Saturday, July 25, 2015

The EHHS Social Order – 11.1 – Dating May be a Contact Sport – Part 2

Having wheels available and the charter to get on with dating was only a preliminary hurdle we had to overcome.  Now what?  Where the heck do we go and what are we going to do?  Of course, there were school sponsored dances and individual club sponsored gatherings, but they were infrequent and always seemed like an office party to me.  Why socialize with people you spend so much of your daily life with, a significant percentage of whom you scarcely know and a few that you flat don’t like? 

The house parties seem to have quickly faded as the rush to find some boy/girl friends ramped up; their function as mixers no longer serving their purpose once pairings increasingly emerged and solidified.  The time was at hand to start fogging up some car windows.

Along with the realization that we were going to need some money for expenses, came the realization that in order to make a date somewhat interesting, we were going to need to tap into some creativity.  Our 1961 East Side really lacked much variety for entertainment…a couple of drive-in movie theaters and hamburger stands.   The Gateway Theater was there but, we had been going to the Gateway movies since we were kids…these early dates needed to be something more special than the old Gateway. 

There were a couple of drive-in movie theaters but, by the time we got our hands on the steering wheels, they were showing “B” films and some of them perhaps passing for raunchy in those days.  Bowling was always there but, it wasn’t very conducive to quiet conversation and maybe some snuggling.  We weren’t yet sophisticated nor well-heeled enough to try dinner dates, although the wonderful Italian Inn stood ready on East Lancaster, should we need it.  The Italian Inn was started by Janis Smith’s (EH ‘64, if she hadn’t moved to Highland Park HS) dad, Sid and his partner, Armand Jones.  It had a terrific atmosphere for our early romantic ambitions…private booths with doors on them!  But, we weren’t yet old enough to order the Chianti. 

Now, these early dates really called for some quick o.j.t. …you know the kind, which way to tilt your head on the approach to avoid bumping noses, how to keep from clicking your teeth together…stuff like that.  Then there was the arm around her shoulders ordeal that called for struggling with some serious muscle fatigue while holding it still so as not to risk screwing something up …etc.  Of course, these were minor adjustments that once mastered, faded into fond memory. 

Since young boys/men are naturally curious creatures, once their curiosities are satisfied, their focus and inquisitiveness tends to quickly wander on.  If our girls had only known, it might have behooved them to simply accept the curious attention, secure in the knowledge that his mind would very soon shift to something else.  But no, we were all treated to that amusing female affliction…the twitching shoulder often accompanied by the forearm deflection or swat.  It was actually kind of fun to make a feint just to see her reflexive defenses deploy….sort of a Pavlovian thing.

As a bashful lad, unsure of how his own properties and features were seen by our lovely girls, my approach to the wonderful opportunity was a measured one.  Close observation of Gay and her pals at MJH had shown that when “the girls” liked someone, they tended to act like playful puppies…lots of laughs, playful punches, and in Gay’s case, an insufferable infatuation with that damned Roby.  Glenn Brandon and Charlie Rigby were favorites; so was Paul Tate and Bobby Dillard…their common threads were outgoing personalities and they were smart.  I had the smart part down pretty well but, an outgoing personality wasn’t my thing.  Recently, Girl #3 described me as an ironic wit, thoughtful, and intelligent…sounds good to me….I’ll  take it.  She also described our dates as, “egghead dates” which, well for heaven’s sake…I thought of them as sophisticated.  Hmm…they probably were sophisticated and on reflection, despite appearances to the contrary, she wasn’t…not yet. 

As Carl (’64) brilliantly observed in his Teen Canteen piece, seeing our distaff counterparts mature into increasingly serious potential romantic interests was something that snuck up on us.  Gone were the “sugar and spice and everything nice” days…and here was, well, we weren’t too sure what but, we knew we needed to find out.  The Harry Potter cast shown below as they made their same transition in public view is very illustrative of the phenomena.  Wow!

Very soon we started having to face the sad fact that a lot of our girls were going steady or otherwise engaged with someone that we may not have known or even noticed.  Not only had the ’61 and ’62 class “gulls” swooped in during our Sophomore year of wheelless purgatory, gulls from other schools had been picking them off, too!  What a miserable situation!  But, I’m told by several former classmates that taking themselves out of the game too early came back to bite them later, when they were Seniors, the older gulls had moved on, and us ’63 boys had become otherwise involved.

