This is the first MHS / LHS Class of 1962 newsletter for 2017.
This edition can be seen at:
Best wishes for a Happy and successful New Year!
This edition can be seen at:
To go to an article, click on the article name in the table of contents. To return to top of document, press <Ctrl> < Home>. You should receive a survey regarding our 55th reunion. Please respond to help us plan the event.
Here is the link:
To go to an article, click on the article name in the table of contents. To return to top of document, press <Ctrl> < Home>.
There is an article linking to West Texas photos. These are probably better than National Geographic quality.
Editor - 703 819-5290
You can return comments to any of the newsletter staff members shown at the top of this issue.
Betty Melzer Moore
Susan Henderson Askins
Sammye Richardson Waldrip
To go to an article from the table of contents, press <control> and click on the page number. To return to top, press <control> and <home>.
Please note: We had to remove one article but leave a blank item in the Table of Contents. This was because the article was about a controversial radical group in the middle east. And a scan revealed that the newsletter might be blocked on the internet if we kept the article.
The newsletter can be found at –
I am saddened to report that our classmate Curtis Armstrong has left this earth. Information was received too late for posting in the body of the newsletter. To see his obituary, click on the link below:
From the Galveston Daily News.
Will some alumnus of Cowden Hr. Hi volunteer to be a feature editor?
Betty Melzer Moore
For Claudette Mullis Barnhart:
class of 1962 newsletter at:
Note the following:
1. Use the <Home> key to return to top of document
2. If you click a URL to see a video, the browser return arrow at top left
brings you back in to Top of Document, while the Close key at top right
drops you out of the document and you have to re-enter.
===========================================================Below is a link to the winter 2015 MHS / LHS class of 1962.
Editor’s Column: Below is the July 2014 issue of the bi-ennial Class of 1962 newsletter. Can we have volunteers from Cowden and Alamo Junior High’s to write articles now and then. At bottom are lists of those with expired emails and those who were not found. If possible provide info on these you know to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.
MHS / LHS Class of 1962 Newsletter
A decision was made to continue publishing the class newsletter once each 6 months. Kathie Ross has offered to help by sending out a survey asking what type of articles everyone wants to have. And asking who will provide articles and photos of their meetings with our classmates, vacations, grand children, and whatever else. Anyone who hears of a classmate passing away is requested to send their obituary along with your comments. After all the accomplishments and vitality of our class, how ironic it seems that we are faced more and more each day with our own mortality. We appreciate Mary Anderson and Susan Henderson Askins becoming reporters for our newsletter. It would be good to have a reporter who attended each of the four junior high schools: Alamo, Austin, Cowden, and San Jacinto. That would help put us in better contact with all parts of our class. Those who like to write and can help prepare or edit articles are invited to get in contact with Russell Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or Betty Melzer Moore Bettymoore79701@gmail.com. We apologize that the extensive pictures made this newsletter longer than usual.
Table of Contents
1. Letters to the Editor
Claire Herd Crumbley
Carol Brennan Bankston
Sue Johnson Tull
Nonie Perry Jobe and Ronny Jobe
June Chase Hankins
Mark Choate (husband of Cindy Pierce)
Ann Gilbert Wylie
Carolyn Cowden Gigac
Click here for Letters to Editor
2. What's Going On in Midland?
Midland, Texas. Yes, Midland, Texas. The former home of the majority of us and the present home to some of us. Russell Smith has asked Susan Henderson Askins and Mary Anderson to write, once every six months, a column titled, "What's Going On In Midland?" We hope this will be a good opportunity to update as to what's happening in town. So, here goes... Click here for more
3. Making the American Dream Happen
Bill Ingram - For as long as I can remember, I have said that I would probably never retire, I would just keep working as long as I was able. When I was asked to write an article about why I felt that way, it caused me to examine a lot of beliefs that I had just taken for granted. Click here for more
4. Bad Billy Bade Ingram-the "I Man" before Imus and Various Tales from Yesteryear
Bob Ittner - Scanning the morning paper after downing my Mature Multi and wishing I could still put away the groceries (eat without limits) without suffering the consequences, I was appalled to read a 68-year-old lady described as elderly! Who are those old people that the Longhorn Network interviewed from the 1963 University of Texas Football National Champions? Hey Paul McCartney is 71, rust never sleeps. Click here for more
5. What has happened Since the Reunion
Tim Throckmorton - It is hard to believe that it has been over a year since our 50th reunion. Russell asked me to write a brief update since our 2012 gathering. His first question...Are you still working"? Answer ... Yes I am. Our wholesale water supply company is busier than we have ever been. Click here for more
6. A Motorcycle Tour of Vermont
Pete Lair - After posting a couple of pictures on Facebook, I was asked to write an article about a trip my wife and I made this October to Vermont. As a little background, I have always had a passion for anything with two wheels. Click here for more
7. MHS Class of 1952 Holds 60th Anniversary Reunion
The MHS class of 1952 held its 60th anniversary reunion this past October in Salado, Texas. Although the leaders of the event are primarily from the class of 1952, other classes are invited, and they had people from all classes from 1949 – 1956 to attend. Click here for more
8. A Meeting at Tampico's on West Wall St.
Classmates Russell Smith, Travis Beckham, Betty Melzer Moore, and Mary Anderson got together for dinner Thursday November 13, 2013 at Tampico's Restaurant on West Wall Street in Midland. Click here for more
9. Fragment from the Poem "Five Cantos" Found in a Magazine in a Doctor's Waiting Room – July 2013 By T.S. Eliot
Click here for more
10. Woody Gwyn: Renowned South-Western Painter
Russell Smith - There have been several requests for a story on Woody Gwyn, one of our two "class celebrities" (the other is the leading Broadway actor Larry Pine). We originally wanted to have Woody's wife Dianna write the article under the title: "What it's Like to be the Wife of an Artist". But she has a lot of responsibilities now and could not do it. In this article I will address what I know about Woody from the Midland school days and since. Click here for more
11. Photo of Betty Kay Moore Beyer and Grandchildren
Click here for more
12. The Cab Ride I'll Never Forget
Kent Nerburn - There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a gambler's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab. Click here for more
Click here for more
Thank you so much; what a delightful surprise! I am sitting in the grocery store parking lot wondering if the photo of the West Elementary photo of the rhythm band is the one I've had all these years
Russell-Thank you for keeping us in touch with each other. I know that I was on the first row of the West Elementary Rhythm Band, playing a triangle in the percussion section. I had looked for the photo before the reunion but failed to unearth it.
