Why I Chose the College I Did
Why I chose Florence State University (FSAU) later to be named University of North Alabama? To be honest I didn't have much choice. I was never a good student in all my years in school and so my parents never even mentioned or considered my going to college. My interest came about when during my senior year it was obvious that all my friends were heading off to college and I was headed nowhere. Skip Cook was already at Auburn and John Drummond was headed there. Don Stroud was talking Alabama and almost everyone in the Key Club was headed somewhere. Me, I had nothing.
Tommy Bush, like me, had no plans for college, but he had the grades to go almost anywhere. Late in the winter of our senior year we drove over to Florence and visited with folks like David Mullins, Jerry Schultz and Wayne Deason, who were already at Florence. We both really liked the place and decided that is where we would apply.
When the notice of acceptance came that spring my mother was shocked, beyond belief. The letter came in the mail on a Saturday and I was busy sacking groceries down at Winn-Dixie. Rather than wait till I got off work she drove down to the store, found me in the back, handed me the letter and all she said was "Well I guess your Dad and I are going to have to figure out how to send you to college". I think she was proud.
In the back of my mind hearing John, Skip and others talk so much about attending Auburn, I began to think I would like to go there as well. And since Graphic Arts was going to be my major that was the place to go. As I started Florence my plan was to attend two year and transfer. Well, it took me a long time to adjust to the study discipline college required. After sitting out a semester in the second year of my two freshman years, for academic probation, I came to realize I had no marketable skills. The best job I could find was driving an auto parts delivery truck for Auto Electric. That was not a career aspiration I had. I worked with guys my age who were married with children trying to support themselves and their family on the pay of an auto parts deliverer. That experience grew me up.
I went back to Florence with the intent to study and try to get my degree. As I settled down I also got more involved in the school. I became Sports Editor of the school paper the Flor-Ala and learned a tremendous amount from that experience. Al Burleson, who later became a Sports Writer for the Huntsville Times was the schools Public Information Officer and the Faculty Advisor for the paper. Al noticed I had a quick wit and a talent for turning a phrase. So he suggested I start having an Editorial Column, which I named the Lions Den. We had a very poor football and basketball program and I started writing editorials about how poor our sports programs were. This got me plenty of notoriety right off the bat. I was told head coach Hal Self called me a "beer drinking piss ant" in front of the football team after reading one my articles. My controversial editorials and witty comments had also caught the attention of the local Florence Times Tri-Cities Daily Sports Editor, Ronnie Thomas. He let me know I was always welcome down at the news room. Ronnie let me use any of their game photos for my Sports page that were not used in the Times Daily.
As Sports Editor, I began to travel to the away games with the athletic department statisticians, who happen to be fellow Lee High graduates Greg Patterson and Hugh McCormick. Also, my photography professor, Mr. Van Pelt who filmed the games, and the radio broadcast announcer, Bob Mapes. Bob liked my editorials as well and asked me to do the "color commentary" during the game broadcasts. After the games Al Burleson would have the game stats and highlights written up and would have me help him call the game results to the various Alabama major papers and the Florence paper. That was a great experience and something none of the previous Sports Editors of the school paper had ever done.
By the time I got my grades straightened out and could transfer to Auburn I was too involved in Florence and was gaining experience that would later help me in my Civil Service career with the Department of Army as and Audiovisual Manager. So, I stayed at Florence, and as things turned out, was the best choice for me all along. I wound up double majoring in Art and History and gained invaluable experience in radio, newspaper printing, writing and reporting. I also made the Deans List. Pretty good for someone who had once been on academic probation. My Senior year I was selected as one of Florence States Most Outstanding Seniors and had two newspaper reporter job offers prior to graduation. Funny how things work out. They say even a blind hog will find an acorn now and then and I found a big acorn.
Memphis, TN - I could not help but look back upon my own experiences when I read about Craig and his sports writing job. Unlike him though, I knew I wanted to be a writer and sought any jobs available in any writing field. My first paycheck from a real newspaper came from a one night stint during the 1964 Presidential Election. It involved sitting at a telephone and writing down election results as the voting poles closed and called in the results. At the end of the night I was sure Goldwater was our new president - based solely on the numbers called in to The Commercial Appeal office in Memphis. I guess that was my first shocker at who was and was not elected.
