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Reunion 45 Lodging

Discounted room block (Friday & Saturday, 9/20 & 9/21) at the Tulsa Club Hotel, 115 East 5th Street, 918-582-5722. Ask for the Edison Reunion group rate: $159.00 for a King Premier room, or $189.00 for a suite. Register online using this handy link.

Please note: These discounted rates are for a limited number of rooms. Reservations must be made by Saturday, August 31 to secure these rates.

That’s a question many of you <cough> Jeff Swafford <cough> have been asking.

This should give you an idea who has registered through July 27. That is, if those memory cells are still working.

I’ll try to update from time to time as those registrations roll in.

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Naturally, the Reunion Committee is always the last to register. I’ll pencil them in anyway…

Much of my mid-to-late adolescence was frittered away cruising with my buddies in Tulsa’s Southside, an area which during my extended abscence came to be known as “Midtown”, at least by Google Maps and real estate agents. (When my family moved to Tulsa in 1966, 51st Street was a two lane strip through the woods on the edge of town; remember Pickles? The Edison school district will ever be “the Southside”, at least in my memory.)

Bell’s Amusement Park was a frequent hangout for our group of dateless miscreants, mainly because admission was free and gasoline had become expensive. One pastime was to try to cheat the Ske-Ball machine out of tickets that could only be redeemed for cheap trinkets. Once we were caught red-handed by a Bell’s goon, our now gone-but-not-forgotten classmate Phil Hensley: “Your tickets are no good,” he informed us with finality.

Rats! Busted by The Man! (Although I’m fairly certain the statute of limitations has run on our criminal enterprise, I shall not name my co-conspirators, even though two of them have gone ahead of us to a reward that even Bob Bell couldn’t offer. Ava shalom.)

Bell’s occupied real estate on Tulsa’s Fairgounds next to the IPE Building. (The last International Petroleum Exposition was held there in 1973, IIRC. After that, Tulsa lost credible claim to the title “Oil Capitol of the World”, although front-bumper license plates paraded the boast for years after. Bell’s is history, too.)

Down the street the iconic Golden Driller held sentry over the IPE Building’s main entrance, a Tulsa landmark and stoic reminder of Tulsa’s pre-OPEC glory days.

One of our rituals, as we rolled down 21st Street past the light at Pittsburg Ave.: someone in the car would crack wise, “The Golden Driller has no drill,” more a genuflection than a joke.

Forty-five years later, the Tulsa World brings this article, which prompted this reminiscence:

Tulsa County to spend $1 million to enhance Golden Driller at Expo Square

Here’s hoping that long-overdue ‘enhancement’ helps the gender-ambiguous Driller cut a more macho profile, if you catch my drift. Good luck on your transition, old buddy.

Please visit the Reunion Registration Page for schedule info and handy links!

Tim Holt, David DeShane, Cary Van Schoyck Nalley, Marsha Evans Mathis, Eva Bowen Baumgarten, Robin Williams, Don Thompson, Carol Herndon Klenda, Libby Bowman Doughty, Kevin M Johnson, Kennetta Klaxton, Greg Phillips, Shelley Trussell, Shelia Glover, Becky Redding O’Neal, Sandy Howard, Sally McGoffin Brown, Cathy Ford Williams, John Neilsen

These folks have worked tirelessly and consumed an untold amount of barbecue to make sure we all have a blast September 20-21.

1977, maybe? During a semester break, a gang of us, mostly Edison classmates, met at a small club in a strip mall in east Tulsa. Word had gotten around town that hometown hero Dwight Twilley would be playing an unannounced show.

But Twilley would play after the regularly scheduled out-of-town act, The Autumn People. I think it was a power trio: Spinal Tap minus the talent. All I remember was leather fringe and hair and loud music. And a very bored, impatient audience.

At the end of their set, it was dead. Silent. Then after about five seconds, Walt Kleinecke stood up, clapped three times and gave the Autumn People a very derisive cheer: “Rock and roll!! Woo!!

It was the only noise in the place except pinball machines and clinking beer glasses.

Autumn People: “Alriiiiight, Tulsa! You want more?!

Not no, but hell no.

We got the obligatory rock encore anyway.

