Saturday, July 30, 2011

Roseanne Roseannadanna

Now and then I encounter something that reminds me that much of the world around me no longer understands the same things I understand as common knowledge. Today, my regular lunch server’s pride in bringing my order together so quickly only to find at the last moment something was missing, quickly turned to frustration.

Gilda Radner’s character, Roseanne Roseannadanna immediately came to my mind…. "Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it's always something--if it ain't one thing, it's another."

My server is about 40, bright, and enthusiastic, but before quoting Roseanne’s maxim to her, I first asked, “do you know Roseanne Roseannadanna?” Her expressionless smile gave me my answer. Never mind, I said….just remember, it’s always something.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Meadowbrook Coach Bill Blocker

Anyone who attended Meadowbrook Jr. Hi. in the 1950s and later would recall Coach Blocker, a fixture in the PE department. His cousin was Dan Blocker, Hoss Cartwright in the TV series, Bonanza. Blocker was an expansive figure who had played baseball and/or managed with the 1950 UT National Baseball Championship team. I knew him as the assistant coach of the Meadowbrook football teams where he tagged me with a nickname I was never quite able to shake off. Some of you were still calling me that nickname when we graduated, 5-years after my first encounter with Blocker. Not sure what that says about our relative influences. 

Memories of Blocker from a ('64): CJ64-The assistant coach for everything was Bill Blocker, an emotional, outgoing sort of guy who tended to fat, had squinty eyes, a very upturned nose, and was naturally nicknamed “Piggy” (but never to his face!). Coach Blocker was a UT graduate and had been the manager and part-time player for the UT baseball national champions of 1950. He became the head coach in our 9th grade when Mr. Morrow took over as principal.

He was famous for giving out nicknames to his players. For example, Al Lewis became Alkali, Ted Moberg was Titty-rump, Roby Morris was Robo, I was “Johnny” (but I think because he couldn’t remember my name and probably thought it was Johnny), and so forth. When we were seniors at Eastern Hills, Al and Ted came out as co-captains for the coin toss against Poly High. The referee was none other than Coach Blocker, and he greeted them with “Alkali, Titty-rump, how you boys doin’?” -- much to the consternation of the Poly captains.

I played third-string center for him. In 9th grade I weighed about 120 pounds and was about 5’4”, and I wasn’t very fast or very good. Years later my wife and I went down to Austin to see Texas Tech play Texas. We checked into the old Alamo Hotel before the game and there in the lobby was Coach Blocker. By this time I was 6’2” and weighed about 185. I introduced myself, and very much to my surprise, he beamed and said “Johnny, you played center for me!” I was stunned that he could remember a very non-memorable player, but that is the kind of guy he was. Unfortunately, he died young not too many years after that from a heart attack.

The Target back to school ad below is a pretty good illustration of how I recall Coach Blocker...a kind of drill sergeant in PE whites. He was a conspicuous figure and yes, we climbed that damned rope to the top of the gym ceiling, maybe 30-ft up, a lot. Little, strong guys like Glen Brandon were best at it...for bigger guys it was tougher--more to haul up there..


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Team Team Team

You can trust Scott Adams to call 'em as he sees 'em. I'm delighted to agree with him most of the time.

Anyone recall when doctors became "medical service providers" or engineers became "technicians or superintendents" or any number of other examples of bastardizing our language?

I saw this stuff begin creeping into contract language during the 1990s and figured it was being driven by legal concerns attempting to minimize potential overreach in the event of a dispute.

How about hiring a legal service provider...anyone have a clue what that may be? A lawyer, or a para-legal, or a legal secretary?

And have you noticed that it's getting more difficult to see a doctor? Now it seems that we are seeing a Physician's Assistant (PA) or maybe just a nurse more and more often. Is that going on where you are? One thing is certain...the bill is going to be for the premium level service regardless of who you see.


Sixties Rock

Neat cup, isn't it? We've all had favorite cups over the years and used them until we either dropped them or the inside got so vile looking that we found a replacement. This one came out of one of those mail order catalogs and never fails to evoke a knowing smile as some of the group names come into focus. Some fun, eh kid?

