Beyond Good and Evil

Dr. Ronnie J. Hastings

Archive for the category “Cisco High School Class of 1964”

Fun Read

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 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:

The 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 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!




Epilogue to SXYTMCHSC1964M4M

As pointed out in And God Said “Let There Be Friends”……..And It Was Weird! [April, 2012], the M-4, following graduation from Cisco High School, got together and “carried on the M-4 legacy” in two’s or three’s: The Flag Escapade — Phase I [August, 2013], The Flag Escapade — Phase II [August, 2013], The Summer of 1965 — The Motley Mix [March, 2014], and Crashing the Cisco Beauty Pageant — Night of the Long Knife [June, 2013]. We’ve got together in two’s and three’s many times since those days at class reunions and college football games, without executing any of our pranks, even for “old time’s sake.”  Most often, nowadays, Cole and I get together on our respective ranches and exchange free labor (Well, almost free — I work for him for beer.) But, since the dam painting (That Damn Dam Painting! [April, 2013]), we have never been together as a quartet to carry on our legacy.

We have been together as a quartet only 2 times since the damn dam painting.  The first was cited at the end of The Summer of 1965 — The Motley Mix [March, 2014].  The second was in the second semester of college, 1966, months before the crashing of the beauty pageant and during Cole’s first semester at A&M as a mechanical engineering major.  Deep in scholastic struggles, Berry had transferred temporarily from Texas A&M to McMurry in Abilene, as had a “buddy” of his he met at A&M, Andy Sikes.  One weekend a campout at Baptist Hollow on the shores of Lake Cisco was planned, with all of the M-4 attending, along with our high school classmates Robert Mitchell and Billy Wilson (both attending CJC as Cole had been) — and, oh yes, Andy Sikes.

Berry had warned Adling, Cole, and me about Andy, who apparently was so “full of himself” and so obnoxious, he was worse than Mike Burzenski (The Flag Escapade — Phase I [August, 2013]).  Robert and Billy went to sleep early, but as the night wore on upon the shores of Baptist Hollow, the M-4 could not sleep over the “excitement” of the four of us together again.  As we tried to create our own reunion in the darkness punctuated by dying campfires, Andy, instead of listening and joining in, tried to dominate the conversation and talk about himself.  The three of us looked at Berry, and he gave us a “I told you so!” glance back in the firelight.  It wasn’t long until Adling, with easily the “shortest fuse” of our four temperaments, and  with the “gift” of saying exactly what he wanted without thinking it through, lost his patience with Andy.   Adling gave him a diatribe “cut-down” none of the four can remember nowadays, but I feel safe in assuming that the word “asshole” was probably used more than once; it was so effective Andy shut up and walked away, probably fearing the four of us were going to throw him into the very cold water of the lake.  Our silence at that moment was our approval of what Adling had done.

We decided to get away from Andy Sikes so we could have our “reunion,” so we started to walk back into town from the lake, leaving Andy with the sleeping Robert and Billy.  Making sure it was alright for Berry to desert his “buddy” Andy (It was.), we hiked across the dam of our fame (That Damn Dam Painting! [April, 2013]), past the country club on onto the highway past Lee’s house.  Our path took us up and over the hill forming CJC’s setting.  Our last experience as a quartet found Adling, Berry, and me in the night shadows of mesquite trees on the west side of campus in the “wee hours” reminiscing while we “had the back” of Cole, who was busy waking up and seeing his sweetheart, Lois Anne Miller, in the girls’ dormitory; the three of us were hoping we could warn Cole in time before he was caught and arrested as a pervert.  True to M-4 form, Cole was not detected by authorities that night; we trekked on into town, laughing, joking, and just being ourselves.  As indicated in Crashing the Cisco Beauty Pageant — Night of the Long Knife [June, 2013], Berry was married early in the summer of that year, Adling late in the same summer, Cole married Lois Anne in 1967, and I married Sylvia in 1968.


I’d like to again acknowledge the Cisco High School Class of 1964, whose names are listed in the dedication near the beginning.  As we are reminded every class reunion, the people worth remembering in life are those who made our school days worth remembering.  None of the content of this work would have been possible without the year-by-year school-day flux of our class.  This graduating class led the student body after the chair/desk escapade in expressing their support and understanding of what we did and why we did it.  Many other Loboes from other graduating classes, underclassmen to us at the time, made us feel that a broad spectrum of the student body “had our backs.”  We understand that that time was prior to the times of campus student revolts.  Thanks to you all!  A special list of teachers needs to be cited — teachers who seemed to be with the four of us “in heart,” yet were able to do little, if anything, to express their views:  Mrs. Edward Lee, Mrs. Evelyn Bailey, Mrs. Carolyn (Page),  Mr. James Hughes, and Coach Cromartie.

Before I close, I’d like to make a small, special list of XY-type names — names who, if scale, time, and place can be overlooked, would have been perfect additions to the M-4; it is my opinion that if we could or would have added anyone from these pages, only one from our graduating class would be on this list — Joe Woodard.  Other “perfect” additions, in my view, would be Larry Johnson, Prince Altom, Darrell Holt, and Jerry Akers.  These five seem to me to embody the spirit and legacy of the M-4; they would have “fit.”  To award them with the M-4 “seal of acceptance” is the highest praise we can give anyone.  Thanks to this quintet for being supporting “highlights” of these pages!  Perhaps the readers might want to make such a list of their own.

I want to include a personal feeling of thankfulness for the times of these pages.  The summer of 1964 was called the Summer of Freedom, and, as Bob Dylan sang, “The Times, They Are ‘a Changing.”  We finished high school and entered college as the great social revolutions of the 1960’s were coming to a boil, with their three heads:  Civil Rights, Women’s Movement, and anti-War/Gov’t.  The stars of these pages were not revolutionaries, but the fearlessness-facing-change shown in these pages resonates with the spirit of the nation’s young people at that time.  Cisco, Texas, may not have been a microcosm of what was going on in the world then, but the M-4 and those who could be added to the M-4 understood and resonated with the news our generation was creating, striving to change the world for the better.  Not only was it “the best of times and the worst of times,” (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 4 (Coming Together and Planning) [Oct, 2013]), it was a heady time to be alive and young, even in a small, west-central Texas town.

Finally, thanks to the M-4, or, should I say, the other three “in the jail cell with me, saying, ‘Damn, we fucked up!’.” (And God Said, “Let There Be Friends”…And It Was Weird! [April, 2012]) In other words, thanks to the three greatest friends I’ve had — three fellow outliers.  In Preface to SXYTMCHS1964M4M [March, 2014] I asked “what had we done?” to cause these pages to be, hopefully, much, much more than nostalgic, innocent penning of high school memories, as if merely thumbing through yearbooks over fifty years old.  We did the almost unthinkable — we “pushed the envelope” of teen-aged freedom of expression by tenaciously clinging to our silly childhood imaginations borne of our grade school years; no matter what maturity brought our way, we had to make it funny — we had to make jokes of almost everything, including ourselves; we not only shattered “glass ceilings,” we shattered “glass walls” and “glass floors.”  We acted out our dreams and our joyous mental constructs, pushing the “art and science” of pranking to the limits of acceptability, legality, and propriety; for many, we “crossed the line” — more than once.  As a result, we inadvertently exposed the foibles and hypocrisy of authority of all types, and of many social mores.  Yet, in that “rarified air” of executing our “brain children,” our planned pranks, we felt most strongly why we were fast, true friends; we felt most vividly the joy of being young; we felt as if our youth could last forever…



Preface to SXYTMCHSC1964M4M

Writings on high school days conjure the descriptor “nostalgia,” and these writings are no exception, but with a very important qualification. These are stories of high school days out-of-the-box — nostalgia “with a twist,” if you please.

Typical of high school and college memoirs are books such as No Other Time Like This One, by Ed Jackson, (2005, Hannibal Books, ISBN 0-929292-63-4) which, incidentally, is also about high school days in Cisco High School, Cisco, Texas. Jackson’s book is set in the late 1940’s and chronicles friendships made while during high school — memorable friendships. It is filled with stories of normal school activity, dating stories, and how graduates went on to business success and service to their country. By contrast, this chronicles friendships molded in the context of school that were so abnormal, different, and unusual, they transcended beyond “normal” memories to include what can only be called unbelievable. In college, what I thought were typical high school experiences of mine turned out to be outrageous and atypical compared to experiences most high school students lived. As I approach 40 years of teaching high school, I am astonished and amazed that has not changed!

What had we done?  What had the four pictured on the cover wrought?  What was the “twist” we unconsciously put on the high school experience in the 1960’s?  Could this have happened at another time and/or in another place?  Rather than a nostalgia book such as Ed Jackson’s, this is a departure from the “usual” into the attempt to answer these questions.  Whatever it was we did, without it, our days in high school would have been normal and mundane in comparison.  Given what we did, those days were anything but!  And, surprisingly, the four of us, in my opinion, can be reasonably defined, which is attempted near the end of these pages.  But, as I try to “spell out,” I don’t recommend our being seen as examples to emulate.

Yet, our transcendent friendships were and still are based upon something priceless:  fun.  That is worth emulating in any circumstances, though our levels of silliness and extreme forms of fun are certainly not for everyone.  Many readers will resonate with the spirit described in these pages, but I suspect not as many as we would like.  What the world needs now is not only love, but also a whole lot more fun.  We were convinced we had brought extraordinary fun into our own lives, but, as the reader will see, whether the world saw our offerings as fun is quite another matter!

Other words usually conjured in writings on high school days are “innocence” or “we were just kids.”  In our case, I do not think you could describe us as innocent, given all we went through.  Therefore, readers might find a few words I’ve used to describe our adventures as far-from-innocent, coarse, harsh, and definitely inappropriate.  I don’t apologize for this at all, because I don’t feel the need to do so; part of our “extended education” in public schools was so strong and atypical, only strong, harsh examples of our lexicon can do our “beyond-the-diploma curriculum” justice; part of our atypical, unusual education was the development of our own sense of propriety.  But, again, the foundation of our special propriety was and is fun, laughter, humor, and the joys of making each other laugh.

Any other conclusions, lessons, or insights gleaned from these pages must be the responsibility of the reader’s interpretations.  Each “chapter” or posting can be read on its own, resulting in repeated references to important events, which I hope gives the appearance of “flow” and unity throughout the entire work.  (The only exceptions not “on their own” are the Introduction and Chapters 1-10 of the chair/desk escapade.)  Though, I must admit, I do hope every reader is, at the very least, entertained; may every reader of these pages apply to them the Lennon/McCartney lyric from “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite,” off the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all!”


This work is a compilation of posts on my website, entitled Beyond Good and Evil, made possible by WordPress.  This website, in turn, was brought into existence by my site manager, good friend, and former student Jim McDonald.  (Jim was one of the high school student researchers that highlighted my teaching career. (Hard to Believe!  High School Student Researchers?  Say What? [August, 2012])  The work is cross-referenced throughout, using the links within the website; the “chapter” titles are the titles of the posts, and the date on each link refers to the month the post was published on the site with WordPress.   Any reference mentioned not included in this work (like the post about Jim above) can be found easily on Beyond Good and Evil,, using the month/year date.

Jim will be my first acknowledgement and only one of the preface; breaking protocol of most publications; I shall save the rest for the epilogue, for reasons I hope the reader will see by the end of this work.  So, thanks, Jim!  Without your insight and skills, I would not have been motivated toward fulfilling on cyberspace a life-long dream of disseminating tribute to my friends from our school days in the public schools of Cisco, Texas — friends who made those days unusual and unbelievable.



The Summer of 1965 — The Motley Mix

[As a sort-of prelude to the Summer of 1965, Cole and Joe Woodard made sure memories of the M-4 would not fade in Cisco while Adling, Berry, and Hastings were out-of-town in their first year of college. During the Christmas holidays of 1964, these two, to honor The Flag Escapade — Phase II [Aug, 2013], climbed to the top of the City Hall and wired a used Christmas tree to the flagpole. Joe wrote me an account of the incident and sent it to me after I returned to A&M. Like the M-4 flag wired at the same site by Adling and Cole, it stayed atop the building much longer than expected. Also, on the first anniversary of the chair/desk escapade in February, 1965, Cole and Woodard, with the help of Earl Carson, commemorated the birth of the M-4 by working hard to move an abandoned outhouse from some remote place outside town to the little driveway circle of the new high school, the school finished too late to do the Class of 1964 any good. The outhouse barely fit in the back of the pick-up they used.]

Of the three summers in Cisco following our graduation from Cisco High School in 1964, the Summers of 1964, 1965, and 1966, the middle one had a distinct variation. Just briefly listing that variation is very revealing of the latter years of the M-4 and our accompanying friends; its distinction lies in that not just one or two events characterize the summer, different from the cases of summer 1964 (The Flag Escapade — Phase I [Aug, 2013] & The Flag Escapade — Phase II [Aug, 2013]) and summer 1966 (Crashing the Cisco Beauty Pageant — Night of the Long Knife [June, 2013]).

Berry (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]) and I had survived the “fish year” as cadets in Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets — he in the Air Force R.O.T.C. and I in the Army R.O.T.C. We both looked forward to the “freedom” of a summer back in Cisco and planned on a camp-out together before we left Aggieland after semester finals. But Berry’s “freedom” was qualified and confined to the beginning of the summer, as he was facing academic probation at A&M, because, in my opinion, he majored more in the “campus-ology” than in his courses; he was learning too late that he could not go through A&M the same way he went through Cisco High School — making good grades easily. He, therefore, was going to have to return to A&M for summer school. In our window of opportunity, we planned on walking out of Cisco some thirteen miles to my parents’ place near Long Branch, after we had “stocked” the campsite with our “stuff” the day before the walk.

For different and diverse reasons, Adling (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012]), Lee (Ode to Dr. Bill R. Lee [May, 2012]), and Cole (Ode to Robert W. Cole [May, 2012]) could not join us at such short notice before Berry had to go back, so the two of us “carried on” anyway. Walking south out-of-town along US Hwy 183, we were met by my Uncle Joe McKinney, who reminded us in “personal exercise” state that Kennedy was dead. Kay (Wallace) Morris said “Hi” to us on her way to Rising Star and met us on her way back to refresh us with fresh berries she had just obtained.

Two musical events highlighted this hike out. The first came at “Six-Mile Hollow” bridge, about four miles down the highway, the hollow forming the natural geological boundary on either side of which my sets of grandparents lived. North of the hollow is gravel-and-mesquite; south is sand-and-post oak. On the transistor radio we were carrying, the KLIF (Dallas) D.J. said, “Turn up your sets! Here’s the new one from the Rolling Stones!” That was the first time Berry and I heard “Satisfaction,” with that distinctive guitar riff literally dreamed up by Keith Richards. The second came as we were cutting across country off-road through the post oak and blackjack brush. The hit Adling had introduced to us on the car radio a day or two before, “Gloria” by Them, blasted out.

We had made the mistake of letting Earl Carson and Keith Starr know about our camping plans, thinking they did not know our location. We were wrong. The first night of our campout, after we had completed our hike, those two scared the hell out of us by firing their 22 rifles in the air suddenly. The next day, for some unexplained reason, back in Cisco, they tell my mother at the bank what they had done, I suppose not thinking that guns and goofing off do not mix well in the minds of mothers everywhere. After she was off work, she came out to take us back in and not spend our second night. Berry and I had just about had her convinced to let us stay, when, who should show up again with their rifles but Earl and Keith! Berry and I, without a word, began packing to go back in with my mom; we knew this camping trip was prematurely aborted by our “buddies.”

How Adling found time to get into trouble this summer is beyond belief, but get into trouble he did! You see, he basically was holding down four jobs, at Westfall’s service station, at West Texas Produce, at Heidenheimer’s clothing store, and at Cisco Steam Laundry, “juggling” the work shifts among all four. Because of his jobs and because we thought of each other as “most gullible” of our friends, I got to be a “temp” at West Texas Produce unloading trees of bananas off railroad boxcars and watching out for hidden Central American tarantulas, and he talked me into buying a “Prince Jac,” a Nehru jacket at Heidenheimer’s. Because I had lots of different jobs hauling bales of hay that summer, mostly for my dad, Adling crammed in hay-hauling sessions in addition to his four “town” jobs with me, featuring hauling hay throughout the night to avoid the searing heat of the day, and finding a beheaded snake inside a hay bale we at first could not see in the darkness.

With Berry gone to summer school and Lee not a close friend of Cole’s, just Adling and I from our class got to join Cole at the Cole ranch for overnight camping out at the ranch trailer house, where Adling got acquainted with Chuck Cleveland and Marlin Marcum (a year younger than we). Adling also got to know well Prince Altom, a life-long Ciscoan known for driving a hearse when he attended Cisco High School (He was three years ahead of us in school.) (That Damn Dam Painting! [April, 2013]). Our freshman year in high school, 1960-1961, would have seen him the President of the Student Council instead of Ken Keltner, had his family not moved just before his Senior year. Also a life-long Baptist, Prince was in seminary, but not the “orthodox” Southern Baptist one in Ft. Worth, a “progressive one” in Switzerland in-between summers. This summer of 1965, he was the music director at First Baptist Church in Cisco, the church which he attended when a boy. He was a favorite of Sylvia’s and Sandra’s, and I got to know him well through them. Berry joined into our times with Prince when home on weekends from summer school, he having known Prince from the days when Prince drove school kids living in southeast Cisco to West Ward elementary, “piling” them in the back of his hearse. The future minister was known for making “beer runs” to Strawn or Mingus for various under-aged Cisco drinkers. I’ve always characterized Prince by one of his “famous” quips: “If you are going to preach about sin, you gotta go out and know what you are talking about!”

In addition to all this (I did not even mention Adling moving on the girl-friend-scale from Cherrie to Suzy to Pam), Adling and I had fun waking each other up “too early” in the mornings — we lived only blocks from each other — he would scratch on the screens of my bedroom to wake me, and when it was my turn, I would sneak into the house and into his bedroom to put on a record and turn the player up “full-blast” as an alarm clock (“Gloria” was my favorite to use for this (see above)). If he and I wanted to wake up Cole for some “Teddy boy” action during the night when Cole was on break from the ranch, we would throw pebbles against the window of his upstairs bedroom; when we wanted to wake him up in the mornings, we would have to get into the house and climb up the stairs to his bedroom, all encouraged by his mom.

One would think that piling on demands of Adling’s time, such as a “burying of the hatchet” incident with the City of Cisco, would assure there would be no M-4 incidents the entire summer. It almost worked for me and my time! One day Adling was telling me of his roller coaster relationship with Pam (College had somehow caused us to talk more to each other about girls.), when his mom called to ask Adling if he would do a favor for Police Chief Parkinson (The Flag Escapade — Phase II [Aug, 2013]), driving a family whose driver/father was sick to Gilmer, Texas. Adling and I drove down to the Cisco motel where the family was staying, and Chief Parkinson explained the situation, including there was not enough family money to cover the return bus fares for two, so only one of us could go. Adling agreed to drive the family for $15.45. Chief Parkinson seemed to think differently about the M-4 than he did a year before, which was good; he did not treat us like felons and he seemed to trust us. Adling, after successfully driving the family, saved some of his money for bus fare by hitchhiking, but decided to take an early morning bus from Ft. Worth back to Cisco, after hitchhiking between Gilmer and Ft. Worth with a true bar-fighting hood, an Irving policeman, and a homosexual. Waiting for his bus, he got some free booze and visited a “wild” place called “The Cellar.” On the bus he had to ward off another homosexual, so he was glad to finally make it back to Cisco with a great need for sleep.

Not long after Clark Odom’s dad watched Adling, Lee, Carson, Clark, and I screwing around, swimming in the lake at the Odom lake house allegedly painting piping and platforms of the Odoms’ boat dock at Lake Cisco using inner tubes and calling us in his best “Air Force” dialect “a bunch of malfunctions looking for someplace to happen!”, Adling somehow found the time for the following:

In the large-ranch area north of Lake Cisco, on a spread owned S. E. Hittson, a deserted house became notorious as being haunted, sort-of an “urban myth,” Cisco-style. In the school year 1960-1961, when they were Sophomores, George Mitcham and Cliff Clary, got into serious trouble when an employee of Mr. Hittson found them snooping around the “haunted house” one night; the employee was using the house as a temporary residence. George and Cliff went to the Cisco police station at gunpoint to be turned in for trespassing. Hittson did not apparently press charges, and the myth submerged, only to rise again like a phoenix years later in the summer of 1965.