Claire Herd Crumbley
To the Editor - Thanks for sending this newsletter! It is so good to send all of these wonderful pictures and stories about their lives.
To the Editor - Thank you for sending the newsletter. I really enjoyed the update; however was very saddened to hear about Lloyd [Smith].
Carole Brennan Bankston
To the Editor - Thank you for updated. Obituaries are always sad. Struck me that 2 of 3 were born March 11. I was born March 10. May they rest in peace. I visited Oxford in 1984, so our classmate [Kathie Ross] was there. Thanks for sharing
Nonie (Perry) and Ronnie Jobe, both '66 grads, (Nonie was MHS)
To the Editor - Thanks Russell -- the newsletter is terrific, and I so appreciate this method of keeping in touch. Find myself wishing it were last year at this time and I was just looking forward to the reunion -- such a fun time. But, busy and happy -- grandchild #6 on the way -- can't believe anyone in our class could have six grandchildren, when we are all so young!!
Sue Johnson Tull
To the Editor - Thanks for information. Still hanging out in Austin. We had to go to Colorado to get out of the heat. We are back home now. Hope you are doing fine. Thanks again.
To the Editor - Received newsletter! Thanks for taking time and effort to keep all current on classmates
To the Editor - I greatly enjoyed reading this newsletter. Many thanks to you and all the others who contributed to it.
June Chase Hankins
To the Editor - Thanks for such a great newsletter! Can't wait for the next one.
To the Editor - Bye the bye, Jan Howell still looking good!
To the Editor - Your reunions have been nice. I think that was my third or fourth. You guys have always made me feel welcome, almost like I had gone to MHS. I remember how Cindy and I were sad leaving, because one of the organizers said class reunions don't typically run past the 50th. Hopefully that won't be the case for your class.
Mark Choate [husband of Cindy Pierce]
To the Editor - Russell; Please do let me know when Betty [Melzer] will again visit. I still regret that I was not at the reunion. I retire on June 1, and take up the title Emerita Professor [of geology]. That basically means I can keep my office here [University of Maryland] as long as I use it, and have access to a microscope if I need it. I was side-tracked on the book [History of the Catoctin Mountains] to write a research paper . . . . Anyway. Life is good. I am going to Midland if three weeks to see my mother. I will drive by Midland High and remember. All the best,
Ann Gilbert Wylie
To the Editor - Thanks for the update with the newsletter. Enjoyed the pictures of everyone that I remember - Benton Howell, Jim Edwards, Betty Melzer. Especially enjoyed Susan Osborne's photo of West Elementary first grade rhythm band. Saw a few old friends in that photo.....Charlie Kuykendall, Susan Spears. Yours truly is dead center just to the left of the guy (looks familiar) in the white shirt with the big drum. West was so crowded that my first grade class was held in the cafeteria and we took our afternoon naps on stage with the curtain closed. Our teacher was the lovely Miss Bachman - yeah, I had a crush on her! I actually got in touch with her when I was visiting my parents in Blackwell, Okla. in 1998. She was semi- retired living near Duncan, Oklahoma, and was still teaching part time. She remembered us at West Elementary - that was her first teaching job. Newsletter stirred some good memories.
Betty Melzer Moore
To the Editor [from Carolyn Cowden Gigac] Sorry to have taken so long to respond to your email, but this time of year is really busy. We really enjoyed attending the MHS-LHS 50th reunion. I am sorry we didn't get to reminisce also. It had been 50 years since I had seen most of the people. It was fun catching up and a great weekend. As for North Elementary, I don't remember which grade we were in the same room. You remember more than I.
I attended prep school in Washington, DC at Mount Vernon Seminary along with Gretchen Green. We had a 51st reunion this past October in San Antonio. Only 7 ladies and 3 husbands could attend, but we had fun catching up, seeing old photos and experiencing the River Walk.
Bill, his daughter and I traveled on a tour to London, Ireland and Scotland this past September for his daughter's 34th birthday. We had a fabulous time – saw allot of museums, cathedrals, castles, rolling hills and landscapes. We were fortunate to see the musical play, "Jersey Boys" in London, an Irish folk dance show, and a Scottish highland dance show. It was a trip of a lifetime. And of course, we bought copies of our coat of arms and history.
Bill and I love golf and play a lot. We live on the golf course and have a condo in Scottsdale and play many rounds during the season. I'm a director in a ladies golf association named Women's Trans National Golf Association. We conduct an amateur tournament in the summer and a senior one in the spring. We change locations each year. A lot of the amateurs turn pro after college.
I love the MHS newsletter. Keep it going.
Carolyn Cowden Gigac
Carolyn in 4th grade
Susan Henderson Askins, Mary Anderson, and Mary's granddaughter Alexis
What's Going On in Midland?
Mary Anderson and Susan Henderson Askins
Midland, Texas. Yes, Midland, Texas. The former home of the majority of us and the present home to some of us. Russell Smith has asked Susan Henderson Askins and Mary Anderson to write, once every six months, a column titled, "What's Going On In Midland?" We hope this will be a good opportunity to update as to what's happening in town. So, here goes...
