Danny Michael Johnson
Danny Michael Johnson, Sr., 67, of Hazel Green passed away Sunday, August 30, at a local hospital. Danny was a native of Huntsville and a longtime resident of Madison County. Survivors include one son: Danny Michael Johnson, Jr.; two daughters: Jennifer Leigh Hennessy and Holly Amanda Fama; two brothers: Donald Lamar Johnson and Dennis Lynn Johnson; two sisters: Adonna Johnson Mitchell and Debra Sue Palermo and nine grandchildren.
O Brave New World
"Als das Kind Kind war" *
My mother roused me from sleep. Then: a heavenly coolness, the crisp, fresh sheets of my upper-berth cocoon, the lambent light of morning—those remain the few, fragmentary sense memories of my awakening shortly before my family’s arrival in Huntsville in the spring of 1950. We had traveled by rail, perhaps boarding a streamliner or some other diesel passenger train in the far corner of Texas in El Paso that then raced off with us through the day and night to the Heart of Dixie. I was four-and-a-half years old.
Everything else that happened to me immediately following that awakening and for an indeterminate time thereafter is irretrievable. Gone but not strictly forgotten: I was simply too young to process and remember much of what happened around me during those early days. It’s almost as if I fell asleep again for a month or lay in suspended animation. Anyway, until the fog lifted, I stuck close to my parents. I knew we weren’t in Ft. Bliss anymore, but the strange new world around me only gradually came into focus as my powers of perception and cognition grew, and as I saw and experienced more of my surroundings.
Upon arrival, our parents had to deal with the myriad complexities—domestic, social, and professional—that accompanied starting up in a new place, but so much was fundamentally novel and different for them (and the children) as a result of this last migration. In Ft. Bliss, we had resided in a sheltered enclave that came to be called “Little Germany,” a group of medical outbuildings of the base’s Beaumont Hospital that had been converted into apartments and work spaces. The families lived close together, and the men strolled to their nearby labs. We may have arrived more or less en masse in Huntsville that spring, but released from the scrutiny, restrictions, and sub rosa nature of our existence in Ft. Bliss, we scattered throughout the city and found whatever lodgings we could. This new-found freedom and dispersion—living alongside Huntsvillians—brought forth the necessity and willingness to assimilate, to become part of the citizenry.
The picture above (downloaded from William Hampton’s comprehensive Facebook archive of historical Huntsville photographs, “Huntsville Revisited”) portrays my family’s first abode in this city, Longwood Court Apartments on Longwood Drive, then in the south part of Huntsville. The view is SSE. We lived in the detached unit on the left. Brandon Street cuts a long diagonal to the south just east of the complex. The bottom of the bright flaw in the left corner of the photo points directly at Whitesburg Drive which, barely discernible among the trees, heads toward and then skirts the far hills beyond (behind which Jones Valley lies hidden). The picture purports to be from the early 50s, but I would date it earlier, maybe 1949. Although it’s hard to see them because of the size of the picture, the bushes adorning the buildings seemed to be bigger when we lived there; I recall hiding in them.
So much was suddenly new to us and part of our daily lives then. No longer able to take a short walk to work, the men drove or carpooled to Redstone Arsenal. Finally they received the opportunity to apply their expertise and determination to the advancement of American rocket technology. The wives had to learn how to deal with the multiple challenges of life in a new environment. We were soon immersed in the bustling and complex culture of a small Southern city, which was already in the process of tremendous change.
The Gulf service station at the corner of Longwood and Whitesburg, just down the street from the apartment complex, fascinated me early on. Its herald, the bright orange disk with the blue lettering (War Eagle!), caught my eye—even though I couldn’t read what it said. We owned a car by then (a blue ‘49 Kaiser-Frazer with external sun visors—like metal eyebrows), and that convenient establishment became our “fillin’ station.” The allegiance to Gulf stations continued for many years. Their colorful maps guided us on vacations to Florida, Tennessee and elsewhere, the stations provided rest stops and gas wherever we traveled, and this youngster and his brothers quenched their thirst with many a cold Co-Cola under that bold sign.
Above us at Longwood Court lived another family of Germans. Mr. Bauer and my father had been co-workers since the late ‘30s, and our two families often got together at Ft. Bliss. Their two boys matched-up in age to my older brother, Dieter, and me. Shortly after moving to the apartment complex, the Bauers and several other German families bought land on Monte Sano. On weekends, they began clearing their properties and building houses. My father sometimes pitched in with the work, but the rough site was no playground for free-spirited kids. The lots were crawling with snakes. It almost became a ritual for a while, that when the Bauers got home from their weekend labors, Dieter and I dashed out to their car. Mr. Bauer unlocked the trunk and revealed the grisly sight: among the tools lay two or three copperheads or rattlesnakes, neatly decapitated. I edged close enough to get a good look and tap the rattles cautiously. After the Bauers completed the house, we visited them often on Panorama Drive. Numerous rattlesnake skins decorated the boys’ bedroom, the rattles intact and prominent.
