Monday, December 09, 2013

The EHHS Social Order – 8.0 – Meadowbrook 8th & 9th Grades

Since I moved to the Meadowbrook area at the start of this 8th grade year, I had no idea how the social pecking orders had settled out there the year before.  However, if Meadowbrook was anything like my 7th grade year at Richland, the end of that 7th year left us with a moderate feeling of detachment.  In some instances old friends had somewhat faded and new ones had replaced them but, gone were the long-standing familiar and comfortable ways of our elementary school years.  We were now through puberty and ready for the next chapter and, what to do with it !

The comfort of our small elementary school classes behind us, and the much more raucous first year of Junior High fresh in our minds, for me 8th was just stacking up to be another 7th with the same kind of kids with whom we had not yet settled into our places in the pecking order.  So, how difficult could it be to do 8th grade in a new school—well, it wasn’t.  However, in retrospect, it helped that I still wanted to play football for, on those dusty fields were other boys with similar aspirations.  And at Meadowbrook that 8th grade year they would turn out to be a remarkable group of boys that would later achieve at very high levels at EHHS.  I’ve been told by younger class members that they were known locally as the “Rat Pack.”  More on them later.

Spending after school hours each fall, standing around watching, shooting the breeze, and playing football was a very effective integrating activity.  There you could quickly size up who was good, who was not so good, who was intelligent, funny, quick, slow, and just about every other human trait one might notice. 

Unquestionably, slots in our male pecking order were substantially sorted out then.  And, as a newcomer with no particular outstanding traits, my place in the sorting was muddled at best but, not entirely excluded by what would turn out to be a fairly exclusive group of strong willed youngsters.  They were curious about me, I suppose.

The composite photo above is taken from the team picture at the beginning of this article and shows my recollection of who made up the Meadowbrook boys’ in-crowd.  There were others in school that held adjunct positions with that group but, they were not (football) athletes like this bunch.  Tom Koebernick, Steve Means, Mike Cooper, and Paul Tate had been classmates since the 1st grade at Meadowbrook Elementary in 1951.  Danny McCoy and Larry Guthrie had been classmates and pals since their first grade year at Poly Elementary.  Those two joined this MJH gang in the 8th grade, like me.  Sam Scott, Kendall McCook, and Bob Dillard had joined the Meadowbrook gang about the 5th or 6th grade.  I think Paul Shields and Glen Brandon were relatively late arrivals, too.  Adjunct members I recall were Bob Larmer and Charlie Rigby.

Between them, this group earned about 9 or 10 EHHS football letters and several more in baseball, basketball, track, and tennis.  They played on 2 city championship football teams, 9th and 12th grades, and 4 of them were recognized as all-city players.  They weren’t academic slouches either.  Paul Tate was our top ranking scholar at EHHS, and 6 others were EH honors graduates.  They were lively, smart, and possessed pretty powerful personalities which probably made it difficult for others to join in with them.

Some pretty good visual clues to how the MJH cliques were (or had) formed can be readily seen in the Stars Over Meadowbrook programs and pictures shown in the blog article elsewhere.  As I recall it, there was a great excitement each Spring to organize acts for the program and both the rehearsals and stage preparations provided plenty of after-school time for those social interactions to strengthen relationships.  In my case it was the fortunate happenstance that each year’s program featured a gag act employing a number of members of the football teams who basically had no talent whatsoever but, could be counted on to show up, have a good time, and tease the girls. 
On the distaff side of the MJH in-crowd were, of course, our cheerleaders, Gay, Julie, and Celia along with their entourage, Kay Humphrey, Sharron Ballem, Candy Woodward, Carole Stallcup, Carolyn Marcotte, and maybe a few others.  As a newcomer, it wasn’t clear to me just how the social connections had been made nor on what commonalities they were based but, it was clear that connections already existed by the time I joined the class.

The Stars Over Meadowbrook programs provided a lot of jobs for probably all the kids having an interest in participating.  Besides the stage acts, there were announcers, stage hands, choirs, music, directors, and such.  Two of the memorable ’63 girls’ cliques (in my mind) are the girls shown in the pictures above.  I think they stayed close all the way through EHHS a few years later and several of them are still friends involved in getting our class reunions organized.  Those long-standing friendships are quite a substantial track record !

See part 8.1 next 


Anonymous said...

Our grandchildren are still amazed that there were no minorities in the public schools that we attended. I do remember that we were issued an Athletic ID Card which allowed us free admission to the FWISD football games. It saved us the admission fee of 35 cents at Farrington Field.
Kendall McCook insisted on going to several of the other Ft Worth games. When we went, we thought it was safer to sit on the Dunbar side. We quickly learned to root for our new stadium friends. I still remember the main cheer: Dunbar, Dunbar - Get That Ball - Dunbar Dunbar - You'll Go Far !
We will never know if our championship team could have beaten the teams from the other side of the tracks.
Ironically, several years later when Kendall was teaching at Dunbar, he met his sweet wife-to-be, Ginny who was also a teacher. So at least Kendall won.

Gus said...

Well, I happen to recall one of those trips with Kendall & Co. to Farrington Field. Felt only mildly uncomfortable but, clearly recall it as being probably my first experience as a minority...and what a culture shock.

You're very correct to note minding which team you cheered for was a sensible thing to do. I recall Gene Autry Moore being the star running back that evening because the PA bellowed his name almost constantly that evening. There were big cheerleader squads dancing in a big circle, pom-poms flying, and at halftime some unfortunate guy being run down in the end zone by about 15 others, his gut cut open and hauled off in an ambulance. I think we were a little less boisterous the second half.

Don't recall attending another game quite like that one. The school described in these pages was essentially gone by 1968 or 1969.