Midland is experiencing unprecedented growth. The population in 2012 was about 119,000, but the city is predicted to grow for the next twenty to thirty years. We've heard population predictions as high as 500,000. This number would include the combined population of Midland and Odessa. The increase in population has brought more diversity, new businesses and restaurants, better entertainment and much more traffic. In fact, some of the most reckless drivers must now call Midland their "Home." Their favorite activities are speeding, running red lights and tailgating. The infrastructure here cannot handle the increase in traffic. From January to December of this year, there have been forty-one traffic fatalities in Midland County, One lady told me that she says a prayer every time she drives in this city. Honestly, it can be scary.
The increase in population has caused a housing shortage. People are commuting from surrounding towns. To help alleviate this problem, two thousand new apartments will be available in 2014, but it sounds like that will not be enough. Of course, owners of rental property have raised their rent significantly, and the average price of a single family home is about $236, 000. We recently read in the Midland Reporter Telegram (yes, they are still in business) that approximately one hundred permits have been issued for homes whose value is over $1,000,000. Seems like a lot of homes. Well, maybe not. Midland now has the highest income per resident of any city in the US. The average income in Midland is about $86,000.
The Midland City Council recently approved the building of The Energy Tower. This tower is slated to have fifty-two stories with an additional five to six levels for parking. The location of this building will be on the property where the old court house was located. While members of the city council seem excited about this project, many older residents are not in favor of this venture. They are concerned about extra taxes, wind issues, vacancy rates and what will become of the tower when the boom is over. Interestingly enough, many of the Under Forty Years of Age Group are excited about the new building and view it as a positive step for the future.
Demographics are changing in Midland. We recently elected our first Hispanic mayor - Jerry Morales. Morales defeated several mayoral candidates. Rumors were flying that one mayoral candidate was planted by the Democrats to try to make an inroad into Midland politics. Wrong! They tried, but they didn't succeed. Some things haven't changed.
FYI Facebook has a group titled "Remember in Midland When...."
So, if you remember The Blue Star Inn, NIX Trading Post, The Dellwood Mall, the organ player at Furr's Cafeteria, hamburgers at Bob's Better Burger, Agnes' Drive In, the Yucca Theater or the other special things about Midland, you might enjoy this FaceBook group. Also, you can check out the Midland Reporter Telegram news at http://www.mrt.com and take a look at the slide show featuring the top one hundred $1M homes in Midland. The slide inventory matrix is a little ways down the left side of the main page. To see slide show, you have to set up a log-on as shown near top right of the page. There is an article from the Midland Reporter about our classmate Susie Grayson Hitchcock-Hall at the following URL: http://www.mrt.com/top_
She is one of the most successful business persons from our class and hosted our 50th Anniversary Friday evening event at her candy factory in Midland. We sincerely hope that 2014 is a good year for all!
The Energy Tower
For as long as I can remember, I have said that I would probably never retire, I would just keep working as long as I was able. When I was asked to write an article about why I felt that way, it caused me to examine a lot of beliefs that I had just taken for granted.
I guess it starts with a heritage that many of us growing up in West Texas share. Many of our relatives arrived in this country from foreign lands looking for new opportunities, and many were connected with the landÉ..farmers and ranchers. They were also, by definition, entrepreneurs and innovators who created the communities that we live in. These people did not really have jobs; they created their lives on a daily basis, and lived those lives until they died.
My Dad made a decision in 1952 to move from a "dust bowl" farm in Stanton to Midland to design and build houses. He was a very creative person and grew to be one of the most successful builders in Midland. As a young kid, I would see him in his "office" (actually his bedroom) whenever I was home. I can remember proclaiming one day that I wanted to grow up and have a job like him where I could stay home all the time.
When it came time for me to get a summer job, I started out working one summer for my Dad digging ditches and being the "gofer" on his jobs. I also worked one summer at First National Bank. Both of those jobs reinforced a belief that I did not even know I hadÉ..figure out something fun and go do it. Thus was born an entrepreneur. So, Boots Reeder and I joined together to clean swimming pools and teach swimming lessons. While that may not seem fun, you have to remember that many of the girls that we all ran around with had pools. Not a bad way to spend summers!
Although my parents paid for my college education, I continued to be "self employed" while in collegeÉ..selling pots and pans to single working girls. I was making money and having fun. I worked all the way through college, got married in 1965 and started a family. Since I knew that I did not want to be a "pot and pan salesman" the rest of my life, I spent the summer of 1967 reading about 20 "positive mental attitude" books. Think and Grow Rich had a significant effect on me, and I meticulously went through the whole goal setting process in the book. Without realizing the impact of writing out goals, I finished the process and put it all away in my desk.
In September, I attended the company retreat at the Owner's ranch to close out the year and plan the next year. I was relaxing on the back porch with a glass of wine in a hammock when one of the owners, and a very good friend, sat down next to me and asked me a direct question that I did not expect......"Bill, what are you going to do?" I have no idea if he had a hunch or if he was simply asking what I was going to do that afternoon. Without thinking at all, I replied......"John, I have to move on." Wow! I did not even know I was thinking that at the moment, but the words were out and my life changed at that minute. I had no job planned and my first child (Jeff) had just been born in July......not the best planned career move!
I am not sure how to explain the next step in this journey. When I returned to Houston, I got a call from an old pot and pan competitor who had recently started a new company selling insurance and mutual funds. They needed someone with a real estate broker's license to join their company so they could add real estate syndications. Duh, I just happen to be available as of yesterday! And thus I began the 45-year journey in the real estate business.
Did I tell you that when I was cleaning out my desk in Houston, I found the goal-setting work I had done during the summer. I had basically forgotten I had done the work. As I started reading the list of goals, I checked off almost every single item I had written down, including the goal of being in the real estate business.
