Friday, December 21, 2012

For John

John, since I'm about a decade older than you, I recognize that our individual experiences are different...we've shared time as specks in space for perhaps 55-years, or thereabouts; however, different experiences inevitably yield slightly different points of view.  And from our own experience banks, we form our opinions...if we tend to be thinkers. 

When I was about 21 or 22 in the mid-sixties, you were about 11 or 12, doing what 11 or 12 year olds do.  Your universe was most likely substantially bounded by Meadowbrook Dr, East Lancaster, and the Toll Road providing easy access for occasional forays into Big-D.  My boundaries by then had grown wider:  Sunset Blvd., Malibu, Laguna, Redondo, Hermosa, Santa Monica, etc.  The years were 1965-1970.

Politics didn’t interest me much, but those 6 or 7 flight attendant training schools down PCH at LAX did !  Working, flying, trying to avoid the draft, and chasing what social comfort I could find occupied most of my time.  My closest male friends were a TRW engineer and a recently released nuclear submariner who was working as a flight instructor…both of them a few years older.  That time was both trying and magical.

Our immature conversations were always lively, witty, and often attended by a contingent from one or more of those schools down the street.  Topical conversations were what you might expect…the news of the day and what we had been seeing.  Opinions may or may not have been carefully thought out, but they were freely exchanged and always couched in humor.  What was going on in the rest of the world those years in other social subdivisions, I have little clue.  But this one was memorable.

The years, 1965-70 on the West Coast provided a ring-side seat to pre-Vietnam culture, the build up, the involvement, the protests, and the wind down.  A socially active young adult there during those years could actually live most of the Vietnam War life-cycle experience close to the action.  Elements of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet was home-ported in Long Beach, just a few miles from my apartment; the neighborhoods were substantially populated with sailors going and returning from service in the Western Pacific…WESTPAC.  They told stories.

A number of the films of that period fairly accurately depict the every weekend party scene, as did some of the old “Laugh-in” sketches.  Much of the LA basin was filled with people employed in the WWII legacy aircraft/aerospace manufacturing plants: North American, Hughes, Lockheed, Douglas, Northrop, and their vendors.

Essentially all the airlines were training new aircrews for their new jet fleets.  It was the epicenter of space program and jet aircraft manufacturing, probably due to its mostly congenial weather.  There was a huge contingent of young adults living and working there, mostly from other places in the country and the UK.  Conversation was varied and stimulating.

University populations at UCLA and USC were some distance away, perhaps 25-miles, or so.  So, we weren’t influenced much by those points of view.  State and community colleges were closer, but by my observation, those students were not particularly involved in the more aggressive and vocal protest activities.  Perhaps they were more “working class” lacking the wherewithal of daddy’s money with which to squander their time frivolously as seems to have been the case at the larger universities, particularly Berkeley.
Anyway, the atmosphere I matured in was very interesting, varied, and stimulating with respect to free flowing conversation and expressions of opinion.  I recall neither animosity nor rudeness resulting from simple differences of opinion.     

Fu**in' hippies...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bud's Crew

Found this photo quite by chance last night.  The details written along the bottom tell that it was taken from a plane flying with the 94th Bomb Group (H) based at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.  Noted also is the date: 25 August 1944; the altitude: 21,500-ft.; and the target: Rechlin.

The date and target caught my eye.  This was the same day that Otis and the rest of Bud's crew were shot down over Rechlin.  That story was written up by Otis and Bob, the co-pilot on that mission and I have them both.  Some years ago, I combined them and found some relevant photos to illustrate the story, then sent the story to what descendents I could find.

However, this picture may be the icing on the cake for this story.  The silver specks left of center and a little high is another group of planes that could be 447th B-17s; the two Groups often flew their missions together.  Back home in England, their bases were about 5-miles apart.  Otis, flying in Bud's crew, may be in one of those planes, plowing their way to the target and to their date with destiny, ditched in the North Sea....68-years ago.

