We were born in 1940 or 1941. America entered WWII in both the Pacific and Europe in Dec. 1941. We were the babies of WWII. Many of our fathers were drafted, others worked as civilian employees of the Armed Forces; some of our mothers also worked for the war effort. Many of us remember hearing the droning of warplanes in the skies above us and whispered war talk amongst the big ones around us. Perhaps we remember seeing newspapers with large black headlines and editorial cartoons of the German and Japanese monsters. Our parents and relatives listed to war news on the radio and we could tell they were worried; and we knew to be very quiet. Flour, sugar, coffee, eggs, and gasoline were among the rationed commodities; we needed coupons to get our rationed amount and trips to the grocery store had to include our coupon books.
Although much of our early home life was centered on the war, we had in many ways a normal childhood. Before most of us can remember we were read to as children. As we grew we could remember the storybooks with pictures. And, at about the same time we became radio listeners. It was easy for us to listen to the words from the radio and make pictures in our minds We were the last generation to have a fully developed "mind's eye". We created our own stories; we could see the characters and the action. We were inventive in our play. We could play alone or be a character in another child's story. Our ability to "see" before we could read has never failed us for we are visually oriented - always seeking to describe the pictures we can see in our mind's eye or trying to get the picture someone is giving us.
For outings we were taken to visit other people with children, relatives, and sometimes, the movies. Cowboy movies in the mid forties were the very best. Many of us learned morals and manners from Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, Red Ryder and Little Beaver, Hopalong Cassidy, Tom Mix and other great men of the Old West. Radio taught us to laugh from the likes of Amos and Andy, Jack Benny, Fibber McGee and Molly (Can we all remember what happened when he opened the door of the closet?). They were great teachers and we knew them; for we could see everything in our mind's eye.
We were taught manners in our homes. We knew not to bother things that were not ours; we knew to sit still quietly, to call the big ones sir and ma'am and to say thank you and please. When we went places we used our manners and when we were praised for being polite, we felt good.
The war ended in 1945. Some of us can remember the joyous celebrations.
When we entered 1st grade we were introduced to the world of our peers. We began to make friends. At recess we played together on the monkey bars, slides, swings, seesaws, and, of course, we chased each other. In our classrooms we had to sit quietly so we could learn; this was not hard for us. At the end of 1st grade we could print. We learned the pledge of allegiance and the words to the Star Spangled Banner. Each day began with a prayer.
Our elementary education was based on challenge and mastery. By 6th grade we could add and subtract; divide and multiply. We knew American History; and who invented the cotton gin. We knew north, south, east, west, and we could read maps. We knew where each of the 48 states were and their capitols. We could find Australia, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe on maps; we knew their major rivers. Some of us had dictionary drills. We knew words: spelling and meaning.
Our favorite games in elementary school included jacks, tops, softball, jump rope, marbles, red rover, mother may I, hide and seek, hop scotch and roller skating. Girls wore pretty dresses; boys wore jeans and shirts ... and we chased each other.
For fun we played with our friends or we went to the movies on Saturday afternoons. We only needed a quarter: 15 cents for the movie, popcorn and cokes, a nickel each. We were treated to cartoons and scary serials such as Buck Rogers and Superman, then our beloved cowboy heroes. Girls went with girls and boys went with boys, but sometimes boys and girls sat together and maybe held hands.
Our radio shows now included Baby Snooks, Buster Brown, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Big Jon and Sparky, Sky King AND the Soap Operas: Our Gal Sunday, One Man's Family, Young Widow Brown and Portia Faces Life. We avidly read "Funny" books now called comics. Some favorites were Little Lulu, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, Superman, Lone Ranger, and Batman and Robin.
During the elementary school years, boys were learning to play games with rules: baseball football, basketball. Girls learned to play some games with rules but they didn't really enjoy them the way boys seemed to. By third grade most little girls knew what kind of husband they wanted; having chosen hair and eye color, profession, height, weight from what was available around them. They most likely had decided how many children they wanted and had chosen names. Most little boys did not know this. They were busy playing games with rules.
The big world around us was changing rapidly. The post war economy was booming. The US was a manufacturing giant in the 50's. The northeast factories produced all clothing apparel. Michigan produced steel and the car manufacturers were located there. West Texas produced oil and gas for the new plastics industry and to keep America moving with gasoline.
Most of as had new cars after the war and we traveled. Did any of us have a Nash Henry J or a Packard? Maybe a Kaiser or a Frasier? How about a Studebaker?
The creativity that developed the US war machine spawned so many new inventions. Our parents prospered as America developed new companies and new jobs. Some of us lived in one of the tract homes built after the war. There were so many and built mostly of wood or shingles with some brick. They were small and close together and they looked all alike. These neighborhoods were wonderful for children.
