Thursday, September 24, 2015

Speaking From the Heart--Roy's Words

Jan Crockett Smith, Sue Seamon Mead and
 Marsha Payton Rickel
Three years of planning and hard work by the hands and heads of many classmates have finally come to fruition. I, too, have spent time helping and reflecting on what those years meant in our lives. Even though my stories are universal, they are still told from my point of view.  In our class there are at least two hundred points of view, when looking back at those twelve adventurous years of school. Perhaps another set of eyes can tell the story, that I couldn't.  

One classmate, Roy Underwood,  recently reflected on
Richard, Karen, Donna, Bill, Roy
those memories, those emotions brought on by the meetings that have been held to organize and shore up our reunion.  Here are Roy's words spoken from his heart.

Greetings 1965 MHS classmates.
We are a few days away from our 50th reunion, can you really believe it? I am speaking only for myself at this writing, not the committee. Nor am I the wordsmith like some of my classmates. I have been known and accused of being brutally honest, called many names, most not so kind, and probably deserved such. However, as we near our 50th reunion, I wish to share my thoughts. Agree or disagree, it matters not to me. This is my story of how it began.
Tony Palmer, ? Roy Underwood

It has been one hell of a ride, sometimes smooth, sometimes rough--disagreements, untold hours of personal time, and difficult decisions had to be made along the road to now.
It began more than five years ago with two people, then three.  I was living in Ohio at the time. I personally missed two previous reunions due to distance and my employment. I moved back to Oklahoma City after my retirement in 2009. The seeds of our current reunion began with Richard Spencer and Karen Atkinson Yoxall.  I was invited to assist. Richard and I began having lunch meetings in Shawnee, Okla. We had not seen each other since 1965, but we hugged and for me, the years melted away.
Randy Loehr, Linda McNatt Henbest, Donna Collins Edmondson, Jan Crockett Smith 
Meetings were planned, the very first was held in Miami @ the Pizza Hut, with more than 48 classmates attending. We
thought, wow, this is going to be easy, not so! As the weeks and months progressed, we learned it was not going to be so easy. I cannot count how many meetings we have had. You were informed and invited. The attendance, over the years has fluctuated. Many have asked, who is paying for these meetings, the food and drinks etc. The total cost of travel, food etc., came from our pockets, some locations were donated. Weekly breakfast meetings were begun here in Miami at local restaurants. All in all they have been very successful. Classmates traveled to join us from different locations in state and out of state.
Jackie Trask
It has been a time to renew friendships and establish new ones; a time of sharing our life's success, failures and loss. No more petty BS of our years at MHS, no more clicks or ill feelings. Just people, we shared a point in time of our personal history. For me, I deeply cherish each and every moment you have chosen to share with me. I would come from those meetings, feeling energized, happy and at times guilty for having absorbed such wonderful emotions from my classmates!

Wednesday morning meetings class of 65. 
Many have worked years, weeks, months and hours to make this the best reunion ever. You may not like portions of it or any of it. For me, I don't care for some events, but you know, it will be what I make of it, I choose to make it all a positive event. Like many, our lives have taken many roads, some very successful, some not. We have all known happiness, horrible pain and loss, some of our own making. People have hurt us, in turn we have hurt others, and usually those we loved the most. Many of our classmates have suffered such loss, and they will be in attendance. I want them to feel welcome; rich, poor, successful or not. If I act superior, judge them, or not interact with them, I am the one who will experience a personal loss for not allowing them in, it will make me less and cheat me out of allowing them to enrich my life. My thoughts are mine alone. A heart felt THANK YOU, for your support, time and money to help make this one of the best reunions ever. A personal thank you classmates who have enriched my life over these past few years, by you being you!! Hope to see you in a few days. Blessings to all!
Top of Form

Miami High School,  Circa 1959, the Ted Watts collection

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Wardogs 1965

A toast!  To Mrs. Thelma Martin, Mrs. Kathryn Jones, Mrs. Ruby Duncan, Mrs. Lorene Micka, Mrs. Peggy Johnson, Mr. Phil Garoutte, and ALL who taught us the skills, and laid the foundation for our lives beyond MHS.

  Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old time is still a-flying
  And this same flower that smiles today
    Tomorrow will be dying. (Robert Herrick, To the Virgins
        to Make Much of Time)

Those high school years were like a poem, when Mrs. Martin insisted that we read between the lines, for a deeper meaning. It took years for those lines to sink in.....I still liked simplicity then, where a yes meant yes, but we studied diligently. 

    So live, that when thy summons comes to join
       The innumerable caravan, which moves
    To that mysterious realm... (W.C. Bryant, Thanatopsis)

We learned, through the pages of  great novels, through poetry that took us to the depths of understanding,  and through our own personal experiences about sarcasm, irony, love, rejection, betrayal, beauty, shades of death, innuendos, and double entendres. We laughed; we cried; we dreamed; we envied; we made choices.
Letty's charm bracelet from MHS.

