View Issues‎ > ‎2021 Issues‎ > ‎2104 April 2021‎ > ‎

210405 April 5, 2021


Looking Back - 57 Years Ago
Tommy Towery
LHS '64

        I don't get writer's block very often and this week I really don't have it, but instead my mind was filled with too many things I thought about but could not decide which topic I liked the most, so I have been struggling on this week's issue. My topics ranged from current things I do to stay busy during this pandemic to bicycles to Banana Pudding - an eclectic combination of topics which raced through my mind.

        My solution to my problem was simply to ignore all of them this week and instead fall back upon my trusty old journal from high school days and the reflections I made on it 25 years later when I wrote my book, "A Million Tomorrows...Memories of the Class of '64."  I should remind you that many of the names of the people I wrote about were changed and the reflections do not include the real names of most of my classmates at the time. I picked the date of April 4, 1968, instead of the 5th because little information about anything really interesting was recorded on April 5th. 

        I also remind you that I considered myself a somewhat normal teenage boy and my thoughts and actions were in line with most of my fellow classmates at the time and some may be considered crude when I look back at them, but I tried to tell it like it was. The first few paragraphs in italic are the things I wrote back in 1964 and the rest are the reflections made in 1989.

Saturday, April 4, 1964
95th Day - 271 days to follow

    Got up at 1:00 P.M.  Ate breakfast then watched a Jungle Jim movie on T.V.  Took a bath then got cleaned up at 3:00 P.M.  I laid down on the couch, watched T.V. and read Casino Royal, a James Bond thriller.  Paul came over at 5:30 P.M. and we went over to his house, then M's.  Bob told me he totaled his dad's car last night.  Went home and ate then went and saw it.

    Called Brenda at 7:20 P.M. - Paul did I mean.  Asked her if she wanted to go bowling, she did so we picked her up at 8:00 P.M.  Went up town then to the hospital.  I was going to go see Mary but visiting hours were over.  Went out J's, then to the Pin Palace and bowled a game.  I got a 126.  After we got some ice cream, we went to the house where Jan was baby-sitting but the people were there so we didn't stop. 
    Paul took Brenda home, then me.  Got in at 11:20.  Read some more of my book.    Time pour bed now.  I'm sleepy and I have to go to church tomorrow.

    Saturday mornings were nice and easy and different for me when I was a high school senior.  Saturday morning television was different too.  Modern television is almost completely cartoons and cereal commercials.  In the Fifties there were shows like "Captain Video" and "Howdy Doody."  We watched shows like "Roy Rogers," "Hopalong Cassidy," "Sky King," "Captain Gallant of the French Foreign Legion," "The Lone Ranger," and "Circus Boy."  We watched movies when those went off.  Usually the movies were things like "Jungle Jim," or "Tarzan," or something like that.  It was a jungle on television back then.

    I didn't really care for jungle movies that much in my early childhood.  "Jungle Jim" was okay, and so was an occasional "Bomba, The Jungle Boy."  "Ramar of the Jungle" on TV was definitely a no-no.  He was the dork of the jungle.  I hated all the old films of wild animals, mixed in with the studio set shots.

    One day, I changed my mind about jungle movies.  I finally found one I liked.  I did that when I was about twelve.  The movie that changed my mind was named "Liane, Jungle Goddess," and I couldn't have cared less if there were wild animals in it or not.  I didn't really go to see the wild animals.

    One night I was sitting at the Center Theater watching some cowboy movie or war film or something like that.  I watched the color cartoon and news of the world and then the previews.  One of the "Previews of Coming Attractions" was for "Liane."  I wasn't sure, but it looked like Liane ran around the jungle topless.  Of course, the previews didn't show anything, but certainly implied it.  I didn't really believe that she really would do such a thing, but there was a remote possibility that she did.  I was certainly willing to risk ten cents to find out.

    The Center Theater was located right next door to the Center Drugstore, across the street from the Rebel Inn where my grandmother worked.  It really did cost a dime to get in.  I talked my grandmother into letting me go with her to work one day so I could walk across the street and see the "jungle" movie.  I neglected to tell her why I wanted to see the jungle movie or to elaborate about why it interested me.  Anyway, at the ripe age of twelve, I got the frog out of my throat to ask for a ticket, paid my dime, and walked into the movie alone.  I hid in a seat off to the side of the theater, cautiously looking around as if I knew I shouldn't be there.  When the movie finally started, to my great surprise and even greater pleasure, Liane did, in fact, wear nothing but a smile above the Tarzan-like loin cloth bottom.

    I sat there, engrossed at the bare breasts of the nameless actress on the screen, not believing that I was really seeing that in a movie.  They were beautiful.  I spent as much time looking around the theater to make sure that no one could recognize me as I did watching the half-clothed "swinger."  I was afraid someone would see me and tell my grandmother that I was watching a movie about a half-naked girl.  Things were different then.  That part of the body was just not shown in movies.  It would be many years before "skin" would be shown in almost any movie you went to see.  I sat through it twice!  I had never seen that type of movie and might never get to see one again, and I wanted to savor every minute of it.  For a twelve year old, it was one of the first stages of my "sex education."  I was beginning to understand what made teenager boys act the way they did.  Probably on that Saturday in 1964, those subconscious thoughts may have entered into my memories as I sat there watching the jungle movie on the black and white television and read the James Bond book.