A light review of our CLAN mug shots from those years suggest a few things; one, our girls were probably right in looking to the gulls when they could…our ’63 crop of boys was seriously deficient in budding Redford or O’Neal prototypes and, our ’63 beauties were numerous, outnumbering the few of us devilishly handsome types by perhaps 6:1.  Doubt me?  Compare a picture of Dianne Hardin or Carolyn Almond or Cheryl Reeder as CLAN Sophomores and with most of the dozens of Sophomore boys in our class and you'll see what I mean.

Asking a girl out on a date was another psychological hurdle to overcome.  There was the direct approach, perhaps over a lunch table or in the hallway but, those were fraught with potential problems…the potential for embarrassment, having an audience for what was fundamentally an ad hoc private matter, and the risk of screwing things up with her nearby girlfriend if she were your fall-back position.  Of course, there was always that infernal telephone.

I don’t recall how I made my approaches to Girls #1 & 2 but, Girl #3 remains clear in memory…a simple, painfully brief, “ya wanna” was probably the extent of it since I didn’t have much expectation of success; she, still being the reigning goddess of the old MJH lunchroom table that had reconvened at EHHS.  But, I had a wonderful advantage…she was pinned to a table in the hallway tending to some club fund-raising activity and had nowhere to escape.  Flustered and unable to run away, she quickly looked one-way, then the other and said, “can I get back to you?”

“Sure,” I said….heck, it wasn’t a “no,” now was it?  And, she had bought herself a few moments to think it over.  This being a nothing ventured, nothing gained situation, I was neither anxious nor complacent since there was nothing to be lost in the venture!

An hour or two later came the Western Union response shown above, and Gus had effectively ended his sampling of our abundance of beautiful EHHS girls, sent Steve Means into a deep funk, and judging from some of their sporadic wistful hallway glances over the next couple of years, may have even tuned up the “Meadowbrook Ladies” a bit,.  The telephone was never again a menace…she kept saying, “Yes, I’d love to.”

Now, having bagged our 8th grade MJH lunchroom table’s unanimous choice as it’s foremost goddess, quickly came the quandary of what to do with her.  This was certainly uncharted waters and young Gus was but a pollywog in them.  Fortunately, Dad had a couple of nice, fairly new cars that he readily made available to me for the cost of the gas to run them so, I wasn’t faced with having to make do with a jalopy.  One of my recent correspondents mentioned that his banger was so rough that his sister refused to ride in it…and by extension, etc.  What other lads had to contend with, I really don’t know since we had essentially stopped sharing social intelligence with one another….this was yet another competition between us and a serious one, at that.

Finding interesting things to do on the early 1960s East Side was a challenge…there wasn’t much.  Oh sure, you had the periodic dances at school or one of the rec centers but, never having had the time to pay much attention to learning how to look cool whilst dancing, I never took time to learn or, with the sports, never really had the time…I think she was the same way as she kept her plate full with lots of extracurricular activities.  You could double-date to one of the hamburger stands, then to a drive-in movie, and grub through the movie but, I had judged the reigning goddess of the MJH/EHHS lunch table gang to be classier than that.  Although double-dates could be a great aid in keeping conversation lively, Girl #3 and I never needed any assistance with that, at least none that I recall.  

Our time in history was within an interesting period of transition in the music industry.  We were evolving from “swing” which we sort of morphed into “rock n’ roll” with “bop, bunny hops, hokey pokies, strolls,” and when Motown entered the scene, it seemed that a “new” dance was invented just to go with each new song release.  There was no way in hell I was going to keep up with all that stuff; but, close dancing remained a consistent and pleasant just got a little closer as you got a little older.

Be that as it may, a happy transformation occurred in the boys’ favor about the same time we started exercising those new drivers' licenses…we got a new supply of girls as the ‘64s came aboard for their Sophomore year.  Just by the numbers, the situation was obvious…where we had had about 150 of our ’63 girls available, the arriving ‘64s roughly doubled that number to 300!!  Once again, things were looking up.

