“The Day I Turned Sixteen? Probably Not.”
Once upon a time, in the land of Huntspatch, a very, very beautiful princess was born on August 13, 1946. What? Me? Naaah! I was born on the very SAME day on Stevens Avenue. I, however, lived across the street from the princess AND the candy store. If you cannot BE a real princess, the next best thing is to live across the street from candy. My parents’ names were Annie and L. H. She used to be the fat lady in the circus until she met L. H., whose job it was to wash the elephants, but then she fell in love and lost 100 pounds lickety-split. Annie tried to grow a beard so she could try another popular venue, but that didn’t take, and let’s face it, my mum just wasn’t cut out for the girlie show.
We didn’t have a lot, except for the candy, when I was little because Annie and L. H.’s families were just a wee bit on the eccentric side. Her mother, Natasha (of Boris and Natasha fame – but I digress. More on N&B later), worked at the White House, and rumor had it that her true love was the President. Not THE President! C’mon! The White House was the name of the candy store owned by the “President” who lived in its back room and fancied himself quite the dapper dude. Uh-huh! Not so much, I’m thinking. The President’s one claim to fame was that he saved oodles of money by only eating penny candy, which by the way, was half off to him, and one bright morning, he made the candy store owners an offer they couldn’t refuse. Hence, the basis for my rock solid addiction to Mary Janes - THE CANDY! Annie’s father was part Cherokee Indian – at least that’s what the family always claimed, but I never heard of an Indian named “Butch” during that period of time. Don’t anyone go all wiggy on me now. I have several friends and one is named “Butch.”
Now, Annie’s great-great grandmother (or one of those greats) had worked at a saloon out West when the railroads were being built, and she got into tons of trouble the night she got into a fight with a local geisha girl and bit off part of her ear. My mum always said that that was where I got my temper. Could be. Her motto was “Stay light on your toes, and keep your teeth sharp.” I don’t know. You figure it out. It’s enough that I have to remember these people for some dude named Tommy. I think he used to sing in a rock band, but no one can ever remember their name. Just ask about Tommy’s group, and all you get is “Who?” I believe the poor thing might’ve been a wee bit deaf ‘cause someone was always repeating, “Tommy, can you hear me?” On a similar note, I don’t think the family heard much about the saloon girl after that. Apparently, she took her own advice. I did see a picture down in Madagascar that sort of resembled one of her that was hanging in the living room. The caption read “Chewbacca,” but I always thought her eyes were much bluer in the family picture than in the “Chewbacca” one. She did have some head of hair though. Goodness!
So that brings us to L. H.’s side of the story. It seems that my male gender relatives were a bit bor – uh, laid back. His great, great . . . yada . . . yada grandmother had been traveling with her family in a wagon train headed out to work on the railroads, but since he was more than a little cheap - rumor had it that he’d squeeze a nickel until the eyeballs popped out of the poor little buffalo’s sockets - he insisted upon hanging a ways back from the rest of the wagon train. He had a coupon for 10% off – good ONLY if he kept a distance of two miles between his outfit and the rest of the train. Soooo . . . one night my ggg was kidnapped by Geronimo, Chief of the Apaches, himself. I kid you not. He really liked Kowabunga (That’s what he said the first time he laid eyes on g-cubed, which is what I call her in my writings.) In fact, I don’t believe he ever said another word in her presence except, “Kowabunga.” No, I don’t know for sure. I’m not that old, and this fact, like most of this story, originates from hearsay. She was an Indian princess, so technically, that makes me one, as well. Anyway, old Geronimo took to wiggling his eyebrows provocatively at Kowabunga and in general, trying to bust a move. The story goes that he wasn’t heard from for awhile after that. That’s how Kowabunga brought our storyline back to the South.
Well, I promised the “Who” guy to write a story about my turning 16 and my days at LHS. I see that I’m running out of room and I’ve only talked about my family. So I will claim a form of poetic license and do as Rainer did – I’ll just write more later. If you’re wondering, we princesses call ‘em like we see ‘em when we feel like it, and right now, I need a candy fix really badly, so ta-ta ‘til next we meet. Well, truth be told, actually, that could possibly take awhile. You see, I now find myself included on a “Most Wanted” list . . . and let me tell you, chickies, they’re not all bad. You meet some interesting characters in some of the places I’ve landed in. This cave I’m sharing has most amenities, so it could be worse. The lack of electricity, however, does present a challenge. It really takes a long time to do this with a quill and ink. I was really looking forward to spilling the beans about my and many of your first kiss stories, but I won’t use real names, so don’t get your knickers in a wad. I’d never tell on Daddy Joe or G. R. See? Good, huh?
