As I have introduced during the summer of 2014 my self-published book, there seems to be (perhaps understandably) a “knee-jerk” reaction — oh, no! Not another stupid, nostalgic writing of high school memoirs!
Its title is long and twisted, but the book is “just right” in length, yet also twisted. I named it Some X-Y Type Members of the Cisco High School Class of 1964, The M-4, (Or, Funny Things Happened On Our Way to HS Graduation & Matriculation Beyond — Such As Expulsion & Impish Pranks Galore,) and More, or SXYMCHSC1964M4M, “for short.” It may be one of the few books whose shortened title on the spine is unpronounceable! Unpronounceable, after all, as it is an acronym.
Self-publishing is a path which very well may be one of those where “wise men and women fear to tread.” The risk I took in self-publishing was mitigated by having it made print-ready and printed at a local company, College Street Printing, here in Waxahachie, Texas. Despite knee-jerk reactions and despite unpronounceable titles, early responses hint the risk might turn out worth it. Physically, the book is an easy read, 8.5 x 11 inch in format, around 240 double-spaced pages in length and paper-backed in “perfect binding.” Whatever the risks, however, I was compelled to write this book, just as I was compelled to write my memoirs back in the early 1970’s.
So many years ago, strangers from my generation urged me to write down the high school stories of my friends and me before I forgot all the details. In the second decade of the 21st century, I was urged by self-compulsion to pay tribute to the three “stars” of those stories — 3 of the 4 pictured on the book’s cover, Bill Adling, Bob Berry, and Robert Cole. Those three made for me not only a self-made world of youthful, exuberant pranks by the time we were 18, together as a quartet (The M-4) we bonded beyond the normal levels of brotherhood; we became friends of a “higher order;” as I said in Facebook, think of a Ferris Bueller-type high school student academically near the top of his class and a student body leader, and then multiply that by 4! We became class clowns transcendent of the genre of those who make the class disruptively snicker. We forged a legacy shown in our college years to be unequaled in uniqueness; the legacy of the M-4 gave us an unfair advantage over others’ high school experiences; in the game of “what-did-you-do-in-high-school” the legacy of the M-4 gave us multiple “aces-up-the-sleeve” to play when the cards were laid down on the table. That alone was justification of my compulsion to write this book, in my opinion, but that is just the “tip of the iceberg.”
I was also compelled to document the “perfect storm” of circumstances that gave birth to the M-4. Our unbelievably strong friendships were cast within a maelstrom of community disagreement, school administrative and faculty personality confrontations, and school district facility crisis. This maelstrom was local, yet reflective of the social revolutionary years in the United States defined by the 1960’s. This maelstrom refocused the school and community of Cisco, Texas, away from the fact that one of the most outstanding classes ever was about to graduate in 1964. Fatally, our class was not considered as part of the solutions dealing with the disagreements, confrontations, and crisis. These circumstances are the reason I dedicate the book to the Cisco High School Class of 1964; we did not deserve to be marginalized.
Our four special friendships midst the “perfect storm” of potentially unpleasant and condescending circumstances for our Class of 1964 sparked the defining prank that spawned the M-4. That defining prank is a major portion of the book, revealing “blow-by-blow” detail much beyond what I had documented in my memoirs. The book covers all our “career,” a prank-filled history that extended into our college years, when we returned to Cisco for the summers from campuses of higher learning.
Among the many ironies of the M-4 is the fact we were never caught during our “acts,” yet we were always, almost, found out. The reader is invited to see the other ironies of our “career.” The book lays out the evidence that divided the community and surrounding area over which opinion was divided concerning the M-4. Were we treated fairly? Were our “punishments fitting” for what we had done? What were our motives? Why did we behave the way we did? The reader is invited to answer these questions for his/herself.
