Thursday, May 31, 2012

Roy C. Johnson EHHS Principal

Would you have bought a used car from this man? Some of us would have taken whatever he might have offered under advisement in order to reserve judgment. I always thought this “trust me” picture pretty well illustrated Mr. Roy C. Johnson as some of us saw him.

Roy C. Johnson was the school’s first principal, so he had the job during the time the 63 Highlanders were assigned to the institution. Mr. Johnson had an expansive persona, a down-home Texan manner, and was an enthusiastic cheerleader at pep rallies. His daughter was a year younger than we were—a 64 Highlander. As I recall, she was considered by others to be a nice young lady, although I didn’t know her.

Some in our class didn’t care too much for Mr. Johnson. And even now I couldn’t articulate very well why that was so. Some thought that he was highly ambitious for a higher level district job and might have been a little too aggressive in his self promotion. One manifestation of that notion was that he hung a large, formal portrait of himself in the school’s front entry foyer. Flanking his large portrait, evenly spaced on either side were somewhat smaller (I think) portraits of the school board members, including the Superintendent. That might have been the job Mr. Johnson really wanted.

Someone took his portrait down one day, leaving the school board portraits undisturbed. For several days the portrait was missing and it was said that Mr. Johnson went ballistic when he made the discovery. The image of Captain Queeg’s search for the strawberries dances through my mind.   It was also said that Mr. Johnson had some “spies” among our class, but a lot of people knew who the spies were, so they weren’t much of a threat. Within a day or so, Mr. Johnson had all the other portraits taken down—thinking, I suppose, that if he couldn’t hang there, then by-golly no one else would hang there either!

After some time went by, Mr. Johnson’s portrait was returned to its place of honor in the front foyer, right in the center of a row of empty picture hangers spaced equally either side of it. However, that portrait was a bit different than it had been before its hiatus in service as a revered school treasure. Mr. Johnson’s image was inverted inside the frame. So, just turn it over, you might suggest. O.K., but first you would have to remove the youthful manifesto sheet that had been inserted in the frame, just in front of Mr. Johnson’s image. So, just take it apart and remove the sheet, you might suggest. O.K., but how would you suggest freeing up the super glue that held the mat assembly to both the glass and the frame?

I don’t recall if those portraits were re-hung in the front foyer before we graduated. However, I do seem to recall a certain probing look in Mr. Johnson’s eye as he extended his congratulatory hand to each us at our graduation ceremony. Danny McCoy always called Mr. Johnson, "Sugarbottom" and I never knew where that came from--just found it amusing.

Just ahead for some of us was Animal House.

(May 2014 note:  Discovered some time ago that "Sugarbottom" was the name of a very small town or area in North Texas somewhere, where Mr. Johnson grew up.  It hasn't existed for many years.)


Monday, May 28, 2012

1960 - 1965 Senior Class Pictures Link Hub

Links below will take you to the Highlander Blog posting where all Senior pages from that year's CLAN are posted.  They can be enlarged and copied to your computer.

LINK:  Class of 1960 Senior Pictures.         (first graduating class)

LINK:  Class of 1961 Senior Pictures.

LINK:  Class of 1962 Senior Pictures.

LINK:  Class of 1963 Senior Pictures.

LINK:  Class of 1964 Senior Pictures.

LINK:  Class of 1965 Senior Pictures.

Subsequent classes are welcome if you wish.  However, you do the scanning work and provide me with nice quality results similar to those already posted.

Until about 1970 or so, we had a similar experience at EHHS.  After that, as the old song went, "the times, they were-a-changin'" ............ everywhere.

LINK:  All Class Rosters & Honor Graduates


Monday, May 21, 2012

1962 – 1963 Lad and Lassie TARTAN Features

The Lad and Lassie feature in the EH student newspaper, THE TARTAN, was written by Bob Dillard and Linda Hartman.  There were 14 of these features published over the 1962-63 school year; 13 of them are published here.  If anyone can supply the last one with Larmer, I would be pleased to add it.

I have no idea how the subjects were chosen, but do recognize that they are some of the more prominent members of our class.  They are interesting reading and provide a glimpse of a number of young people just at the beginning of their adult life, now over 50-years ago.

Note also Karen Rush and Mary Logan's Kilts & Kapers column included with some of these articles as they contain some interesting short answer interview dialog with a number of other Highlanders and faculty...cute.

Next year’s Class of 1964 Lad and Lassies are HERE.