Adling’s younger brother John, Mark Gerrard, brothers Harold and Darrell Davies, and others, on their “nightly summer drives” noticed a light on inside the house of interest. In those days, no one seemed to be living in the house anymore. One evening, spurred by the stories of John, Adling, his girlfriend Pam, Bobby Smith (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 4 (Coming Together and Planning) [Oct, 2013]), John, and others took a drive out to see the light for themselves; upon arrival, Mark Gerrard and the Davies brothers were already there observing from the road. Clearly Adling was the only one of the observers literally carrying an M-4 card in his wallet, and, to him, he thereby had a reputation to uphold in situations like this; the M-4 experience carried its own “urban myth,” which included fearlessness to tread where others dared not go. He decided to lead the investigation of the house with its mysterious light, with the rest following a distance behind. He announced his intentions out loud in case someone was inside (there, of course, was no one) and then managed to pry open a small window set high, through which he squeezed himself. About the time he noted the house full of old “stuff,” John, not to be outdone by his older brother, kicked open the front door, and the whole crowd came in to discover the mystery light to be an ordinary incandescent light bulb apparently left on as a night-light.

About the same time someone drove up in a pick-up to see what the visitors were doing. Adling, thinking quickly, made up a story he was looking for some old lumber for a lake cabin, and he suspected some might be at this deserted house. The man in the pick-up apparently “bought” this story and drove off. The crowd of visitors made a hasty trip back into Cisco, and Adling and Pam came over to my house to relate this adventure and listen to the Stones on my stereo set. I had a date with Sylvia and had to go, but while I was on the date, Adling, Bobby, and some of the others went back out to the house, finding nothing of further interest.

It might be surmised, knowing the bond we shared as M-4 members, that if it were not for things like dates or being out-of-town, Cole and I would be “right in there” from the beginning of this “haunted house” caper. But Cole and I all but lived on farms and ranches, and could have told Adling before he went out what he would find, having seen night lights in old deserted houses and barns throughout the rural countryside. We would not want to go on the land of somebody’s else’s ranch because our fathers taught us “not to trespass, that you be not trespassed upon.” It was a code among owners of farms and ranches: Do not go on someone’s place without permission — you might get shot. (As George and Cliff had found out about this particular house years before.)

But “this was different,” argued Adling, fascinated by the mythology of the mysterious; this was “UFO” stuff to him, and clearly he was getting a big, bad charge out of being the leader of the investigation, especially in front of his girl friend. Besides, earlier, I had learned the lesson of the mysterious on posted property when rumors of a “monster” on a ranch just south of Cisco turned out to be the owner, Les Threet, proprietor of a variety store that competed with Mott’s variety store, dressing up with a rug or old fur coat scaring off teens hanging out at the gate entrance to his property. I had actually gone out with some “monster” hunters one evening, but we saw nothing. When my dad found out about the trip, he clued me in to what was going on, as Les was a coon hunting buddy of my dad’s and he told my dad what he was doing. In the end, to do what he was doing to scare kids was too dangerous; kids can carry guns, especially if they think they are seeing “monsters.” Luckily, no one got hurt, Les stopped his “pranking” the kids, and “monster” stories of that site faded away.

On a Sunday night (while I was at church), Adling returned once again with John, Bobby, and the Davies brothers, Cole’s and my M-4 buddy apparently not wanting any “country” perspective on the light, which was still burning bright. They were joined by Jimmy Smith and Travis Roach. Adling and one of the Davies approached the house with the usual verbalization in case someone was inside with a gun. He eventually got some writing materials from the car and left a smart-ass note that read “To save money, turn off lights.” Someone shouted out that a car was coming down the road, and Adling had to make a dive into Bobby’s get-away car, just as he had to do at the end of our painting the Lake Cisco dam spillway the night before our high school graduation (That Damn Dam Painting! [April, 2013]).

No more visits to the house were made after that, and it looked like the whole thing would “blow over” like Les Threet’s “monster,” but, while Adling was out-of-town visiting Pam’s family, things got “hot” for Adling and his fellow house visitors when rumors began circulating around town that Mr. Hittson was trying mightily to find out who had been trespassing on his property. Adling found out about the “heat” by phone before he got back, and, upon his return, I filled him in on all I knew — he, as the “leader” of the house visitors, and the oldest of them, was being fingered by all the questions thrown at the others; in his absence, without his being able to defend himself, he was being incriminated, as if plea bargaining was going on. Adling was being painted as a “gang leader.”

Adling was scheduled, along with a couple of the other “house visitors,” were to appear down at the police station, reminiscent of our appearance in city court a year before (The Flag Escapade — Phase II [Aug, 2013]). He and I thought it best he should get a haircut, for an improved appearance, before he went for his appearance. At the police station Adling was questioned for about two hours and he then requested to make a written statement, which took another hour. He was straightforward, truthful, and thorough in his statement. Confident he had shown there was no reason to make this a serious case, he was disappointed to find Mr. Hittson was apparently doing his best to create just such a case. Cole, in from his dad’s ranch, and I went over to Adling’s house to show him support and offer to help in any way we could; we found solace in the legacy of the M-4, but that did not seem to ease the uncertainty of the situation.

A few days later Adling and the guys who had been with him at the house were ordered to appear before the county’s grand jury to review the case Mr. Hittson was building. The grand jury convened at the county courthouse in Eastland. The story we heard was that Hittson was pressing charges under the influence of the County Sheriff, but Hittson seemed to be entirely self-motivated. One the afternoon the grand jury met, Prince Altom and I drove over to Eastland to offer our support. In the courthouse, where Prince’s grandfather worked, Mr. Altom wondered “what in the world” Prince and I were doing being so interested in the grand jury hearing. Mrs. Adling, who was present with a host of parents, seemed to appreciate our show of support. All the guys who were with Adling at the “haunted house” — his brother John, Bobby Smith, the Davies brothers, Mark Gerrard, Jimmy Smith, and Travis Roach — were present. Prince and I got to talk to Adling (with his fresh haircut and dressed in a suit) in the halls of the courthouse, even there joking to lighten Adling’s spirits, saying we were his “personal lawyers,” though we would make lousy character witnesses! We seriously advised him to take a “cool” attitude in front of the grand jury, never acting belligerent or haughty, though that was probably unnecessary for Adling’s head at the time. Adling’s “lawyers” took him out to lunch before the hearing began, back to joking we were taking Adling to his “last free meal as a free man,” and we almost got Adling in trouble by not understanding the afternoon starting time; we were late and barely made it for Adling to be questioned first. “Adling’s lawyers” were not allowed to be in the jury room. Prince and I had to “sweat it out” in the halls of the courthouse.

As Adling was questioned, the others were brought before the grand jury also. Adling did most of the talking, answering questions straightforwardly and politely, and even, near the end of the questioning, getting in some points about the necessary curiosity of Columbus. The jury deliberated for a while, during which Adling made a quick round trip to Cisco and back, and returned their verdict — no indictments would be handed down to any of the guys. This, despite the fact a couple of ranchers were on the jury, and because, probably, of the fact the jury’s chairman was Mr. James McCracken, President of the First National Bank of Cisco, where my mom worked; Mr. McCracken was one of the great humanitarians of Cisco in those years. After the verdict was read, Adling, as the guys’ spokesperson, offered to do free labor for Mr. Hittson on his ranch, which he turned down. Adling emerged from the courthouse more firmly convinced that Hittson had not been the boys’ “friend” he had tried so hard to make himself out to be, for, after he rejected Adling’s offer, he emphatically “advised” Adling and his “cohorts” to “go straight.” He really thought them criminals, not pranksters.

Immediately available to Adling and all of his supporters was the image of his disorganized lawyers Altom and Hastings midst stacks of messy records and law books, of a raving Hittson screaming “Hang ‘em! String ‘em up!”, and of a zealous Teddy Boy Adling “squirreling out,” finally, of a bad situation.

One might think the preceding would be enough for one summer, but this is the M-4 we’re talking about, and about the weird summer of 1965.

At the same time Adling was getting into “hot water” over the “haunted house,” someone he had met at Boys’ State back in high school and with whom he had stayed in written correspondence, Jerry Akers, was scheduled to arrive at Cisco as Adling’s guest! Imagine his surprise when the guest was met at the bus station by Adling, Lee, and Clark Odom and told Adling was under grand jury investigation! It says a lot about Jerry (Adling never invited just anyone to visit him in Cisco.) that he was none too “put off” by the situation, as one would expect an “ordinary” guest to be. Adling brought Jerry over to my house for introductions and record-playing, and the next day I took Jerry on a driving “tour” of Cisco, featuring visuals for my verbal history of the M-4, all while Adling had to work. My memoirs recorded my initial assessment of Jerry as a guy of “remarkable adaptability and freedom from ‘hang-ups.'” He filled in for Adling at work the day Adling had to appear before the grand jury; the day after Adling was “free,” the quartet of Jerry, Adling, Altom, and I went to Abilene to see a Jerry Lewis “flick.” Adling, Akers, and I took pictures of each other on the steps of CJC (Cisco College) dressed in a sheet with a laurel-leaf wreath around our heads, like we were Roman Senators or Greek philosophers. Akers (note how he deserves a last-name label) put on a façade, as if he was “flabbergasted” at all the Cisco/M-4 treatment we were giving him, a “façade” in that when each “party” was over, he was actually cool, calm, and delighted, even after drinking one night with Adling and Earl Carson or after meeting characters like Cliff Clary.

Meanwhile, I was in need of a harmless retaliatory prank. This summer involved a lot of interaction with both Sylvia and her sister Sandra, and I’m not talking about dating, though Sylvia and I steadily did date. Prince Altom had introduced the party novelty of “table lifting,” the fun “game” of four people raising a light weight card table with all eight palms down on the top upon one table leg; the novelty featured spinning the table around on its one leg, all four “lifters” going in circles, and “asking the table” questions whose answers could be tapped out; often the table was mysteriously “correct.” It took a while to figure out, but the whole thing works by diversionary chanting, which gets the four “lifters'” minds off the fact they are doing the whole thing through their hands; but they are doing it subconsciously — lifters are not aware they are making the table do all the things it does. I remember having fun introducing people to the “spirits” of the table, and watching skeptics from the youth groups of Prince’s, Sylvia’s, and Sandra’s First Baptist Church and Joe Woodard’s and my East Cisco Baptist Church become astonished when they experienced the subconscious phenomenon for themselves. I introduced it to Adling and Cole, of course, and we had fun trying to figure it out. Sylvia and Sandra invited the three of us to come out to the Hart house one Sunday afternoon when we happened to be at Adling’s house lifting a table — to come out and do the same thing there. So it was 3 of the M-4 and Sandra raised the Hart card table to wild gyrations.

One of my odd “odd” jobs that summer was being the substitute secretary in the office of East Cisco Baptist Church, while Mrs. Marie Brock was on vacation. During that week, Sandra, in the wake of our “table” visit, I suppose, got the idea to have Rev. Mart Agnew, a long-time Baptist minister known for his practical jokes and telephone pranks, to call me at the church office in the voice of an “old woman,” and I fell for it, much to my chagrin as a “professional” M-4 prankster. Sandra’s prank was made even more successful with me when Sylvia “played along” and acted interested in the call I got from this “eccentric old lady.” I did not find out I had been “conned” until Mart told my mother at work at the bank what he had done, and my mother had a good time relaying the details to me. So, as a matter of M-4 pride, “something had to be done.” And it was not going to be easy to fool someone clever enough to utilize the talents of Mart Agnew. I realized I had to “hit” them close to “home,” having faith that, once more, Sylvia would not “drop me like a hot rock;” my faith that true love trumps pranks was again going to be tested. (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 7 (Found Out…) [Oct, 2013], The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 9 (Continued Aftermath and The Birth of a Legacy) [Oct, 2013], The Flag Escapade — Phase II [Aug, 2013])

Jerry Akers’ visit gave me a way of fulfilling my “need.” Sylvia and Sandra were well-known church soloists; the “Hart twins” were in “high demand” for special music presentations at Cisco’s First Baptist Church, for other churches in the area, and for funerals. (Sylvia sings alto and Sandra sings soprano.) I came up with the idea of Akers posing as an agent of Word Music Co. out of Waco, a music company that recorded regional church music performed by amateurs — an agent looking for new talent, namely wanting to record a sampling of Sylvia’s and Sandra’s singing. Akers pretended like he couldn’t do something like that, but by now Adling and I saw through his false modesty; Akers could pose as anyone he wanted. I checked with Altom at the church with my plans, and he offered the use of the church’s tape recorder for the “agent.” On the day before Akers had to leave Cisco, he was skiing on Lake Cisco with Adling, and I (a non-skier) took photos of them on the water. That night the three of us went to Eastland to see a couple of Edgar Allan Poe “flicks.” Akers was coming around on the idea, but was still not convinced to do it.

The next day, his last in Cisco, Akers was back at the lake skiing with Adling and Clark Odom, so I took Altom out to the lake with me for one last try. By the end of a boat ride full of answers to questions of Akers’, Altom, Adling, and I got him to “come around.” The deed had to be done before Akers left on the bus early that evening, so we all went back into town for preparation. I got detoured by something I had to do for my dad at one of the farms at midday, so by the time I got back into Cisco for the second time that day, I thought it was too late, and I had decided I had to call the whole thing off. But, Adling and Akers already had the whole thing going: Akers, who alias was “Warren Atwood,” so he could use Ading’s monogrammed brief case (“W” & “A” for William Adling), “agent for Word Music Co.,” had called the Harts, where we knew Sylvia and Sandra would not be (both working in the offices at CJC), the number to contact them was given “Warren” by their mother, and “Warren” set up an appointment that afternoon at the Hart house, talking to Sylvia on a CJC phone, for a recording of the Hart twins’ talents. We had to scramble fast!

Akers dressed in a suit and we all bivouacked at the First Baptist Church. Altom had the tape recorder ready and gave Akers some operating lessons (We all hoped the twins would not recognize the recorder from the church.). Altom and I also gave Akers some church music jargon, including names of famous gospel singers we knew Sylvia and Sandra admired. We faced the problem of coming up with a car the Harts would not recognize, and who should drive by but my cousin Dwayne in a white Chevy. Flagging him down in the street by the church, we told him quickly of the plan, and he consented to let us borrow his car for a few minutes. Then, up drives Lee (Ode to Dr. Bill R. Lee [Apr, 2012]) off work from Cisco Steam Laundry to visit Altom, and he gets briefed on the situation to become, at the very least, an interested bystander to see if all this was going to work. Adling, Altom, Lee, Dwayne, and I watched Akers load up the recorder and brief case into Dwayne’s car, and Adling, Lee, and I, in Adling’s car, led Akers out the Breckenridge Hwy (US 183) to the turn-off to the Harts’ house (Akers had forgotten the directions Sylvia gave him over the phone.). The three of us returned to the church to await with Altom and Dwayne the results of my “brain-child.”

Akers alone in Dwayne’s car did return to the church after what seemed an eternity. By the reserved smile on his face, I first thought he had been found out. I asked him how things turned out.

“I want to get out-of-town as quickly as possible!” he answered.

“What do you mean, Jerry? Did things come off all right?” I asked again.

“Just fine — too good, in fact!”

Indeed, similar to the chair/desk escapade that spawned the M-4, the execution of the “Word Music” caper exceeded expectations, thanks to the incredible impromptu acting skills of Jerry Akers. So convincing before the Harts had he been, he had no stomach for ever facing any of them again; he was not acting at all now, but was most sincere about catching his bus and getting out-of-town! With our thanks to our visitor, Adling saw to it Akers made his “escape” from Cisco, but it took, ironically, Adling and Akers having to chase the bus down (which was late) to get “Warren Atwood” on it.

Dwayne had hardly driven off with his returned car and Lee had hardly left, wishing us luck and promising his silence on what he had seen that late afternoon, when Altom and I began discussing what we were going to do with all this “stain of success on our hands,” especially upon mine. We at first thought we might wait for the next youth fellowship the following Sunday and “spring” the tape “Warren” had recorded of Sylvia and Sandra on them. But things “got out of hand” too quickly (as seemed to happen in most, if not all, M-4-related escapades) for that, so successful had been my “retaliatory prank.”

Sylvia called me that evening about “their surprise visit,” and Sandra called up Altom with the same excitement. Both of us had to feign excitement and congratulations, but we both asked questions to calm down the situation, like did they see any Word Music I.D. on “Warren.” We both had to say we hoped they would hear back from Word soon. We also found out they had already contacted several of their relatives with the “good news!” I was present out at the Harts when Sandra called Prince, and he asked to speak with me over the phone. While I was saying something for the Harts’ ears as if he was saying something completely different, he was actually saying something similar to “Ronnie Jack, this is going too far! Things are getting out of hand! You had better tell them, and the sooner the better. I cannot lie to Sandra and keep this up. I’ve got my job” (music director at First Baptist) “to think about too!” He went on to say that in light of the twins having contacted already members of their extended family, to wait until Sunday to “come clean” would be way too late to avoid an even bigger “catastrophe.” After talking with Altom, I knew I had to reveal the truth that very night.

The confession I had to make to Sylvia, Sandra, and their parents seemed even harder than the answer I had to make in the M-4 “line-up” in the principal’s office back in February, 1964 (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 7 (Found Out….) [Oct, 2013] & The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 8 (Admission, “Punishment,” and Immediate Aftermath) [Oct, 2013]). I started out with, “Well, things did not turn out as I had originally planned.”

Soon I was asked, “Do you know who that was that came out here, Ronnie?”

“Yes,” I said, trying to smile appropriately.

“Who was it?”

“A friend of Bill Adling’s visiting in Cisco.”

I did not know what to expect — was I going to be thrown off the premises? Were they going to laugh the whole thing off? Were Sylvia and Sandra going to break down and cry, after they had broken a few articles upon my head? The reality was a mixture of being stunned and amused, followed by a disbelief I would do such, along with a disbelief they would “fall” for such. I had to express a back-handed apology for the plan working so well. Most of the rest of my “date” that evening was spent on Sylvia and Sandra re-phoning their relatives with news of what had really happened. One of Sandra’s calls was typical:

“Do you remember me calling you about the representative from Word Music Co. coming out today to record our voices?” (response) “Well, do you know a guy named Ronnie Hastings?

“He didn’t!?!!” came the voice on the other end of the line.

“I’m afraid he did!” said Sandra. Etc…….etc……

As news spread about what I had done, all the reactions from different denizens of the community were summed up in one: a good friend of Sylvia’s and Sandra’s, Bernadine (Campbell) Donovan coming up to me in the lobby of East Cisco Baptist Church and exclaimed, “Oh, Ronnie! How could you!?” I didn’t know whether she wanted me to feel like a war criminal, or a Casanova, or both.

I surmise that by the time that summer was over, the Harts had somehow forgiven me. At least Sylvia and Sandra seemed to, for I traveled with them to a church music camp — at Piasano, in the trans-Pecos area of Texas, lead by none other than Prince Altom, and I returned without being maimed or poisoned. Even better, Sylvia and I were still a couple!

The Summer of 1965, despite its chaotic and motley mix of Prince Altom, Jerry Akers, grand juries, and The Word Music Co., actually came to an end in a somewhat circular, almost logical way: Berry returned to Cisco in the break between summer school and the start of his and my Sophomore (“Pisshead” in Aggie lingo) year at A&M. He was going to be a Pisshead in the newly-non-compulsory Corps of Cadets and I was going to be in my first year out of the Corps as a “non-reg” — a civilian. To celebrate Berry’s return, we decided to camp out at the same place to which he and I walked at the beginning of the summer (see above), only this time without the hike. Thus, Adling, Berry, Lee, and I camped out at the Long Branch camp site with no visits from Earl, Keith, or their 22’s. Even while driving out to the site, we behaved just as we did when we camped out on the hill at the Mangum camp site during our high school, conjuring memories and feelings that were to us priceless. We were joined by Cole and Marlin Marcum later that first night. There we were — the M-4 + Lee + Marlin — having fun and giving Berry plenty of renditions of the summer of ’65 that was about to end.

Little did we know that was the next-to-last time ever the M-4 would be together as a quartet.


[Lest the reader think Rev. Mart Agnew got off “scot-free” from his part in Sandra’s prank on me, during the Thanksgiving holidays of 1965, Darrell Holt, visiting my house, being reminded of the Word Music escapade, decided that Mart needed to be “paid back.” With the encouragement of my parents, I called up Rev. Agnew in a high-pitched nervous voice like I was a CJC student needing to get “married to my boyfriend” because I was pregnant! I told him both of us were beyond the age of consent. My “boyfriend” and I were invited to his house right away. I donned grubby work clothes and my coonskin cap (genuine, by the way) as the “groom,” and Darrell, much larger and taller than I, put on one of my mother’s old dresses, rolled up his pants’ legs to expose his hairy legs, and stuck a pillow up his dress front as if he was “the bride with child.” Mart met us at his door all dressed in a suit — surprised, to say the least, to see the “couple” on his front porch. He denied he was fooled, but, after a few minutes of good-natured laughter, Darrell and I got back into the car in front of Mart’s house. We looked at each other, giggling, snickering, and thinking the same thing: “I think we fooled him!” said Darrell.

