Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The EHHS Social Order – 8.1 – Handley Junior High 8th & 9th Grades

Back in the day, as today’s cliché goes, Handley and Meadowbrook Junior High Schools (No kiddies, they weren’t called Middle Schools then) were located about 5-miles apart, roughly along Meadowbrook Drive, as they still are today. 

There was some interplay between the two communities but, in my experience, not much.  That interplay tended to be centered at the local churches and for the kids, summer sports.  As a relatively late arrival to the EH community, I had essentially no knowledge of the Handley contingent of my future Highlander classmates.  All I recall of Handley JH was that each of my 2 falls at Meadowbrook we met their football team on a local field I scarcely remember…I think it was the old Handley HS field. 

Thanks to a loan of a 1960 Handley JH yearbook, and absent an essay from one of my Handley EH classmates, I’ll have a swing at describing what I think was going on at Handley during these grades.  However, I have no idea how the personal connections with one another might have been. 

The East Side Social Order was really a mixed bag of families from the fairly prosperous to those barely getting by.  Conversations with others have persuaded me that the EH and earlier social order was not entirely our own doing…it was also our parents doing some sorting of their own.  More on that later; for now, I’ll just make the statement that Meadowbrook people were seen as snobs by Poly people and Meadowbrook people tended to look down on Handley people but, not necessarily on Poly people. 

The reasons for that appear to be fairly subtle…Meadowbrook was actually a newer NE extension of the much older Poly area.  Graduates of MJH all went on to Poly until EHHS opened in 1959 and then took about 60% or more of the MJH students.  Handley, on the other hand, was an area about as old as Poly that had existed for decades as a distinctly separate community situated along the old Dallas Pike, complete with its own Handley High School.  When EHHS opened, it entirely absorbed HHS, leaving HJH in the same building with most of the same faculty.

The pictures that follow are from the 1960 HJH yearbook and show our Handley counterparts in the 9th grade just before we joined with them at EHHS, fall of 1960.  What I see in these pictures contradicts the notion I’ve been told, that Handley was an inferior school to Meadowbrook or, at least it was seen as such in the eyes of some of our parents.  For instance, the well-known Morris clan patriarch refused to put his boys through Handley on the belief that Handley was inferior; this, even though his family lived in the Handley school zone. 

MJH was a much newer school, having opened fall 1954, where our Handley counterparts had the advantage of attending a much older, much more established school with a seasoned faculty.  Observing the 1959 HHS reunion preparations and communications a few years ago, I was impressed with how well they had done in life and how complimentary they were of their school and teachers.  It was the 50th reunion of HHS’ last graduating class. 

The pictures illustrate a range of activities and recognitions that go well beyond what we had at MJH.  They were obviously the beneficiaries of a continuation of the long established HHS traditions and practices.  For one important thing, they had a yearbook, where MJH didn’t.  Pay attention too, to the color pictures used as section dividers.  They are remarkably clear, color reflections of small bits of our life then, which are seldom found in color and in this fine condition.  Thanks, Lynda !  If we were too tough on you guys, Gus apologizes.

I wondered how Suzanne and Dianah could displace our Meadowbrook cheerleaders when we convened as Sophomores or, where the popular and very quiet Roy got his support at EH.  But, these pages show that they were pretty much Mr. and Miss everything at Handley where, at Meadowbrook we might have been somewhat more diluted in our loyalties.  Anyway, this bunch comported themselves very well indeed, at EHHS.

Handley's smarties, yearbook and newspaper staffs.

 O.K., there you are, Pups !


Anonymous said...

Great photos. We continue to look forward to your forensic research.

Gus said...

I've had these for some months waiting for a logical place to post them. Why don't you kick Wadell or Vandiver, or Hoffman, or Barton in the tail and get them to pitch something into this?

Gus said...

BTW, your McCook piece is coming up soon.

Sherri Sledge Pulliam said...

Interesting to read that the Meadowbrook group "looked down" on us Handleyites:-). We certainly didn't "look down" on the MJH group (nor did we "look up to them"). We were too busy having fun "taking over the High School" after all the High Schoolers left for EHHS and we got the run of the entire school building. I don't really remember thinking too much about the MJHers!
I really enjoyed the pictures (I still have all of my Junior High yearbooks) and your research on this, Gus. Thanks for posting.

Gus said...

I think the up/down stuff was more of a parent thing which may have been reflected by some of our peers. Like you Handleyites, MJH kids didn't think much about HJH except for that football game.

MJH was a real stew of social positioning that I'm sure I don't understand completely but, there were factions even within the MJH school zone that snubbed others in their zone. Some of that came from the Poly direction and other friction sources were based on which side of Oakland you lived; and the newer, larger neighborhood north of EH that started opening up in 1953 caused its own stir, both within the MJH zone and Poly.

I'll be doing a piece on the various housing situations soon, which I'm fairly certain contributed quite a bit to our notions of "class" in those days. I've detected some very subtle vibes in communications with others that have enabled making some (probably) reasonable assumptions.