Saturday, July 31, 2010

Toll Road – DFW Turnpike


We called it the Toll Road at our house and when it opened in 1957, it really shortened the time it took to go into either Ft. Worth or Dallas. I was driving it when I was 13 or 14, with the parents in the car of course. There was a Howard Johnson’s service center about mid-way to Dallas, near the Arlington turnoff, Hwy 360 (HJ is the wide area at left in the 1957 picture above--the view is west toward Ft. Worth). Mom loved their fried clams and I think they were on a special on Wednesdays, so we ate out there frequently. For me, it was an opportunity to drive in a relatively safe environment…there was very little traffic in those early days on the Toll Road. It took us maybe 10-15 minutes to drive out there.

The nearest crossing is Hwy 360 (Watson Rd.) and the next crossing to the west is Hwy 157 (Collins Rd.). On the left (south) side adjacent to Toll Road just this side of Collins is where the ball park sits today. Six Flags was also built on the left (south) side of the Toll Road just on the other side (west) of Hwy 360. Going right (north) on Hwy 360 in this picture would take you to the west side of Greater Southwest Airport. Today that same road would take you into the south entrance of DFW. To the left a short distance on 360 is UT-Arlington. It goes without saying that everything in sight in this picture is completely built out today and has been for years.

A deal had been cut to get the road built and the deal was that once it was paid for by the tolls, the tolls would be dropped and the road turned over to the State. That day came in early 1978 and despite a spirited opposition put up by entrenched factions of the Turnpike Authority citing the need to keep their professional cadre of toll road experts together for future use, the toll booths came down as scheduled. It took just over 20-years to pay off the construction costs.
The 1965 map below shows the DFW area as it was just as we left EHHS for whatever life had in store for us. Current maps are readily available online if you want to compare with later development throughout the next 40-years. This site has a fine collection of HQ scans of old DFW area maps and other Texas cites. If the link fails, try enclosing the following terms in quotes and Google: Old Road Maps of Texas


Friday, July 30, 2010

Early DFW Maps

These 2 maps illustrate the DFW infrastructure in 1913 and in 1954. In the intervening 41-years the Dixie Highway followed by US 80 was built and the Interurban ended its service.

The 1954 DFW map shows the new SH 183 and a fair amount of the secondary roads that existed between the cities. This was the oldest map I’ve found showing the entire DFW area. Other maps dated 1950 and 1942 were separate pages for each city, indicating to me that there simply wasn’t enough of substance between the cities to warrant including the detail on a combined map.

My own recollections as a young boy in 1954 are that there were mostly wide open spaces between the cities and also between the 2 highways, 80 & 183. Later maps are readily available at various specialized websites which would show the area filling in. However, this 1954 map illustrates about the last year a map could be drawn still showing so much open space between Dallas and Ft. Worth.

In the 1920s to the 1940s you would have used either US 80 or a series of country roads to drive between the cities. Note that Lake Arlington does not show on the 1954 map as it wasn’t filled until 1957. Our trips to the grandmothers’ houses were taken on SH 183 to Loop 12 to Buckner and down to White Rock; or, down Harry Hines right through the center of Dallas on Commerce and out Grand Ave. to Garland Rd.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Old Highways - Learning to Drive

In doing the reading about the old DFW Interurban rail line for the previous piece, I ran across a number of opportunities to answer some long unanswered questions about roads and highways around the DFW area that I recalled from childhood. My road memories predate the D-FW Turnpike, I-820, LBJ, the Airport Freeway, and all the Interstate Highway system.

After WWII Air Corps service and further service during the Korean War, Dad bought his first house east of Ft. Worth just off Hwy 183. A few years later, he built his move up house near EHHS. My grandmothers, both widows, lived in Dallas; one in Oak Cliff and the other near White Rock Lake. Many of our Sundays in the 1950s were spent visiting one or both of the grandmothers, so I had plenty of road time on the old highways at an early age.

Two uncles lived in Corpus Christi and since that meant a free place to stay when we wanted a beach vacation on Padre Island, we made that long trip numerous times before the Interstates were built. I recall seeing old sections of abandoned highway pavement running beside the existing roadways and often wondering about them. Dad’s answers were always clipped and none too informative. I don’t think he knew much about the old roads himself…in his Depression-era childhood there wasn’t much money for elective motoring.

