Memories of HHS
When we had our reunion in 1999,
This is a very long page. Sorry about that, but you can always open it in a new browser and read it later when you are off-line.
The great friends that were made from participating in school sports. At first it was a hard transition transferring from a small, close knit south Memphis school, Southside, to this large school and completely different lifestyle. It was a major change that turned out with great memories.
Betty Jo English
Jo Lyn Key
When I contemplated the concept of remembering times at Hillcrest, the first thing that came to mind was - "ivy loops"! There were two general clothing styles among teenagers then, ivy league and mod.
The requirements for ivy league (what we now call "preppie") were strict. Shirt collars, pleats, and buttons had to be exactly right, as precise as a military uniform. You could have it all perfect, though, and still be a "greaser" if you didn't have an ivy loop in the back. Then some chick would come up behind you and yank it off, sometimes tearing a big rip in the shirt in the process. Girls would collect them, bound together by a rubber band. I think there was a kind of status amongst the ladies as to whose ivy loops they had snagged.
Mod, on the other hand, was wide-open. Anything loud, garish, and unusual was cool. Shirts in polka-dots of all sizes, anything paisley, turtleneck dickies, pirate belts with giant buckles, multicolored ascots or scarves on both girls and boys, skin-tight stovepipe jeans, burlap jeans, Nehru jackets, Beatle hats and boots, etc., etc.
And there was the hair! Bouffant hairdos on girls, Beatle cuts on boys. There were still a few slickumbackers, though, until we poked fun at them enough that they conformed to our nonconformity. I never combed my hair so much in my life! There was the ever-constant effort to keep it out of the eyes, so the principal wouldn't make you get a haircut.
And that all brings to mind the great Cafeteria Boycott. The way I remember it, the principal (William Kessler?) mandated that we all sit in alphabetical order in the cafeteria. We objected, and began a grassroots movement to boycott the food in the cafeteria. We would not buy any food in the cafeteria line, only junk food and soda pop. Almost every student in school participated. After about a week of this, the administration caved. We were allowed to sit wherever we wanted during lunchtime. Power to the pupils!
As to teachers, the more I think about it, the more I remember of them, almost all of them wonderful educators. My two favorites were Elizabeth Smith and Henry Zurhellen.
Mr. Zurhellen always made me think of Allen Funt (Candid Camera). He taught American History with a sense of humor that I don't believe I've seen since. He would pick out the students who were the most obnoxious in class and make them act out historic scenarios in front of the entire class.
Elizabeth Smith was probably the teacher I was closest to (if she will forgive the dangling preposition!). A few months after graduation, I actually dated her daughter Leigh once or twice (until she passed me on to one of her girlfriends from Whitehaven High, Susan Lincoln, just to get rid of me!). Leigh, bless her pea-pickin' little heart, looked just like Carrie Fisher in "Star Wars" -- my, my!
Mrs. Smith was indirectly responsible for me changing my college major back and forth between English and Psychology. She had us to study Shakespeare's "Hamlet", which led me to investigate Freud's concept of the Oedipus complex. At the same time, she initiated in me a love of Shakespeare which continues to this day. I may be one of the few people our age who actually loves the recent "gangstuh" version of "Romeo and Juliet".
Other teachers come to mind also: Mr. Barham, Miss Paxenos, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Richter, Mr. Brown, Mr. Underhill... And then there was Miss Neville, who taught us 7th grade English. She must've been about 80, a rotund little woman who wore turn-of-the-century clothing styles and had never cut her hair in her life, to hear her tell it. She used to draw little stick-men pictures of "Patty Participle" and "Jerry Gerund" on the board. The worst thing about her was when she would give you "licks". She had a big paddle that she could barely lift with two hands. She couldn't see very well, so when she tried to hit your gluteus maximus, she would often miss and hit you in the spine. Lord, Lord!
Thinking of Mr. Underhill brings to mind high school drama. I played the character Gooper in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". Mr. Underhill cut many of the four-letter words from the script, but he left in Big Daddy's (Sonny Hartzog's) line, "Rut the ruttin' preacher!" He also left in the scene where Maggie (Karen something?) took off her dress and performed in a slip. As a result, a group of censors from the Board of Education pulled the whole cast out of class and made us perform the entire play for them. They gave us a standing ovation and allowed the play to be enacted for the public, who also gave us standing ovations.
There are other delightful memories - sock hops, athletic events, smoking in the boys' room, gambling after lunch for nickels, passing notes, getting "licks", shooting birdshot at the shades with rubber bands, water bombs and paper airplanes...