While I have experienced the highs and lows of owning and operating a commercial real estate company over the past 45 years, I can still say that I am having fun! Now that I have finished this article, I realize it is also time to sit down and renew my own goals for the next 10 years. The process of creating our future remains the same for all of us, and it starts with a thoughtÉ..Conceive (and reduce to writing), Believe, Achieve, and have FUN! If it ain't fun, then Reconceive, instead of Retiring, and keep having fun!
Bill and Genie Ingram – Photo by Carolyn Cowden Gigac
Scanning the morning paper after downing my Mature Multi and wishing I could still put away the groceries (eat without limits) without suffering the consequences, I was appalled to read a 68-year-old lady described as elderly! Who are those old people that the Longhorn Network interviewed from the 1963 University of Texas Football National Champions? Hey Paul McCartney is 71, rust never sleeps.
ONCE AGAIN I find myself following Bad Billy Bade Ingram just as I did in all our classes that seated alphabetically-ING vs. ITT. I wished I had followed in his footsteps with his girlfriend Margo (named changed to protect the innocent) but that's another story. I haven't had a song written about me as Bad has by his famous son Jack. Every time he sees a yogurt serving, he thanks me for inviting him over for yoga and yogurt at 6 AM before class. Warren Lynn and I had perfected the postures after taking a yoga class at the Y. We were ahead of our time and now we are behind. I still try to run through the routine once a week.
What fun it is to see what our classmates have done: the famous dog whisperer Andrea Dewey in Santa Fe; John Bannister and his garage band "Dr. John and the Aristocrats"; Tom Wright who attends every rock concert in the Denver area with his wife Judy when they are not Harleying across the country; Slim Jim Don Puckett still picking them up and laying down in Down Under; Mike "Goose" Goslin earning his Doctorate in Gardening to go with his Doctorate in keeping Florida State football players eligible; the Texas Artist and Philosopher Gail Stallings Childress; the oil barons Ferrell Davis and John "Mogford" Waid; the water baron Tim (TNT) Throckmorton; Russell "Gershwin" Smith figuring out how to extract money from the government for worthwhile projects while polishing the piano concerto "Unchained Melody" for the next reunion.
Gail Stallings Childress
Suzanne Ellis Gonzalez and Kay Johns
Finally let me share a trip down Memory Lane I received from Suzanne "Susie Q" Ellis-Gonzales:
When we were in art class at Austin Junior High, Mrs. Wilson had two adjoining classrooms. She put Woody [Gwyn], Travis Beckham, Mary Lou Cassidy, Joe Sanchez and me in one of the classrooms, because she thought we were the ones who were more seriously interested in art. In the other classroom, she left the kids who were taking art because they had to have an elective and could care less--and their behavior showed it. (Ittner note: it would be interesting to know who ne'er-do-wells were.)
Mary Lou Cassidy
Of course, Woody was already a skilled artist. I think that he had studied with Porfirio Salinas who was the artist known for his bluebonnet paintings of the hill country.Woody (a kid in junior high school!) was commissioned by people in Midland to do paintings like those of Porfirio Salinas. We would playfully tease him about selling his artistic soul (or some such verbiage) doing knock offs for money. Of course, none of the rest of us had the talent or skill to do what he did and certainly weren't making money with our art.
On occasion, we would ask Woody to "do" Richard III. He would put himself in a hunchback posture and do one of the monologues from that play. He had them memorized and was very convincing in his delivery.
It is interesting that of that group, Mary Lou is the one who is still most involved with theater (Ittner note: and performing her Woody jokes). Woody and Travis are still doing art. I have continued to do art for pleasure, although I haven't done much in a long time. Sadly, Joe Sanchez was among the deceased on the class obituary board at the reunion.
Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2014, Bob Ittner
It is hard to believe that it has been over a year since our 50th reunion. Russell asked me to write a brief update since our 2012 gathering. His first questionÉ"Are you still working"? Answer É Yes I am. Our wholesale water supply company is busier than we have ever been. We have two projects in various stages of development coupled with the expansion of an existing project. The smaller of the two new projects is being developed as I write this update. The second, a 10 million gallon a day supply project, is in the permitting stage. These projects will keep me focused for the next two years. Likewise, my wife Sharon who is a clinical physiologist seems to be busier than ever in spite of trying to reduce her practice hours.
On a more personal front, our daughter Taylor is about half way through Rice University's MBA program. She will graduate in May of 2014. In addition, she is engaged to be married in October of 2014. So mother and daughter are very busy planning the wedding and hopefully studying. While announcement parties and related engagement parties were taking place, Sharon and I were fortunate to spend a couple of week last summer in Colorado playing golf, fly fishing and enjoying the wonderful outdoors.
Our two sons, their wives and our four grandchildren are all healthy and doing fine. This winter, we will probably be visiting our son who lives in Westlake Village, California. This will give us a chance to enjoy some quality time will our grandchildren and have some family golf outings.
I wish each of you a very Happy New Year and health 2014.
By Pete Lair
After posting a couple of pictures on Facebook, I was asked to write an article about a trip my wife and I made this October to Vermont. As a little background, I have always had a passion for anything with two wheels. After a brief stint in the 70's, I put aside those things until the kids left, and now I'm on my fourth Harley. I normally take a long ride with friends either in the Spring or Fall. But this year my wife and I and two other couples decided we'd do something a little different. We flew to Vermont and rented Harleys for four days.
Pete and Phyllis Lair on Lake Champlain in Burlington
One couple flew to Montreal on Thursday, the 10th, rented a van then picked up the rest of us in Burlington the following morning. After lunch, we went by Green Mountain Harley Davidson, filled out the paperwork, got fitted for helmets and looked over area maps with the dealership staff. Then after a stop at the Ben & Jerry's Factory for, what elseÉa dip of maple walnut crunch in a waffle cone, we drove to Smuggler's Notch Resort, where one of the couples owns a time-share.
