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.



cj said...

The area south of the golf course bounded roughly by Jenson & Weiler, Meadowbrook and E. Lancaster started to fill out in 1952. The house I grew up in is on Maryel Dr and was completed in March 1952. All this area was brand new, mostly frame and brick, about 1200-1500 sq ft, pier & beam, NO air conditioning. It was all scraped down before building commenced. I loved it.

Gus said...

Dad's first home (1953) in Richland Hills is about the same as the one you describe; a 3-br, 1-ba, 1-garage, no a/c, about 15-1600 sq.ft., brick. The streets were long, wide, and straight and was loaded with kids from one end to the other. School was one block over. Never had a problem organizing a ball game whatever the season. All but one of the kids were 1-3 years younger...they were the Baby Boomers...I got started while Dad was home on leave between tours, Summer 1944!

Anonymous said...

The original Childs Subdivision was on Weiler and Vinewood, not Blue Ridge. Some of the homes were quite large. Development began in early 1950's.

Anonymous said...

This coverage of early Eastern Hills development is interesting in that Weiler Blvd appears to be the common thread that tied it together. Probably few people were taking a drive up Weiler in those days to notice what was happening, as the first homes were appearing one by one. Odds are that people keen on social status were, however.
I suspect that the first placements and strategic rearrangements affecting the social order of Meadowbrook-Eastern Hills for the next two decades started taking place then and there.

Gus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gus said...

I think you're right on all counts about the original axis...probably blinded by Angie's young presence that senior year and the fact that I drove by those 3 houses on the west side hundreds of times, undoubtedly paying particular attention to hers...and that Jag. That, and Dub's T-Bird were very beguiling wheels to an impressionable 17-year old.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused about a comment I saw here about a house on Weiler lived in by a family called Meer. I wanted to leave a comment but now I don't know if I'm in the right place. I remember one Halloween night we were travelling on Weiler and we turned and went up a long driveway to a house on a hill. A girl named Pam Meer was having a big Halloween party all over her front yard. It was a very friendly situation. Then some fireworks were shot off. After awhile we left.

Could this be the same Meer family? I think that Pam Meer was in EHHS class of 1961 or 1962, not sure.

Gus said...

Pam was a '62, Kurt a '64 I think, and Angie a '65. None of them were in my circle but, Angie was a cutie that showed the questionable judgment of going out with me a time or two.

Anonymous said...

Meadowbrook Golf Course - history, land development significance

According to my sources, the Meadowbrook Country Club was formed under private ownership in 1922. By 1924, the course was open for play.

Among the membership in the 1920's, the Brandt family and Amon Carter were prominent and certainties. The Stripling and Cox families were also highly probable members, but not certainties. There were others, the west side of Fort Worth being well-represented. There is some reason to believe that the entirety of the golf course was built on Brandt family land.

Also involved was a woman whose family name was Draughan and who lived in the vicinity of what is now the 5100 block of Meadowbrook Dr.
As the 1920's entered into the 1930's and what came to be called the Great Depression., the private club increasingly fell into financial distress, a phenomenon that was happening all over the country. The debts of the club all gradually came to be accumulated (or assumed) in the hands of Ms. or Mrs. Draughan. Sometime before 1935, the club was effectively foreclosed unto Draughan. In 1935, a deal was made between Draughan and the city of Fort Worth for the land to come into city possession and the course to become municipal. The financial details of this arrangement are not available at this time.

However, land immediately surrounding this "new" municipal course was kept private and apparently held for future development. What we have since seen around Green Hill Circle and Lambeth, Malinda Lane, Jenson and Wilson, and perhaps the semi (quadri) circular streets on the other side of the course, such as San Jose, Grandview, etc. are a manifestation of this "future development". It is not clear at this time who held the land or who did the development. Certainly the Draughans (and perhaps the Brandts) are likely candidates.

The source of this information has done considerable research into the subject over a number of years and may choose to publish formally the results in detail in the future. In view of this, the above information is all that is available at this time.