For a crew that had to ditch in WWII, if they survived, the story became the one they told all their lives.  It was fairly rare to survive a ditching.  Another story and amazing picture can be found here. 

To illustrate my earlier story, I used a satellite image to draw the course and note the point of ditching.  Matches pretty close to the picture, doesn't it?  (Note: Their briefed target that day was the missile base at Peenemünde but, good results reported from the first Groups over that target led to the decision to turn off to Rechlin).


The Torch Has Passed to a New Generation

I've given thought as to when the WWII generation stepped back and handed the keys to us. Judging from my father's behavior, I think it was about the time Wavy Gravy came forward as one of our generation's spokesmen.

As old men, there still appears to be quite a gap between them. The old airman sports a bombardier's wing, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Purple Heart, several Air Medals, a WWII Victory Medal, and a very proud grandson who will undoubtedly grow even more in awe of his PaPaw as time passes. Wavy....well, Wavy has a red nose.


Friday, December 07, 2012

EHHS Opens Next Fall 1959

Interesting article from the Handley High School paper adds more information to the subject of the Leonards Star Awards and discusses the initial staffing of Eastern Hills to that point.  There were still a lot of loose ends.  


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Mr. & Miss Eastern Hills 1960 - 1965

Bryan Gregory - Susan Moody

I think this was an all school election similar to those held for class favorites.  So, these former young people were the favorites elected by 3 different classes each year.

The 1962-63-64 winners were casual to close acquaintances who were all class acts.    
Barbara Bloomfield - Charles Sweeney

Carol Reeder - Don Reynolds

Bob Dillard - Suzanne Hoffman

Barbara Isham - Steve Rose
Geneta Anderson - Mike Gentry

Friday, November 23, 2012

Graduation Programs

Looking for a scan copy of the 1960 graduation program--the first EHHS graduating class. Do you have one in an old scrapbook you could scan and send? Or, could you ask some of your old friends for theirs?


Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Song for Leo and the Class of ‘63

A Song for Leo and the Class of ‘63
by Kendall McCook - 2009

     You were the first Catholic I ever knew, up close. You played Little League baseball for the Braves.  I played for the Whitelake Dairy Phils. I remember your wide batting stance, that level swing, the determination in your eyes. I remember you crossed yourself when you strode into the batter's box.  Pissed me off.  I was an angry Southern Baptist hellfire and brimstone player, and I had my own God to pray to.  He expected me to strike you out, had indeed promised His help.  You were a good hitter.  I was a good pitcher.  Sometimes you hit a homerun: sometimes I struck you out.  My respect for you started back then.

     In high school, you, Paul, Larry, David Williams, Bob Dillard, Bob Larmer, Mike Cooper, Steve Helmericks , and I traveled to all the football and basketball games we could find.  I remember Larmer's little Nash Rambler and the fifty cents we'd all pitch in for gas, and Bob would insist that half of that money would pay for the drive to Farrington Field and back.  I remember running out of gas with me and Leo pushing him down Lancaster to find a station where he spent the remaining twenty-five.

     We all played one kind of ball or another.  You were a tackle on the district champion team of 1962.  You played ball at Arlington State until troubles with your knees drove you from the field.  We all loved the Dallas Cowboys and drove down to Waco to rent a motel room, drink beer, and watch the games when Dandy Don Meredith was king.

     You were a gentle and fun-loving young man.  You were muscled and tall and handsome and always wore a beautiful smile.  You were the Eastern Hills Howdy king.  I was an attendant in your court.

     In November, the dreams of our Billy Sills good government classes were broken.  You and I watched the dreadful news on the t.v. in the student center at Arlington State.  Jack Kennedy, the formulator of our call to public service, had been murdered in Dallas.  The clouds of war and regret were upon us. 

     We parked cars at Colonial Country Club on Sundays, and we ate all we could eat for 99 cents at Lavender’s cafeteria on East Lancaster.  We drank cold beer and shot shuffleboard at Harrell's and Walt's Wonder Bar. We dressed up in sport coats and dined at Zuider Zee for two dollars.

