Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mr. Scott & Pee Wee Football

cj64-Pee Wee football was an organized league of boys’ football teams run outside the school system.   In the Meadowbrook-Handley area, the founder and coach was Sam Scott.  Mr. Scott’s son, also Sam Scott, was class of ’63, and played for his father in elementary school.  By Junior High he was too big to play as there was a not-to-exceed weight limit for the Pee Wee league for age about 12 and up.

Mr. Scott helped organize the league, recruited the players, arranged the uniforms, found the practice and game venues, coached the practices, and coached the games.  He did all this while supporting his family as a pilot for Central Airlines.  He was a physically impressive man – at least six feet, 200+ pounds with very wide shoulders, huge chest, and muscular legs and arms.  He was balding and kept his blondish hair very short so that from a distance his head looked shaved.  His face featured a strong jaw, long sculptured nose, and piercing eyes.  He grew up in upstate New York so he had no drawl, but enunciated each word and delivered them with an authoritative baritone voice.  When not flying or coaching, you could see him in the parks or at the school grounds exercising – stretching, pushups, side-straddle hops, and running; and all this in an era when nobody exercised.

Like almost all the fathers he was a WWII veteran.  He had been a Navy pilot (his grandfather had been a Navy Captain, and his great-grandfather an Admiral).  Before Pearl Harbor he had been a football player at Cornell in an era when Cornell was a national power.  He was born in February, 1922, so he would probably have been a 19-year old sophomore at Cornell when the war broke out.  For most of the war he was a transport pilot in the Pacific, probably flying the R4D (the Navy designation for the DC-3) or perhaps the PBY Catalina.

As a coach, Mr. Scott emphasized exercises, fundamentals, and drills.  The exercise started the practice and featured jumping jacks (up/downs), side-straddle hops, pushups, and sit-ups, and “six-inches”, where you lay on your back and lifted your legs, legs straight and feet together, six inches off the turf (if you like sore stomach muscles, try this one).  Fundamentals: he would show you how to block, or tackle, in great detail, then make you practice in one-on-one or three-on-three situations.  If you didn’t do it correctly, he would stop the drill and show you again how to do it correctly.  Drills:  he would set up a defense and set up and offense, then explain the play to the offense using a diagram detailing blocking assignments, fakes, hand-offs, receiving routes, and so forth.  We would then walk through the play in slow motion.  When he thought we knew what we were doing, we would run the play, over and over.  He would do this with five or six plays, early in the season.  After that, he assumed we could execute what was diagrammed on any play and we would just run what he showed us.  If we screwed up, he would do a walkthrough, and run it until he thought we had it right.

Oddly enough, I don’t recall any instructions on defense or special teams, other than what position you should be in.  For example, on defense, since I was a center on offense, I played middle guard (a/k/a nose tackle) in the 5-4 and middle linebacker in the 6-3.  So, basically, in the 5-4, the offensive line played the same positions and tackled instead of blocked.  I think the defensive backs (the uncounted 2 in the 5-4) knew they were supposed to worry about the ends, but that is about as complicated as it got.  On kickoffs, we knew when receiving to peel back then block like hell; when kicking we knew to run like hell to the ball carrier, and never let him get around the end.  On punts, we put 2 backs on the wings, and 1 next to the punter, and I had to deep-snap it.  That’s about as sophisticated as we got.

The offense we ran in elementary school was the Cornell single-wing, and it was a gas.  It was like the wildcat or spread formation of today, but much more sophisticated in its backfield execution.  Below is a basic play, the 41-Able power sweep:

It’s a simple play – the tailback (number 4) receives a direct snap and goes right, led by the fullback.  Everybody who can pulls and takes out the first available defender.  The formation always used an unbalanced line, in this case strong right.  Another basic play was the fullback spinner, where the fullback takes the snap, spins counter-clockwise, fakes to the tailback sweeping right, and plunges into the line between the inside and outside guards.  This formation was used extensively in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, but was dropped in favor of the T formation because coaches found it too hard to recruit a tailback who could both run and pass effectively.  Nowadays, every high school and college seems to have two players who can run and pass, and maybe it’s time for a comeback of the single wing.

Later on, Mr. Scott converted to the Fly-T, the offense run by Tommy Boswell.  The QB is under center, fakes a dive play to the FB (the technique was known as the “belly series”), and pitches to the sweeping Fly back (tailback).  The other option is to hand off to the FB, and fake the pitch.  Every other play was a variant of this basic play.

