Friday, April 29, 2011

Yes, Dear - plus one year

Well, it's been a year since I tried to die. Feeling fine now, thank you.

Wife continues to amaze me. She watches some of those cooking programs and sees things she would like to add to her kitchen tools. We don't have any more space for them unless she throws something out. Wife is a packrat - she throws nothing out; chaos seems to suit her. Oh well, we'll find some space.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Memory Storage

Over the course of the past few years I’ve undertaken to scan all the old family pictures that go back about 4-5 generations, also all the certificates and hundreds of pages of written history about the ancient generations. Currently, there are something on the order of 7500 files occupying about 3GB of memory. Of course, I backup these files to 2 or 3 different drives, including a flash drive and will probably consider using an online file storage service before long.

As you probably know, memory has been growing exponentially over the past few years and the cost has been plummeting. Like I’m sure most of us have done, I’ve migrated data storage from 5” floppies to 3” floppies to compact disks to external hard drives, and now more and more to flash drives.

A few days ago while checking out of some store I spotted the little flash drive shown above, hanging near the register. It’s about the size of one of my ring finger joints and is rated at 4GB, enough to hold all my family files with 1GB to spare! I can put an entire Office suite of software in less than half the remaining space and take everything I need to operate independently from any computer someone would lend me for temporary use.

Cost - $10. Amazing stuff.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eastern Hills High School Football 1959 - 2007

An interesting historical chart found on the school site showing all the season football results from the beginning.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

1963 Tartan Newspaper

Many of the clippings included in this blog came from old copies of the school newspaper, The Tartan. The pictures taken from the yearbook, The Clan, show the 1962-63 staff of the Tartan. Lot of good looking gals in that class.

I think that in addition to having a desire to work on the paper, you also had to have some aptitude for it; however, I don't recall how the selections went.

In addition to regular classwork, these students also had to put together and publish the paper about once every two-weeks. Bob Dillard went on to own his own newspaper out in West Texas.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Yorktown Murmurs

While chasing an ancient family line back to an early Jamestown grandfather, many other interesting stories flowed from the study along with a much increased appreciation of this society’s amazing journey through history. In Jamestown Murmurs, I mentioned my earliest New World ancestor, a 10th great grandfather who disembarked during Jamestown’s 14th year.

Discovering a personal connection to an individual who lived here when the New World was populated by only 1200 or so English settlers takes your breath away, especially if you have an active imagination and a reasonable grasp of history. I wondered, if I were he, what I might have wanted to tell some of my descendants if I had had the means to record and preserve my thoughts. That set off a sort of mental time travel exercise where you spend some time in both eras…now and 400-years ago. What would I like to tell and what would I like to hear from each perspective?

For the most part, our lives whether lived in the present or lived 400-years ago, are somewhat similar. The sun comes up, we wake, we’re hungry, maybe a little roll with the gal, must work the crops or we don’t eat later, must work for Dilbert’s pointy haired boss or we don’t eat later, it’s a pretty day—mind wanders, later we’re hungry again, goodness that’s a good lookin’ little gal walking by, maybe another roll with ours later on, getting sleepy, nodding off…tomorrow is another day.

Mixed-in are interactions with other people, irritations, joys…a few truly dumb bastards, fewer still really nasty farts, and now and then a war with another tribe over something no one really understands.

So, what would I really like to hear from g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandfather Pete? You know, it really doesn’t matter. Anything would do...Pete, tell me about that gal that caught your eye today.

And what would I tell him? Boy, that’s tougher. Could he understand 4G, iPods, Safari, WIN 7, VISTA, XP, or a blue screen flashing “fatal error” usually just means to reboot? I think within an amazingly short time, he probably could. Paris Hilton interacts with her technology, doesn’t she?

We had learned in our corner of the corporate cyber world that once something was digitized, it had the potential to never die which was not any different than any written document. It also had the potential to be misappropriated and misused, so we had to be thoughtful about what we put “out there.”

However, it was also apparent that putting certain things in the hands of others is probably one of the best ways to ensure its survival. Easy duplicating and transmitting brought to us by present day computer technology could be selectively pressed into service as a means of perpetuating the very things you would want to perpetuate; the family tree preservation being one of the most obvious positive aspects.

One of my 4th great grandfathers (1 of 32 individuals at that level) commanded a Virginia County militia during the Revolution. In that position he was responsible communicating with the Virginia governor who at that time was also Virginia’s military commander. In seeking to learn something about grandpa Phil, I found a 1782 letter he wrote to Benjamin Harrison V, then governor of Virginia, a position previously held by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, among others. Six years before this letter was penned, Harrison along with Jefferson and several others signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.