As documented elsewhere, the clubhouse burned in 1956, and was replaced with a single story municipal structure available for
special events.

I remember back in the early 1960's, many people in EHHS and the adjacent neighborhoods assumed that there was a private country club operating on the golf course premises and "wealthier people than they" were involved together on a regular social basis at this club.
I suppose there was a category of people in the area well satisfied with the maintenance of this illusion.

Gus said...

It makes sense that some of the older, more successful Ft. Worth business people would have been looking east for investment land by the 1920s-1930s. That the cities would eventually grow toward one another was obvious.

That Mr. Carter would have been one of them also makes sense in view of his interest in the broadcast station and later, the airport. Carter and Ft. Worth before WWII had been firmly focused on the west and northwest areas for their expansion; Arlington Heights apparently took off after WWI ended and Camp Bowie land came available. I suspect the Cattle and Oil fortunes probably soaked up most of the available land on that side of town quite early.

The Draughan name strikes me as being involved with some early day business colleges, sometimes seen on early 1900s images. It would also make sense to see the merchant names you mention branching out a bit. I think they were relative late-comers to the downtown scene, perhaps starting about the time the Leonards’ did…abt. WWI era.

An interesting corollary mirroring the c.1930s eastward attention was that of G.W. Haltom. I think his move to the country occurred about 1935 or a little earlier. I encountered one of his grandsons in elementary school during the mid-1950s when the downtown store was still prominent. Like a few of the MJH parents we encountered in the late fifties, the Haltom mom was the only one showing up at school driving a new Cadillac and was conspicuously involved in PTA matters. I don’t think she helped her boy much, though…he couldn’t hit or catch very well…2 very important skills needed by a 10-year old boy if he were to have a chance fitting in with the groups I tended to run with. It was a simple, harsh fact that the nicest, wealthiest kid was of limited interest at that age if you couldn’t count on him to hit and catch the friggin’ ball.

It always puzzled me that after getting a good start on Haltom City…big house, a theater, a whole town conspicuously named, that nothing much ever came of it. It seemed that the development simply jumped over it and continued in Richland Hills on out to …. Ah-ha…Carter Field. Mr. Haltom died during WWII and lost one of his two sons in the war. I suppose those losses hampered their plans.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that the grandson of a jeweler could not be expected very much to be directed toward baseball as a boy, not like the rest of us. (How many baseball players could make diamond rings?).

The name of the business college does come to mind, but there seems to be a spelling difference there. According to the authoritative source posted, "Draughan" does appear to be the authentic spelling of the woman on the east side. I just don't remember any Draughan family being there. A bit before my time.

It is not clear whether the westsiders actually had land holdings on the east side or were just interested in golf-social activities. But they definitely had commercial interests in downtown Fort Worth, and if the Childs family was connected with them there in building construction expertise, then that was something outside the domain and possibly the interest of Haltom. It's also possible that Haltom enjoyed being a big fish in a little pond in Haltom City, and that the jewelry business was safer and financially more lucrative than the vicissitudes of real estate development.

An array of construction and development-oriented businesses existed on the near end of East Lancaster (between Riverside and Collard) occupied for the most part by Poly and West Meadowbrook residents. The Childs Construction Co. was one of these, although already established and intermarried with the Brandts in what would eventually become the Eastern Hills neighborhood. The very first development in the neighborhood immediately north of the future EHHS appears to have been the "Childs Subdivision" which concentrated on Weiler and Vinewood. That early section probably set the "aspiration" tone for the entire Eastern Hills neighborhood to follow, drawing people from Meadowbrook and even from Poly, because that's exactly what the developers would have wanted. That had social ramifications for the history of the east side "social order", with all the attendant rivalries to follow that one might imagine (including swimming pools).

Anonymous said...

