Blog 117 Flashback, Part 2

Blog 117 Flashback, Part 2

What was going on during our senior year at Jeff in the 1953-54 school year? This is the second installment of notes that were generated for our reunion. Thanks to an email from Warner Fassnidge, these comments were prepared as part of our fortieth reunion in 1994.As before, I may add some comments, which will be in red.

Digressions Before the flashback Part 2, several thoughts occurred.

  1. I was fortunate to have almost ten miles of trails where we lived until March. For nine or ten years, I walked most mornings, usually between two and four miles, but about six months ago, I fell of the walking wagon.
  2. This morning, I took a two-mile walk. We now live adjacent to Reagan High School. Built in 1999, it is the largest school in San Antonio. Having never seen Reagan before, I wanted to have a look before they start sessions in a week or so (no comment on the wisdom in that—or lack of wisdom.) I have to tell you that Reagan is one of the ugliest schools I have ever seen. The architects should have been awarded for leading the field in uninspired design. If President Reagan were still alive, he would probably want his name removed. I could expand, but enough said (for now.)
  3. I thought about the ugliness of Reagan and the beauty of Jeff. After seeing the video of Jeff recently circulated, several of you acknowledged that we totally did not appreciate the unique status and ambiance of our school. And I realized that Jeff is 88 years old. Can you believe that?

Flashback, Part 2
Events Notable to the Jefferson Class of 1954

Schoolchildren in Pittsburg are the first to receive the Salk Polio vaccine.

A mining engineer in the Yukon finds seeds of the Arctic lupine which have been preserved since the end of the last ice age. The Texas Bluebonnet is a variety of lupine.

The Senior class sponsors a Halloween dance, admission $1.

I’he Pedlar Advisory has free Pepsi at their advisory party.

Mr. Jones’s chemistry class disturbs the serene calm of the rest of the third floor on Oct. 21 with a loud explosion caused by the ignition of a hydrogenoxygen gas mixture.

A Japanese fisherman is killed in the Pacific by fallout from a Hydrogen bomb test. We are confident that there was no connection. The Navy converts a submarine to Nuclear power.

The first TV dinners go on sale. Because the notion of saving time, effort and energy is foreign to the self-image of the average housewife, advertising emphasizes their nutrition, flavor, and wholesomeness.

26 comic book publishers adopt a voluntary code to eliminate vulgar, obscene, and horror comics.

The choral music department presents “Pirates of Penzance.” Burt Klayman, as Major General Stanley, sings “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major

General. ”

Tennessee Williams wins a Pulitzer Prize for “Cat on a Hot Tn Roof.”

Coach Jewell Wallace
retires from coaching to teach Physiology and Biology, but will still maintain connections to the athletic department.

While ushering for a production of the opera “Il Trovatore N at the Municipal Auditorium, some of the band boys are pressed into service as extras. Ralph Dorchester
is prevented from playing a monk in a robe with a hood because the soles of his suede shoes had white stitching, which very few monks of the period wore. But he does get to carry a sword and participate in the big battle scene.

Pullen’s is selling shirts at $3,25, ties at $1.50, and underwear for $1.00 and $1.50.

Captain G. E. Matheny of the Police Department, in an informal talk to a combined meeting of the Jefferson International Club and Information Please, says, “In my opinion, there are no dope addicts at Jefferson.” (No addicts, but undoubtedly some of our classmates had found access to some pot and tried it. Anyone want to confess?)

Enrico Fermi (b. 1901), Nobel Prize winning physicist, and one of the fathers of the Nuclear age, dies. At about the same time, J. Robert Oppenheimer, who headed the scientific team that built the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, loses his security clearance and his government job.

The annual Band Concert featured show tunes. We really missed Rachel Velasquez, who danced at last year’s concert.

First Newport Jazz Festival is held. (I attended the Newport Jazz Festival in 1959 on a chilly but memorable night. But not memorable enough to recall whom I heard!)

The most popular songs at Jefferson are “Secret Love” and “Till Then.”

“On the Waterfront” wins the Oscar for best picture of 1954. Other contenders include “Rear Window”. Marlon Brando wins the best actor Oscar for “On the Waterfront.” Grace Kelly wins the Oscar for best actress for “The County Girl.” (Will a former English teacher or professor advise whether the end punctuation goes inside or outside the quotation mark? Priscilla or someone?)

President Eisenhower approves construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

‘The PE classes get new uniforms. Vernon Walenta
is named the new football coach. (Wonder who made those decisions? Was it for the girls, the boys, or both? And who remembers what they were?)

Roger Bannister runs a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. British woman runner D. Leather is the first woman to run a mile in less than 5 minutes.

After representing the Fiesta Flambeau as Miss Fiesta of 1953 in the California Rose Parade, Texas Nowotny
is offered a movie contract, which she turns down. She was always mostly a sensible girl. (Will someone explain the terminology “mostly a sensible girl?)

Fritzie Connally
is one of 34 seniors graduating at mid-term. His departure is a blow to the basketball team.

The Spring term subscription for the Declaration is 50¢.

Epp’s Smokehouse “Welcomes all Jeffites to come in anytime.

Morocco’s fourteen-million-dollar citrus crop is destroyed by locusts.

Rice beats Alabama in the 1954 Cotton Bowl. This was the game in which Dicky Moegle’s touchdown run was interrupted by Tommy Lewis, who tackled Moegle from the sidelines.

Band members named to the All-State Band are Burt Klayman, trombone, and Ron Arnold, French horn. (Burt came to the fiftieth reunion from New York. His emails no longer go through, so if anyone has heard from him, please reply here.)

Toscanini retires. (Probably 75% of the population today have no recollection of who Toscanini was.)

Stan Kenton’s band plays at the coliseum on Jan. 29.

Digging begins for a new drainage system. (Don’t know to what this refers-but just like mattress sales, ditch digging happens every day.)

Spring term enrollment reaches 2051.

Arnold Palmer wins U. S. Amateur Golf Championship. The Philadelphia Athletics move to Kansas City.

That’s it for Part 2 Flashbacks. There were a lot of popular tunes during our senior year, with more in the next installment. If you care to listen to those songs mentioned above, click on the websites that follow.

“Secret Love” Doris Day

“Till Then.” The Mills Brothers.

I had totally forgotten The Mills Brothers till listening to them sing “Till Then.” What a smooth group.

As for “Secret Love”, Doris Day sang it in the movie “Calamity Jane” and it won an Oscar for best song. What is still one of the hilarious moments of live TV is that whoever sang “Secret Love” for the Oscars was about 8 ½ months pregnant and she was singing her heart out about her secret love. When she got to the line in the song that “now my secret’s no secret anymore,” (she obviously had been having some mattress fun) the audience howled with laughter.

Till next time with Part 3 of the Flashback.

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