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…No, 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:

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


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•up / 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—imagine that in the 1950’s! In the spring of ’56, Ed and I and others were in a ballet chorus—Madame (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
–Englebert Humperdinck

A Place in the Sun— Englebert Humperdinck

Island in the Sun—Harry Belafonte

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’t

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.


Jerome Harris Jr.

JULY 10, 1936 – SEPTEMBER 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 – beginning in his professional career – 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 – Kathy Milthorpe, Leslie Lundquist and Wes Harris – and their respective spouses – Mike Milthorpe, Jeff Lundquist and Brenda Harris. Finally, he was a beloved grandfather (“Papoo”) that will be greatly missed by Hannah Milthorpe (including fiancé, 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:

Lapsed2020 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’t Want to Hear

Blog 127

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—alive 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 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 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—RIP

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—one for her and one for each of her four children.


March 8, 1937


October 16, 2020

Raquel Odila Velásquez, 83 passed away on October 16, 2020. Raquel was born in Laredo, Texas on March 8, 1937 to Dolores Contreras Velásquez and Juan Ángel Velásquez.

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-Velásquez 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 Velásquez (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…and 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—as Ed’s—is 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—and painful—news 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…very 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—those whose friendship and love that I feel I betrayed, and whose loss leaves a painful emptiness in my heart.


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




Blog 125 Another One Gone

Blog 125 Another One Gone

It has been pleasant these past several blogs to have no bad news to pass along. Sadly, here is another of our class who has left for other pastures. Before that, however, “other pastures” reminds me of certain occasions at my company in years gone by. Over time, I came to recognized that whenever it was late on a Friday afternoon and someone came to my office, it was to advise me that they had accepted a job elsewhere. We would chatt for a bit as they worked up their courage to say that they were leaving and then we talked about their move some—where they were going, what they would be doing, etc. In the chat, I always reminded them that they would not find that the grass there was greener. Rather, I told them they would just be grazing in different grass that was not much changed from where they were.

Kay Haller

March 19, 1937-October 23, 2020

This info came to me via the Bell’s, who had heard from Kay’s brother, Roger. I knew Roger back when, so we have exchanged several emails since and also with Gay Arnold Harris. Gay and Kay were first cousins.

Roger told me that Kay suffered with severe dementia for the past eight years and was in a memory care facility in Dallas. She was married to Jon Cobb for 60+ years. Jon was Jeff class of ’53 and died last year. The obituary I found was only two lines. Should something more be published later, I will pass it along. Roger said that there will be a family graveside service at the Gruene family plot at Comal County cemetery in January.

Here are some of my memories of Kay, of whom I was always very fond.  Kay and I were mid-termers entering Jeff in January ’51.  I had transferred over from Mark Twain, and Kay was in a group that befriended me when I did not know anyone.  Her parents and mine were friends, so Kay may have been told to watch for me.

It has been at least fifteen years since hearing from Kay.

Roger told me Kay did not do emails and Jon was not especially diligent about doing them.

My last memory of Kay’s mom, Emma, occurred in 1979, after my family and I had moved back to San Antonio.  We were visiting churches and one Sunday went to University UMC.  We walked in and I thought, “this must be close to a retirement home, because everyone has gray hair.”  I did not realize it was the old Woodlawn Methodist Church with a new name.

After the service, a one of the gray hairs came up to me and said, “You are Jack Stutts.  Do you know who I am?”  I had no clue, which she must have realized, because she then said, “I am Kay’s mother.”  I looked at her.  Finally, I said, “Kay who?”  She said, “Why Kay Haller, of course.”  Then she said “You’re not a young man anymore.”  (I was 42 at that time.)  I asked about Kay, and Mrs. Haller said she had not changed a bit since high school.  Next, Warner Fassnidge’s mother came up and we went through a similar routine.  I concluded I was not ready for all that, and we did join another church.

If anyone cares to share a memory of Kay, please add your story here.

