Thursday, June 30, 2011


Twenty years ago Roy wrote a few words in a letter to my father describing his WWII experience of escaping from a ditched B-17. Dad didn’t use Roy’s piece in an Air Force newsletter he edited for many years. I found it in Dad’s things a few years ago, read it and found Roy’s story was very sketchy—no wonder Dad hadn’t used it.

However, Roy’s story contained enough intriguing details that I decided to dig into it to see what I could learn. Dad never had benefit of the Internet…it came on strong just after he passed away. Details catching my attention involved two dead crewmen, burials at sea, enemy fire from the shore, British rescue planes landing and taking off under fire, and one crewman taken prisoner. This was much more dramatic than most downed aircraft stories I’ve encountered.

After a few days I had learned quite a bit about the plane crash so I posted a brief inquiry to a forum to see if I could locate a family member. Four years passed without result, until a couple of weeks ago when I got my first inquiry, then a second. After exchanging several emails, both the family members and I have been able to share our information…each of us have learned quite a bit from one another. For them, I have been able to clarify some of the facts that were never clearly told by their fathers, something that was quite common with those WWII veterans. Most of them were so affected by their experience over Europe, they rarely told their stories, especially to their families.

This Highlander blog is in no way as substantial as some other blogs I write. However, it too, holds out the promise of learning some things about our shared experiences that could help settle some of those old curiosities about our time at EHHS. If nothing else, it is serving as something of an historical document for those who follow behind us who might be curious about how it once was there.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Meadowbrook Elementary - Richland Elementary

Located right across Meadowbrook Drive from Meadowbrook Junior High, Meadowbrook Elementary was housed in a gracious old c.1936 building. Before the Junior High was built about 1953 the older building had previously served as the Junior High.

I didn’t attend elementary classes in the old building. My first years were at Richland Elementary just off Baker Blvd. (old 183). Richland Elementary was built in 1953 to support the rapid post-WWII population growth occurring NE along 183. Hurst, Euless, and Bedford were just stoplights along the highway out in the country in those days. A short bike ride east of the school would put you into undeveloped land that was mostly flat and treeless.

One of the things I’ve been trying to better understand is who of our EH classmates attended Meadowbrook Elementary throughout their primary school years, 1951-1957. Mrs. Few’s class picture shows about half of them, I suspect. Some members of the other half were likely Gay Burton, Celia Beall, Julie Hudson, Glen Brandon, Sam Scott, Steve Means, Sharron Ballem, Candy Woodward, Paula Acuff, Mike Grizzard, Phil Nixon, Mike Cooper, Larry Guthrie, Linda Barr, Bill Winkler, Joe Dickerson, Bob Ladd, Carole Stallcup, Tee Mathews, Danny McCoy, Kendall McCook, Carolyn Marcotte. Others. I suspect there was one other class in addition to Mrs. Few’s.

Richland was in the Birdville ISD which after WWII was developing at a similar rate as Ft. Worth’s East Side. Large residential tracts of mostly modest sized homes were being built to house large numbers of WWII veterans just starting their families. However, the Birdville ISD schools put small yearbooks together for even the elementary grades where, for us in the Ft. Worth ISD, the yearbooks didn’t appear until our 10th grade year.

Paging through my 3 yearbooks for grades 4, 5, and 6 from Richland (1955, 1956, and 1957) provides a stark visualization of the beginnings of the Baby Boom as it started progressing through the schools. Our grade consisted of 2-classes. Those older than us consisted of either 2 or less classes; but those behind us were each 3-classes—a step increase of 50% more kids in each of the grades behind us. Remember the schools adding those “temporary” class buildings shortly after we started at each new school?

I’m actively looking for a scan copy of a Meadowbrook Elementary 6th grade class showing one or more of those listed above.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – 25th Anniversary

If you’ve been following some of my FBG rants, today is a threepeat…Weiner, Sarah’s emails, and the FBGs are waxing nostalgic all over the net today. One of the better articles is at The Atlantic; another is in the Washington Post. Google for more, if you’re interested.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Subscriptions - 2 - Teams

6:00 A.M. The paper is sitting on the front path, just as it should be. Bypassing Doris and Misty and pointing a management Kleig light on them yesterday apparently solved their dithering problem. Experienced old farts usually prevail in these kinds of matters, just as long as they are willing to fight. It’s a matter of “been there, done that” or to borrow from an earlier generation, “giving them enough rope to hang themselves.”

O’Reilly, in commenting on the recent Delta Airlines fiasco relating to high extra baggage charges being levied on returning servicemen, suggested that such stupidity is a result of putting low paid people in customer service positions. He further suggested that such people were not capable of thinking clearly and making valid judgments. I think it is clearly a management failure in both of these instances.

But such is the world we live in today, where most large businesses are run by financial people. In their world, employees are “headcount” and customers are “revenue.”

I was fortunate to be a part of some fine “teams” before the word was corrupted into a contemporary and meaningless buzzword. There were the championship teams at Meadowbrook and Eastern Hills, the United States military team, a large multi-national before the finance people took top management slots, and a remarkable entrepreneurial start-up.

Hap Arnold’s letter recognizes another remarkable TEAM. Take your time to assimilate the strength and humility in his words. This was from a time when adults were in charge. The recipient of this certificate was part of a generation that went on to establish an all-jet air transport system, land a man on the moon, build an Interstate Highway system, and eradicate Polio.

Today’s “teams” and their CSMs and/or Team Leaders simply don’t measure up.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

1962 & 1963 Highland Fling

The Highland Fling was a Spring variety show similar to the Meadowbrook "Stars" program and consisted of a series of skits. The main event was the beauty pageant. It was a lot of fun for a lot of kids. The names listed in the program were a number of our more prominent classmates and I think most of them went on to live useful lives.