I was on the Valkyrie newspaper staff for several years. It was great! Instead of having study hall, you got to hang out in the staff room and wander the halls without a hall pass. I wrote a satirical article once that got me and two or three of my closest friends kicked off of the staff. I believe that included Charlie Craft, Richard Tate, and Mike Collins, but I may be mistaken in that. The rest were reinstated, but not me. It didn't matter: I continued to hang around the Valkyrie staff room and wander the halls without a pass. The only difference it made was that I no longer had to work to earn those privileges. The Valkyrie staff room served as a kind of clubhouse for future bohemian intellectual rowdies: Steve Allen, Jerry Cupples, Kim Seeto, Larry Rice, Sonny Hartzog, Jon Wesley, Bobby Bailey, and others.
One time we did one of those pages where you have a cartoon signed by every member of the senior class (Class of ‘68?). It showed a teenage boy and girl in Viking attire. The title was "Thor has Sif". We were amazed that it actually got past both the newspaper sponsor and the principal.
Well, now I look back at this and realize my fears were well-founded: I have nattered on and on like a senile old codger. But I have to mention one more aspect of high school life -- crushes. My first crush was on Sandra Miller. I think I got a crush on her just because Al Johnson had one and I thought it would be cool. Later I had crushes on Connie Wright and Wanda Roberts. But the biggest imaginary romance of all was the crush I had on Debra Perry, a golden-haired little Tinker Bell. She was about three years younger than me, so I felt it would be cradle-robbing to date her. Alas, she began to go steady with my friend Mike Clark. Southern gentleman that I was, I kept my feelings secret. Such pathos!
(Editor's note: I enjoyed the first section so much that I asked for more. Cindy)
Charlie Craft was upset that I didn't tell the story about the big boulder that fell outside Mr. Stevens' math class one afternoon. The Valkyrie newspaper staff room was right over his class, and there was this big rock, about the size of two or three footballs, sitting in the window of the staff room. One day an upper-classman (Frank Fowler, Class of ‘67?) got us into a discussion of what size crater the rock would make if we dropped it out the window into the mud below. Mike Collins, Charlie Craft, Rick Tate, and I counted down 10-9-8-7-6-etc. as Frank held the rock out the window. Then he dropped it. It hit with a loud PLOP just outside Mr. Stevens' math class. We all cheered. Later, as we were being assigned Detention, we tried to tell the authorities that the rock had fallen of its own accord. Mr. Stevens said that was the first time he'd ever heard of a rock falling of its own accord accompanied by a countdown.
Other images flit through my mind - David McKinney singing Roger Miller songs all the time ("Dang Me!", "King of the Road")...Bobby Powell using his desk for bongos, beating out the latest James Brown hit...teachers yelling at us to tuck our shirttails in, get haircuts, and "What's that you have in your mouth?"...
As kind of a footnote to Hillcrest memories, I'd like to make mention of Graceland Recreation Club. It was a private club with swimming pool out behind Graceland School. A number of Hillcrest students' families were members. I wouldn't bring it up, except that there might be no other proper place to reminisce about GRC. Since it's been over thirty years, I can't accurately remember every Hillcrest alumni who went there. Most of the names below were ones I remembered by using a picture of the swimming team as a visual aid.
Swimming Team Coach Bill Todd (who taught at Kingsbury, I believe); Mike Collins; Sandra Miller; Teresa Carter; Jimmy Walton; Russ and Link Hodges; Roy Trafton; Joyce Streuding; Brenda and Mike Clark; Phil, Kenny, and Rose Houk; Elis Nunis; Randy and Jeannie Henderson; Charles, Marilyn, Becky, and Paul Craft; Terri and Mark Brown; Terri Thompson and family; Tom Shreve; Kris Brody; Penny Edmondson; Yancey Hughes; Ronny and Danny Isbel; Harriet Douthit; Russ and Carrie Soderlund; George and Anthy Gates; Sherry Pleasants; David, Richard, and Allen Dickson; Lynn Carrier; Kay Thomas; Candy Chapman; Debra Perry; Connie Carter; Kathleen Callicott and family, Vic, Mike, and MaryAnn Viser; Barbara Shaeda...
Swim meets...lifeguarding...building up the courage to take your first jump off the High Dive...swim goggles and fins...water polo...sun screen...Little League games across the street at the school...making out with your girlfriend in the shadows of the school playground...bikinis, bikinis, bikinis!
Vic Viser was practically an institution at GRC. He was a body-builder whose state-record shotput toss wasn't broken for many years. Every year the children would climb all over him in the water, trying in vain to dunk him under. It was like trying to dunk a mountain. Later, as young adolescent boys, we used to get advice from him about such macho things as weight- lifting and fist-fighting. Some of us, who should perhaps best be left unnamed, used to give him money to buy us beer. We would sit in the parking lot at Graceland School on Saturday nights, drinking quarts of Pabst Blue Ribbon while Vic told us stories of fights and loose women. Despite the stories, etc., Vic was one of the most peaceful people I ever knew. Like Ferdinand the Bull, I guess.