By the way, a black cup is never see how vile its inside has become!


Monday, July 25, 2011

1959–1964 Highlander Sports Queens and Princesses

1961 & 1962 Football Princesses

Long before it occurred to free-spirited kids to consider electing some kid named Mike for their Homecoming Queen, young people of our time took the selection of our beauties seriously. The pictures show 48 young ladies elected by the various sports teams to serve as their Queens and Princesses…beauties, all. And very nice young people, too.
A separate posting about the football queens, Carol Reeder and Susan Begley, can be found here.





 1961 Football Princesses: Darla Houlihan, Carol Warkentin Miller, Rebecca Willis, Marsha Routt, Jackie Rogers, and Judy Oxford.
1962 Football Princesses: Marsha Myers, Mollie Howell, Linda Dunham, and Candy Hamilton.
Basketball Court: 1962 Queen - Judy Oxford; Princesses - Paula McClung & Becky Welch. 1963 Queen - Barbara Isham; Princesses - Judy Hill & Gail Morrison.  1964 Queen - Brenda Haire.  1965 Queen - Becky Wright.
Track Court: 1962 Queen - Karen Ruble; Princesses - Diane Hardin & Linda Dunham. 1963 Queen - Judy Hill; Princesses - Linda Dunham & Alice Bretz.  1964 Queen - Barbara Isham.  1965 Queen - Vicki Herring.
Baseball Court: 1962 Queen - Trisha Blocker; Princesses - Zoe Ann Hunter & Sally Tarpley. 1963 Queen - Gail DeVore; Princesses - Suzanne Woodall & Jackie Howell.  1964 Queen - Donna Johnson.  1965 Queen - Sandra Marks.

Sometimes it's a little difficult to recall or tell someone when THE Sixties really began...I place it about 1965-66 with ramp up of soldiers sent to Vietnam and Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" and the start of protest music. Other things changed very quickly during those few years after we left and long hair, for example. Below are the 1968 & 1972 EHHS Homecoming Queen and Princesses.

And the 1960 (Class of 1961) Homecoming Queen and her court:

Left to Right: Joann Parker, Jackie Nantz, Talana Hadsell, Lynda Lynch, and Ann Day.

The 1964 (Class of 1965) Homecoming Queen and her court:

The 1959 (Class of 1960) Homecoming Queen and her court:

Left to Right: Georgia Mills, Nan Logan, Nancy Armstrong, Barbara Bruton, Susan Moody, Linda Denny, and Rita Patterson.  QUEEN:  Diann Jordon.

remerciez le ciel de jolies filles

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Will You Sign My Book?

Each summer the yearbooks came in and were distributed during a warm summer evening. Everyone not working out of town or vacationing came in for a couple of hours to pick up their yearbooks and have their friends sign them. It was a nice thing in those worries about some characters writing profanity or off-color remarks in your book, nor defacing pictures as happens sometimes these days.
Are you in my book? Bet you never had any notion that your words would one day be posted for others to see...all over the world. That's a good object lesson for your grandchildren in the matter of being careful what they commit to writing. Nothing to worry about here. I have no idea what I might have written in your books...if it was dumb, please forgive me....I was only 16-18 at the time, as were you.
I see some of my notable friends missing from this collection. Maybe they signed inside the book, on their pictures as some did. Otherwise, it's a neat collection of a lot of good kids.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

EHHS Cheerleaders

Speaking as a former lad with good recall of what it was like to come of age and start noticing girls, I can report that cheerleaders caught my attention first. You couldn’t miss them, of course…what with those swinging pony tails, bright colored skirts, and familiar cheerleader arm moves. Since raising my own cheerleader prospects, I had the opportunity to observe that a cheerleading gene must reside in most young girls…they start practicing the moves sometime about 5th or 6th grade...all through the house, In the garage, the yard, out shopping, in and out of restaurants, just about anywhere and everywhere.

