Author Archives: jeffclassof54

Blog 135 Classmate Updates and Other Ramblings

Blog 135 Classmate Updates and Other Ramblings

Note: blog subscribers who are not from the TJHS class of ’87, today’s effort is mostly about past and present classmates.

Regarding Facebook:
I have little use for Facebook and spend almost zero time on it, but that is gist for another time. Last Friday, I found something useful. It was Gordon Jamison’s birthday. I had not heard from Gordon for several years, though he used to call Ben Williams
and me somewhat regularly. At that time Gordon was living in a double-wide in Pflugerville. He moved to Bastrop to be close to children, and that is when he dropped out of sight.

Reading the Facebook comments, I discovered that Gordon died in February, 2019. Sadly, I cannot offer more, other than I captured two photos off Facebook and publish them after the Shoutout below. I will also relate what I recall from some of my conversations with him. The other timely Facebook notification urged wishing Joy Robertson
a Happy Birthday. Joy died in 2010, but every year, the reminder email appears.

Shoutout First, though, here is a Texas-sized thanks to those who have sent greetings after the last two class blast emails from February and April. Many of the notes were written in February during the severe winter storm across Texas. I am making the assumption that no one will object to being quoted here and perhaps more tenuous is the assumption that most of you will find the greetings and updates of some interest. They follow in the order they were received. Half the comments today and the other half in a day or so.

Jerry Cline Jerry reported having both vaccine shots and was looking forward to joining family and friends. He sadly recalled the deaths of Bobby Chalman, Richard Kaufman, and Jerry Harris. Jerry is still in California, while brother Barney lives in Blanco.

Jerry Stephens Jerry quickly volunteered to set up a virtual meeting for all who wish to participate. He is still working on it, but I think it is like herding a bunch of cats to get all the pieces to fit. Thanks for keeping at it, Jerry.

Bill Carls Bill wrote “Jo and I are still well and kicking. The only problem is that when I do some work I take longer breaks. I would be happy to join in on a virtual reunion.

I don’t know if I ever told you before but I graduated from the University of Michigan with an Electrical Engineering degree in 1964. After Jeff I went into the Navy for 4 years with one year in school for fire control radar and then traveled the Pacific for almost 3 years. After that I worked for RCA aboard a converted liberty ship with the last 6 months traveling the Caribbean. After graduation I went to work for the Jet Propulsion Lab, a NASA facility, until I retired at the age of 62. It doesn’t seem like I’ve been retired for 23 years. I guess time flies when you’re having fun.” Bill has driven down from Leander for the last Jeff lunch in October 2019.

Sue Elo Settles From Sue:” I’m missing the lunches as I’m sure most of those who were able to participate are also missing but understand the reason. I would be interested in a virtual get together, but don’t know how it works.

We have had a whirlwind of happenings since moving back to TX, my husband Jim passed away last year and our whole family had the COVID-19 in Nov but thankfully all survived. We are moving along into 2021 and as you know we are experiencing a unheard of winter storm as I write this note, just thankful it is not sleet and snow which would be even worse.

Genevieve Brooks Reggie and I are still here and rolling with the times.  As of last November we now have 11 Great Grands. It’s like we have to rent a hall to have a family get to gather.  It would be great to have a class get to gather again.”

Nancy Driesslein Pierce Enjoyed the info on improvements around Jeff since I  grew up only 3 blocks away on Furr Drive but haven’t been there in a while.  Loved the fish in the pond on Thespian Island as a kid.  (Kids could bike and walk around by themselves then.)  Thanks for the memory. 

Marcia Dickinson Hudson Hi all. Still alive and kicking(sometimes). Got my first covid shot last week. Hope you are all well.

Delbert Phillips Thanks for the update.  I live in Houston and was a good friend of Jerry (Harris). We’ve been without power off and on since Monday, usually 14 hours off and 3 hours on at a time..  Jerry Harris and I worked together  in the past and were good friends but didn’t know he passed.

Robert Huff Thanks for keeping us informed. I wish to stay on your distribution list.

Kathy Lentz Miller
DICK TURNED 90 FEB 23 AND I WAS 86 NOV 26 WE ARE DOING ALRIGHT. I HAVE  DOXY WHICH DR TAlKs TO YOU BY PHONE. I DO NOT HAVE VIRTUAL. WE WERE MARRIED 64 YEARS This PAST JANUARY. ALWAYS GLAD TO HEAR FROM YOU. I THINK THIS IS A GREAT IDEA. KATHY LENTZ MILLER

Bruce Cassell Thanks for Jerry Stephens’ efforts putting this (virtual meeting) together. At this stage of my life, I have a lot of flexibility in my schedule.

Living way out West, I don’t have contact with our classmates (other than Rich Kaufman who recently passed away).

Still in Coppell (Dallas suburb).

Ofelia Villarreal Siordio
Have added September 9th on my calendar. Still driving to SA. Praise the Lord!

Betty Davis Russell
Hooray!Hooray!  Great news about the lunch.

Jeanine Price
I am still here.

Fritzi Connelly
Good to hear from you, good health to everyone.

Frank Hagan
I am still here. ūüĎćūüĎć

Tas (Dorothy) Crawford McGraw
Good to hear from you Lunch in September sounds good.

Priscilla Tate
I’m still here! And getting ready to fly to my beloved Maine on June 5.  I’ll stay until mid-October and come back when the heat is mostly down to the 80s.

I’m so lucky to be in good health; I’ve had one knee and one hip replaced and walk at least a mile every day.

Gordon Bartley Still here and kicking but not very hard

More comments next time.

Remembering
Gordon Jamison




I did not know Gordon well at Jeff, but here is my recall of conversations since then.

In later years Gordon adopted “Buffalo” as his middle name, not officially, but when he added his name to something, it was always “Gordon Buffalo Jamison.”

