Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick and Treat

James, my FB avitar is reminiscent of the last time that crew, we've had fun recalling, went out trick or treating.  The crew's composition varied a little but, nearly always included Tate and Dillard who were also the chief instigators of whatever mischief we got into.

We’re out, probably Halloween 1959 or 1960, 15/16 years old, raising hell around the neighborhoods in Cooper’s old Chevy when Tate or Dillard spot some tykes crossing a lawn, their bags stuffed with their loot.  Don’t recall who yelled out the suggestion…but, the call to mischief went something like, “Let’s trick or treat those kids”

Coop locked the brakes and 5 or 6 pre-juvenile delinquents jumped out of the Chevy, arms waving, yelling, “Trick or Treat.”  Now, if you recall that crew, they were all large lads, by this time at or past 6’ tall, most of them football players.

Those poor little tykes didn’t hesitate an instant…they dropped their loot bags and ran for the hills!  Of course, that left a lot of loot on the ground and saved the trouble of having to find a sheet to throw over a 6’ frame and suffer the adults’ admonitions of our being too old for trick or treating.

I hope we left most of that loot where it fell, although it’s likely, given that crew’s composition, some of it was picked up and taken away.  Always felt kind of bad about that one on account of the kids’ reactions being so instantaneous and unexpected. 
But it was the girls’ fault, of course.  They hadn’t invited any of us to a Halloween party, thus taking us off the streets; nope, this was the year they discovered the enchantment of older men….Juniors and Seniors with drivers’ licenses that none of us, except Coop had.  I’ll deal with that phenomena in the next blog piece or two.

This piece generated a funny exchange in Facebook.....

A.B. - So let me get this straight. You're admitting to strong arm robbery for candy? 

Gus - Gee, I guess you could call it that...always thought of it as an instantaneous misunderstanding...I expected a little argument, not complete surrender and rapid retreat. Hope the statute of limitations has run out.

A.B. - I think you're safe. Murder is the only thing that I can think of that would extend to 50+ years on the statute of limitations.

L.C. - Ya'll are hysterical !!!!             I was one of those robbed & running...
            So not all the girls were at that Halloween party!!!
            You have to be kidding!... 6' tall bulked football players "afraid" of knocking on doors for their own candy for fear of being mistaken as adults?!!!
            Well ... On second thought maybe The Steal was The Thrill !!!             Happy Halloween!!! Now give my candy back!!!

A.B. - You're not likely to get the candy back and even if you did, you probably wouldn't want to eat it after all of this time. Tell me, was that your first mugging?

L.C. - Yes just one mugging...but it was back in the old days of less crime!!! Lol

J.F. - The group (or gang might be appropriate) Gus is talking about was an incredibly eccentric, intellectually brilliant, and funny bunch of teenagers. EHHS early '60's was a gold mine of such folks.

Gus - Now L.C., I'm pretty sure you're funnin' me were a larger kid by then than the ones Tate and Dillard mugged, thus acquiring a nice Trick or Treat haul without all the work. Besides, since none of this crew was disguised that night so, you would have recognized us and most likely not been inclined to take off running. This was also the evening of papering the trees at selected homes, egging, and whatever other miscellaneous mischief we could stir up. Usually a midnight tour of Rose Hill was on the schedule. So, you see there was a lot to do. Topping it all off were cokes and fries at the Lancaster St. drive-in where other unattached revelers tended to wind down. If we were lucky, some of the Poly Chain Gang remnants were there also...and, if we were really lucky, so was Brandon, Sam, and a few others who knew how to fight...something none of us really perfected. That probably goes to the relatively elevated intelligence James suggests; that being, we likely understood there was little upside to be enjoyed from a fight and there could be some significant downside such as unnecessary discomfort. Can you believe it...there were no alcoholic spirits involved in any of these tours and I don't recall any smoking, either. Of course for some of them, that would come later.

Gus - James,'s nice to have 3rd party confirmation of what I recall about that gang of semi-delinquents. Otherwise, I might feel odd recalling them and the times as fondly as I do.

J.F. - That was my thought, Gus. You do need backup confirmation when you tell some of the tales of this group. Unbelievable stuff to many people. For example, one time when on a river camping trip to the Brazos River that included a few females who had the b...well, you know, to be there, Guthrie comes back to campsite from the river barefooted and wearing only soaking wet jeans, no shirt. Everybody else is sitting around in a group talking. Then, it was slowly noticed by everybody that Guthrie's crotch is larger than usual and is jumping around in an odd looking way. He had caught some kind of fish and put it in his underwear just for the laugh. And, it was so funny to all of us. Of course, the gals were the first to notice and freaked out, calling him all kinds of names. Guthrie acted the whole time like he has no clue what they're talking about.

Gus - One of my old classmates figured me out on the basis of humor. It was down to a choice between me or Guthrie. The tie-breaker was that my humor in his memory tended to be subtle where Guthrie was laugh out loud funny. He and McCoy had been classmates apart from all the rest of that MJH gang as they matriculated through Poly Ele together since 1st grade. By the time they joined us at MJH, they had their duet finely honed over a period of 6-years or so...then, we stirred in Dillard and Tate and McCook, et al.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Future Portent

Fifty-four years ago the 1960 Meadowbrook Awards were awarded to Steve Means, Mike Grizzard, Joe Dickerson, Susan Begley, and Sherry Balthrop. The Meadowbrook Award recognized 5 students whose grades were in the top 5% of their 9th grade class (of 220 prox) and who received the highest number of votes from ballots cast by the faculty.