Almost from the first day in 7th grade, the pep rallies started and continued unabated every fall until we graduated. For each successful cheerleader there must have been several dozen others that would have loved to have the spot. Since our cheerleaders were so visible and generally cute, an ambitious lad would normally focus his attention on one or more of them. Dating them was possible in Junior Hi, but without a car, what was there to do?

Our Meadowbrook cheerleaders, Gay Burton, Celia Beall, and Julie Hudson gave way to Handley's Dianah Barton & Suzanne Hoffman during our Sophomore year who held onto the spots all through EHHS while we were there. Unfortunately for those of us unattached lads, both Dianah and Suzanne were locked up with steady boyfriends all through high school so, we never got a chance to date them. What a shame.

I didn't mention the guys because I was always focused on the girls. If a boy had some athletic ability or even some pretense, he played the sports. We didn't see boy cheerleaders in Jr. Hi., so their addition at EHHS was actually viewed as a negative...they took the spots we could have used for more girls, and thus a better show at the pep rallies. Back then, cheerleading wasn't as athletic, nor as dangerous as it has become with the addition of gymnastics to the mix.

Our boy cheerleaders (Charlie Rigby, Danny Tekstar, Felton Havins, Ward Ruscoe, David Thurman, and George Branum) were generally personable and energetic, yet not among our top scholars. However, they surely had something on the ball, since they must have been the first among us to learn something about the girls, we in the stands had mostly not learned. First, 110-lbs of dead weight is heavy, no matter how attractive its packaging; and second, I don't think there was a lad in the stands or on the field who wouldn't have liked to give that chair lift deal a try.

  1963-1964 Highlander Cheerleaders
 1964-1965 Highlander Cheerleaders

1959-1960 Highlander Cheerleaders (EHHS' first squad)

 1960-1961 Highlander Cheerleaders (EHHS' second squad)

 1957-1958 Poly Parrot Cheerleaders (One of the last 2 squads before EHHS opened)

(Ed. note:  Before EHHS opened fall 1959, the large majority of Meadowbrook Junior High graduates went on to Poly High School.  For the first few years that EH was open, there was a strong influence in its halls from both Poly and Handley High Schools.  These influences were mostly due to familial ties through older siblings and parents, who themselves were Poly graduates.  A number of the original teaching staff had transferred to EH from both Poly and Handley...Coaches Mitcham and Graves were both Poly grads and were football stars there in the late 1940s.  Principal Roy C. Johnson had also been a Poly coach and Meadowbrook's Principal Charles M. Berry had been both a Poly teacher and coach in the mid-1930s)

I crack myself up....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Career Path

If you stayed with a large company long enough, you may have either heard this discussion or figured it out for yourself. Sound familiar?


Friday, July 15, 2011


Ever since having to use a phone to call one of you EHHS girls for a date, my relationship with phones has been, at best, a mixed bag. I've never been one to curl up with a phone and talk mindlessly for hours.

Until I settled on a steady girl at EH, or rather she settled on me, I would pace, dry sweaty palms, and fight dry throat before calling my intended date. Then, within a few moments, everything was O.K. As is often said, "this, too, shall pass" and it did.

However, not much later, about the time I left the house to take on the world by myself, the telephone took on another extreme irritant. Siding salesmen, newspaper subscriptions, and hundreds of other dopey propositions started coming in on my phone...and those were the days before you could switch off the ringer, dump to voice mail, or screen with caller ID. Working with a large corporation with far-flung divisions, wide-spread internal interests, and an array of customers introduced yet another level of telephone irritation. In pretty short order, I came to view the telephone more as nuisance than anything else and sought to live life as free from them as possible.

You may have noticed that I put a link to DILBERT along the upper, right side panel. Scott Adams, Dilbert's creator, has been amazingly locked in on modern-day corporate nuttiness since the mid-1990s, demonstrating daily that neither clarity nor truth need many words to convey their message. Recently, he did a couple of panels on the current telephone fad, "smart phones." I look to DILBERT ( & Adams) to render an accurate portrait of many things we see being breathlessly touted in TV ads these days. I think he may have done it yet again, this time on the underlying truth of smart phones.