I just put that in so you all would know that I DO remember other things besides bikinis. If I seem obsessive about women, I hope that you ladies will forgive me. I'm a 48-year-old American male who's been happily married for the past 21 years. I spent every summer, from age nine thru nineteen, in a situation where I was surrounded by girls and women wearing swimsuits that covered about five to ten percent (or less!) of their body area.
Then I went to college and studied Freud, spending my free time with people who practiced free love and appreciable nudity. Now I live in the ‘burbs again, and I spend my days wearing ivy-league clothes, shooting the breeze with fellow realtors. The only bikinis I see are on "Bay Watch". I can't even have a Playboy magazine, ‘cause my wife would find it and think— mistakenly so— that she's not sexually satisfying enough for me. Girls, we men are not all that bad (most of us). Voyeurism is just part of our lifestyle. Cut me some slack!
I remember Glenn Burress and I, climbing the tree in his front yard to spy on Connie Carter across the street. We were not Peeping Toms, ladies: she was always clothed when we spied on her. Couldn't see her when she was inside, anyways; she kept the curtains pulled, to our chagrin.
Having made my rationalizations, so to speak, I shall now render honor to a FEW of the memorable bikinis at GRC. Too many of them to do them all justice. But one of my fondest memories in that regard was playing water polo with Sandra Miller. I think I still have scars from scratches she gave me when I tried to get the ball from her. I may have misjudged exactly what or where I was grabbing. Apologies, Sandra! :) Then there was Brenda Clark -- lovely lady who swam like a speedboat. Rose Houk was another lovely lady one sometimes saw there. Frankly, I was always a little afraid of Rose. I don't know why - — maybe I was afraid her brothers would beat me up if I got "fresh" with her. Or, maybe Rose was just too intelligent, too adept at repartee. A few years later, in college, I would've liked that. But to an adolescent male in the Sixties, an intelligent woman who was also beautiful was a little frightening. Or, maybe I was just afraid of women in general. Lord knows, I'm still afraid of my little Korean wife! :)
Jeannie Henderson (Randy's little sister) used to say she had a crush on me. I never believed it, though. Too bad. Missed my chance. She was a "fox". Carrie Soderlund, Elise Nunis, and Marilyn Craft were likewise foxes. I would've had a crush on Marilyn Craft, but that she was Charlie's sister. Charlie was, and is, a close friend of mine. That would have been too much like incestuous behavior. "Marilyn's sexy," Rick Tate and Mike Collins used to say, "but gee-whillickers, she's Charlie's SISTER!"
I don't remember ever dating any of the girls at Hillcrest, except one or two dates with Lyn Ballew. Lyn Creed went out with me once or twice, but I thought she was just trying to get her boyfriend jealous. I used to date girls that went to Whitehaven High -- Darlene Holifield, Jane McNamee, Leigh Smith, and especially Susan Lincoln. When I was 18, Susan would get me to buy booze for her friends, Cliff "Puck" Emory and Jim and John Weisenthal. Then we would drop them off at the Southland Mall and we'd go on our date, usually a drive-in movie or else a party at my cousin's house (Tom Pleasants). Tom and his brother Tim should be considered National Treasures of the ‘60s and ‘70s Zeitgeist: country hippies. Hoards of people from Whitehaven and north Mississippi would gather at their house out in the country almost every weekend to party. Tom was in a kind of band called "The Maffers", and he used to tell us funny stories about people we knew at Hillcrest, like Chris Lovell and Mike Maffei.
And then there was Harriet Douthit
RANDOM EMANATIONS FROM THE NEUROCORTEX
Well, there was Mr. Summers the chemistry teacher, who always got his foot stuck in the trash can and almost blew up the room a couple of times with his "Sam’s Flour Mill" experiment. None of us were ever really sure what "Sam’s Flour Mill" was all about. When we would get too rowdy, he would always say, "ALL RAHT NOW!" in his crackley voice.
Raymond Yee, Rick Tate, and others won meets in "Quiz ‘Em on the Air," local PBS battle of wits between schools. I liked football games: the chill in the air heightening the excitement of watching two teams head-to-head on the field, the sound of the school band, people yelling, the cheerleaders jumping around, wandering the bleachers to see who was there... Then there was Derby Day - what did we call it? Valhalla Day or something - And my buddy Steve Allen was in the Norsemen. Years later in the ‘70s, he would wander all over his house in Midtown, playing his saxophone like some kind of errant jazz spirit while the rest of us played couch potatoes. Decades later, he played with Rita Coolidge’s band - or was Linda Ronstadt's?