When putting together the class book of memories after our sixtieth reunion, I asked Gordon about sending his input. He began telling me about his life and I jotted down as much as I could as he rambled.

Succinctly, Gordon graduated from UT in 1959, sold insurance for a number of years, married, divorced, and married a Jeff grad a few years behind us (sorry, I don’t have her name.)

Gordon was in two serious auto accidents with long rehab periods. Afterward, he taught school for a couple of years, moved his family to California, back to Texas in 1970, and returned to selling insurance. After being widowed and retiring, Gordon moved to Guatemala for nine years and later to Honduras for a year or two. Too much rain brought him back to Austin, and hence to Bastrop. RIP Gordon.

“I shall return.”
Douglas Macarthur

Blog 134 Diversions

Blog 134 Diversions

Time flies. Like fireflies, time lights up and disappears. No heavy news to report, so here are some things on my mind, either here or next time:

Words and music

Texas boasts

San Antonio Monopoly

The Case of the Lost Mask

Foolishness

 

Music with words:
It seems that today everyone needs to listen to music all the time. People wear earbuds and stream music into the ears and brain and each has a playlist of favorites. I don’t, except when in the car with the radio tuned in. The other day, Cole Porter’s great song “Anything Goes” played and the words struck a chord regarding our society today. Quoting one verse:

In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking

But now, God knows
Anything goes

Good authors, too, who once knew better words
Now only use four-letter words
Writing prose
Anything goes

 

Keep in mind that the above was written in eighty-odd years ago. The title perfectly describes our society today, when obscenities screamed from the silver screen, television and newspapers make no apologies over vulgarities, and books let us visualize the words.

In 1959, a shipmate invited several of us to weekend at his home in Hickory, North Carolina. The novel The Spanish Gardner
by D.H. Lawrence had recently been republished and was being banned everywhere in the US. The book was racy for the time but oh so tame by today’s standards. One evening in Hickory, we sat around the kitchen table in a discussion with our host’s sister, Susie. She was an English professor at a local college. Susie maintained that we should be free and comfortable to use profane words in casual conversation and not be chagrined. I was not convinced then and not now, although our sensibilities are deadened by constantly being bombarded with profanities that no longer have meaning and no longer shock.

Words:
I have two books to recommend, neither filled with four letter words. First is The Thursday Murder Club, in which the characters are just like us‚ÄĒseptuagenarians and octogenarians. It takes place in a posh retirement community in England and is filled with laughs and good manners. No four-letter words, but good observations and philosophy. For example, one proclaims that if one is in professional sports today, it is mandatory to get covered in tattoos. It is well written by an English television writer.

The second book someone gave to me: Murder on the Riverwalk. Yes, it takes place on our SA Riverwalk and is full of references to places and streets around town. It is not a bad book and again pretty much devoid of four-letter words.

And ends the discourse about authors who once knew better words. Next time I will tell how I learned the origin of the f-bomb from Bishop Pike in a church service.

If you want to listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing Anything Goes, click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as-whCYL4ns

San Antonio Monopoly:
Parker Brothers has announced a new Monopoly version featuring San Antonio place names and streets. I suspect Boardwalk will become Broadway, and the missions will replace the railroads, we will see Houston and Commerce Streets. I believe people can send in suggestions. I thought of sending Stutts Street. Truly, Stutts Street does exist somewhere near the Freeman Coliseum, believe it or not.

Foolishness:
Below is a cartoon someone sent across the internet. It may not show up when the blog is posted. If not, it says “My wife asked me why I spoke so softly in the house. I said I was afraid Mark Zuckerberg was listening! She laughed. I laughed. Alexa laughed. Siri laughed.”

There is so much truth in the fact that business and our government know all about our movements, our habits, and some of our thoughts, just by what we post on social media or check out on internet. Shades of Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984.


Will wrap this blog up and continue next time with Texas Boasts, The Case of the Lost Mask, maybe more words and music, and what Bishop Pike taught me about the origin of the F-bomb.


 

Blog 133 The week that wasn‚Äôt

Blog 133 The week that wasn’t

Stormy Weather!
Most know about the storms that lambasted Texas last week. So many were without power, water, and other necessities. We survived comfortably and have harvested a sense of guilt now that we know how bad it was. We had no internet, TV (no big loss there), land line, no newspaper, and not much news for six days. It was a revelation that ignorance is indeed bliss.

Because we live in very close proximity to two hospitals, we are on their power grid and had electricity all week, and hence warmth. Water pressure was low for a couple of hours one day, and we are still boiling water. We are so fortunate.

After record-breaking low temperatures last week, today was a warm 76 degrees. We are back to normal now. Though we may be in for a shock with the next utility bill.

Happiness is‚ĶWe have all heard the jokes about us older folks with aches and pains, failing eyesight and health issues but rejoicing that we still have our driver’s license. Mine expires on my early March birthday. I have been dreading the requirement to appear in person for a vision test because I am having some eye issues which required glasses a year ago. Well, let me tell you! I not only passed the vision test, but WITHOUT GLASSES.

Now for the rest of the story: After a certain age, (not sure but maybe 85) the interval between renewals in Texas drops to four years. BUT, my new license is good for eight more years, expiring in 2029! I can drive without another check till I am 91! They may have to wrench my car keys away from my clenched fist on my cold dead body.

News from classmates…Thanks to those who recently responded to my request to touch base if no recent. Checking in were Jerry Cline, Jerry Stephens, Heinz Loth, Bill Carls, Sue Elo Settles, Genevieve Brooks, Nancy Driesslein Pierce, Marcia Dickinson Hudson, Delbert Phillips, Warner Fassnidge, Robert Huff, and Rudy Alvarez. Jerry Stephens has volunteered to set up a virtual meeting, so stay tuned for that. I will summarize greetings from the above over the next blog or two, starting with a note from Marlene Loth on behalf of Heinz:

Hello Jack,

Thank you as always for your interesting blog. I am writing for Heinz who is well and watching the birds feed from his easy chair by the window at the moment. We are looking down on a very snowy landscape and ice is covering our lake.