Should I get this worked out, and I probably will, ‘cause, let’s face it, I AM the author here, then I will continue my story to include the day I turned sixteen. In the meantime, here comes my roomie. He’s normally quite reticent. Hmmm. Didn’t know bears made those kinds of noises! Later.
Memphis, TN - Finally got a chance to visit with Chip Smoak this last week and we spent a couple of hours exchanging stories about what we have done since school, and a couple of fond memories of our days at Lee. Chip did not get to graduate with us but spent two years as our classmate. He told me a couple of good stories about Mr. Fox and Coach Godsey I am going to have to get him to write down or at least share with me again so I can write them. He remembers Niles Prestage as being a yard-gainer on the football team but I remember him as a kicker. Was he both? Inquiring minds want to know.
I got the lead story as an email from a classmate who wishes to remain anonymous, and I promised to print it. Hope you enjoy.
Blue Hawaii is Number Two
(In My Book)
by Tommy Towery
Last week I mentioned I thought Johnny Mathis’ “Heavenly” album was the most romantic album in existence when I was a teenager. One classmate agreed with me; the rest of you I don’t know about. That being said, I now present my argument for the second most romantic album, which may only be in second place because it had a lot of non-romantic songs included in the recorded tracks.
Still, Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack album has a lot of wonderful songs which were great for those slow dances we enjoyed at some of the private boy-girl parties we attended. Specifically I note:
Can't Help Falling In Love
Island Of Love
Hawaiian Wedding Song
It was released in 1961, about the time I turned 15. The movie was on cable earlier this week and it is still a fun (though a little hokey) movie to watch and sing along with. Those of you who have visited Hawaii recently will find it humorous to see the lack of traffic and urban growth on the island of Oahu back in that era.
Gary A. Metzger
Three wars, six children, 97 years of age, and still sharp as a tack!
The family of my father, Allen C. Metzger, moved to Huntsville with wife Verna and four small children in 1954, after serving in World War 2 and Korea. While stationed at Redstone Arsenal, Major Metzger was assigned to the missile program, working with the Von Braun team. Previously, Metzger was stationed at White Sands Proving Grounds, after serving in the big war.
Retiring from the service in 1961, dad accepted a civil service position, and eventually served in Vietnam. A devout and dedicated Christian, dad raised his family with tough love. His involvement along with Verna his wife of 59 years with three different area churches led to a very satisfyingly life. His other interests were to include wood carving, painting, Toastmasters, and camping. I forgot to mention, Dad and Mom had two more children after moving here. Dad's creed is learning something new daily!
43rd Annual Reunion
Jackson Way Baptist Church
10:00 AM - Registration and Visitation
11:00 AM - Business Meeting
12:00 PM - Luncheon. Please bring a 6-8 serving covered dish
Entertainment will be provided by "The Fahrenheits".
Hosted by the Association Committee
From Our Mailbox
Subject: John Drummond's Article
I just want to let you (John) know how much I enjoyed reading your appeal to Ken Megginson, Randy Roman, Roger Becks, and Pam Clark in this week’s Traveller. Randy I knew well through the band, of course. Years later I found out more about him and his parents from talking to Vern Lucas, who was well acquainted with Randy’s parents’ management of the Moontown Airport. Ken was a friend during the band years and than later at Campus Inn. Roger was a fellow band member, but also a friend from the general neighborhood of Darwin Downs and Oak Park. Pam Clark I did not know, but I was intrigued to learn that she is the mother of Kim Dickens, who impressed me first as an actress years ago in the HBO series Deadwood. I didn’t find out about her connection to Lee and Huntsville until after that, and I’ve been a more avid fan ever since.
You supply bits of history that I didn’t know about these folks. Most importantly, you express the strength and regard of your friendship for them—what they meant to you in the past and the bond that has endured. These are very affecting shout-outs. In themselves, they are touching, and I hope they work. (I can help with one of them, I hope).
I really got a kick out of how you closed the appeal to Roger: “ Our livers are now on Medicare, many of our knees have been replaced, and most of us retire to bed before the band stops playing.” That’s very funny—and too close to reality!
Subject: Johnny Mathis
Barbara "BJ" Seeley Cooper
Well, you hit a nerve with me with your comments about Johnny Mathis and his music. I was a huge fan, had all of his albums at the time, and drove the family nuts playing them over and over. Peter, the man I was dating at that time and who took me to the Senior Prom, gave me 4 or 5 of them for Christmas. He had painstakingly positioned the albums into what looked like a box, and it was a good enough ploy to mystify me. I agree that Johnny Mathis had romantic songs, and his voice was excellent in my opinion. Other favorites of mine were Bobby Darin and Paul Anka. Most of my albums were sold in a tag sale after I was married, without my prior knowledge, and I was upset about it for a long time.
Thanks for the memories!!