Sherry went to Fort Worth Christian Academy while the other 4 all graduated magna cum laude with the 63 Highlanders. Steve became a successful Dallas commercial real estate developer, Joe and Mike became doctors, and Susan became an artist. That 1960 faculty vote was a pretty good predictor of future potential.

(Gus note:  This article was one of the first published to the blog in 2006.  It has taken 8-years to locate a good photo of this rare award.  Two of our '63s were unable to locate theirs, one has gone on to Buffalo heaven, another hasn't been in touch, and the fifth went to FWCA and no clue after that.  Thanks to our fine EHHS Class of 1964 and Nancy O, one of her Buffalo Class of 1961 recipients. for the's been stored away on a charm bracelet for a long time.) 

The  1961 Meadowbrook Awards (EHHS Class of 1964) went to David Tracy, Nancy O'Neill, Carl Johnson, Carolyn Mitchell, and Barbara Isham.  At EHHS graduation one of these students graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors, three with Magna Cum Laude honors, and one Cum Laude.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Homecoming Mums

Danny McCoy remembers…..

I guess we all did not realize that a Mum was a Texas thing.

Upon October's arrival, once again there will be High School Homecomings all across the United States. We did not know it at the time, but Texas had added a tradition that we natives simply have taken for granted. If you still do not believe in Global Warming or that mums are not just a Texas tradition, just asked a friend or a co-worker who went to a non-Texas high school for their opinion.

Mums first became part of the Texas Friday Night Lights Football scene in the early 1950s.  The chrysanthemums prime growing season is October and November. Thus, the florists defaulted and promoted chrysanthemums corsages for high school boys to impress their dates and the young ladies who would wear them to the Homecoming game and dance. In the early 1960s Homecoming corsages were bundled with ribbons featuring the schools colors, glittered letters and/or mascots.

Gradually, the size of the mums became competitive and expensive. They became large badges of honor with ribbons long enough and ready to be tripped over. Some teenage ladies started to walk the school halls early to show off their mums in a not-so-subtle-way to demonstrate that they not only had a date for Homecoming, but her beau spent a hunk of money on her. It was very intimidating for the girls who did not have a date and for the boys who had not yet purchased their obligatory mum.

The price of today’s mums can easily start at over $100. And of course everything is still BIGGER in Texas. Mums have now morphed into a proud statement featuring flashing lights, musical sounds on modules/chips and a bevy of tiny teddy bears. A mum may not be on your shopping list, but this season take time to check out the florists displays.

When Linda and I started dating in high school, our sweetheart status provided some instant benefits. I no longer had to worry about being turned down on date requests and there was no anxiety for Linda on waiting for invites to important events such as Proms and Homecomings. So for her first High School Homecoming I ordered her a nice mum from Gordon Boswell.

And those of you who really know me, it did not stop there. A family church friend, Mrs. Plumlee, whose daughter, Linda, would later be one of our flower girls at our wedding, was known for her skills in making tissue flowers. These handcrafted artificial flowers looked like the Real McCoy. So I contracted with Mrs. Plumlee to make a custom mum for me. She agreed as long as I provided the supplies. So I purchased a quad-ply premium box of Kleenex and dyed a few chenille stems (pipe cleaners) in royal blue (Eastern Hills colors).  Mrs. Plumlee shaped them into E H, arranged the tissue into a beautiful flower, added some glitter and perfume to fashion a perfect mum. From a yard away you could not see the difference.

Linda’s dad greeted me and I noticed with delight when entered the room that Linda was wearing a strapless dress. If her parents were not around, I know I could have managed to pin on the corsage. I must have paused too long.  Linda’s mom intervened and said: “Let me help you with that?” She then opened the box and continued: “Oh, Danny this is very nice. Did you make it yourself?”  My future father-in-law then gave me a disappointed glance.

It was at this time that I realized I had not fully thought this ruse through. I had assumed that they would all recognize that this was a joke and I would go back to the car, laughing all the way, to retrieve the real flowers.  But before I could internally debate my next action, the Kleenex Mum was pinned and we were ushered out the door. I could not believe she was wearing it!

As we headed to Farrington Field, I was a bit agitated. How could she possibly think that I would buy her a fake flower! In the stadium stand, it only got worse. My buddies taunted: “Hey, I think I am getting a cold. Does anybody have any Kleenex?”
After the game we headed to the Homecoming Dance. We paused in the parking lot. I reached under the seat and pulled out the Gordon Boswell mum. It was still in great shape. I meekly offered it, mumbled a lame excuse so that she could wear it to the dance. As she exited the car, she politely said: “No, I prefer this one.” 

Since then I have always liked a girl with SPUNK!  For several years both mums hung on her bedroom wall in a place of honor. But the one made out of Kleenex lasted the longest.

...even at Junior High....