Here in Canada the vaccination program is slow and we have not yet been vaccinated. However, we live out in the country far from the maddening crowd and it is easy to get along, while just wearing masks and handwashing. We have a beautiful husky, Angie, who loves the snow and lies in the sunshine and snow in freezing temperatures. Life up here is good and we are not wanting for anything. I’m sending a couple of photos for your enjoyment. Two photos are of Heinz on his 85th Zoom birthday.

Thanks again for all your efforts. We will not be returning to Texas this year breaking our record of driving down to New Braunfels for 33 years in a row. The borders remain closed and our government prohibits travel.

Take care and stay safe,

Heinz and Marlene Loth



 

Blog 132 Celebration and Sorrow

Blog 132 Celebration and Sorrow

Celebration!
The Jefferson girls’ basketball team won the district championship earlier this month. The was the first district win since the team was organized 45 years ago! Sadly, they lost the first playoff game, but we should all be proud of their effort. The glamour days of players like Kyle Rote and Tommy Nobis seem long past, but one of these days, another star will come along, and it could be a girl.

Did anyone dream that girls would play basketball in our day? There are probably a lot of naysayers, but Title IX has given opportunity to female athletes who otherwise would never have had opportunity to play and excel in sports beyond tennis and swimming.

Sorrow…Bobby Chalman
passed away January 23
rd in Austin. Bobby contracted MS when in his thirties but lived an active and productive life for the next five decades. I spoke briefly with Bobby’s widow to express condolences on behalf of the class.

I did not know Bobby personally. According to the Monticello, he was on the track team. David Chester
was a good friend of Bobby. I asked David to share a few memories. David wrote:

Bobby went to Thomas Jefferson and graduated in 1954.  During the summers while in school and college we worked as a Roustabout in Jourdanton, TX, and a Rod & Chainmen in Midland, TX, and worked at the Southern Steel Company testing jail bars, Lawn Business, and Painting Bill Boards.  He went to the Citadel, a military school in South Caroline for 2 years and transferred to The University of Texas.  He married Kay and they had four kids two boys and two girls living in Austin.  He worked in Austin all his working life for the Texas Highway Department.  They had an home in West Texas which Bobby spent many happy days.  He will be sadly missed.  

Thespian Island again…Since writing about Thespian Island in the last blog, I heard from Ed Garza. Ed is a Jeff grad, a former mayor of San Antonio, and a board member of the San Antonio Independent School District. Ed has been instrumental in attaining the bond-funded improvements in and around the campus.

Here is a minute and a half video to describe the upgrades on Donaldson and the renovation of the Thespian Island. https://bit.ly/JeffersonHighStreets.

Question:
who of you knew about the island and the fountain in the center? I only remember it as the bus stop for arriving and departing from school.

Here is what Ed wrote:

Thespian Island, in front of Jefferson High School (at the Kampmann and Donaldson intersection) was adopted by the school’s theater club in the¬†early 1930’s,¬†thus the name.¬† In 1938 the Thespians donated, and had constructed, a fountain, 3′ deep pond, and stone pathways.¬† The pond was filled with koi, goldfish, water lilies and the fountain was operating and circulated water until the 1950’s.¬† However, sometime in the late 1950’s the fountain stopped working and the water was drained from the pond.¬† For over fifty years the pond stayed empty, and eventually the concrete walls began to crack.¬†¬†

 

In 2010, and as part of a comprehensive master plan to renovate and restore the local, state and national historic campus, San Antonio ISD Board Trustee Ed Garza collaborated with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County to phase in street, drainage, and pedestrian infrastructure improvements around the school, including Thespian Island.  The city/county improvements were leveraged using the SAISD Bond investment in the school building and site work.     

The improvements to Thespian Island include:

  • Fountain Restoration with new pump and electrical system;
  • Water Feature fill (for safety purpose) and repair;
  • Rebuild existing stone pathways with a concrete base and add new pathways on the extended island to the main walkway on campus;
  • Add a new irrigation system; and
  • Replace sod grass and landscaping.¬†¬†

The Thespian Island renovation and restoration project is a small piece of the overall $145 million campus and surrounding street infrastructure renovation.  The 15-year (2010-2025) phased project that includes:

2010-2015 PHASE I

  • SAISD Bond for Jefferson High School for $28 million¬†(E-Wing CTE expansion/renovation; Audio-Video CTE Studio; Administration Building Foundation and Historic Restoration; Main Gym Foundation; Health Clinic; Pony Field all-weather track and bleachers; Land acquisition for half soccer training field; New Baseball/Softball Fields; New Drill Marching Pad; HVAC; site landscaping);¬†¬†
  • City of San Antonio Bond project for $1 million to construct a pedestrian median on Wilson Boulevard (from Club to Donaldson) and re-align/expand Thespian Island to form a one-way bus drop off in front of the school;
  • CPS Energy investment of $2 million to remove wood utility poles and install underground utilities and historic lamp post lighting at Thespian Island on the main walkway to the schools front entrance, as well as, on along Kampmann next to the new marching pad (across from Monticello Park);¬†¬†
  • City of San Antonio and Bexar County General Fund drainage and stormwater site improvements at Jefferson $1.5 million;