Grandpa Phil’s letter was apparently saved as a part of early Virginia government correspondence and has resided in the Library of Virginia archives for many years. It can be downloaded from the Net. Here at least was something in the hand of an early ancestor that, although not directed to me or any other descendent, as I envisage it, provides a fascinating glimpse of a man who is a part of me. Seeing his words written in his own hand was interesting enough, but deciphering the old handwriting was even more interesting.

Grandpa Phil was responding to Harrison’s order that he supply some of his troops and guns. He was complaining that he didn’t have them to give. He explains that he has his hands full defending his own citizens from British depravations along the river and that what canon he had were taken away by the Continentals when they came through the neighborhood some months earlier.

Comparing his words to what was going on in that area at the time the letter is dated revealed that Grandpa Phil’s County was about 25-miles north of Yorktown and the Continentals he mentions were some of the Revolutionary forces assigned to the Yorktown Siege of General Cornwallis that brought an end to the Revolution a few months earlier! What extent Grandpa Phil participated in that historic event isn’t known, but it is reasonably certain that he was there with his militiamen if only to observe or provide replacements now and then.

This small painting is generally considered to be one of the most accurate depictions of the British marching out of their fort bound for English ships that would take them back to England. It was painted a short time after the Yorktown surrender and relied on eyewitness accounts for its detail. Grandpa Phil's County was across the river and north to about the horizon. This view not only portrays the surrender field accurately, it shows enough detail to pinpoint where Grandpa Phil lived and fought.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1980s (FBG) Slang

Following is a list of slang words and terms borrowed from another site that focuses on 1980s memories. Our FBG brethren claim to have invented or embraced these terms as a part of their culture. Maybe so, but I seem to recall some of these terms in use in the sixties also. I think most of this kind of stuff originated in California youth cultures.

See my sixties slang listing if you are interested in comparing slang from 2 different generations.

airhead - An intellectual lightweight. A term invented to describe a Valley Girl.

awesome - Equal to or slightly better than "cool," but not tubular.

bad - Something that is very good or very cool.

barf bag - Like "jerk", a disparaging term used by one person to describe another.

bitchin' - Adjective for something that is very cool, or very hot, as in "Dude, that band is bitchin'!"

bodacious - Usually used as an expression of appreciation for a woman's attributes, but also generally as a form of enthusiastic appreciation for a member of the opposite sex.

bomb - Used to describe something in a very favorable light, as in "That movie was totally bomb!"

bottom line - Yuppie-speak for getting to the crux of a matter, as in "Okay. This is the bottom line."; previous generations might have said "getting down to brass tacks."

boy toy - Initially used to describe a young woman who had a reputation for being "easy". In her first incarnation, Madonna exploited the boy toy image. Later used to describe a young man who was the plaything of an older woman (or man).

carpe diem - A Yuppie term, from the Latin for "seize the day," meaning to go for it, take a chance, get on with life.

cheesy - Something that is way too sentimental.

chill/chill out - Relax, calm down. Take a chill pill. To be practicing this is to be "chillin'."

couch potato - Term coined to describe those who spend way too much time in front of the television, thanks to the VCR and the advent of cable.

cowabunga! - An '80s battle cry, sort of like "Geronimo!" was to a previous generation, uttered when someone is about to do something crazy or adventurous.

DINK - Acronym that stands for "dual income, no kids" -- a Yuppie couple with no children and lots of money to spend on themselves.

dipstick - A dumb person. Popularized by Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1984).

do lunch - A Yuppie term expressing a desire to get together in the future, but without a firm commitment as to when.

do the wild thing - To have sex.

downer - Anything -- an event, a movie, a person -- that is depressing. The Challenger disaster was a real downer for everyone.

dude - A pronoun made popular in the 1980s, synonymous with "Man," as in "Hey, dude, what's the word?"

dweeb - A synonym for "nerd".

eat my shorts - An expression of mild contempt. Used by Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club before Bart Simpson made it even more famous.

for sure - An expression of heartfelt agreement. "Man, she is hot!" "For sure, dude!"

fresh - Hip term used as a synonym for "appealing" or "original".

gag me with a spoon - A Val Gal expression connoting extreme disgust.

gang banger - A member of an urban street gang.

get horizontal - To do the wild thing. The phrase originated with Olivia Newton-John's song "Physical".

gnarly - Valley speak for something that is very good.

grody - Something that is extremely gross. "Dude, this burger is grody to the max."

gross out - Synonymous with disgusting. To "gross me out" you had to do something that was really disgusting.

guppie - Variation of yuppie to denote a gay, upwardly-mobile person.

have a cow - To be over-excited or upset almost to the point of hysteria. "He's, like, just a rock star. Don't have a cow!"

hellacious - Used to describe something that is very difficult, as in, "That final was hellacious!"

homeboy - Term used to identify someone as a friend, or a member of your clique, originating from urban street gang jargon.

hoser - A loser, a rube. Canadian in origin, made popular by the film Strange Brew.

hottie - Term used to describe someone, of either gender, who is sexy.

hunk - A majorly handsome male. See also studmuffin.