“I think we did too!” I said. My memoirs describe that visit to the pranking preacher as a “sweet success.”]

Confessions of a Cisco High School Lobo Football Trainer/Manager 1960-1963

Outside the classroom experiences, no on-site experiences had more profound and formative effect upon my Cisco school days than those I received as a football trainer/manager for the Cisco Loboes during the four football seasons 1960-1963. These were the four seasons of the 1964 graduating class, and I was fortunate to be the only one of my class to serve the team as a trainer/manager all four of them. These four seasons are the reasons I am today an avid football fan, a season-ticket holder to Texas A&M football home games, a general college football fan, a Cisco Lobo fan who one night in December 2013 had a lump in his throat and tears in his eyes when the Loboes finally won State, and a NFL fan who loves to watch any pairing of the 32 on TV line up and hit each other — all without ever having been a player. Yet, these four seasons are also the reasons why I’m glad I never played football, why I would never be the coach of a sports team, much less of a football team, why I’m glad my sons never played football, why I couldn’t care less about the so-called pageantry of college and pro football, and why I can claim, like a player, I never saw a half time show performed by my peers while in high school. These four seasons are the reasons I cannot be considered a typical football fan. Being a trainer/manager will do things like that to you.

And it is not difficult to see why. Being trainer/manager is a unique perspective on a football team — different from that of players, coaches, and fans. It is an “inside” view, yet a somewhat detached one, due to the “invisible” status trainer/managers have as members of the team. Sort-of-like officials in a football game — players, coaches, and fans don’t notice them unless they are needed and/or they screw up.

Consequently, this is not a history of Cisco High School Lobo football; there will be no season won-loss records, individual game scores, or individual/team statistics; Dr. Duane Hale and others have done a good job registering that. It is a slice of four years of high school experiences — events revealing adolescents in athletics, specifically four football seasons. It just happened to be Lobo football; it happened to be, as I’ve said, profound and formative, made possible by, perhaps, an atypical point of view.

Even the beginning of these four seasons was atypical…….

Berry (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]) was walking home to Park Dr., west of Front St., from the 3-story high school building located less than a block from my house on the 900 block of W. 6th St. in June, 1960; he had just come from an organizational meeting of the summer’s driver’s education class. I was playing in my front yard, allegedly doing yard work. Berry and I had graduated from Cisco Jr. High, along with the rest of the 1964 graduating class, and all of us were being “pigeon-holed” into all the roles we could take on as we entered high school. Berry, for instance, was going to play football and take Spanish; I was not going to play football (My parents would not allow it.) and take Agriculture, joining the FFA.

There in my front yard, Berry persuaded me to do two things — sign up for driver’s ed, and talk to the driver’s ed teacher, head football coach Jerrell Rice, to see if I could be the incoming freshman “manager” (as trainer/managers were called) for the football team. Coach Rice said “yes” to both requests. These were two decisions with which my parents had no problems, so they had said “yes” also. Driver’s ed that summer turned out to be not-so-stressful because I already knew how to drive, learning how to drive cars, pick-ups, and tractors on our farms and ranches. But the decision to be a football manager was crucial, as it assured me I would not be out-of-touch outside the classroom with my good friends Berry, Adling (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May,2012]), and Clark Odom — all going to play football — so, I would be “in-touch” without having to play football. (The only good friend from whom I would be deviating in an extra-curricular sense was Lee (Ode to Dr. Bill R. Lee [April, 2012]), who was joining the high school band.) Thanks to Berry, my high school “career” was launched — pocketing a driver’s licence and becoming part of the football team by the time school started. (Who knows what would have happened had I not been in the yard that day Berry walked by!)

Becoming a manager meant that before I entered high school, I took a “manager skills” correspondence course that summer from the Cramer Company. By the time summer football practice began, I knew all kinds of terms and theory, from balm packs to taping ankles, from bandaging to low-tech chiropractic techniques such as “popping” necks and backs. I was ready for the real thing — on-the-job training; practical success and only that would determine if I “made” the team or not.

Becoming an accepted manager by the time school and the football schedule started was like driver’s ed — not so stressful, for basically two reasons: 1) I was not put off by doing menial, dirty jobs (the “rewards” of being a freshman) like un-clogging toilets “jammed by deposits,” thanks to my experiences working and “doctoring” livestock on the farms and ranches, where I had to do some pretty unsavory things. 2) I was mentored and taken “under wing” by Senior manager Larry Johnson, who really taught me by advice and by example how to be a good football manager. It did not “hurt” that he and I “hit it off” right from the start; we had similar senses of humor, similar gifts (like drawing and sketching), and similar student body responsibilities (We were Presidents of our respective classes, also meaning we served on the Student Council together.)

For the 1960 season the managers were a quintet: Larry was the Senior (and head) manager; Jerry Parks and Olin Odom (Clark Odom’s older brother) were Junior managers; Chip White was the Sophomore mananger and I was the Freshman one. Stars of the team were Lynn Hagan, Darrell Holt, Hershell Barnes, Jackie Hammer, Kenneth Kenney, Rex Miller, Bruce Speegle, Jim Coats, Billy Duff Hale, Bill Midkiff, Jim Sitton, Don McCrary, Donnie Wallace, David Wende, Don Gosnell, David Callarman, and Gary Nettik. Head Coach Rice had as assistants Coaches Joe Turner, Ernie Davis, and Gene Hargrove. Varsity managers were Larry and the two Juniors; “B” Team managers were Chip and I.

What stuck in my memory in this first season as manager were the times we managers were “doing our thing” in the field house by ourselves, as when we were washing and cleaning up on Saturday mornings after a home or away game the Friday night before. Olin and Jerry seemed to get away from the job early, giving time to Larry, Chip, and I to have some “much deserved” playtime. The three of us took turns throwing each other in the wheeled laundry cart, and covering the one thrown in with freshly dried washing (towels, T-shirts, socks and jock straps) and/or inflated blocking and tackling dummies (canvas-sheathed tire inner tubes, not big-headed players). The three of us also, when all alone in the field house, would play “knights of old,” each of us donning a football helmet and grabbing a tackling dummy as a shield and a broom as a “lance or sword.” Two would gang up on one, or it was “every man for himself,” as we would “battle it out” all over the field house, giving each other scrapes and bruises — especially on our hands and fingers. Chip would keep us “in stitches” by “throwing a tantrum” by slinging in all directions as fast as he possibly could washed items and inflated dummies which had accumulated in the laundry cart.

Chesley Field, Cisco’s home field just outside the field house to the east (actually NE) did not drain well when a deluge came this season, resulting in the SW corner (actually S) end zone standing in water. It was the task of the managers to drain that water; digging a ditch, the proper solution, seemed impossible to do before a game was to be played as the weekend approached — too little time. We finally resorted to dipping up the water and pouring it over the chain-link perimeter fence of the field with empty athletic tape cans, each of which held eight or so rolls of the white tape with which we taped the players’ ankles for both practices and games; if you could not rip strips of this tape off the rolls with your fingers instead of using the time-consuming surgical scissors, you were not considered to be a very proficient manager. Olin’s reluctance to “get his feet wet” and his hands dirty in the standing water did not sit well with any of his manager colleagues, and this only added to Olin’s reputation of being a lazy manager, maintaining an attitude of entitlement because he was an upperclassman. It was a reputation never to improve, in my opinion, though my estimation of him did improve in areas outside the football team, as the reader will eventually see. In my world of Lobo football managing, he was to me the poorest example.

Part of our job as managers was to mark off the sidelines, end zones, and yard lines every five yards with a “wide-swath” trimming machine. This had to be done, of course, before the start of the season. I remember our messing up one time, not keeping in line with the marking pipes driven to ground level marking the corners of the end zones. Was I ever glad I was a “bottom-level” responsibility freshman! Just before one JV game on a Thursday night, I remember it raining so hard, they started the game with the field still draining to each sideline down the yard lines we had “trimmed.” The ball was spotted on one play right on a yard line divisible by 5, and when the official sat the ball down, it floated down the yard line toward the sideline! He had to retrieve the ball and re-set it.

When high school started for the graduating class of 1964, I immediately experienced an advantage I had being the only freshman football manager: being such, I could avoid being hazed by the Seniors 1961, for the most part. Summer two-a-day practices at the practice field and the field house had essentially ingratiated me with the Senior football players, like Lynn Hagan, Darrell Holt, and Kenneth Kenney (It did not hurt that I had become good friends with the first two at the church we three attended.) doing “normal” managerial things for them that all the managers did for the players: hand them towels when they came out of the showers, bandaging their cuts and scrapes, apply balm packs for bruised muscles, tape ankles before practices and games, massage backs and limbs in need of relaxing, especially calf muscles seized by “charley horses,” and personally procuring aspirin and/or salt tablets for them on demand.

Consequently, in the halls of 3-storied Cisco High School, when Seniors ’61 like Craig Meglasson, Robert Shirley, James Tabor, James Stanley Webb, or Charles Yardley (all non-football players) would try to haze me like they were hazing freshmen Adling, Berry, Clark Odom, or Lee, I would put myself in close proximity of a Senior football player like Lynn, Darrell, or Kenneth, who did not take kindly to their classmates “abusing” someone who “took care” of them at the field house. For me, it was a “good deal.” And, if I needed it, Larry was always there for me to advise me on “how to handle” these particular hazers.

When players had to run their “windsprints,” Chip White and I would find ourselves with no duties until they finished. We would go to the middle of Chesley Field and play “wrestle-tackle” between two of the yard lines we had helped carve into the grass. We would line up in a 3-point stance like a lineman across from each other and crash into each other, trying to push each other across the yard line behind each of us. Wearing no helmets, we avoided concussions.

Concussions were something many players could not avoid. Here in the 21st century, it is ironic and interesting how the issue of player concussions has come to dominate all levels of football, from pee-wee or Pop Warner leagues, through Jr. High and High School football, college ball, and the NFL. From the beginning, concussions from my perspective as a manager mitigated and moderated who played football and when.

Donnie Wallace was a Junior star on the team the 1960 season until he got “his bell rung” in a game in Ranger (helmet came off), and we applied “Am-caps” (little glass vials of pink-colored ammonia wrapped in a small nylon or cotton mesh, which could be crushed between the fingers and fanned under the noses of players who seemed “out of it”) to bring him around after he was helped off the field. We knew something was serious with Donnie’s injury, despite the fact we were laughing when he asked over and over who won the game, even as we were getting on the bus for the trip west back to Cisco, and we always answered that indeed we had won. “That’s good! That’s good!” was about all Donnie could reply. When we told him he was going to be all right, he said, “That’s good!” When we helped him into the showers, he said, “That’s good!” The last word we heard as he was taken to the doctor after he got dressed was “That’s good! That’s good!” Donnie’s football career was over; he did not play football his Senior year. That was NOT good.

Berry’s football career was cut short similarly our freshman year. More than once, I had to “bring him around” during a JV game (“B” team game) by waving an Am-cap under his nose. The last time was so bad, I had the Am-cap stuffed up into his nostril, and he still was not responding. It was scary! When we finally got him to “come around,” that time, Berry stopped playing thereafter. When the second season of 1961 came around, in order for Berry to be able to be “with his buddies” on the football team outside class, he became a manager, along with Olin and me; that season, Larry had graduated and Olin was the head manager, as Jerry, for reasons I never clearly knew, dropped out of managing, Chip dropped out also, but to play football rather than manage, despite all the concussions he had witnessed and tended. That left only me, so I was “second in seniority” as a manager when I was a sophomore. That meant, in turn, that Olin and I were the varsity managers and Berry was the JV manager.

[Berry’s having to quit playing football at least brought him the freedom from the “Nitrotan compresses” I applied to his football cuts and scrapes. The most infamous one was a cut between his fingers that the compress turned a dirty brownish-green. His mother thought I had ruined his hand, I’m sure, but it did heal up with no infection. (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012])]

Standard helmets only contained a sling of cotton straps to protect the head, and as more cases similar to Donnie and Berry came along, some players wore the “latest” in headgear, a helmet lined with foam padding. Now, in retrospect, such should have been “standard” a long time before it was. Compared to what players today wear for protection, what they wore in high school football in the early 1960’s seems pretty primitive.

Jumping to the last and in ways most memorable concussion briefly, our Senior year in 1963 Adling, playing the “monster,” strong-side outside linebacker, got run over by a “student body” sweep to his side during a home game one Friday night. He had to be helped off, but seemed to be all right after the game. He said he was going over to Bobby Smith’s house after the game, but he never made the cross-town trek. He simply had disappeared! Soon, in the late Friday evening hours and the early Saturday morning hours several parties were looking for Adling. In my party we heard that his mother had received a call (remember, no cell phones)from Baird from Adling, who had “awakened” to the reality he was on I-20 driving west almost to Abilene; he had lost his memory from the play in the game to that phone call! Several of us, including his dad, met him on the Interstate between Cisco and Putnam near the county line; he seemed none the worse for wear, and medical check-ups afterwards confirmed that impression. (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012])

[In the summer of 2007, Adling also lost his memory in Las Vegas, where he and his wife Pamela met Sylvia and I for a few wild days. He seemed incapable of refusing all the free white Russian drinks the cocktail waitresses were bringing to him at his seat at the slot machines. He “blacked out” for several hours, again acting as if he was just “sloshed.” His loss of memory made him uneasy, as he claimed the next morning this was the first time he had “blacked out.” I forgot to remind him about the night of his “weird drive” to Baird, or should I say, to “Bobby’s house.”]

Clark Odom’s football career was short-lived also, but not due to concussions. He found he should think about following in Berry’s and his brother Olin’s footsteps and become a manager also. But, unlike Berry, that transition never worked out for him in the long run. In the case of Berry, the irony was he wound up doing for three years what he had talked me into doing for four! He also wound up having migrane headaches for the rest of his life, a condition I want to think was brought on by his concussions and not the rock I hit his forehead with in the eighth grade! (See Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]) These headaches could also help explain a lot of the academic struggles he had for years in college (which he overcame).

With Olin and I as managers of the varsity and Berry as manager of the JV, the 1961 football season saw stars Jim Sitton, Bill Midkiff, Jim Coats, Mike Cooper, Billy Duff Hale, Don McCrary, Vernon Phipps, David Wende, David Callarman, Robert Mitchell, Carson Snow, Buddy Surles, George Mitcham, Gene Darr, Jimmy Brown, Nicky Lopez, Jackie Williams, Bobby Maynard, and Danny Phipps. Coach Gerald Rice’s staff consisted of Coaches Joe Turner, Ernie Davis, and Gene Hargrove, the exact same staff as the previous year.

Now that they were “big bad Seniors,” Jim Sitton (who went on to a college football career at SMU) and Bill Midkiff figuratively “threw their weight around” by literally throwing Sophomore managers Berry and me around the field house. Fortunately for our health, they usually threw us into the laundry cart (see above), which often contained something soft to land upon. The thing we hated was their “bearding” us — one holding one of us down and the other scraping some exposed part of our anatomy (nothing gross; it was usually like an arm, leg, or back) with their “5-o’clock shadow;” Bill’s beard was especially bad, really long by the end of school, despite the fact he shaved every morning.

This was the season (1961) that defined the job of trainer/manager for both Berry and me, and Olin Odom (the head manager) was the catalyst. Olin was such a bad example and so lazy (the exact opposite of Larry Johnson the previous season), that we simply behaved counter to his behavior, and the result was that we gradually began to run, as Sophomores, the business of managing the team, not Olin. He was so high-handed, acting as if his position gave him entitlement to boss us around and not do much work, we got to where we would do what he told us to do only to the extent he thought we were listening, and then, in his absence, we would do the job in the manner we saw best. By the time the season was over, we hardly listened to him. Not that what he said was all bad, as he did pass on to us some very good tips. And, I did not completely reject Olin, as I found him a better “mover and shaker” socially in the school student body than he was a football trainer/manager. In the spring of 1962 I choose him (or he volunteered, or both) to be my campaign manager in my run for Student Council Vice-President; we won the election!

Hence, Berry and I emerged as “products in the footsteps” of Larry Johnson, not Olin Odom. Since I had one year of manager seniority on Berry, I, as the second varsity manager, got to make the long, chartered bus ride to Lamesa for a non-district game early in the season. (Lamesa is a town on the “bottom” of the Texas Panhandle near the border with New Mexico.) There was no position, apparently, for Berry on that trip. Also there was no overnight stay, so we rode back to Cisco in the wee hours of the morning, during which trek I had crawled under the bus seats and gone to sleep; after a break at a truck stop, through which I slept, I could not be found, leading to a rude awakening for me by the coaches asking what I was doing sleeping on the bus floor. If Berry was resentful over my seniority, he did not show it. It was my tendency to treat him as an equal (See The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013]), and we became more like a team, not a hierarchy, a “well-oiled” machine, a “dynamic duo” of apparent efficiency. This self-definition was growing in importance, as it appeared, given that there were no Junior managers, Berry and I were going to head up the managing for the next two seasons, our Junior and Senior years.

No character on the team was more memorable than Don McCrary, Senior fullback. He was like a barometer measuring how the Loboes were doing at any given moment in the game. Were we ahead, he was a dynamo; were we behind, he was sure to contract an “injury;” as we lost a lead, Olin and I got ready to escort him off the field in a play or two. If we somehow came from behind to regain a lead, we would expect him to suddenly be able to go back in the game.

After being a trainer/manager for two seasons, I knew that I never wanted to be a coach. Not that I had a large sampling of coaches to observe (4 over 2 years), I saw in my sample the “dark side” of the profession, if you please, being privy to hours coaches spent at the field house before and after practice, day-in and day-out. I never saw a coach escape the psychological “trap,” as I saw it, being in such a position of influence and power over young athletes. They all seemed to struggle with the inflation of their own self-esteem; instead of emphasizing the positive influence they could have on players both on and off the field, they found it easier to allow their ego to inflate. They all struggled to find time for their families and to find a way to be a head coach (except Head Coach Rice, of course, who already was a head coach). Coach Ernie Davis was so conceited (perhaps because he was from Stamford, the team that kept the Loboes in the days of Randell Hess, Charles Lipsey, Duane Hale, and Delbert Schaefer from advancing in the State playoffs), he actually thought we managers coveted his position and influence as a coach, and, therefore, we would “naturally” want to be coaches like he. I think the opposite was true, but we dared not let him know that. Like Olin, Coach Ernie Davis (I use his full name not to confuse him with Coach Manning Davis, a very different individual.) was not all bad. Outside the field house, in the school building, I found him very understanding and congenial — one time fooling my classmates by pretending to give me licks with his paddle out in the hall for disturbing his general business class; he slapped his leg with the paddle, and I groaned out appropriately. His approach to his profession just “rubbed me the wrong way.”

The 1962 season, the first of Berry’s and my “tenure,” had as varsity stars David Callarman, Bobby Maynard, George Mitcham, Buddy Surles (What Did I Say or Write? WTF?!! (For Adults Only) [Jan, 2013]), Chip White, Adling, Earl Carson, Gene Darr, Ralph Lanham, Robert Mitchell, Danny Phipps, J. V. Plumlee, Leon Bint, Jimmy Brown, Danny Clack, Richard Coats, Nicky Lopez, Coy Miller, Bobby Rains, C. B. Rust, Bobby Smith (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 4 (Coming Together and Planning) [Oct, 2013]), Johnny Tennyson, and David Waters (Play Rehearsal Night, With a Side of Greased Flagpole [May, 2013]). Lots of changes in the names of the players, for sure, but the greatest line-up change was that of the coaches, percentage-wise. Coach Rice was still the Head Coach, Coach Turner was still the Line Coach, but coaches Davis and Hargrove were gone, to be replaced by only one, Coach Jack Cromartie (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 8 (Admission, “Punishment,” and Immediate Aftermath [Oct, 2013] & The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 9 (Continued Aftermath and The Birth of a Legacy [Oct, 2013]). Joining Berry and me as managers were Eddy Blailock and my cousin, Dwayne Scarlett, both receiving my support when they wanted to join, but Eddy not turning out to be what the team needed (So much for my endorsements!). He was too frail of health to physically “always be there” — a quality absolutely necessary to be a trainer/manager. Dwayne was a successful manager for a full school year, going on to manage basketball, but the demands caused by his living miles out-of-town with my grandparents made it impractical for him to continue after one school year.