     I remember drinking beer with you and Larry and slipping into the trunk when we drove into the Twin drive-in.  I remember that night listening to the Beatles on the car radio when I heard “I Wanna Hold Your Hand" for the very first time.  The times were changing.  Dr. King was marching on D.C.  You were playing football at Arlington State.  I moved down to Austin in '65.  I graduated and married Carol Houser.  We remained good friends during the sixties.  I remember you and Larry and Paul and Bob Dillard coming to see me when I was teaching at Iowa State in 1970 when the Revolution seemed close at hand, and my marriage certain to fall apart.  I remember the consolation of friends.

     My next memories of you call out to me in photographs from the summer of 1983, the year of our twentieth high school reunion. I see you  there on the shores of Lake Arlington with a wide grin, your hands tucked into front pockets standing posed with friends Bob Larmer, Bob Dillard, and Paul Tate. Dillard pensive.  Tate stylingLarmer with arms crossed confident with a black moustache smile.  Our final reunion as friends, and though we never parted ways, we drifted apart, found new women to marry and children of our own.  Found new careers and new places to inhabit.

     Twenty years later I was back in Fort Worth reading and performing poetry in Fort Worth.  I needed the help of a good lawyer, so I gave Leo a call.  A young Black performance poet named Sandman was in trouble with the law after a life on the streets of Poly.  His momma was a sweetheart junkie who was in prison for shooting her sister over a crack cocaine drug deal gone bad.  Sandman was  a nineteen-year-old hustler who was also a fine poet who said he wanted to turn his life around.  He said he'd do what it would take, and you agreed to take the case without any money changing hands. 

     By 2003, you had Republican tendencies, but that was all right with me.  You were an intelligent and compassionate attorney.  You cared deeply and faithfully helped the often hopeless people you served.  Our John F. Kennedy promise to help create a better world never found a more loyal advocate than you.

     We shared our last long conversation when Bob Dillard and I visited you in the Benbrook rehabilitation center.  You were determined to live out your days with dignity, and you did so.  We talked politics for the very last time.  Of course, we mostly disagreed.  You never quite knew or understood the poet in me, but I loved and admired your courage.  I know now that you are finally free.  I carried you with me to the inauguration of Barack Obama on Tuesday at noon, where I sent prayers to the seagulls fluttering in a cold sun full of hope for the same American promise you and I and all our 1963 friends somehow always believed in, and, somehow now, still do.

Kendall - 2006

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving - 2012

Happy Thanksgiving
click pictures to enlarge them
(Words adapted from: "A Few Good Men")

Never forget...there is nothing so conducive to civilized behavior than the threat of a punch in the nose for uncivilized behavior.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tell Me Who They Are

Can you identify those marked with red numerals? Leave their names in a comment, thanks.

This is about 3/4 of our 1962 championship football team, send me a link if you know of any others that would fit here.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Blog's Focus

Although the starting premise for this blog was the Class of 1963, it soon became evident that there were not enough of us "out there" looking around for our former selves and old friends.  So, I broadened the scope to include adjacent classes, starting with the Class of 1961 who were starting to gather information about themselves.  Good response from that class led to my opening selected contacts with 1962, 1964, and 1965 grads I had either known or had observed as being active within their own classes as others started using the net to share and make connections.

Those in the adjacent classes have made some of the best contributions to this 1963 blog...they knew us, but from a different perspective than our own.  Of course we had our own view of them, too.

1961s.  Seniors when we were Sophomores.  The older kids, and bigger...something you surely noticed if you played sports.

1962s.  The next class just ahead of us.  They were loaded with beauties having great personalities.  Several of their best took ol' Gus (a little bit) under their wings and contributed a great deal to making Sophomore Gus somewhat less miserable than he would have otherwise been.  I hated Sophomore year.

1964s.  The class just behind us.  A quiet class, not many of them were standouts in my mind except for their general appearances of competency.  There were a few beauties in that class that caught ol' Gus' eye.