When we needed clothes, we went to J. C. Penney's, Sears and Roebuck, Montgomery Wards department stores down town. Girls shopped in the women's department. We bought women's clothes in small sizes. There were no teen-aged clothes. When we shopped for shoes we could put our feet in the X-ray machine and we could see if the shoes fit and if there was growing room.
Post war catchwords were "Modern" and "Electric." The modem kitchens of the early 50's had electric pop-up toasters, electric stoves, electric skillets and grills, electric irons with steam, and electric mixers. Many of these items were purchased with either Gold Bond or Green S&H trading stamps. We ate at chrome tables with Formica tops. Our bathrooms and kitchens had the very latest in tile - Seafoam Green, or Hot Pink or Canary Yellow. WOW!!!
For those of us living in West Texas we shall never forget the horrible sandstorms rolling in from the north and the polio epidemic that plagued us in the 4th grade. And we shall always remember Miss Selma Rae Henry reading and telling stories to us at the Ector County Library.
We entered Jr. High in 1953. The Korean War that began in 1950 was ending in 1953. It was the year Stalin died in Russia, and Mount Everest was climbed by a white person WHICH WAS REALLY BIG NEWS. When Crick & Watson discovered the double helix nature of DNA; finally, the ancient cadesus symbol made sense.
We were thirteen now and Jr. High was different. We now had to move from classroom to classroom with different teachers for each subject. And we had gym class instead of recess AND changed clothes in the locker room with everybody else. Our classes included Texas History, Reading and Spelling, Algebra, English, and the dreaded and hated Health, and various classes called electives.
We still loved movies but they were changing. We traded in cowboy heroes for Doris Day, Betty Grable, Gene Kelly, Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and we watched them sing and dance in musicals and live out history in epics.
During our Jr. High years many of our young men got part-time jobs as newspaper deliverers, lawn mowers and grocery sackers. They saved their money for they had an objective a purpose ... a sacred dream. They wanted a car. In the 50's young men could buy a car for very little money and they could work on them and fix them up.
We wore full skirts with lots of petticoats, blouses or sweaters, neck scarves, cinch belts, head bands, pony tails, bobby socks, and penny loafers and Tri-Hi-Y sweaters; and, of course, the ever - hated "Gym Suits". Young men wore jeans and shirts. Would anyone like to try this hula hoop???? We carried "beats" on our notebooks and had friends sign them. Our social lives were limited to mostly flirting in class and sizing folk up, deciding what we liked and didn't and the dances. Sometimes we roller skated with partners or met friends at movies, but for most of us formal dating didn't began until ninth grade. Many of us took driver's education in 9th grade and were then able to drive with a licensed driver in the front seat.
By the summer of 1956 most of our homes had TV sets. And from there ever after we had pictures given to us daily. We were fascinated and we watched everything. What a miracle. !!! Our TV KOSA came on line 1/1/55 and broadcast the first Orange Bowl seen on television in West Texas. KOSA in Odessa and KMID in Midland did not start broadcasting until 6 p.m. and then we saw Gorgeous George wrestling in California. Later, they began programming at 4 a.m. and we watched Crusader Rabbit brought to you by Bunny Bread. We remember Milton Berle, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Quiz Shows, mystery shows, Dragnet, and variety shows. All early TV was LIVE. and we were mesmerized. Our family time had changed from activities and play and sit down dinners to television shows with our food on TV trays. We did believe everything we saw on TV; even the commercials. We loved the commercials.
In the fall of 1956 we began high school. Again it was different. There were so many of us. We chose our high school plan and began attending classes. Those of us who had not dated began dating as Sophomores. It was a brave new world for all of us. Our dates could be a football game, movies at the Ector, Scott, Rio, Plaza, or the Lyric theatres downtown, or maybe either the Bronco, Twin Terrace, or Plains drive-in theatre. We had dances on the tennis courts at OHS and Floyd Gwinn Park or at the Youth Center on East 13th St., with always a stop at Day's or Roy's or Nickie's drive-ins for a coke. Weeknights we pitched in money for gas and cruised the drive-ins, found a place to park and ordered cokes - cherry cokes, lime cokes, vanilla cokes, chocolate cokes, coke floats or Purple Cows, cherry limes, malts, root beer, or Dr Pepper. Sometime we never made it to the drive-ins but we always told our parents we were going to get a coke. We spent hours on the telephone and hours getting ready for school or for dates. And some how we studied and wrote term papers and passed tests.
AND,we learned to dance. Almost overnight we went from Pattie Page to Rock 'n Roll. The best music in the Universe was ours. And it still is! It is ours because we invented the dances. We had learned to dance in Jr. High at dances held in Bowie, Bonham, and Crockett. And then, some of us took dance lessons at Montilla Dance Studio at Texas and 12th St. WE DID THE BOP to the music of: Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, The Coasters, Bill Haley and the Comets, The Platters, Mickey and Sylvia, and, of course, ELVIS. In Odessa, Texas We had Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison - the Gods of our music and we loved them.