My next newspaper position was as a sports writer (much like Craig) and this time it was for The Memphis Press-Scimitar - the Memphis afternoon paper at the time. It was an eight-to-five job, only for me it was eight in the evening until five in the morning. Every Friday night I showed up for work and once again manned a telephone. As the games ended in West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi a student reporter from a school would call in the highlights of the games, which I would then rewrite and create a headline to accompany the story. If a school's reporter failed to call in the score I, or any of the dozen or so sports writers I worked with, would have to call the designated reporter and get the story. Sometimes it was three in the morning or later when that happened. The newspaper had a Wide Area Telephone Service (WATS) line and it gave me a great feeling of power to be able to pick up the phone and call long distance without worrying about the cost. The only headline I can remember is one I sneaked in past the editor without him catching on to the joke. It was "Trojans Slip into a Win." I thought it was funny.
I was excited the first Saturday when the paper arrived and there were two or three of my stories in black and white on the sports page. I started cutting them out and keeping them for a few weeks, but eventually threw them away and quit collecting them.
I did that job for two football seasons and I calculated I wrote stories on almost 200 high school football games during those two years. The real kicker to the story is that I never once, in all those Friday nights sit under the Friday night lights and actually see a high school football game in person.
I don't remember the pay I got for my writing efforts, but I took great pride in being able to tell people later in life that I was once a sports writer for The Memphis Press-Scimitar.
L to R: Brenda Edwards, Judy Sherrill, ?, Barbara Rousso (sp?), Becky Garrison, Diana Plier, Linda Gandt
Treasure Trove of Photos Found
As the Class of '67 plans for our 50 year reunion, we have come across a treasure trove of negative from our time at Lee. Originally we believed the negatives were from our senior year ('66-'67). However, I am finding that many are from '65-'66. Our intent is to take the pics from '66-'67 and place them on our class website for consumption of our class
We have agreed to release those of earlier pictures to you for release through the Traveller.
I would like for you to give credit for these pics... The LHS photographer who took all of these pictures was Hans Hoelzer ('67); Max Kull ('67) is digitizing the negatives for our use and Tim Lull ('67) is editing the pics for use.
As you will see, many of these pictures have never been seen before. Hans has moved these negatives with him in an old shoe box since 1965.... We are so appreciative to him for being a horder and salute and salute him for possessing that trait.
I am about 20 pictures into the process. There are at least a thousand negatives. I will send you a few at a time as we process these! I am excited about this find as it provides a look through the looking glass into our LHS lives that we never knew was there!
My brother Don (back), my mother, and me and our TV on East Clinton Street.
The Vintage Television
I had enough positive requests to my "Keep the TV" survey to continue offering this feature for a while longer. Thanks to all of you who responded, not only with your requests, but also your kind words of appreciation for my continued effort to keep publishing Lee's Traveller each week.
From Our Mailbox
Subject: TV and More
Carolyn Burgess Featheringill
In response to your question, I love re-visiting the old TV shows from our days at LHS! For those of us in the two classes behind '64, could you add the maiden names of the ladies from '64 gathered at Christmas that you featured in the "Traveller" you posted yesterday. You know I'm your biggest fan!!!
(Editor's Note: Can someone supply the names requested by Carolyn?)
Subject: Last Week's Issue
Tommy, thanks for publishing my “UAH” article. Our Fami-Lee has done a variety of successful things over the years since ’64. This was my snapshot (as in Kodak), a glimpse of my success. As to the music and TV related things you post, some of those I don’t relate to since we didn’t get our first TV until 1959. And I stayed busy with my paper route. Up to then you would find me at one of the neighbors we had with a TV. Stayed until they would run me home , usually about 9 pm on non-school days. I do like the Lee's Traveller and its format. This issue was particularly good with its content including my very own article. Beth thought it read pretty well. Keep up the good work.
One thing I noticed in my article that I had never really given much thought to was the near swashbuckling character of two ships meeting up in a tropical port on the far side of the world, both carrying a couple of US Navy sailors who’d met at an early time. Note the ship’s name, USS Maddox DD731. It along with the Turner Joy were the ships attacked in the Tonkin Gulf by North Vietnam, kicking off the Vietnam War in August,1964. We connected sometime Winter/Spring 1966.
Subject: Grim Anniversary
January 27, marked 50 years since the astronauts Roger Chaffee, Gus Grissom and Ed White were killed as a fire erupted inside the Apollo 1 capsule during a launch rehearsal at Cape Canaveral. The tragic disaster delayed progress for the Apollo program quite a long time; a major setback. Folks that left Huntsville may not know that there are three public schools in town named for Chaffee, Grissom and White.