I learned English, which can often be the most daunting obstacle to assimilation, with ease. Dieter had been bi-lingual for a couple of years by then, and my other teachers were the American kids I played with at the complex. My new vocabulary grew as mutual curiosity called forth a need to communicate. Self-consciousness or effort played no part in this matter. It just happened. By the time we moved to a rented house the next year, I already had a Southern accent.
For my fifth birthday, my father crafted a fort out of small pieces of pine for me, gluing and bracing the pale strips together. The gift included a plastic set of cowboys and Indians, brandishing weapons and ready to tangle. The frozen-action figures had probably been purchased at Kress’s or Woolworth’s. Those were not my first toys, of course, but the ensemble was the first I was really conscious of--where I sensed and then got lost in a child’s deep immersion in play, a stretch of the imagination. There stood my own small world, a replica, one could say, of the early days of Ft. Bliss, when the soldiers of that frontier outpost did their best to protect the territory from marauding Apaches and Comanche.
I have no doubt that I experienced that uncanny awakening sixty-five years ago. It was a transcendent moment comprised wholly of simple earthly pleasures—suddenly there, reveled in (almost unconsciously), and then gone as I was fully rousted out of bed to play my part in the big day. It was a small gift given when I was too young to grasp its specialness. Even now I wonder.
Coda: As I wrote this piece I thought of a trope (common theme) from science fiction. Colonists are traveling from planet to planet in search of a habitable world where they can thrive and foster their generations. In a diaspora of sorts, they’re evacuated in steel machines from a war-torn environment and transported to a strange, near-desert planet, where they’re quarantined. Then word of another, more suitable environment for them comes from on high. They depart on other steel machines and arrive at a verdant, welcoming planet. The natives and the colonists then find common cause in building a bright future—including space ships. It’s a sketchy start, but a book could be written about it.
* "Als das Kind Kind war”—When the child was a child. The epigraph comes from Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire (1987).
Memphis, TN - This is the last issue of Lee's Traveller before the 2015 reunion. Due to the amount of material submitted for publication we will not reprint the entire list of participants. If you wish to see the most current lists then check the previous couple of issues by clicking on their links in the navigation pane to the left of this page.
Sue and I are looking forward to seeing all of you at the reunion and hope we get a chance to talk to all who wish to say hello. We are happy there will be some new faces who have not attend recent reunions and are especially looking forward to visiting with the classmates who fall into this category.
and Other Outbreaks/Epidemics
by John Drummond, MD
The second mystery illness I was professionally challenged with did not have a name at the time of the outbreak either. One Sunday in the summer of 1980, after only a year in practice, I was called in to see a very sick young college student, 19 years old, from Columbus, GA who was spending her summer working at Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park. Her roommate found her wandering around their apartment parking lot that morning in a confused, dazed state, nude from the waist up. She arrived at the ER via ambulance with a dangerously low blood pressure, temperature of 105 degrees, and a bright red rash from the top of her head to the tips of her toes. The rash was confluent, meaning all over like a sunburn, as opposed to the tiny red skin spots typical of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I was mystified, also quite scared that this young woman could die on me.
We did an immediate lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to rule out bacterial meningitis, which was negative. I treated her for Spotted Fever, kept her in the ICU (or as I often refer to it, "The Expensive Care Unit") until her blood pressure normalized. Being young and otherwise healthy, she was able to go home in a few days, even though her specific diagnosis was still unclear. A few months later, reports began coming out of the CDC about a new disease called "Toxic Shock Syndrome", symptoms of which typically began during or just after a woman had her menstrual period. The outbreak was linked to a new Procter & Gamble feminine hygiene product, Rely tampons, marketed as being "super-absorbent." P&G mailed free samples to hundreds of thousands of college students, which were linked by the CDC to most of the cases of TSS. It was found to be due to Staph bacteria which produce a toxin that went to the bloodstream, but once again, blood cultures never grew the bacteria. There were all sorts of theories: too much magnesium in the fiber, contamination with staph in the manufacturing process, and many lawsuits were filed against P&G.