Some managerial memories of Berry’s and my “managerial management team” were:

Berry was delegated to the “field” manager, along with Dwayne and Eddy, and I was the lone “in-house” manager who stayed in the field house cleaning and “tidying up,” washing the daily laundry with the field house’s industrial-grade washer and dryer, and tending to wounds and other injuries emerging during practice that could not be handled on site by Berry & staff on the field. I deliberately chose to be the “in-house” manager, so that when everyone was out on the field for the practice except me, and I had finished cleaning and straightening up the field house and had started the day’s laundry, I could get a head start on the night’s homework that would be finished after practice during the traditional study session over at my house (The 1963 Cisco High School King Lobo Coronation [March, 2014], & The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013]) (assuming I did not have a “patient” or “patients” in the field house to attend).

Another “division of labor” occurred concerning game days, both home and away. Berry and I were responsible for packing the managerial medical kit and other side-line supplies, and we usually had those things ready to go at the end of Thursday night practice — well before the actual game the following Friday night. Whether home or away, we were also responsible for setting up the stadium headphones for the coaches well before the crowd filled the stands. While Dwayne and Eddy attended to the team, we would switch out going to the top of the appropriate sideline stands and staying down on the field at our team bench site, stringing a wire between us connecting an ancient Army-surplus set of field phone receivers — in this way coaches up high and coaches on the field could communicate during the game. Of course, it was also our responsibility to “strike” this field communication system after each game. Before we finished our two-year tenure, we could assemble or disassemble the phones in a matter of minutes, returning to taping ankles or removing ankle tape “before most knew we had been gone.”

With Dwayne and Eddy being absent a lot, we also “took over” retrieving the tackling dummies (the inflatable tire tubes, not the players!) after practices in record time, using the “athletic department” car used often by Coach Rice. We good-naturedly “tormented” Mr. Mitchell, the head custodian of the athletic facilities and the high school and Robert Mitchell’s (see above) dad. One day when a player during practice ran into and broke a water line to the practice field, terminating practice for the day and causing Mr. Mitchell “fits” trying to find the cut-off valve, I thought he was going to “bean” us right there with his tools when Berry and I, returning to the field house with tackling dummies, pointed to the high “fountain” of water flooding the practice field and said to him, “Uh..Mr. Mitchell….I think there’s a leak down on the field…..” We also were not comforting to him when he had to repair frozen water pipes that had burst in the field house walls during very cold weather.

I was also the occasional designated whirlpool “administrator,” or, as it is known among teams, “cooker of players.” These were the days before cold or ice water treatment, and the whirlpool was located in the far corner of the community gym, the corner closest to the bonfire site (The 1963 Cisco High School Homecoming Bonfire — No Sleep and Almost Torched Into Martyrdom [Aug, 2013]). I “boiled” many (That was the one instruction I got from the coaches — “Keep ‘em in the hottest water they can stand for as long as they can stand it!”.), but two examples always come to my memory: Darrell Holt the first season and Earl Carson the third and fourth. I don’t remember Darrell’s “cooked” body part, but I remember his being so weakened from the hot water I had to drag him out of the stainless steel tub almost on my own. I also don’t remember whether it was left or right, but Earl’s “part” was his entire elbow; given his complexion, his arm looked like a lobster after each treatment! He spent many school days in an arm sling.

This was the season Coach Gene Hargrove had become part of the staff at Hamilton, and we played Hamilton at their place. Coach Hargrove “had a score to settle” with Cisco, and, judging from his behavior during the game, he had “prepared” his new team on what to expect from all the Cisco players. Adling was one of our running backs; “Get him! He can’t run!” Hargrove would shout; Adling would make three or four yards; “Stop that spook! He ain’t nothing!”; Adling would make six or seven yards and a first down; etc…..etc…. That was also the game where the field was so rain damaged, running back Danny Phipps had to run the ball at least 3 yards into the end zone to get the refs to signal a touchdown (Over the years, the story inflated to 5 yards.). He had told them one or two plays before that he was already in, pointing to the pylons (or spring-mounted flags) at the ends of the goal line.

Berry and I discovered we liked to stay after home or away games into the early morning hours of Saturday doing the washing (everything but the uniforms, which were sent to Cisco Steam Laundry, owned by Mr. O.L. Lee, Bill Lee’s dad — Ode to Dr. Bill R. Lee [April, 2012]) so we would not have to do laundry for hours on our “precious Saturdays.” We discovered many wonders together doing the laundry in the wee hours — finding out we could lie in the coffin-like chests holding track uniforms (locked) without getting claustrophobic (I got caught doing that one afternoon when practice ended early; Berry had to rescue me from tortures from the team who found out I was “in the box.” (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]))

More than one early Saturday morning, while we were waiting for the next load of clothes to dry in the huge natural gas-powered dryer, we would go out onto the field and climb to the top of one of the light poles (which were blown down — bent over near the ground — by a tornadic wind sometime during our “tenure,” by the way) with a transistor radio. Sitting on the top bars of the pole among the arrays of lights and swaying in any breeze, we would listen to rock-and-roll on station KOMA out of Oklahoma City, stare out over the top of the press box to survey the expanse of Oakwood Cemetery less than a block away, and watch for Texas & Pacific night trains to pass both directions to our right and left on the tracks just beyond the cemetery. And we would talk — talk as only the two of us could when it was just the two of us. Surreal………….surreal………

One day Coach Rice had the team all in one field house room (the one with the washer and the dryer) telling them something important, while the dryer behind him was ablaze with gas jets atop its rotating cylinder, finishing up a load. We had it on high, and, probably because my dusting of the premises left something to be desired, the flames caught dust-laden cobwebs on top of the dryer afire! Dwayne happened to see it first, standing nearest the dryer and Coach Rice.


Coach Rice tried to ignore him, but the manager’s persistence finally interrupted what was being said, angering the speaker.

“…uh, the dryer’s on fire…” Word of and sight of the flame got Berry’s and my attention too, and before we could reach where Dwayne was standing, Coach Rice quoted a “classic:”

“Well, put it out, stupid!”

Only then did Dwayne began moving to assist us. We controlled the blaze, and afterwards had loads of laughs over the experience that it was as if putting it out had not occurred to Dwayne until he was ordered to do so. Our imaginations conjured managers standing in front of the charred remains of the field house saying, “We had no authority to proceed to put it out!”

In Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012] I described the chaos of getting from the 3-story high school building at the end of 5th period to get to the field house during football season. As managers, I don’t know how we avoided having to treat injuries from the mad leaps down the stairwells we and the athletes took to race to the north side (NW) parking lot of the building (800 block of W. 6th St.), pile in some random assortment into an athlete’s car before the driver backed out on the street and “peeled out” in a mad traffic rush to get to the field house. One lost count of how many different cars one “bummed” a ride in during a season, if you did not have a car yourself. No wonder Adling forgot he had his own car at school that first day he came with his own wheels and frantically “bummed” someone else’s car to get to football! I suspect some of the “football” scrapes and bruises we treated on lots of days were sustained before arriving at the field house. Arrival and parking of the cars in the parking area of the field house looked like a “simultaneous pit stop” of all the racers in a NASCAR race. To this day I “feel” for any pedestrians, elderly drivers, stray dogs, and unleashed pets unlucky enough to find themselves on the streets between the high school and the field house those first three seasons I was manager. (For the fourth season, the HS building was condemned, and we went to school across town from the field house.)

The fourth season, 1963, brought one important change — we got a new Head Coach, Coach Billy Bates (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Introduction [Oct, 2013]), but Coaches Turner and Cromartie stayed on. Added were Coaches Manning Davis and James Couch. Coach Bates seemed determined to change the whole football program, moving the field house over to beneath the north (actually NW) bleachers of the community gym, next to where the whirlpool was located. Our old beloved field house of the previous years was to become the visitors’ dressing room. But the washer and dryer were not moved (I remember waiting for a load to dry while reading a paperback copy of William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, when a visiting team arrived for a game or scrimmage; they thought I was a Nazi; I didn’t tell them any different.) So, I had to transport the daily laundry from the gym to the field house, do the washing and the drying, and transport the finished washing back over to the gym, doing the folding at one or both sites. I had help using my own car named “Liberty” (after the western villain Liberty Valance). My laundry chores were therefore made more public, so much so that on one return trip to the gym porch paralleling Avenue L with my laundered load, Coach Couch called me “Cisco’s answer to the washer-woman.”

With the departure of Dwayne and Eddy from the managerial staff, Berry and I needed some help this season, so not only were Sophomore Larry “Stick” Owens and Freshman Sidney Mahaney added, our classmate and fellow study session participant, Clark Odom, Olin’s younger brother, was also made a part of our “staff.” We were back to five managers, just like my first season back in 1960. Berry and I continued to not “pull rank” on the two underclassmen managers, despite the fact we were “big, bad” Seniors; we had to “keep them in line and on task,” for sure, but we never hazed them like we were hazed. (See above) Clark never impressed me as a manager (It was hard to live up to the examples of Larry and Berry.), but he was much better than his brother, and, besides, he would often stay in the new field house with me (after laundry) while Berry, Stick, and Sidney were on the field and we would get a head-start on our homework.

Starring on the 1963 team were “Wild Bill” Adling, Earl Carson, Gene “Dummy” Darr, Ralph Lanham, Robert Mitchell, Danny “Wild Horse” Phipps, J. V. “Jasper” Plumlee, Butch Sparks, Keith Starr, Charles Stephenson, Macon Strother, Ervin Addy, Tim Bennie, Leon Bint, Jimmy Brown, Richard Coats, Danny Clack, Nicky “Joe Don” Lopez, Coy Miller, Gary Phipps, C. B. Rust, Anthony Strother, David Waters, Bobby Rains, Bobby Smith, Jimmy Smith, Roger Fields, Benge Burnam, Charles Court, Glen Ferguson, Greg Graham, Larry Hargrave (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 4 (Coming Together and Planning) [Oct, 2013]), Ross Honea, Mark Johnson, Robert Pitts, James Queen, Larry Pilgrim, Ronnie Reynolds, and Larry Warren.

Gene Darr, who went on to play at Texas Tech, was the captain of the defense and had to get the defensive signal from the sidelines before each play. Proper playing eyewear always seemed to be a problem for him, and, without it, he had to lean toward our sideline and squint noticably to get the signal. Even then, the signal wasn’t clear always to him, and he had to get Earl Carson to tell him what it was so he could pass it on. It would have been more efficient to have Earl get the signal all the time.

Evidence that I, as a Senior manager, was very different from the likes of Olin Odom when he was a Senior (see above) came in the form of I being “punished” far more than once by being banished to Coach Bates’ “Happy Crew,” the group who had to do extra wind sprints at the end of practice for “offenses” committed against the Bates rules. I would usually disrupt the seriousness mandated on bus trips to games or scrimmages by doing something goofy in the back of the bus to get players laughing; soon finding out where the disruption of seriousness came from, I would hear from the front of the bus, “Happy Crew for you, Hastings!” During the wind sprints I had to do as a result, I would try and evoke laughs by often tripping on my feet and falling flat of my face somewhere in the middle of the sprint, meaning somewhere in the mid-yard lines of Chesley Field.

But the “prize” for conjuring laughs, even in the midst of football, must go to Adling (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012] & The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013]):

Ironically, the first Adling athletic “funny” occurred in track season when we were still in the old field house at the SW end of Chesley Field: He was always on the verge of quitting, almost weekly declaring he was fed up with his famous “I quit!” This seemed to be declared always after the coaches had left the field house, especially after the exit of track coach Coach Turner. He would with great pomp and circumstance empty the contents of his locker and fling them, notably his track warm-ups, in the floor, followed by a demonstrative exit of the field house himself. He clearly expected me to follow up this demonstration by doing my managerial duty and pick up his “stuff” off the floor and process it accordingly. But, I knew better, and I did nothing with Adling’s stuff before I exited for the day, leaving it scattered where he had left it. The next school day, predictably, Adling would have a change of heart, realizing the trouble he could get in by quitting track — i.e. jeopardizing his status on the football team — and asking me at school if I had picked up his stuff. I, of course, said “No,” and suddenly I would have his “eternal gratitude.” On those days at the field house after which he had “quit,” he would make sure he beat Coach Turner to the field house that afternoon so he could pick up his stuff I had “lazily” left alone and return it all to his locker.

The second “funny” occurred during football: In the 1963 season one afternoon after practice and after Berry and I had gathered in the inflated tackling and blocking dummies (the inflated kind, not….well, you know the joke), Coach Cromartie called me back onto the field to help him drill the backs in catching punts, one of the backs being Adling. I was to hike the ball to him like a long snapper so he could do the punting to the waiting backs at the far end of the practice field. Adling turned out to be the last back left on the field to catch his alloted five punts. For reasons only he knows, Adling, running in his last punt of the day, as Coach Cromartie called out, “Hustle, Adling, hustle!”, did a somersault just before he flipped the ball to me at the end of his run. This did not set well with the coach, and he called Adling back from his attempt to run to the field house with something like, “All right, Adling, if you like to play fancy, just go right back out there and catch five more!” So Adling caught four more “straight,” but on the fifth he ran the ball back alternating touching the ground with his free hand as he switched the ball from arm to arm for the last twenty yards or so, casually flipping the ball to me at the end. “That’ll be five more, Adling!” was the coach’s response. It was ceasing to be funny, as not only was Adling getting “trashed out” fielding and returning many more punts than usual, Coach Cromartie was getting tired doing all that punting, and I was getting “pooped” doing all that long-snapping!

But now, in the growing darkness, it was growing beyond funny; it was becoming ludicrous! Now, despite my fatigue, I was having trouble suppressing my laughing at Adling’s “battle of wit and stamina.” (Coach Cromartie and Adling were always at odds, good-naturedly, in civics class, wherein Adling could not keep from “wiseing-off,” always unsolicited, prompting Cromartie to take 5 points off his grade; nicknames for Jack Cromartie were “Old 5 Points” and “Ratfink.”  To be fair, Adling could have his “5 points” erased by writing nursery rhymes hundreds and thousands of times; during that civics class, Adling “killed lots of trees;” one week he “wised off” so much he “shot” his entire week end, having to write “Mary had a little lamb” 5,000 times!) As “Old Wise-off” tortuously ran back out to receive the next fifth ball, Coach Cromartie said to me so that Adling could not hear, “I hope he doesn’t do anything this time; I’m dog tired!”

“Me too, Coach!” I said, as I painfully bent over for the snap.

This last punt was fielded and returned, amazingly, reasonably “normal” by Adling, or, at least, normal-looking in the dusky twilight of the practice field. I think anything he did would have been acceptable, so tired was Coach Cromartie. For me, I’m not sure how many more snaps I could make, darkness or no darkness!

There was and is, of course, much more, but this will give you, hopefully, the ideas and feelings of my “confessions”…..

Because of these four seasons (get it? 4 Seasons….”She-r-r-r-y,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Let’s Hang On To What We Got,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” etc………OK, nevermind………..) I never took PE in high school, but got full credit for it for graduation. Because of these four seasons, I never got to see the Lobo band perform at halftime; nor did I ever see any halftime ceremonies. But because of these four seasons I got free pre-game meals like I was a player, topped off in the first two seasons with a delicious Dr. Pepper (in a paper cup) from the machine at the entrance of the “Cracker Box” “basement” gym beneath the auditorium floor. During the first three seasons I got all the free ice-cold Coke I wanted (after the players had finished) just before we went back on the field before the second half (This was before Gatorade had reached Cisco, and was three seasons instead of four, as I don’t remember Coach Bates approving Cokes at halftime.). Because of these four seasons I got all the salt tablets and dextrose tablets I could swipe — you didn’t have to ingest such to be a manager, but I thought it helped! All in all, with these and all the other “perks” presented above, I thought I was in “tall cotton.” Looking back, I must confess I still think today I was. Those four seasons for me had more “Good” than they had “Bad and Ugly.”

I’ve emerged from these four seasons not only a weird, twisted, and unorthodox football fan, I have life-long phobias of both athlete’s foot and jock itch, based upon all the cases I tended (I did NOT treat the cases of jock itch, I want you to know, only handing the medicine to the “patient” for self-treatment!). Every trip to Cisco I always do a nostalgic drive-by of Chesley Field, the community gym now-turned-football-practice-facility, and the site of the old field house, which looks replaced by a new one. They are only two blocks removed from that front yard in which Berry put me on the path, back in 1960, toward becoming very familiar with industrial laundering of towels, jock straps, and tee-shirts.


The 1963 Cisco High School King Lobo Coronation

Among the greatest high school traditions of Cisco High School, Cisco, Texas, is the annual crowning of King Lobo (That Damn Dam Painting! [April, 2013], The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 3 (“…fellows like him could be King Lobo.”) [Oct, 2013]). The tradition is based upon the Junior class having the privilege of “putting on” or producing the Coronation for the Senior class each year. The Coronation was also for the entire school and community, as the court of the elected King and Queen Lobo (identities revealed as the climax of each coronation program) included elected couples from all the lower grades in high school, junior high, and elementary schools (Chapter 3). In the 1960’s the Coronation was held in the community gym at the corner of West 3rd Street and Avenue L, just “catty-corner” from Chesley Field, the football field in Cisco, Texas. Every graduating class, when Juniors, looked forward to an entire week just after basketball season off from school to transform the gym into a “court” according to some theme (like the theme of a Prom) and the presentation of the court “show” on the Thursday night of that week. The Coronation was open to the public and proceeds from ticket sales, conducted by the Juniors, went into coffers to pay for future Coronations. The night after the crowning, on Friday night, the Juniors sponsored a Jr.-Sr. Banquet in honor of the Seniors, accompanied by a Jr.-Sr. Prom, the social all-student highlight of the year. After that all the decorations of the Coronation were finally struck as the final responsibility of the “host” class, the Juniors.

1963 was “our year” as Juniors, being Seniors 1964, to “put on” the Coronation. But, like our class, there was nothing “normal” about the circumstances of the Coronation that year, due to the fact that half the 3-story high school building between W. 6th and W. 7th Streets and Avenues K & L was condemned. Consequently, the student body not having access to the auditorium on the second floor, school assemblies in that school year of 1962-1963 had to be held in the community gym, the site of the Coronation, some three blocks away up Avenue L from the partially condemned building. (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 1 (The Set-Up) [Oct, 2013] & Mrs. Lois Adling, Mrs. Edward Lee, and the Big Afternoon [June, 2012]) Only one thing for sure this particular school year — no school assemblies the week of the Coronation!

As it turned out, there was also nothing “normal” about the actual week off and about the Coronation that particular Thursday night in 1963. Not surprising for us, the Class of 1964. After all, we were to become the class without a high school building — the class, planned or not, that was to be marginalized, and the class, in the end, that was to be woefully underestimated (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 1 & “….Chapter 10 both [Oct. 2013]). The success our class enjoyed in our Coronation production paralleled the success we enjoyed as graduates, preventing ourselves from the being marginalized and forgotten. If only the school had paid attention to our King Lobo Coronation production in 1963!

But our class coronation story begins earlier, back in the fall of 1962 or in very early 1963, in one of our “famous” or, according to some, “infamous” study sessions at my house less than one block from the 3-story HS building with its condemned wing and auditorium. (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013]) The “usual suspects” of these sessions were Bill Adling, Bob Berry, Bill Lee, Clark Odom, and I. Occasionally, we would be visited by others, like Earl Carson, but, as a rule, we five were “regulars.” And during this particular session, as usual, we five were drinking Dad’s root beer and playing records on my stereo set in the living room while we studied on the dining room table. (Being the pre-Beatle era, 33 1/3 albums from favorite movies, singers, and documentaries, like “Hatari,” “The Great Escape,” Johnny Horton, “The Guns of Navarone,” “Exodus,” “The Alamo,” and “Victory at Sea” were played; if not the albums, we played stacks of favorite 45’s from the rock-and-roll hit parade Adling and I, with help from Berry, had identified and accumulated over the years — e.g. “Tequila,” “Fingertips, Part 1 & 2,” “Torquay,” “Sal’s Got a Sugar Lip,” and “Church Key Twist.” ) I say “study,” but what really occurred were periods of laughing and joking in between periods of actually accomplishing something on our homework assignments.

With three of us at that time unknowingly being “proto-outliers,” or outliers-in-the-making (We Are the Outliers [Feb, 2014]), at least 3/5 of us often developed a sudden “what the heck” or “I quit” attitude, in order to conjure up even more laughs from the “captive” audience. On this particular night, for Adling, this attitude was particularly serious, probably brought on by the extra-heavy homework assignments of Mrs. Audie Wagley’s American History “Section Surveys;” on this night Adling REALLY did have an attack of “What the heck!” and “I quit!” He left the table and went elsewhere in the house to find other ways to entertain himself, while the rest of us remained a quartet working on homework.