Mr. Scott’s approach to the games was everybody got to play at some point.  He organized us into units that practiced and played together.  I have forgotten what he called us, but it was something like Green, White, and Gold, and we did notice that Green got to play most of the game, but we also thought they had earned it.  We played both ways when in the game.

By the time we reached 8th grade, many of us had been playing for Mr. Scott for 3-4 years.  We had enormous respect for him.  He was no-nonsense, firm, fair, and honorable.  By the 8th grade, he had expanded the reach of his program to include players from Meadowbrook, Handley, and Riverside junior highs.  We were known as the East Side Eagles.  We wore white helmets and white pants, and green jerseys.  Our regular opponents included the Panther Boys Club, the TCU Tiny Mites, and the Ridglea Roughnecks.  We always won more than we lost.  Some of the notable players in the program were Bob Larmer, Steve Means, Sam Scott, Tom Koebernick, Bob Ladd, Mike Cooper, Bill Gilmore, Tommy Boswell, Randy Blake, Ward Ericson, Tommy Thompson, Roy Burklow,  and Kenny Allen (all EHHS graduates); and Gary Cantrell (Poly QB and West Point punter) and Jimmy Long (Carter QB).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ft. Worth East Side Evolution - 5 - Handley High School

Gus note:  The following memories were posted to the HHS Class of 1959 reunion site and are published here with permission.  Handley High contributed a significant element to our early experience at EHHS.  In fact, one long-term East Side correspondent reported that there was a strong contingent that favored naming EH, Handley High School but was opposed by a stronger Meadowbrook contingent not favoring use of that name for the new school.  Knowing something about HHS is useful in the exploration of our East Side experience.  Further note that we have been able to identify all of the '59s pictured on the front steps of HHS.  There are even a few EHHS '60s on those steps.   Ann White's dad did not take the picture.

HHS Memories

By Richard Clark

     HELLO 1959 GREYHOUNDS!  Do you remember giving Mr. Avery a hairpiece in class, and he actually wore it.  What fun!  One of the things that impressed me the most about our HHS education was the professionalism of our senior English teacher, Miss Odell.  Thanks to her I was able to write well enough to pass college classes.  Thank You, Miss Odell, for teaching us to write a term paper properly.  Do you remember memorizing a hundred lines of poetry?  What I remember the most about her was how she taught us Shakespeare.  I think it was MACBETH or something like that (maybe you remember exactly what it was), and she would quote a passage from memory, turn around, walk to her desk, and about 30 seconds later the bell would ring to end class.  She was some teacher; really, more like a college professor.  She inspired me toward a teaching career.

     Do you remember all the times we dressed up formally to go to Band and Football banquets?  I was always afraid of trying to pin the corsage on a girl’s formal.  I remember the time after our junior banquet when a group of us went together out to the “then new” Amon G. Carter Airport, looked around, and then went to David Grammar’s house for a get together.  Does anybody have a picture of that?  Seems like we did take a group picture.  Actually, the group picture is in our annual.  Kaye Buckellew was my date that year.  I remember showing off by buzzing the school while everyone was in class in my blue ‘53 Chevy with the loud twin exhaust pipes.

     Remember how we used to gather out on the front steps in the mornings before school started and catch up on the latest gossip and how your best girlfriend wore your letter jacket and your senior ring around her neck.  I remember how Coach Mitcham had us do head-on tackle practice, and I was always afraid that I would have to tackle Milton Strange.  Also, do you remember the time Coach made us run 1200 yards of wind sprints in practice?  I wanted to be on our A Team and just wasn’t big enough and had to settle for the B team.  How special the PEP Rallies were as Bunkie, Beverly, Marilyn, Jimmy, Kenneth, and Jack led the cheers while Coach Elliot gave the most inspirational pep-talks you have ever heard in your life, and the band played the “Handley Blues” with all of those special solos.

     Remember all of our Senior Activities?  I remember asking Rae Beebe to go to the Senior Banquet at the Colonial Country Club, and she had lain out all day by her new swimming pool receiving the worst possible sunburn.  She didn’t have a very good time at our Senior Prom because of that sunburn.  Remember going to Rae’s house for our ring turning ceremony under the arch at the garden party.  That is when I fell in love with Marsha leading to our marriage in 1962.