I believe the story of the M-4 is transcendent of most high school memoirs. Nostalgia is part of this book, for sure, but only as a background, in my opinion. Issues that are considered at one time or another by anyone who attends or attended high school are laid bare by these stories of four class clowns in a small high school in a small west-central town in Texas: What is the preferred relationship between a community and its public school system? What is the preferred relationship between the faculty and the administration of a public school district? What is the ideal relationship between the administration and the community? Between the faculty and the community? How should authority of all types be presented to students? What should students do, if anything, when the foibles of those in authority are exposed? Are academic and social success for students commensurate with questionable student behavior? What price do students pay for pulling school pranks? Is that price worth it? Some might ask “What does the ‘M’ stand for in M-4?” Who did we “protect” by our silence; who were non-M-4 and compliant with our pranks? Or, as the M-4 would ask in the wake of taking physics when they were Juniors, what is matter here? What is Archimedes Principle do?
SXYTMCHSC1964M4M at first glance appears to be a compilation of posts from my website www.ronniejhastings.com as constructed by WordPress. Some readers might be tempted to read just those posts on the site and think they have read the book for free. That would be a mistake. Here is a list of reasons to supplement any reading of my site with the purchase of my book:
>>>> is a compilation of edited posts from my site.
>>>> places the posts in “proper” order, so that the stories flow somewhat chronologically.
>>>> contains a dedication to, a chronology of, and a listing of the Cisco High School Class of 1964.
>>>> features a name index in the back, whereby any name of interest can be followed on the appropriate pages; find your name, and see what I said about you!
>>>> includes an author’s page in the back; some of you who think you know me might be surprised!
>>>> also includes in the back a handy mail order form to obtain additional copies.
>>>> features an exclusive map of the prank site of the night of February, 11, 1964 — the site in Cisco today bears little or no resemblance to the way it was back then.
>>>> has a front cover of an unprecedented set of photos.
>>>> has a back cover of unprecedented endorsements, both from the living and the dead!
>>>> has a front and back cover displaying either the most famous, or the most infamous, example of Bill Adling’s extensive and excellent portfolio of artwork.
SXYTMCHSC1964M4M is presently on sale in two Texas cities, Cisco and Waxahachie, at $20 per copy, tax included. In downtown Cisco, it can be found at Waverly’s Coffee Shop, Log Cabin Collectibles and Custom Framing, or The Cisco Chamber of Commerce. In Waxahachie, copies may be purchased at The Ellis County Museum, The College Street Pub, or the newspaper offices of The Waxahachie Daily Light. A nice write-up on the book was done by the editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Neal White, in a “Behind The Pages” article in the 7.20.2014 edition entitled “‘Doc’ Hastings and high school bonds.” The article can be read on my Facebook site or by going to waxahachietx.com and looking up back articles. Any additional selling sites will be added to the lists in this post.
For those wanting to order by mail, postage has to be included. Send your mailing address, along with a check or money order made out to Ronnie J. Hastings to:
Ronnie J. Hastings
114 San Jacinto Ct.
Waxahachie, TX 75165
Additional postage to the copy price of $20 is $5 for the first copy and $3/copy for the second, third, etc. (For all you math-philes out there, an easy way to get the amount correct for the check or money order for x copies is the formula 23x + 2 — $25 for 1 copy, $48 for 2 copies, $71 for 3 copies, $94 for 4, etc.) Books shipped promptly for money orders; as soon as check clears for checks.
More than once a purchaser of SXYTMCHSC1964M4M has thumbed through his/her purchase and asked, “Why are there no photos inside like on the cover or on the author’s biography page?” Those who read at least half-way never ask that question again, for they suddenly understand my answer — “Think of the incriminating evidence!” This book is NOT my memoirs!
My experience writing this book hints at the best reason to purchase and read it; it is a fun read! When I need a good laugh, or when, after a tough day, I need a “pick-me-up” mental smile, I remember penning the words of this book, or, now, actually reread whatever section appeals to me at the moment. This book never lets me down; these are stories of those who for most of my life have compelled my mind to smile. I both believe and think they will make most minds smile. This is no book of inspiration, documentation, or high-minded lessons of life. This is no book of boring, meaningless tales of “how we used to be.” It is not a police novel or who-done-it mystery. It is a true-life farce; it is a never-told-before-in-its-completeness comedy of youthful, raucous adventures; it is funny, unusual, and, for many, unbelievable.
Join in on this fun read!