Banking and east side development:

It would be tempting to think that a development as profound and extensive as what the Fort Worth eastside experienced through the twentieth century would be financially dominated by the big downtown banks. But the gradual or incremental extension of residential neighborhoods does not require the heavy financial backing that would be the case for downtown office buildings or industrial plants.

While not denying the support of downtown banks, there was one bank in particular on the east side that must have loomed large in its involvement in both regular commercial activities and real estate development, and that was the State Bank of East Fort Worth, located at 1100 Nashville St., in the heart of Poly's commercial and educational center. Excluding the remote Riverside neighborhood, it was the only bank on the whole east side save for the smaller First National Bank of Handley, which until the early '60s was still in downtown Handley concentrating on Handley business.

Some of your readers might remember the obscure connection between the Tandy neighborhood and downtown Poly provided by the Connor St. underpass, passing under both Lancaster Ave and the T&P tracks. Unless you became familiar with it, you'd never know it was there.
But before the advent of the Beach St. crossing (early '60s ?), it was the most convenient connection between all those businesses on the near end of Lancaster and their probable business and banking connections in Poly.

It would be interesting to obtain a list of officers of the State Bank of East Fort Worth (particularly the board of directors) to determine the connections they had with businesses on East Lancaster.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the developers of the Eastside were closely wired with the banking, commercial, educational, religious, and social groups of Poly, even while living in West Meadowbrook or points east.

Gus said...

I've looked at a few early 1950s school publications that contain local business ads with a mind to discover some of the potential participants you suggest. Nothing obvious has jumped out but, it might take a longer look back to perhaps 1945 or thereabouts.

With respect to the west Meadowbrook area you noted, just a cursory look at some of the years housing was built suggests late 1940s and a lot of it seems to have been the first wave of post WWII GI, 2-2 houses, perhaps 900-1100' in living area. By the early 1950s, say 1952-3, the house sizes were a little larger just east of MJH...perhaps 3-1-1 and 1300-1500'. Much of Central MBrook as far north as Barnett St. builds out during this same time and the area north of Barnett builds out about the same time as Eastern Hills fills in.

It’s likely that a larger view of the overall building on the East Side of Ft. Worth would help in understanding what we were seeing in our Meadowbrook-Eastern Hills area while we were growing up there. Mirroring the activity we saw in our neighborhoods, Northeast Tarrant County was undergoing a very similar development in Richland Hills and North Richland Hills. However there, the land was undeveloped all the way to Loop 12 in Dallas such that there was little or no need to fit the subdivisions within older ownership boundaries. Entire subdivisions the size of Eastern Hills and larger could be undertaken at one time.

The years that Northeast Tarrant County first started building out match the years our East Side was building. It would be a good assumption that Amon Carter and some of his 7th St. Gang were very active players in both of those development initiatives. Looking farther north and east we have Amon Carter Field (1953); looking farther east from our neighborhood, we have the Six Flags and 360 that leads right to the airport. It’s not unreasonable to assume that those were not coincidental occurrences. Add in the building of Hwy 183 into a 4-lane divided thoroughfare (1953) well in advance of it becoming the Airport Freeway, the Toll Road (1957-8), and it would seem to me that Carter & Co, were well ahead of any similar initiatives from Dallas.

Anonymous said...

A source update on the previous Meadowbrook Country Club development commentary:

The original land was assembled from seven separate tracts involving seven different owners -- none of these original owners were of the Brandt family. The total area included much land around the central course area, especially on the west and southern sides, that was not suitable for golf course development. Interesting that this effectively provided a "buffer" interface to the general public that added to seclusion and exclusivity of the private club. For example, the land's western boundary went all the way up the east side of Jensen Rd (and its projection to the north -- Jensen was only complete as far north as "Barnett Street" in the early days, and may actually have been called "Wilson" at the time.) The southern boundary was Meadowbrook Dr.; the exact configuration of the southwest corner is not clear, e.g. -- where was the "Draughan estate? After the golf course itself went into public hands (ca. 1937), all this marginal land on the west and south sides was held private for future development.

Gus said...

