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.]


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