Blog 156 Winding Down
Flashback to February 7, 2014: Our sixtieth-class reunion is just several months away. To whet interest and anticipation, I posted Blog 1. There was so much to write about, pictures to post, memories to recall. The reunion downtown on the River Walk proved to be one of the very best of our nine class reunions. It turned out to be our last, but to repeated questions about the next, a decision was reached to meet for lunch twice a year. We did that until the pandemic slammed into us and idled intentions to continue.
Because there was news to report about our dear old Jeff High, occasional photos, and opportunities to editorialize now and then, I have continued to post a blog, though the frequency has fallen off in the past several years. The statistics show me that far fewer are reading it as well.
My intent has been to post useful news of classmates and related school events. Sadly, news of classmates is usually of another obituary. I have not included gossip or personal news, such as learning of another case of dementia. A dearth of usable news has left me to prattle on with the odd memory that pops up.
For some years, I have paid a somewhat modest fee to keep the blog posted with the domain www.jeffclassof54.com and free of banner ads. With the annual fee for renewal here, I have decided not renew. That means that if I have something to post, it will require a different address, probably www.jeffclassof54.wordpress.com and some ads inserted. I have some regrets about doing this, but also some frustrations because much of what I post loses its formatting or omits items.
Thank God, I’m Old!
With all the bad news in the world and concern over the loss of civility, I want to insert some humor here. In the musical Barnum, about the circus impresario, there is a song, “Thank God, I’m Old”. I posted it here once before, but the lyrics hit a lot of truths. If you care to hear it sung, the Internet address is here, with the lyrics below to follow along or just read. I urge you to listen and read along. If this does not take you to the site, type in Thank God, I’m Old
When you see the shape the world is in
When the way it is ain’t what it’s been
When folks just care for gold,
Thank God, I’m old
When you take a gander at the news
When you hear the language people use
When no sweet songs are sung
I don’t wanna be young
Daddy Time, he
Doesn’t fret me
Should he spy me
That don’t upset me
Let him eye me
Come and get me
That’s fine by me
Age don’t worry me
When you see the way folks misbehave
When it’s only good times that they crave
When kids are much too bold
Thank God, I’m old
When there ain’t no He-Men left alive
When they tell you three men out of five
End up locked up or hung
I don’t wanna be young.
Gonna get me dressed and powdered down
Call myself a hack and go to town
See every shady street
These feet once strolled.
Then I’m gonna slip back on the shelf
Have myself a nip and tell myself
Though my back buckles and bends
My hair’s got silvery ends
When I see all of my friends
Laid out and cold
Thank God, I’m Old!
Aging is a process that refines our sensibilities and causes me to ponder about life. I am thankful for my many years and good health. At the same time, I wonder when is the tipping point that we reach and surpass our usefulness. Not long before she died, I had good conversations with Ruth Hernandez Stewart. She said, “I have had a good life and I am ready to go whenever the time comes.” Her son informed me of her passing several months later.
Books tell of S.A.’s Lassos and Trinity Tigers
Paula Allen Guest Columnist for the San Antonio Express-News
Sunday April 9, 2023
Lasso Alumni Association
The Lassos are seen on a weeklong goodwill trip to Mexico in 1952, stopping at Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral on a sightseeing tour before performing.
Before Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972, brought equal treatment to male and female students, women had comparatively few options to play sports in educational settings. Two new books describe the development of local programs that did allow young women to experience the benefits of competition and leadership on the field — one in a high school adjusting to a changing neighborhood and the other in a university striving to balance academics and athletics.
The Lasso Legacy — Then and Now: More than Roping“was compiled by the Lasso Alumni Association book committee, former members of Thomas Jefferson High School’s trick-roping pep squad.
As far as they’ve been able to find out, the Lassos — founded in 1932, the year the school opened — are the first and only such unit, pairing rope-twirling skills with marching drills to bring a little extra Texas sass and shine to their routines.
At a time when school sports options for girls were few, the Lassos were a stealth path to the same recognition and lessons in teamwork that boys learned from athletics. First sponsored by physical education teacher Constance Douglas, the Lassos were the school’s “special pride,” according to Life magazine, March 7, 1938. Members were “the pick of the student body,” according to the story about the “Most Outstanding High School in America.”
Lassos, who must meet academic and character standards, traditionally are accepted only after practicing rope tricks for months — at least one hopeful “wore a big bare spot” in her parents’ gravel driveway. Once accepted, Lassos attended every practice, no excuses, learning a different drill for each football game … even the Thanksgiving game with rival Brackenridge High School, when they brown-bagged family dinners to eat on the sidelines.
Lassos marched in local parades and greeted visiting celebrities, such as Gene Autry, Ed Sullivan, John Wayne and PBS newsman/Jefferson alum Jim Lehrer. In 1939, they toured several states to the north, stopping at the White House for tea with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who remembered “a group of San Antonio high-school students in cowboy attire who were on their way to the New York World’s Fair (to) give exhibitions of roping.” Among other stops, they celebrated the 1 millionth car to come off the line at the Ford plant in Detroit, with a Lasso on the hood for a publicity shot.
Over the years, the Lassos appeared in a 1940 movie, “High School” and strutted their stuff at a jai alai game in Mexico City and at both the Epcot center in Orlando, Fla., and the Astrodome in Houston. They even posed for a Marc Jacobs fashion shoot.
The only thing that broke their stride was societal change.
As neighborhood demographics shifted during the late 20th century, more Jefferson students worked after school, and it was harder for families to find money for uniforms. By 2006, there were only a dozen Lassos.
Alums from the era when the group was 150 strong got together to help — an early meeting was held at Rosario’s restaurant, owned by former Lasso Lisa Wong — and in 2007 formed the Lassos Alumni Association. Alums have passed on their roping knowledge to current students, raised funds for uniforms and provided more than $50,000 in college scholarships to date for graduating seniors. Together, former and current Lassos built back the program and saved a school tradition.
“The Lasso Legacy” will be available for $45, signed by book committee members, at the association’s annual Fiesta get-together, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, at Los Barrios, 4223 Blanco Road. Afterward, the book will be available at http://www.lassos.org for $50 plus postage. (Full disclosure, I wrote the foreword for the book.)
This is probably not the final blog, but I will leave it for a while and turn my attention to recording genealogic and family history for my grandchildren. That is a worth project that everyone ought to tackle.