School Days

By David McConnell

     The bell rings and we each have five minutes to get from where we are to the next class. We might be in the gym completing a 50-minute PE class when the bell rings. If the next class is physics and our locker is on the second floor then we must hustle to get to the locker, change books, and make our way to the class on the third floor while maneuvering among a very crowded hallway. It was possible to do even while meeting a girlfriend at her locker for a brief encounter or while thumping a friend on his shoulder while passing in route.

     I think if we had the opportunity to go back to Handley High and to walk the halls, we might be surprised at how small the place actually was. Let’s see. The building had three stories and faced west. There was an auditorium on the south side and a gymnasium on the north side. On the east side of the main building, first floor level was the lunchroom. We had to make a line down the hallway to wait our turn to be served.

     To the east of the lunchroom was a paved tennis court area and to the north of it was the area that had courts for both tennis and basketball. A few temporary classroom buildings were north of the gymnasium and a baseball field lay just beyond them. The football field was detached from the main school ground about a block north and west of the main school.

     Some of us walked to school. Some of us drove our cars to school. Some of us rode the bus to school. Mostly we arrived early so we could visit with our friends. Some of us sat together on the front steps and talked while others walked down to the corner toward East Lancaster and had a smoke.

     I do recall spending lots of time socializing with friends. It’s very difficult to extract from my memory just where all of the time devoted to socializing came from that I’m recalling. It very well may be that my mind is playing tricks on me by amplifying the pleasant things and diminishing the unpleasant. In my mind, the class times have small diameters while the 5-minute social time between classes seemed, as I look back on it, to last all day.

     Somehow in all of the activities: the social, the academic, the sports, the running between classes, the friendships, the football games, the pep rallies, the working as office assistants, the lunchroom times, the study halls, the band practice, the cheerleading, the future teacher club, the future nurses club, the chorus, the National Honor Society (oops, sorry about that, I guess that wasn’t one of my activities); somehow in all of these things we managed to get educated. For the most part we had good teachers; even excellent teachers.

     Handley High School was a place that, for me, will always be treasured. The friends that I had there, though the demands of life have placed at a distance, will always remain a central part of who I am. I’m very confident that we each took more from Handley High than superficial thought would grant. Most of us took far more than knowledge. I believe we took character with us as we left Handley High. I’m confident that many of my classmates went on to distinction after graduating. Most of us are now retired and have the luxury of reflecting back upon the past and having the time to renew old acquaintances. That is what I’m looking forward to as the time of our 50th reunion approaches.

     What did you take away from Handley High? I’ll bet you took away many of the same kinds of things that I took away.  For most of us, we may not have long remembered the quadratic formula, the indicative mood, the date the Magna Charta was signed, the chemical formula for sulfuric acid, or even whether the numerator is the one on top or the one on bottom. We did, however, learn how to learn. This is probably the more important thing to take away. I’m certain that we learned that, and that our time at Handley High was a large factor in our learning such an important thing. We owe our teachers a debt of gratitude for that which they gave us.

     P. S. Leaving this on a lighter note, I should confess that I took away something that you probably didn’t take. After the school building was torn down, I went back and claimed two bricks from the school to make into two bookends as a keepsake from Handley High School. I still have them.

"How Things Were" 

by Linda (Wheeler) Duncan

     I only went to Handley for two years, but did I ever learn a lot.  I had come from a school that only had 10 or 12 classmates.  Boy!  To have 80 something in the class; well, I thought I would never remember who everybody was.  The groups had already formed with their own members.  Fitting in wasn't easy.  I guess I coped by being a little dumb and not paying much attention, but going merrily on my way--then I met Jamey the next year, my senior year.  We dated that year and were married a year after graduation.  It will be 48 years come the 5th of August since we married.  We are looking forward to all of the activities involved in preparing for this reunion.

     [David's note:  I really know how Linda felt, when I got there it seemed as though all of the girls were already spoken for (just as well, I would have been much too timid anyway); but, back to Linda.  Linda was a great person back then, one of the nicest I knew.  I was back in Fort Worth after being gone many years and stopped by to say hello.  I'm not sure that I had time to say a single word before getting a great big hug--now that's my idea of a wonderful person, one that I'm truly glad to have known, and one that I still count as a very dear friend.  People don't really change very much as far as virtues.  What you see in Linda now, her very endearing qualities, are those she always had.  For many of us, I fear, we were so self-absorbed that we (me as much as anyone) failed to fully see and appreciate the beautiful people all around us.]