I'm so sure -A sarcastic expression of disbelief, as in "Chad asked you out on a date? Like, I'm so sure!"

ill - Uncool, not hip; "You be illin'" is to say "You don't look good" or "You look miserable."

joanie - Derisive Val-speak for a square, un-hip girl, derived from the Joanie Cunningham character on Happy Days.

jock - Usually a term of derision directed at self-obsessed athletes.

lame - Anything -- an event, a person, a movie -- that is dumb, uninspiring or just not with it, as in "That song is so lame!"

like - Originating with Valgals, it can be used as many times as necessary in a sentence, usually to herald the upcoming use of an adjective, such as "That movie was like so lame that it like grossed me out."

major (majorly) - As in "He is a major hunk!" or "That was a major gross out!"

make my day - Derived from the Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" flick Sudden Impact; could be used as a macho response to a challenge, or, in the past tense, sarcastically, as in "Oh, yeah, that just made my day!" -- which is to say, it didn't.

mega - Prefix that can be attached to nearly any word for enhancement, as in "That megasucks!". Also, synonymous with major.

Omigod! - Valspeak expression denoting surprise or disgust, with each syllable separated by a pause.

party hearty - The warcry of '80s fratboys everywhere, meaning to party with a dedication sometimes sadly lacking in calculus class.

PC - Short for political correctness, as in not saying or doing anything that might hurt anyone's feelings, and which first reared its ugly head in the '80s.

pencil you in - Yuppie-speak for making an appointment or date that is subject to change.

preppie - They of the polo shirt and khaki trousers, all the rage in the '70s, but who either became yuppies or nerds in the '80s.

psyche! - After you tell somebody something that upsets or excites them, you say this to demonstrate that you were just fooling.

queer - A pejorative unrelated to homosexuality, used to describe something or someone that is peculiar or lame.

quiche - Meaning "weak" or "iffeminate" and derived from the 1982 book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche.

rad/radical - Term coined by skateboarders in the '80s to describe something that is very cool.

rock my world - As in "amaze me!"

rush - A big thrill, as in "That concert was a major rush!"

scumbag - A derisive term denoting an extremely undesirable person.

skank - Like scumbag, with an added connotation of lack of morals or hygiene.

slamdance - Started by punk rockers, a form of dancing that required participants to hurl themselves bodily at one another.

space cadet - Used to describe someone who is dumb or just wacky.

stoked - Fired up, ready to go.

studmuffin - See hunk.

take a chill pill - Calm down. See chill.

to the max - To the ultimate level, as in, "That skank is, grody to the max."

totally - Completely, to the max.

tubular - To describe something that is so totally cool as to defy description.

UVs - In sunbathing, to catch some rays. Stands for ultraviolet, as in "I'm heading down to Malibu to get some UVs."

Valley Girl - Term originally applied to spoiled girls who lived in the San Fernando Valley and who developed their own lingo, known as Valspeak, but which in time was used to describe any slightly goofy mall chick.

veg (out) - To take it easy, to not do anything. "I think I'll like veg out today."

wannabe - Derived from a 1985 magazine story about obsessed young female fans of Madonna, who wanted to be just like her, and did everything in their power to look and act like her.

waycool - Beyond cool, or at least very very cool.

wicked - Really good. Related to bad and radical.

word! - A very utilitarian slang word; used as an expression of enthusiastic agreement, an exclamation, or when you just didn't know what else to say.

yuppie - The upper-middle class Baby Boomer who is obsessed with career and conspicuous consumption; stands for Young Urban (or Upwardly-Mobile) Professional.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Air Traffic Controller Snoozing

Six sleeping air traffic controllers and counting. There was another one caught this weekend in Florida, I think. So, it’s back to my pounding the FBGs—it’s under their management these events are occurring. Listening to blather about circadian rhythms as an excuse for dereliction of duty is growing tiresome. These people make me want to puke.

When I started flying in the 1960s it was obvious to even a youngster that the adults in charge of the system were a serious lot. In fact, as a life-long critic of government bureaucracies, the FAA earned significant respect in my youthful appraisal of such things. One thing I didn’t think much of at the time, but consider frequently these days, is the fact that both the sixties professional aviator ranks and the FAA air traffic control system was in the capable hands of a heavy contingent of ex-Air Force people. A lot of them had either flown or worked in the Eighth Army Air Force during WWII where they learned about the serious business of aviation and their responsibilities for attention to duty.

