Friday, March 30, 2007

High School(s)

Guess I might have gotten off the subject a little bit in my last post...but so much happens and different things come to mind.

The reason that my title is 'school(s)' is because of desegregation that happened in my freshman and junior year. New laws mandated that students from my neighborhood be bussed to a different high school, resulting in me attending Billy's high school (Richfield) for a year as a "Jefferson Moore Sophomore". Richfield was located where Waco High is now. Jefferson Moore was located where the AJ Moore Academy is now, downtown, just around the corner from the Waco Police Department.

I did not have to actually ride the bus but a couple of times as my friend Kathy had a car, then Beth and I shared a car. Jefferson Moore had the 'open classroom' concept with movable walls separating most classes from each other. It was interesting to hear other classes, but you soon had to learn how to tune them out and concentrate on your own work. This was especially true for me and Kathy in French class. Mai oui, mon ami! Our library was 'open' to classrooms as well: it sat on the first floor with classes encircling it above, kind of like a pit.

During my sophomore year, I continued with Drama class - teachers I recall were Ms. Sandboat (from Chi-ca-ga), Mr. Masters and Reba Cooper. CaSandra was right there along with me. The strange thing was when we (Jeff Moore kids) competed in UIL contests (poetry, acting, etc.) we had to compete with our own classmates who were Richfield kids. I remember Teresa Cook and I doing the same scene from "The King and I"...and she was much much better. I think that is when I made one of my first 'out of town' trips with school. Thought I was so cool!! Most classes were great, with the exception of Geometry with Mr. Urive. That class proved to be my Downfall, as I got a "D"...when all other classes were "A"s...and Grandpa sent me a card with money, saying 'this girl's A-OK in my book'. That D was just for one semester. When I changed teachers - and had more help from Kathy - I pulled it up to a "C".

I had 'drivers training' at Richfield with Coach Moore. We had the simulators for several weeks and classroom instruction before we got behind the wheel. I remember cruising along and him telling me to 'slow down', but the stop sign was far ahead. He said it again, then slammed on his brake, cause there were HUGE potholes in the road. Guess I wasn't too observant! Still, I passed the driving part at the license bureau. Parallel parking was the worst!

I remember PE class in the gym, or going to the gym to watch the guys play basketball. Once when I was trying to walk up the wooden bleachers, one of the seats was loose, and it pivoted when I stepped on it, causing me to fall 'into' the bleachers, leaving one leg hanging out and me holding on for dear life with my arms. Several of the basketball players came to my rescue. Ouch!

Billy used to give me a ride to Richfield, letting me out at the door opposite of where he would go in! He drove a little white car - a falcon I think. His friend George called me 'little Billy' and of course, Billy would not speak to me in the halls.

Another embarrassing moment(s) for me was falling down the stairs after English class...several times. Big chunky shoes and slick stairs will do it every time! No broken bones, though.

I had my first date at 16 with a guy from Drama class nicknamed "Woody". We went to Shakey's Pizza Parlor and then to the movie "Papillon" starring Steve McQueen. It was a VERY long movie!! Gosh, we held hands!! I even remember what I wore: baby-blue pallatzzo pants and a blue/white striped shirt with a baby-blue vest that had little tiny buttons. He was nice, but I didn't want to go out again, so we hung around at school between classes.

Billy graduated in '74 and I went to Jefferson Moore from '75 - '76.

Friday, March 23, 2007

On to Tennyson

Junior High! Argh! So much anxiety over a 2-story school...and where would my classes be...and where would my locker be...and could I get from one class to the next on time? The Tennyson Texans...colors blue and gold....that is what I was for 7th, 8th & 9th grades. Speech & Drama class was an elective all three years. I remember 'dressing out' for blue one-piece 'suits' that snapped up the front...and we had to embroider our name on the back.

We still wore dresses and skirts with our knee socks...but then...we were told in a school assembly that girls could wear jeans! Yipee! Mom said we could wear them ONCE a week, though, and that was it. Bell-bottom jeans and t-shirts! Whoo-hoo! Some teachers included: Mrs. Haveman for reading (remember SRA?) Mr. Brown for English (ain't ain't a word) Coach McLean for history (why do coaches always teach history?) Ms. Vogt for Biology (dissecting frogs!) and Ms. Stokes for speech/drama (plays, poetry, improvisations) Can't remember who I had for Math, but in that class is where I met Kathy Morris(now Bell) who became my best friend. I asked for her help on math - which she enjoyed, I did not - and we were inseparable.