Monday, February 13, 2012

Ft. Worth East Side Evolution – 4 – Poly

NOTE: The following is an excerpt from the memoir, Ink in the Blood, by Phil Vinson (Poly ’58), published in 2005 Publishing Co., College Station, Texas.

A friend of mine shared these words recently and graciously agreed to my republishing them here.  A number of our older siblings graduated from Poly and most of the Meadowbrook students attended Poly before EHHS opened in 1959. 

You couldn’t live in Fort Worth’s East Side without being keenly aware of Polytechnic High.  Each section of town in those days had its own high school, and each school seemed... to carry the reputation of that neighborhood on its shoulders.  Of course sports – and especially football – stood at the center of the community’s sense of self-worth. Poly had produced some excellent football and basketball teams over the years; many exes had gone on to prominent college and even professional careers.  But Poly stood for more than just sports; it was at the center of East Side culture, also having produced students who made names for themselves in journalism, politics, business, and the fine arts.

Poly drew from three junior highs: William James, Forest Oak, and Meadowbrook. Students came from virtually every white neighborhood east and south of downtown.  It was a big school, with an enrollment that had swelled to around 2,000 in the postwar years.  After some dreary years at Meadowbrook Junior High, I looked forward to attending Poly with great excitement.  I wouldn’t be disappointed.

ALMOST FROM THE FIRST DAY, there was a special feeling about Poly.  Teachers and students seemed friendlier.  The “hoods” of junior high seemed more in the background and were perhaps intimidated by the crush of older boys who could keep them in check.

Classes crackled with excitement.  Now the course material seemed to have a direction and purpose. The whole school seemed to be brimming with good humor.

Our first day in P.E. class, Coach Dan Campbell announced:

“Boys, there’ll be a towel fee of one dollar.”
“Whoooooo!” came the shout from a boy in back.
“Don’t holler,” said Campbell. “Just bring me a dollar.”
The boys roared with laughter, and Campbell joined in.

I had decided against taking any more wood or metal shop, but I still had an elective to take, and I chose mechanical drawing.  I felt that I could surely learn more about drafting than I had gotten at Meadowbrook.  Mr. Bales, the mechanical drawing teacher, gave us a sense of purpose.

“Boys,” he said. “Our government is in a space race, as you may have heard.  We can’t get a rocket off the ground, and the Russians are getting ahead of us.  We need some sharp, well-trained engineers and scientists.  Drafting is part of that process, so I’m going to hold you to extremely high standards.  Don’t let me catch you goofing off in here.  We’re going to learn to draft, the right way.”

In English, Gertrude Golladay assigned the class Beowulf to read. The students grumbled and moaned about the difficulty of Old English, yet Miss Golladay made the story interesting with her dry sense of humor.  Instead of scolding us for our lack of interest, she seemed to sympathize with our struggles.  You felt she was on your side as she guided you through the thicket.

Kelly B. Adair was about sixty years old and we heard he had retired as a mathematician from the General Dynamics aircraft factory.  Now he taught algebra at Poly, and I’m certain he knew his subject inside out.  But his communication skills left something to be desired.  He mumbled.

Mr. Adair would explain an equation, often with his hand in front of his mouth as he wrote out the problem on the board.

“Now, we see hrr tht the integr is X. The nnmmm sshers frnklm by the ridmmnn is the prdcsh of mmssmm times shrnnnbl. Got that?”

I fell further and further behind in algebra.

Martha Rawdon had been teaching biology at Poly for twenty-five years. Yet she never betrayed a waning interest in the subject.  She attacked biology with a passion and made sure everyone understood what she was saying.

She had a habit of saying everything twice, in fact, in a rapid-fire delivery that made it fun to listen to her. She’d draw out the word the first time, then spit it out emphatically the second.

“This is a pro-o-o-tozoa. A protozoa.”
“The protozoa lives in po-o-o-nd scum. Pond scum.”

Naturally the quirks of our teachers gave my friends and me plenty to talk and laugh about outside class.  We were having a good time but also learning.  How novel.

THOUGH I HAD A CYNICAL SIDE, 0perhaps the result of being around journalists such as my father, I’ve always been something of a sucker for appeals to sentiment. That was certainly so in my first year of high school.

Pep rallies, for example.  We’d had them at Meadowbrook, but they were rather sad affairs.  There was no band; only a teacher plunking out the fight song on a piano.

