? - June 30, 2016
James (Jim, Jimmy) Alexander White, Jr., 68, passed away on June 30, 2016 at Helen Keller Hospital.
He was born in Huntsville, Alabama and resided in Florence, Alabama. He was a graduate of Lee High School, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Syracuse University. He retired from the Redstone Arsenal as the Budget Officer for Army Missile Command. Following his retirement, he was a senior analyst for SAIC and Paradigm Technology. He was an accomplished professional musician who played the trumpet. He also played in Huntsville based bands such as the TIKS, Church Street, and the Alabama Blues Brothers.
There was a graveside service at St. Michael’s Cemetery with Father John O’Donnell, O.S.B. officiating.
He was preceded in death by his father, James Alexander White, Sr; daughter, Samantha Jane Moseley and sister, Debbie White Lewis.
Survivors include his wife, Beth Berrens White; mother, Audrey Robison Strong; step-mother, Connie Lou White; step-son, Bradley Austin McMurtrey, sisters, Susan Christine White and grandchildren, Kyle Benjamin Moseley and Kevin Alexander Moseley.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research by calling 1-800-708-7644 or by mailing a donation to The Michael J. Fox Foundation, P.O. Box 5014 Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.
First Moon Walk Remembered
This past week marked the anniversary of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the surface of the moon, July 20, 1969. We LHS graduates who grew up in The Rocket City can probably all remember where we were that night, sitting transfixed in front of a grainy black-and-white live video feed as he stepped backward down the Lunar Module ladder, announcing: "One small step for Man, one giant leap for Mankind." Many joyful tears of pride were shed in Huntsville that night, and again when the three astronauts successfully splashed down the following week, fulfilling the bold promise that President Kennedy had made in a speech in 1961 or 1962; that the USA would place a man on the moon and have him successfully return to Earth by the end of the decade.
I have been told that every Astronaut who ever walked on the surface of the moon was an Eagle Scout; I do not know if that is true or not, but choose to believe that it is. Scouting played a major role in the development of many of us LHS guys, and it is pretty cool to think that we have something in common with our Astronauts.
I have heard the story below which many say is an urban legend, but ...
Everyone remembers what Neil Armstrong said to the world when he backed down the ladder from the Lunar Module to first set foot on the moon's surface. When he was returning after history's first moon walk, while climbing up the ladder, he murmured: "Good Luck, Mr. Gursky" to the stunned surprise of Mission Control and everyone else at NASA. Rumors flew about, speculating that maybe he was sending a secret message to some unknown Russian Cosmonaut. At the Press Conference held after splashdown, reporters asked Armstrong who Gursky was, and why did he need Good Luck? Neil just smiled a Mona Lisa smile, shook his head, and gently refused to comment, adding to the mystery.
Many years later, at a similar press conference about space travel, a long-time reporter who had covered The Apollo Project from its beginning asked Neil Armstrong the same question about Gursky. After a moment's hesitation, he smiled and replied: "Well, I can tell you now, because Mr. Gursky has passed away. When I was twelve years old, growing up in Kansas, our next-door neighbors were the Gurskys. One hot summer day I was playing catch in our yard with a friend. He threw the baseball way over my head, and it rolled to a stop under the Gursky's open bedroom window. As I bent over to pick up the ball, I heard Mrs, Gursky yell in a loud angry voice: "SEX? You want to know when the next time you are gonna get sex? Well, I know the EXACT answer to that question! The next time you are gonna get sex is when the kid next door walks on the Moon!"
Who cares whether it is true or not? I never really believed it myself, as the potential moral indignation so prevalent in 1969 would likely have denigrated Neil Armstrong from American Folk Hero to White Trash Scum-Bag. Today in 2016 as a society we laugh at issues that we would have likely found revolting and offensive in the 1960s. I included this piece, not for historical accuracy, but just for humor.
As a related aside, former original Astronaut and retired Senator John Glenn just celebrated his 95th Birthday.
In honor of the anniversary of the first Moon Walk (not to be confused with that of the late Michael Jackson), I propose that we all watch (or re-watch) at least 3 related films: "The Right Stuff," "Apollo 13," and "Space Cowboys."