He returned with an old baseball, whose leather cover had been lost and replaced with a covering of black electrical tape, probably one that he and I used playing scrub baseball in my backyard back when we were in junior high (See Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012]). Thanks to my dad’s coon hounds and the family house dog Petey (He had one black eye like the Little Rascals’ “Petey.”), the tape was gnarled and perforated. Adling asked me if he could finish the dismantling of the ball, and I, not wanting to be distracted from our work, said it was OK. He sat down with us to deliberately bother us with his new-found task. We complied, making remarks about his “high standard” of priorities that evening. Soon he was down to unraveling the string around the baseball’s core, loose string accumulating all over his hands. By now Berry (Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012]) and I became really distracted, like science fiction fans having seen “something shiny.” Adling, true to his nature, was determined to finish the task to the ball’s very center, despite the fact the task had become more time-consuming than he had anticipated; he was trapped; he had to finish the task or lose face in front of us. He captured all of us in laughter when he began draping the accumulating string not only on his hands, but also upon his shoulders and his head. Now, that was entertainment that “beat the socks off” doing our homework!

As usual, Odom was first back to his studies, and I soon followed suite. That did not sit well with Adling — it was now a contest for him to keep us laughing or he would have to go back to studying. To get a reaction from me, he wadded up the pile of string, now the volume of a basketball, and placed it on my head, while I was still sitting studying; it was as if I had a wig. Suddenly, it was a challenge to me to see how much I could “take” to break my concentration of studying, and that challenge became further entertaining to not only Adling, but to Berry and Lee also. (It is clear in Adling’s Ode [May, 2012] and in The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 2 (Dramatis Personae) [Oct, 2013] why Adling put the wad of string on my head and not the others’.)

Just as Adling began earlier “hamming” up the accumulating string on him, I now began “hamming” up the “new wig” on my head; I had joined Adling in generating laughs. Pretending to give me a “shampoo” after somebody quipped that my wig looked like I had just had a shampoo, Adling went to the bathroom and returned with a can of my dad’s shaving cream, and I let him apply a generous amount on the wad of string on my head and massage it into my “stringy” hair, shaving cream flying on his hands, my face, neck, and shoulders, and onto the books and notebooks on the dining table. I pretended I had no idea what was going on. He then went into the kitchen and brought back a bottle of ketchup and squirted a blob of it on the string, the shampoo, and my hair, mixing up the mess on my head again into a reddish, pinkish swirl. Ketchup joined shaving cream in being distributed over the immediate area of my studying position.

Future outlier Berry then said what I needed was an egg shampoo! Adling, without a word, returned to the kitchen. He came back with a raw egg; Berry went hysterical; Lee proclaimed he should not do it; Odom watched silently, trying not to smile while shaking his head; I tried to remain as calm as I could, even when I saw the egg. True to “Adling form” (getting the most laughs), Adling held the egg with one hand atop my mess atop my head and smashed it with his flattened other hand! Egg seemed to go everywhere — on my “wig,” on my head, on our books on the table, on the table itself, and on the floor — not to mention the flattened hand. My shoulders, at least, by this time, had been towel-draped by Adling the “shampooer;” however, part of the egg white went in Berry’s shirt pocket and part of the egg yolk landed on Lee’s history textbook!

Before I got to wash my head and before we got the table and floor cleaned up, we had to calm Lee down, which was not accomplished until Berry sent a couple of “cut downs” his way; I reminded Lee about the time back in the eighth grade when we used to fold the pages of the texts and slam the books shut just for the hell of it. Lee finally settled down and returned back to a “happy plateau” when Adling, Berry, and I reminded him dried egg yolk, after the wiping we had done, would not be detected when he turned his book back at the end of the school year. Soon Lee was smearing the yolk over his book page and slamming the book shut on the yellow-mess-on-printed-page. Maybe having to pay for a textbook was a small price to pay in exchange for the laughs he was getting from all of us — with the exception, perhaps, of Odom, who, true to form, stood way away from all the mess and looked at all four of us like we were crazy; in a way, we were — crazy with fun.

Little did we know how important that crazy night was to be in plans regarding the Coronation.

The “Egg Shampoo Study Session” was but a memory in our five collective heads when time came for our class to choose a theme for the 1963 Coronation. Bantered around among those of us who played war games, or those of us who hung out with those who played war games (Avalon Hill board games — See The Flag Escapade — Phase I [Aug, 2013]) was the idea of having a Civil War theme. I was selected as the spokesperson for this theme. The opposing idea was “Alice in Wonderland,” as interpreted by the Disney movie. To quote my memoirs (And God Said, “Let There Be Friends”…..And It Was Wierd [April, 2012]), “The class split immediately, with the guys wanting the Civil War and the girls wanting Alice in Wonderland.” It was the battle of the sexes, CHS Class of 1964-style! It became a matter of pride to those of us of the XY persuasion, our teen-aged brains ignoring the political incorrectness of our position (at a time before we knew what political correctness was). Never the champion of themes based upon their popularity or appropriateness (See Ode to Dr. Bill R. Lee [April, 2012]), I can’t say I’m really embarrassed that I defended the ideas that the girls could be like Southern belles, a la “Gone With the Wind,” the guys could be soldiers, and the court jesters could be slaves or soldiers. And, it is no defense of our Civil War idea to point out we had no African-American students in our class.

So, now, over 50 years later and counting, should any readers require a confession of embarrassment or an apology, let me hereby furnish them either or both. Just as there is no defending the “causes” and symbols of the old Confederate Club and the flags Lee and I ran up on our desks during the eighth grade (Lee’s ode, [April, 2012]), there is no defending pushing a Civil War theme for the Coronation in 1963, midst the growing Civil Rights Movement, especially a Civil War theme with a distinctively Southern bias, given our geography and history. I’d like to think things would have been different had we been in an integrated class with African-Americans among our peers, but that was not the way it was. Nor is citing the fact that the Stars and Bars battle flag was not as overt a symbol of racism back then as it became in the history of the Civil Rights Movement an excuse. To this day I try (mostly in vain) to point out the Stars and Bars is neither the official flag of the Confederacy, nor is it properly any symbol of racism. Adoption of it by such racist groups as the KKK as far back as the Restoration has tainted the flag in an ahistorical way, in my opinion. Sad, but that is the way it is.

When the vote for the theme came, Alice in Wonderland won by a narrow margin, thanks to support not only from the girls, but thanks to the support of Mr. Hathaway, our head sponsor, and to a few “turncoat” votes from guys, most notably that of Earl Carson. True to our childish machismo scruples, we “Civil War-ers” cast a disdainful eye his way, “licked our wounds” from the defeat, and reluctantly threw in our support to the will of the majority. Retrospect came quickly, as we also reluctantly agreed with the rational view that the Disney movie provided us with so many resources, and at so little cost, compared with all the uniforms and dresses to be made demanded by the alternative. But, of course, we would not forget this “rebuff.”

When the time came to select the jesters for the Coronation, what positions would you think appealed to the study session group, less Odom, the most? The jesters, of course! And what idea do you think Adling, Berry, Lee, and I immediately thought to use as our tryout-for-jester presentation? The egg shampoo, of course! It was a no-brainer, a match made in heaven! It was ideal for the four of us, in that we did not have to compete with each other for the position; we were trying out as a group, hoping all or none of us would be accepted.

One of the few times the condemned auditorium on the second floor of the high school was used was for Coronation try-outs, including those for jesters. The four of us found ourselves backstage of the old auditorium with a plan essentially the same as what happened during the Egg Shampoo Study Session, only minus the baseball string. Joining us for jester try-out were Ronnie Rider and Macon Strother, but without a specific plan as what they wanted to do. Therefore, while we waited for jester try-out to begin, we decided to do a “6-man” tryout and let the judges choose from our group effort; it risked some of us not being jesters, but all of us seemed to agree our impromptu plan was worth it; but, it could not be an “all or nothing” situation after all, for no one except the six of us was trying out. Ronnie and Macon were hastily “clued” into our plans, and when it came time to try-out, all half-dozen were ready. Some of us or all of us were going to be the jesters.

Announcing to the judges we were trying out as a group, we all went out on the stage where Adling, Berry, Lee, Ronnie, and Macon formed a human pyramid on hands-and-knees while I stood off to the side pretending to be annoyed I was not included. When they completed the “structure,” I pushed them over mischievously and posed as if proud of myself. The five “acrobats” got up, huddled “angrily” to “decide” what to do with me, and then surrounded me before I could get away. I was sat down upon the floor and “forced” to put my legs “yoga-style” in the lotus position (as I was adept to do on bus trips with the football and basketball team as manager/trainer). Stiffening my arms out to my sides, they lifted me to a spot where Adling was to “operate” on me, the rest lining up to be Adling’s “assistants.” Shaving cream, then shaving lotion, then ketchup, and then, this time, mustard were passed down the line to Adling who generously applied in sequence each to my head, rubbing each vigorously; it was even a more widely distributed, colorful mess than at my house around the dining table! Many of my fellow jester applicants besides Adling and me got a bit of the mess. We were getting the laughs we coveted, from not only judges, but from others out in the auditorium seats waiting to try out for other positions.

Then came the climax — two, count them, two raw eggs this time. I did not have a towel this time, so the egg covered not only my head, but my neck and shirt shoulders as well. At this point, Mr. Hathaway interrupted and stopped us, probably fearing too much “mess” on the condemned stage floor. He announced it had been decided all of us would be jesters, as lots of characters, as indicated by the movie, would be needed, given the plans to stage the “Alice” story as part of the Coronation program. We left the stage in triumph, I “smelling to high heaven” of egg, so no one got close to congratulate me. It occurred to me I needed to get cleaned up, just like the stage. I asked the principal, Mr. Midkiff, if I could go get a bath, to which he agreed. To speed things up, Adling let me walk the short distance to his house on W. 8th St. to use his shower (no shower at my house).

Speeding past the preparation part of working on sets at the school building and transporting them down to the gym for finishing, the part familiar with all Cisco High School Junior classes working on “their” coronation, the “week off” was coming close to Thursday night production. Though we were supposed to go to class as often as we could, I only went to two class periods the whole week. Gene Darr and I worked on drawing characters on the sets from Disney Alice in Wonderland books, and others would paint in our outlines using the color pages of the books. “Parts” for the production had been cast. Various girls would play Alice at different times in the production “script.” “Big” Alice would be Alice Ann (Webb) Holliday, and “Little” Alice would be Kay (Wallace) Morris; other “herald Alice’s” would be the Hart twins, Sylvia (Hart) Hastings and Sandra (Hart) Burkett, and Marcia (Wende), Karen (Moore) Bishop, Becky (Reich) Odom, Colette (Brown), Melody (Morris), and Leannah (Leveridge) Darr. Robert Cole (Ode to Robert W. Cole [May, 2012]) and Joe Torres would be trumpeting heralds, or trumpeters. Pages were to consist of Valjeanne (Loudder), Estelle (Rice), Lanell (Stanford) Bond, Jamie (Rawson), and Betty (Reynolds). There happened to be a popular Top 40 on the airways at the time entiled “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Alice” Kay and her “beau” Earl Carson — the “turncoat” — were scheduled to do a pantomime of that hit during the program. The products of the Egg Shampoo Study Session, the jesters, were Macon Strother as the White Rabbit, Ronnie Rider as Tweedledum, Adling as Tweedledee (To this day, I maintain it was Adling who was Tweedle”dumb.”), Lee as The Walrus, Berry as The Mad Hatter, and I as The March Hare. (As part of our costumes, Lee and I had to have “big feet;” he actually had a pair of elongated clown shoes, and I borrowed a pair of large-sized sneakers from Richard Moore, a big-footed banking colleague of my mom’s.) Not enough credit has been given to the makers of the outstanding costumes of the jesters, featuring cardboard heads that I outlined for cutting and painting — the makers being, for the most part, our mothers.

I was our class President that year, meaning I traditionally would be the Coronation’s Master of Ceremonies.  But, I did not want to give up the opportunity to do impromptu clowning in front of lots of people!  And Robert Mitchell, our class Vice-President, was elected to represent the Juniors in the king’s and queen’s “court,” so, we talked Stan Livingston into taking over the Master of Ceremonies duty. Also, Mark Kurklin and Rodney Harrelson were to run the all-important spotlights to accent the couples of the court, including the king and queen.

Not only did I miss almost all my classes that week, I missed most of my usual sleep, given all the drawing and designing I had to do. Not that it was all work and no play that week; when Mr. Hathaway and any other sponsors had to be gone that week to teach or something, several of us guys would take turns jumping off one of the 4 fifteen foot or so high corner platforms in the gym over a horizontal distance of about 25 feet or so and land on mattress-like mats. We probably are not as tall today as we might have been had we not done that. If Mr. Hathaway found out about these “extra” acrobatics, I’m sure it did not do any possible ulcer he was already developing any good!

It rained a lot that week of preparation, and all of us working on the set got a kick out of listening to the radio hit “Rhythm of the Rain,” whose lyrics would go “Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling me what I fool I’ve been; I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain, and let me be alone again. The only girl I care about has gone away, looking for a brand-new start; little did she know that when she left that day, along with her she took my heart.” And so on……while we literally listened to the rhythm of the falling rain on the gym roof and front porch roof. I was taking a break on that porch one morning of the work week with a piece of white classroom chalk for drawing sets in my hand, twiddling it like a cigarette between my forefinger and middle finger. Linda (Kilgore) saw that and began spreading the rumor that she saw Ronnie Jack Hastings smoking. I’m not sure she was glad or sad when she found out it was a piece of chalk. (Smoking was something those of us of the study group never did, at least not when together.)

A couple of days before production Berry and I planned to recover a little pride from the loss of the theme election. The gym roof was supported by giant, arched steel beam girders. By climbing to the top of the gym’s seating one could reach up and grasp the sides of the bottom of the beams and pull one’s self up and on the beam. In the middle of the center beam we planned to unfurl one of the two 2 ft by 3 ft flags I kept on one wall of my room at home — a Confederate battle flag! (The other flag was a State of Texas flag.) Ronnie Rider was recruited to help us. During a Mr. Hathaway absence, Berry and I made the precarious climb out onto to center of the beam (no net!) and tied securely the rolled-up flag with two strings, one through each grommet eye, ready to be unfurled before the show started on Thursday. But Earl found out about the plan somehow, and, being on the “girls’ side,” decided to take the flag down on the sly so we would not “mess up the presentation.” He made his move at a time I was not in the gym, but as he reached the flag, in walked Berry and Rider. Berry went to one end of the beam and Rider to the other as Earl reached the rolled-up flag. Earl was told not to touch that flag unless he wanted to be thrown off that beam; though he had cut one of the strings, Earl was persuaded to come down, leaving the flag. The cut string was repaired, but Mr. Hathaway found out about the incident (I “wonder” how!) the night of the Coronation just before Berry and I were preparing to unfurl the flag. He talked us out of unfurling the flag before or during the show, so we had to alter our plans.

What has personally stuck with me since the night of the performance was how the Egg Shampoo Study Session emboldened the class clown antics of the friendships of Adling, Berry, Lee, and I and gave us the incentive and confidence to “let it all hang out” before a captive public audience. That night was an unprecedented opportunity for all of us, but, unfortunately for Adling, he could not take full advantage, as he came down with a attack of flu about mid-week. Cruel, bad luck ironically mellowed the performance of the one who single-handedly jump-started the Egg Shampoo bit; it was unfair, in a cosmic sense. Had he felt “normal,” I know he would have channeled the silliness he and I developed back in junior high, just as I did that night, when we were finally encouraged and set up to be the clowns we wanted to be, without the inhibitions of teachers, rules, and “adult” responsibilities:

Before the program began, we jesters were charged to “warm up” the crowd and get them in a jovial mood. In our cardboard “heads,” I, again as the “outcast,” messed up a game of dice played with a huge pair of foam rubber dice usually hung from car rear-view mirrors. Letting me join instead of putting up with my taunts, I began “winning” all the “stakes” — cards from a giant deck of cards that looked a deck designed for the visually challenged. They turned against me, five against one, and I threw the giant cards in their faces. Then, we took turns “directing” the stage band playing mood music, trying to get the band members and director Eris Ritchie to laugh. “Heads off” now, Berry and Lee got down on their knees for me to stand on their backs to reach up and try to grab one of the decorative foil stars handing down from stringers across the width of the gym floor. The program start was delayed for some reason, and we jesters were offstage and out of “material.” So I started doing one-man “stunts” to fill in. (As usual, Lee advised me not to do things impromptu, and I, as usual, did not take his advice.)

Lanell was the herald playing the piano as part of the program, and, now, part of the “filler.” I pretended to put a burned-out flash bulb in my mouth like candy I found atop the console of her instrument. Then, after noting I was getting her to laugh, I noted a microphone cord stream out across the gym floor from the piano area and got down on my hands and knees with my nose close to the cord to follow it “closely” to see where it was going. So concentrated was I on following the cord like a rope in this position, I did not notice I was so close to the microphone stand itself, pulling on the cord enough to topple it over — over right atop my head! I was really in pain, but that was put aside as soon as I heard the roaring laughter of the crowd. I fell on my back with extended tongue, as if knocked out. It must have looked planned!

We made fun off all non-jesters as they came down the mid-gym aisle as part of the program or as high school couples in the court. I acted like I was “seeing double” when Sylvia and Sandra came down to aisle, rubbing my eyes in disbelief; Adling and Rider (Tweedledum and Tweedledee) mocked the “march” of trumpeters Cole and Joe Torres down aisle; I got down and “rolled in laughter” at Sophomore court representatives Leon Bint and Ann (Rutherford), “cracking them up;” Lee and Berry came down the aisle Marx Bros. style, squatting arm-in-arm; just before the king and queen were identified, Berry and I came down the aisle as a “couple,” I being the “girl,” falling flat on my face as I curtsied; when “Prime Minister” Principal C. B. Midkiff (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 8 (Admission, “Punishment,” and Immediate Aftermath) [Oct, 2013] &  Play Rehearsal Night, With a Side of Greased Flagpole [May, 2013]) came down the aisle, Berry and I gamboled in front of him sprinkling rose petals in his path, and Lee came along behind him, sweeping up the petals with a broom (Florist Mrs. Wilma Waters, David’s mother, had donated the petals from her shop.).

David Callarman was crowned King Lobo, and Nelzane Nixon was crowned Queen Lobo, and we jesters “replaced our heads” and played our characters’ parts in the program, retelling the story of Alice in Wonderland, following an abbreviated Disney script. When all the court and the program began their recessional, glitter was to gently shower down upon the “royals” from above, but, instead, we probably packed in too much of the stuff, and it fell down in heaps and globs, completely drenching the whole throne area. This gave us jesters the opportunity to sprinkle ad nauseum handfuls of glitter upon anyone in the recessional we wanted (What were they going to do, tell us to stop?). I personally recall drenching the heads of Cisco Junior College (now Cisco College) representatives Lynn Hagan and Rosetta (Ingram) Hagan with glitter, and I got so much of it in Sylvia’s and Sandra’s hair, they said they were still trying to get it all out two days later.

As the “head jester” I had control of the mike to converse with the king and queen at the end and dismiss the audience. As soon as I had finished, I nodded to Berry, who scrambled to the top of the seats and onto the “flagged” roof beam. As the audience was slowly leaving or mingling with the program participants, Berry unfurled the flag, Rodney put a spotlight on the banner, and mixed reactions came muttering from those who cast their eyes upward and spotted Berry descending. I pointed to the flag and started singing “Dixie” into the microphone, joined by Adling, Lee, Rider, Macon, and others nearby. Some members of the audience also joined in, as if it was part of the program. Understandably, none of the girls in our class joined us.

It felt as if we had made a “big hit” with our presentation of the evening; after the song, I went up into the stands to where Sylvia’s and Sandra’s family was sitting, and their grandmother called me a “monkey.” Bingo! The jesters had achieved their goal! We had apparently met and exceeded the expectations of the school district and the community, for, the next morning, Friday morning, classes from the elementary schools West Ward and East Ward were bused across town to the gym so they could see a repeat performance of our show the night before, only without the “court” stuff. I thought it was not only gratifying to do the show again — it was also fun. The jesters loved laughs from kids as much as we did from mixed audiences. I do not know of another Junior class whose Coronation program was so good, it was asked to repeat the presentation. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

On Friday night, we had to host the Jr.-Sr. Banquet and Prom at the gym using the Alice in Wonderland set, which required rearrangement, adjustment, and more work. As MC of the Banquet (Sylvia was my date sitting beside me at the head table.), I only remember the success of my best joke: referring to the condemned high school building, I quipped that the Seniors would fondly remember the times in Cisco High School when they sat in class, looking at the walls, and “watched the cracks progress.”