Principal Kessler: When he first started, there were rumors that he had previously run a German concentration camp - used to sing "Ol’ Man River" in his foghorn voice at pep rallies, etc. Principal Fryar: We used to call him "Tree Stump" behind his back, and Vice Principal Chism we called "Tree Stump Junior." I grew a beard for a Shakespeare play. Then Martin Luther King was assassinated and the play was canceled. It took the Administration a month or two to realize I wasn’t supposed to have a beard anymore. I’ve pretty much had one ever since I graduated. Have to, it’s about the only head hair I’ve got! I notice, in looking at the yearbook, that my own hairstyle resembles Mr. Fryar’s nowadays. He looked like a cross between LBJ and Goldfinger.
I remember Fanny Burns and Rosy Bottoms - ouch! Mrs. Marian Phillips was a "sweet little old lady" who taught English. She could surprise you with the acuity of her mind, though, and could be firm in keeping discipline - really a miracle how she could quiet us down with her mousey little voice.
I remember the day Ricky McMullen borrowed my notes to do a debate in Speech Class. He had trouble reading my handwriting and stood up in front of the class mumbling gibberish as he tried to make out my chicken-scratches. Instead of J. Edgar Hoover, he said "J.E. Hooves." Everybody, including Mr. Underhill, knew what was going on.
Mr. Wm. Marsh (shop, math, German) taught a Philosophy class after school. Some of the things he taught us have lasted me over the years, stimulating me to take a number of philosophy courses in college. I still like that stuff. Mr. Harold Brooks was pretty much my first experience of a black person that I could really talk to. Considering the milieu, it was amazing how the students respected him. But then, we respected any teacher who was good, and he was a good teacher - history, geography. Coach Brown made us run laps for punishment. Nowadays, I think that method should be used more extensively. I bet we’d have a lot less car thieves if people in jails and prisons were made to run laps. Of course, they’d be harder to catch, too.
Oh, and there was Mr. Westmoreland, the little fighting rooster. He could scare the pants off you just by saying "hello." Then there was the time some of us skipped school and went to Whitehaven High to see our girlfriends. I’m not sure I remember exactly who it was - maybe Charlie Craft, Paul Heffington, David Freeman? I know David Freeman went, because when they ran us off, he ran right out of his flip-flops and left them there.
Paul Heffington had more comic books than anyone I’d ever seen. When he was 9 or 10, he could read a whole "Hardy Boys" book in a day. Dennis Cornwell could crack everybody up just by opening his mouth. Rick Tate, Mike Collins, Charlie Craft, Steve Allen, Jon Wesley, and I formed a gang of intellectual nonconformist weirdos. Jerry Cupples, Kim Seeto, and Randy LeDuke used to follow us around, asking for wisdom. I see in the yearbook that we had an Alchemist Club, sponsored by Mr. Summers, that attended seminars on such things as ESP and UFOs. Things were different then.
Pep rallies were a wonderful break from classroom drudgery.
I remember Billy Wilson doing birdcalls in class, Bobby Guth and David McKinney shooting birdshot at the window shades with rubber bands. And there was the Curtain and Contest Club. When everybody got to arguing and yelling, Jerenell Norris could quiet us all with one word. And I used to love Larry Rice’s "Bastille Day" parties.
To the best of my knowledge, there were no drugs at our school as late as 1968. I remember one guy in our class who said he thought he might have smelled some pot at some place he’d been to off campus, but I don’t think he ever got any then. Maybe I’m mistaken. There were several of us who used to get knot-bread, gouda cheese, and Chef Mario’s wine and go out to McKellar Park to talk about philosophy and social issues, though: Rick Tate, Charlie Craft, Mike Collins, Larry Rice, Steve Allen, Kim Seeto, Randy LeDuke, and assorted Whitehaven High females, among others -
That's about all I can think of right now. I guess the rest will come up at the Reunion!
1) During the ninth and tenth grades, Mr. Kessler and his wife walking the halls with yardsticks, measuring girls' skirts and sending anyone home whose skirt was not AT LEAST 2-inches BELOW the knee!
2) The first pep rally under Mr. Friar's leadership and his immortal words, "Let's go out there and BEAT THE HELL OUT OF THEM!"
3) The Hillcrest/Whitehaven football game during the Fall of 1966, the night before our ACT tests--power
failure, game delayed almost 2 hours, a VERY late night for everyone, and a MIRACLE any of us passed our
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