2016-2020 PHASE II

  • 2016 SAISD Bond for Jefferson High School for $60 million (Main Gym, Field House and Auxiliary Gym interior renovation; Pony Field Concessions Building Renovation; Cafeteria/SUB interior renovation; Black Box retrofit; Auditorium backstage and seating renovation/restoration; Main Building 1st/2nd Floor Corridors and Classroom renovations/restoration; 3rd Floor Science Wing Renovation; Replace/restore Roof System; HVAC/Chiller)
  • 2017 City of San Antonio Bond project for $.3 million¬†at Monticello Park for gazebo and trail enhancements;
  • 2017 City of San Antonio Bond project for $3.738 million¬† Wilson median landscaping/irrigation; Thespian Island fountain, walkways, landscaping and irrigation renovation; historic street lamp installation around campus; underground utility conversion at Wilson/Donaldson and Wilson/Club intersections.¬†

2020-2025 PHASE III 

  • 2020 State of Texas Historic Tax Credits for Phase II work $10 million (Historic Restoration of building exterior and interior)
  • 2020 SAISD Bond for Jefferson High School Phase III for $32 million (Auditorium, Library , President’s Hall, Main Hall Historic Restoration;¬† Comprehensive Exterior Restoration; Window¬†repair/replacement/blinds; Comprehensive Lighting System; Way-Finding; Campus Branding; Locker restoration/conversion; Stairwells; Breezway’s Renovation; Pony Field Pedestrian Lighting; Synthetic Turf conversion to Pony Field, Baseball/Softball, soccer fields; Parking Lot renovation; Courtyard/campus landscaping and restoration);¬†
  • 2022 State of Texas Historic Tax Credits for Phase III work $6 million (Historic Restoration of building exterior and interior)

All work to be completed by early 2025.  

 

 

Blog 131 Island in the Sun

Blog 131 Island in the Sun

Three topics are up today: Renovation at Jefferson, how Ed Schleyer caused the annual drag show at Jeff to be banned, and a bit about Englebert Humperdinck. Read on.

Island in the Sun‚ĶNo, not a song sung by Engelbart Humperdinck, the British pop singer from the mid-fifties until today. (Will get to Englebert at blog’s end.) This is the small island across the street from where the walk starts to the main doors at Jeff. From my rusty memory, that is where the buses all waited at the end of the school day to transport our classmates home. Across the street is a church. I believe the denomination then was Church of Christ, but today it is named The Living Church at Woodlawn Pointe.

Back to the island, which is known as Thespian Island. My recall is that it is roughly triangular in shape and back then had a walk around its perimeter and then a waist high hedge adjacent to and inside the walk. If anyone else recalls, please confirm or set me straight.

Lon Carpenter recently sent a photo that shows major renovation of the island:

The city is currently renovating it and upgrading Wilson Avenue on the west side of the school. Today, the school drama department stakes some claim to it. This the site to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TJHSTheatreDepartment/posts/952730058257628

I have asked the city for more information and am waiting for a response, if any, and also Ed Garza, a Jeff alum and ex-city mayor. Ed is on the school board and instrumental in protecting Jeff. He spoke at one of our lunches a couple of years ago. Will add more in a future blog if/as info becomes available.

I also contacted a former Jeff student, David Segura, who is writing a book on the history of Jefferson. Here is what he had to say about Thespian Island:

 

I have a chapter on the complete history of Thespian Island. Too massive for this email; however…

IMO, the Island’s beauty has been destroyed with this latest project. The beautiful stone sidewalks (3) were replaced with massive concrete walls. My heart sank when I saw the jaw-dropping bulldozers on our sacred island.

Ok, yes, there is a lily pond and a fountain (1938 & 1939). Originally, there was a birdbath in 1932.

During some years (a whole decade), the island was overrun by grass, weeds, overgrown bushes, etc.

Thespians used to plant flowers to provide fresh flowers for teachers….

Much more in my book

 

In researching, I found the following information from 2012, when the renovations at our school were discussed.

March 21, 2012

4

Adopt a new Master Plan to guide the design, prioritization, phasing, and budgeting of site-related improvements to the campus. Proposed work includes the following:

  1. Renovation of Pony Field with new irrigated turf for football and soccer, new bleacher seating with a small press box, and associated drainage improvements
  2. New baseball and softball fields and appurtenant structures, with associated drainage improvements
  3. New paved Band/ROTC marching field
  4. New natural-turf soccer practice fields (to be located off-campus on property yet to be acquired)
  5. Rehabilitation of school exterior areas – courtyards and other interstitial spaces
  6. Lighting upgrades for Pony Field and overall campus
  7. Rehabilitation of overall school landscape and irrigation
  8. Accommodation of building expansion and new construction, including the demolition of one building and an addition to another
  9. Rehabilitation of perimeter fencing
  10. Removal of selected on-site parking to accommodate improved school program facilities
  11. Reconfiguration of on-street parking for vehicles and busses on Donaldson Avenue

12. Parking on Kampmann Boulevard

13. Reconfiguration of main vehicular entrance from Wilson Boulevard to im

prove pick‚ÄĘup / drop-off traffic flow

14.  Resolution of on-site drainage issues

15.  Renovation of Thespian Island

This plan was approved and has been in progress since 2012

Famous minutes of infamy…
Here is a photo of Ed Schleyer (right), his wife, Vicki, and Johnny Coyle taken at one of our past reunions.

Seeing Ed recalls a long hidden memory from our school days. One of the boy’s clubs was the Senate. Every spring the Senate put on a drag show‚ÄĒimagine that in the 1950’s! In the spring of ’56, Ed and I and others were in a ballet chorus‚ÄĒMadame (someone’s) Blue Butterflies. Fittingly, we wore baggy blue pants, blue tops, and had some sort of netting attached at wrists and somewhere on the costume.

Ed’s dance caused the show to be banned from the Jeff stage forever. Here is what happened. Just before our “performance,” which was some rather un-coordinated leaping around the stage to a Strauss waltz, Ed excused himself to the restroom and came back ready to go on stage with his costume “enhanced.” Ed had taken a large handfuls of paper towels and molded them into small mountains, which he stuffed down the front of his blue top, putting Dolly Parten to shame.