Memphis, TN - I was looking through some old issues of Lee's Traveller this week and found the following article I wrote back in 2005. I know we have many new readers added to our group since then, and perhaps a few older ones who might still find this interesting.
My Little Secret
by Tommy Towery
Class of '64
(First Printed in 2005)
In a recent set of e-mail exchanges with the webmaster for another organization, she asked me the following question:
“You must have a great passion for the Lee's Traveller website to continue to do it and do it so well. I sometimes find myself slacking off and I only started working to plan and organize the website in January of last year. What's your secret?”
First of all, yes, it is a passion. Why else would a 59-year-old still want to be the editor of a high school newspaper, which is what I am? I consider the weekly posting on the web more of a newspaper than a web page. The secret that she’s looking for is simple - I get great satisfaction out of the process and results of doing something that I always wanted to do. The fact that there is no salary involved in it does not reduce the satisfaction I feel. As John Wayne would say, "Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!" Perhaps if I were in it for the money then it would just be another job and I would not enjoy it as much. While I am sure that all I would have to do is ask for donations and I would get more than most of you might imagine, at this time in my life and my financial status, I see no reason to do that. Actually, several of you readers have offered to contribute in the past and I have politely declined your offers. The idea of using this web site and weekly newspaper to earn income was never a part of the thought process.
What got me started on this strange road? When I was about 12, I was at my grandmother’s house on McCullough Avenue and she showed me a newspaper that one of her nephews in upstate New York had edited and published. It was a small weekly paper - so small that he’d list the birthdays of everyone in town who celebrated one that week. I thought that was about the neatest thing I had ever seen or read and I decided then that someday I wanted to do the same thing - publish a weekly paper. I already enjoyed writing, but until that day, I saw no way that it would be a part of my future. Seeing that paper and seeing the name “Towery” printed on it as editor was one of the foundations of my desire to be a newspaper man and to start me on a path that led to a degree in journalism.
I “joined” the newspaper staff at Huntsville Junior High when I was in the eighth grade, but remember very little about anything I wrote for them or for that matter anyone or anything associated with the paper there. I think they just had someone from each homeroom selected and that person could submit stories. I think only one story that I submitted got printed.
When I started to Lee in the ninth grade, I met Mrs. Parks and she taught me how to type, giving me a skill that would allow me to pursue my passion for writing with more ease. When the high school newspaper was being formed and she was named the advisor, I volunteered to work on it as well. The first year I was named Managing Editor, which meant nothing to me except that I was the one that used the Gestetner mimeograph machine to print the paper before we all gathered around a table and stapled the pages together. For the next two years I was the Editor, finally getting my own name in print, just like my somewhat-cousin in the little town in New York. I felt a void in my life when I graduated and left that role.
In college I worked on the school paper as well, but it was treated more like a business and a real paper than the fun one we did at LHS and I could not identify with that group of people the way I did with my friends and co-workers at Lee. I worked for one of the big local papers in Memphis as well writing sports during football season. During my years in college I worked on-and-off for three different commercial papers and one magazine. My real desire was to earn my degree so that I could enter the Air Force as an officer, so I never became a professional journalist.
When the computer came along and the word processor programs that contained built-in spell checkers were added to them, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Spelling was always my worst skill; ask Mrs. Parks. This computer software helped me overcome that problem. The ability to cut items from one place and paste them into another without having to retype them made creative writing so much easier. The inclusion of digital photography and desktop publishing software into the personal computer world completed the set of tools I needed to edit and publish the newspaper I was destined to create.
Now, in a way, in this modern world, I feel that I have reached the dream that I envisioned when I was 12. I edit and publish (albeit electronically) a weekly newspaper. The whole process is a labor of love – sometimes thankless, but more often very rewarding and a task that gives me a warm fuzzy when I put it to bed each week. Every now and then I get an e-mail thanking me and telling me how important my work, and the work of the rest of the staff, is to the memories of our classmates. That’s all it takes to keep me going.