Once again the CDC was called in. Staph bacteria could be cultured from the vagina in 7% of women during menses, but the overall incidence of TSS was only 3 cases per 100,000 women. What made the difference as to whether a young woman would develop TSS? What were the risk factors? The EIS docs, again taking a very thorough personal health history, found that TSS victims kept a tampon in place 24/7 during their periods, as opposed to leaving it out during sleep. That gave the staph toxin time to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the pelvic organs, and the toxin (for which there was, and still is, no identifiable blood test) wreaking havoc on the heart, blood pressure, liver, kidneys and even brain function.
The young college student from Columbus called me about 6 months after her sudden illness, had calculated back when her period had arrived that summer Sunday, and said: "You know what, Dr. D., I think I had Toxic Shock Syndrome." I had to agree with her.
Several years later, I was asked by an orthopedist to see a 40ish carpenter who was suddenly ill with a total-body red rash, high fever, and shock, associated with a red-hot and swollen , painful elbow. He had developed a skin infection on his forearm after minor trauma, had lanced it with his pocket knife, which led to a staph infection of his skin. When I told him I thought he had Toxic Shock Syndrome, he looked a bit confused, then replied: "You know, Doc, I don't believe I've had no periods lately!"
Infectious Disease Specialists comprise the only subspecialty within Internal Medicine that deal with ALL organ systems; cardiologists treat hearts, neurologists are limited to brains and spinal cord problems, etc. We ID docs are often referred to as "Disease Detectives" b/c that is exactly what we do; try to figure out mysterious illnesses that do not present in a typical/common fashion. I no doubt will be asked at the reunion if or when I plan to retire? My standard answer: "I will probably die at the switch." If my own personal health holds up, I plan to practice into my 70s, doing something that I really enjoy, and which challenges me on a daily basis.
Every work day, one or more of my patients thanks me, may tell me how "wonderful" I am, and (not the least important) writes me a check. I don't always get that at home. At least not every day, anyway. I am a very lucky man, which began at LHS 1959-1965.
Click on the image above to see the information about the
upcoming joint '64-'65-'66 2015 Reunion.
Last Minute Reunion Registrations
If you have not registered for the upcoming reunion yet, and plan to attend:
• You must let us know that you are planning to attend prior to your arrival. You can send an e-mail to email@example.com to be put on the "will pay at door" list to avoid the late fee.
• If your registration & check were not mailed by Saturday, Sept. 5th, plan to pay by check at the registration table. Monday, Sept. 7th, is a holiday and your check possibly would not arrive in time. If that should happen, payment will be accepted at the registration table and the check that was not received prior to the reunion will be returned to you when it is received.
• Hardcopy handbooks have been ordered for those classmates that pre-paid for them, as requested. A free PDF copy will be sent out to all classmates with a current e-mail address listed in the handbook.
This is going to be a great reunion!!
Be there or be square!!
Reunion Participation Challenge
by Niles Pestage
We could use a little input from our classmates in preparation for our Saturday evening program. We would like a one sentence answer from our classmates to one or both of these questions:
"What are the greatest challenges of growing older?"
"What are the benefits of growing older?"
We are going to have fun with our classmates answers to these questions which should both interesting and fun! Please have them email their answers to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditional Lee Generals
There has been a lot of interest lately in having Lee High School Generals shirts printed. Print Magic Specialty Printing is taking orders to have them screenprinted. These shirts will be printed in three colors on either Sports Gray, Carolina Blue or White. We have Gildan 50/50 short sleeve t shirts for $15.00; Ladies Cut short sleeve t shirts $16.00; long sleeve unisex t shirts $20 and Ladies cut long sleeve t-shirts $20.00 Any XXL or larger will add $3.00 per shirt. I will be making a delivery to Huntsville on September 12 & 13. All orders afterwards will either be mailed (additional cost) or delivered on future trips to Huntsville. Please go to Print Magic Specialty's Facebook page and message me with your name, email address, cell number,size and color and I will set you up in Quickbooks where you can pay online. The image on the shirts will look like the photo below
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Silver Sabre
I would think the name of Silver Sabre was based on Robert E. Lee's sword which was silver.
(Editor's Note: Does anyone remember who came up with the name?)
Subject: Graduation Photo
Tommy, you should publish this photo now, before the reunion, of Rainer '64 and Gudrun '65 (In the Silver Sabre 1965, she was given an ENTIRE PAGE of a gorgeous head and shoulders photo, having been named "The D.A.R. Good Citizenship Girl"). I think Gudrun had to beat out one or two of the LHS Cheerleaders, and most of the Clarinet Section, to win this award. Having earned a degree in Engineering, I always wondered if Gudrun included the D.A.R. award on her resume. Note the 1964 guys all wore white short-sleeved shirts and narrow black neckties; if the photo dipped a bit lower, I would bet they were all wearing white socks with black shoes as well.