We worshipped '56 and '57 Chevy's and Fords with lowered rear ends, fender skirts and the throaty roar of glass packs. There were drag races pitting cars and drivers against each other on every stretch of road in and around Odessa. Cars were the crowning glory of the '50's. They were made of metal and they were heavy. Some had long fins, large grills, wood interior, really good radios, and bench seats. We could sit next to each other - but we had no air conditioning. To accommodate all the cars the US started an Interstate Highway System in 1956.Soon we were zooming state to state in no time. What a Life!
Young women had slumber parties ... many slumber parties. Funny name that --- for we rarely slept. More likely, we pushed the hostess's car out of the garage, jumped in --- still in our baby doll pajamas --- and began to think of something to do to somebody. It was good fun; no damage to person's or to property. Young men knew where the slumber parties were and sometimes tried to crash them.
The full skirts and petticoats gave way to long skirts with dyed-to-match sweaters, sack dresses, cardigan sweaters buttoned down the back and our favorites: the neck scarves. Pixie hair cuts replaced many ponytails. Casually, we wore Daddy shirts with jeans or pedal pushers and wool Bermuda shorts with long socks. And some of us had our Hi-Y sweaters. In Jr. High and High School once a year we had Western Week; then and only then could women wear pants or jeans to school. Men still wore jeans and shirts; but they had either a flattop or a ducktail hair cut. Of course, some of our Future Plumbers of America wore their jeans slung very low. And yes, we still chased each other but these days more folks were getting caught.
The Cold War that began after WWlI between the United States and Russia was continuing to escalate. In 1957 the USSR shocked the world by launching two satellites into earth orbit. Sputniks I and II heralded the beginning of the Space Race. And it was always said to be their German Scientists versus our German Scientists. The US response was to establish the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct space research. By the way, the silicon chip was invented in 1958.
We were aware of world events but we honestly did not see how they affected us. In truth, they created the fabric and set the design of the world we were to soon enter as young adults.
How soon? Well, fall of 1958 we began our Sr. Year. Fall? Odessa?---only one word--- FOOTBALL!!! The Broncos had a good season. We won 7 of the 10 games; we beat the dreaded Pasadena.
Our basketball team was just as awesome. They won District. We had good swimming and golf teams, as well as a great track team. Our baseball guys were outstanding in 1959. They won District, Bi-District, Regional, and we made it to the Semi-finals. Our tennis teams also did very well. We had a good tennis coach and some very able student leaders.
We must also remember others who represented us. In the fall of 1958, we elected Carol Manness as our Homecoming Queen. Her Attendants were Judy Bethel, Mary Graham, Jane Murrell, Caron Sramek, Sandra Steele and Judy Tripp. Sandra Steele was our Football Sweetheart, (and of course our gym suit queen). Band Sweetheart was Gail Burnett. VlC chose Vicki Davis as their Sweetheart. Caron Sramek was ICT Sweetheart and Marianne Settles was FFA Sweetheart. Nancye Pittman was our DE Sweetheart
Bronco Cheerleaders were Jane Murrell, Sandy Whitely, Jack Smith, Sandra Steele, John Penninger and Marilynn Stepp. We will always be so proud of our Valedictorian Miss Dorothy) Ritchey and our Salutatorian Miss Marlee McConnell. We could not believe the awesome beauty of Miss Caron Sramek so we selected her as Senior Prettiest. James Bryant dazzled us with such good looks that we elected him Most Handsome. We decided Janice Holloway and David Harris were the Most Dependable. Jane Murrell and Ronnie Goodwin were our favorite seniors. Carolyn Schroeter and Don Brownlee were Belle and Beau of the Junior-Senior Prom. We selected Mary Graham and Sandy Whitely as Mrs. and Mr. O.H.S. We will always remember and our team spirit and our pep rallies but, perhaps, mostly, we will remember each other. Those of us who are here tonight and those of us who are not. So let us remember all of us.
This passage is the last paragraph on page 197 in our 1959 Annual:
This, our final year at O.H.S, will always be, by far the most remembered year. Kid's Day, Senior Day, Career Day, and our last high school prom are all events that we'll never forget, As we leave school, we know that we have learned and loved learning, and that, while we take with us wonderful memories, we leave a little bit of us at Odessa High School!!!!
We were graduated in May of 1959 - and were off to take our places in the world. But never let us forget:
We were special! We were the last generation not to be influenced by television as Children and we were the last graduating class before the '60's. We were the last class before Permian..
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