Midway through the ballet, half of Ed’s enhancement went south toward his stomach. To remedy that, Ed calmly stopped his performance and reached into his top and re-positioned his sagging mammary, then proceeded with his dance steps. Those actions brought the house down.

The Dean of Girls, Frances Smith, was scandalized!!! She immediately went face-to-face with T. Guy Rogers, demanding that all future shows be cancelled. T. Guy acquiesced, and that was the end of the Senate drag show. What a great way to end!

I don’t know much about Dean Smith, other than she was short enough to be gnome-like and had a Dutch boy haircut. And she was a maiden lady, like so many teachers back then.

Now about Englebert Humperdinck
Englebert was English,
not to be confused with the German composer, born Arnold George Dorsey in India. He recorded some songs in the fifties but made his name (after converting to Englebert), with his breakthrough coming with “Release Me” in 1967 followed by “The Last Waltz”. Many more hits followed. Old Eng is still singing today with scheduled performances in Europe in 2021 and a recording in 2020. By the way: Eng is 84 like us. If you want to see all the songs he recorded, go to Google or other browser and search on Englebert Humperdinck songs. You will recognize most of them.

Confession time…Having researched and written the above about old Englebert, I looked for Island in the Sun
and find it was sung by Harry Belafonte. Remember him? More famous for his rendition of the Banana Boat song.

Englebert sang A Place in the Sun
and There’s An Island
instead. Nancy Driesslein Pearce
will tell you that our 1954 Monticello had a sunburst on the cover and the title page read “A Place in the Sun”. Nancy, do you have any recall how that became the title?

IF you are confused by this, so am I. And if you care to listen to the three songs, here is where:

There’s an Island
‚ÄďEnglebert Humperdinck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCbsp6KqBw0

A Place in the Sun— Englebert Humperdinck https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DJgCl2sI0k

Island in the Sun‚ÄĒHarry Belafonte https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Gbk4i41_M

Till the next time…

 

 

 

Blog 130 I Am Sick, I Am Ashamed, I Am Embarrassed, I Am Angry

Blog 130
I Am Sick, I Am Ashamed, I Am Embarrassed, I Am Angry

Let’s all shed a tear for what is happening in Washington, D.C. right now!

This is a vent. If you are a misguided supporter of our disgraceful president, you may not want to read further, but I need to get this off my chest. Some of you are strong reporters of political party and Trump over all else, including the constitution and a functioning of this country for over two hundred years. For you, I am sorry, because you should know better. You come from a generation that studied in civics and government why our country has succeeded and you should know better than to support insurrection.

What has Trump wrought? Several hours ago I turned on the TV to watch Congress tally the electoral vote after a stupid attempt by misguided senators and representatives to try to halt the democratic process. Thanks to our deranged soon-to-be ex-President, he urged ill-informed protestors to march on the capitol. They have surged to and broken into the capitol building, forcing our Congressman to take cover.

This is an act of sedition, of terrorism. It is disgraceful, it is embarrassing to us as a country to have a show of ignorant people storm the capitol because they believe all the false misinformation circulated on social media by Russia and encouraged by the president.

Trump is engaged in a coup to try and overthrow our democratic process by encouraging protestors to pursue his refusal to gracefully admit that he did not win the election. It is insurrection. And Trump is sitting in the oval office watching it all on television. This is no longer a protest. It is a mob doing violence. As a commentator just said, those breaking windows to enter the capitol are too stupid to know that there are surveillance cameras all over and they will be arrested and thrown in jail.

If we can take any solace at all, Trump will be regarded in time with the same respect as former presidents Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore. They were the worst up till now. It is a pity that Trump was not impeached last year.

Send a rebuttal if you wish. In the meantime, I will see if there is a movement to recall Senator Cruz. He, the Texas attorney general Paxton, and Louie Gohmert have all embarrassed our great state and made us a laughing stock across the country.

The national guard of VA and MD are arriving on the scene. VP Pence and Pres Elect Biden have both spoken. We can only hope that this disgraceful act of terrorism ends soon and without too much more bloodshed. Yes, someone was shot.

Blog 129 The Year That Wasn‚Äôt

Blog 129 The Year That Wasn’t

New Year’s Greetings!
Let’s look for a more rewarding and fun 2021, with good health, good food, and good friends and let’s leave 2020 a dim speck in the rearview mirror.

Today is December 31. Weatherwise, it is a very ugly day in San Antonio, an apt ending for an ugly year. I wish to write something light and uplifting and inspirational and witty to usher in 2021. However, this blog is partly a history of our class; sadly, it ends on a sorrowful note as our classmates time on earth continues to lapse. Add Richard Kaufman
and Jerry Harris
to the list.

News of deaths comes to me in various ways. Charles Levinson
called to advise of Rich’s death and Bruce Cassell
notified that he had seen it posted on Facebook. Gail Smith Mydlow, class of ’55 called this afternoon to ask if I was aware (I was not) that Jerry died several months ago. Larry Harrison, also class of ’55 had notified her.

Richard “Rich” Kaufman:
Rich passed away December 27 in Santa Rosa, California. No obituary is available at this time, so I offer some recollections. I have known Rich since Travis Elementary days. He hasemailed somewhat frequently, usually asking about various classmates. Over the past few years Rich and Carol have driven 2-3 times to San Antonio in their 39-foot RV. Imagine doing that at eight-four! They parked in Castroville and spent a month or more here, golfing and visiting friends. Their last trip was this past October, as they wanted to be here for our Jeff lunch, which was, of course, cancelled.

Rich, Charles Levinson, and Danny Sciaraffa
lived blocks apart and within several blocks of Travis Elementary. Barney Cline
and I lived 8-10 blocks away in different directions. We five met in mid-October for a picnic lunch.  Rich was vigorous and excited that all of his recent various scans had good readings and he was feeling well.  They cut short the trip when Rich developed sever pain in his legs about two weeks later.  Back home, he was diagnosed with cancer of the spine and terminal. I spoke with him in mid-December, after the docs told him he had maybe six months.  It is a blessing his time came so quickly, as he was in pain. 