Pete and Phyllis Lair getting ready for First Day
The next morning we were at the dealership when they opened, saddled up and then thundered off on our adventure. We decided to make a northern circle the first day. Lunch was in Richford, a small town 2 miles from the Canadian border. The countryside in Vermont is gorgeous. The fields and yards were all a bright green from the rye grass, which made the fall colors even more striking. Every home seemed to have fall mums everywhere, and the old weathered barns looked just like the pictures.
Those of us who ride refer to cars as "cages". Travelling through even the most beautiful scenery in a climate controlled metal shell and admiring the view through safety glass is a completely different experience than seeing it on a motorcycle. Whether it's feeling the damp chill as you pass through a low spot in the road or smelling freshly mowed grass in a nearby field, traveling on a bike means you're truly experiencing all the sensations the countryside and the trip have to offer.
The next day we headed south. After breakfast in Waterbury, we went south through Woodstock on Highway 100, stopping in Quechee for a break. We didn't really know why everything was so crowded, but we parked and followed the crowd. They were headed to Simon Pearce, a wonderful glass factory, outlet store and restaurant with glassblowers, a waterfall, a covered bridge and much, more. Heading home later. we stopped for gas in the state capital, Montpelier. The capital building is topped with a golden dome, and with the afternoon sun and backdrop of fall colors on the hillside behind, it looking stunning. With a population of only 7,855, Montpelier is the nation's smallest state capital.
Our planned last day of riding was a wash-out with a steady drizzle. Temperatures had been in the upper 40's at night and low 60's during the day. That's nice when it's dry, but not so great when it's wet and cloudy. Also, (and more importantly) our wives' adventurous traits only go so far, especially when shopping is available. We all piled in the van and proceeded to make the rounds of the area attractions we had planned on visiting by bike. We began with Johnson Woolens Mills in Johnson, VT. Then it was off to the Cabot Creamery, where we took the tour and forced ourselves to try all the cheese samples. Next the Green Mountain Coffee factory/Outlet followed by the Cold Mountain Cider Mill. It was great fun watching them make apple cider while munching on warm apple cider donut(s). Finally, we headed back to Smuggler's Notch with the back of the van filled with bags of coffee, cheeses, and other Vermont treasures.
Up early the next morning, we needed to have the bikes back to the dealership by 10AM and spent the afternoon puttering around on the shore of Lake Champlain.
As you might suspect we had maple everythingÉmaple salmon, maple chicken, and every morning featured some type waffle or French toast withÉyou guessed it, real maple syrup. I can honestly say I never tired of the taste. If you love fall colors and the taste of maple syrup, then Vermont is a place to add to your "bucket list". I appreciate the opportunity to share my little adventure!
The MHS class of 1952 held its 60th anniversary reunion this past October in Salado, Texas. Although the leaders of the event are primarily from the class of 1952, other classes are invited, and they had people from all classes from 1949 – 1956 to attend. .This group had held regular reunions in Midland each 5 years. However, according to organizer Dan Black, the group had grown tired of Midland. So, this time they picked Salado, a town of 2,000 people about 15 miles southwest of Temple. This location is central to Austin, Dallas and Houston, with those from San Antonio and Midland travelling a little farther. The reunion was a 3-day event, and they served dinner to 120 people on the third evening. The food included a lot of barbeque. and they had an excellent western band from the locality. The people attending enjoyed the many local antique shops and wineries. According to Dan Black, the class of 1952 had 164 graduates, and approximately 24% are still on this earth.
A Meeting at Tampico's on West Wall St.
Classmates Russell Smith, Travis Beckham, Betty Melzer Moore, and Mary Anderson got together for dinner Thursday November 13, 2013 at Tampico's Restaurant on West Wall Street in Midland. During dinner, there was some discussion that Betty, Travis, and Russell had recently lost their mothers. Mary mentioned that she and Nancy Newkirk had both had a crush on tenth-grade history teacher Val Tucker. Lynnette Schillo, a friend of Travis, described her experience previously working as a drilling supervisor and currently working for the Texas Railroad Commission. In the car after dinner, Vanessa Smith said: "All you discussed was death. Death, death, and more death. Why don't you people get a life." Russell and Travis are still employed, while Betty and Mary are retired.
By T.S. Eliot
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
There have been several requests for a story on Woody Gwyn, one of our two "class celebrities" (the other is the leading Broadway actor Larry Pine). We originally wanted to have Woody's wife Dianna write the article under the title: "What it's Like to be the Wife of an Artist". But she has a lot of responsibilities now and could not do it. In this article I will address what I know about Woody from the Midland school days and since.
Elementary School Years
Woody was my best friend during the early school years at North Elementary. He was an off-the-scale talent who also had a gift of personality. From the early elementary years, he seemed to have equal talent as an artist and as an actor. He could naturally draw well. And I remember a beautiful sketch of an appaloosa pony he drew in Mrs. Grant's first grade room.
During those same early years, he showed an equal talent for drama. In Mrs. Peters' second grade class, Woody produced, directed and acted in a skit right before Easter. The skit was about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and he played the role of Jesus. There was a prop cross that may have been made from pickets for a fence. This act was well done, and I was better prepared for Easter as a result of what Woody did.
When there would be a really dramatic movie at the theaters, Woody would see the show many times and memorize the most dramatic parts. He was especially focused on the 5-star religious movies like The Robe with Richard Burton. But he also liked Shakespearean movies such as Julius Caesar with Tony Curtis. After one of those high-drama features, Woody would reenact the most emotional roles on the playground for weeks. The power of his spot-on recreations was immense. His acting was so good and engendered such emotion that it made you feel like crying, laughing and applauding at the same time.