Movies were an old standby that had been serving most communities around the country since they were invented in the early part of the century.  Since I had judged the Gateway as not “uptown” enough for Girl #3, that left the downtown Ft. Worth theaters that had been around essentially unchanged, since the very early days of downtown and for something more modern, we had the newer Ridglea theater on the West Side that usually screened first-run films.  Dallas had its own well established “theater row” on Elm St. but, I don’t recall our going that far to see a movie.  And all of those theaters were much fancier than our old East Side Gateway.
A job in the local neighborhood threw off enough to cover expenses and even enough to bump our dates a bit more "uptown"…the live stage musicals at Casa Mañana and occasionally, the Dallas State Fair Music Hall....the Egghead dates.
But, there was something else afoot during these years…the thing that most likely set in my head the notion of EHHS being an odd social culture.  Ever since starting this blog and canvassing others about their recollections, I’ve been impressed and amused by the responses from some of our top former classmates.

“An in-crowd?  Yes, definitely.”

“I was a good girl.”  (ed. note: yes, I'm sure you were.)

“I dated a lot and never paid attention to it but, yes it was there.”

“I sort of regret it.”

“Snobs”  “Snobby”

“I was a goody two-shoes.”

“I wasn’t near the level of that crowd to have any knowledge of it.”

“I left there after graduation and never looked back.”

“The Meadowbrook Ladies.”

…and a number of others responding along those lines.  Interesting that their thoughts and recollections fairly closely matched my own, which I had for nearly a half-century put off to Bible Belt religions, parochialism, and a fairly common adolescent thoughtlessness.  But, there was more to it than that.

If Carole Stallcup hadn’t erupted in the hall all those years ago, it’s very likely that I wouldn’t have had any knowledge of them…Thaelis, that is.  And it wasn’t until making some inquires in the past few years that I even knew Delphi existed.  Both of them, I think actually skewed our EH social life to some degree and I’ll tell their story after a couple of introductory pieces that must be inserted here, to better explain them.

Until then, 

Next, The Cattle and Oil Barons


Sherri said...

Gus, each of your pieces seem to get better than the last! I loved this one...reminiscing about our early and later dating patterns! Yes, I too remember the Worth, Hollywood & Palace theaters being the regular dating destinations. Unfortunately, I never had any idea or empathy about the angst that you young Cassanovas were going through until I sympathetically watched my younger brother trying to repeat the same process:)). There should have been a "How To" manual!! I so enjoyed "seeing" this process through your "guy eyes" and so hopeful no one was "permanently damaged" during our "dating days"!!:)

Many thanks for another delightful walk down Memory Lane--the next installment sounds intriguing.

Gus said...

Part of the load we young Cassanovas bore was to show no angst and certainly try to mask outward signs of our frequent bouts with severe ardor when one of you little fillies appealingly pranced by....the drool drop on the chin was a dead giveaway. As for a "How to" manual, it was probably for the best that we figure things out for ourselves otherwise today, there very well could have been many more files in that locked folder! Parents were supposed to fill that "How to" role but, c'mon...most of ours were married as children themselves and I was convinced that mine had no more clue than I did about the subject....I have no doubt whatsoever that she was the first girl he ever kissed so, really...what was the depth of their experience in these matters?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back to EHHS?!? This isn't the first time that I've run across this kind of retrospective soul-searching about the awkwardness of adolescence, and it never fails to entertain me...for awhile. Its looks like you're pretty well qualified, as an "insider", to speak of these things, Gus, but the fact that you were an "insider" left you trapped into a certain loyalty to the system that not all of us had.

You've raised some good points about the perplexities, insecurities, and twisted priorities that were thrust upon hapless sophomores and juniors by meddling adults and socially clever (but not superior) upper classmen. But you haven't yet, and may never, mention(ed) a solution to the handling of this problem that could be taken by a younger boy: One simply went out unobtrusively with girls from other schools, even as far away as Dallas.

That was a perfect way to make an end-run around the social gridlock caused by steady daters and the "might-as-well-be-married" couples and their tiresome routines, and it took you immediately away from the "fishbowl" social atmosphere at EHHS. You might be surprised at how many young women were out there on the distant city skylines looking for a date with "anyone but another football player", and age was not necessarily a factor.

Regarding the driver's license question, I agree that it was a major impediment coming out of junior high school, but you haven't mentioned anything about driver's education, which could enable a boy(or girl) to get a regular license at age 14. (If you have any question on that point you might ask Mike Grizzard).