1965s.  The little kids in our memories.  We don't think of them as the 65-year old geezers they are today.  They seem to be pretty active with one another and have accepted ol' Gus into their circle as an observer.  This class had a number of good lookin' gals, too.  And a couple of them even gave ol' Gus a little smooch....a long time ago, but not forgotten.

Initially, this blog posed a challenge in how to rationalize the youngsters I recall in my memory with the senior citizens we are now.  For those who have provided feedback, I've been able to gain confidence that my focus is generally good and inoffensive...which is as I intend it. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

1952 - 1953 Meadowbrook Elementary Directory

This directory contains names and addresses of many of those I consider "originals," those of us who attended all 12-years of their public schooling together.  In these pages are future members of EHHS classes 1960 - 1964, as well as Poly class of 1959. 

Didn't count the names beyond one page; estimate about 500 - 550 kids listed.  Six grades would suggest about 40, or so per class, with each grade divided into 2 separate classes.  MJH would open the next year, in 1953.  Until this year, MJH classes were held on the second floor of this c.1936 building.

These are the second grade classes of the 1963 Highlanders who are listed in this directory.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

More Texas Burning - Big Tex Flames Out

News flash for you out of towners....Big Tex went up in flames a couple of days ago.  We are distraught.

Adios, Big Tex

Friday, October 19, 2012

Operation Crossroads - 1946

We've seen this picture published in magazines, books, and elsewhere all our lives.  Bet you've never seen one this large and clear.  I haven't .... good Lord !  And they got bigger after this one !

These bombs have been sitting in our cupboard over 66-years...wonder if those desperadoes in north Africa have a clue?  Pretty sure Saddam didn't.

Take a close look, it's a big file.  There are 2 large ships in the foreground; both of them, I think are Battleships, perhaps 800' long.  Four obsolete battlewaggons were assigned to this duty that day.

Our national concern over the nuclear threat probably originated shortly after WWII when the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were detonated.  Almost immediately after WWII ended, we were engaged in the Cold War with Russia that first manifested itself with the Berlin Blockade.  Russia detonated its first bomb in August 1949.  Not sure when all the schools in the USA started their air raid drills, but I recall jumping under my desk in the 1st grade near Wright Patterson AFB, 1951-52.  Don't recall we did it after that when I started school in Texas.  It looked about like this...not sure it would have done much good:


Monday, October 15, 2012

All The Fine Young Men

Elsewhere in the blog I’ve shared some words describing the nature of AAF service in the Eighth Air Force based in England. The video clips that follow are a program broadcast by NBC in 1983. It is one of the finest descriptions of the aerial war over Europe I’ve seen.

One of the best features is the interspersing of veterans’ first person recollections throughout the program. In part 4, Bob Shoens, a pilot in the 100th Bomb Group tells of being one of the few planes in his Group to make it back home from a 6 March 1944 mission to Berlin. Several books were written about this particular mission and a blurb from one of the follows the video links at the end of this piece.

My father and his crew was scheduled for this mission but missed it due to having made a forced landing at an English coastal base on the 4th.

Part 1 of 4

Part 2 of 4

Part 3 of 4

Part 4 of 4

"Lets go Lieutenant; your crew is scheduled to fly." That is how pilot Robert Shoens was awaken on a cold March morning in 1944. Little did he know that by the days end, many of the bunks in his hut would be empty and this mission would forever be synonymous with his Crew. The date was March 6, 1944, and the Eighth Air Force would launch a full scale assault on the German capital of Berlin. "High Noon over Haseluenne" is a microcosm look at one bomb group that flew the mission and the catastrophic results that ensued. The book deals with the 100th Bomb Group, "The Bloody Hundredth" and the mission that solidified that moniker. The concentrated attacks by the Luftwaffe would destroy 69 American Bombers that day, the single highest loss for any mission by the 8th Air Force and 15 of those losses would come from the 100th Bomb Group. Lt Robert Shoens is our guide. His story, and that of many other 100th BG crewmen, puts you in the melee that followed the head-on attacks by over 100 German Me109s & FW190s. We take you inside the men and machines that had to brave one of the deadliest air battles of World War II and let them tell the story. "High Noon over Haseluenne" is filled with firsthand accounts, personal diaries, letters home, news clippings and illustrated with over 200 photos. This is real history "as it happened" on the March 3-8, 1944 missions to Berlin by the 100th Bomb Group. The book is capped off by a one hundred page historical appendices compiled by noted 8th AF researcher Paul M. Andrews ("Project Bits and Pieces").