LeeAnn McCurrin was another good friend who I often walked to/from school with, and we still drop each other a card now and again. CaSandra Cossey and I were in speech/drama and after college, she went on to be a 'star'...and has appeared in many plays, TV shows and movies. We always exchange birthday cards cause hers is the day after mine. We tend to remind each other how 'old' we are getting.

Junior high was when I tried out for cheerleader...S P I R I T...we've got SPIRIT! Beth, Mom and I shopped for my 'tryout' shorts and a white peasant top w/red trim, my long frizzy-curly hair (past my shoulders) in pig-tails!! My dark-rimmed glasses completed the outfit...and well, I lost! I think just about every girl had long straight hair....except for me. Mom tried putting a straightening cream in my hair, but back combing was so painful, I just rinsed it out and went back to curly/frizzy.

Oh the days of school lunch...where Mom continued to pack brown bag lunches...but they didn't always get eaten, I am afraid. Tuna w/mustard on white bread! Dad was on Weight Watchers and that was our lunch. Wonder how many lunch sacks were squished in the bottom of my locker while I had Barb-b-que chips and a coke out of the vending machines? I think I found out on the last day of school.....p-u!

Boy-crazy junior high girls...let's see if I can remember the 'crushes'.....Lance, Greg, Stephen, and Peter to name a few. I was so sad when Peter moved to Colorado. I think that's when I started listening to John Denver...."Rocky Mountain High, Colorado". I don't really recall listening to the radio much before 7th grade when we did a radio show in speech/drama class. I remember "the Tears of a Clown" being one of the first songs I heard. Then KRZI was THE station to listen too and they did all kinds of well...crazy stuff to make sure they had a following. Remember the KRZI blue buttons?

I think I started babysitting for 50 cents an hour for the neighborhood kids when I was 11 or 12. Gee, wonder where I got the experience and know-how for that? Big money, huh? I remember the neighbors across the street were big BU fans...and so I sat for almost all the home games for Julie. Little brother Forrest came along later..and I think my rates went up.

I spent the summer with Grandma & Grandpa in Illinois one year. They would come to Texas for a visit from time to time, and so I went back with them one summer. I don't recall exactly how old I was, but it was before I was a teenager I think. Grandma and I would walk up the street to her friend's house and work on ceramics almost every day. I learned how to clean and paint the green ware and was so proud to give Mom a stamp box and my brother a pot bellied icon of some sort when they came to pick me up.

Of course I was spoiled when I spent the summer up there. Grandpa's greenhouse was a favorite place to spend time...even attempted to spend the night out there once, but a storm spoiled that. Lightening and glass ceilings and wall don't do well for a fun night. Grandpa had huge gardens...vegetable and flowers. He raised enormous sun flowers and tomatoes, then entered them in the fair and usually won ribbons. Grandma and Grandpa introduced me to "hot tea and toast" (thats tea w/sugar and milk) at breakfast, and making "high hat" pop-over rolls. Wilted lettuce salads and BLTs were favorites, too, not to mention potatoe salad. Uncle June (Grandma's brother) lived with Grandma and Grandpa, and he would work in the yard and in the gardens. He always joked around about his hair being in his eyes - and he wore a flat top. Then when we would go 'to town' and he drove his Ford sedan, he would dodge the 'potatoe people' in the road. Pepper was the family cat and Uncle June really loved him.

I remember going to the fair in town and getting an autographed picture of Bart Starr - who I didn't have a clue about - plus playing those games where you won a bunch of junk. I was so proud and remember saving a tall green dog for Beth. It was nice to be the 'only child' for a while, but I missed my family a bunch. I remember we celebrated Beth's birthday there in Mt. Vernon, and Grandpa got her a charm bracelet with a state of Illinois charm on it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Texas Bound

We moved to Texas because of Dad's job with Precision. I remember traveling to Texas in our VW bus, windows rolled down, shop-rag curtains blowing in our faces. Of course we expected to see horses and cowboys! We came down Valley Mills Dr. or Waco Dr., and I remember seeing all the lightposts along the way - but no 'spinach cups'. We stayed at the SandMan Motel overnight - what a treat in the 'corner room' and a pool - then went to the house the next day.

