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180319 March 19, 2018


The Continued Adventures of a Huntsville Teenager 

Collins (C.E.) Wynn
LHS '64

    Here are a few more stories for your enjoyment.

Pass Out

    THE SETTING – The odds are that most readers of “Old Huntsville” (other than a select two or three) have never heard of a game called 'Pass Out'.  Unlike the one played during the college years of some, this game was completely unrelated to the consumption of alcohol? Probably the dumbest stunt of all - it's a wonder we didn't kill someone.  The origin of the game is unknown although it is likely to have been concocted by a sadistic sort.  Idleness and inventiveness can be a troublesome combination.

    THE STORY - Another in an endless series of summer nights in the field between Optimist Park and Andrew Jackson Way. The Birmingham Black Barons and the Kansas City Blues (Negro League Baseball Teams) are playing ball under the lights with the stands packed and the speakers blaring out "I'm Going To Kansas City, Kansas City Here I Come" over and over. Mix in a loose confederation of bored 13-year-old boys shagging foul balls. 

    What you get is a game where one generally healthy young man stands straight up with his arms extended over his head and takes 10 long deep breaths at the conclusion of which another stalwart young man grabs the first from behind, places his arms around the others chest and squeezes as hard as he can (it was a high honor to be the selected as the “Crusher”).  As the “Crushee” faints down into the dew laden grass, the real world slowly fades to a swirling black.  Upon resuscitation the first sense to come back is sound because of the blaring speakers in the ball park followed by spinning bright lights coming from the park as well. The result can be best be described as dropping dead - the "Crushee" slowly loses consciousness and falls limply into the mud and dirt - only to revive himself in eight or 10 seconds and re-enter the world of the living...great fun, huh? Oddly enough I can remember boys jumping up and down hollering "Me next, me next!". Is it possible to describe cardiac arrest as a recreational activity?

Man Down

    THE SETTING - Perhaps later the same summer evening the “Pass Out” story (but equally possible either a year before or a year after) and about half a block south of Optimist Park one street to the east of 5th Street. 

    THE STORY - Under cover of darkness, three or four young men are working neighborhood back alleys in hopes of borrowing some coke bottles from back porches to sell for cigarette money. They are having a fairly successful evening when one notices a police car with a spotlight scanning the area. Concluding that escaping was a higher priority than buying cigarettes, the bottles were dropped immediately followed by a wild, headlong flight at full speed across a dark backyard. A few seconds later a loud guttural strangling sound was heard followed by a ground shuddering thud. A young man whose name I won't mention but whose initials are Walt Thomas had just caught a clothesline at neck height while in a full out run causing his body to quickly extend to the horizontal and fall heavily to the ground.

     Although an unfortunate circumstance for Walt it was sure fortunate for the rest of us (according to that great American, Mr. Spock, the good of the many outweighs the good of the few), for just then the Officer swept the spot light over the backyard; since Walt was flat on his back gagging and moaning, the officer saw nothing, and soon departed the area. We had dodged justice by the slimmest of threads.


        Memphis, TN - We're in the middle of one of my favorite times of the year - March Madness. I know a lot of you do not follow basketball, but those of us who do treasure this time of the year. I have seen some great games already, and this was only the beginning.

    Did any of you play college basketball after leaving Lee? I know Niles Prestage, LHS '65, played football at Alabama for Bear Bryant and Don Cornelius, LHS '64 was a star at North Alabama, but I never have heard anyone talk about basketball. Let us know if you did.

The Letter

The Letter
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    "The Letter" is a song written by Wayne Carson that was first recorded by the American rock band the Box Tops in 1967. It was sung in a gruff blue-eyed soul style by Alex Chilton. The song was the group's first and biggest record chart hit, reaching number one in the United States and Canada. It was also an international success and reached the top ten in several other countries.

    I know 1967 is a little past our Lee High School days, but we were still young and still having fun. In the summer of 1967 I was between my junior and senior years at Memphis State University and Memphis was a hub of musical activities. That summer was also the summer I had to attend my ROTC summer camp, since it was the last summer before my graduation and commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. I joined my fellow cadets at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas for six weeks of real military training. Since I would be going on active duty immediately after graduation, this was the one change the Air Force had to teach me what it was really like being an officer. Unlike enlistees, ROTC commissioned officers did not go to any type of boot camp - this was it for us.

    The song above came out while I was there, and it gave me a lot of bragging rights since it was a Memphis group who recorded it. As such, whenever I hear it I always think back to my days of shinning shoes and drilling at 0600 and keeping my room ready for inspection at any time. One other thing I will always remember about those days. I will never know who or how, but sometime while I was at that summer camp one of my fellow cadets came hurrying up to me and told me I didn't have a letter (as in the song) but a phone call from some girl in the commander's office. No one called cadets during those days, and I was more afraid of getting in trouble for having some girl call me than I was interested in taking the call. By the time I got there she was no longer on the line, and I never knew who it was that called. Was it any of you?

    Anyway, back to the song. The Box Tops sang it and they were from Memphis. About the same time The Gentry's (also from Memphis) had a hit with "Keep on Dancin'", and Sam the Sham was still performing "Wooly Bully" at a lot of the teenage dances around the city.

    I never bought the 45rpm record of "The Letter", but it was on an album of 25 of the greatest hits type vinyl records I owned and almost wore out by playing it over and over. I also found the video clip below about the making of "The Letter."

About "The Letter"

    For the four years I lived in Memphis and going to Memphis State, I never saw the Box Tops in person, but (and now...the rest of the story) when I retired from the Air Force 20 years later and moved back, I started my career at Memphis State as a computer support technician. The departments I supported used both Apple Macintosh and Microsoft PC computers. I was very knowledgeable of the PC, but lacked an in depth knowledge of what I needed to know about the Macs. Seeking help for some of my problems, I was instructed to contact the support technician from a different department, John Evans. I called him up and we met and over the next six-months he taught me what he knew about the Macs and eventually he started calling me about problems he was having and asking for my help. A little later, in a casual conversation I was shocked to learn that he was one of the original members of The Box Tops, and was playing the organ on "The Letter". In the top video, he is the blond/red haired singer, second from right on the screen, only playing a weird guitar for this lip sync video.

    I asked John why he gave up on singing and became a computer nerd and he said bluntly, "I had to eat." Several times over the last couple of decades The Box Tops have gotten back together for some performances, but John said he could not take the time off from his real job to tour with them.
    That always seems a shame to me. I love to see all the old groups when they get back together.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Missed Opportunity

Skip Cook

LHS  '64

    I read about Jimmy Norman death in the last issue of Traveller.  Jimmy was in Ocala, Florida, which is only two and a half hours away from Tallahassee.  I could have easily driven down there to see Jimmy, had lunch, and talked about old days at Lee and time at Auburn.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  My hat is off to the LHS lunch bunch and I hope to attend one day in the future.  We never know what tomorrow may bring.


Subject:  My Book

John Scales

LHS '66

    For those that might want a copy of the book, it is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the publisher’s web site (Savas Beatie). Huntsville natives, I have a book signing at Books a Million on April 28th from 1 to 4.

    Those from the Class of 1966 surely recognized the book I was burning many years ago – the hated English vocabulary book!

Subject:    Joyce McCutcheon
Max Kull
LHS '67

    Sorry to hear about Joyce.  I'm attaching a couple of shots of her from Shoney's after the fall '66 Power Puff football game.

Shoney's - after powder puff game - Pi Sigma Theta InitiationShoney's - after powder puff game - Pi Sigma Theta Initiation



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