Sometime in the 1970s things began to change as unionization and the bureaucracy grew. More and more airspace came under air traffic “control” and more and more rules crept into a formerly open operating environment. For pilots, delays mounted and dissatisfaction grew. It was the time that our generation was coming of age. By the early 1980s air traffic controllers had convinced themselves that it was they, not the pilots who were responsible for the safe conduct of a flight. In a real sense, those beliefs led to the firing of the air traffic controllers by President Reagan in 1981 and the decertification of their union, PATCO.

Pilots are trained differently. They are trained to be competent in the safe operation of their aircraft, including the takeoff, accurate enroute navigation, and safe landing at a destination—all without the “control” of ground controllers. If the weather is bad at a desired destination, the pilot always plans for an alternative destination and carries additional fuel for the possible diversion. He also knows how to use the instrument landing resources of a destination airport without the need to talk to a ground controller.

The clash comes when ground controllers and pilots disagree over who is in charge of a flight. There is not a single pilot who would relinquish control and decision making to a ground controller…it’s a “set in stone” kind of thing. So, if the controller is asleep at his post, it’s really not much of a problem for a pilot with respect to operating his aircraft safely.

In the present commercial air traffic system, airlines tend to bunch their flights in and out of destinations at certain times during the day. Not much is happening at the airports during the wee hours except for light plane traffic and freight carriers. They, too, are trained to operate without benefit of a ground controller.

When I started in the sixties, most airports were NOT staffed with controllers after about 10 or 12 at night. If you came in late, your radio transmitter would turn on the runway lights and you would put the plane down in accordance with a standard operating procedure. All licensed pilots knew that procedure and operated accordingly. What has changed? Not much, really. There may be less overall traffic in the skies today since the number of active licensed pilots has been declining for the past few decades. Perhaps the only difference between now and then, is an overreaching controllers’ union that has sought to increase staffing when and where it is not needed. Beware of a call for additional staff in the wee hours in order to help keep people awake…I would argue that there is another agenda at work.

Note: If you watch some of the old WWII movies showing the Air Force in action, you can see that the ground controller was mostly a messenger who relayed local winds, altimeter settings, and active runways. The rest of it was left in the hands of the pilot to put it safely on the ground.

During the period following the 1981 firing of the air traffic controllers and subsequent rebuilding of the corps, one of my closer friends, an AAL captain, related a funny little story. The Captain was a gray-haired veteran (possibly WWII) and headed to Las Vegas on a recent evening. The young controller taking the Captain’s flight plan filing was well-versed in the aviation acronyms for navigation equipment aboard and was nonplussed to find that the Captain had almost nothing aboard his old 727 by way of modern navigation equipment.

Growing frustrated with the Captain’s series of negative responses regarding not having certain equipment, the controller exasperatedly asked, “Captain, how do you intend to get to Las Vegas tonight?” “EYES” was the Captain’s response. The Captain relished both telling the story and the young controller’s incredulity.

It’s been 30-years since he told me that story and it still brings a chuckle. Pilots are trained to get where they’re going by looking outside the plane and comparing landmarks to a flight chart they carry with them.

A final thought...I'm sympathetic to the notion that long, late hours of boredom are difficult to bear while remaining alert. I've done them, a lot of us have. However, while pilots can handle the safe operation of their aircraft, there are times that competent ground control is a vital service. These times involve seriously bad weather when visibility is poor and in areas such as large metropolitan concentrations where air traffic tends to accumulate in the vicinity of busy airports. Generally, in these areas the ground control functions around the clock and activity is great enough to keep everyone on their toes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Football Captains 1960 - 1961 - 1962

These guys were elected by the teams and as I recall, the coaches had no input in selecting them. Although like most high school elections there was a popularity component to the elections, there is not a dud in this lot. They were all good guys.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gas Prices

We’ve been buying gas since the early 1960s when it was about 25¢ per gallon.  As we have all seen during the ensuing years, gas has grown more costly, but in general unless you’ve had to run a fleet or commute long distances the cost impact on our personal budgets has been relatively inconsequential.  In fact, that 25¢ gallon of gas would only cost an inflation adjusted $2.10 if the market weren’t skewed as it is now.

Perhaps the most troublesome periods were during the 1973-4 Arab Oil Embargoes and the 1978 Carter Administration cock-up when there were periods we couldn’t buy as much gas as we wanted at any price.  I was pretty lucky to be driving a small displacement sports car with a big gas tank during those periods so the impact on me personally was minimal.  Additionally, I was traveling a great deal on company business during the Embargo, so it was more the rental car agencies problem than mine. 

As a result of those experiences, many of us started paying attention to gas mileage when purchasing cars.  The Japanese smartly filled the good gas mileage void that, for some odd reason, Detroit automakers largely ignored.  The result of that dopey corporate decision lost them a huge market share which they never recovered. 