But Poly was something else.  By any measure, Poly had the best high school band in the city, not only in size, but in playing ability.  The band director, Frank D. Kasko, was legendary for drinking and lechery but also for his hard-driving perfectionism with the band.  Being in the “Marching 100” carried almost as much weight in the community as being on an athletic team.  

Pep rallies began with a scaled-down version of the marching band playing on stage in the auditorium as students filed in.  The music filled the hallways, and your spirits lifted just walking to the auditorium.  The band played classic marches – “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “Washington Post March,” “Entry of the Gladiators,” “Under the Double Eagle,” and “The St. Louis Blues March.”  And they played them well.

Then the cheerleaders took over.  The boys in the crowd mostly sat on their hands through the cheers, but the girls raised the roof with their yells, accompanied by throbbing drums in the band.

We’ve got the coach (clap, clap)
We’ve got the team (clap, clap)
We’ve got the pep (clap, clap)
We’ve got the steam (clap, clap)
Coach (clap), team (clap), pep (clap), steam (clap).
Go-o-o-o-o Poly.

MOST SCHOOL MASCOTS are lions, tigers, bears, eagles, yellow jackets, steers, etc.  Someone early in Poly’s history figured out what naturally went best with Poly – Parrots.  Poly want a cracker?

And our school colors: orange and black. Halloween Parrots.

After a number of cheers came the high point of the pep rally.  The band played “The Poly Blues.”  Frank Kasko knew how to work a crowd.

The tune was a simple blues but featured trumpet, trombone, and clarinet solos, then ended with a “shout chorus” by the whole band.  The cheerleaders did a modified jitterbug to the tune, and the students clapped and swayed with the music.  The tune always ended with a huge roar from the crowd.

After the “Blues,” Coach Campbell took the stage and made a few comments about the upcoming football game. It usually went something like:

“North Side has a real fine football team. I know our boys appreciate all this real fine support.  I think we have a real good football team this year, so y’all come on out and cheer ‘em on.”

THEN THE COACH WOULD CALL a couple of players out of the audience. They would stammer and mumble:

“We got a real tough game tonight, so y’all come on out and support us.”
As they left the stage, the band would break into the fight song, which had been appropriated from the University of Southern California:

Fight on for Poly High
Our team fight on
To victory....

While rock ‘n’ roll now dominated teenage tastes, it wasn’t all there was.  Radio stations played a mix of rock and “pop” music, and the public still bought records by Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Jo Stafford, and Patti Page.  Movie and Broadway show music also found its way into the Top 40, and that fall of 1955, the film “Picnic” produced a No. 1 hit.

The rhythm girls did a dance routine to “Moonglow and the Theme from Picnic” that was among the sexiest things I’d ever seen.  Of course it didn’t take much in those days.  My friends and I never missed a chance to sit in the auditorium as the leggy dancers rehearsed this number over and over.

After football season that fall came the semi-annual production of the Poly Follies.  There were probably as many talented students at other high schools, but I doubted it.  My friends and I marveled at how good the performers were.

There were singers, dancers, comic acts, combos, and the Poly stage band.  Frank Kasko, the band director, and Evelyn Reeves, the dance teacher, produced the show, and they had an excellent eye for talent.  They held tryouts, and the less talented were eliminated.  Only the cream appeared on their stage.

THE STAGE BAND IMPRESSED ME above all.  I could hardly believe high school kids could play this well, but I’d come to realize what a good teacher, not to mention taskmaster, Kasko was.

I’d always been attracted to big-band jazz music, and the band played the classics: Glenn Miller’s “A String of Pearls,” Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine,” plus some more modern arrangements of Duke Ellington and Stan Kenton tunes.

I had entertained some fantasies of being a drummer, and now I carefully watched the stage-band drummer, a boy named Larry Burns.  Might I ever hope to learn to play like that?  Was it too late to consider?

And of course the rhythm girls did their routine of “Moonglow and the Theme from Picnic.”  What a show.

You were exposed to a similar wide variety in everyday life: Top-Forty radio reflected a blend of rock and pop.  And on television variety shows, about all you heard were standards.  Much of the media sneered at rock ‘n’ roll.

In spite of that, it was everywhere, and it truly became the sound track for the lives of teenagers in the fifties.

During the daytime hours you tuned your car radio to KNOK and heard the black DJ’s spinning the best of “doo-wop” and blues.  At night, around nine o’clock, you tuned to KCUL or KXOL for the latest in rock.