When I was at EHHS, I tried to maintain my social prerogatives and keep the proper perspective for my adult life ahead by staying as far away as I could from two things: Mrs. Tannehill and the Thaelis Club.

That doesn't even mention R. C. Johnson, who, as much as he tried, poor fellow, could never apply as much energy to social climbing as Mrs. Tannehill, who had him beat all over the place on that score, thus relegating him to the endless boosting of football players' egos.

Football? And the Thaelis Club? God save us! Only in Texas...

One final note - I never had any ambition to go out with cheerleaders; the girls who weren't were more understanding, affectionate, and provocative.

Gus said...

Your points are well taken and largely accurate with respect to my own experience. Once in, it was difficult to consider a course that took you out again; but, I did that and settled down with a very nice GDI for the duration; so, I did manage to sample both in and out of the “fishbowl” experiences. It was actually her exclusion from the insider clutch that piqued my interest in revisiting this topic. She, along with many others, was in no way “inferior” to anyone.

Interesting that you mention the 14-year old license. I forget what my impediment was for that one…probably that Dad would have still been reluctant to turn me loose with a car at that age.

A couple of others have brought Sarah Tannehill’s name into that social fray, although I didn’t observe it first-hand. An anecdote here from you would be welcome. As “another” football player as well as a bridge player, I was included in some of her select bridge matches which I detailed in the blog. She behaved herself but, it was clear that she enjoyed hanging out with some of the players. She was also known by others as a matchmaker…of course, she wasn’t much older than we were as seniors.

Anonymous said...

You asked for an anecdote on Mrs. Tannahill but that wouldn't be possible without compromising the identity of some innocent parties.

Your use of the word "acerbic" in describing her personality was perfect, I couldn't have done better myself. I sometimes wondered if she had been a WAC drill sergeant in her earlier years, since she always addressed her students by their last names, unusual for a teacher at the time, and especially so for a female teacher.

Mrs. Tannahill was careful not to be too obvious in her role as an amateur social manipulator. There is no definite evidence from her school behavior to show that she had a direct, ongoing connection with the Thaelis club. That would more likely be something to have taken place in the adult world "off campus". But there was a strong correspondence between the girls she favored (and their male consorts) and the girls who gradually emerged to the public as Thaelis girls. She might have served as a kind of on-campus recruiter or appraiser of likely girls, acting as an arbiter of qualifications, so to speak, thus weeding out the undesirables for the benefit of Thaelis mothers out in the neighborhood who made the final decisions. Or she might have "schmoozed" with the Thaelis girls simply to give herself a feeling of social importance.

Mrs. Tannahill either liked you or she didn't...there wasn't much in-between. And the people she "liked" tended to be in the upper social and economic strata, beginning with the Eastern Hills neighborhood directly north of the school (which probably supplied many bridge players). You'd have to be a real pariah not to be "liked" by Mrs. Tannahill if you lived in that area.

If you were part of Mrs. Tannahill's in-crowd, you might reflect sometime on how being "liked" by her affected your high school career...your placement, your recognition, your prominence, etc.; even your "appropriateness" for being matched with certain girls (e.g. - Thaelis girls).

Mrs. Tannahill might have been a bridge "nut", but whether she had the intellect to be a really good bridge player herself is open to debate; I'll leave that to your judgment. But she was adroit in using bridge to "improve" the social status of some of her select charges. Bridge is considered a more genteel game than poker, and is a "mixed-company" game in its ultimate social venue. Whoever had that poker game up in Eastern Hills, and his cohorts, could be brought a long way to the country club with a little bridge education from Mrs. Tannahill, and voila! football players suddenly become charming bridge players. And soon they might even become good candidates for outfitting in formal attire for the Pink Cotillion.
Texas is really a study in contrasts, isn't it? And you're doing a good job of elucidating it.

Have you ever considered that the attention shown by Mrs. Tannahill to students in upper-income neighborhoods (and thus to their parents, of course) might have had a commercial aspect? We'll leave that to your future investigation...

Gus said...

There are a couple of ways to communicate with me privately. One, copy the email address under the “CONTACT” button on the right side of each blog page and use a direct msg.; two if the email address might compromise your ID, since nothing is published here without my publishing it, simply preface your comment with “DO NOT PUBLISH” and it won’t be published. I would like to hear more about Mrs.T’s involvement.