Jerry Harris:
Jerry’s obituary is posted below. I called Jerry 4-5 months ago after emails to him had bounced back. Jerry had moved from the Houston area to Bryan and a retirement community, closer to his children. Jerry said that he had given up the computer after being “forced” to use it in his job. Jerry was feeling good health-wise at that time. Larry Harrison reported that Jerry succumbed to Covid 19, which would be the first from our class, so far as I know.

OBITUARY

Jerome Harris Jr.

JULY 10, 1936¬†‚ÄstSEPTEMBER 13, 2020



Jerome (“Jerry”) Dee Harris, Jr., 84, passed away peacefully on September 13, 2020, at the home of his youngest daughter in Iola, Texas.

Jerry was born on July 10, 1936, in San Antonio, Texas, to Jerome and Barbara Harris. He grew up enjoying time with family and friends, and participated in multiple sports. This included a special love for baseball and ‚Äď beginning in his professional career ‚Äď a passion for the game of golf. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jerry attended and graduated from Texas A&M University (then Texas A&M College), where he proudly served in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. Following graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1958, Jerry served in the U.S. Army Reserves and was honorably discharged. In that same year, he married Betty Ann Hollers (also from San Antonio, Texas) and subsequently had three children.

Jerry enjoyed a successful engineering career that spanned more than 60 years. He prided himself on being a consummate professional that was respected by both his fellow colleagues and clients, and frequently served as a trusted advisor and mentor to team members and friends over the years. Outside of his professional life, Jerry was a devoted husband and father that enjoyed spending time with his family, including coaching his children’s many sports teams. Guiding all of his efforts was a devout Christian faith that drove Jerry’s enthusiastic involvement in local church activities and willingness to help those in need as evidenced by his strong financial support of numerous charities and social organizations.

He was preceded in death by his wife Betty who passed away in 2004 after 46 years of marriage, and is survived by his sister, Barbara Ann Shepard. Jerry is also survived by his three children ‚Äď Kathy Milthorpe, Leslie Lundquist and Wes Harris ‚Äď and their respective spouses ‚Äď Mike Milthorpe, Jeff Lundquist and Brenda Harris. Finally, he was a beloved grandfather (“Papoo”) that will be greatly missed by Hannah Milthorpe (including fianc√©, Ryan Roseboom), Lauren Lundquist, Justin Lundquist (including wife, Callie), Mitch Lundquist, Chloe Milthorpe, Peyton Harris and Kiersten Harris. Finally, the Harris family appreciates the kind and loving care provided by Texas Home Health Group of College Station, Texas, during Jerry’s final week of his life.

Given the health challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, a formal celebration of life for Jerry will be postponed until conditions warrant for a safe in-person group event. The Harris family looks forward to providing additional information as to the details for the celebration when appropriate. In lieu of flowers, the Harris family would appreciate any donations be made in Jerry’s name to the charity of the donor’s choice.

 

On a related note,
the obituary for Bruce Parker, also class of ’55, was in the paper last week. I mention because Bruce and Jerry were cousins. Bruce was an impressive and accomplished man. If you wish, you can read his obit here:

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sanantonio/obituary.aspx?n=robert-parker-bruce&pid=197368951

Lapsed…2020 passed, and none too soon before I got this posted. It is sunny, breezy, and warming, so 2021 is already looking better.,

Happy new year!

 

Blog 128 Elderly???

Blog 128 Elderly???

wishes for the season,
be it Merry Christmas, seasons greetings, Happy Hannukah, or any other religious or other greeting you might enjoy hearing this season. Let’s all be jolly despite a less than glorious year.

Who is elderly?
I have never considered myself elderly! Have you? I know I am a senior citizen, getting (a) older and better, (b) crotchety and grumpy, (c) wiser and experienced (d) all or none of the above. But elderly?

But there is an advantage to being classified as elderly…we are high priority on the list to get the vaccine because we are high risk. That is a comfort, a blessing, and a mistake all at the same time. Following our caregivers and first responders, it seems to me that our military active duty should be high on the list. Perhaps they are, with distribution and administration managed by themselves. The military certainly has done a far better job than the civilian world in containing the virus.

In the mail today, here is a thoughtful little item called “Afterwards”

Barely the day started and… it’s already six in the evening.

Barely arrived on Monday and it’s already Friday.

… and the month is already over.

… and the year is almost over.

… and already 40, 50 or 60 years of our lives have passed.

… and we realize that we lost our parents, friends.

and we realize it’s too late to go back…

So… Let’s try, despite everything, to enjoy the remaining time…

Let’s keep looking for activities that we like…

Let’s put some color in our grey…

Let’s smile at the little things in life that put balm in our hearts.

And despite everything, we must continue to enjoy with serenity this time we have left. Let’s try to eliminate the “afters”…

I’m doing it after…

I’ll say after…

I’ll think about it after…

We leave everything for later like ′′ after ′′ is ours.

Because what we don’t understand is that:

Afterwards, the coffee gets cold…

Afterwards, priorities change…

Afterwards, the charm is broken…

Afterwards, health passes…

Afterwards, the kids grow up…

Afterwards parents get old…

Afterwards, promises are forgotten…

Afterwards, the day becomes the night…

Afterwards life ends…

And then it’s often too late….

So… Let’s leave nothing for later…

Because still waiting for later, we can lose the best moments,

the best experiences,

best friends,

the best family…

The day is today… The moment is now…

And on the lighter side, here are few funnies:

Nurse to admitting a patient to the doctor’s office: Your appointment with the doctor is at 10AM. The doctor’s appointment with you is at 11AM.