It’s intriguing that the MBCC’s early development details are so obscure. Sometimes, such obscurity suggests there's a larger story going on. A recollection of what was going on during those years and who the larger players might have been could suggest some interesting possibilities.

One. Downtown Ft. Worth started building it’s first skyscrapers in the early 1920s, starting with W.T. Waggoner’s 20-story building. Waggoner and others, already wealthy from their cattle businesses, started striking oil under their ranch lands. That loosed a torrent of money flowing into Ft. Worth, where Waggoner had moved much of his focus since about the founding of the North Side meat packing plants.

Two. Waggoner (& son) established the “Triple D” stock farm that included the Arlington Downs race track quite near our old neighborhoods. What else were they involved with out there and when did the initial operations begin there. The Downs opened about 1929 I think.

Three. Carter was on the rise during the 1920s and 30s. One of his greatest interests seems to be aviation during those years.

Gus said...

Further, the early interest in golf clubs developed during the teens and twenties. One of the other interesting outliers was Glen Garden developed by H.C. Cobb. I think Cobb was denied membership at Rivercrest and may have gone off and built his own course. MBCC could have been something similar, given its timing.

Cobb hailed initially from New England and may have not quite fit the cowboy mold...I don't know. Being a yankee couldn't have helped him.

Colonial appears to have been a "nextgen" sort of thing. Rivercrest memberships were limited and I think were originally linked to property purchase adjacent to the course. So, those memberships would have been hard to come by after the original subscriptions had sold out....something for which an upcoming younger generation would have had little patience.

Anonymous said...

The "obscurity" you mention about MBCC stems from a couple of things, at least.

First is the hard reality that few people have been interested in preserving historical information in a cohesive way. If it weren't for the long running efforts of a determined older gentleman in the Meadowbrook neighborhood to ferret all this out, it would still remain obscure. A lot of deed and platting investigations of old court house records is necessary.

Second is the interest that could have been lost, suddenly and dramatically, with the whole idea of a private Meadowbrook Country Club, due to the ravages of the depression and the members' needs to put their attention on more pressing matters. That loss of continuity puts the MBCC into the shade compared to interest in the history of the other more successful FW clubs.

It appears that the Brandt and Childs families were some of the ones who picked up the pieces, but more on that later.

Gus said...

Development probably did slow to nil throughout the thirties but, the area wasn't dead. Tom Waggoner, by then an elderly man, was working with son, E.Paul to get the Arlington Downs track up and running and did get it operating for about 3-years before the anti-gambling forces lined up against them...then W.T. died.

About these same years, the "Top O' the Hill" was up and roaring a little farther down the Pike. Haven't checked the years for compatibility but, do recall that it was attracting quite a bit of attention from show-biz people. Something was churning on the East Side those years...then, came WWII and the focus shifted back to the West Side and the Bomber Plant.

Gus said...

Another oldie house would be the Burton’s place at 1800 Jenson, just across from the MBCC clubhouse. It dates to 1930, I believe. Burtons moved in about 1953…it would be interesting to learn who the previous owner(s) were. Early in the optimistic view of MBCC as a private club, that lot would have been a choice location.

Your thoughts about Belvedere Estates being an early Brandt-Childs development are a good thought. A number of the trailing years of Thaelis inductees came from that neighborhood.

Even more interesting are your thoughts on the Stratford Park subdivision. I think an early Tandy had a lot to do with development in that area. The concentration of the very first Thaelis girls is new information to me and it supports one of the more challenging aspects of the study; that being, how did that part of the Poly school zone affect the (late) Poly HS culture as it made the transformation into the first EH culture. By the time my ’63 class graduated, those areas west of MJH were considered very OLD….human nature…since they predated us, they were securely lodged in our immature memories as something from back in “history.”