She was a Poly teacher for a few years before EH opened and a NTSC grad, also the Y-Teens sponsor which, I think, was the largest all-girls club on campus and I never really knew what they did.

Any idea what church she attended? I'm pretty sure church affiliation was one of the factors, if only as social aggregators.

Gus said...

It would be interesting to know if she was a Poly grad, which I also believe was a factor among the moms (their lingering HS competition perhaps). What made the EH social scene peculiar was the mingling of at least 3 distinct parent groups; North Poly to Meadowbrook; Handley; and the new arrivals to the larger homes north of the school which included me.

That area of larger homes is often singled out as a source of to the manor born notions and it may have become more so after our graduation; however, up to the time of our leaving, that neighborhood was still building out and its residents hadn't been in place long enough to get very engaged with the social swirl although I think some of them were approached for recruitment via the hosting of our younger shindigs etc. I think I wrote something about Mom accepting an invitation to co-host one of those things without consulting me first. I was aghast that the other co-hosts weren't the "cool" kids I so wanted to was already clear after such a short time in place that you had to take what charge you could of your own social destiny otherwise you could find yourself hopelessly pigeon-holed. That included not only accepting opportunities but, also rejecting them. Pretty sophisticated stuff for a 13-14 year old newcomer to digest.

As the EH neighborhood was first inhabited by a heavy concentration of WWII AAF vets, I'm convinced that what it really reflected was perhaps the first obvious manifestation of what has often been written about...that the GI Bill provided a wonderful opportunity for returning GIs earn a college education that few before WWII were able to afford. Steven Ambrose wrote eloquently about the phenomena...and, my father was one of those.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember any students from the Eastern Hills neighborhood having an inflated image of their social position, although there may have been some. Their comparative positions were inherently too secure for that, in any case, as viewed by others from a distance.

I do remember them as a scattering of individuals who blended easily with the other students as an apparent continuation of the situation at Meadowbrook Junior High. There were simply too few of them to form a cohesive group of "snobs" even if they wanted to, which they didn't. They didn't even necessarily know each other. Rather than wanting to be exclusive, they were more likely concerned about being left out of popular social circles. Their parents might have attempted to host social functions to assure that didn't happen.

As regards Thaelis, there were never more than about 5-7 Thaelis girls from that neighborhood at any time, tops. More likely to be snobbish were marginal aspirants who barely made the grade, and for whom their positions were all important and all-consuming, especially for their mothers. That's the way it always is. These would have mostly lived in "step-down" neighborhoods around the fringe of Eastern Hills.

Beyond that there was a scattering of outlying girls whose middle-class mothers were anxious to get them prepped for college sororities in hopes of getting a doctor or lawyer for a son-in-law, in the time-honored soap opera tradition. (Higher financial achievement would not have been a part of their imagination).

Gus said...

As a highly experienced critical reader, I’m fairly certain you are a new anonymous to this mostly (and understandably) anonymous conversation. Details, phrasing, and an exceptional writing skill not only gives you away but, causes me to be little jealous…I think you write better than I do.

Well, be that as it may, there’s really none of your comments with which I could quibble. As a former resident of that EH neighborhood and recalling the others living there, I recall them the same way you do. Your second paragraph recalling their properties and limitations is very accurate; your last paragraph is what I had surmised.

The third paragraph regarding aspirants raises some questions. What was the grade to be made? I’m aware of the 20-member per class limitation; that application was required; that each class was chosen by one or both of the older classes, and that apparently it started with the ’61 Class or, was it the ’60?

Anonymous said...

That last anonymous must have been a real insider himself (or herself). I guess that getting away from the neighborhood for years, and maybe away from the whole area, gives a person time to think, and reflect. Don't worry about your writing skills, Gus, I think they're extraordinary!

Gus said...

Sure would have been nice if Mrs. Priddy had been as kind…might have saved me some additional teen angst in her English classes. Never did find a way to charm that lady…even winning some writing recognition from one of the Ft. Worth newspapers didn’t turn her much
But, as a highly experienced critical reader, I feel duty-bound to suggest that it’s tough to kid a kidder…my reading receptors are screaming that the second anonymous is the same as the one before. Too bad I’m not near a gaming table, I’d like to place a bet.

