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210118 January 18, 2021

Fantasy Dreams
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

    By this time in January of almost every year most people who made New Year’s resolutions have abandoned those noble thoughts and reverted back to life as it was. It is probably for that reason I really don’t make New Year’s resolutions. The born pessimist inside me knows for sure plans can only end in failure. In a perfect world we would be able to keep those resolutions, but we all know we don’t live in a perfect world.

    However, such thoughts give me pause to think. If I could go back to my senior year at Lee and make some resolutions that I would have loved to have kept, what would they be? Initially, only four real ones immediately come to mind.

    Number one would be to get a job and start paying my way in life. When I was a senior I was living with my Grandmother in Lincoln Village. By that time in my life my mother had remarried and moved to Memphis and my brother Don had married Linda and joined the Navy. Many of my friends had after-school jobs and despite what little hourly wage or physical work they were doing, they were adding to the family income by doing so. Not me. In my mind I was still just a student and going to school was my primary job. I had tried a couple of time to work, but my choices never seemed to work out. Those attempts were like the New Year’s resolutions – almost over before they ever began. I worked one night at a Dairy Queen type ice cream parlor only to find out there was not enough business for the owner to pay for help and it keep me out too late during the school week to allow me to function during the school days. I found all that out in only one night of work. Looking back, that was a cop out.

    My second job attempt was working in the concession stand at the 72 Drive-In. Work started about 6pm and we closed up at 10pm. By the time we had cleaned the kitchen and taken out all the garbage I would not leave until after 10:30pm and get home after 11:00pm. I did work there for a whole week and even obtained my first Social Security card to get the job. It was not a hard job, but it did not last.

    I had a dream of getting a job writing at the new newspaper in town, The Huntsville News Weekly, and went to the office several times trying to see if they had any positions open. I don’t know what I would have done, but I wanted to work for the newspaper. It never worked out so I finally gave up. Instead I remained a bum-figure and just stayed at home living off of my grandmother’s income and the small checks my mother would periodically send me. I also had one other small income, and that was the child support money my father had to pay after he and my mother were divorced. I remember it being $40 a month and he seemed to always be late paying it – but that is another long and complicated story. It would be the summer after graduation and my move to Memphis when I finally got a real paying job as a counselor at a Y.M.C.A. summer camp.

    I am proud to brag that from the time I graduated from college till the day I retired for good, I never went one day in my life without a job and a paycheck. Even my transition from the Air Force to the University of Memphis overlapped so I always was employed.

    My second resolution would have been to try to build a better relationship with my father. He and my mother were divorced when I was eight and I had very little contact with him for many years following. I have always wished I had taken the opportunity to talk to him more about his army life during World War II. As many know, he was injured at Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion. It was only through a newspaper interview I found out he had laid on the beach for 18 hours following his stepping on a land mine and having the bottom half of his left leg blown off. But I would love to have talked to him about the events leading up to that incident. I know nothing about his training and his traveling across the Atlantic and time in England in preparation for the invasion. I just never took the time to talk to him about it. Now it is too late.

    My third New Year’s resolution I wish I had made and kept was to be a better student. After earning three college degrees I look back and see I could have done much better in high school if I had only applied myself and not just settled for getting by. My mindset at the time was passing is passing and it did not matter if I passed with an A or a D. All I worried about was getting good enough scores to get promoted to the next grade. I put in minimum effort in studying, but looking back at it; I sometimes am amazed I got through high school at all. My mother was a high school graduate as was my father. Neither had gone to college, and as I said my father was out of my life for most parts when I entered Lee. I cannot remember ever having anyone help me with my studies at home. Homework for me was a solo trip. Also, at that time I was basically living alone most of the time. My grandmother was a short order cook at the Rebel Inn and she had to ride the bus to work each afternoon. I got out of school around three and she would be headed for the bus stop by the time I got home. So, from the time I got out of school each day until 10:30pm I was on my own. I had to fix my own meals, and force myself to do my required homework – again, all by myself. I would usually take a nap when I got home and watch a lot of television. I thank God I was able to discipline myself good enough to stay out of the potential trouble I could have become involved in. But I know I could have done better. I could have studied harder and could have gotten better grades. I did not get a grasp on that idea until I encountered the idea of Grade Point Average when I entered college. I found then it really did matter what your grade was. 

    My fourth, and least import, New Year’s resolution would have been to start and keep my journal of my life earlier in the school year than I did and continue it. It would have been the easiest to keep I believe. It was not until President Kennedy was killed that I did so. I so wish I had better written records of the events of my life. I know I missed documenting several important happenings my senior year that I wish I had recorded. Those of you who have ever kept any type of diary or journal of your everyday life know how it feels to look back and remember those times. While I am grateful I did document that short part of my life from Kennedy’s assignation to graduation day, I still regret missing the early parts of my 1963-64 school years. I know it was not all happy but it was also not all sad. I had some romantic interludes and some heart breaks I know. I took some trips I which I had documented better. We grew up during the space race and the Cold War. I now understand the idea of keeping the journal was one of the best exercises in self-discipline I ever encountered. But oh, for the things in my past my mind has forgotten.

    And those are the New Year’s resolutions I never broke, because I never made them. I wager each of you have similar regrets. 