Months later, as our Senior school year, 1963-1964, began, the school administration, in my opinion, had forgotten how well we did as a class presenting the Coronation of 1963. We had demonstrated we could solve real problems, and we could have been instrumental in helping the school district span the interim of our Senior year when we had no high school building from which to graduate — the year replete with unique, challenging problems (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 1 (The Set-Up) [Oct, 2013]). Instead, our class was relegated to a “cheerleading” role midst the community crisis and simultaneously stripped of its traditional Senior privileges. Perhaps the school had seen us, through the Coronation of 1963, only as frivolous entertainers, whose leadership preferred being jesters over young, serious adults. Tweedledee, The Mad Hatter, the taller trumpeter, and The March Hare combined a year later to remind them how blind they had been.


We Are the Outliers

Education writer Malcolm Gladwell defines “outliers” as those who operate at the extreme outer edge of what is statistically possible. Anything that is measurable and is randomly distributed graphs into the well-known “bell curve” whereon “average” is most of the population in the large middle of the graph. Therefore, by Gladwell’s definition, measurements from outliers are on the “wings” of the bell curve, on the extreme right or extreme left, graphically speaking (not politically speaking).

Grasping for words that accurately describe those with whom I shared the experiences that compeled me to write my memoirs (And God Said, ‘Let There Be Friends’….And It Was Wierd! [April, 2012]), I realized “outliers” might fit the bill, or “student outliers”. As a physicist, I do not believe analyzing complicated human phenomena, such as love and humor, robs them of their value, beauty, and essence; for me, analyzing has only deepened and magnified the joys of these phenomena. Exploring the insight of what characteristics made my friendships in junior high and high school, specifically those friendships that made up the M-4 (The M-4….And the ‘M’ Stands for…. [May, 2012]) (Adling, Berry, Cole, and I), has magnified my appreciation of who we were, what we did, and what we meant to each other — magnified exponentially.

I have been fortunate to have “outlying” experiences in areas other than the M-4, such as students of mine at Waxahachie High School who became de facto researchers in the university sense of “researchers” (Hard-to-Believe! High School Student Researchers? Say What? [August, 2012]) in the late 1970’s through the early 1980’s. The extreme “outlying” world of being a doctoral candidate and writing a Ph.D. dissertation, is another such experience.

But to be an outlier among other fellow outliers in the schools of a small west-central Texas town called Cisco? Now, THAT is way out on the wings of the bell curve! That is far, far from average! As Adling would say, “Far out, man!” As Berry would say, “Well, I’ll be dogged!” As Cole would say, “I don’t know……..are you sure?”

What follows, then, is a deep, philosophical analysis of our M-4 experience that exploded in the years 1963-1966, our last year in Cisco High School and our first two years of college or university. That to which I refer will include the “odes” to the other 3 (Ode to William L. (Bill) Adling [May, 2012], Ode to Bob B. Berry [May, 2012], and Ode to Robert W. Cole [May, 2012]), the entire chair/desk escapade series (The Chair/Desk Escapade — Introduction [Oct, 2013] and Chapters 1-10 — all [Oct, 2013] and each referenced herein as “Chapter X”), and other episodes like The Flag Escapade — Phase I [August, 2013], The Flag Escapade — Phase II [August, 2013], That Damn Dam Painting! [April, 2013], and Crashing the Cisco Beauty Pageant – Night of the Long Knife [June, 2013]. It serves as a final commentary of all the detailed school experiences I have recorded with the help of my memoirs.

It has come to my attention that even those three whom I honor might not care about the significance of what we forged together; as my friend and former student Jeff Browning has recently said, “The world doesn’t give a shit about your wheelhouse!” On the other hand, they really might care, but are fearful of talking to me about it, else I reveal to the public unpleasantries they prefer to be kept private. There even is the slight possibility, slight in my estimation, that jealously, pride, envy, resentment, regret, feelings of superiority, feelings of inferiority, shame, remorse, self-pity, distaste, feelings of entitlement, or something similar has reared its ugly head within our friendships during our latter years spanning at least 50 years from the time of the M-4.

If there is any reason I should not document and comment upon our past, that reason needs to be communicated to me, by the M-4 or by the non-M-4, for I cannot see any such reason. My evidence justifying no such reason is straightforward: 1) I tend to remember more of the “good” than the “bad.” I do not write exposes of my friends; I write tributes to them, tributes through “rose-colored” glasses. 2) However, I do not “put them on a pedestal,” nor make them out as something they were not; I write about them, as I try to write about myself — “warts and all.” Part of the “outlying” nature of our friendships was to “cut each other down” when the situation called for it. 3) Enough time has past, enough people have died, and enough life has been lived that anything short of edifying, full disclosure seems unworthy of what it means to be an outlier as we. 4) Our experience as outliers could very well be useful and encouraging to anyone of any generation who has developed low-probability friendships such as ours; to “come clean” about our experiences might embolden and encourage others who dare to take their acquaintances with their school chums to the far wings of the bell curve. It is important to let others know, it seems to me, that friendships of outliers in school can alter so much of your life — by expanding and changing your views on education, society, loyalty, philos — love of your fellow humans, knowledge, challenges, authority, strife, career, family, and attitude.

Award-winning public school teacher in Norman, OK, Judy Burns, immediately thought of what to call us when I was talking to Judy and her husband Jim about the M-4. “You guys were outliers,” she said, matter-of-factly, based upon her reading Malcolm Gladwell. The more she talked about outliers, the more I began to see she was correct about us. What a contrast to the crass analyses and comments about the M-4 I had been told in the past, such as “You guys were just bored!”, “Y’all should have been more involved in community service!”, or “The four of you were a mild form of sociopaths!” It was clear those who brushed off what we did with such statements were not outliers — they were in the crowd in the middle of the bell curve. Judy did not think of herself as an outlier in school, but, as a teacher, she saw student outliers over the years in her classes and recognized us through them — placing her way outside the middle of the bell curve of teachers; I now wonder how many teachers such as Judy could recognize outliers in their classes; too few, I suspect.

My fellow teaching colleagues at Canterbury Episcopal School in DeSoto, TX, with whom I have “deep” discussions over lunch, specifically Madeleine Hoffman and Katherine Reves, agreed with Judy, as they too learned about the M-4. What these two emphasized was the improbability that there would emerge four outliers in the same small graduating class (4 out of 54 1964 graduates of Cisco High School); they guessed the “normal” ratio would be something like 1 in 50 or more. Call it luck, chance, fate, God, destiny, or whatever, our existing together in the same classrooms was way off on the wings of the bell curve! It was part of the unusual circumstances (Chapter 1, Chapter 2) in which our friendships were forged.

Three of the four, Adling, Berry and I, came from the study group that became a hallmark of our friendships (Chapter 2); Lee and Odom, both of whom became MD’s, completed the study group, but, as will be seen, could not be considered outliers; and, the fourth of the M-4, Cole, was not a member of the study group. Moreover, the age of the outlier friendship pairings among the four varied from long-term (Berry and I) to short-term (Cole and I, Cole and Berry, Cole and Adling) (Chapter 2). So there is no correlation with our being outliers and our study group or how long we knew each other prior.

And, there was no correlation with success in academics. Lee, Odom, and I were the most studious (We became the 3 “doctors” of the graduating class.), and, because I was an outlier, I was not allowed to be the valedictorian of the graduating class, to which I was entitled (Chapter 8). However, all of us were involved in extracurricular activities such as athletics, band, class officers, Student Council, Drama Club, and honors academic groups. But a great majority of our classmates were also, so, again, no correlation.

Cutting straight to the first correlations, I think we were all motivated, like Lee and Odom, to do well in academics and extra-curricular activities, or, better, we all behaved as if we were so motivated. Whether pushed by parents, spurred by academic competition with our classmates, pushed by the necessity to go to college, urged by each other, or finding pure joy in learning specific things, the four of us wanted to do well academically — to the point we would spend time on our studies together or separately when many of our schoolmates saught excuses not to do the work. I think I scored highest in the “pure joy” academic scale, followed by Cole, then Berry, and, finally, Adling.

Cole and I “took everything” in Cisco High, almost; the same could not be said of Adling, Berry, Lee, or Odom. All four of us counted academics as such a “necessary evil,” we, to some extent, embraced the required curriculum as if it was something we “snatched” from the grasp of the school, the teachers, and the administration and made it “ours.” It was in the midst of our study group I recall having the epiphany-like realization that, with our textbooks, and each other, we could “learn this stuff” on our own, without teachers. And we, to some extent, believed just that. This independence from the structure of school of our learning was tantamount to our becoming outliers. It meant, by extrapolation, we could learn from experiences beyond the school as well as experiences within the school. A “curriculum” was everywhere, if we just looked.

In other words, we were not beatniks, juvenile delinquents, hippies, grease monkeys, goat ropers, ladies’ men, drop outs, druggies, hoods, Teddy boys, Mods, or Goths; we were not outside the school — we WERE the school. And the school was ours (even when we were underclassmen). School was something we could manipulate to our own advantage.

This independent attitude toward the structure of school put us at odds with literally all authority — teachers, administrators, parents, coaches, upperclassmen, ministers, and community leaders, not to mention police and highway patrol. We could pretend to listen to the advice of all of these forms of authority, but when the talking was over, we were in control of the decision, and never made one just because somebody else wanted us to. After disappointing a few authority figures by making our own decisions, often after consulting each other, instead of following what they preferred we choose, we found fewer and fewer trying to “pull” us one way or another; wise teachers would suggest to us, not conjole. The only people we saw as our peers were our fellow students, both upperclassmen and underclassmen, especially those in our own graduating class. Even when we were “big, bad Seniors” we were inclined to not treat freshmen as badly as we were treated as freshmen, with or without new rules against hazing. As I said in Chapter 10, we were nobody’s “patsies,” “yes-men,” “bitches,” or pawns, nor did we want anyone else to be any of those things to us.

This fierce independence probably cost us a lot of “sanctioned” opportunties from the good graces of the authorities, though Adling did get to go to Boys’ State in Austin and Berry got to go to university summer enrichment programs, as did Lee. But we never resented that cost, laughing it off with jokes.

What took priority in our minds was anything that enhanced our fun-based experiences, especially our imaginative, fun-filled conversations. This meant the “normal” activites such as attending movies and camping out, but it especially meant taking up classroom time making our classmates and ourselves laugh at each other. We separated ourselves from the rest of the class by being overt “class clowns,” each in our own way (Adling’s Ode, Berry’s Ode, Cole’s Ode) Our reputations were based more upon our silliness than upon our academic performances, not so much on how we thought of others. We did make fun of just about everyone, but the reason we did not suffer from this “sin” socially was that we ourselves were among the main “brunts” of our jokes, ridicule, and “cut downs.” The more we were accused of being irresponsible, the more irresponsible we wanted to be! Things progressed to the point that if we could not get adults and our peers to laugh, we would settle for shock, indignation, horror, amazement, or simple speechlessness.

The measure of our “outlying” experience each school year was that it took, especially among Adling, Berry, and me (Cole was the silent one of the M-4 in both tongue and pen.), at least a full page in our annuals (yearbooks) to remind each other of the “antics” we had “pulled off” inside and outside school the previous school year. After the revelation from Judy Burns, I realized that in my four high school annuals resided, in the form of Adling’s and Berry’s handwriting, evidence we were indeed outliers. It was evidence whose meaning only we four could grasp and appreciate.

So our version of being outliers was based upon fun-driven independence of mind bent upon determining our own way; we pleased others as we pleased. What made us glaringly student outliers, so very unusual from most other groups of teenagers, was that we did not incorporate the dating of girls or our girlfriends into our friendships. We all dated, but we just didn’t talk about it much to each other (Chapter 2). There were at least two factors accounting for this — a) the gender segregation among friendships, which assured that our friendships were exclusively male, and b) our deliberately immature behavior (our silliness as class clowns) was not attractive to potential girl friends; we appeared childish to the female population, who, of course, were biologically more mature than we boys. We were having so much fun, how we appeared to the opposite sex was of little or no concern to us.

That’s the negative part of what propelled us to be outliers; the positive part was what bonded our friendships like super glue; and I use the adjective “super” to emphasize our bond was as strong as, say, that between the soldiers in the movie “Lone Survivor.” We were bonded by pranks, because pranks created risk, which, though not dangerous as in the case of soldiers, nonetheless bonded us as we successfully completed our “missions.” When we were pranking, as four, as three, or as just two, we could feel directly why we liked to be around each other, why we felt supported and respected by each other, why, as I said in And God Said, ‘Let There Be Friends’….And It Was Weird! [April, 2012], the reason we got up on school mornings to go to school at Cisco High School was to be with each other in class. (Risk-taking has long been identified as a characteristic of the developing teen-aged brain, a process that doesn’t end until about age 25; if young people did not take risks and “venture into the unknown,” they would not easily “leave the nest,” a necessary component for the advancement of human society. The problem with risk-taking is that when mixed with modern technology, like the automobile, it can become lethally dangerous to teens.)

Pranks……like the classic chair/desk escapade executed on February 11, 1964, the prank that gave us our name and began the M-4 experience. From the reasons why we did it (Chapter 1, Chapter 3), through planning (Chapter 4), through execution (Chapter 5, Chapter 6), through being found out and “punished” (Chapter 7, Chapter 8), and through the aftermath and our metamorphosis (Chapter 9, Chapter 10), our unusual friendships (Chapter 2) mixed with the unusual circumstances of our Senior year (Chapter 1) to produce a life-changing event of our own making. Part of both our friendships and our circumstances was the further social anomaly we were four outliers-in-making together in the same setting unwittingly egging each other on to be outliers of increasing degree — all without really knowing was “outliers” were and “outlying” was. We emerged not only from this first episode, but from all our pranks transcendent of regret or remorse — because our pranks were not crimes, we remained untouched by any “punishment” they could throw at us (Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10). In the world we had created for ourselves, our pranks were more than worth it. Through pranks we had turned ourselves from best friends to something even stronger — we had turned ourselves into an improbable collection of outliers that found themselves in the same time and place — outliers of Cisco way out in west-central Texas and way out on the wings of the bell curve.

The world of maturity and seriousness could not end the world created by our pranks. Only we could, and it ended as we chose to bring falling in love with special members the opposite sex into our lives, as we got married over the years 1966-1968. Only falling in love could bring us more adrenalin than successfully pulling off one of our pranks; only falling in love could transform us from student outliers to the next chapters in our lives, to new forms of outlying.

Those of us making up the M-4 were unusual teen-agers amidst unusual circumstances within which we formed unusual friendships. Using these ingredients, we executed unusual deeds. It was “unusual” to the fourth power! We were transformed by this exponential combination into student outliers. It was a transformation that has affected us for a lifetime. And I, for one, think and believe life is far, far better and far, far more interesting out on the far, far edges of the bell curve than it would have been had we been more “average.” Far out, man!

“We are the champions! We are the champions!” go the lyrics of a hit for the mega-group Queen. Long after the facts that formed us, the M-4 has discovered the lyrics for our hit: “We are the outliers! We are the outliers!” Perhaps we have helped to define the term “outlier,” at least for secondary school students, infusing into it the fun and laughter of self-liberating youth.  If outliers have a motto, it probably is from the Roman poet and satirist Horace (65 BC – 8 BC):  “Carpe diem!” — “Seize the day!”


“…Well, I try my best

To be just like I am,

But everybody wants you

To be just like them…”

– from Maggie’s Farm, by Bob Dylan



The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 10 (Commentary)

Returning to the question from the Introduction: Why, then, this prank? It was an impish dream made real by extraordinary, out-of-the-box teenagers — not one, or two, but the improbable grouping of four of us of like mind (4 out of 54). We had the “gall” (or, better, using words from fellow Senior 1964 Joe Torres, the huevos) to use that dream-come-true to “kick against the pricks” of a graduation year “going bad,” to reach out and “seize the day” — to take control of a situation that was turning the end of our school days into something very forgettable. It was admittedly strange and improbable, but this prank seemed to “do the trick.” Like a bolt of lightning, the prank shot into the “perfect storm” of unusual circumstances and altered permanently the course of the storm into a memorable and fun-filled trek. (By the way, in my opinion, Joe’s compliment to us is the highest one guy can give to another!)

The question of “Would we do it again, knowing what we know today?” may be moot, as I think we would answer “Absolutely yes!” IF the circumstances were the same. But, they can never be the same again. As to the question “Was it worth it?,” which is probably not moot, the answer would be the same, especially if you factor out the effects of the prank on our mothers. It is hard to put into words, but it was as if we graduated from high school with at least two diplomas, not one; we had another from the “School of Hard Knocks,” from the “School of How the World Really Works,” if you please. Earlier than most high school graduates, we learned some very important lessons beyond those in the classroom. We learned we could keep and nurture the joys of childhood without having to remain childish; we learned that respect for authority had to be earned by the authorities, not given to them because of their positions; we measured evidence supporting the philosophy that schools are about students, not about adults — schools are about developing students’ minds, not about providing “career ladders” for so-called “professional educators.” We learned that when friendships clash with the wishes of the school, of the family, and of the community, friendships can triumph.

An obvious part of our triumph was the fact the chair/desk escapade was only the beginning for the string of successes making up the M-4’s “resume” beginning in May, 1964, though it is true that That Damn Dam Painting! [April, 2013] was the last “escapade” involving all four of us. The other escapades, for example, The Flag Escapade — Phase I [August, 2013], The Flag Escapade — Phase II [August, 2013], and Crashing The Cisco Beauty Pageant — Night of the Long Knife [August, 2013], involved only one, two, or three of us. The absent one was Berry, not because he chose to be, we like to believe, but because of the four of us after we graduated, Berry had the “shortest leash” held by his parents. Not even Lee nor Clark Odom were kept away from us as much as Berry, it seemed. Nonetheless, we went through our adventures after high school as if all four of us were always present; we conjured the spirit of 2/11/64 every time we “struck,” and the first person to whom we reported afterwards each time was always Berry. We wanted him to share in our “triumphant successes.”

But it takes very special friendships to be so triumphant. I’ve said it was highly improbable four “like us” were together in the same classrooms. What do I mean by “like us?” We could not articulate what we had as friends back then, though we certainly felt we had lots of things that compelled us to interact. Hindsight, especially 50 years of it, is indeed probably “20-20,” and a similar span of experience teaches one how to articulate with substance, hopefully, and not “chirp” with empty rationalization. With this probability and hope, I would like to list some of the special characteristics we had as friends within the M-4:

We did not overtly compete with each other; if we did use each other for comparative purposes, it was individually and covertly done. We decided things as a democratic group; we never allowed any one of us to “take over,” and we maintained that egalitarian status quo by “cutting each other down” as brunts of jokes “across the board;” no one was immune; no one could be in our group and have a thin skin. We avoided, if we could, situations placing us in competition with each other; that alone explains a lot about the attitude Adling, Berry, and I had toward our King Lobo candidacies (Chapter 3). And, we deliberately did not “go” for a girl any of the others had his eyes upon. If one of us was dating a particular girl, she was “his” until he declared to us she was back “available.”

We accepted each other “as we were” — or, as I like to put it: “warts and all.” No one of us could hide his strengths or his weaknesses, as he knew the other three could see them as plainly as he. Most importantly, we did not try to change each other; we respected each other more than that. We, for the most part, enjoyed each other’s differences as much as we enjoyed each other’s similarities.

We supported each other and each wanted the best for the other three — like loving brothers, if you please. But, as I’ve said, it was better than actual siblings — we chose each other. From my perspective, I chose Berry before we even started to school; I chose Adling at the end of sixth grade; I chose Cole in Mrs. Pirtle’s biology class when we were high school sophomores. Each of the other three would have their own set of similar “choosing” statements. We tried and try to “be there” for each other, but sometimes, that is easier said than done; I wish that when Berry was having trouble academically at A&M, forcing him to go to college elsewhere for an interim, I could have helped him in his courses; Cole was soon to arrive on campus to also be of help to him. But, “one of his warts” was his pride, making him reluctant to ask for help often enough.

It was and is really difficult for us to be truly upset with each other; when Adling got angry at me as described in Chapter 6 was literally the last time I remember him being so with me. Instead of raving at each other over something one of us might think is stupid of the other, we just laugh at the other at his own expense — no pity, and no mercy. We kept and keep each other alert and “on his toes.”