The gas price signs in the accompanying picture are a reasonably good illustration of the prices we’ve paid over the past 50-years or so.  Seems to me we paid about $1/gallon or a bit more for almost 20-years during the 1980s and 1990s.  That provided enough time for folks to forget what it was like to have troubles with our gas supplies and for the FBG people to buy all those gas-guzzling SUVs.  Things really didn’t start getting out of hand until the late nineties or a bit later.

Since the arrival of my family I’ve been driving sports sedans, usually foreign made, which are also thrifty fuel users.  And now after a lifetime of lots of travel, I’m content to stay close to home….so, once again fuel market upsets are of little consequence.  An electric car might do, but not one of those dumb things they’re building now.

Thank you God.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good-bye, Pop

I never met Pop except by mail, yet I had heard his name nearly all my life. He was a 25-year old Army pilot for a while and a small town doctor a lot longer. Pop was one of about 250,000 young men who flew Army Air Force planes into battle in the skies over Europe and elsewhere during WWII. Thousands of his fellow pilots and their crews didn’t come home, but Pop and his crew did.

Pop was very special to me because he flew the B-17s that carried my father aboard in the nose as one of the crew and brought him home safely. Had he failed to do that I might not have come into existence. He was a favorite comrade of my father’s and they remained life-long friends until Dad passed away some years ago.

They weren’t shot down, but they did have several forced landings due to damage and one flak shell passed through their wing on its way to explode at a higher altitude. Otherwise, their tour of missions in the weeks before D-Day was without event. However, 43 planes in their particular 60-plane unit were shot down during those same weeks; 430 young men lost.

Lost, they always said. Whether they were killed or captured was never known for quite a time after a mission and even then the Germans only reported those that were taken prisoner—about half of them. The rest…MIA, most of them were actually KIA, but that was never reported at the time.

Shortly after Dad died, I wrote Pop a letter asking him to tell me about my father as a young man. Dad was always Dad to me, the big guy who not only nurtured and protected me, but could also get awfully angry with me; yes, and me with him. I never knew him as a kid, but Pop did. Dad always seemed a bit naïve to me, especially as our new world started blossoming into what it would become during the sixties…flower power and all. Pop confirmed my observation.

He didn’t write a letter…his hands were too shaky. So, he made me a tape and spoke on a variety of topics for most of an hour. What a treasure. I’ve come to love all these men, but especially this one. My friend Pop died last December at age 92, the last surviving member of Dad’s crew.

God bless you old friend…say Hi to Dad for me.

Many of them looked like children when they first went to war, and some of them no doubt could have been called children. Veteran pilot Ernest K. Gann encountered many of them at Goose Bay, Labrador, on their way to England, and saw, as he wrote in his classic book Fate is the Hunter, earnest young men with peach fuzz beards…brave aerial children who would go down in flame and history as the Eighth Air Force.” But because aerial warfare is, to say the least, a ripening experience, once they flew a few combat missions they were children no longer. As Gann put it, “the innocence was gone from their eyes.” In age, however, they were still absurdly young and but little removed from childhood. Most were in combat before the age of twenty-two; some, such as gunner Miller, were as young as seventeen, and the few graybeards among them who were twenty-five or older were known more often than not to their fellow crewmembers as “Dad” or “The Old Man,” ...or, Pop.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Airline Molestation - The Brain Trust - STILL !

Video posted today.

Other videos of this treatment of children are beginning to surface on Youtube. One LINK from Drudge goes to an interesting Blog that is apparently being hosted by the TSA itself, tasked with a public relations job to try and explain these kinds of things from their prospective. It's author has taken the screen name of Blogger Bob. Sounds condescending to my old ears, how about yours? Why not Security Sue or Patty Patdown or Grif Grope?

The problem with poorly qualified management, as many of us old duffers know, is that the organizations under their supervision tend to wander in pointless or dumb directions. Lower level supervisors usually take the blame, if the higher managers can make it stick. There is very little incentive in those kinds of organizations for lower level managers to take initiative; for them, there is only a downside. Given the factors in this case, I would not be at all surprised to see several possible responses from TSA management: 1-Ban all pictures in the security area; 2-Criminalize criticism; 3-Intimidate. I think they are already doing some of these things.

Note: I usually don't place links to outside sites in this blog. The reason being, I don't have any control of those outside sites and I dislike dead links. Let's see how long these links remain active...I'll check back to test them.



Big word. Means 150th anniversary and today is the Sesquicentennial of the start of the American Civil War. About 600,000 Americans died during the period 1861 to 1865, until the end at Appomattox. The losses were roughly equal on each side, mostly due to illness, Cholera frequently, poor sanitation.

As a kid, I was always curious about why we Texans, a special subset of Southerners, didn’t think too highly of Yankees. Yes, there was that Civil War business, but that was a long time ago. We did have one Yankee family move in next to us when I was about 10; the boy was younger, pasty-looking and talked funny…not much fun as a playmate. His mom yelled at us running across her lawn—the same lawn we had been running across long before she moved in!