Woody was also a funny person. Through mimicry, playful acting out, role playing, and with his quick wit, he did a good job of being the class comedian. Around Woody, there was never a dull moment. In Miss Purcell's fourth grade class, he was making a dramatic point and accidentally punched me in the throat so hard that I could only whisper for a couple of hours.
Junior High Years
From an early age, Woody knew that he wanted to be an artist. When we would go to the library during the summers of our junior high years, I would read random stuff like books showing terrible photos of the holocaust. But Woody would study art history books where he could learn about the work of the great masters. At the Halloween carnival at Austin Junior high our 8th grade year, Woody had an art booth. He would draw a portrait in pastels of anyone who would pay a dollar. I am not sure if I still have my portrait, and not long ago Judy Hollis said she had just found hers. He also served as staff artist for the student newspaper at our school.
Woody used his dramatic ability to entertain his friends. One evening during the eighth grade, there was a party at the house of Linda Damewood, at the time Woody's girlfriend. There was a game in which everyone got a card with the name of a famous movie star on it. You had to do an act that mimicked the star good enough for the other kids to be able to name the particular star. Woody was assigned Marilyn Monroe. To act the role, Woody picked up a throw rug from the floor and put it around his waist like a skirt. And he proceeded to walk slowly, swinging his hips just like Marilyn Monroe, and everyone immediately knew who he was portraying.
Later, Woody had a girlfriend named Renaldo Davis for a while. Since he was too young to drive, his older brother Don would take them places. Woody said he couldn't help but sit close to Renaldo in the back seat because Don would go around the corners so fast that they would be thrown together at one end of the seat.
During 8th grade, Woody had a chance to have a Mrs. Bray who was an art dealer look at his work. She was in Midland on business staying at the Scharbauer hotel. I helped Woody carry two canvasses from his father's shop to the hotel. One was a depiction of the crucifixion of Christ, while the other was a fall display of a cow bell and some dried ears of corn and leaves. Mrs. Bray told Woody that the cow bell painting had the best commercial possibilities. By this time, Woody was studying art under Arnold Leondar at his studio in the 600 block of North Colorado Street.
In junior high Woody decided he was going to learn to play the drum. He studied with a drummer named Bill who was employed at the Midland Club. Bill was missing some front teeth due to getting smashed with a rifle butt by am enemy soldier during the Korean War. In the ninth grade, Woody joined a band playing popular music including Mike Sanchez, Jack Weberneck, and another player. The called themselves "The Four Specs" because they all wore glasses (spectacles). This group played "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" along with an encore number on the March of Dimes telethon in 1959. For their performance, student newspaper editor Mary Lou Cassidy awarded them "apples" for their good job on the main number but gave them "onions" for the encore number.
High School Years
By the time he reached high school, Woody had surpassed the school art teachers. Consequently, he would work on his own art projects. One of these was the large work he painted of an oil rig working at night that is still on the wall on a staircase landing at MHS. See photo below. The painting is a much richer and more pleasing interpretation than the photo reveals.
Night Rig - at MHS – photo by assistant principal Thomas Heiting - 3 Dec 2013
During his early high school years, Woody went to California to get advice from the commercial artist Robert Wood. Based on what he saw there, he painted some California landscapes, one of which my mother bought. This 1960 painting, called Spring Morning #4, shows a field of verbena flowers in the foreground and mountains in the background.
Spring Morning #4
This is one of the paintings from the earliest part of his career that Woody says embarrass him when they come up for sale. He commented that, recently, such a painting he did in high school was auctioned off at Christie's in New York. The price was low and he was afraid it would depress the value of his current work.
When he was a senior at MHS, Woody played a major role in a Shakespearean production presented at MHS. [Larry Pine acted in the same play. Dwight Atchison also acted in the play and was considering becoming an actor. However, he ended up with a career in the Air Force and is now a rancher in the Florida panhandle.] Woody acted his part in such a professional manner that anyone seeing him would think he had the potential to earn a living in Hollywood. The next time I saw Woody act was at the Midland Community Theatre in the summer just after my junior year in college. Woody was playing the part of a frail old man. In doing that role, he completely accomplished what Coleridge says is the standard for great art – to "achieve the willing suspension of disbelief".
Young Adult Artist
Like the athlete who has professional capabilities right out of high school, Woody didn't have time for college. Instead he went to work painting artworks for sale. He was driving a 1954 Lincoln Continental Mark IV that had previously belonged to the father of our classmate Fred Durham. By the time he was 21, Woody was an established professional artist, married, living in Midland, and sometimes acting in productions at Midland Community Theater. He subsequently took off a year from work and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He lived and worked for few years in Kerrville, Texas
One of the works Woody produced during his early career was the pencil drawing below called The Ladder. He did this when he was about 24 for the purpose of entering the American Biennial Drawing competition in Norfolk, Virginia. It won a first place blue ribbon and was bought by the museum sponsoring the competition. I saw that work on display at the competition while I was in the Army stationed nearby. His step daughter was the model.
The Ladder – 1968
Credits - Woody Gwyn, American (b. 1944), The Ladder, before 1969
Pencil on paper, 28 3/4 x 22 3/4 in., Chrysler Museum of Art,
Norfolk, VA, Museum purchase 69.57.4
After a few years in Kerrville, Woody moved to Gallisteo, New Mexico, where has lived most of the time during the past 30 years. Gallisteo is small upscale community about 15 miles south of Santa Fe. Several artists live there, and the ranchers make a business of renting out horses and range to movie companies that wish to use the area as a setting for their western productions.
Career as an Artist
Disclaimer: In some of the following paragraphs, there is a discussion of Woody's artistic work. The reader should be warned that the writer didn't even complete Art History 101 in school. Therefore, please take any opinions expressed in perspective.