We REALLY exemplified this next trait of true friendship, a trait that, thankfully transcends the M-4 to many other good friends — it does not matter how long two or more are apart, when we reunite face-to-face, it is like we departed only the day before. We “pick up right where we left off.” Like dogs, when it comes to seeing each other, we have no concept of how much time has passed; always, it is a joy to see each other.

We lived our friendships with each other to assure that “in the end,” we would have no regrets. Most people, sooner or later, deal with such personal questions as, “What would have happened if I had…?”, “What would have happened if I hadn’t stepped back from…….?”, or “Should I have taken that step into the unknown…?” We, as individuals and as a group, know the answers to those questions; in other words, our lives have had few, if any, moments struggling with “What if?” questions laced with regret. Because we had the huevos, we have lived our lives without looking back, without regret, without remorse, without second-guessing ourselves. The secret to not being bothered by our conscience (outside being bothered by our mothers’ reactions)? We made sure we never did anything harmful to anyone or anything, by our definition of “harmless.” In many people’s eyes, we “pushed the envelope,” “fudged the rules,” “played needlessly with fire,” “behaved questionably,” and “acted irresponsibly and controversially.” Because we were judging our behavior for ourselves, and not anyone else, we could go to sleep every night with a clean conscience, by our own reckoning; we would not have “done it” otherwise. So, our reaction to those who judged or are judging us to this day is something like, “So…?” or “And your point is what?” Then, possibly, comes further judgement that we are defiant, unrepentant, disrespectful, arrogant, sneaky, and non-exemplary. That’s OK….bring it on!

To us, only those last two adjectives are correct — sneaky and non-exemplary. So..? And your point is what? We were seventeen years old, full of testosterone and Dad’ root beer, and we all had the huevos to make our ideas into reality. I’ve not met many high school graduates who can say similarly all these things together.

Yet, we never thought of ourselves as entitled to anything; we never whined, complained, or asked for clemency, forgiveness, or chances to make amends when the “throw the book at ‘em” view prevailed. We were as human as our “inquisitors,” only we thought and still think we were and are more humane than they.

We like to stand alone, on our own. We were and are no one’s “patsies,” “yes-men,” “bitches,” or pawns. We were never going to be some adult’s vehicle through which that adult would live vicariously his/her life.

I’ll stop the list right here and point out that most of these are traits we could have had without the prank. What did the prank bring to these traits of special friendships? The prank “amped up” the risks and dangers to which teenagers are prone; we lived “on the edge” when doing pranks more than average. The more risky and exciting our innocent pranks, the more closely-knit became the bonds between us; as we worked together, we saw and felt why we thought so much of each other (the “super-glue” of soldiers and athletic teammates, as I’ve said). We found we were so “good” at pulling pranks together, we never got caught; found out, yes, but never caught red-handed. Success only strengthened the bonds between us, just like going through our “punishments” together brought us closer together. “Super-charged” teen-aged excitement and the success that accompanied it morphed us into irrespressibility. In our “moral ivory tower” of our own making, we were beyond reproach, guilt, or shame. Half those in our world, including most of our peers, seemed to agree.

In terms of our friendships, high school without the prank would still have been a great ride. But with the prank, high school was a hell of a ride! Despite the legacy and love of our mothers, we cannot help but be glad we did it! And, we can only hope that our classmates are glad we did it, too! They have giving us lots of evidence they indeed feel that way.

We defied the stereotypical teenaged “gang” always looking for trouble, so I have always believed we never were a “gang.” We defined what kind of group we were, and it just goes by the name “M-4,” from which exudes the “M-4 experience.” We were never compliant, but we were respectful, even at times when that was difficult to do. We together, not necessarily individually, did not smoke, drink, or curse, but that was just our choice, not a deliberate attempt to be exemplary. Most of us were church-goers and none of us had homosexual tendencies. Each of us had likes, hobbies, and tastes that the other three could try or not, and however any one of us reacted to the others’ likes, hobbies, and tastes did not affect our friendships one way or the other. The M-4 experience did not demand certain behaviors or moralities, nor was it ever burdened by having to accept behaviors or moralities of individual members. Our decisions and directions were always the results of open, honest, egalitarian democracy; whether these results reflected one or more of us as individuals was coincidental, but these results necessarily reflected all four of us. We were and are a meritocracy, each member of which is never threatened by the achievements of the others; on the contrary, we all rejoice in those achievements.

Take one attribute of mine that attracted me to the other three strongly — I loved to be different from everyone else (still do!). I’ve often proudly said I’ve never met anyone in my life like whom I would exactly want to be; I have only one hero, and that is a sports hero — the great baseball slugger Hank Aaron. I admire traits of others and despise other traits of others; I do not look for living or dead examples from others to live by — I take admirable traits from a lot of different people, living or dead, to make them my own and reject the despicable traits of, often, a lot of the same people. I say this bit of personal philosophy to say that the M-4 experience seemed to operate similarly, with our “warts and all” policy and our ever-skeptical respect of others.

Accordingly, it is hard to describe the M-4 experience succinctly; elsewhere (The M-4…And the ‘M’ Stands for… [May, 2012] and above) I gave the M-4 only two definitive adjectives — sneaky and non-exemplary. Even after 50 years, I not sure I want to go much further than that. We still do not like being pinned down and defined, and we still do not go around preaching that people, young and old, need to try to be as we. During my teaching career, I’ve had many “groups” in my classrooms wanting to pull pranks — I knowing about their plans because my students have always known that as long as I hear nothing harmful or dangerous, I will not “squeal” to the administration on them. I demand they read the section from my memoirs on what happened to the M-4 before they proceed with their idea, whatever it is. Only then, after reading, I tell them they can plan knowing what we did not know and thereby I have a “clean conscience” as a champion of student expression; they have been warned. Some groups change their minds; others go ahead with their prank, and, usually, get into trouble for it.

The M-4 experience helped me as a “rookie” teacher in public schools, leading me to the conclusion that the more effective teachers were those who were not “perfect” when they were students; instead of my being frustrated with my students trying to pull stunts and pranks on me, I “smelled the attempts out” before they occurred, thinking to myself how “amateur” as pranksters the students were compared to the M-4. Sometimes I get concerned about how politically conservative or socially prejudiced Adling or Berry sometimes appears nowadays, and I think to myself “he is forgetting his M-4 experience.” I have faith that, for both of them, their “backsliding” is a sneaky M-4-like cover, a covert “distraction” away from their real agendas; conservatism, elitism, and prejudice were and are not part of the M-4 experience. Cole is so true to his M-4 experience, I really don’t know what his political views are, despite our working together regularly trading labor on each other’s ranches!

Would that others who read this have experienced the kind of friendships we had and have as the M-4!


We hope the chair/desk escapade changed the relationships among students, faculty, and administrators at the Cisco schools for classes that followed us in graduation — changed for the better; we hope the aftermath of the escapade will remind both the school and the community, not to mention schools and communities everywhere, that students must be an integral part of solving collective, local, educational problems. Never marginalize a class of students, as was attempted with the class of 1964! And never underestimate the power of teenage dreaming!

It is important to point out the legacy of the M-4 was not created to compare or compete with other school pranks or pranksters associated with Cisco High School or any other school. We came together and planned in complete ignorance and indifference to pranks that preceded us; what had happened in the past was not germane to the “perfect storm” of the school year 1963-1964. Any comparison of what we did with other pranks is a prerogative of others, not a point of interest to us.

What makes the M-4 and our legacy so “gray,” so controversial, and, therefore, I think, so interesting is that we inadvertently exposed the foibles of particular authorities and of authority in general; we laid bare the brute and embarrassing fact that the school administrators at the time and the city officials and police at the time (The Flag Escapade — Phase II [August, 2013]) made inappropriate, myopic, inhumane, childish, and un-called-for decisions; then, they followed up on those decisions with actions and inactions of the same ilk! (not that both groups of authorities did not also make some good decisions and do some good things along the way) How can I say this? Look who’s talking! If anyone can identify inappropriate and childish decisions, it has to be us, the M-4! We sure made our share! But, and here’s the “rub,” ours were not myopic and inhumane; we knew what we were doing and we knew the risks; our “cause” justified our actions in our minds; we were and still are not so sure the same could be said of the school and city administrations back then. Throughout the history of the M-4, just who were the “adults?”

For each of us the M-4 experience and legacy has been of immeasurable aid during our diverse professional lives. The other three have to tell their own stories on this matter, but my story has already been alluded to above in connection with my chosen field of being a high school physics and advanced math teacher for almost 40 years. Beyond help in the classroom, being an M-4 member has allowed me to see quickly that a lot of bad administrative decisions at high levels have been made over the years to bring the state of public education into decline. Simply put, the wrong models — the “business” model and/or the “coaching” model — are/is being used to demote public school teachers into “employees” or “workers” or “team members” who loyalty lies not with their clients, their students, but with the “company,” or “team,” the school. The correct model that has been ignored is the one we saw used back in Cisco High School — the “colleagueual” model wherein teachers are treated like professionals with students as clients (analogous to doctors having patients as clients and lawyers having legal clients). You can imagine how “unfit” I was, as a member of the M-4, to be a “company” guy, to conform to the “cookie-cutter” educational philosophy they attempted to cram down my throat! (For the amusement of those readers who went to Cisco High School back in the 1960’s, can you imagine such “cramming” being done to Mrs. Lee, Mr. Bint, or Mrs. Bailey? How about to our Jr. High Teachers Mrs. Hart and Mrs. Schaefer?) {If you want to pursue this matter further, see my three posts on educational reform, 1: Educational Reform — Wrong Models [May, 2013], 2: Educational Reform — The Right Model [May, 2013], and 3: Educational Reform — How We Get the Teachers We Need [May, 2013].} Being of the M-4, having to leave public schools as a teacher before I wanted caused me no frustration whatsoever; it did increase my concern for my clients, my students.

Is there any public figure that reminds the M-4 of ourselves? I think Johnny Manziel, or Johnny “Football,” the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for Texas A&M does. And not because I am an Aggie and Aggie fan or because Sylvia and I have season football tickets at A&M; and not because of his great skill and jaw-dropping performances on the football gridiron. It is because of the way he was treated by the NCAA and the media when he was under suspicion in the summer of 2013 of making money off his signature, which is against the NCAA rules. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, what was alleged seemed to be “spun” as being as bad as possible, without evidence, just as the chair/desk escapade had to be seen by some as being criminal, without evidence. There was a feeling Johnny needed to be made “an example,” just as was attempted on us. I hope I can speak for the whole group, Johnny, when I say, “We feel for you, man! We not only sympathize, we empathize with you; we know exactly what you have been going through. Hang in there!” And, in the other direction, I like to think Johnny agrees with us when we think about the whole M-4 experience and philosophically muse “The world is a lot ‘grayer,’ not stark ‘black and white,’ than most people think!”

It is merely my opinion, but, back in 1964, the path the school administration should have taken was laid before them clearly, if our information from the faculty meeting concerning our “fate” is accurate — the view of Mrs. Bailey, Mrs. Lee, and Mrs. (Page) (Chapter 8). Something would have been done to us under their view, but the “punishment would have fit the ‘crime';” justice would have been served, and the school would have avoided the divisive chaos “throwing the book at us” caused. As far as we were concerned, had this happened, we would have made our point and would not have, perhaps, felt the need to carry on the legacy of the chair/desk escapade. On the other hand, had this happened, our subsequent “adventures” would have been, if attempted, much less significant in meaning, and our legacy would not have soared near as high. “Gray,” very “gray.”

I shall close with this thought: What if the new administration and the new coaching staff coming in for our senior year in 1963 was enlightened enough to see that the only way they could successfully transition into the new school facility was to heavily involve those who would be most affected by having no high school building — the CHS Seniors of 1964? What if they recognized our immense insights, imagination, abilities, talents, and potential? (All they had to do was look into the Coronation we produced for the Seniors ’63 in early 1963.) If we had spent our energies with the power and where-with-all to actually change the atmosphere from pessimistic resignation to optimistic fun, would there have been a chair/desk prank/escapade at all? As it was, with no such power and where-with-all, and with the adults of the school distracted from us, playing their silly adult games, Adling’s imagination came up with a way we could change the atmosphere of the school from pessimistic resignation to, at least, chaotic (if not optimistic) fun. It took four of us; I was the “how” of Adling’s idea; all four of us were the executioners of the idea; the back-breaking work wrought the change, and our quartet got a new name. Our friendships soared exponentially. Like the school year after February 11, 1964, we and our class were never the same. Long live the memory and legacy of the M-4!


The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 9 (Continued Aftermath and The Birth of a Legacy)

Next, we went to see Mrs. Catherine Cole at Cole’s house. She “took it” better than we had expected, maybe because we appeared to her en masse. Then, we went downtown to City Hall, where Mrs. Lois Adling worked, to break the news to her (In addition to reacting to her son’s involvement, she now for sure knew she had to guard against exposing Bobby’s peripheral involvement (Chapter 8); she might completely forgive Bobby — her son was another matter.) Finally, our quartet visited Mrs. Charlotte Hastings at First National Bank, also in downtown Cisco, where it was difficult for my mother to respond, probably, as she wanted in such a public setting. Generally speaking, our mothers responded to our news with a great deal of disappointment, voicing disbelief we would have done what we did; yet, they all were in agreement the “punishment” did not fit the deed. None of our mothers were “crusading suffragette” types to gather public pressure against the school to come up with a better response to what we did; the times for such responses had not yet come in small towns in Texas. Personally, what was difficult for me to handle was that we could not voice to our mothers how we actually felt — we were proud of what we had done and delighted at the results we had caused already at the school; they would not have “taken” to those sentiments very well at all. Now, our fathers might, but we dared not tell them, either for fear it would get back to our mothers, or for fear it might become a divisive point between our parents, or both. (It was years later when my dad thought it “OK” to let me know something he never told my mother: soon after our admission, he had lots of friends come to him at the meat market counter where he worked at A&P Grocery as head butcher and shake his hand in masculine congratulations; they knew that deep down fathers everywhere would be proud to have sons with the “gall” to do what we had done. The same thing happened to Mr. Berry when he visited downtown at that time.)

Needless to say, our plans to camp out during our “3-day vacation” from school went over like a “lead balloon.” Our parents, in fact, went out of their way to see none of the four of us even saw each other during this time. Cole spent those days mostly working on his dad’s ranch with his uncle, who had “a blast” asking Cole over and over why he wasn’t in school. My dad took some time off and took me to Abilene to buy some college supplies — specifically a foot locker for my anticipated days in Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets — and I had to relay the “embarrassing news” to my aunt and great-aunt, who accompanied us on our trip to do shopping of their own.

Nonetheless, we managed to have contact with our peers during the “vacation,” mostly with certain Juniors, who were working on producing the Coronation. There was a school-wide consensus brewing that thought we had been punished much too severely; we suddenly had a solidarity of support and sympathy. Petitions of protest were circulated and signed by the braver students, all organized by Dr. Addy’s sons, Ervin and Blair. We learned the petitions were squelched by the administration, like King George responding to Patriot calls to resistance. Rumors were piling up about the faculty meeting, like names of teachers who had tears in their eyes over what had been decided about us.

Adling, Berry, and I not getting to live out our King Lobo candidacies not only called consternation with our mothers, it caused a lot of havoc at school. The call for new elections to replace the three of us “blew up” in the administration’s face. Not lost upon the student body was the fact their wishes for who should be King Lobo were being disregarded, as if it was a matter of who the school wanted, not they. The question arose, for whom was the Coronation — the school, the parents, or the students? No doubt what answer was in the students’ minds. When we returned to classes after our expulsion to serve our “probation,” one of the first things the three of us were told was that the prank had no negative effect on their vote; many even said the prank “reinforced” their vote, indicating that the three of us got lots of votes in the original election. The new election was hastily called and held (just for King Lobo candidates, not for Queen candidates and all other members of the court who were elected in the original, “legit” election), and the student body actually told they could not vote for any or all of we three! Many voters in the new election told us they wrote in our names anyway, and, of course, these were ignored. What a “great” lesson in democracy for high school students! As a result of this new election, we three were replaced (Gene Darr and Robert Mitchell, originally elected, remained candidates) by Clark Odom, Earl Carson, and Stan Livingston as King Lobo candidates.

These three were and still are friends of the three of us. (For me, Clark was one of the “study group” at my house (Chapter 2), Earl I had known from first grade and was one friend whose ankles I had taped many times, and Stan I had known just as long and with whom I went through years of Sunday School.) So my comments on the “new” King Lobo candidacies have nothing to do with these three good friends; they have to do with the sham the administration made of the election of King Lobo in 1964. I am not saying that Adling, Berry, or I would have won King Lobo (In fact, Gene Darr, who was elected King Lobo, along with the Queen, Leannah (Leveridge) Darr, was an excellent choice — traditional outstanding athlete — more than worthy to represent our graduation class, CHS Seniors 1964.), but however the election for King Lobo turned out that year, it was the outcome of a “rigged” election — “fudged” by the administration in complete repudiation of the wishes and preferences of the student body. Moreover, it was hypocritical; under the conditions the three of us were elected, Earl would not have been academically eligible; yet when it came to applying the rules in his case as a replacement, a “blind eye” was shown. It also appeared that the three replacements had no choice — they had to participate regardless of how they felt about being placed in such an embarrassing predicament — acting like a winner instead of an “also-ran.” Not only was it a sham, it was a farce for the Senior boys.

The Juniors working to present the Coronation for the Seniors and the rest of the school knew it too. The idea cropped up among them to refuse to put on the Coronation unless the three of us were reinstated as King Lobo candidates. The administration “freaked out” at this, threatening to cancel all future Coronations if they “striked.” It was another bluff; this administration was good at bluffing! (Chapter 8) Specifically, it was emotional blackmail of all the parents of the community who had present children and were to have future children honored in the Coronation. To the calm and rational, any administration who tried to cancel Coronation in Cisco would not have jobs very long! The short-term irrationality of the threat shifted, unjustly in my opinion, blame to the “rebellious” Juniors, and the upcoming Coronation was commanded and pushed forward, under duress and protest, as far as lots of students were concerned.

The Coronation was a public event, so the administrators, even if they had wanted to, could not prevent the three of us attending. However, Mrs. Berry absolutely forbade Berry from attending, citing it would look like he was bearing a grudge. There was no such prevention of the attendance of the other two “ousted” candidates and of Cole, so Adling and I got to see the replacements participate wearing the accessories he and I had helped choose! I had a date with Sylvia for the Coronation, and she was not happy with me for wearing a white formal coat just like the other King Lobo candidates and replacements were wearing in the program (Perhaps she had the same concern as Mrs. Berry, or, perhaps she would have preferred me to be more “humble.”) Adling and Cole went as “stags,” protesting by wearing big, black, broad-brimmed cowboy hats, Adling having borrowed his from me. When the program was over I went down on the gym floor, seeking out Mr. Roach. I found him among the crowd, reached out and shook his hand, and wished him a nice evening. He acknowledged my greeting, but did not look me in the eye.

When the Junior-Senior Banquet was held, traditionally right after the Coronation, Adling “threw” an “alternative party” to the banquet at his house, in honor of the four of us. It was the place to be that night, written up nicely by Kay in the school section of the newspaper; many came over to Adling’s right after the banquet, not staying for the dancing, etc. As a “honoree” to this “shindig,” I dearly wanted to be there, but I had to stay away to placate Sylvia, who was struggling to know how to react to all this, as far as our relationship was concerned. It was possible, again, I was going to lose her. This was one time my love for her trumped my loyalty to the four of us, and I vowed thereafter to do all I could to prevent these two important aspects of my life from ever again coming into conflict.

Speaking again of farces, our month’s “probation” turned out to be the greatest joke of all; that is why I’ve put quotes around the word. I can only guess the administration thought we would passively observe all school activity, lamenting we “took ourselves out of it.” They never understood there was nothing passive about us; we were irrepressible. Take the Student Council, for example, which was presumably stripped of Senior boys because of our “probation.” C. B. Rust, the Vice-President, took over my Presidential duties. Before each meeting, he would meet with me, often accompanied by Berry, Student Council member because of his Senior class Presidency, and Cole, Senior class Student Council representative. We would go over all the items and issues that needed to be discussed; then, after the meeting, C. B. would brief us on what had occurred, and, if I needed to, I could talk also with Seniors Kay (Wallace) Morris — Student Council Treasurer and Alice Ann (Webb) Holliday — Student Council Secretary. Berry, Cole, and I never felt “out of the loop” because of our absence.