And then there were the firecrackers…she bitched at that, too. Just to break her in, late one night I lit a time delay (fuse in a cigarette) cherry bomb and set it on her bedroom window sill. When it went off later I was in the shower, my alibi secure.

We moved to the East Side shortly after that and I continued growing up there. Our American History classes whizzed by the Civil War, taking no more than a week to set some names and dates in our heads for the weekly tests, then it was on to Reconstruction. For most of my life the Civil War was just a huge conflagration about which I knew little and until the arrival of the Internet I never had much interest in the topic.

Dad told me that great grandpa had fought in it, been in 14-battles, sired 19-children, and was deemed a “substantial citizen” of his County. He got that information from a couple of pages in a circa 1950 compilation of old local newspaper articles where great grandpa got a 2-page spread. Later, I discovered that the 2-page spread was actually his obituary and that his newspaperman cousin had written it. His cousin had served with great grandpa in the same Company—46-years earlier. That knowledge came later.

The only picture of great grandpa that found its way down our family branch was the old man above on the right. His younger picture and those of his families came from a distant (Internet) cousin in whose family branch more information had descended. She sent them to me, and the hunt was on…what exactly had he done during the Civil War?

Part of my youthful curiosity about why, to this day, Southerners and Northerners thought and acted so differently from one another was stimulated by why my ggrandpa gone to war at all. He worked on a farm, owned no slaves, nor did his family, and lived far enough West that very little of his every day life was impacted in any substantial way by the Argument. Yet, 4-months after the day we mark today, he was part of a Regiment organized in northern Arkansas tasked with opposing any Yankee thrust that might come from St. Louis or Springfield.

He never left a single word about his experience in his own hand, but others told the story in different works. Putting things together has been my challenge and pleasure. And in the effort, a far better understanding of at least the part of the Civil War my folks participated in has been the result.

Generally, I believe that ggrandpa and his mates saw the Union Army advancing on them from Springfield as an invasion of their country. Great grandpa’s grandfather had been a frontier soldier of the Revolution and had lived in the neighborhood until great grandpa was about 15. The old man’s frontier tales were a staple of my great grandfather’s childhood and were written down by a cousin, also a resident of the same neighborhood.

I am reminded of George Harrison’s lost verse.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

1961 CLAN Prank

We were fortunate to attend school in a period before a need for metal detectors, campus cops, or drug testing. There were no school shootings, nor any fear of them...they didn't happen and had not been a part of our society at any time before ours.

Pranks, on the other hand, were a regular part of our days and some of them really rose to a point of high creativity. Others were more naughty than clever, but nonetheless funny to those in on the gag. One of the more famous pranks of early EHHS is the picture accompanying this piece. Published not once, but twice in the 1961 Clan, it has enjoyed a half-century long cult status amongst those in on the gag and some of their friends.

Although I've known the picture for years, I didn't notice the protruding center digit until it was pointed out by a '61 correspondent. There have been at least 2 names assigned to the digit's owner, one of which was offered by a participant in that day's photo call. The eye witness account gives credit to David Teague for the momentary spasm.

These kinds of things were often tried in both the CLAN and TARTAN publications and were usually caught by the faculty sponsor. However, in this case the CLAN sponsor was an Ivy League grad, so maybe she wasn't quite ready to ride herd on some rowdy young Texans. You would also have to consider that someone on the CLAN editorial staff was in on the deal, but no one has claimed credit from that group.


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Saga of Harold M. Snow

When I entered EHHS for the first time, Fall 1960, there was one particular football player who seemed to have the whole package…Kip Miller.  Even as a Junior in his first varsity season, Kip was already known as a star on the team.  As a 16-year old youngster, Kip was a self-confident, handsome kid who was dating one the beauties of his class, Carol Warkentin.

Kip had something of an entourage around him in the locker room and it was probably there that I first heard the name of the legendary, Harold M. Snow.  The coach would call Harold’s name during roll call and Kip would answer “here” for him and those around Kip would snicker.  That went on for a few days before it slowly died out.  Although it was clear that there was an inside joke going on, I never knew the story until recently.

In his 50th reunion bio, William R. Kantz, a member of the EHHS first graduating Class of 1960 confessed his part in starting the gag.  It goes like this:

“I attended three schools in Arkansas, one in Commerce, TX and William James, Poly, Handley and EHHS -- Plus four years of summer school. This provided a large pool of girls to date. I also had a Rep. as a Bad Boy, a wild child and a little bit dangerous. This was a plus when dating girls from other schools. In 1957, Harold M. Snow was created as a protection while dating girls from other schools.