Madcaps design by Mary Dahl
In high school we went from being "Me" the center of the universe to "One of Many" at the center of a wheel with options and paths leading us around the world. What fun it was to suddenly meet new people in our classes who shared the same interest.  We grew as we explored our blocks of learning through Math club, journalism, chorus, band, sports, cheer leading, Miamiettes, journalism, FHA, FFA, business clubs,  speech, drama, stage productions and the world beyond the bound book.  

In the halls we found love, stole kisses, held hands, played games, and hid secrets in our lockers.  The transition from 9th to 12th was clearly visible, as our lockers graduated each year from the Jr. Hi hallways to the old Pershing grade school hallways when we were Sophomores, to the second story as Juniors (near the science rooms where there was always something curious going on), and finally to the center of the building and bottom floor.  We were truly Seniors when our lockers where in the main part of the building.  

To rephrase the wise words from our 1965 Miamiam:
     School is attending classes, trying to understand..., concentrating on new skills.
     It is knowing study is necessary, and drilling is necessary for perfection.
     School is learning to develop ideas, to accept responsibility, and to serve others.
     It is having confidence in one's abilities, poise when with others, and pride in one's achievements. 
     School is learning by building a house and by installing the wiring.
     It is pretty girl watching and why not?
     And before Homecoming, school is cheerleading spirited students on stage and on the field, 
getting excited and tense and trying
harder to win.
     It is going to the first sock hop of the year, dancing, and homecoming. 
     School is working hard, winning trophies, and having fun. 
     School is living now, remembering the past, and exploring the future.
     But most of all school is learning to solve practical problems of life, to plan for the future, and to cooperate with others. 

We are coming home, the Wardogs Class of 1965.  We each learned from our teachers and community how to be productive people in an ever changing world.  Now, we will once again drag Main street, climb the chat piles, kiss on the back rows of the Coleman, search for the spook light, dance the night away in bobby socks, or perhaps, we will merely reflect on those memories.

I, for one, am looking forward to listening to the stories we've lived and built upon for these fifty years since high school.  We are men and women, many of  whom became mothers and  fathers or served our country in the military.  We found careers as musicians, builders, scientists, entrepreneurs, aviators, bankers, educators, artists, ministers, mathematicians, attorneys, doctors in many fields, salesmen and women, organizers, athletes,  PTA presidents, librarians, nurses, journalist, laborers, adventurers, world travelers. 
Each of us proud Wardogs who are still making the world a better place to live. 

Salute, Miami High School Wardogs, Class of 1965.  May you live long and prosper.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Central Jr. High  (Miami, OK) late 1950's
WarPups:  Pieces of Memories (1959-1962)

Why this story is hard to write is a conundrum. Fifty-six years have officially passed since my mother bought my seventh grade books in the basement of that cornerstone building.  I must have walked past that building hundreds of times from my home on H. Northeast.   Walking West on 2nd NE street took me over the railroad tracks, the truck route (D. st),  past large two story homes, the corner Christian Church, the brick wall surrounding our school, the Candy Shop from where this photo must have been taken, the red brick public library (that once kicked me out with my little sister when she would not stop crying during story hour; where I began my career path as a librarian) and onto main street where I walked to the movies and other places with friends or looking for friends. I spent six active years on that block, and then ironically, another year when I worked for HUD in the 1970's in the old pink building that held over flow classes.  I watched that brick building being torn down, slammed to the ground and bulldozed into history.

This photo now stands in our memories as a record of our time and place. A glance of whom we might someday become.

I've searched my brain, and the internet for memories.  This site is particularly accurate if it is facts that are needed for research for a particular year: The People History .  Printed neatly and orderly, it serves as a refresher for where we were in those days, what we were doing, songs we listened and danced to, plus the current events.  

But for my heart which leads my fingers across the keyboard, my connectedness to those early years seems blurred. Six short years slowly crept by, three divided in Jr. Hi years by Central/ Will Rogers, then blended as the true spirit of being a WARDOG. These are the years and dates for "reunions", but not always the reasons.  

Nov. 14-18, 1960
Rather than stories with heart and soul, my memories run randomly, much like notes across a napkin.

   With a last name of Stapp, I often sat near some very ornery boys in our ABC ordered classes;  I learned in Mr. D's science class that Richard Spencer could draw gorgeous lettering called calligraphy. The beauty of those letters stayed with me and finally, when I was in my thirties I learned calligraphy.  Bill Smiley, Bill Smith, and John Stansell kept me distracted in math class, in geography, in history class, but did I ever have fun laughing and passing notes when I should have been paying attention to Mr. Hammons, or Mr. Teal,  Mrs. Vanetta,  Mr. Campbell. Miss McCoy and Mr. Akers, however, scared the fun right out of me on more than one occasion. They seemed to think that I was occasionally disruptive in class. I explained I always had help in the disruptions--like Vicki Newell, Nancy Burnes, C Ann Richards or those boys.  (They didn't realize that that phone call during Mr. Teal's math class in 9th grade was an offer for me to drive to El Paso, Texas with the Newell family to look at a race horse.  The truth is that we also toured a private girls school that Vicki would attend.  We even flew back to Tulsa and Opal drove the car with a new horse in tow, but in the end my friend Vicki left the halls of MHS, and I lost a friend.) I should have learned then not to blame others for my actions, but that would take a few more hard lessons in life.    