The old roadways shown above are very similar to the abandoned bits of pavement I recall seeing as a boy. One of my first cross country trips as a new driver was on the highway west to Weatherford about 1961, which was then still one of the original brick roads, like the left one above…and rough as a cob—I remember it well. Most of the remnants of the later concrete pavement, I recall seeing in the Meadowbrook-Handley area along Hwy 80.

Like the Interurban, the old highways were put down and obsolete before our time. What we saw was the post-WWII transition from the early 2-lane U.S. highway system to 4-lane divided highways, which then gave way to the Interstate limited access system we’ve been using since the 1960s. All those highway right of ways essentially used the same routes originally laid down starting about 1915. The 1957 Turnpike was an exception as it was laid down on an entirely new right-of-way. Both the Turnpike and 183 were huge improvements over our old Hwy 80, and effectively replaced the old Dallas-Ft. Worth Pike.

The maps below show the first 2 iterations of the highway (Hwy 80/East Lancaster) that passed through our Eastside neighborhood. The first route was called the Dixie Overland Highway and dated to 1915-1927. It was privately funded. Starting about 1926, the Dixie Highway was made a part of the U.S. highway system and renamed U.S. 80.

I think TX 183, today's Airport Freeway, was the earliest 4-lane divided highway built between Ft. Worth and Dallas and the first new highway built to augment U.S. 80 between the two cities. I remember riding my bike alongside it in the mid-fifties and it was a 4-lane divided highway then. A few years later, after getting my drivers license in 1961, I recall driving to Dallas on 183 and it being a nice, quiet country drive. This was before Cowboy Stadium, DFW Airport, or much of anything else was built beside it. I’m sure there was a turnoff to Arlington somewhere out there, but until reaching Loop 12, there just wasn’t much traffic.

“Old Highway 80” as my dad called it, was a different story. Since it had been in service for about 40-years when we attended EHHS, a lot of commercial building had taken root along its path through Arlington and Grand Prairie. I drove to Dallas on 80 a few times and recall it as a slow, stop and go effort dotted with a lot of stop lights. I also recall seeing a lot of 1930s vintage gas stations.

Believe it or not, I really learned to drive when I was 13 or 14. Dad’s new house wasn’t quite ready when school at Meadowbrook started, but he wanted me to start the year there, so he rode shotgun while I drove the 2-lane back roads through the Trinity River bottoms between NE Ft. Worth and Meadowbrook. There was nothing out there then, so the roads were very quiet. It was there that I got about 30-minutes of driving time each morning and learned to keep the car going straight. By the time I was 16, I had quite a bit of time behind the wheel…imagine trying to do that today!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Handley & the Interurban

In 1900 the Ft. Worth population was 27,000, Dallas – 43,000.

In 1930 the Ft. Worth population was 164,000, Dallas – 260,000 (+500%)

I’m not sure I knew in ’63 there had been an Interurban rail line that ran through Handley, but until doing a little study for this piece I really never knew what an Interurban was. The Ft. Worth – Dallas line started in 1902 and shut down in 1934—well before our time. If any of our parents recalled it, it would have been from their childhood.

It was a 29-mile electric line that whisked passengers along at 5-mph during its early days, but had upped the speed to about 65-mph by the 1920’s. The Handley power station out by Lake Arlington was initially built to feed the power needs of the rail line, not in its present configuration of large generating units, of course, but the 2 older, small units at the north end of the power block might have been used for the rail line. They’re no longer running.

Highway 80, or East Lancaster as we knew it in our neighborhood, started out as a portion of the Dixie Highway that ran from Los Angeles to Savannah. The Dixie Highway was constructed over a period of years from 1915 – 1927. The Interurban predated the highway by a couple of decades and no doubt was the principal means of transportation between Dallas and Ft. Worth.

The picture collage above shows some net grabs of the Handley-Ft. Worth area involving the Interurban. The park was built by the traction company as a tourist attraction at its Lake Erie which was later made a part of Lake Arlington at the northern end. Lake Erie was initially built to provide cooling water for the power station condensers.

The picture below shows a restored Handley business district as it likely looked before automobiles whizzed by.