Monday, October 08, 2012

Nairobi Trio

Always loved this Ernie Kovaks bit when I was a kid...still do!

Ernie Kovaks and his wife, Edie Adams.

She's banging him on the head in the Nairobi Trio bit above.


Sunday, October 07, 2012

1962 EHHS Highlander 50th Reunion

The EH Class of 1962 has announced the details of their 50th reunion which can be found at their website.  Edited details are posted above and below is a visual inventory of elementary school class pictures gathered from several adjacent classes to you ‘62s.

If you are a ’62 and have some of your old elementary class pictures long closed away in a box or scrapbook you might be able to reach, Gus would appreciate having a scan of what you have, regardless of which elementary school you attended.  Use the 200dpi setting on your scanner for a nice, clear scan.

Gus was always a little puzzled about the makeup of early EHHS and has been using this amazing Internet technology as a means to bring together information that has not heretofore been combined in such a manner…at least not to Gus’ knowledge.

Why do this?  Because it’s possible is one quick answer; but, another aspect of the study has been slowly revealing much of the variety of influences we experienced nearly 50-years ago and may not have understood.

Those of you from Handley brought your own long-established sub-culture; those from Meadowbrook came with a combination of the newer Middle-Meadowbrook area, the older Tandy area, and another older area from around Sagamore Hill and brought a sub-culture that had been established at least as long as Handley.  But we were also feeling the substantial influences of newcomers to the area as it built out after WWII.  All of this played out during the 1950s…the period covered by the elementary school class pictures.

In the pictures you can find several future Homecoming Queens, several favorites, several football heroes, and childhood friends of all sorts.

Look forward to hearing from you--similar input from the 1960 class is welcome here, too.

First posted:   July 2, 2012

Today is        Nov. 7, 2012                     STILL  0


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

R.O.T.C. Sponsors


I didn't participate in the R.O.T.C. classes, but did notice that the boys in those classes had a good eye for the attractive girls.  Sports precluded my participation and to tell the truth, my father's influence had tilted me against things military.  These were the last few years before Vietnam blew way up and engulfed so many of us.

One of the adult Army commanders assigned to EHHS had been assigned to Vietnam about 1961 and had suffered some obvious effects of the experience.  Any readers having some anecdotal stories about your experience in these early EHHS companies, please consider sharing your stories in the comments section.  I believe you may able to shed some light on what is for me, a murky pre-Vietnam period.




Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meadowbrook vs. Handley 1959

cj64 The junior high teams for Meadowbrook and Handley were loaded in 1959. Both emerged from their schedules undefeated going into the last game, the decider for the Group B championship. The Fort Worth Public Schools’ junior highs were divided into Groups A and B based on population, “A” being the larger schools – Rosemont, McLean, Stripling, Monnig, JP Elder, Forest Oak, William James; “B” group containing Meadowbrook, Handley, Morningside, Parker, Daggett, Riverside, Diamond Hill.

The notable players for Meadowbrook included Kendall McCook-QB, Sam Scott-FB, Tom Koebernick-HB, Danny McCoy and Reggie Wilkins-Ends, and Steve Means-line.