One of the more fascinating and challenging aspects of this study has been to try and understand the rapidly changing perceptions of those few years…the transition from Poly to EH allegiances. It was playing out when our ’63 class was in 9th at MJH so, we heard occasional snippets from classmates having older siblings having to make their choices of which school to attend when EH opened in 1959. I found that a few of the ’61 and ’62 Thaelis girls were very friendly to this little ’63 as a Sophomore. That was a little strange in my 15-year old configuration. But, I think it may have been more a reflection of our having recently occupied one of those big houses up on the hill than it was any overwhelming sex appeal on my part….they were Stratford Park—Green Hill Circle girls, after all and on the matter of abodes I had few others to envy nor had I had much time to give much thought to such things. At that stage of development my focus was on getting myself a shiny girlfriend which involved no interest whatsoever in what kind of house her folks had.

Anonymous said...

Your comment about a "shiny" girl is very appropriate, and very entertaining. Your thoughts were probably not unique on that score.

The problem for the Thaelis club was what to do about a "shiny" girl. Should they invite her in, and try to change her? Restrain her? Dull her down, so to speak? Maybe get her paired off and safely going steady with a latent homosexual? - Gagh! (Take a look at the conformity evident in the sorority pages of a college annual and you'll see what I mean -- one could call it "sex appeal"(?) reduced and standardized). After all, a shiny girl represented serious competition; group action was required!

Or should they simply snub her and keep their fingers crossed, hoping that a non-Thaelis girl would have no social cachet?

Preferentially inviting boisterous and sexually-careless football players into their private parties was another way the Thaelis girls had of roping the "cowboys" and keeping them away from the shinier girls. And it probably pleased the girls' fathers, but also put the girls at risk of possibly having to leave school before graduation. (Horror show for the Thaelis mothers!)

What a quandary for all concerned! ... that is, if you stayed within the "fishbowl" ...

Gus said...

Was Meadowbrook Methodist the large light blond building just across the street from MJH to the west?

Didn't know Vicki and Gay were members there nor, do I recall them ever being particularly close. Never knew the Beyettes.

Anonymous said...

Meadowbrook Methodist is still going strong today, as I understand. It is located about four blocks west of the intersection of Meadowbrook and Oakland, on Meadowbrook. It is a large church. It extends down to Mt. Vernon on the south. Clairemont is on the east, and Mountview is on the west. If you're going west on Meadowbrook past Oakland, the church will appear at the left just as Meadowbrook takes a little angle turn to the right at the Mountview corner. Meadowbrook Methodist would arguably have had the largest contingent of students from Eastern Hills of any church in the area. It is also alleged to have been the most "high-tone" (socially speaking) of any church on the Eastside.

There were two other churches in the Oakland-Meadowbrook corner area. I'm not sure of the names. I believe that Meadowbrook Church of Christ was the one just to the west of MJH that you mention.

Gus said...

O.K., I/we rarely ventured down Meadowbrook west of friends down that way and I used it infrequently as another route to downtown. For the most part, after getting a driver's license and starting to venture out into the larger world, I just jumped on the Toll Road and zoomed into town in 5-minutes, or so.

Meadowbrook Methodist came into my view only recently as a remarkable 8X10 picture of their youth choir came to light. In it stands a large concentration of our '63 & '64 Thaelis girls and from it came a strong clue to where that idea may have originally hatched.

One of my grandmothers was Methodist but from an old school version of them that closely resembled the Southern Baptist churches in their professed smokin', no dancin', and no carousin'...and girls were precious, enigmatic little creatures wrapped in many petticoats. She pestered me incessantly to get married and give her some grandchildren. Of course, I was working on a different schedule as the sixties unfolded. She hit me with it again shortly after I returned from service in Vietnam and I gave her a salty sailor's response that forever silenced her on that subject. "Grandmother, you may already have some and they may have slanted eyes," I replied. Utterly flustered, she never mentioned the subject again but was immensely pleased when I finally got that job done for her later.

Gus said...

As for the Baptists, I suppose most of my friends were those or, at least the most vocal ones were...Kendall, McCoy, and some others. I've had comments from others that the Baptists weren't the wealthier residents of our neighborhoods and my own recollections of them support that.