Our house on Richland was only the third house on the street, with nothing but open fields beyond the right side of the house...alot of weeds and limstone and "horny toads" and mud that we kids found to play with. The street now ends where the Lake Air Drive Inn used to be and Richland Mall currently is. There was no yard at the house, initially, and the house had 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, den, living room and kitchen, plus 2-car garage. I remember the black and white speckled linoleum in the den and kitchen, with a big round table in the 'breakfast nook' off the kitchen - squeezed in at meals, there was no nook...just elbow to elbow eaters! Dad made some coffee tables that were modern looking - painted black - and some diamond-shaped wood pieces, painted in orange, teal, white and black (if I remember correctly). I think his chair at the time was a blue (teal) vinyl arm chair Billy & Mark shared a room, as did Beth and I, with Laura (the baby at the time) in a room to herself. Lucky!!

We played outside alot..and I remember it being so HOT! Once we met neighbors from around other streets, (Becky, John-John, Jerry, Martha, Linda, Jill, Joeseph, Melissa, etc.) there seemed to be a constant knock at our front door. Mom put a yellow smiley face in the window of the front door if the kids were available to play, and a frowny face if not - so as not to disturb naps (her own, I imagine!). You'd better not ring the bell or knock if the frowny face was out!

I remember the 'front room' was off limits to us kids most of the time, as it was for 'company'. It had a fuzzy beige carpet and heavy drapes, along with a couch that came from Grandma's and Grandpa's house...which by the way, I proudly have at my house, though its been recovered several times. The front room, though, was where the Christmas was!

When we got to Texas I went to 3rd grade at Parkdale Elementary, with Mrs. Little for my teacher. Beth was in 2nd and Mark was probably pre-kindergarden and Laura in diapers. That would make Billy in the 5th grade and I think he had Mrs. Ruebeck. I only remember that because I had her eventually. 4th grade was Mrs. Wolf and Mrs. Hsieh, with Mrs. Aman (my favorite teacher) for 6th. Guess I have a knack for remembering elementary school teachers.

We walked to school....all the the cold, in the heat, through the muddy fields near the Junior high school. Though not 'uphill, both ways', it was a trek!! We lived too close to ride the bus, but I will admit walking home was more fun with friends - like LeeAnn and Diane - and also fighting with the boys - Dwight, Stan and Ray - along with our sisters and brothers!!

Memories from Parkdale elementary school:
*1st 'boyfriend' Cliff in 3rd grade - when he rolled a pencil across the desk w/I Love You on it
*The wonderful Christmas productions - including the Nutcracker Suite - where I painted a toy soldier and danced in a green costume as an Arabian dancer, with Mom's 'coin necklace' (costume by Mom, of course.) *Square dancing in several grades - with Herman swinging me as hard as he could! *The "Blue-bonnet Plague" when the 6th graders made tons of Texas Bluebonnets from tissue paper. *Duck and cover *Snow cones for a dime after school - grape was my favorite *Playing Red Rover *getting glasses in 5th grade *knee socks - falling down! *hot rolls and cold milk in the cafeteria *being in Brownies, then Girl Scouts - selling cookies door to door or outside the 7-11 store