How true. It reminds me that the last time I saw a particular doctor at the hearing clinic. I had finished all the preliminaries and sat waiting 40 minutes for him to come in for the three-minute visit (so he could add some other charge to the bill, I feel certain). When he finally arrived, I chastised him and advised that my time is as valuable as his. He did not say a lot, but when he scheduled the next appointment, it was with one of his assistants. I have not been back.

To keep you smiling a few observations…

If you help someone when they’re in here are trouble – they will remember you when they’re in trouble again.

Alcohol does not solve any problems – but then, neither does milk.

I think all politicians should wear uniforms. You know, like NASCAR drivers, so we could identify their corporate sponsors.

¬†Also, all politicians should serve only two terms — one in office and one in prison.

Remembering more teachers.
Who remembers Miss Berta George, the history teacher? I was in her class for World History I. I don’t remember a lot about the course, except for one thing that she thought was exceptionally important. Something she mentioned over and over was the law of primogeniture. Who knows what that is? Here is the definition from the web:
the state of being the firstborn child.

  • the right of succession belonging to the firstborn child, especially the feudal rule by which the whole real estate of an intestate passed to the eldest son.

The other recall about Miss George came from Betty Ann Canfield
in her class history response, which was, “I was a straight A student, except for one “B”. Miss George gave me a “B” in world history. I am still mad.” (This was 60 years later.)

Another history teacher was Miss Wolfe. I don’t recall her as particularly dynamic. In fact, all I remember about her is that her first name was Ximena. Don’t parents do weird things when naming their offspring?

Some of the teachers were assigned outside their area. I recall that Mrs. Willingham
struggled teaching an algebra class and later taught textiles. Mrs. Worden
taught English when I was in her class and later was doing history.

Maybe some more next time. Any readers can certainly add memories.

And a few photos from years past.

Patsy Brown Hutchinson

Who remembers that Patsy married Louis Hutchingson in an airplane whilce circling the city? I heard that the small plane had room for the two of them, the preacher, and the pilot. It was in the newspaper at the time.

             

Ofelia Villerreal Siordio          Marsha Pittman               Don Martin

         

Elizabeth Clemons Wright     Carolyn Taylor Cochrum

         

          Rock Mogas                 Esther Whitt Nelson      Larry Byrd

Take care all, and if you are travelling over the holidays, travel carefully and stay safe, so you can return and focus on now, rather than later and after.

Blog 127 Some Things You Don‚Äôt Want to Hear

Blog 127
Some

Things You Don’t Want to Hear

Heard from:
Thanks to all who checked in after the last email. They included Henrietta Boyer Ruland (Hank) from New Mexico‚ÄĒalive and kicking; Glenn Wogstad, Sam Kersh, Nancy Driesslien Pearce, Ron Bridges, Sylvia de la Rosa Cueva, Geri Gabehart, Warner Fassnidge, Dorothy Crawford, and Rudy Alvarez.
It is a bit worrisome not to hear from people from time to time to know they are still above ground.

All said they are well, some said they are bored. I just don’t see how there is time to be bored. Always something to do in my bailiwick, and it is not watching TV. I find there are so many books, so little time. I try to walk two to four miles daily, usually surpassing two, but four not so often. The daily New York Times crossword puzzle is a challenge from Friday through Sunday, when they get hard. Spider solitaire on line is a dreadful time waster and somewhat addictive. Even the occasional jigsaw is entertaining.

Genealogy is fascinating and easy if you don’t want to spend a lot of time researching. The Church of the Latter-Day Saints has a monumental data base of ancestry, free for signing up. You can discover if any of your extended family and ancestors are in the data base by entering names and seeing what comes up. Just go to www.familysearch.org and create a no obligation account. The data base is not checked for accuracy, but it is fun to follow. I was very surprised to see that my Stutts name goes back to Switzerland, as I always thought it was German. If you want to start a family tree of your own, you can get a free account at www.ancestry.com. This is affiliated with the Latter-Day Saints. And don’t worry. No one will come knocking on your door.

Say a prayer.
Rich and Carol Kaufman drove to San Antonio in their 39-foot
RV and parked for eight or nine weeks in Castroville. In late October, Rich, Barney Cline, Dan Sciaraffa, Charles Levinson,
and I took a sandwich to Hardberger park and visited. Rich has had a number of health issues but claimed good health when we lunched. Today I learned that Rich and Carol returned early to their Santa Rosa, CA home because of pain in his legs. Rich has been diagnosed with cancer of the spine. The prognosis does not sound good, so say a prayer for Rich and Carol.

Raquel Odila Velasquez‚ÄĒRIP

Sylvia de la Rosa Cueva
sent along information about Raquel’s passing. At Jeff, Raquel was a member of the Girls Cadet Corps, Talents Inc., Jaspers, and JIC, which I sort of believe was the Jefferson International Club. Reading her obituary which follows, I realized that here was another outstanding grad from our class who made a name for herself in Albuquerque. I last spoke with Raquel in 2016, when our class history book was published. She ordered five of the books‚ÄĒone for her and one for each of her four children.


BORN

March 8, 1937

DIED

October 16, 2020

Raquel Odila Vel√°squez, 83 passed away on October 16, 2020. Raquel was born in Laredo, Texas on March 8, 1937 to Dolores Contreras Vel√°squez and Juan √Āngel Vel√°squez.

Raquel was an Honor Student who graduated in 1954 from Jefferson High School, San Antonio, Texas. She moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1962 where she raised four children and worked full-time as a secretary with the U. S. Forest Service and later Kirtland Air Force Base.

At 41, Raquel returned to college and graduated with honors earning a bachelor’s in Sociology. In 1987 she earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the UNM School of Law. She was on the School of Law Dean’s list and was a member of the Delta Theta Phi Law fraternity and the Mexican American Law Student Association (MALSA).