Gus said...

I never could keep all those Hoffmans and Ropers straight and never really got close enough to any Handley kids to be a part of their circle(s). Suzanne came into EH as a Sophomore and pretty much owned the popularity recognition slots all the way through. She and Dinah took the Soph cheerleader spots, blanking our MJH cheerleaders who had been our MJH reigning goddesses the 2-years I attended classes there. How they managed to pull off that upset has never been clear to me. There's a blog posting somewhere in here under the cheerleaders tag that muses at some length about that topic.

Anonymous said...

Gus, you've dwelled on cheerleaders a lot on your blogsite and you seem to be very up on what it was all about. I wish you would explain something, sometime about how they were chosen. Does that already appear somewhere on your site?

Could anyone try out? Did they have to pass muster with P.E. teachers or coaches on their physical ability before tried out? Were there preliminaries that narrowed the field before they went before the student body? I don't even remember voting on cheerleaders. Did it happen in homeroom? Not that I was holding my breath for it. If most the students didn't know these kids personally then they were probably voting on the products of a promotional campaign, organized by star-makers working quietly around the school and in the lunchroom. I've heard some funny-sounding stories about these elections.

Those Handley kids might have organized and plotted for a couple of years among themselves to overcome that Meadowbrook juggernaut you talk about in your blog. Maybe the cheerleader squad was all they had to work with to make their presence felt at Eastern Hills. Maybe the out-crowd at Meadowbrook went against the in-crowd and voted for the Handley girls.

Most important of all, who counted the votes? And who witnessed it?
Mrs. Taylor? Miss Moore? Mrs. Tannahill? Did any of them have any favorites themselves?

Gus said...

Yes, I was cheerleader smitten from the very first time I first saw them on the stage leading the entire school in the cheers…for me, that was at Richland JH. Although we had some in the elementary school before that, they never came into clear focus until that 7th grade year. Of course that was a pivotal year, what with emerging puberty demands in top gear for both girls and boys. Judy, with the magnificent pony tail in that Richland JH squad picture, completely captivated my budding ardor and I doubt that she ever knew I existed.

Transferring into Meadowbrook JH for the 8th grade brought me into the sphere dominated by that 1958 cheer squad consisting of future EH classes of ’62, ‘63 and ’64. The Richland JH experience had taught me that in order to be a part of the “in-crowd” you had to gain the attention of a cheerleader or two since they had the attention of a large segment of the student body. And at that stage of development, being a part of an “in-crowd” was a strong influence which called into question whether one had the requisite characteristics (whatever they might have been) needed to be taken in, or not.

To answer your question, I’m sure that tryouts were open to anyone who wanted to give it a try. Of course, there was an element of stagecraft involved and a general requirement that one have some degree of athletic ability. However, at the JH level, it was more likely a popularity contest. If you liked a girl and the way she went through the cheers, she got your vote. Lacking either of those, she didn’t or, at least that was my view of it. I have no clue how the vote was counted or supervised but, I really like to believe that all was done aboveboard…I think the class officers oversaw those counts. There was some post-results lobbying done by a mother or two who didn’t like the outcomes but, I don’t think that was too common.

At MJH there seemed to be a full-blown campaign undertaken for nearly everything that involved an all-school vote…ribbons, posters, campaign speeches etc. The cheerleader votes could very well have been one of those efforts, but I don’t specifically recall that detail. And, I think you’re right that it was a homeroom vote taken just after an auditorium tryout program that made those determinations.

I think your Handley targeting observation is very perceptive and could very well have been the case on both counts.

Handley JH remained organized in the manner of the high school that was folded into the new EH facility; they selected their favorites and recognized their top students much more visibly than was done at MJH. So, in a sense their top performers came into EH already wearing their medals and ribbons where the MJH contingent would have to wait a year or two before sorting out their top performers in a public fashion.