Woody early found his genre in landscape painting. During the time between his 10th grade school year and the present, he has built a reputation for being a leading landscape painter of the southwest. As Dallas art brokerage firm Russell Tether phrased it, "he is one of a select few artists capable of documenting the strange beauty of the country's West". (http://www.russelltether.com/
His work is displayed at several Texas museums in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas as well as in other states. He has also exhibited in Paris and Tel Aviv. He has produced pieces in the 12-foot-plus size range that appear in corporate headquarters lobbies and board rooms. In 2010 he received a Governor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts in New Mexico presented by Governor Bill Richardson. There are listed on the web site below (1) nearly 150 shows where Woody has exhibited, (2) over 50 articles and books in which his work is discussed, and (3) 34 public collections in which his work is displayed. http://www.woodygwyn.com/Site/
Several of our classmates have enjoyed visiting Woody in the Santa Fe area. Those who have visited include Ferrell Davis, Pingle Bowden, and Larry Pine. His best friend our classmate Travis Beckham, also an artist, visits regularly. Mary Hardie Teeple recounted her recent visit as follows: "By the way Charlie and I ran into Woody Gwyn this summer  in Santa Fe. Woody and his wife were delightful. Enjoyed seeing them very much."
Woody and his wife Diana live in a unique residence in Gallisteo, New Mexico. It was described by visiting artist wife Wendy Rodrigue as follows:
The Gwyns are the third family in three hundred years to own the Doris-Ortiz hacienda. Built in 1703, its rafters originated with the church built on the same site in 1675.The new structure began as a Spanish trading post, followed by a dance hall and casino, and when the Comanche Indians raided Galisteo in 1712, the women and children hid in the house's courtyard during the battle. In 1846 the structure became a U.S. cavalry outpost, followed by a general store and finally a bar, popular with movie stars in the 1950s.
Rodrigue adds that the Doris-Ortiz hacienda is on the "only asphalt today in Galisteo, a road paved in the 1940s to ensure safe travel of the atomic bomb to the Trinity [code name for the first atom bomb test program] site." http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/
In 2010 Woody held a show at George Washington University in Washington, DC. While visiting in the area, he and Russell Smith met for dinner at the Prime steakhouse.
Woody Gwyn and Russell Smith
Santa Fe professor and critic Sharyn R. Udall, Ph.D. identified some of the characteristics that make Woody's art so captivating: "As with much good painting, the initial pleasure of looking gradually gives way to rich, unexpected complexities. These paintings are in fact full of tension and paradox. At once timeless and utterly contemporary, they visibly contradict the pace of the twentieth century."
Quarry – LewAllen Galleries
In a promotional piece, the LewAllen Galleries where he sells in Santa Fe referred to Woody as "one of the most acclaimed realist painters of the American landscape". They added that "Gwyn is celebrated for his unusual perspectives and dramatic angles, [and] an ability to render the ordinary as heroic . . . ." They were telling nothing but the truth when they said he is "a virtuoso at bringing out an epic realism of the American landscape".
Manzano is Spanish for apple or apple tree. Take a look at this immensely pleasing painting at a blowup of about 250 or 300% to see the detail.
An interviewer from the Russell Tether art brokerage once asked Woody what was his favorite subject matter? He answered as follows: "I can't really say I have a favorite subject. Subject matter is just an excuse to express a quality of light and space. As a realist painter, I hope I transcend the subject. If your work is a literal transcription and is not done with a certain level of passion, it's just illustration. And the danger in abstract art is, if it's not done with a certain philosophical underpinning and passion, then it's just decoration." http://www.russelltether.com/
There is something about the conception and execution of many Gwyn landscapes that pulls the viewers in and thrills them. In the painting of the Grand Canyon above, it is the combination of the relaxed tourists on a dangerous-looking promontory set in a stunning interpretation of the Canyon. In the image below check out the light green grass at the middle left and the light green trees down the river, as well as the ripples in the water in the foreground and the texture of the tree trunks. Then the enigmatic rope hanging down makes you wonder who has been playing out there. Plus the unusual angle of the bridge and its foundation framing the scene.
During the 1980s, Woody began frequently painting scenes focusing on or including highways. There were curved highways, straight highways, and many different representations of segments of a highway. The highway theme was unlike his previous work. At the time, I asked him why he was painting highways. And the only answer he would give was that he was painting highways because he wanted to paint highways. I stayed on his case, and I asked him a deeper question: "What is the psychology behind all of these highways? I mean is there a hidden meaning, like you want to use one of these highways to get out of town?" But I had to back off, because Woody was getting uncomfortable. He either didn't know or couldn't say why he was painting highways. Immediately below is a photo of Woody in a highway picture, and there are examples of his highway paintings below that.
In commenting on Woody's highway paintings, Santa Fe critic Sharyn R. Udall, Ph.D. wrote the following: "We feel the inexorable tension between the highway built for speed and painting that demands slow, deliberate looking; between knowing that the center of things is elsewhere and Gwyn's insistence that it is here, now, on this stretch of road; between a silent place devoid of trespass and the sure knowledge that soon a blur of hurtling metal will whine past, impatient to devour distances."
It is ironic to note that the quintessential landscape artist also produces seascapes of similar quality. Visiting artist wife Wendy Rodrigue reported on a seascape Woody was preparing as follows: "We found him working on a long narrow canvas (one foot by fourteen feet) of Bixby Bridge and the Pacific Coast, an area well known to us on California's Highway One." http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/
Other seascapes follow below, and two of these also iclude the highway theme.
Coastal Highway 1
In the painting above, is the mist at the left of the coastal highway clouds or condensation on the aircraft window?
Sun & Sea New Version
Editor's note: Sun & Sea New Version needs to be enlarged to 200% for its character to be seen on many computer screens.
Opportunity to Choose an Acting Career
For a long time, I didn't understand why it was that Woody decided to be an artist rather than an actor. Because, he probably had the talent to become a Robert DeNiro. If he had gone that route, he would probably be a name everyone knows in Hollywood. And he would earn far more than he earns as an artist, although he does well in art.