All Aboard

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ft. Worth 4A-5 High Schools

When we walked through the doors of EHHS for the first time, each of us formed our own impressions of the place. For most of us, that was the fall of 1960, EHHS’ second year. Since the school was so new, there really wasn’t any history or traditions for us to absorb. There was a bit of an informal traditions carryover from Handley and Poly High Schools where much of the faculty and staff had previously taught or had attended themselves. Our football coaching staff was two-thirds Poly grads and I think about half or more of the faculty came from Handley HS.

Through some of our older siblings we knew something of Handley or Poly while others of us came from long-term resident families of the area whose parents had also been Handley or Poly graduates. And still others of us were relative newcomers to the area as we moved into the newly built neighborhoods of the late 1950’s that surrounded the then new EHHS.

Most of the c.1963 (white) Ft. Worth high schools made up the Texas UIL District 4A-5. There was no 5A classification in those days and there were sixteen 4A districts that were made up of about 110-120 of Texas’ largest high schools. Poly had an established and distinguished Ft. Worth history by 1960. Handley High School, which was replaced by EHHS, had been a traditional 3A school. In my mind, HHS had a greater influence on the early EHHS than Poly. A significant percentage of Meadowbrook Jr. High students went to Poly when they left for high school.

After spending its first year, 1959-60, in 3A, EHHS joined the big boys, 4A-5, in the fall of 1960. At that time, 4A-5 consisted of Arlington Heights, Paschal, Technical, Carter-Riverside, North Side, Polytechnic, and Eastern Hills—all of them, except EHHS, were long-established schools within the Ft. Worth area; the newest of them dating to about 1937.

This piece started with a curiosity about the gracious old Meadowbrook Elementary building that still stands on Meadowbrook Drive. I recall that school and its grounds as being particularly attractive and that it had served as the Jr. High school for that area before the newer building was built across the street from it. From my days at the newer Meadowbrook Jr. High, I knew the older building was built in 1936 and had never won a city football championship—that information was constantly trumpeted in the Ft. Worth newspapers when we won the first crown in 1959.

Several bits of information and technology have combined recently to enable presenting a concise illustration of nearly a century of Ft. Worth high school history in one picture file. Personally, I find a diagram or a picture showing dates and relationships much easier to digest when wanting to understand how it all fits together. None of the buildings we knew in 1963 have been torn down and fortunately a Ft. Worth Architecture website has posted modern HQ pictures of each building (except EHHS—too new at age 50+, I suppose). Also fortunate is the fact that the FWISD thoughtfully constructed most new additions over the years to the back of the original buildings so as not to deface the original architecture.

The top row of Ft. Worth High School buildings are as they were when we attended EHHS and as they remain today. The second row of pictures shows the predecessor buildings for each school where there was one. Some things to note in the second row of buildings is that Handley, Polytechnic, and Arlington Heights were individual ISDs before each was annexed into the City of Ft. Worth generally in the 1920s. The Handley and Polytechnic areas first sprouted as small villages along the 29-mile Dallas to Ft. Worth interurban electric railway that, from 1902-1934, originally ran more or less along East Lancaster—old US 80.

Note also that as FWISD outgrew and replaced its buildings, the older structures were put into subsequent use, so you can find most of them still in service as middle schools or serving other support functions. The first Ft. Worth High School (c.1911) was replaced by Ft. Worth Central High School (c.1918), which was renamed R.L. Paschal in 1935, and replaced again by a new R.L. Paschal building in 1955. After Paschal moved into its new building their vacated c.1918 Ft. Worth Central High building became Trimble Tech and remains occupied by Tech to this day. Also in 1918, FWISD built its second high school, North Ft. Worth High School, which was subsequently replaced in 1937 by North Side High School.

The circa 1936-37 building spree were WPA projects, no doubt in large part brought to Ft. Worth by Amon Carter who was then in his prime and politically well-connected. Ft. Worth is fortunate to have so many of these classic structures still standing. Meadowbrook Elementary was one of them. A much more detailed history is available here.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Handley High School – 1959 – Eastern Hills High School – 1961

A year after EHHS opened fall 1959, our Class of 1963 entered as sophomores. The seniors (EHHS Class of 1961) had spent one of their high school years at Handley High before it was shut down; thus, they were the last EHHS students to have also attended HHS. There was then, still a palpable presence of HHS in the new halls of EHHS. Many of our first faculty came from Handley, as did our head football coach, George Mitcham.