At the end, in the Big Finale, the Autumn People unleashed some kind of pyrotechnics. Imagine setting off fireworks in a small, low-ceiling strip mall. It’s a miracle the acoustic ceiling tiles didn’t catch fire, but the tiny venue filled with that acrid stage-smoke that makes your lungs burn.

No contest. The Autumn People. The absolute worst.

Sorry I don’t remember who else was there, but Walt’s solo standing-O was unforgettable.

Tricky Dick and Me

The Friday before Election Day 1972, the Nixon campaign scheduled a last-minute whistle stop rally in a huge hangar at the Tulsa airport. It was our junior year; school let out early, so I hitched a ride home (I thought). My friends thought it would be a great idea to go see the President. Super, I says.

The problem was, the rally was in the late afternoon. Our last football game of the season was that night.

The crowd at the airport was huge. We had to park two miles away and walk to the hangar.

Nov. 3, 1972 – A crowd of 20,000 greeted President Nixon in Tulsa. A huge traffic jam prevented an estimated 10,000 more people from reaching Tulsa International Airport, where he spoke …

In his speech, Nixon promised “a peace with honor” in Vietnam.

A small group of George McGovern supporters attempted to interrupt the speech with chants of “no more Nixon” and “Watergate.” Nixon supporters tried to drown them out with their own chants of “four more years” and the combined noise kept many from hearing the president’s speech.

In the election a few days later, Nixon defeated Sen. McGovern in a landslide. He also carried all 77 counties in Oklahoma by a margin of more than half a million votes …

Being short is a big disadvantage in a large crowd, and it seemed like I was surrounded by a basketball team. To top it off, the place had the acoustics of … well, an airplane hangar.

Never laid eyes on the S.O.B. Never heard a word he said.

Not only that, the rally didn’t matter one whit. The next Tuesday, the Nixon/Agnew ticket rolled to a historic landslide. Before three years passed, both men had resigned in disgrace.

In the football game the night of the rally, we got our asses kicked in a game we should have won. I got on the field for exactly one play, during which I got kicked in the ankle. By the end of the game it looked like a misshapen eggplant.

To this day, I don’t like crowds, I don’t trust politicians, and I’m glad I was never a fanboy.

Claudette Rogers

by Peter Robertson

I’m 61 years old and convinced I know everything worth knowing. But assuming any self improvement is still possible, I want to be more like Claudette Rogers.

Claudette found a lump on her back, and began to document it on her Facebook page in the same even tones (and with pictures!) that she wrote about that evil, man-eating, thorn-encrusted plant she bought. I want to be more like Claudette.

The lump became more serious, but Claudette didn’t flinch: her posts remained brutally honest and without a hint of self-pity. I want to be more like Claudette.

Claudette over the past several months has called upon reserves of inner strength that beggar description. She, and her alter ego Dot, have kept their senses of humor when lesser people would have seen theirs fail. I want to be more like Claudette.

We spend our lifetimes building relationships with friends and family that are among the most important parts of human existence, yet many of us have trouble calling upon those relationships to ask for or accept help when it is offered. Claudette recognized when she could use help, and accepted it so that she could conserve her physical and emotional energy for the battle that really matters. I want to be more like Claudette.

Our bodies fail us as certainly as the seasons turn. Not a one of us can escape that truth. On my slow march to the grave, I noticed arthritis starting over a decade ago. Type two diabetes showed up five years ago, though it’s well controlled with medication. A skin cancer four years ago was little more than an annoyance. Four additional ones a couple of months ago, including a melanoma, were a little more sobering. Through it all, as my family can attest, I have whined and cried about each new malady like a mewling baby. I want to be more like Claudette.

Adversity doesn’t build character. It reveals it. Claudette’s struggle has cast a light on her extraordinary character. The six decades of my life have been blessed with ridiculously few things to complain of. When the troubles come to me, as they come to us all, I want to be more like Claudette.

June 24, 2017

I’m taking the liberty of cross-posting Peter Robertson’s beautiful tribute to our dear classmate, who passed into eternity on Saturday after a long battle with cancer. Well done, Pete. Well done, Claudette. Steve

Claudette’s obituary in the Tulsa World, July 13, 2017.