Wednesday, June 08, 2011


I stopped subscribing to newspapers and magazines many years ago. No time to read the stuff…accumulated as garbage much too quickly…always, always, always a problem with reliable delivery.Wife recently wanted to subscribe to the local paper. I said no. She said yes. I said, then you handle all the problems…I refuse to spend any of my time dealing with it. Things went alright for nearly a year…reliable delivery…no other issues…a single, simple transaction.

Have you noticed in your area, the move to charge separately for the TV guide? Wife wanted to subscribe. I said no, look online if you must know what’s coming up. I watch DVDs and at most 2-3 different channels. The rest of the channels appear to me to be little more than for-pay delivery media for endless dumb commercials hawking stuff I don’t want.

Wife wrote one check for a year’s renewal of both the TV guide and the paper. She also included a tip for the carrier in her one check. Big the problems begin. Bank clerk receiving payment knows nothing about separating the payment into 3 different accounts. She gets credit for a 1.18933 year subscription to the paper…no TV guide…and screw the carrier...he gets nothing!

Wife gets no TV guide first week, paper comes O.K. Wife tries to dump her problem on me. I remind her of our agreement and of my original admonition about the goddam subscriptions. She is pissed… me. She calls the paper’s “circulation dept.” which I imagine consists of maybe a pair of disinterested ex-Big Mac flippers named Doris and Misty.

Of course you know the torture involved in calling anyone for service these days. Wife endures it, getting angrier by the moment. After 20-30 minutes, she reports that Doris assured her that all is “taken care of” and we will see the correct delivery starting the next day. Next day…no paper. Next weekend…no paper & no TV guide. Wife is distraught. I can’t resist reminding her …. wife goes ballistic—I’m grinning—wife really explodes then. Rage brings on the waterworks, etc.

This morning I decide to betray my resolve to let her suffer with her decision to ignore my advice not to subscribe. I submit an online “circulation problem” form. Within minutes I get an email response from Doris saying that our account has been credited for the missing paper and an email notice has been sent to the carrier. However, I see nothing in Doris’ cryptic 10-word note that gives me any confidence that we will see a paper tomorrow (forget about today, folks), so I call Doris. I get her sidekick, Misty…Doris doesn’t want to talk to me, but I can hear her nattering in the background.

Misty’s obvious indifference to my missing paper and raging wife quickly tells me that there will be nothing forthcoming from this conversation except a couple of emails and maybe a paper tomorrow, maybe not. Wife just wants to scrap the whole thing and cancel the paper. I tell her that getting your money back from these kinds of enterprises is much more difficult than getting them to do what they agreed to do in the first place…best to keep at them until they finally get things right even if that means a personal stop into their office to speak with the “big boss”. Visits with "big bosses" of a screwed up dis-organization can be amusing, especially when they try to explain and defend the indefensible. A very few really pointed questions usually have these hapless creatures cowering in a corner.

To hell with the money, wife says. No, says I. That’s really what they want you to do—give up and go away. That way it’s all WIN for them…you can’t convince me that there isn’t some beady-eyed manager behind all this incompetence who designed things this way! Well, tomorrow’s another day…we shall see.

The last straw for me came many years ago when I let a newspaper subscription lapse after an extended period of shoddy delivery issues. The fart kept throwing the paper after the subscription ran out and the paper billed me for the additional papers I hadn't ordered that they threw anyway. I called only once to straighten that one up. They sent me a late notice for the papers they threw that I had not ordered. Then they threatened to send it to collection. That was the last time I ever subscribed to a daily newspaper…until now. Some things never change and many people simply aren’t worth dealing with.

Day 2: No paper. Sent another e-form complaint...Doris will send a paper right over...guess what? Still no paper.

Day 3: No Paper. Sent copies of useless email string to Publisher, Assistant Publisher, and one other honcho--Paper delivered to front door step within 10-minutes. 15 emails generated on this subject in past 3-days...wife had nothing to do with any of them. It's in Dilbert's lap again!.

Day4: A PAPER! Alert the media!

Day 5: A PAPER & A TV GUIDE! We may be on track now.

Any wonder that I stopped subscribing to these things decades ago? Life is just too short to spend on stuff like this and the fun of reducing dolts to jelly lost its appeal long ago--it's become too easy and it's repetitive, hence predictable and boring.

P.S. If Doris were clean in this I would have expected an unsolicited email from her either checking on delivery or apologizing for their lapse and causing us inconvenience. However, no word from Doris tells the story well enough.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Victory or Death

One of our more prominent classmates chided me for writing something about her that sounded to her like words from the middle of the last century. I replied that I wouldn’t deny that I am a product of my time and that my notions of things are rooted from the time she mentioned—they have not morphed with the changing times. I think some things simply needn’t be changed to fit current convenience or fashion.

If I recall correctly, Texans of our generation were taught a full year of Texas History…about 7th grade. I don’t know if that history is still being taught…if not, it should be. There are some current day interpretations of William B. Travis’ words that can be found in the Wikipedia. Maybe they are accurate, maybe not. When forming my own opinions I prefer original source documents such as the letter pictured and contemporary first hand reports as references.

Travis’ words, in his own hand, survived to tell their own story.

Commandancy of the Alamo------

Bejar Fby. 24th 1836

To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World:

Fellow citizens & compatriots—I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna—I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken—I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch—The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country—Victory or Death.

William Barret Travis

Lt. Col. comdt

P.S. The Lord is on our side—When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn—We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.


Travis was buying time for Sam Houston to marshal his forces to stand against the Mexican Army under Santa Ana. Travis and his fellows sacrificed themselves in this effort at the Alamo.