Raquel received the prestigious Dean’s Award and the Hispanic Law Student’s Award upon graduation. In her law career, Raquel worked across the state as a District Attorney and Prosecuting Attorney and retired as an attorney with the Child Support Division of the New Mexico Department of Human Services.

Born on the day that became known as Women’s Day, Raquel was a woman born before her time. She was a strong role model, honored women’s rights and believed a woman could do anything. Her heritage was mixed with roots from the Tlacaltecan tribe in Mexico, and Honduras, and Morocco. She was the first female attorney to represent a Native American female client in a tribal court in New Mexico.

Throughout her life, Raquel performed ballet folklórico at the schools she attended. As an undergraduate student in 1972, she co-founded the Ballet Folklórico de Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico.

Raquel was an honored member of the Hispanic Women’s Council. Her tribute appears in the book Mujeres Valerosas. She was a longtime member of El Buen Samaritano United Methodist Church.

Every summer, Raquel drove her children back to San Antonio to reconnect with family, and to maintain the family’s bilingual and culture heritage. In New Mexico she enjoyed hiking and studied for the bar exam sitting high upon the rocks of the Sandia Mountains. She created weekend trips taking her children to explore the history and land of the state and visiting friends, especially in Northern New Mexico. Her love of travel took her to Mexico, Canada, Italy, the Philippines and many states including Washington, California and Alaska to name a few.

Raquel is survived by her daughter Diane Torres-Vel√°squez and grandsons James and Josh Raborn; her son Michael Anthony Torres; daughter Kathy Coffey (Bob); daughter Linda Renner (Marc) and grandsons Nick, Stephen, and Michael Renner; and by their father Robert L. Torres. She is survived by her brothers Joe M. and Daniel Vel√°squez (Leticia) and by many loving cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

Due to Covid and current limitations, a private family viewing was held. A memorial service is planned for a future date. Donations in Raquel’s name can be made to UNM for older MALSA students or to the¬†Alzheimer’s Association.

 

 

Blog 126 Already, again

Blog 126 Already, again

Another posting so quickly, I am becoming overly loquacious here. Perhaps it is the getting-old process that so many memories pop up of times gone by. Many friends and acquaintances forward items that are sometimes thoughtworthy and trigger memories.

Something arrived in the mailbox this afternoon, copied here, and dedicated to those from our class who moved away after graduation and never returned. It was written after someone watched “Castle on the Hill” sung by Ed Sheerin. I watched the video and found the music unpleasant, but the words tell the story. The writer watched the video and wrote his “Castles of Corn” essay. Following that, I will add the lyrics to “Castle on the Hill.”

Castles of Corn

¬†¬†¬†¬†I just finished watching the video of Ed Sheeran’s song, Castle on the Hill. And while there weren’t any castles near my hometown in central Indiana, the lyrics certainly succeeded in rekindling memories of that place and of my adventures with friends whom I would leave behind so many years ago‚Ķand of an emptiness in my life. There are times when the gravitational pull of that place is so strong that I feel it in my heart. And yet, I resist.

I expect that my story‚ÄĒas Ed’s‚ÄĒis rather commonplace. One or two from a band of friends who have been together from childhood to late teen years follow a path that leads away from home, while the others remain to make their lives in or near that harbor of their youth. And, in time, the members of those groups drift away from one another.

I was one who followed a path which led me far from home, and over the years I’ve lost touch with my band of friends. But there has been occasional‚ÄĒand painful‚ÄĒnews which has reached me: my best male friend was killed in Viet Nam; another died of cirrhosis, another lost a leg, hope and his life; one couple divorced; and my very dearest friend died as result of a stroke. I think that a part of why I resist returning to my hometown is a fear of confronting the haunting memories and void which their absence has created.

Unlike Ed, I never saw a castle on a hill until I was an old man. In my youth I saw oceans of corn and soybeans and forests of oaks, maples and sycamores in the glorious colors of Autumn. I close my eyes and I can see myself cruising the streets in summertime, playing golf and swimming in a body of water generously called “Cool Lake.” I hear the sounds of the Nighthawks flying over the town square, and the school band playing our Alma Mater. And I hear laughter, and singing along with the radio (tuned, of course, to “WLS in Chicago”). I remember slipping out to dusty country roads to drink Peppermint Schnapps or PBR, and staying out late‚Ķvery late. And as I looked out over those fields I tried to see the future, but it was covered in the humid mist of early mornings.

Although most of us our band didn’t have much, we had each other. I don’t believe any of us dared think that there wouldn’t be a time when that wasn’t to be so. I know that I never imagined I would see all that I’ve seen, do some of the things I’ve done, or become the person I am today. I think that some of the best of me was shaped by those I left behind. And though I’m fortunate to have several people in my life whom I regard as friends, our shared experiences are very different from those of my youth‚ÄĒthose whose friendship and love that I feel I betrayed, and whose loss leaves a painful emptiness in my heart.

7/20

Lyrics to Castle on the Hill

When I was six years old I broke my leg
I was running from my brother and his friends
And tasted the sweet perfume of the mountain grass I rolled down
I was younger then, take me back to when I

Found my heart and broke it here
Made friends and lost them through the years
And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home

I’m on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill

Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes
Running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends
Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don’t reckon that I did it right
But I was younger then, take me back to when

We found weekend jobs, when we got paid
We’d buy cheap spirits and drink them straight
Me and my friends have not thrown up in so long, oh how we’ve grown
But I can’t wait to go home

I’m on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill

One friend left to sell clothes
One works down by the coast
One had two kids but lives alone
One’s brother overdosed
One’s already on his second wife
One’s just barely getting by
But these people raised me and I can’t wait to go home

And I’m on my way, I still remember
These old country lanes
When we did not know the answers
And I miss the way you make me feel, it’s real
We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill
Over the castle on the hill