And c’mon now, there weren’t any himself insiders. So, the question remains, what was the grade to be made? Further, I’ve gots a few more….

Would love to find a group photo of the 1962 and 1961 classes at their Pink Cotillions. And, if any Delphi readers check in here, I have the 1965s and no others…got any others you would mind scanning and sending in?

Anonymous said...

I guess you're saying that an insider could not have a "himself" left anymore as an individual. And haven't you been saying that Paul Tate is the one who plays the mind-games?

My interpretation of the previous anonymous is that the "grade" to be made was simply acceptance for membership in Thaelis itself. With 20 positions available, about 6-8 would be shoo-ins due to close association with existing members. That would leave about 12-14 slots available for relative newcomers, and even more would be applying, presumably. With a few exceptions, distinctions among them would be relatively small, and the competition intense. Once in, the girls who "made the grade" might be tempted to take a smug or condescending attitude toward the girls who didn't; perhaps this would be especially true amongst the mothers. It might also be true for some of the shoo-ins. That's where the hurt comes into the process.

Anonymous said...

On Delphi Club:

Delphi was established in 1961 or the spring semester of 1962, I think. It was probably composed of inherently friendlier, better quality girls who had been snubbed by the envious Thaelis (mothers). They really didn't need the support or encouragement of a service club, but had been led to think so over time. As the deadlines of college rush loomed in August of 1962, the temptation to get their "credentials" in place became too great to ignore.

I think I might have an old Tartan issue somewhere that would show the original membership.

Gus said...

On Thaelis,

Yes, I was musing that with Thaelis and Delphi having been “herself” undertakings, how could a commenting anonymous insider be a “himself”…sometimes my humor reaches a little deep to find its core. And yes, Tate played mind games…where would you think I honed my own early skills? It can be a useful tool when evenly matched where a little edge could be helpful and in some things, Tate and I were pretty evenly matched.

Since I started this inquiry in the interest of trying to understand the reason my own Girl #3 wasn’t a member and finding the quest somewhat mysterious in the manner that “insiders” tended to shy away from my questions, the focus necessarily widened to include several classes. Lacking specific conversation such as ours, experience suggested that a fact pattern could likely fill-in the blanks. And in large part it has.

Understand the competitive atmosphere and appreciate your confirmation that it was more likely a manifestation of the Moms’ ambitions for their girls than of the girls themselves although some of the girls would understandably, in a juvenile sense, be prone to amplify their prominence. There seems to have been a couple of common traits I’ve picked up from our ’63 class members and others, too; that being, most lived in newer 3-2-2 houses where the EH norm was somewhat older and smaller than that, and as a rule they tended to be fairly gregarious rather than more introverted.

And although the members tended to be lovely and smart, they weren’t necessarily the most, in either sense.

Gus said...

On Delphi,

Yes, indeed I would like to have a copy of the Tartan roster you mention. I do have a S-T clipping telling of the formation of Delphi that suggests what you’ve mentioned about its origins trailing Thaelis by a year. Other than that clipping and an EH ’65 picture of their formal group, I have really developed little about them. I find your characterization of them interesting when considering it in conjunction with the names of a few of those members I do have.

The formal pictures have been particularly valuable in assessing the groups’ ranges and in supporting another observation I’ve made about that old EHHS social scene; that being how it was skewed by differences in our treks toward social maturation. I think the skewing was largely a matter of nature’s plan but, I also think those clubs amplified our respective problems.

Anonymous said...

As someone looking in on this conversation from the "outside", I was responsible for the short "insider himself" comment, thinking that an "insider" could be someone living in the Eastern Hills neighborhood, thus able to speak toward it, but not necessarily a female or a member of Thaelis. Read his (her) comments again.
Couldn't a boyfriend or a brother of a Thaelis girl have been capable of such comments?

Looks like I muddied the waters some.

Is "Gus Highlander" a pseudonymity or an anonymity? Does it really matter? As an anonymous host of a blog site yourself, you have to be ready for all comers ... we can't have you cracking under the strain.

I think my sympathies are with Girl #3.

Anonymous said...

On Delphi again --

Could you publish the date of that Star-T article you mentioned? Sure might help to orient or find the Tartan article. It's going to be a chore, don't expect anything soon.

