend agreed to make a bed sheet with the EHHS on it.  Phil and I then went and scouted it out the following weekend.  I climbed on top of a Utility building then crawled across a wooden plank to the tower.  There was a ladder that appeared to go to the top inside the triangle built tower.  I excitedly returned to tell Phil it was a go.  We went back to the school and told our friends it was a go.

After thinking about it I got concerned that if something happened to Phil I would not be able to live with myself so I decided to go it alone.  I arrived 30 minutes early and followed the same path as before to gain access to the tower.  I wore sweat pants and a back pack with the flag inside.  After climbing a hundred feet or so I heard Phil's voice below " Brogdon is that you.  I explained why I was going alone so Phil agreed to stand guard.

After reaching the half way mark, ice had formed on the ladder.  Much to my surprise, the ice got thicker the higher I would go.  Not to give up I went up to the last hundred feet to discover that the last 100 feet the ladder was on the outside of the tower.  After thinking it over I realized I needed to go all the way.  I climbed on the outside ladder and made it to the top.  I then took the flag out and tied it to the electrodes sticking out of the pole on top.  As I stood on the top I could see down-towns of both Fort Worth and Dallas. I thought to myself " what a wonderful thing it would be if I could jump off and fly like a bird.  In 1977 I made my first skydive which is body flying.  33 years later I am still skydiving, the latest with one of my granddaughters.

As I descended down the tower, I was so much in a hurry to get down I slipped a couple of times and managed to catch myself in time.  The adrenaline I experienced was the beginning of my life adventures since then.

I kept watching the WAPB news for the next couple of days and noticed that they did not seem to be aware of the flag being there so I called and said I was an amateur astronomer and noticed the flag.  The receptionist said she would check it out.  That evening I was at a Sagamore Hill Baptist Church get together at Talana Hadsell's house.  At 10pm I asked everyone to gather around her TV to watch the news.  The headline was " They said it couldn't be done".  I let out a yell this is it.

The next day at school the word had gotten around that I was the one who put the flag on the tower, so each class the teacher would have me go to the blackboard and draw how I had done it.  The next day the news station showed a Steeplejack climbing up to retrieve the flag.  They mentioned that everyone at the school knew who it was.  Apparently several people called the station to report me.  At home my mother kept pressuring me and my brother Paul to tell her who had done it.  Finally I broke down and said it was me.  My mother fainted onto the couch.  After recovering, she called Pastor Swank.

A member of Sagamore Hill Baptist Church owned the station and Pastor Swank convinced them not to press charges.  He did tell them I must have hung the flag after the station was shut down since the electrode I hung the sheet on carried 20,000 volts.

As the 20th EHHS reunion was approaching I was an accomplished skydiver capable of jumping off the tower and parachuting into the reunion.  I contacted a good friend, Jimmy Davis, a Hollywood Stuntman and one of the stunt coordinators for the TV program " That's Incredible ".  I asked him if they would be interested in recording it for their program.  He checked with the producers and they told him due to liability issues if I recorded it on my own, they would use it on the program.  After running it by my wife at the time she sternly announced that she would divorce me if I did.  Consequently I didn't make it.  A year or two later she left me anyway to marry her boss.

Meanwhile I have jumped in three countries, out of numerous types of aircraft plus twice out of Hot Air Balloons.  I have arranged and jumped into numerous high profile events such as the Seoul 1988 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, The Rose Bowl 4th of July, Pasadena, Tijuana's 100th Birthday to name a few.  I have made hundreds of friends worldwide related to activities within the sport.

...Tony Brogdon, Class of 1961

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW... What a story..

I thought my friends in north Dakota did some wild stuff.

David Munson.