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45 Year Celebration!

Save the Date: September 21, 2019

Place: Tulsa Club Hotel, 5th & Cincinnati, Downtown

Watch this space for updates.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

 

My early childhood in Kansas was a mashup of the idyllic TV lives of Opie and The Beav. In summertime, boys played wiffle ball and rode bikes all day long. When it got really hot we swam at Wilson Lake (an old sand pit, really). I tagged along with my older brother and friends to the railroad trestle on the river — the Little Arkansas (pronounced ar-KAN-sas once you cross the state line) — to fish and catch crawdads. We shot firecrackers and BB guns and played games with no parental supervision. Dad’s back-porch whistle, which could be heard blocks away, was our dinner bell. After dinner, we held hide-and-go-seek marathons until way past dark.

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Skelly had the best road maps.

Then came the first of several oil-industry dips and turns that would shape my life. My dad labored over linen maps as a draftsman for Skelly Oil Company. Fifty years ago this month, in August of 1966, Skelly closed its Wichita District office. Dad’s next Skelly paycheck, they told him, could be picked up at the headquarters office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the “Oil Capital of the World“.

Moving meant leaving Valley Center, a little bedroom community on the edge of the Great Plains outside Wichita. For me, it meant leaving friends and school. My older sister and brother opted to pursue their educations in Kansas, which was their home. In Tulsa, I would be an only child. The new kid.

First impressions of Tulsa from our house-hunting trip were not good.We drove the 200 miles in blistering heat. Our old Rambler lacked A/C. As we finally arrived on the outskirts of Tulsa, we passed Depression-era shotgun houses along U.S. 64 in Sand Springs. We continued on past refineries and Route 66 motor courts that lined Southwest Boulevard in industrial West Tulsa.

Goodbye to Opie and The Beav and the land where the deer and the antelope play. My 9 year-old imagination ran wild: Would the midwestern Maleys’ new neighbors be the Joads and the Clampetts of Bug Tussle (before Uncle Jed went a-shootin’ for some food)?

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Winston Court ca.1966. Not to be confused with the Windsor Court.

First blessing: the Winston Motor Court had a swimming pool.

I was miserable on that house-hunting trip. I couldn’t know it then, but the Maleys’ second blessing was an angel masquerading in the form of a real estate agent named Shatzie Wilson. Shatzie was pleasant, kind and patient with the whiny 9 year-old in the backseat of her station wagon as we scoured available housing in south and east Tulsa. In the days before realtor.com and Redfin, an agent’s only source of market intelligence was a 6-pound Multilist book.

Shatzie had good advice for Ann and Bob. She focused their search on areas with good schools. There were houses in their modest price range in an area called Ranch Acres. Patrick Henry Elementary was a feeder for Edison Junior and Senior High, all schools with great reputations.

Once they found a house they liked, Shatzie advised Ann and Bob to act quickly since the market was brisk. It would be a good idea, she said, to offer $100 over the asking price in case there were multiple offers. (In 1966, $100 was a lot of money.) The strategy worked; another offer had come in at the asking price at the same time.

The little brick veneer ranch on Louisville Ave. would be home for Ann and Bob for the next 30+ years.

To be continued in Part II.

Do Me a Solid

While everyone is in a party mood, please take the time to go to this link and fill out the form to update your contact info. Two lines: Name (incl. maiden name) and preferred email address. You can add phone numbers, physical address etc., even give up your friends in the comments, but all that is optional.

If you received an email from me around May 12 and are OK with my using that address, you don’t have to do anything.

If you don’t want emails, you can keep up with class events by joining the Facebook Group page. I assume that anyone who has a Facebook account and any interest at all can find it. We are, after all, grown-ups. Most of us.

Even without FB, anyone with a computer and access to The Google can find this blog. Want proof? Click here.

I’m also sensitive to the fact that, for any one of about 114 reasons, someone may not wish to reconnect. I can relate. High school was painful at times. For many years I believed I was exclusively attracted to girls who were either maternal or into good grooming. That’s because whenever I asked a girl for for a date, the answer I got was either “I’m babysitting that night” or “I’m washing my hair.” Once I got “I have to babysit and wash my hair.” Talk about covering all the bases.

Anyways, thanks for your help in keeping the contact info current. Since I don’t live in Tulsa, I’m not always running into someone at the grocery store, at the liquor store at the gym or at church.

 

 

 

 

Updated Lists

Go to page Where Are They Now? to see who we’re missing, and to send email address updates for you and your friends. (Email addresses will not be published.)

Heidi’s questionnaire

Heidi asked me a couple of weeks ago to post this — she got tired of waiting on me and emailed it herself. (Sorry Heidi!)

Edison Class of 1974 Survey

It’s a pdf form you can complete on your computer. Email the completed form to Heidi at hnelson14 >at< gmail >dot< com.

From Heidi Nelson:

Don’t forget to order your 40th reunion picture CD that Mark has so graciously shot for us. It includes the whole class and shots throughout the night. He has also agreed to include any of your pictures on it, if you wish to share them with the class. He didn’t charge us for coming out and recording the night, so show your appreciation by buying a copy for only $22. Don’t delay, do it today!!

Send your check or money order to:

Mark Montgomery
P.O. Box 3203…
Tulsa OK 74101

Include on a separate piece of paper, your name address including city, state and zip. (Don’t forget to include your own pics)

Coney Mania

Clint Hughes wants me to remind the class of the Great Coney Hunt on Saturday. All interested parties should meet at James Coney Island, Southroads Mall, 41st and Yale at noon sharp. You should know where that is.

by Julie Price Davidson

How I would love to go back in time and observe myself in 1974. With 40 more years of life experience behind me, what would I say to that teenage girl? As the reunion approaches, I’ve had a few thoughts.

1. Listen to your parents.

Your mom and dad love you more than you can possibly imagine. You’ll understand the profound nature of their love someday when you become a parent. You may not realize it, but they both survived and actually thrived in high school. They’re on your side and they have a lot of wisdom to share. Take advantage of it.

2. These are some of the best years of your life – lighten up!

You’re in that brief period of time when you have some level of responsibility for yourself, plus freedom of choice, minus the stress of real adult problems. Enjoy it. (And college gets even better!)

3. Everyone’s in the same boat.

While all the kids at school look different on the outside, inside you’re all pretty much doing the same thing – craving acceptance. Keep this in mind.

4. True friendship is more important than any boyfriend/girlfriend.

Once that gender-based tension runs its course, you’ll be able to see others for who they truly are as unique individuals who can be there for you in good times and bad. This will become very important.

5. This too shall pass.

This may not feel helpful when you’re looking in the mirror at a hideous haircut or that certain boy has broken your heart. But believe me, it’s true; you just have no context for it at age 17.

And I guess that’s the missing ingredient in youth. Without context, all the wisdom in the world is kind of meaningless. Gaining it has been my favorite thing about aging – now I can recognize wisdom.

The promotional tagline for one of my favorite movies, 1977’s The Turning Point, was “The generations change. But the choices remain the same.” And in the last scene of the film, the two lead characters have an exchange about the teenage daughter of one:

Deedee: “Oh, Emma … if only she knew everything we know …”
Emma: “Deedee, it wouldn’t matter a damn …”