I mentioned Gay Arnold earlier. She was Jeff class of ’52. She was a majorette, which was claim to fame in my book. I thought majorettes were the cream of the crop at Jeff. Gay was widowed last year. She was married to Tom Harris, a well-known and beloved horticulturist here in San Antonio. I met Tom through Bexar County Master Gardeners and am honored to have known him.

Till next time…


Blog 124 Updates and More Recollections.

Blog 124 Updates and More Recollections.

Happy election day to all. Thankfully it is almost over.

I mentioned in a September email that we would look toward December 3rd for the next luncheon, but we must postpone once again. I doubt that many of us are willing to venture out to a large gathering, even if the restaurant would agree to let us in, which is not happening.

After the September email, a bunch wrote to update us. I include those comments here. Also, I will post a picture from 66 years ago as appearing in the Monticello yearbook. If this sounds like gossip central, please forgive. For years, I have eschewed passing along “news,” but as we are all aging out so quickly, I have had a change of heart and will pass along what I know. If any of you have any cogent thoughts or pithy (I am not lisping) comments, send them along and see your name in print.

Mike Esparza

in recently. “I’m still around. I move with the help of my cane or walker. Health is good. Daughters protective telling me to stay in my apartment. I make short trips to keep my car’s battery working. I live in an independent living facility but we still lose neighbors. Some residents have moved out to less expensive locations because they are still living but don’t want to run out of money.” Note:
Mike was one of our resident artists on the Declaration and Monticello. Following these comments, I have posted one of his drawings from a 1954Declaration issue.

And from Ofelia Villarreal Siordio:

“I have added the December 3rd date on my calendar.  I was in San Antonio the last week of July and again the first week of September 2020.  I had wanted to go by Jeff to see my brick, but never had a chance.  Hopefully, on my next trip.  Hope all is well with you and your family.

Ben Williams commenting on planting a tree to honor or memorialize someone:

My mother had a tree planted for her on the property (Jefferson) for being the president of the PTA the year before I got to Jeff in 1950. They had a long period doing so and hers was the smallest when I got there. A few years later all the dedicated trees were chopped down. I did not know that until we had one of our gatherings. I went by to see it and all were gone.

Jeanine Kliefoth
sent a new address and email for Pat White,
who has moved to Oklahoma from California.

Nancy Driesslein Pearce,

Ruth Hernandez Stewart,

Kay Matteson Gregory,

and Lon Carpenter

all said hi.

Rudy Alvarez

sent along a series of cartoons reflecting his political views. I would like to post the funnier of those, but some classmates would be offended. But thanks, Rudy.

Rich Kaufman

is staying in Castroville through November-if you need his address to say hi, let me know. Rich and Carol are spending a year on the road, travelling around in a 39-foot RV.

Drawing by Mike Esparza;

More recollections, again about teachers:

Mr. Daniel:
The story here must be an urban legend by now and still told about that teacher who spit on the window. Mr. Daniel taught math down the hall toward the cafeteria and on the outside overlooking the parking lot and ball football practice field. I was never in one of his classes and do not know if he was a good teacher or not. However, I am well attuned to this particular anecdote. Rumor was that Mr. Daniel chewed tobacco in class and on occasion would stroll over to the open window to clear his mouth of the collected saliva (i.e. spit out the window.) I suspect it was snuff he was dipping rather than chewing tobacco. Do you remember that the windows were without screens? So the story goes that someone (probably Danny Sciaraffa) eased the window down when Mr. Daniel was unaware. Then when he ambled over to expectorate, his missile went splat against the window and a brown stain coursed down the pane. Was it true? Did anyone actually witness it? I don’t know, but it makes a good story.

After T. Guy Rogers
retired, he was succeeded by Mr. Gott, and subsequently Mr. Chambers. Mrs. Talliaferro, Mrs. Petrich, and another teacher
I cannot recall formed a triumvirate attempting to weaken Mr. Chamber’s authority and exert their own agenda. Mr. Rogers ruled with a velvet glove and was in tight control. The three teachers made Mr. Chambers life miserable until one summer, when he arranged for each of the teachers to be transferred to separate schools in September. I remember reading about his coup in the Express-News.