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Of course I could not possibly list all the goings on from Little Rock, so I'll move forward to Mt. Vernon, Illinois. We moved there before I was in first grade (I think) because I remember going to school at Summerville Elementary. I only recall living in one house there, the address being #2 Royal Place - a two story house with a basement, a pump house, a bag swing and huge yard with trees to climb and a rock/stone fence around the perimeter, not to mention a nice dead-end road for coasting down on your bike or scooter. We thought we were at the 'top' of a steep. Returning there one year I found the 'top' to be only elevated by a little imagination. The house had a balcony off of Mom & Dad's room, where Dad fell once when he rolled out of bed. The bathroom upstairs had a tub situated 'longways' where you had to walk into the tub to turn the faucet at the opposite end. There was also a big 'linen' closet in the bathroom where we climbed in and played with our "give a show projector" and white little films of Mighty Mouse or Casper the Ghost, hand cranked by the operator at the time. The basement - where Dad's old desk from work was - flooded once. I think we played with toys down there...and I remember an "easy bake" oven and plastic dishes, including a rolling pin. I remember that Beth and I shared a room - imagine that with 5 kids at the time - and that the beds we had there, Mom still has at her house now. I think they might have even been antiques at that time! Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle June lived at 404 Spruce Drive, and across the street was a girl named Margaret (I think) who I loved to visit and play games with. She was "older" and very cool, especially when we went roller skating at the park. The rink was open to the air, screen on some sides with a roof. I remember the girls would fall down just so the guys would help them up!! Mom packed lunches for school, but we got to buy our milk at the cafeteria. Lunch was usually bologna on white bread with potato chips and cookies as I recall, which I carried in my red plaid metal lunch kit. When I was in second grade, Beth was in first, and Mom made our clothes, usually somewhat alike. Dresses only, of course, with socks (maybe knee socks). Grandpa bought me red patent leather shoes at Buster Brown or Red Goose. I remember one dress I had that was in a floral print that matched another that Beth had. I think people asked us if we were twins. I remember the "weekly reader" and learning phonics, plus making a mural on the wall in our classroom with egg shells painted like flowers. I was in second grade when we found out we were moving to Texas, and I remember showing my class where Waco was on the map. We had a little girl that lived next door who we would play "Barbie" with on occasion, though I had the "Midge" doll with shorter reddish hair. The honeysuckle grew along the fence and it seems we were always trying to 'drink' the nectar. Billy and I climbed the tree in the front yard - either pine or cedar I think - because I remember getting the tree sap on my clothes. At the time, it was the tallest tree ever. Grandma came to stay with us once when Mom & Dad went on a vacation to the Grand Canyon. I remember needing a handkerchief for a class project (making a parachute for a toy soldier) and Grandpa bringing me a red rag from the shop. He thought it was funny, and then gave me a regular handkerchief. I was in Brownies and remember Uncle June filling in once for a 'daddy/daughter' dinner, and we danced the Mexican hat dance. The family car at the time was an Electra 225 with fins - maroon color I think. And when it came time to move to Texas, we traveled in VW bus, with curtains made from red shop towels. Discipline was usually a spanking with the 'tail-e-whacker', a wooden paddle which I undersand Uncle June liked to hide so Mom or Dad couldn't use it. Mom had a 'sewing porch' off the kitchen. I remember she sewed ALOT!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where I come from.....

I am originally from North Little Rock, Arkansas, born to W.P. (Bill) and Thelma E. Mathews. My earliest memories are from living on L Street: birthday parties under the carport or in the yard, playing 'kick the can', running with the neighbor kids - Amanda and Doug, staying out 'til Mom called us in for supper, and going to The Old Mill park, where Mark swears he was beat up by our older brother Billy. I remember laundry - especially sheets - and probably cloth diapers - hanging on the line to dry in the sun. I remember having the German measles and Mom covering the windows with quilts. Then there was the 'mumps' at Christmas when I tried on Billy's football helmet - ouch! I remember Dad 'frog-giggin' and bringing in a gunny sack of frogs. Koolaid was served in those metal cups and rice krispie treats were super sticky. Sugar cubes were decorated (by Mom & Grandma) with little Santa faces, trees and packages - for the ladies to use at church when they played Bridge. I also remember going to Grandma and Grandpa's house up on the hill, helping Grandpa 'drive' the Corvair by pushing or pulling on the back of the front seat as he instructed. There was always Orange Crush or Coke in the 'pop house', and trips to the local drug store for candy cigarettes. Family was always around - aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. Riding in the car, laying in the seat, looking up for 'spinach cups' as we went along. The WonderBread Man and 'snowball' - for Billy's birthday I think. While this account may be a bit 'rambly' in style, and sport some inaccuracies, it is all remembered with love.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hello to All

Well, I am new to this, so bear with me! Not that anyone is that interested in reading about my life, but here goes nothing!