Handley had an All-World backfield – Ronnie Hill-QB, Scotty Locke-FB, James Aitken and Jimmy Strong-HBs. In the line they had Bobby Keener as a top performer. Hill was a superb athlete, a natural leader, and an obvious quarterback. Strong looked like Buddy Holly on steroids, was an outstanding athlete, and was full-grown and well-named. Locke and Aitken were already shaving and were also big and scary. Keener was a good guy who played mean. They should have been favored, but Hill broke his hand before the game, and Handley moved Strong to QB, and brought in Roger Kennedy to play HB. They played well, but the team was not as strong without Hill.

Meadowbrook relied on a stingy defense, the running of Scott, and the timely passing of McCook. It all worked in their favor, and Meadowbrook won with a 36-14 victory and took the Group B championship at Handley Field. Strong and Hill moved before they could contribute at EHHS. These teams were the nucleus of the first-ever EHHS District champs in 1962.

 1960 Meadowbrook-Handley

Handley came into the game (again, the last of the season, at Handley Field) undefeated and had rolled over the opposition. Meadowbrook came in with one defeat, a narrow loss to Diamond Hill, mainly due to the heroics of Diamond Hill’s Bob Maloney, who that day did a good imitation of Sugar Land’s famous Kenny Hall.

Handley featured some outstanding players – Ray Avery at center, Jimmy Hill and John Peale at ends, Ted Harris at DB, Larry Jackson at QB, Chuck Alexander at FB, and Chuck Wellington (a speed merchant) at RB.

Meadowbrook had Roby Morris at QB, Ted Moberg as the FB, Tom Shore HB, Randy Blake and Mike Liddle at ends, Wayne Templeton and Lee Roy Gast in the line. They also had several outstanding 8th graders as starters – Wayne Hardy LB, Mike Flowers at center (injured that day, replaced by Robby Rawdon), and Lloyd Grimm at flanker.

The game was hard-fought, and played mostly between the 30-yard lines, with four notable exceptions. Handley’s Alexander started the scoring when he burst up the middle for a long touchdown run. Junior High teams ran for the extra point in those days. It was stopped, and the score was 6-0. Meadowbrook countered with an equally long run, again a burst up the middle, by QB Roby Morris – score 6-6 at the half.

Early in the 3rd quarter came the game-changer. Wellington swept right and broke through and looked gone for the touchdown. As he ran free he angled toward the middle of the field. From seemingly nowhere, Wayne Hardy, showing superb hustle, caught him inside the 10-yard line and saved the touchdown. Meadowbrook held and took over on downs.

Later, in the 4th quarter, Meadowbrook ran a play that started off as one that had worked well for them all season. Morris rolled out right, looking to pass to Randy Blake who was running a down-and-out. It was designed to gain about 7-10 yards. But, this time, the first time all season, Morris pump-faked on the out, and Blake turned upfield to go long. The play had become a down-out-down. The Handley DB bit on the out, there was no help from the safety, and Morris hit Blake for a long touchdown. The score, and final score, -- 12 - 6 Meadowbrook.

Many of these players went on to EHHS and contributed to the 1962 and 1963 winning seasons. A couple of other thoughts are appropriate here to understand the dynamics of these games. First, by this time, the players all knew each other. They had played Pee Wee football, Little League, and Pony League together and against each other, had made friends, and were in no way strangers. They were also fully aware they would soon merge together into EHHS.

On the other hand, you have to understand that the rivalry was intense, on both sides. To sum up that feeling, below is a quote from Ted Harris, the outstanding Handley-bred athlete, spoken 40+ years later at an EHHS-alumni gathering over beer and BBQ:

“I played football in junior high, I played football in high school, I played football in college; and in all that time, I never hated anybody like I hated Meadowbrook Junior High!”

The Handley Players

This Handley team contributed 5 players that started on the 1962 EHHS championship team...Jimmy Aitken, Bob Keener, Ted Harris, Ray Avery, and Max Rhodes.  Also listed on that year's EH varsity squad were letterman Scotty Locke, squadmen Steve Ericson, and Larry Jackson.

We lost several potential stars to other schools: Jerry Roberts, Ronnie Hill, Charles Alexander, and Jimmy Strong

Go Buffs