Back to
Mrs. Talliferro. She was a martinet, tall, thin, very black hair (most likely enhanced by her beautician) and always reminding us of her husband’s importance as the principal of Horace Mann. I did like her as a teacher. Some years later, after 1979, when I moved back to San Antonio, I was in Dennis Jewelry one day and I heard this booming voice from the opposite end of the counter. “That’s Talliaferro. Spelled T-a-l-l-i-a-f-e-r-r-o. Quickly I turned and saw an abundantly overweight woman with grey hair standing there. Naturally, I approached and asked if she taught at Jeff; she had and claimed to remember me. Then she launched into her fantasy of how she and the other two had been transferred to three schools which were all in trouble, implying that they were failing because of poor administration. She stated that each was sent to save the school. I do not believe that was the story behind the story. Mrs. Talliaferro died at 102.

Enough for this time.

Blog 123 The Girl with Green Hair–and other Recollections

Blog 123 The Girl with Green Hair–and other Recollections

The Senior brainThey say our senior’s brain is crammed to capacity, which is why we tend to forget current things such as why we walked into another room (bathroom excluded.) People ask me how I remember so many things about our days long past.

True confession is that I do not. If I want some ideas for these blogs, I can get out the yearbook, look at the pictures, read the captions and inscriptions from classmates, and that breaks loose something long locked away memories from the nooks or crannies of my overcrowded brain. Wish I could then delete it to make room for something else.

I also have a collection of stuff people have sent me over the years. At this stage, I am sorting through things to declutter. Some I toss and some I put in a box labelled DOD. That means Ditch on Death. No need to sort through for hidden treasure or valuable documents after my demise.


I have thought back to the teachers under whom I labored. Some were exceptional, some not so much.

Ida Mae Murray
for algebra. Here was an excitable woman, but not necessarily about teaching. In algebra 3 or 4, Susan Crawford sat in front of me. One day, she turned around and whispered, “I have tried to divide zero into a number and I don’t know how.” I had no clue and raised my hand and asked. Miss Murray begin dancing around and all she could say was something like “Don’t ever do that. Don’t try. It can’t be done. You get infinity.” No explanation as to why. In a trigonometry or some other class, the subject arose and Mr. McDaniel
explained the reason why you cannot divide by zero. ‘Tis a pity that Miss. Murray would not explain, assuming she knew the reason. Anybody out there who can explain, post a reply. Otherwise, I will reveal the reason next time.

The best story about Miss Murray, however, has been told many times and might be considered an urban legend, if it is just a tale. Here is the story: Her classroom was on the second floor above the east entrance with all the carved stonework. There as a fairly wide ledge just below the windows, which had no screens, if you remember. One day, David Frazier
jumped up and shouted out “I don’t get algebra, and can’t take it anymore.” He ran over and climbed out the window and knelt on the ledge below eye level. So the tale goes, Miss Murray ran out of the room and down to the office. While she was out, David climbed back into the classroom and took his seat. When Miss Murray returned with Mr. Rogers in tow, everyone was calmly seated and David was in his chair. If not true, it makes for a great tall tale.

Miss Grace Huey, chairman of the English department…I was not in any of her classes, so I don’t know much about her, except her demise. One summer a while after our graduation, she was at home moving a chest of drawers. Reports are that the chest fell over on her and she could not extricate herself. Her body was found sometime later under the chest.

Miss Olga Vogel
in history. Miss Vogel is another teacher I did not experience. She was the only faculty member with a PhD and looked like one of the oldest on the faculty.

Mr. McDaniel, Mr. Daniel, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Talliaferro, Miss Brewer—snippets of memories have come back for all of these, from our days in the classroom to crossing paths with them later on. Watch for those next time. To post memories you readers may have, just click on the button to post a comment.

I could have proposed to almost any girl in our class!
I could have purchased an engagement ring because I knew her ring size. I never did, however, because I lacked the funds for a diamond.