Wireless internet access has always been a beguiling prospect unfortunately, plagued by a number of technical limitations. Maybe it still is.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Charlotte Ballard – Polly Lovett – Ruth Priddy—English

Bruce McDonald shared with me that he recalled his EHHS English teachers as being remarkably good; they were, Mrs. Dyer, Mrs. Smith, and Mrs. Priddy.

That got me to thinking about my own lineup of English teachers, only one of whom I shared with Bruce—Mrs. Ruth Priddy. I must admit that English classes and English teachers were not my favorites. Although I did pretty well in the classes, I always seemed to struggle a bit more in them than in other subjects. Not until much later in life did the art of sentence and thought construction begin to interest me. And while banging out some words isn’t much of a chore these days, I still tend to get things out of order sometimes.

My first English teacher was a fearsome vision, Lillie B. Stokes, at Richland Jr. Mrs. Stokes was also my homeroom teacher so, I got a double dose of her daily, for a year. I don’t recall much about her class, but I clearly recall her admonition on opening day of 7th grade: “If you cannot behave yourselves, we will try to reason with you at this end (pointing to her head), and if that doesn’t work, we will go to work on the other end.”

Now, while I’m pleased to report that she never found a reason, to “reason” with my other end, I just don’t recall much about her class. Mrs. Stokes was of my grandparents’ generation, born about 1894, and was a stark example of how that earlier generation viewed dealing with miscreant children. I don’t know how it was in other 7th grades around the area, but I do recall no fewer than 4 other teachers in my school threatening to bust my butt or the butts of others during that first year in Jr. Hi. I think I’ll deal with that topic in a separate posting.

At Meadowbrook, English for me, meant Mrs. Jane Sheets. I don’t have a picture of her, but clearly recall her as a slight woman with a constantly dour expression on her face. I don’t recall feeling particularly threatened by her, but there were a number of other teachers at Meadowbrook who did represent an potentially painful threat to many young East Side butts; coaches Bill Blocker, Twain Morrow, and shop teachers, Creel Phillips, and a Wayne? Hampton, all stood ready to dispense summary retribution. As for Mrs. Sheets’ classes, about all I recall of them was a seemingly endless struggle to correctly diagram sentences which didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time.

At EHHS, English for me meant Mrs. Ballard, Mrs. Lovett, and Mrs. Priddy. By that time I had learned that negotiating for higher grades was possible…except for Mrs. Ballard and Mrs. Priddy, both of whom were quite rigid. Mrs. Ballard was a little gruff, where Mrs. Priddy was one of those seemingly nice ladies who would butcher my work with a smile on her face. Had a couple of those in college also and never did really understand their game. Math and science was more my thing.

My favorite of the 3 EHHS teachers was Mrs. Polly Lovett who was not only a very nice lady, she was also negotiable. Bless her heart. I do wish I had been a better student, or at least had gained a better appreciation of the effective use of the English language at an earlier age.

My 1st grade Ohio teacher, Miss Matilda Saunders is shown at right…doesn’t she look like one of the Our Gang teachers, except Miss Crabtree, of course. Miss Saunders was at least as old as Mrs. Stokes, a circa 1894 woman, maybe even older. She was as stern as she looks in this picture, but she was also very patient and good enough as a 1st grade teacher to get me off to a good start. When I came to Texas for 2nd grade, the Dallas school suggested to my parents that I skip 2nd and go directly into the 3rd grade. My parents wisely declined, thinking that I would do better over the long haul by sticking with my own age group through school. They were right.

Adios, seriously!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

1974 Texas Instruments SR-10

As I recall this SR-10 was the first affordable electronic calculator with some "advanced" functions. There was that HP model, but it was about 3-times more. This "advanced" model cost $150 in 1974 ($655 in 2010 dollars); the HP at $400 in 1974 was just too much ($1750 in 2010 dollars).

Well, it was a step up from those old coffee grinder adding machines we used to add up the expense accounts.