It looked to me, as I recall, as if Delphi was a reaction to Thaelis, like their saying "We don't need you..."

Gus said...

You're right...hadn't thought of a sibling or neighbor commenting and you're right, it really doesn't matter. No worries over my cracking...this is still kid stuff for this old war horse.

Regarding placing sympathy with Girl #3, that's a good move and you'll find me joining you there. Cheers!

Gus said...

Don't have a date on the article but, judging from those pictured there are members of all 3 classes there, '62, '63, & '64. I suspect it was Spring 1962 which would be the only Spring all of those would have been in school together....Don't know, maybe Fall 1961 might work, too.

Here's a link that goes to the existing Thaelis article; the clippings are at the end of the article.

Anonymous said...

Delphi -

That's the way I remember it. I was reluctant to say it was that late, but that's why I was thinking they were rushing to meet a deadline. (No pun intended). if you can find a Tartan issue for say, March or April of 1962, that might do it. I might have thrown mine away.

Gus said...

I'll dig around to see if I can find some scans of those TARTAN issues. The '62s have been pretty invisible...not sure if it is a struggle with the technology, lack of interest...though I think not, or just laying low.

Regarding DNP, Understand the relationships and recognize the motivations as being that of young adults seeking steps to the next level while preserving the rent money inflow. That was mostly a Handley cabal with McBee following the siren's song after a year into our EH tenure....he later returned to EH and never made any bones about seeking to raise his income. I never had much regard for him, mostly on the basis of belief that he screwed me over in football. Of course, self-assessment of athletic prowess is probably fraught with bias. On the other hand, I did leave at least one mark on the board.

Anonymous said...

The Thaelis Club didn't want its members to have too much sex appeal. That answers a lot of questions. Same true for college sororities.

Gus said...

I think that was pretty much the nature of the times those few years before "the sixties" really kicked off which I tend to place about 1965. My post EH exit to California was actually a step change in matters involving sex appeal. Stepping down to the beach the first time presented a memorable view of a young lady in a yellow bikini, flashing a bit of Joe the Plumber's typical presentation. Quietly exhaling and muttering under my breath, "well Toto, we ain't in Kansas anymore, are we?" a new local acquaintance I was with didn't get it. Pretty soon we were experiencing a loss of innocence everywhere we looked. And the sixties had begun.

Anonymous said...

In all these comments recently on your blogsite about the Thaelis club, I wonder if there's one angle that might have been overlooked.
Rather than being a "prep-school" for later college sorority membership, could a motivation for Thaelis simply have been to set up a pool of available, well-regulated girls of high school age for older college boys in the area to tap into for dates? Suppose there were a number of college boys fooling around on the local campuses and they couldn't manage to get dates with college girls their own age or didn't want to bother trying. These might have been visualized by Thaelis mothers as prize candidates for future sons-in-law. If the daughters could get linked up with these boys "romantically", then the girls (and their families) could avoid the expense and the mental-strain of attending college themselves, and especially the extra expense of a college sorority. They would be a kind of "junior-league" sorority at the high school level, accomplishing the same goals as their older "sisters" on campus.

The natural consequence of this would be the older boys coming back to the high school campus (socially speaking) like vacuum cleaners and scooping the girls away from the high school boys. These boys could be portrayed as "older and more mature" (mature boys who couldn't get their own dates). Mrs. Tannahill could have gotten a commission on this.

I was looking at another part of your blogsite which shows the various "cotillion" pictures, particularly the one of 1963. Out of a total of seventeen boys, I counted only four who were actually students of EHHS at the time (and of those four, three were members of Mrs. Tannahill's bridge club).

I suppose if a marriage were to result from this institutional matchmaking, Mrs. Tannahill could be relied upon to find an appropriate Eastside apartment for the young couple. If a divorce between parents were to result from the financial and emotional strain of Eastside social climbing, in association with Thaelis, etc, Mrs. Tannahill could also find an apartment to put up the affected party or parties.

Gus said...

That’s an interesting angle and may have some merit. It was a thought I had some months ago but, have somewhat retreated from its fully developed proposition. As I’ve mentioned a few times through the blog, those times were changing rapidly and were influenced not only by the, then present circumstances, but by the recent immediate past going back to pre-WWII.