“The Saga of Harold M. Snow!  In the school year of 1958, Handley's last year as a high school, I made a motion at a Vulture's meeting that stated: It would be a good joke to have the school office girls slip Grade and Attendance cards into the school files.  This task was accomplished in the name of Harold M. Snow.  The whole thing was just for fun and to screw with EHHS new staff and teachers.  It really was funny to hear his name called out in every class and one of our club members answer for him.  By the third week the staff and teachers were going nuts trying to find him.  The school went serious, and we went silent. -- Until Now!

William R. Kantz  (2010)
P.S.  The M. stands for Melvin”

From a reunion questionnaire: What has surprised you about your life since leaving EHHS back in 1960?
That I have made it this far and that God has assigned angels to protect me.

Gus' note: This is one of those rare stories where a prank had marvelous "legs" reaching over 50-years now. Probably unknown to these perps, their prank became something of an urban legend for at least 3-classes that followed them at EHHS. For those who never heard of Harold M. Snow, know that the sense of humor and creativity shown in his design and execution is pure 1950s--carefree, exuberant, fearless, and creative. It was a great time to be a kid.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fast Times at Ridgemont High & the FBG

If you have read any of my FBG series then you may recall that I don’t like the FBGs, those born from 1955-1965; the 45 to 55 year olds of today.  Known also as Gen-X, these people have, in my opinion, excelled at little more than becoming a generation of whiners and worse.  I’ve combined my previous posts on this subject into a single document HERE.

I’m adding Fast Times at Ridgemont High to a couple of other films, (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off & Risky Business) that I think chronicle this generation of people pretty well.  I do like this 1982 film which was released when we were about 37; then again, who couldn’t have been smitten by Phoebe Cates’ part in it; in fact, that may have diverted my realization that this film fits in with the other FBG films and may be the best descriptive example of all.

The screenwriter actually went back to high school for a year in order to better understand that particular crop of youngsters before he wrote his script.  The result was a fairly accurate snapshot of teen life circa 1982, just before they started taking their places as young adults in our society.  At that time the 17-27 age group were born from 1955-1965…they were the FBGs.

Actually, this film is even more illustrative of that generation than are the other two.  It accurately depicts their after school and weekend jobs in local malls and their peculiar tribulations.  It may be the earliest film to depict that aspect of life, since the large regional malls were only built in the early to mid-1970s.

My recollection of 1982 for us was of outrageous interest rates, a dead housing market, the mid-west rust belt, huge unemployment numbers, an abandoned Gulf coast oil patch, the exodus of American manufacturing to foreign sites, and the first personal computers.

For the FBG youngsters, there were few substantial opportunities and AIDS made its appearance about then…that effectively sounded the last gasp of our Sexual Revolution period and, their music was synthesized crap.  All things considered, it wasn’t a great time to come of age, so I can sympathize with their unfortunate situation.

It was probably during those years that these people started turning their ire on us.  From their limited point of view, we had it all—nice homes, great music, fancy cars, new families, jobs or professions.  Many of them were our younger siblings.

Of course those years were difficult for us also, but in different ways.  I recall thinking that I was glad I wasn’t one of them.  I couldn’t have gotten excited about working in a fast-food joint, or trying to get involved with their music, or facing that job market as a young adult.

On the other hand, I employed a number of youngsters at that time and a couple of my in-laws were that age and from what I observed of them, they were lacking.  I didn’t see in them the spark that we had, nor did I see any sense of willingness to pay their dues and work up to better things.  They were in a hurry to achieve what we had achieved and for reasons I never quite knew, fully expected that they could skip the hard work.

Most of our government and business leaders are now FBGs.  How are they doing and what kind of people do you see?  Here is one of them who as an employee tangled with an Arby’s meat slicer and lost. A good guy you could trust? You decide.  


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Doers & Implementors

I'll admit it...I'm a Dilbert; one of those people who could do things--Wally's Implementor. If you are one of those yourself, then you're going to understand what I'm about to say....

Being an Implementor is a real life-long burden. Why? Because others quickly recognize those skills in you and seem amazingly adept at shifting their burdens to you, the Implementor. The real criminals in this equation are guys like Wally, who could do things himself but has discovered that life is much easier when you shift your work to Dilbert's stack. You see, guys like Dilbert cannot stand to let things drop, which is exactly what they should do in these cases.

Wife says I should feel flattered, but I just don't see upside. In fact, I admire Wally, the "Big Picture" guy in the comic strip above. Yes, the little bastard is a repugnant gnome; but guys like him seem to be able to skate through life free of responsibilities or the burden of having to do things. And at this end of life, aren't all we Wallys and Dilberts pretty much in the same buckets? So what was the payoff for the Dilberts?

Father-in-Law was a wonderful man and a very tall Wally. Every night before turning in he patrolled the house making sure all the doors were locked and secure. To assure himself further, he vigorously shook each door handle several times with his big hands. Mom (in-Law) took me aside once when we visited and asked if I could tighten the door handles...Dad had shaken them loose to the point they were about to fall out of the door and Dad, not being an Implementor, just didn't fix things.