Over the years I have asked him many times, "Why did you become an artist rather than an actor, because you could have become a Robert DeNiro or a Peter O'Toole". His usual answer was that, he wasn't handsome enough to be a Hollywood leading man. That answer never seemed satisfactory, because neither DeNiro nor O'Toole has matinee idol good looks. But both have reached the top of their profession.
Finally, Woody gave a satisfactory answer to my question just before our 50th anniversary event. When I asked him for the umpteenth time, "Why didn't you become a rich movie star?" he said: "You know, it all comes down to this. I just loved art more. And I couldn't have lived with myself if I had done anything else."
The surprising part is that, Woody has not once done a role in a play since his last engagement at the Midland Community Theater when he was in his early twenties. However, he can still quote many of the Shakespeare soliloquies such as "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" from King Lear, the "winter of our discontent" from Richard III, and others. However, I have not in 45 years been able to coax him into saying those roles with his full power, where it makes you want to cry and laugh and applaud at the same time.
Woody is a humble and self-effacing person. He still does not realize that nearly everyone at MHS and LHS in our class knew him, or at least knew who he was, and that he was a standout gifted artist. And that those who knew him personally liked him. When he is told that many in the class regard him as a "celebrity", he scoffs at that idea saying, "If I were a 'celebrity', you would add a 'zero' to the price I get for my paintings."
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by Kent Nerburn
Editor's Note: If you have red this before, skip to the editor's note below the article.
There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living. It was a cowboy's life, a gambler's life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab.
What I didn't count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total anonymity and tell me of their lives. We were like strangers on a train, the passengers and I, hurtling through the night, revealing intimacies we would never have dreamed of sharing during the brighter light of day. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and made me weep.
And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or someone going off to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.
When I arrived at the address, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground-floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a short minute, then drive away. Too many bad possibilities awaited a driver who went up to a darkened building at 2:30 in the morning.
But I had seen too many people trapped in a life of poverty who depended on the cab as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation had a real whiff of danger, I always went to the door to find the passenger. It might, I reasoned, be someone who needs my assistance. Would I not want a driver to do the same if my mother or father had called for a cab?
So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail and elderly voice. I could hear the sound of something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman somewhere in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like you might see in a costume shop or a Goodwill store or in a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The sound had been her dragging it across the floor.
The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. "I'd like a few moments alone. Then, if you could come back and help me? I'm not very strong."
I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm, and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated." "Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. Her praise and appreciation were almost embarrassing.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?" "It's not the shortest way," I answered. "Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice." I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I should go there. He says I don't have very long."
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to go?" I asked. For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they had first been married. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she would have me slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. Without waiting for me, they opened the door and began assisting the woman. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her; perhaps she had phoned them right before we left.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase up to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair. "How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse. "Nothing," I said. "You have to make a living," she answered. "There are other passengers," I responded. Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held on to me tightly.
"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you." There was nothing more to say. I squeezed her hand once, then walked out into the dim morning light. Behind me, I could hear the door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I did not pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the remainder of that day, I could hardly talk.
What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? What if I had been in a foul mood and had refused to engage the woman in conversation? How many other moments like that had I missed or failed to grasp?
We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares. When that woman hugged me and said that I had brought her a moment of joy, it was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride.
Editor's Note: This piece was penned by author Kent Nerburn and was originally published under the title "And where there is sadness, joy" in his 1999 book, Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.
In 2008, Kent Nerburn posted the following entry on his blog in response to the Internet-prompted popularity of this story:
A website out of the U.K. has recently posted the now well-traveled story of my experience as a cab driver, when I picked up an old woman who was on her way to a hospice. It has reached number one on a number of websites as a result. I am thrilled when my ordinary life offers up an extraordinary moment that brings some solace or insight or enjoyment to others, and such has been the good fortune of that moment in the late 1980's when I was driving the "dog shift" in Minneapolis, Minnesota. What is noteworthy about that moment, beyond its poignancy, is that I did not create it; I merely experienced it and let it unfold.
Life gives us all such moments — I call them "Blue Moments" — where a brilliant light shines through the ordinary moments in our ordinary days. They come unsolicited and unannounced, and provide us the gift of significance and, if we are lucky, the opportunity to serve.
What is important is to remember that these ARE gifts, and that we cannot receive them if we are not open to them. We need to listen closely, watch closely, and take care not to rush past or through them when they arrive. They are the fabric of our lives, and they will weave themselves with complexity and beauty if we give them time to do so. I do not think that I have ever done anything in my life that was any more important.
One death was reported by a daughter who received the past issue of our newsletter. Since she responded in a different email from the newsletter, her response was lost. It is hoped she will respond again. And that anyone hearing that a classmate has left this earth will forward their obituary to Russell Smith at email@example.com of Betty Melzer Moore at Bettymoore79701@gmail.com.
When anyone sends an obituary, please add your comments as an intro. Obituaries are often impersonal. And adding some personal details enriches the story for the rest of us.
Below is a message from Ferrell Davis that recounts the experience of classmate Jeff Edwards in getting through a triple bypass. Those of us who knew Jeff recall a remarkable athlete and leader with equal gifts of personality and character. When other things of interest to our class happen, send the story to Russell Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Betty Melzer Moore at email@example.com. That will let us share it with everyone. Editor
From: Ferrell Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 10:43 AM
Subject: Jeff Edwards
Our classmate, Jeff Edwards, underwent a triple by-pass at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio this past Monday, February 24th. Steve Thomas and I were there with Jeff's new bride, Susan Davidson Edwards. His surgery went well and he is doing wonderful; I just visited with Susan this morning and Jeff is scheduled to go home later today. Please pass this on to other friends. Should you like to contact Jeff, his email is: JWE1644@yahoo.com
Regards to all,