Mme. TenZythoff

Dina TenZythoff was Edison Jr. High’s French teacher. Learning French played hell on my spelling in English, but Mme. Tenzythoff’s old-school teaching method helped me understand concepts of grammar (e.g., “le subjonctif”) better than I would have in English class, were I to understand them at all.
On the rare occasion I attempt speaking a little French with my friends who grew up hearing/speaking Cajun French, they wonder why my pronunciation is inflected with Dutch.
I have only this to add: “Je voudrais du jambon, une salade … et une pâtisserie!” R.I.P. Mme. TenZythoff.

patrick-henry-6-3-1967-68

Top Row: Mr. Shepherd, Principal; Mrs. Lawson (Kennedy); Loni Rombach, Denise Birchfield, Tim Hannis, Mary Vruwink, Larry Seale, Claudia Lukken.

Row 2: Kenneta Claxton, ? Moore, Jill Nelson, Yolanda Nava.

Row 3: ? Talbert, Mark Gassaway, Cindy Polson, Bruce Zwahlen, Daneille Irvin, Harold Sanditen, ? Adamson, Mike Wilcox.

Row 4: Carol Clark, Vicky Pollok, Brett McCormick, Cynthia Hilst, Lisa Johnson.

Row 5: Nancy Noel, Me, Mark Bennett, ? Tillison, Paula Mashburn, Chip Allison.

(My memory is not that good; I wrote the names on the original…)

These are my mostly random memories of 6th grade at Patrick Henry.

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Blue Boy

The summer of 1967 was the Summer of Love in San Francisco. I remember being fascinated by the images of freaks and hippies in Life magazine, and by Blue-Boy the Acid-head getting his come-uppance from Sgt. Friday on Dragnet. Tulsa was still a white-bread city, just about as insulated and segregated as it could be; Admiral Place was the de facto demarcation line between White and Black. Schools were still segregated, and blacks were sparsely represented in popular culture, mostly in subservient roles. Julia was still in the future.

The first personal interaction I can remember with a black person was with Mrs. Lawson, who was Section 6-3’s homeroom teacher. (Later in the year, she would marry and become Mrs. Kennedy.) Mrs. Lawson was young, attractive and vivacious in an era when the typical teacher might be uncharitably described as a “schoolmarm”. Mrs. Lawson had a quick wit and she refused to treat her 6th-graders like babies.

At Patrick Henry the 6th grade teachers organized an end-of-the-year trip to Six Flags in Dallas for the graduating students. The bus left at 6 am and returned close to midnight. The trip was a privilege the teachers held over their classes’ heads all year long, as the teachers could blackball potential troublemakers for misbehavior. Mrs. Lawson told us, “I’d be afraid to send some of you kids off to Dallas — you might come home little mommies and daddies!”

Which reminds me of another rite of passage for 6th graders — “hygiene films” about our budding adolescence, one for boys, one for girls. We were given information slips to take home to our parents, so they could opt to hold students out, sex ed being very controversial. My slip got, uh, lost. If the boys’ film conveyed any information about the birds and the bees it was lost on me; all I remember was something about growing hair in my armpits and needing to use deodorant. My understanding of Mrs. Lawson’s “mommies and daddies” remark remained abstract.

1968 was a year of social upheaval: the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, the King assassination and the ensuing riots. If we talked about these issues in class, I don’t remember. We were, after all, 6th graders, and Mrs. Lawson had us focused on grammar and math.

One date I remember is March 12, 1968. I rode my bike to school that morning, wearing a light jacket. During the day a Blue Norther blew in; the temperature plummeted and wet, heavy globs of late-season snow started to fall. They let us out of school early, and I hitched a ride home in the neighbors’ car. Total accumulation was about 12 inches. It was several days before electrical service was restored.

(In my family, we remember that storm because that’s the day my brother Denny first met his future wife Dee. She was a senior at Edison and her car was stuck in the snow. Ever chivalrous, Denny offered her a ride home. They will celebrate their 48th anniversary in January.)

I didn’t sleep a wink the night before the Six Flags trip. We had a blast. None of my classmates became little mommies and daddies as a result (as far as I know; maybe in the other sections). Mrs. Lawson-Kennedy had done her part to introduce us to the world beyond Patrick Henry Elementary School. The next year, most of us would be “7-B’s” at Edison Junior High.