        Memphis, TN - Sue and I have just finished a two week vacation at Hilton Head Island. We cooked all our meals in our room and practiced social distancing while we were there. Their is a law at Hilton Head which requires everyone to wear a mask, so we felt safe.

My Dad and the China-Burma-India Campaigns
Joel Weinbaum
LHS ‘64

    Last week's issue brings back memories of the stories my dad would tell of having served in the CBI (China-Burma-India) Theatre, serving as an American Corps of Engineers officer within the British Command, as it were. Leaving a beautiful young wife with his two boys, 6 yrs., and 6 mos. old, and with three TVA Dam projects under his belt, mechanical engineer grad of API( Auburn) ’31, trained as a calvaryman thru the ROTC program with numerous ribbons, and a silver cup award, from their competitions, departed Charleston, SC aboard a converted cruise liner for Karachi, India. Two months in transient, with a two week stop-over at Cape Town, S. Africa. To safely cross the Atlantic to dodge the U-boat wolf packs, the ship went way down to the S. Atlantic for a dash to S. Africa.

    After arrival at Karachi, there was a reception hosted by none other than Lord Mountbatten. Recognizing that most of the newly arrived had come from the Southern United States, in his dry British humor remarked…”We had requested help, but we had not anticipated receiving a bunch of (American) rebels." The humor was well received.

    Nearly three years later my dad returned home, 132 lbs., emaciated. Said he was constantly on the move checking on construction of the many airfields being built by the Allies to ward off the encroaching Japanese forces coming down thru China and up from Malaysia. Traveling mostly alone, holstered a 45, made do with the food available from place to place which he described as low quality. Arrived home going East by way of Australia to the West Coast riding a train back to North Alabama where my mother had resettled from Knoxville. The pace of life from there was considerably slowed, with job uncertainties and eventually the early death of my mother by the end of 1955. By my count I was conceived late March of 1945, the youngest of the two older brothers.

    I know of two movies relating to the CBI, “The Bridge Over the River Kwai” and “Merrill's Marauders.” I can’t remember about the Bridge, but I had asked my dad about going to the Merrill's movie. Said he wasn’t interested in the movie. Didn’t care to relive it. We forget how it was back then. Even the Vietnam era was comfortable compared to what they experienced. Slow mail, no telephone calls, poor medical but there were a good number of American medical units in India. It was risky enough going and coming, then add the other possibilities of death from unreliable flights, snipers, terrible rutted dirt roads in the mountain areas bouncing around in a jeep or truck, malaria and the other diseases we all got shots for. He had contracted Typhoid in Fayetteville, TN when he was ten years old. But their treat was Guinness beer, brewed in India. One of my brothers had asked him about sex during all that time and I think the answer was he never found anyone as pretty as their mother. They did stop in Sydney, Aus. for some well deserved R&R. Then across the Pacific. Don’t recall any mention of other stops along the way.


From Our Mailbox 


Subject:    Last Week's Issue

Spencer Thompson

LHS '64

    Great newsletter Tommy. It was a great letter by David Mullins. He was one of the best high school football players I ever saw.

    Phil Rairgh and I worked part time at A& P and used to go by David's dad service station at Oakwood and the parkway after work. A lot of guys from school used to stop by there. Mr Mullins was a fine man.

Subject:    The Bridge

Max Kull

LHS '67

    Enjoyed reading the article on 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'.  I remember seeing an interview with someone close to the movie (don't remember who) and they were talking about the very deliberate choice of the theme song.  They said it was selected because any British veteran would instantly recognize it and be reminded of the words that were grafted onto the original tune during WWII.  Lyrics are in the video below. Probably had quite an impact on those vets as they watched those bedraggled but disciplined British prisoners marching into the camp as the movie opened.

    Another interesting piece of trivia...Pierre Boulle who wrote the story the movie was based on also wrote the novel that was the basis for 'Planet of the Apes'.

(Editor's Note: The below video is a little crude and if you are easily offended by sexual content then I advise you not to play it. If you do, you'll never watch "The Bridge Over The River Kwai" the same again and will probably silently sing along with the tune.)

    "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" is a World War II British song that mocks Nazi leaders using blue comedy in reference to their testicles. As a means of ridiculing the Nazis, "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" became immensely popular among Allied troops, who in transmitting this song were exercising something of a wartime convention by demeaning the sexual faculties of enemy leaders. But the mockery extended beyond just the Nazis' sexual capacities. Since the 1920s, the words balls or ballsy had come to denote notions of courage, nerve, or fortitude. In that sense, defective testicles rendered the Nazis defective soldiers. This song's itemized taxonomy of malformed German genitalia—the monorchid, the micro-orchid, the anorchid—was particularly forceful, and satisfying, to Allied soldiers in that it scattered satiric buckshot across the whole Nazi high command (Hitler; Hermann Göring, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe; Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS; and Goebbels, Reich minister of propaganda.) The numerous versions, including the obscene, reflect the enthusiasm with which it was first adopted as a British Army marching-song, then as a popular song of defiance against the regime of Nazi Germany in the other branches of the British armed forces, and amongst British civilians, from 1940 onwards. 

Hitler Has Only Got One Ball



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