Implementors know that most jobs like this one are 5 or 10-minutes of work that require 1-3 hours of preparation to find the tools, parts, and figure out how to do it. That's why we put these little jobs off until there are a number of them to's the same 1-3 hours of prep time to do 1 or a half-dozen 5-minute jobs. Contractors call it Mob-DeMob.

Sorry, got to go. One of the pots is running, the shower drain is clogged with hair (again), one of the kitchen cabinet handles is loose, and the back door handle is about to fall off!


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

1962 Homecoming – EHHS 8 – Paschal 7

This was a big deal in 1962. The picture of Max Rhodes published in our yearbook was the icon for our season. Our sports program had just joined the "big boys" in 4A-5 two years earlier and this was our 3rd year competing in 4A (Texas' largest districts then). The first 2-seasons were lackluster, although we managed to hold our own in both seasons by not being blown completely off the field.

Like the Longhorns have always been the team to beat in Texas, Ft. Worth Paschal was the team to beat in Ft. Worth. It was a large, well established school of about 4000 students. EHHS was a small upstart by comparison having only 1250 students, a 2-year old 4A program and in 1962 entering its 3rd season in the league.

Paschal had gone pretty far in the Texas State playoffs in the previous 2-seasons, reaching the quarter or semifinals one or both of those years. Our Highlanders had shown well against Paschal both of those first 2 seasons, holding them to a 0-6 result in 1960 and to 2-14 in 1961 when Paschal fielded its best team. We weren't blown off the field either year.
Competing against a much larger school like Paschal exposed us to a team that had been chosen from a pool of talent that was almost 4-times larger than ours. With few exceptions that is why they were generally bigger, faster, and more skilled than were we.

But something came together that year that neither we nor the local sports press really understood. We put a good, if unremarkable team on the field that refused to lose. We had a heck of a time scoring points but we put together a defense that was one of the best in Texas that year. That's no hyperbole. Entering the playoffs at the end of the season we were undeniably one of the top 16 teams in the great State of Texas.

Even if our offense was anemic, in most of the games it was good enough to score at least one more point than the opposition. And that is how this game ended--a one point edge, 8-7, opened the door to the Highlanders' first district football championship 48-years ago. The difference was the fine hands of Max Rhodes who caught both the touchdown pass and the 2-point conversion. Bravo Max.

A few weeks later the Star-Telegram All District picks came out and are marked below on the program image. Those picks were striking in that even though we won, they lost, the pickers just couldn’t come to grips with the fact that after 2 seasons of competing well into the State playoffs, mighty Paschal had fallen to the upstart Highlander team. Goodness, if we had seen how talent starved we were according to the S-T picks, we might well have just turned around and gone home that night. But, in 1962 the Highlanders refused to lose.

Images of a special homecoming edition of the school paper are distributed around this post and show a number of interesting things; one of them being where the 1961 and 1962 Highlanders were attending school and some of them who had married just after graduation.

April 9, 2011 Update: Some terrific pictures contributed by a friend of ours,

Sis – Boom – Bah

Monday, April 04, 2011

National Honor Society – Part 3


Charter members of the EHHS National Honor Society appear to have been entirely members of the last Handley High School NHS before all the Handley high school classes were moved to EHHS.  The second picture shows that spring's inductees, some of whom would be the existing membership of the following year, 1960-61.  Included among them is Melany Burton, our Class of 1963's Gay Burton's older sister.

The picture above picture shows both the existing 1960-1961 members together with the new Spring 1961 inductees.  Note the red ! at far left marking Bobby Dillard in one of his trademark group picture crashes…he was not a member of NHS at this point, but would be inducted the next year.  Note also that whoever prepared the picture ID list for the Clan threw him off the list!  Dillard was known for his ability to work picture days into a day off from classes while he stood around waiting for the next photo op. 

This second picture shows only the existing 1961-1962 members.  There was another picture in that yearbook showing only the Spring 1962 inductees, which for the most part are those shown in the following 1963 members picture.

This third picture shows the 49 existing 1962-1963 members.  They were, unless things changed in some subsequent years, the last Chapter 8752 NHS members to have been selected on the basis of their Character, Leadership, and Service in addition to Scholarship in accordance with the NHS founding principles.  Note that in the last row, just right of center that Bob Dillard is now pictured as an officially inducted member in good standing!


This picture of the following year, 1963-64 NHS membership numbers increase of 200% in the membership of the previously exclusive NHS chapter at EHHS. Such was the result of Roy C. Johnson's decision to overrule Mrs. Dorothy Conway's structure of NHS; also note that Mrs. Conway is no longer associated with this group...the first time she was not the sponsor of this august organization since the school's founding.