For the most part, our parents grew up in difficult circumstances…a Depression childhood and WWII as young adults. A small percentage of them had gone to college and a much smaller percentage earned a degree; so, college must have been a significant goal and mystery to those without having had the experience. A chance for their offspring to move the family up to another level must have been a beguiling prospect for many of them.

From my own memories of college greek life, high school girls were not held in particularly high esteem as dates but, they were always available if a weekend date with one of the sorority girls fell through. The problem was not so much with the younger girls but, rather the appearance that you were unable to hold your own in a more mature environment. And there was a large gap in relative maturities across those few years.

However, in the 1963 & 64 Thaelis Cotillion dances, there were only 20% or less of the male dates that were from the same class as the girls; the rest were older and/or from other schools. That gives some support to your thought. My earlier thought was that these clubs were selected as you suggested, as a pool for pre-screened dates for other area functions.

It was known within Braniff ranks that some of their young ladies were available to accompany some of the older Dallas movers to NYC functions. Something about the 30-year age gap being significantly nullified by the availability of private jets, wardrobes, and big houses. A quick scan of Fort Worth’s own “7th Street Gang” picture could easily give rise to similar thoughts for Cowtown’s own movers. Add-in Paschal and AHHS and that’s a pretty substantial and recurring supply of prospects.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to expand a little on my comment just left.

When I said college boys "fooling around on the local campuses" I meant just that. I'm not convinced that even a majority of EHHS boys who matriculated at local college campuses had any clear idea of where they were going in life. College was simply "the next step". And I wasn't talking about serious-minded fraternity boys (if that's not a contradiction in terms) who where immersed in campus life and in close contact with their cohorts. or even about fraternity boys at all. What I had in mind were not very serious-minded boys who were attending Arlington State, TWC, or North Texas State on an occasional or commuter basis and more or less free to handle their social lives as they pleased without close observation by others.

I know that there was considerable transferring around in the area by students who were experimenting with their new college life. If they were having trouble at Arlington State, they could transfer to TWC, or North Texas, or vice versa. I'm not talking about regular fraternity boys at TCU or SMU. I'm not necessarily even talking about regularly-enrolled college boys. I don't think the typical Thaelis mother had any clue as to what was really going on there. The whole area was beginning to liberalize in its mobility and anonymity, a lot of that having to do with the building of new apartments. Just about any boy of the appropriate age could represent himself as a "college boy".

Impressionable high school girls were sitting ducks in the process. If they had been impressed with older boys as sophomores (or junior
high school freshmen) just because the boys were driving cars or were "on the football team", then they would be impressed as juniors or seniors with older boys who were in the mysterious world beyond, presumably doing something at college.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking at some of your memories of social travails at Eastern Hills as expressed on your blogsite here in recent months. Not being part of the Meadowbrook Methodist popularity parade, looks like you just lost out, Gus!

Anonymous said...

It strikes me that this Thaelis Club you've been talking about might have been maintained as a harem for football players. Could that have been encouraged by Principal Roy Johnson? Didn't he have some tendencies in that direction himself?

Gus said...

11:40 Anonymous - Given that those clubs had earlier models in place at Poly, AHHS, and PHS, a similar thought crossed my mind some time ago. I was wondering about the good old boys downtown as potential beneficiaries rather than the local boys who were usually settled in with their own girlfriends. However, recollections of the girls I knew well, their family circumstances, and based on information I've subsequently gathered...I would say, EMPHATICALLY, NO.

Gus said...

6:53 Anonymous - Looks that way. The sheer numbers of our classmates who were Methodists and Baptists would have certainly curtailed earlier life socializing opportunities. I was neither of those.

Gus said...

8:28 Anonymous - I think your points are right on target. Although I left the area for college and had no local social experience after EH, away at college, in a fraternity, and immersed in the ongoing party scene there, we did arrange our own dates from on campus chats or, if unsuccessful there, the frat house always had a book of available dates for an evening party that you could call at the last minute. And there were some mixers.

Blind dates could be good or otherwise and sometimes included a girl from a local high school. Interestingly, after only a partial year away from high school you could readily tell a significant difference in maturity...the college girls were revving up on their way to growing up. Didn't notice much difference between sorority girls and Independents in that regard...

There's no doubt that the girls at that age always had their sights set on older guys with nice cars and more.