Tom Koebernick & Paula Acuff:

Paul Tate & Susie Wadlington:

Steve Means & Mollie Howell:

Paul Shields & Jan Grady:

Gene Cartwright & Susan Begley:

Bob Dillard & Linda Hartman (authors of these features):

Roy Vandiver & Carol Crowder:

David Bane & Betty Helm:

Danny McCoy & Judy Stephenson:

Charlie Rigby & Suzanne Hoffman:

J.W. Southard & Julie Hudson:

Melvin Starkes & Cheryl Conatser:

Guy Perkins & Celia Beall:

 This small collection is missing only 1 article that featured BOB LARMER & TRISHA SPEAKES.   If you have a copy, please send a scan to me.  The chart lists the articles in the order they were printed during the course of the year.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Teen Canteens

CJ64:  Every month or so, the parents organized a dance at the school gym which they called the Teen Canteen, copied, I suppose, from the famous Hollywood Canteen of WWII.  They would bring a record player with lots of records, have cokes and cookies available, put up some decorations, and turn the lights down just enough to suggest romance but not enough where they couldn’t see what we were doing.

What we were doing was experiencing sexual arousal for the first time.  Girls we had known since first grade snuggled up against us for the slow dances causing all kinds of unfamiliar body reactions.  Girls whose legs we had been looking at since first grade suddenly had pretty legs, and we weren’t sure why we had developed an interest.  We had heard, read, and talked about sex, of course, but feeling the feelings for the first time created all kinds of new and interesting problems.

Our parents served as chaperones, and one set always seemed to be Myriam Hubbard’s parents (I’m pretty sure she spelled it with a “y”).  Myriam was a tall, pretty girl with classic features, but she was always quiet and reserved.  I haven’t seen her since high school, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she was a Provost at some college.  Her parents were quite a story.  Mr. Hubbard had been a WWII flyer who was shot down Belgium.  A Belgian family hid him from the Germans.  They had a daughter, they fell in love, he married her, brought her home, and produced Myriam.  Mrs. Hubbard proactively filled the chaperone role.  I can see her now running out onto the dance floor, all elbows and knees, to physically separate couples who she deemed too close, lecturing them in her accented English.

We really only had two dance styles – the jitterbug for fast dances and freestyle for slow dances.  Many of us had learned how to dance at James Leito’s dance school on the west side.  Our mothers had connived to enroll us starting in the 6th grade, and we continued it in the 7th grade.  They turned it into a social event.  We learned the dance steps in the first half-hour, then danced to the current popular tunes.  Afterwards, the car pools stopped at one of the local watering holes for Cherry Cokes and onion rings.

Dances and dancing were hugely popular in those days.  Our parents were always throwing big parties, many of them formal where the boys actually wore a white sport coat and a pink carnation.  In the process of all this, I learned how to properly ask a girl to dance, how to return her to the place I found her, and how to waltz, jitterbug, foxtrot, and two-step.  I never did learn the tango.  All of these skills came in very handy, especially in college.  I have forgotten what songs were popular about this time, but they can generally be characterized by Chuck Berry (fast) and The Lettermen (slow).

I cannot exaggerate how much we were influenced by Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.  We watched it every afternoon, and the Philly kids featured on the show became national celebrities.  I had a huge crush on Arlene Sullivan, found Pat Molliteri to be interesting, and thought Justine Carelli had to be an easy make, although she may have been like Jessica Rabbit and was just drawn that way.  About 9th or 10th grade, Arlene Sullivan showed up at one of our local dances.  She was in Fort Worth because she was a cousin of Judy Hill (later Judy Nelson).  Arlene actually asked me to dance – talk about fantasies coming true.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Melvin Avery

“Probability is expectation founded upon partial knowledge. A perfect acquaintance with all the circumstances affecting the occurrence of an event would change expectation into certainty, and leave nether room nor demand for a theory of probabilities.” --George Boole

My vote for the next best 63 Highlanders teacher would be Melvin R. Avery. As with Mr. Sills, I have no particular anecdotal stories to tell of Mr. Avery. My regard for him is a result of a body of experience gained while studying mathematics (algebra, I think) in his class. Mr. Avery was not very tall, a roundish, quiet spoken teddy bear-type of man. What I really remember about him was his enthusiasm while presenting his subject. He was another one of those teachers who established a non-threatening classroom environment.

Mr. Avery was infinitely patient, although he could show some frustration when someone didn’t quite understand a concept he had just broached. However, he would quickly quell his impatience at those times and go over it again. I think his frustration was really less a matter of impatience with his students, than with himself that he had not gotten his point across clearly enough.

He exhibited several memorable traits, memorable enough that I recall them clearly now, after nearly 45-years. Mr. Avery loved number games and would frequently use them to demonstrate different approaches to problem solving. An almost boyish exuberance would overtake him as he introduced one of those number games to the class and he could become almost gleeful when one or more of his charges would take up the challenge.