But divisions began to surface.  The latest rock ‘n’ roll seemed targeted to a younger audience, and white artists doing “cover” versions of black R&B seemed to dominate.  More and more you heard Pat Boone, Andy Williams, and Georgia Gibbs doing more sanitized versions of tunes by the great black artists.

Now that Colonel Tom Parker had cleaned up Elvis’s image and music, you longed for Elvis’s first recordings on the Sun label and felt sad that he had sold out to crass commercialism.  At least that’s how most boys I knew felt.  Girls couldn’t get enough of Elvis.

You heard the music everywhere – on your car radio, on jukeboxes at drive-ins, in your room while studying, at the swimming pool.  It pervaded your life and set down markers in the memory; it told you where you were when you first heard some of the classics or when you were first keenly aware of them.

For instance: I was riding with Louis Hudson in his ’49 Ford on East Vickery Street, near the intersection with Conner Avenue one night in 1955 when this came through the car speaker:

Oh, Maybelline,
Why can’t you be true?
You done started back doin’
The things you used to do.
Parents of course hated rock ‘n’ roll. Mine, especially. Mother said, “There’s no melody; it’s just a bunch of chanting.  And it’s so smutty.”

WELL, IT WAS.  Much of it was blatantly sexual.  But my thought was: What’s not to like?  It sounded so good.  It seemed to me that parents listened only for what offended them and missed the fun of it all.  Besides, every generation latches onto something different from their parents’ music.  Some attribute this to rebellion, though I never felt very rebellious.  In fact I still listened to a good bit of my parents’ music.  To me, good music was good music.

Whatever its social impact, rock ‘n’ roll was fun. It was audacious and bawdy.  It was simple and infectious.  Some of it was even touching.

I had no illusions that rock-‘n’-roll was high musical art. But it was everywhere, and it was great fun.

George Lucas got it about right in his movie “American Graffitti”: Wherever you went, the music went with you.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ft. Worth East Side Evolution - 3 - Post WWII

The previous article explored the development of the Ft. Worth Meadowbrook – Eastern Hills neighborhoods starting with a 1920 map and looked at the changes in approximately 10-year increments through 1971.  One thing the study revealed was that Meadowbrook was actually a rural setting until not long before we entered EHHS in 1960.

Areas between EHHS and Meadowbrook Junior High were sparsely settled in the 1950s, consisting of a mixture of rural horse pastures and a few small housing developments.  The housing developments appear to have been done as modest undertakings, consisting of perhaps a block of 40-60 houses per effort.  Interspersed in this area are a few much older homes that were built in the 1920-1940 period, generally consisting of some attached acreage. 

Most of the 1950s home construction activity was going on within the green circled areas.  The red circle encloses the Meadowbrook - Eastern Hills subdivision which was a large undertaking, starting about 1953. 

After WWII, one of the great American government programs of all time supported returning veterans through certain benefits under provisions of the GI Bill.     Approximately 2 million of the 16 million eligible veterans went to college under the GI Bill and many more used the government GI mortgage guarantee to purchase their first homes.  This sparked a building boom that lasted throughout the 1950s.  In our area, many of the post-WWII homes built were GI homes, typically a 2 or 3-br, 1-bath, 1-garage layout.

Concurrently, just to the north of Meadowbrook, Richland Hills was building at an even greater rate.  Essentially everything shown in the picture below was built after 1950...the two pictures used in this piece were taken from about 1200' and show the same land area.  Richland High School opened in 1961, just 2-years after EH opened.  My childhood was spent living about half the time in each place.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ft. Worth East Side Evolution - 2

Most maps used to illustrate this article are from the collection of Pete Charlton, who operates as Electric Books.  Large, HD scanned collections are available at a nominal cost.  Highly recommended.

Maps Credit: Pete Charlton ~ The Electric Books Collection.

This study was undertaken in order to better understand how our Meadowbrook - Eastern Hills - Handley neighborhoods originally developed into the area we recall as our childhood home turf.  If you are like me, anything that occurred before I got there (anywhere) was old history, thus of little consequence to the present matter when "present day" is or was. 

But, that's not quite true.  To the extent some of those old memories and lessons learned impacted your future decisions, they could have become a significant element in your makeup. 


Development extends east along the Dallas Pike and north to approximately where Meadowbrook Drive will soon be constructed.  Oakland Blvd. is the eastern boundary of the Ft. Worth city limits at this time.  