Color photography was still an expensive and seldom used medium in the late 1950s to mid 1960s, so it is difficult now to find many good color pictures from that time period. Accordingly, the color pictures above are quite scarce. Pictures of any period can be intriguing as they represent just a moment in time and what subject matter is captured in them is usually a matter of chance.

I like these particular pictures because they show so much, including the school name and the front entry area. It’s just by chance that I know when they were taken.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Dean Paul Dean Tate

Paul Tate was a friend of mine from a very young age; a cocky, self-assured, talented kid who was smart enough to do anything he wanted to do. In fact, he was our top ranking scholar when the high school days were over and went on to a life in academia. Paul could just as easily have become a well regarded scientist, a mathematician, or engineer, or doctor, or almost anything he wanted to be--so he became a Philosopher and later a Philosopher Dean.

As a kid he had a sizable paper route that made him enough money to be one of the first car owners in our class--a nice looking green & white 1955 Pontiac. I don't recall storming around the neighborhoods in his car like we did in Coop's old Chevy which likely means that he got it after we had outgrown that phase or that he was just smart enough to avoid being trapped into that kind of service.

Paul had some ambition of being a football player but opted for playing in the band instead. The picture at right shows him and a friend, Larry Guthrie, another future PhD, as 8th grade Meadowbrook Buffaloes.

Competing with him in the academic arena was a real challenge. While he could be beat, he rarely stumbled and gave you an easy victory. If you were competitive with him, he kept you on your toes and that was a useful service for a youngster to provide another. Paul was even known to play some mind games with the competition.

So, even if he never developed into a rock 'em, sock 'em athlete, he was a good trumpet player, and a formidable academic competitor. And I think he is still a functioning philosopher.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ft. Worth Fat Stock Show - c.1960 - The Miniskirt c.1968

Going to school in the 1950's and early 1960's, although idyllic compared to now, also had its drawbacks. If you recall the dresses the girls wore, then you also recall that there wasn't much there to provide visual appreciation; they were still wearing pretty much what their mothers wore before WWII. For a boy to get any idea about a girl's figure required an imagination. In fact, the girls of that day were quick to remind us that leaving things to the imagination was a virtue. Well, to tell the truth, most of us didn't buy into that philosophy.

We had a couple of opportunities to appraise the female figure each year; one, was at one of the local swimming pools in summer, or water skiing if you could get your hands on a boat, and another was when the Ft. Worth Fat Stock Show cranked up in February. During the stock show, girls would don blue jeans and other western-style costumes, most of which involved wearing closely fitting jeans, and for a few glorious days the scenery was much improved.

There was the downtown Ft. Worth fat stock show parade and the stock show midway to visit. And the scenery in both venues was excellent. About the 10th grade (1959-60) one of our group got the bright idea that pea shooters might be fun on the day's outing...and he was right. Among other things, we discovered that we could get a charming reaction from a girl with an attractive figure if we bounced one of those peas off her backside!

I grinned today as I recalled this little vignette of mischief past. Of course, when she snapped around to see who done it, we always hid the fact that one of us was the culprit...but I couldn't help but wonder what the result might have been if we had smiled and winked at her. Probably would have gotten slapped...but maybe not by all of them.

July 2012, a few more thoughts.  Girls' fashion began to change rapidly during the mid to late 1960s, mostly reflected by rising hemlines.  Where the hemlines since WWII had ranged from a bit below the knees to those awful 1950s hems that went down to mid-shin, by the late sixties, when we came of age and Vietnam was raging, those hems headed north...way north.  And we got the miniskirt.

The miniskirt...what a marvelous contribution to our youth culture.  If a girl had the legs and figure for it, she could rule the room, the lobby, the sidewalks, the airport, campus, classes, restaurants, offices...well, let's just say that it was a breath of fresh-air.  For everyone.  And a great opportunity to flirt.

Je remercie le bon dieu de jolies filles

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Toilet Paper

What happens when you permit your society to become over-educated and underemployed? Well, for me words like regular, double, big, giant, mega, and huge come to mind. When we fail to provide opportunities for young people to do great things, too many of them are tasked to be ever more clever doing mundane things, like working diligently to screw around with as many people as possible. (How often lately have you been delayed on a clear day because the air traffic control or airline computers are down or sat in a darkened house because your local utility has experienced a system upset, again on a clear day).