One day in our junior year Mrs. McIntyre, who was our class sponsor, summoned me to her classroom and advised that I had been selected to take orders for senior class rings. Mrs. McIntyre moved to Jeff from Mark Twain the same time as I had, and I suppose she remembered me from a class at Twain. I accepted the job, which meant that I would sit in the ticket booth outside the auditorium over both lunch periods for several months to take orders, measure ring sizes, and take a deposit. When the rings arrived in May, I would again sit in the booth for delivery. My commission was fifty cents per ring. Total earned $187.50. Of the 420 in our graduating class, 375 ordered senior class rings.

The Girls with Green Hair:
Today, we see hair of all colors. Way back then, everyone was blond, brunette, red, auburn, black, or some shade in between, except Bill Crocker, of course. Bill already had a lot of grey hairs showing.

But one day, Dorothy Crawford
showed up with her hair definitely on the green side. Dorothy was a blond, you may remember, but this is not a blond joke. News spread rapidly around the campus. If I recall Dorothy’s explanation, she was on the swim team and the chlorine in the swimming pool water had turned her hair green. Dorothy, please comment on this recollection and how you changed back to natural blond. Also, I believe Joy Robertson, Carolyn Taylor, and Diane Landers
were also on the team. Did they go green as well?

More next time. Here are some old photos in the meantime.

Beth Wilcox

Frank Klein

Pat Hileman Sparks


Jerry Harris

Connie Mayes

Skipper Quick

Ruth Hernandez Stewart

Peggy Frazier Jones

Susan Crawford LaVieux


Blog 122 Ode to September

Blog 122 Ode to September

Another September is almost gone. Before it disappears for twelve more months, I am compelled to offer a paean to a memorable song– September Song. It is so descriptive of where we are on the timeline of our life.

I will give two versions to sample (click on the sites below) and then I will offer some comments about the song and its history. I hope you listen to both versions as you read this.

Willie Nelson

Walter Huston

Hauntingly sad but beautiful when life is close to the end. I think of us in our class when I hear this…it’s a long, long way from May to December. We graduated in May and are in the late autumn of our life, headed to our December in not too many years. Yet the memories of happiness and enduring love still linger.

The Willie Nelson version is from an album entitled “Stardust.” His voice is perfect for this masterpiece. His album includes other great classic hits. Google and listen to all of them.

Walter Huston sang the song on Broadway in Knickerbocker Holiday. Knickerbocker Holiday is a 1938 musical written by Kurt Weill (music) and Maxwell Anderson (book and lyrics); based loosely on Washington Irving’s Father Knickerbocker’s Stories about life in 17th-century New Netherland (old New York). “September Song wasspecifically for Walter Huston.

Incidentally, Walter Huston was the father of John Huston, the noted movie director.

As the song says we feel the days grow shorter the longer we live. As a boy a day was long and summers lasted forever, Now when night comes I have wondered how could the day be so short.  At 83, I appreciate this song so much more. I liked it when I was young but did not grasp its full meaning.


Here are the words. There are a couple of lead in verses not included but are on the Walter Huston version.


Oh, it’s a long long while
From May to December
But the days grow short
When you reach September

When the autumn weather
Turns leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time
For the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down
To a precious few
September, November

And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you
These precious days
I’ll spend with you

Oh, the days dwindle down
To a precious few
September, November

And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you
These precious days
I’ll spend with you
These precious days
I’ll spend with you

Kurt Weill was German and probably best known for his song, Mack the Knife and for Threepenny Opera. He was married to Lotte Lenya, also German. I found a version of her singing the song as well if you become enamored with the song. She played the Russian agent in James Bond’s “From Russia with Love.”

Lotte Lenya:

And here is another Willie Nelson with brilliant autumn colors.

Many others have recorded the song—Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peter/Paul/&Mary, etc.

October is coming up. It is a glorious month, the most perfect of the year weatherwise, here in San Antonio.

Next time we will talk about the girl with green hair.