Residential neighborhoods exist in the Sycamore Hts., Tandy Addition, and Beacon Hill subdivisions just north of the Dallas Pike (East Lancaster) and south of where Meadowbrook Drive will run.  The Meadowbrook Golf Club will be built in 1922 on what is showing on this 1920 map as farm land east of Oakland Blvd.

Note the Interurban stops (circles) shown on this map.  The Dallas Pike and the Interurban run along the same right-of-way.  At the time this 1920 map was published, the Interurban had been running for about 18-years.  The Dallas Pike, as a portion of the Dixie Highway, was relatively new by comparison, dating to about 1915 or a bit later in this area.  However, the Dallas Pike as a transportation route, actually dated to at least the 1890s, when it was used by horse-drawn wagons as the principal road between Ft. Worth and Dallas. 


By 1929, Meadowbrook Drive ran east to approximately Wilson Rd. (Jenson), then continues east as Ederville Rd.  Of interest on this 1929 map is the amount of subdividing consisting of unnamed residential streets, most of them unpaved.  It may indicate that a considerable amount of speculative preliminary development had taken place during the "Roaring 20s" only to grind to a halt during the Depression.  The Meadowbrook Golf Club failed about this time and ownership was transferred to the City of Ft. Worth.

During the 1920s substantial residential development took place around Oakland Park and the Beacon Hill subdivision south of Stratford Park.  Building is active in Edgewood Hts., Claremont Place, and Murray Hill Addition.  Sporadic home building took place in the Central Meadowbrook area between Oakland Park and the Meadowbrook Golf Club as well as eastward along Meadowbrook Dr.  The area was decidedly rural with the few houses in the area widely spaced.  Properties consisted of a few large farms and a number of smaller acreages.   


Meadowbrook Elementary is shown on this map just one year after it was opened in 1936.  Shows a number of newly noted subdivision names.  This is also one year beyond the Texas Centennial celebration and probably about the time of Amon Carter's peak influence.


A bus route is depicted by the dark dots along Lancaster, north along Tierney, and along Meadowbrook Drive.  This same route also shows on a 1936 map.  Development activity has extended east along Meadowbrook Drive and lightly north into the Central Meadowbrook section between the golf course and Oakland Blvd.  The area between East Lancaster and Meadowbrook Drive is showing light development and remains mostly rural.

Meadowbrook Elementary was built in 1936 and is shown on this map, south of Oakland Park.  That building will house grades K-9 until Fall 1954, when Meadowbrook Junior High was opened just across Meadowbrook Drive to the north on the triangular land bound by Ederville Rd. and Meadowbrook Drive.

About 150 of us already living in the area enter 1st grade next year.  Development activity shows a further filling-in of the Central Meadowbrook area.  Weiler Blvd. has been constructed along the east boundary of the golf course sometime after 1945.  The entire Eastern Hills subdivision is still vacant at this point.  The first Eastern Hills homes will be built about 1953 along Blueridge Dr., bordering the golf course.  Blueridge will be located about mid-way between Meadowbrook Drive and Ederville Rd.  

Significant subdividing shows along the area north of Lancaster and south of Meadowbrook Drive, continuing east of Weiler toward Handley.  This is one of the first maps to show Meadowbrook expanding to join Handley along East Lancaster.  Many of the 60-70 "old guard" members (1951 Meadowbrook 1st graders) of our EHHS Class of 1963 move into the area about this time.

Meadowbrook Junior High will open Fall 1954 to accommodate the growing East Side population.  The WBAP television station and tower was built in 1948 just east of Oakland Park but doesn't show on this map.

Note the interesting depiction of the future Toll Road (today's Tom Landry highway) as an East-West Freeway extension.



This c.1955 map shows the area just before EHHS was built and Lake Arlington has not yet filled.  WBAP has built its station and Central Meadowbrook has substantially built-out north to Kemble St.

The Eastern Hills neighborhood is just seeing its first (1953) homes built north of the future EHHS.  That entire neighborhood was thickly wooded and consisted mostly of a single large hill, rising from the school property to a peak at Blueridge Dr., then falling away to a low point along Ederville Rd.  Homes in this area generally contained 2000-2500 sq. ft. of living space and were custom built.  At the time they were constructed, they were about 50-100% larger than most of the housing stock in the East Side neighborhoods.

Some folks believe this step change in housing size and perceived ostentation from the new Eastern Hills residents caused a stir of resentment amongst the earlier, established population in the other East Side neighborhoods.  However, on review of the development time-line and first-hand recollection, it seems that there were simply not enough residents living in the partly completed subdivision to have actively originated some of the East Side’s perceived snobbery of that time.  Of course the Christmas decoration extravaganza of the late 1950s somewhat belies that thought.