Think about it for a moment…if all you have to sell is a paper product that serves the same purpose as every other paper product on the shelves, how do you differentiate your product from the crowd? Provide higher quality, of course, but more often it’s price that sells a product.

When I was growing up and for some years of early adulthood, I felt no need to be concerned with toilet paper, other than to be sure there was some within reach. If you were feeling flush (pun intended), you could pick up something soft like a 25-cent roll of Charmin, or if you were frugal, a 10-cent roll of Scott tissue would do. Decisions involving mega, huge, double, regular, or big were simply not part of daily life in those days.

Sometime through the years it became obvious that the rolls needed to be replaced more and more frequently. The price and number of rolls hadn’t changed, but there was clearly less paper on the rolls. One tip off that something fishy was when you started seeing 6-packs, then 12-packs, then 24-packs, and even 36-packs! The other tip off was that the paper roll began to feel like a marshmallow, dusty, and spun on the core.

Soon you were hauling packages of toilet paper out of the store that were the size of sofa cushions, where a 4-pack used to suffice. Then you realized that some beady-eyed marketers had figured out how to diddle the price of a common, closely watched product without antagonizing its customer base—so I started watching the stupid toilet paper pricing more closely. Sure enough, the pattern was clear—slowly cut the quantity, raise the price, and hide the chicanery in a flurry of unnecessary “choices.”

Not long ago, things started changing again. Soon the surface area of a double roll pack was not what it had been—the new double rolls were wound more and more loosely. When I started watching the toilet paper years ago (say about 1993), a double roll 6-pack had about 352 sq. ft. of surface area and cost about $3.50. Most recently, I noticed that a 6-pack, double roll package contained 200 sq. ft. and the cost was $3.49. That’s a 76% price increase over my old benchmark package.

Recently I saw a new Charmin package that took the toilet paper wars into new territory. I had grown accustomed to seeing the cute little pictures on the packages telling me how purchasing a package of Double rolls was the same as purchasing twice as much of the Regular rolls. Bless their little hearts…Charmin changed up their product line by presenting us with new “choices” none of us needed—Big, Giant, and Mega rolls!!

Charmin has reintroduced my familiar old 6-pack, only this time it is the all-new Mega Rolls which now costs about twice as much as they did. On the package the marketers from Charmin explain graphically how their all-new Mega Rolls relate to Giant rolls, Big rolls, and Regular rolls.
With all the new choices and a little time on my hands to calculate this garbage, I discovered that depending on my choice of size and number of rolls, I could spend $3.95 or $6.15 or $8.75 for an equivalent of my old 1993 package of paper. And it took a calculator to clear the fog...

The same nonsense has been going on in the paper towel business—same manufacturers, you know. Our State law requires the retailers provide a unit price card beside the sell price card in order to help folks do their cost comparisons. The usual unit is $/sq.ft.

Such simplification presents a challenge to all those highly educated, beady-eyed paper marketers. Once the folks figure out their personal benchmarks of cost vs. quantity, the marketers have to change things up to throw the folks off again. The Bounty package below was one I spotted recently that introduced a couple of new curves. Huge was a new term to me, and the odd number of roll equivalents makes the math a little more challenging.

But the cutest scam I’ve seen recently was the introduction of unit pricing in $/sheets rather than $/sq.ft. One section of the Bounty towels showed a unit price about half of the other choices. Then I spotted the scam…it was a section containing those “select a size” towels where the half sheets technically satisfied the unit pricing law, even if not the spirit of it.

My heart aches for the young people working in these enterprises who think they are doing something worthwhile. Can’t we find something more constructive for all those sharp young folks to do?

Adios, too much about too little?

Friday, July 16, 2010

KLM St. Maarten

This KLM low arrival picture got my attention some time ago. I’ve always been uneasy with airport approaches that bring you in low over water. From the pilot’s viewpoint, there’s not much to it; but, as you may know, when you’re looking out the side of a passenger cabin you have no spatial frame of reference with which to judge your relative position—all you see is that water below getting real close.

