Thursday, July 11, 2013

The EHHS Social Order - 3 - Scouts & Little League

During the years 1945-1950, our parents were in their mid to late 20s, shaking off the effects of WWII and making a lot of babies thus, setting off the well documented Baby Boom.  As with most twenty-somethings, few of them had had time to really make much progress toward getting themselves established in their jobs, careers, or businesses. 

Perhaps somewhat typical of his particular age group, my father was occupied from 1945-48 with getting his degree using the GI Bill benefits he had earned plowing through the skies over Europe in 1943-45.  Then, after earning his BS degree he worked his first job a couple of years in south Texas, 1948-51.  And contributed a couple more years when recalled to the military service for another 18-month stint during the Korean War.  Finally, in 1952, he was clear of nearly 10-years of war service, age 30 and we future '63 Highlanders were in the 2nd grade.      

The 1948 Levittown picture above is a good illustration of the building boom that within a couple of years would soon roar across the country everywhere.  For us, that Levittown picture pretty well depicts the 1953 scene in Richland Hills where we settled, as entire neighborhoods were being built on formerly open land east, along Hwy 183 toward the stop-light villages of Hurst and Euless.

Our early East Side neighborhoods were more of a hodge-podge of development encompassing both open land areas and much older neighborhoods, some of them dating to the 1920s.  Those of us who arrived new to the area in the early to mid 1950s generally moved into homes built in the strip of land between Lancaster and Meadowbrook Drive, roughly eastward from Oakland Blvd.  We also moved into new neighborhoods springing up in the Central Meadowbrook area between Oakland Blvd. and the Meadowbrook Golf Course.  Oakland Blvd. had been Ft. Worth's c.1920 eastern boundary before the line was moved further east to about Weiler Blvd. by 1937.

The building of the Meadowbrook Elementary school in 1936 reflected the need for additional classroom space by that date as well as the anticipation of future growth in that direction.  Until the new Meadowbrook Junior High was opened fall of 1954, both elementary and junior high grades were combined in the one building.  Until EHHS opened, all 9th grade graduates went to Polytechnic located to the SW, south of Lancaster.  After EHHS opened, perhaps as many as 80% of the MJH youngsters went there.

As we grew through our early elementary school years, our playmates tended to be those youngsters who lived within a few houses of our own.  For the most part, they were within a few years of our age, but mostly younger than we were.  Classes just behind ours had up to 50% more kids in them as a result of our parents enthusiastic responses to the end of WWII and their outlook as members of the conquering class was intensely optimistic.  Economic realities would set in later, but for those early years of the 1950s, it seemed that such leveling thoughts were not in the cards.

By the time we had reached our 3rd or 4th grade years, we had begun to develop better motor and mental skills.  With those developing skills, a lot of us were receptive to trying just about anything set before us.  Pretty suddenly, the little kids next door were no longer satisfying our need for more challenge and stimulation.  And as you may recall, in those days, a one-year difference in age was a huge gap.

School had begun to introduce us to sports.  Various special interest groupings such as scouts sprung from our associations with others in our classes.  We tended to gravitate to those we liked for a variety of reasons; ability, humor, and likeability, among them.  Those kinds of relationships couldn't be forced, not even by a parent's insistence. 

Girls' Sports.  Unless I'm mistaken, girls had little available to them in the way of sports beyond jump rope and ring around the rosie.  I think they did play softball and volleyball but only on all girls' teams.  For the most part, we boys paid them no mind until sometime later during 6th grade.

Boys' Sports.  Starting about 3rd grade, boys played all the sports we saw on TV and we paid strict attention to their seasons even though most any sport could be played at any time in the mild Texas climate.  Little League baseball started for us as 10-year olds at the end of our 4th grade year.  Few of us were any good at it at that point, but we put in a lot of time in sandlot games down at the school playground and in pretty short order some of us got pretty good.  A few got real good.

Organized football started at my Richland Hills schools in 6th grade when we started playing competitive touch football games against other elementary school teams; but, on the East Side and other parts of Fort Worth, kids started contact football a year or two earlier.  Those were the teams that Big Sam Scott put together along with help from Bill Hunsaker's dad and a few others.  To my knowledge, Meadowbrook Elementary did not sponsor touch football teams like the ones I encountered in Richland Hills.  In any event, those teams were a tremendous focal point for youngsters to start forming social attachments.  The kids spent a lot of time together after school learning how to play the sports.

Girl and Boy Scouts.  These "troops" tended to be formed within a single class, or perhaps others within the same grade.  To my knowledge, they didn't include kids from older or younger classes.  They formed about the same time as the first sports teams and provided a socializing activity for additional youngsters who may not have had an interest in or sufficient ability to play sports.  It wasn't unusual for some of the boys to be very active in both, sports and scouts.

Early year scouting activities tended to be formed and supervised by mothers.  When boys made the move to the older Boy Scout troops, those were supervised by fathers.

PTA. You can't overlook the influence on our childhood social interplay that our mothers introduced into the mix.  Those mothers who were free to be stay-at-home moms and were so inclined, would often involve themselves as Room Mothers and assistants.  Some of them served in those capacities all the way through our schooling.  No doubt their social interplay with one another produced a number of effects that almost certainly impacted our school lives as their children.

Although I've not found any listings of Room Mothers or of PTA members in my rummaging through old records, I do have some memory of who they were.  There is little doubt in my mind that their judgements and assessments of other kids' parents were shared amongst certain ones of them.  Gossip.  And there is little doubt in my mind that some elements of that gossip found its way into our later social life as we matured.

By the time we went into the 6th grade, we knew pretty well who we liked and who we didn't, but we may not have always known why.


1 comment:

Jim said...

Meadowbrook Elem had GRAY Y football and baseball starting in the 3rd grade. A "coach" from the YMCA would come over one afternoon a week for practice. The games were Saturday mornings at various school campuses. We had to furnish our own equipment, helmets (of any type), shoulder pads if you had them was all we played football in.