I am aware of the early Eastern Hills neighborhood being the focal point of such antipathy from the wider view of the older Poly and Handley neighborhoods.  However, from a first-hand point of view, my own experience is different. 

Families who originally settled in the Eastern Hills section consisted, in part, of doctors, dentists, business owners, and a range of other professionals.  Many of them were WWII veterans who had gone to college on the GI Bill after the war and were in their peak earning years, typical age 35 - 45.  In fact, this was one of the early examples of what the advantage of higher education could provide for those able to achieve it.  Before WWII, substantial examples of obvious upward mobility, such as the Eastern Hills neighborhood represented, were quite rare.

The Toll Road is under construction at this time, but doesn't show on this map.


This 1962 map shows the East Side as it was about the time we graduated from EH.  Central Meadowbrook is essentially complete and the Eastern Hills neighborhood is nearing completion as the last of the vacant land down to Ederville Rd. is all that is left.  Early development north of the Toll Road in White Lake Hills has started.

Loop 820 was under construction when we were at EHHS and opened about the time we graduated.  This map shows the Loop still under construction.

Development continued eastward toward Arlington between Meadowbrook Drive and the Toll Road...I think Cook's Meadow came next.  About the same time or shortly afterward, Woodhaven was developed east of White Lake Hills, north of the Toll Road.


By 1971, the build out of Meadowbrook-Eastern Hills was essentially complete.  Building in White Lake Hills shows some progress and the first homes in Woodhaven just east of White Lake will soon be built; also, a few streets have been added in the far north portions of the Eastern Hills neighborhood.  Loop 820 is complete in this area and construction between Lancaster and the Toll Road continues to move east.


By 1976, the building of Woodhaven just north of the Toll Road was underway.  Filling in east of the Loop continued.


An undated Ashburn map thought to be about c.1980 is interesting in that it shows the subdivision names throughout the area.


Thursday, February 02, 2012

1967 - 1968 Johnson Out; Harris In

After spending a little time going through some of the old EHHS CLAN yearbooks that can be found online, an interesting story about the first changing of the old EHHS guard began to reveal itself.  Perhaps those of you who stayed close to the East Side knew of these changes, but for others of us who moved away after high school, it’s interesting to learn a bit of this old history.

It’s clear that the leisurely consistency of our trek through the East Side schools changed abruptly about 1968.  However, it appears that the Handley influence continued well into the 1970s.  Marvin Harris, a long serving administrator at Handley Jr. Hi, became EH’s second principal, fall 1967.  Lee Tannahill, another Handley teacher/administrator, took K.O. Vaughn’s Vice Principal job.  He was Chemistry teacher, Sara Tannahill’s husband and had been a long serving shop teacher and Vice Principal (I think) at Handley.

One of the underlying objectives of doing this blog has been to try and understand some of the more puzzling aspects of growing up in this particular East Side area.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I recalled a number of competing influences that I as a newcomer to the area about 1958, never quite understood.  It would seem that these first administrative changes further demonstrated a strong Handley influence on early EH.
The accompanying pictures are a sampling of the faculty pages from a 1969 CLAN that show about 24 of the teachers we knew during our time there, were still teaching. 

About 1977-78 I returned to the school for a visit and found Coach Mitcham sitting at a desk in the middle of the office area, surrounded by construction debris.  They were apparently remodeling the offices and general layout.  He was one of the Vice Principals then and it was the first time in 15-years that I had seen him.  Our short meeting was a little bittersweet; I knew him, of course, but he had to search his mind a bit before he could recall me.  It was the first time I had had the experience of observing the fact that teachers, over the course of a long career, deal with so many youngsters, they can only remember certain ones.  He associated me with the team Roby had quarterbacked!  Roby again—still had my craw full of him.

K.O. and his paddle had nothing on the Coach.  Mitcham had his weapon out on his desk and was “seeing” a nearly constant stream of bad boys reporting for their punishments.  It was so extreme that we couldn’t carry on a quiet conversation without being constantly interrupted.  He suspended the afternoon sessions so we could talk.

There wasn’t much of the old school left, a few teachers and that was about it.  Mitcham looked weary.  We chatted for a few minutes in that way people who no longer share common interests, do.  It was the last time I saw him.