This 30-second clip of a very low approach to the infamous St. Maarten airport effectively complements the picture—if you’re not one of the previous 7.1 million viewers, hang on to your hat:

Ground control to Major Tom….

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eastern Hills Christmas Lights

The Eastern Hills subdivision that occupies the hill just north of EHHS was built out from about 1953 to 1963. This is the area bound by Weiler Blvd. on the west starting at Weiler’s intersection with Danciger; by Brentwood Stair (I-30) on the north: Oak Hill on the east; and Monterrey on the south.

Homes in that area were generally built by custom builders and had about 2500 sq.ft. of living space. From our youthful perspective, it was the local neighborhood of the well-off. Landscaping was lush, grass grew in luxuriant carpets of St. Augustine, even without sprinkler systems, gracefully curved streets, plentiful trees (a Texas rarity), and more than a few of the homes there had pools in the back yard—a real luxury in those days.

Original heads of household were nominally in their forties, most were WWII veterans, and were doing well in their careers. Houses cost about $35,000 - $50,000 when they were new—an average professional’s salary was $12-15,000 per year. About 15-years earlier, in the early 1950s, they had bought their starter homes elsewhere and discovered that when they bought their second car, they needed a second garage to house it; Eastern Hills homes were generally their first “move-up” houses. This demographic group of energetic WWII generation people gave rise to the old term, “keeping up with the Joneses” as they added second cars, parked boats in the driveways (RVs came later), and finally sought to make personal statements with the decoration of their homes.

Decorating for Christmas was one of the more socially acceptable excuses for not only celebrating the season, but also for showing off and competing with one another. What started innocently enough as a simple outlining of the house with Christmas lights quickly became a full-blown light show extravaganza to include lighting bushes, trees, and erecting mechanized outdoor figures—think, Griswald Christmas and virtually every house in that neighborhood decorated. By the late 1950s the Eastern Hills neighborhood had become a popular destination for light peepers at Christmas time; the streets were jammed for hours each night of the Christmas season.

Of course, once the kids left home, the impetus for extravagant decorating lessened until the fun of it went away altogether when younger crops of kids started stealing the bulbs. I think all the new crop wanted to do was hear the bulbs go “pop” on the pavement. Now that I think of it, the little bastards stealing those bulbs and making things miserable for our aging parents to do any further decorating were those same FBG's before they started scamming in the local fast food joints.

Anyway, for a few glorious years, that Eastern Hills neighborhood really sparkled for a few weeks each Christmas.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Gay Burton – Julie Hudson – Celia Beall

 As for when a lad starts noticing girls, I can only speak for myself and to this day I can look back at an old class picture and pick out the girl that I liked each year…all the way back to the 1st grade! In the 6th grade it was Kay, then Donna in the 7th, but in the 8th and 9th it was Gay, Julie, and Celia, our Meadowbrook Buffalo cheerleaders. Good golly, they were cute and effervescent in those gold skirts and green blouses. For 2-years they held the attention of the entire school as they led cheers from the stage and on the sidelines.

Boys always believed that a pretty girl had an older boyfriend as well as a long line of others standing ready. Whether that was true or not wasn't clear until you saw her walking in the hallways with a smug looking boy. Not until you got a little older...and bolder, did it occur to you to ask her if she was really pleased with her beau or not.  At the very least you got a conversation going and maybe even planted a seed in that lovely, yet fickle little mind.

When yearbooks came out I always sought to get the school’s cheerleaders and selected others to sign mine. Meadowbrook issued no yearbook so, I got Gay, Julie, and Celia to sign my little 9th grade directory; they presented me with “Love ya” twice and “Sincerely” once along with a pretty standard sentiment that stars wrote for their fans.

Actually, all three of them were solid friends and school mates of the most charming sort. Gay was always upbeat with a ready wit; Julie was the little effervescent one with a great contagious smile; and Celia was thoughtful and reserved. They were smart—all of them members of NHS and I was fortunate to have counted them among my friends.

When we went to EHHS in 1960, Dianah Barton and Suzanne Hoffman, both from Handley, were our sophomore cheerleaders and kept those spots all the way through high school doing a great job. I forget whether the class voted for the cheerleaders or they were chosen some other way. If it was a vote, I would wonder how the smaller Handley contingent could have overwhelmed the larger group from Meadowbrook. Be that as it may, over 50-years ago we saw the last of Gay, Julie, and Celia leading cheers for us. Too bad...they were good.