We soon found out in our “probation” who sympathetic teachers were and who wanted to “make us an example.” Coach Turner teased us about “singing like canaries,” but we could tell he did not approve of what happened to us; whether true or not, Mr. Hughes made us feel better by saying we did such a good cover-up job, he had become convinced we did not do it right before our admission. We took respectful advantage of the sympathizers, as they went out of their way to make things as “normal” for us as we wanted, and then some. Speaking of my personal experiences, I think I got to do things at school as Student Council President and as President of the Drama Club I would have never got to had it not been for the prank and its aftermath. I was allowed into the “taboo” ground of the teachers’ lounge to mimeograph off copies of the Edgar Allan Poe-like short story collection (entitled “Stories to Ponder”) I had written since my Junior year and allowed to distribute those copies throughout the school; we were allowed, thanks in no small part to Mrs. Mulliner, to put on a play I had written (not quite the Senior Play, but better than nothing), despite there were no theater facilities in the building (Play Rehearsal Night, With a Side of Greased Flagpole [May, 2013]), even though we had been told at the beginning of the year we could have no plays (Chapter 1). The student body was very supportive, treating us like celebrities, both on and off school grounds; our peers went out of their way to keep all four of us informed and “in the loop” just like the three of us on the Student Council.

I took a copy of my short story collection by Coach Cromartie’s house one afternoon after school. He made the remark that it looked like we “had the whole school in the palm of our hands” during and after “probation.” It seemed true. We four began to experience what it was like to be “public heroes” and “household words.” Lee Wallace, Kay’s brother, and “fish” in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M at the time, started referring to us, tongue-in-cheek, as the “Malicious Four,” knowing full-well there was nothing malicious about what we had done. The name made its way to Cisco quickly and it stuck; we used it ourselves for a while, but did not like its implications if not used sarcastically — it misrepresented us, so we took advantage of its popularity and only said “M-4,” letting anyone who heard our story make up their minds what the “M” stands for (The M-4…And the ‘M’ Stands for…. [May, 2012]). The prank, we began to find out, made several radio shows over the State, as well as a few newspapers, although one paper shortchanged us on the number of chair/desks we transported — how dare they! We wanted to document all this publicity, but, given the moods of our mothers, we never did.

It got to where we felt we could steer the student body any way we wanted; they seemed to beg us to organize them in some way to retaliate for the way their voice in the King Lobo election had been eviscerated; we were the de facto leaders of any expression of the student body, not the Student Council or any faculty advisor. For example, one noon hour at school, a group of boys, disgruntled at the rule that students could not be in the main hall at lunch, asked me to lead them on a protest march into the hall. Leading the student “mob” up to the main entrance door where we had done the chair/desk lifting, I soon was facing a very nervous Mrs. (Page) and Mrs. Cotton, faculty hall monitors that day. Seeing their uncertain faces, I realized that if I went through with this piece of anarchy, I would lower the name of the M-4 to a level our detractors would wish we would fall and thereby justify all the unfair treatment we had received in their twisted minds. I acted as if the monitors knew what they were doing and said it was not as good an idea as I first thought; I lost a little prestige, perhaps, in the eyes of the wildest of the “mob,” but I “saved” the reputation of the M-4.

It seems not even new information about February 11, 1964, information that potentially could have caused the M-4 disaster that night, could tarnish our growing legacy. We learned that weather reports for the early morning of the 12th called for a high probability of rain, which, thank goodness, did not materialize; I’m glad we never heard that forecast! Also, Mr. Mitchell, head custodian and Robert’s dad, who lived across Avenue H from the school at the W 12th Street permanent roadblock, said later he thought he heard “strange noises” from the direction of the school before he retired that night and “came within an inch” going to check them out! But, fortunately for us, he decided they must be coming from the religious meeting up the avenue, or, more likely, from neighbors “moving furniture.”

If any of our peers asked us why we did the prank, all we had to do, eventually, is ask him or her if we had come to him/her and asked them to help, what would they have said? Noting our growing fame and the perks accompanying it, the answer always was “I would have said ‘yes.'” We did not have to justify anything about the prank to our peers before long. There was no way we could justify the timing of the prank, given the King Lobo “thing,” to our faculty sympathizers, and there was no way we could justify anything about the prank to our mothers.

Because of the chair/desk escapade, we had inadvertently redefined ourselves. We started out to change the school year, and we ended up changing ourselves as well. Because our friendships were based upon humor at each other’s expense, we had made a set of great friendships even greater; we could take on all the fame the world could bestow, we felt, and we would never get the “big-head.” It had become far, far more than everything one of us becoming King Lobo could have brought on. To this day in Cisco, one is pressed to know who was King Lobo when, but many know the name “M-4″ and the event from whence it sprang.


The Chair/Desk Escapade — Chapter 8 (Admission, “Punishment,” and Immediate Aftermath)

It was a bluff; they were trying to “scare” confession and apology from us. We know now that if they had any evidence against us, they would have brought it up at our “line-up;” we should have asked for their evidence, but their haste in getting us to “confess” would not allow any cross-examination from us; they were deliberately not giving us any time to think clearly. The “college” thing was pure scare tactics; with the rights of students today, they could not have come close to preventing us from graduating and going to college; we never looked into the rights of students back in 1964, but, as discriminatory as they were against students back then, had we had any legal “savvy,” we nonetheless could have received some legal counsel to assure our matriculation to college, if we chose not to “cooperate.”

The title of this chapter says “Admission,” not “Confession.” The difference was the basis of all that was whirring through my head when I was asked to respond first at the end of our “line-up” in Mr. Midkiff’s principal’s office. I was still sure they had no proof we had done it. But, to have confessed would be commensurate with our thinking the deed was somehow criminal, I thought. So adamant was I the deed had been “innocent” and guided by the spirit of fun, the spirit of our friendships, I saw no shame or guilt in admitting I had been a part of it — I was genuinely proud of what we had done and only sorry for the hurt we had caused our mothers. I knew that if the school could derail our plans for college, risking those plans was far more serious than risking anything the administration could do to us in high school. The moment we went to sleep after that successful night of chair/desk work, we, in my opinion, had reaped our reward; nothing coming our way, including King Lobo and Junior-Senior Banquet could equal what we had already received through our own efforts. We had clearly changed the whole school year forever, as we hoped, and the looks we were getting in the office in the “line-up” were but confirmations of how successful had been the change we wrought . And nothing they could do would diminish those rewards we were savoring, but to treat us like criminals and deny us our college education was ludicrous. Whatever we lost in our admission would be a pittance compared to the loss of our futures.

How I replied as first responder under the duress of the line-up has been as unknown or misunderstood as much as why we chose to do the deed before, not after, the Coronation (Chapter 3). We ourselves are partly responsible for this, as the line-up was our first set-back, and to “come clean” with what happened is a blow to our pride; but the truth more than makes up for any loss of pride. My three “compadres” have joked with me that I “confessed” and got us all in trouble, but they know what actually happened as well as I. In truth, I decided to admit my own involvement without implicating anyone else, using such words as “speaking only for myself.” I did not think it through, for it immediately implicated Cole, due to our association that night, a fact Cole has never let me forget! Adling and Berry, however, were free to deny, using their Hamilton basketball game alibi, which, thanks to the silence of people like Anthony and the cooperation of people like Bobby and Larry, was holding up.

(Here was a moment pregnant with possibility, a moment for which we had not prepared, for if we had prepared, we might have opted for one of several different scenarios, any one of which would have made this school year even more fun than it actually became after February 11, 1964: 1) Cole would also admit his collaboration with me, but Adling and Berry would deny their involvement. Then the school would have to continue their investigation, for who would believe only two people did all that work? Cole and I would be heroes to the students and martyrs to almost everyone else. The burden of proof would be on the school to “finger” more than the two of us, and I don’t think they could have done it — probably they would have had to bring back the police for help, much to their embarrassment. 2) Cole would be surprised, saying something like “That’s what you were doing when you slipped out of my house that night?” In other words, with Adling and Berry in denial, I would be the only one who did the deed! That nobody would buy, and would heap upon the school major embarrassment; the rest of my school year would have been hell, as everything would be denied me until I “squealed” on others, but the more that went on, the more heroic I would appear and the more villainous the school would appear. I think I could have held out, for they could not have denied me graduation, since I had admitted I had done it. 3) Anticipating the possibility of being found out, work with the student body without revealing ourselves as the perpetrators, and say that if they find any who said they did it, then we all (or at least a majority of the student body) would say they also did it. What would they do — “punish” half the school? Students, parents, and a lot of the community would be outraged. 4) I (or Cole and I) would be the only ones who confessed, and then hint there were lots and lots who helped me (us), but not Adling, Berry, or Cole (or not Adling and Berry). This would create a similar dilemma for the school as would 3). Perhaps the reader could come up with his/her own scenario. One thing is sure in all this fun speculation about scenarios: had we had the experience and “savvy” of the way things worked in the world during this line-up that we were to gain over the next year or so, then one scenario similar to those described above would not have been so speculative.)

But back to reality. As the “floor” passed to the other three from me, the strength of the bond that had been forged among the four of us in the planning and execution of one prank became apparent. As Berry said, “We couldn’t let you take the blame for what we all committed to.” Whatever was going to happen to one was going to happen to all four — sort of a “Three Musketeers” thing. We were four individuals, but we were loyal and dedicated to each other — to a fault; nothing that could happen to one or all of us could “crack” or weaken the friendships this prank had conjured. Though forged because of the high school, our friendships had transcended the high school.

Each of the other three, down the line (I don’t remember the particular order, except Berry was the last one.), admitted to the deed much as I had done. Each of us implicated only himself. Immediately they acted as if they did not “have everyone,” and asked who else had been involved. This indicated they were in many ways “lucky” to have called in the correct quartet; they merely called in the four most talked about around campus and in the community. We were certainly not going to say anything to hint about Bobby’s and Larry’s prior knowledge of “something” happening (a mode we strictly followed for over three years thereafter, until both of them were graduated), but we did at that moment have the opportunity to “set them off on a wild goose chase” looking for our helpers who never existed. Instead, our pride of being so few to do so much in so little time took over all of us, and we proudly stated that only we had done it all that night. The physical achievement of the prank still remains after fifty years a source of astonishment to many reading or hearing of the deed.

The two administrators, after our admissions and their fruitless “fishing” for accomplices, gave us time to say something else. We supposed they wanted apologies and queries for forgiveness, as if we recognized we had committed something heinous, harmful, shameful, and criminal. To us, there was nothing to apologize for; nothing we had done, as far as we were concerned, needed forgiving (except for the matter with our mothers, which was an issue that was none of the school’s business).

We were dismissed with the announcement there would be a faculty meeting that afternoon after school to decide our “fate,” and we were not to attend. We left the office and went back to class in relief of not having to be so guarded any more; we left in a mental posture that was to mark us for the rest of our “career” as a sneaky quartet — unapologetic, unrepentant, proud, confident, without remorse, and without regret. Not that we were not concerned about what might be our “fate;” but we knew that whatever was going to happen to us, our conscious was “clean;” our “moral ground” was “high and dry.”

Word of our line-up spread like wildfire throughout the school. The rest of the school day we were treated like heroes, kings if you please. Our classmates wanted to know details, how we did it, how we planned it out, and how we got away with it without being caught. The greatest surprise to those who inquired seemed to be how simple the modus operandi was; no one seemed to think of the simple lifting site near the main entrance. We had to demonstrate to them how it worked in between classes before many of them believed it. During sixth period at the community gym Adling, Berry, and I continued to be surrounded by congratulations and questions. Danny Clack made his way through the group around us, reached out, and shook my hand vigorously.

“I said I would shake the hands of those who did it!” he said, as he shook Adling’s and Berry’s also. I like to think we reminded him that if he had not done so, he should not forget to shake Cole’s as well.

To use a term from the 1960’s, we were on a day-long “high” of being school-wide “heroes.” It portended the fact that we were “in” with our peers for the rest of the school year, at least “in” with a majority of them. Our fate was being determined at the secretive faculty meeting after school that afternoon, and we were as clueless as our questioners as to what was going to happen to us. Needless to say, our peers, for the most part, agreed with us that we had to be “punished,” but, surely, the “punishment’ should fit the deed — note I did not say “crime.”

There emerged, after the fact, conflicting reports about what actually happened that afternoon at the “faculty meeting.” The only thing we know for certain is that the prank divided the faculty, the administration, and, later, the community, just as surely as the school bond issue had divided the community back in 1963 (Chapter 1). It was a division over what should be done to us. One report we got was that the first inclination of much of the faculty, including Mrs. Bailey, Mrs. Lee, and Mrs. (Page) was that the whole thing should be forgotten and forgiven, taking into consideration there had been no harm and we had freely admitted we had done it. That position became one way of saying the “punishment” fitted the spirit in which the prank was done. But there was a position strongly opposite that one, one that treated the prank as if it was malicious and criminal — a position fueled by the fear that a light “slap on the wrist” might encourage “copy cats” and would outrage parents and community members who felt no out-of-the-box behavior should go unpunished as a lesson to all present and future students; they needed to make an “example” of us. This “throw the book” attitude was pushed upon the faculty by the school board responding to certain parents and community leaders, we surmised; we heard that for their part Mr. Midkiff and Supt. Roach were sympathetic toward us, reporting the details of our admission to the faculty. Yet faculty members like Mr. Hathaway, Coach Bates, and Mrs. Odom (Clark’s mother), we were told, led the “throw the book at ‘em” faction among the faculty. Not as certain in our information is the “gag order” that was apparently placed upon the faculty by the school board and the administration; teachers seemed “scared shitless” for their jobs when, later on, we pressed some of them for details, so it appeared that to break that order would put, in their minds, their jobs in jeopardy. Compounding all this was the rumor there never was a faculty meeting or a vote, that the faculty was merely told what had already been decided and that they should keep their mouths shut.

With this alleged “gag order,” how did we know so many rumors? One of our sources was Coach Jack Cromartie, who had “fallen in grace” with Coach Bates and knew he had no job in Cisco the following year; a gag order meant nothing to him; he also was sympathetic to the four us, having us all in his fourth period civics class. However, he was so “disgusted with the situation,” seemingly bent upon “hanging” us, he did not even attend the faculty meeting, so his breaking of the “gag rule” was based upon second-hand information told to him by fellow and brave faculty members who also were disgusted. We’ve always wished he had attended, for we know we would have gotten first-hand information from him instead of rumors from other sources.

Regardless (I always like to use the archaic “irregardless” in irritating honor of all my English teachers over the years.) of who was sympathetic to us and who was not, it now seems clear that the “throw the book at ‘em” faction was commensurate with the “take names, sit down, and shut up” posture the new administration and new coaching staff was foisting upon the school district, all backed by what seemed to be a hard-line school board at the time.

Moreover, it appeared, our “punishment” was a “cave-in” to the pressure of the “throw the book” faction subgroup consisting of parents of students whose children had been punished in the past for vandalous acts against the school and of students and community members who thought something like “They won’t punish them!”

To get the “dark side” of this punishment phase out-of-the-way before covering the “fun side,” a true crime, an actual vandalous act was committed in the wake of the prank, for which we, because of the way the four of us were treated, were blamed: several administrators’ tires were slashed while cars were parked in driveways one evening; that means, for the criminally-challenged, knife blades were thrust into the soft sides of the tires to form one long slit, which, of course, deflated the tire and ruined it. Curiously, Lee’s tires were treated the same way, and he was the only student victim. As Keith Starr (Senior classmate who unfortunately did not get to graduate with us) said to me recently, “There was also a lot of bad stuff going on at that time!” There was never any serious consideration we had done it, to the credit of the more rational in the community (We had lots of witnesses of our whereabouts and actions that night.), but what it did for us was to contrast deeds; even our detractors saw how stupid it was to treat what we did as similar to the tire slashing. The tire slashing was never solved, either by the police or by the school. As I’ve said elsewhere, the school administration could catch harmless pranksters; they could not catch actual criminals. The whole terrible incident vindicated in our four minds that we wanted no part of “adult” leadership in our lives, if “adult leadership” means childishly treating playful pranks as malicious acts. As Adling summed it up, “…the administrators showed less character in their action than we did in ours. They sold out to unwarranted pressure.”

Our punishment was to be announced on Tuesday, one week after the prank, the day after the faculty meeting. Mrs. Bailey’s room was vacant the first period, so that was the site where we were gathered, Adling, Berry, and I plucked from Mr. Bint’s class and Cole “fished” from band. Now it turned out (I can’t make this stuff up!) Berry had a radio devotional on the county radio station that morning to deliver, and when we told Mrs. Bailey about that, she had to “fish out” Mr. Roach to get our meeting going (We suspect Mr. Roach was deliberately making us “sweat” and wait.). Mr. Roach, now knowing about Berry’s appointment, hurried up and “pronounced sentence,” to which we listened very calmly throughout. But he “blew it” with us with the way he ended, after he went over what was to happen to us. Perhaps because we were not showing remorse, and, therefore, were walking affronts (at this moment, sitting affronts) to the authority of the school, he tried to bully us once more. Among our “punishments” he told us earlier was three days’ expulsion — which immediately became a 3-day vacation in our minds — and Adling was told in a high-handed, intimidating tone he could not come back until he cut his hair so it did not touch his ears. (How’s that for dating all this crap?)

As I said, we were expelled for three days; Adling, Berry, and I were prohibited from participating in the Coronation — the ballots making us King Lobo candidates would be discarded and a new election would be held to find our replacements (In addition to our already choosing our accessories, our names were already printed on the Coronation programs.); for each day we were expelled, 3 points would be taken off our six-weeks average, for a total of 9 (A few years after 1964 a similar case wherein a school tried to take away points for a prank was taken to court. The court ruled taking away points could not be done, as part of students’ rights. Pity they couldn’t make that ruling retroactive! As it was, those 9 points off my grades in the end caused me not to be the valedictorian at graduation about three months later, allowing Kay (Wallace) Morris to be valedictorian and Clark Odom to be salutatorian. I’ve never let them forget that! I know all this because Mr. Midkiff, just before graduation, allowed me to see my grades and calculate my overall grade average without the 9 points off and compare it with the averages of my fellow honor graduates. So strong academically was our class (Chapter 2), the 9 points off dropped me to fourth.); we could not participate in the Junior-Senior Banquet; we were to serve a month’s “probation,” during which we were prohibited from participating in any extracurricular activity, like the Student Council, on which Berry, Cole, and I served.

We were more concerned about getting Berry off in time than we were about reacting to Mr. Roach’s pronouncement and tongue-lashing of Adling. As I’ve tried to argue, anything they could do to us could not “crack” us; the reward we had already gotten had far exceeded anything they could take away from us. We just wished our parents (read “mothers”) could have seen it that way. After we were “released” and after Berry finished his devotional on the radio, we knew we had to go report to our parents. Making sure we gave no satisfaction to Mr. Roach, by listening to him “stone-faced,” as soon as he was finished and gone, we went to our classrooms to get our books for our “3-day vacation.” which was to begin immediately. Walking into Mr. Bint’s class to get our school stuff, it was like four “dead men walking” to our peers; the class was stone silent, probably for the first moment of the whole school year! We ushered Berry off to the radio station, and, before we left the school grounds, Adling, Cole, and I began making plans to go camping during our “vacation,” as part of our “shaking off” what we had just heard; probably at this moment we would have admitted to being “a bit stunned” hearing our “sentence,” yet we were far from down-hearted. By this time we were prepared for the worst, and we felt we got it; the classlessness that had been thrust upon us was by now morphing into vindication of our conviction that for more adults than we thought, the joy of youth had dried up within them and blown away; it was sad, but it was hard for us to feel sorry for them.

There was no way we were going to tell our mothers as anything less than as a quartet. So, we had to wait for Berry to finish his devotional before we began probably the hardest part of the whole escapade — a lot harder than actually doing the physically demanding prank — telling the very people who loved us, but, who could never, ever, understand why we did it. Adling, Cole, and I gathered at my house (Both my parents were on the job.) to listen to Berry’s devotional on my transistor radio (Great clue for dating all this!). He did a great job. We waited for Berry to join us at my house (a plan “in the works” before Berry left the school before the rest of us), and then collectively we set out to do the “hard part.” We decided to go to Berry’s house first.

Mrs. Bonnie Berry had already received a couple of phone calls complimenting her son on his devotional by the time the four of us arrived, much to her surprise and puzzlement. In fact, we had to wait for her to finish one such call after we walked into the kitchen, where she was using the wall-mounted kitchen phone. As she hung up, she proudly told Berry it was another congratulatory call to him; then, she realized we were all there during school hours, so she asked the obvious. It is hard to imagine the mixed emotions she must have experienced at our answer, with Berry doing most of the talking to her and with visions of devotionals and expulsions in her head! We stayed to allow her to get over her shock and consternation. Then we left for the next “leg” of our “tour.”


Post Navigation