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201116 November 16, 2020



A Class to Remember
Mr. Blackburn's 9th Grade Science Class
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    It is difficult to remember how simple class schedules were for us back when we were in high school. For me they were never the same after leaving the halls of Lee. In college my classes met either on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for one hour per session, or on Tuesday and Thursday for one and a half hour sessions. Later, when I was taking courses from Texas Christian University my master’s classes met once a week on Carswell AFB for three hours. I later took some online classes which also met at odd times of the week and odd hours. Keeping up with where I was supposed to be and what I was studying at the time sometimes took a major effort on my part.

    But back in high school things were easier. We had the same classes at the same time every weekday for a whole semester. For some of us our biggest difficulty in a class schedule was in deciding which elective we had to take to get the proper credits to graduate.

    Continuing with my memorable experiences in some of my classes, I next turn to my ninth grade science class. I did pretty good in it and ended up with a B average the first semester and a B+ for the second one. I attribute that to the fact I once wanted to be a scientist and so I think I tried a little harder and found the subject more interesting. Mr. Blackburn was my teacher and his room was right across the hall a bit from my home room with Mrs. Parks. Again I state I enjoyed the science experiments we did in the class but I do not remember many of them. I only remember Mr. Blackburn as a kind, genital fellow and never remember seeing him get upset at any student when I was taking classes from him.

    Even though it was a science class, I do not remember much about the classes. Instead I remember odd things, like the name of the prettiest girl in the class. Her name was Gloria Matthews and I believe the ninth grade was her last year at Lee. All the boys loved to flirt with her but I never saw her socially and I never remember her dating anyone. I believed (in my ninth grade male mind) that she enjoyed all the attention she seemed to get.

    Another odd memory is that often we did not have true classes at the scheduled time, but Mr. Blackburn would instead make us listen to classical music played on that new (FM) radio station. Frequency Modulation (FM) was new to most of us Amplitude Modulation (AM) radio commissures. I did not know anyone who owned a FM radio at the time and no one had one in a car. FM was so new it had few sponsors and so the music was rarely interrupted with advertising and only occasionally with a station identification spot. I would love to know if anyone else can confirm my memories of this activity.

    I also remember we were allowed as a class to select a movie to rent to watch during one class period. We had to vote on one and it was ordered weeks in advance. It was 1960 and the movie selected was the 16mm version  of the 1953 film “Titanic.” Watching a movie at school was a rare treat back then. This was our generation’s introduction to the Titanic disaster and was much less a romantic movie than our kids viewed and more a disaster film.

    To this day I still have the scar from another incident I associate with my ninth grade class with Mr. Blackburn. We had a big glass aquarium and one day during class I was washing it. I made a big soapy swoop up the glass with a cleaning rag and in the process my right index finger slide into the metal frame of the glass. Blood went everywhere and when I looked down at my finger I saw I had chopped off a big crescent moon chunk of my fingertip. We put pressure on it but it was still bleeding. Mr. Blackburn came to my rescue by grabbing a bottle of some type of liquid plastic and poured it over the bare skin of the cut. I think it is like today's Liquid Band-Aid. Almost immediately it hardened and the bleeding stopped. I am sure some of the plastic stuff worked between the open wound and the flap of skin because later with the scab came off, so did that part of my fingerprint. I still have a crescent moon shaped scar on that fingertip.

    One can only wonder what today’s students will look back at and remember about their high school days. We were upset because we did not have a senior trip. My senior grand-daughter will not even have a senior prom this year. We could never had done what today’s students are doing about completing schoolwork because we did not have the technology back then they have today. The good thing about that is it was us (our generation) which developed the technology being used today. I prefer to have the wonderful memories, both good and bad, of the days we walked the halls of Lee. 


        Memphis, TN - I had a few people respond to me with corrections to some of the parts of my Veteran's Day Tribute, but due to the way Youtube does its submissions I am unable to change the video file and keep the same internet link to it. To put it simple, to make a change I have to do a completely new clip and the link I posted last week would no longer be good.

    Thank all of you who made the positive responses to my Veteran's tribute. Rather than post each response I am going to make a blanket Thank You statement here and hope that is sufficient.

    I had a great Veteran's Day talk with Collins Wynn, LHS '64, on Saturday. We talked military stuff for over an hour and got to know a little more about each other's military career and it was a fun talk.

    This issue is a little short, but it has been a busy couple of weeks with the video production and I am tired of sitting at the computer so I will try to keep this short and make it up next week.