A couple of years before they became Meadowbrook Buffalo stars, Gay and Celia were 6th grade students in Mr. Blackstone's class. Julie was in Mrs. Few's class then, but absent the day the class picture was taken. Do you wonder how I know that?

The Cheers -

Added August 2013.

As an 8th grade transfer to Meadowbrook I brought a one year Junior High experience at Richland Jr. Hi. with me.  Richland was about twice the size of Meadowbrook so, I had spent much of that year bewildered as the 2 classes my elementary school contributed to the mix were joined by about 9 or 10 other elementary school classes from elsewhere.

For whatever reasons, the Richland cheerleaders, all of them older 8th & 9th grade women, caught my attention.  Of course, they caught the attention of every other lad in the school, too.  A 7th grade kid is mostly 12-years old all year long, which means that if a girl, she was probably firmly in the transition to becoming a young woman; however, if a boy....well, not quite !  I think a girl's 6th grade was similar to a boy's 7th grade, since girls tend to lead boys through that period (yes) by about 18-months.

About the only way I could think of to get a little closer to them was to ask them sign my yearbook.  Already a fairly accomplished autograph collector with signatures of Ty Cobb and Mickey Mantle in the book, I had them all sign on the same page...which became my "pretty girl" page in that 1958 yearbook.

At Meadowbrook the next fall, I already knew that finding a way to be noticed by one or more of the cheerleaders was very likely a way to speed the transition into the new school population.  So, before Gay, Julie, and Celia there were these lovely gals showing the way....


 Go Buffs

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys

This 1963 picture of Leo Luebbehusen, David McBrayer, Steve Rose, Guy Perkins, Larry Guthrie, David Bane, and Gene Cartwright is an interesting one. I think it was a skit in one of the class programs that depicted the 1940s and our parents’ youth. The uniforms almost certainly belonged to their fathers as the end of WWII was only 18-years in the past when the picture was taken.
As a result of my recent interest in my father’s WWII service, these uniforms now tell a story that wasn’t obvious to me when we did that school program so long ago. From left to right:

1. Leo Luebbehusen appears to be wearing a post-WWII USAF summer uniform. The “scrambled eggs” on the visor indicate a Colonel or General’s hat. One of Leo's brothers reports that their Dad was smaller than Leo and served in the Marines during WWII, so Leo was wearing a borrowed uniform from someone else.  Hmm, wonder if it was Roy C. Johnson's uniform...Roy stayed in the Air Force reserves after the war and was a tall man like Leo.  You know, I bet it was Roy's uniform.
2. David McBrayer appears to be wearing a WWII Army winter uniform. (Author's note: When did David show up...I see no record of him with us before our senior year.)
3. Steve Rose is wearing a Marine uniform…can’t tell if it is an enlisted or officer. (Author's note: Steve was a junior...a '64 Highlander. He was such a good guy, I always thought of him as an honorary '63 Highlander)
4. Guy Perkins is wearing a WWII Army Air Force uniform. Above the ribbons is a set of wings indicating flight crew, on the left is a unit citation ribbon, and the accumulation of ribbons beneath the wing is appropriate for a typical WWII airman; the ribbons were probably a DFC and several Air Medals. The “crusher” hat was commonly worn by WWII airmen baptized under fire in the skies over Europe and elsewhere.
5. Larry Guthrie appears to be wearing a WWII Army officer’s summer uniform. There are more ribbons than you usually see on non-AAF uniforms…there could be an interesting story in all those ribbons.
6. David Bane is wearing a typical Navy junior officer’s dress blue uniform and,
7. Gene Cartwright is wearing his father's WWII enlisted Navy dress blue uniform.  His dad was an Aviation Machinist Mate 1/c; meaning that he most likely served aboard one of the aircraft carriers in the Pacific or possibly on one of the Naval Air Stations during WWII.  Navy Machinist Mates are the sailors that keep the engines, pumps, and other mechanical equipment working on a day-to-day basis.
Sometimes, if you take time to learn of your father’s part in WWII, you will find that he did not, as Patton said to his 3rd Army in a speech, “...shovel shit in Louisiana.”