    It was later that day when I found out about Bob's wreck.  Bob's dad's car was the one I had driven to Gulfport.  Bob had been driving it, since his Gray Ghost wasn't running too good either.  It was a pea-green, 1955 model, Ford station wagon.  Bob had been out on the wet streets the night before, and slid into something or somebody.  Anyway, the car was totaled, but Bob wasn't hurt.

    Most folks had nicknames for their cars then.  That was before the days of personalized license plates, but maybe those resulted from the generation that named their cars.  Bob nicknamed his dad's station wagon "The PW," with the "W" standing for "wagon" and the "P" being a vulgar slang term for a particular, very private, part of a girl's anatomy.  It was so named because the back seat folded down, as did most station wagons, giving it great possibilities on a date.  Whether Bob ever folded it down on a date or not is unimportant.  It would not be folded down again.  It was totaled.  Wrecked.  Gone.  There was now one less method of transportation.  First the Bomb, then the Gray Ghost, and now the PW.  Paul's Taxi Service was about to get another customer.

    That made two cars totaled in two weeks:  Bob's dad's Ford and Mary's mother's Cadillac.  It was not a good time to let your teenager drive your car.  Mary was recovering and had been moved from the Florida hospital to the Huntsville Hospital.  She was in a private room and the word was on the streets and in the halls of Lee that none of her friends were to try to see her.  That was a mandate handed down by her mother.  Mary was on restriction, lying in a hospital bed.  You couldn't get much more restricted than that.

    I was not that familiar with hospitals and felt very uncomfortable walking around the halls.  I believed the hospital rules and would never have thought of disobeying any of them.  I did not worry about Mary's mother's rules, but hospital rules were different.  If the sign said "Visiting Hours Over," then that must be what it means.  Signs didn't lie.

    The last time I had been in the Huntsville Hospital was to see another girl who was having trouble with her mother.  That had been Connie.  One night while the two of us were dating heavily, Connie had a big fight with her mother.  She "OD'ed" as a result of the fight.  Well, she OD'ed in a way.  She called me that night and said that she had just taken twenty aspirins.  As we talked on the phone, she took eight more, telling me each time in a swallow-by-swallow description.  I didn't think she was really doing it.  Even if she was, I didn't really think that aspirins were real drugs.  If you did consider them drugs, they couldn't hurt you.  You could buy great big bottles of them at any drugstore without a prescription.  They wouldn't sell them to you if they could hurt you.

    I was wrong.  They could hurt you.  The next day I found out that Connie had been taken to the emergency room after our talk and had her stomach pumped.  It was then that I realized that Connie may really have some serious problems, more serious than just being a confused teenage girl.  She had also tried to cut her wrists one time.  She didn't cut them very deep, but had to walk around for a week or so with Band-Aids on them.  Teenage suicides were not common in the early Sixties.  Perhaps she was ahead of the times.  Janice and others and I spent many hours trying to figure out what she was crying out for.  Some thought she just wanted sympathy.  In reality, it was probably that she just wanted someone to show her that they cared for her.  Her's was a cry in the night.  When I found out she was in the hospital, I rode my bike there and got to see her.  The signs weren't up then.  She was sitting in the bed, in her pajamas.  I had never seen her in pajamas before, and it was the closest to undressed that I had ever seen a girl I was dating.  It was a little embarrassing to sit there beside the bed and talk to her, dressed as she was in her shorty pajamas.  It was a little embarrassing but also a little exciting.  

  It looked like I would never know if Mary, now in the hospital, was wearing pajamas or not.  The blockade set up by her mother seemed to be working.  It didn't seem right for her to be spending Saturday night alone in the hospital.  It wasn't right for Mary, one of my favorite dancing partners.  That's why we decided to try to get in.  It was an attempt that failed, thanks to the power of the sign.

Any Comments on Today's Lead Story


        Memphis, TN - I hope everyone had a safe and fun Easter weekend. Things were quiet around here with Sue and I spending most of the time alone except for a socially distanced 30-minute period of a shortened Sunday School session.

If Your Locker Could Talk, What Would It Remember About You?

Tommy Bush, LHS '65, "I never carried a book home."

Cecilia LeVan Watson, LHS '68, "It was the first locker outside the classroom door so when we were sent out of the room for chewing gum we hide that wad of gum in the locker. So it would probably say UCK!!!"

Mary Satterfield Cook, LHS '66, "I was a majorette. Our band went to Miami and marched in the Orange Bowl Parade....4 miles of big smiles and heat !! Wish I could do it all over again !!!! Love those days at LHS !"

Barbara Seely Cooper, LHS '64, "As one of the shorter classmates, I recall I had an upper locker. I could remember its combination for many years, but not now. Another memory I can still clearly recall is the note I tried to put inside Donnie Blaise's locker. I had a huge crush on him and wanted to clue him into my meager existence, but he caught me and let me know I was way out of line. I still remember my complete mortification."

David Mullins, LHS '64, "I have these exact same memories. Only my elementary was Fifth Avenue, then Jr high then the NEW MODERN LEE in the 7th grade. As we're you, I was thrilled to have a "personal" locker. And I had the same backpack which I bought at the Army Surplus store on Holmes Ave by the post office for $2 as I am sure you also did. But as you stated I was absolutely wowed by Lee Junior High (at the time). Wonderful memories, thank you for prompting my recall buttons. Gosh where did those 60+ years go?"

Skip Cook, LHS '64, "You folded up that piece of paper and stuck it in the little slot at the bottom so I wouldn't lock all the way. You could then just pull up on the handle where the lock was and I would open without you having to run the combination. I got you back when I jammed up everything however."