I guess if you take the six questions that a newspaper reporter should answer and combine them with the 12 items of the Boy Scout Law, you get one good roadmap of how to keep readers interested in what you have to say. I have found that this formula works for me.
I am happy to still be the editor of a high school newspaper, even at this age. What is it that you always wanted to do, and why aren't you doing it?
Please include your name and class year with your e-mail to me.
My brother Don (back), my mother, and me and our TV on East Clinton Street.
The Vintage Television
Last week we highlighted an animated feature by Hanna-Barbera. This week let's look at another historical one.
The Flintstones is the first animated primetime American television series. It was broadcast from September 30, 1960, to April 1, 1966 on ABC. The show, produced by Hanna-Barbera, fancifully depicted the lives of a working-class Stone Age man, his next-door neighbor/best friend, and their families.
The show's continuing popularity rested heavily on its juxtaposition of modern everyday concerns in the Stone Age setting. The Flintstones was the most financially successful network animated franchise for three decades, until The Simpsons debuted. In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Flintstones the second Greatest TV Cartoon of All Time (after The Simpsons).
The show is set in the Stone Age town of Bedrock. In this fantasy version of the past, dinosaurs and other long-extinct animals co-exist with cavemen, saber-toothed cats, and woolly mammoths. Like their mid-20th century counterparts, these cavemen listen to records, live in split-level homes, and eat at restaurants, yet their technology is made entirely from preindustrial materials and powered primarily through the use of animals. For example, the cars are made out of stone, wood, and animal skins, and powered by the passengers' feet.
The video clip above was from the 1960 opening season. Below is a clip from the opening used for the 1966 season. Notice any differences?
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From Our Mailbox
Subject: Simple Times
Pat King Fanning
I have such fond memories of growing up in "simple" times in Huntsville. Stella - I, too, would take "solo" trips to downtown with my 50cents -- and filled a great day of excitement. Once I got off the bus, I would go to Woolworth, Kresses (?), and Grants - and notify ladies whom I knew from church that I was in town. Like they could keep a check on me or something. Duh! But it made me feel "safer." Then I'd go and have my photo taken - you know the 4 for a quarter kind? And then over to Krystal for a burger and coke. Before leaving town, I go by Woolworth and see my church friend, Lulu and she would choose of the photos to keep. :-0 It's sort of corny sounding now, but she always made on over the photo like it was professionally made. I doubt she kept for posterity. Would be interesting to know. Then I'd board the bus for the ride home. FLAT BROKE. I'd spent every cent of my money...but man it was fun day. Sometimes, my friends would join me and it was the same routine.
As a mom and grandmother, now, it saddens me in a way, that our children/grandchildren are missing out on some of the "simple" times that we enjoyed...even beyond high school. Seems then life began to change and our world is in a place today that even as an adult, I would not want to ride a bus to "town" or walk the streets alone.
I'm praying diligently for this week's convention, for the policemen in charge and for the families of those who have lost loved ones, and that the "peaceful protesters" will fulfill their promise. We've always said, "God bless America" and that is still a strong prayer, but today my prayer is that God will restore our country to the foundations upon which it was built. It's a sad time in our nation and world.
Subject: Huckleberry Hound
I got out of the army in late 1971 and started to work in Florida. The company that hired me had a good training program for new employees and I spent the better part of 3 months traveling around the state and seeing how things actually worked in the field. I was staying in a Sarasota hotel while I worked with the representative in that area. As I came back to the hotel after dinner, I heard the band playing in the bar and they sounded pretty good. I stopped in for a drink and listened to the music. The lead singer announced that the band was ending their first set while the band played a an upbeat tune. I knew I’d heard that tune before but couldn’t place it. I went over to a band member and asked “what was that song that you end the set with?” He smiled and said “It’s the Huckleberry Hound theme song!
Comments from Facebook
Sylvia Blaylock - "Thank you Tommy for all of your work on the Traveller. You have given us many news items of the past and present. Thanks."
Paula Spencer Kephart Smith - "Thank you. I look forward to reading The Traveller every week. All the stories are so interesting to me. I was painfully shy and so enjoy all the adventures of other students. Please keep us all in touch. I appreciate your hard work for us."