Here is a close up of a WWII airman's collection of combat service ribbons; beneath the navigator wing are 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 7 AirMedals, an ETO with 5 Battle Stars, American Campaign, WWII Victory, and the French croix de guerre:

A WWII veteran wrote, “In World War II, when I saw a Distinguished Flying Cross, that meant the guy had made 25 or 30 missions over dangerous places like Hamburg or Berlin, those places sometimes had 50 percent casualty rates."


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Getting Older - 55 MPH

As most of us recall, from 1973 to 1987, we had a 55mph national speed limit. People in Rhode Island didn't give a damn because they didn't have enough room to go any faster anyway. But for those of us in the central and western states it was a pain-in-the-ass. We dealt with it by installing CB radios and embracing "Smoky and the Bandit." A little later we simply installed radar detectors and stopped talking to one another on the CB.
That I was getting older first dawned on me when I would ask a young adult, say a twenty-something in the late 1980s, if he or she knew why we had a national speed limit. Few of them knew the answer and responded that it was to promote highway safety which is what the propaganda of the day had been selling for years. The 55mph national speed limit had morphed into a "safety issue" from its original purpose, which was to cut fuel use after the 1973-74 Arab Oil Embargoes. A number of lucrative constituencies dependent on the 55mph limit had sprung up in the ensuing years. Except for a phony fuel shortage about 1978, the actual fuel crisis had effectively ended by 1975.
Rigid enforcement of the 55mph speed limit became a ready source of income for local jurisdictions and an entire industry of public service announcement producers prospered by making TV spots telling us to stay alive, drive 55. However, as it tends to be with stupid laws, we the people became scofflaws and found ways to do the reasonable thing regardless of the nutty law that had outlived its purpose by 1975.
State governments, being closer to the people, generally became lax in their enforcement of the 55 limit and it became common knowledge that up to 65mph was tolerated. The feds threatened to withhold highway repair funds from those States that refused to enforce the limit and Montana responded by issuing $5 speeding tickets regardless of the speed.
It took us 12-years (25% of our adult life span) after the end of the Arab Oil Embargo to rid ourselves of that foolishness. The same kind of people that doggedly clung to the 55mph speed limit are now promoting windmills to replace fossil electric plants which is roughly equivalent to proposing pedicabs to replace cars. God, save us from the busybodies.


Monday, July 05, 2010


While I'm on the Youtube kick, here's one more. You're probably familiar with Gallagher from his HBO specials in the early 1980s; if not, buy his 4 or 5 disk set on eBay where they are a bargain. He is a graduate Chemical Engineer, I believe.

Gallagher tells in one of his sketches about school, "I failed a paper once that asked for my OPINION!"


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Red Skelton: The Pledge of Allegiance

In 1969 Red related this story on his TV show. In so doing, he entertained, left us his legacy, and conducted a remarkable civics lesson.

I - - Me; an individual; a committee of one.
Pledge - - Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.
Allegiance - - My love and my devotion.
To the Flag - - Our standard; Old Glory ; a symbol of Freedom; wherever she waves there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts, Freedom is everybody's job.
United - - That means that we have all come together.
States - - Individual communities that have united into forty-eight great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose. All divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.
And to the Republic - - Republic--a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people; and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.
For which it stands
One Nation - - One Nation--meaning, so blessed by God.
Indivisible - - Incapable of being divided.
With Liberty - - Which is Freedom; the right of power to live one's own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.
And Justice - - The principle, or qualities, of dealing fairly with others.
For All - - For All--which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.
And now, boys and girls, let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?
Red Skelton

Play ball!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Not On My Watch

Happy 4th

click pictures to enlarge them

(Words adapted from: "A Few Good Men")

Never forget...there is nothing so conducive to civilized behavior than the threat of a punch in the nose for uncivilized behavior.


Friday, July 02, 2010

CSN - Crosby, Stills, & Nash

I've always liked David Crosby...his talent, that is. His personal life has been pretty bad but the "give a shit" attitude he has always seemed to exude (see his 1985 Dallas mug shots) and his candor on a variety of topics has been interesting.

In a recent interview, grinning that shit-eating grin, he nailed our time in history as succinctly as I've ever heard it done by saying that he was the luckiest guy in the world...he grew up "after the Pill and before AIDS."