Stashed in a box of memories, I found my blue vinyl "Dear Diary". I did write something on nearly every page of that 1961 diary, but the adult English teacher in me went ballistic with that little girl's grammar errors.  
      January 27, I went to Mutt Hutt, danced two times, and played ping pong.
      February 8, We had an aptitude test from 9 to 3 in the gym.  Had to carry our chairs up and down three flights of stairs.
      February 14, Well, Patrice Lamobaba (Lumumba) was killed. We are having a lot of trouble with them.  Kennedy Pres.  Well, I'm going to the Mixer--Valentine Dance....I had a lot of fun. (I attempted to use different handwriting to denote time or mood changes.) 
      March 17, Mother and daughter banquet
      April 29, I went to see Gone With the Wind.  Wow, was it good.  Clark Gable xxxxx
      May 22, 3 1/2 days left.  Well, I got my wish.  I got to usher at the ninth grade promotion.
      May 26, Out of School.  Going into the 9th Grade.  Went to the lake at Grand Point and had lots of fun. (If memory serves me correctly I seriously sunburned myself.)
      May 28 Went to see the movie Cimmarron, the story of Oklahoma territory.  (I later showed that black and white film at an elementary sleep over in the 1980's and promptly put everyone to sleep on the gym floor.)
      June 7, Dress rehearsal for Virginia Lee and Tom's dance recital.  I'm an Indian in Peter Pan.
      June 13, Jonya had her eye surgery in Wichita.  Freddie fell on the picket fence and cut open his leg.  It made me sick.
      June 20, I played 18 holes with Daddy.   Daddy bought me a new tourquoise golf bag and a new wedge and putter. 
      September 9, Hurricane Carla hit Texas.  The worst so far of the twenteth century. 
      October 6,  Sat with Bill (guessing on the brick wall).  Went to Mutt Hutt.  Bill came in sat and danced with me about 10 minutes (I don't like him.) I finally asked Blaine Taylor to dance.  Wow.  
      November 8, Rainbow Dance is coming but I don't know who to invite.  Bill?  Tim?? 
      December 16, Went to see Blue Hawaii.  Mary Dahl and Judy Scruggs stayed all night with me.  I don't think Tim likes me.  

What I do remember with heart and soul are the memories we shared after the school day. Ironically, I carry fond memories of watching TV with my family and eating our meals on TV trays. The Ed Sullivan Show was my favorite, but I rarely missed Bonanza,Gunsmoke, Candid Camera, Andy Griffith, or Alfred Hitchcock. I discovered "As the World Turns" and other soap operas thanks to the lunches we shared at Judy Scrugg's house. Judy and I cried together at the drive in movie when mother took us to see "West Side Story."  I just knew that boy didn't die, even though mother and Judy let me know I was wrong.  

Eighth grade became a pivotal time in our history, and my parents took the Soviet threats seriously. Driving the Muntz, Dad's race car, my father made it an adventure to find shelter and safety for his family. By summer of 1961 a "bomb shelter" had been dropped into the
The awning covers the bomb shelter entrance.  
ground at 209 H NE.  Mother filled it with the proper foods and toiletries. (We didn't know all the dangers.)   It was my job to remind her to change the foods every six months.  It was a schedule we kept throughout my high school years.  And, yet, I only wished to live to be 16 and legally drive a car.

Fear comes in strange forms, and I suppose I never really thought I'd live to see the world, raise a family, much less enjoy a reunion fifty years after graduation. Like my diary, the count down has begun....11 days.    

Miami Oklahoma Class of 1965

P.S.  Doug Gosney, looks like I owe you a nickel.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Messages in a text...

Sometimes catching the big fish is what it's all about. We help reel it in, then we share in the moment, the memories, the laughter, and the feast.  
Shaun caught the Big Red Fish

And then a moment occurs, that's bigger than the Fish, or the story.  
While visiting the beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama this past week my daughter, Katy, and Shaun relaxed on a balcony
with a view of the ocean; sat by the dock of the bay; and waded in the warm waters while evading the shark nearby.  I received each of these stories through texting and pictures. But my favorite was this story.

"Mom, we were sitting on the beach when Shaun remembered he needed something from the room.  Leaving me on the beach he skipped through the sand barefoot back to the room.  A little while later, I heard him kicking and laughing as he walked along behind me. Suddenly, he feel at my feet.  I couldn't help but laugh.  Instead of standing immediately and wiping the sand off his face, he rose to one knee and said, 'Look what I found in the sand.....

I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  Will you Marry Me?"  

The next text read, "We just need to find a wedding chapel!!!"

Congratulations, to our romantic grown up kids:  Shaun Bledsoe, our soon to be son-in-law, and daughter Katy Rains.

Cheerfully, our family has been blessed with another rewarding moment in a text message.  Jonya wrote, "Corey passed his bar exam."  When I texted him my congratulations, his reply was simple, "I'm pumped!" 

Congratulations Corey on becoming a full fledged attorney, and for the focus and determination it took to complete law school and pass the bar.  

To see his story go to 
May, 5 archives, Grad, ulations.