This is a link to an online number game that Mr. Avery would have loved and it illustrates the kind of game he liked to introduce in his classes:

Although I recall a Jr. High math teacher, Mrs. Doris Fuller, who was very, very good in the subject, I'm sure it was Mr. Avery who ignited an early mathematics afterburner in many of us. I would credit Mr. Avery for introducing math more as a challenge than an ordeal.

Another thing I recall of him was that he loved sports although they were focus of neither his career nor his classes. I think one of the coaches adopted him as an unofficial assistant, gave him a leather-sleeved jacket, and included him on some of the team trips. There is a great picture of him in the ’62 Clan yearbook, page 105, that shows Mr. Avery proudly wearing his jacket, boarding a team bus.

His son, Ray, was a good athlete and the starting Center on our ’63 Highlander (’62 season) district championship football team. Ray resembled his father in that he was a quiet, good-humored, roundish kind of kid.

In the picture accompanying this posting, Mr. Avery is demonstrating how to use a slide rule. About a dozen years after that picture was taken, slide rules were relegated to the backs of desk drawers, and then to history almost overnight by the introduction of HP and TI calculators. It’s interesting to think that the design of our Interstate highway system, of the first jet aircraft, and probably much of our first ventures into space were produced using slide rule calculations.

I think Mr. Avery passed away about 1990 at age 71. He served in the United States Navy during WWII as a Seabee in the Pacific.  Thanks for your patience and for the help, Mr. Avery. . . . O.K., class. Quick, what is 5/6 divided by 2/3?


Saturday, May 05, 2012

Billy Sills

Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives." –Andy Rooney

My vote for the best 63 Highlander teacher is Billy West Sills. He was only 34 when he taught our senior classes and was a slight man who was always nicely dressed in a coat and tie. He exuded a quiet dignity and strength of character that enabled him to control his classrooms in a calm, competent manner. He was not a macho-type, but rather was a man who tended to command respect with a firmness that I don't recall as being threatening in any way. He had a thorough knowledge of his subjects which, as you might recall, were American History and Government.

I’m pretty sure I took every class Mr. Sills taught and I’m sure that my keen appreciation of history today traces directly back to his contributions to my education. I don’t have any specific anecdotal remembrances of Mr. Sills. My memory of him is more in the manner of a body of shared experience. After we graduated and went on, his career path took him to the ISD level as an administrator and later, I think, as the district historian. Just as Andy Rooney points out, Mr. Sills was very well regarded by a large population that he touched during his life. There are some FWISD facilities named after him. He died in 2002 at age 74. Men like Billy West Sills don’t come along very often and the world is a lesser place without him.

Mr. Sills walked with a very pronounced limp caused by polio.  No matter though. About the only way that limp inhibited Mr. Sills was to prohibit him from being a competitive sprinter. He was first cabin in every respect. God bless you, Mr. Sills, and thank you for all the help.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Mr. Bill Polson

For some of us, Bill Polson was our 10th grade World History teacher. While I've taken pains to either ignore those about whom I have nothing good to say, Bill Polson is my first exception. That's not to imply that I have only bad things to say about him, it's more that I just have nothing good to say about him...yet he was an interesting character.

Mr. Polson was, in my estimation, the laziest teacher I recall throughout my schooling. He also had the job of keeping the locker assignments straight and dealing with lost or broken locks. After school, I think he drove a school bus. For Mr. Polson, teaching consisted of taking out his textbook and reading from it...verbatim. His delivery was a slow monotone drawl, the cadence broken only by his looking up occasionally to see who had nodded off.

Thankfully, he broke up the monotony of his class by having a couple of girls write the test questions on the chalk board a day or two before the Friday test...the every Friday test. Only girls did the chalk board writing and not always the same girls, but they were usually attractive.

Everyone in class had to copy those questions off onto their own papers in order to study them for the upcoming test which always consisted of those same questions, verbatim. It may never have occurred to Mr. Polson to mimeograph the questions onto a handout as was done by most other teachers; or it may have been something else. As I mentioned in another posting, girls of our day wore loose-fitting dresses similar to those worn by their mothers, so we boys had little opportunity to effectively appraise their figures.

However, an interesting thing occurred when the girls of that day wrote on the chalk boards. Due to some complicated principles of leverage (one of Newton's laws), the pressure exerted by her arm on the chalk board caused her backside to jut out in an equal and opposite direction and move in sync with her writing arm. So, if she were writing quickly, well the reactive movement going on under that dress was pretty quick also. Now, that made concentrating on writing those questions onto your paper somewhat difficult, but the weekly shows were memorable.

I wonder if Mr. Polson ever picked up on that...h-m-m.

Rounding out his week by having a couple of girls, always girls, grade the Friday tests and write the results in his grade book, Mr. Polson was set for a quiet weekend to repair himself for a couple of days of strenuous reading from his textbook the following week. As I said, he was an interesting character.

Dieu merci pour les jolies filles