Part 2- MAX BERRY, MHS CLASS OF 1959

Read Part 1 here:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/whatsinthewaterinmidlandtexas.com/2254

POST NOTE

A friend recently (July, 2020) asked me to elaborate on the three items listed above under DUBIOUS CLAIMS TO HIGH SCHOOL FAME (should be SHAME).  I have done so, and if you want to waste the next five minutes of your life, read on.

PHOTO ON THE TRUANT OFFICER’S WALL

In spite of what people may think, I was not a ‘truant.’  I really liked going to school.  I was not any good at it, because I pranked around too much, but I liked the camaraderie, and I liked watching the girls.  But I had a co-worker who was a truant of sorts, and who, by the way, was supposed to graduate with the Class of ’57, but didn’t.  Through no fault of his own (yeah, right!), he ended up on the Truant Officer’s ship list.  One day, after my last class, I was on my way to work.  I saw my friend walking down the hallway, and I asked him where he was going.  He said the Truant Officer (TO) sent a note to his class saying he wanted to see him.  I had nothing better to do for the next thirty minutes, so I went with him.  Come to find out, my friend had missed the previous day of school, and the TO wanted to know why!  My friend said that he had bought a barbecued chicken at a quick-stop store, ate the whole thing, and it had given him a severe case of food poisoning.  So the TO called my friend’s mother to verify his excuse.  She said he had been running at both ends the previous night and most of the next day, but got over it by evening time.  Kind of made the TO mad, that he couldn’t stick it to my friend.  So he looked at me, and asked what I was doing there?  I said, “I don’t know, and I’m leaving.”  He said not until I get your picture and name!  So my photo ended up on the TO’s office wall, and I WAS INNOCENT, TOO!

And just thinking about it, I believe the quick-stop store mentioned above was the first one in Midland.  It was located on Illinois, about a block or so west of the Andrews Highway intersection.  I knew one of the guys that worked there.  He closed up late one night, placed the store’s money bag on top of his car while he unlocked it, and then drove off with it still up there.  When he walked into his house he noticed the money bag was missing.  In a panic, he ran out to his car to re-trace his route, but found the bag, still on top of his car.

THE COMMODE ON TOP OF THE HIGH SCHOOL CAPER

A friend’s dad had replaced a commode in their house, and told his son, my friend, to haul the old commode to the dump.  He carried it around in the trunk of his car for several weeks while the gang tried to come up with something sinister to do with it.  (We were going to leave it in the middle of the Wall and Big Springs intersection, but decided not to.) Finally, someone suggested we put it on top of the school building, and everybody agreed that that was a good idea.  (Notice here that it was NOT my idea, being the sweet, dumb angel that I was at the time.)  Well, somebody knew where the school maintenance guys kept their ladders, so late one Sunday night some of us climbed up on the roof, then using ropes and muscle, lifted that commode up to the roof.  We also had to pull the ladder up to use it to get up to the level where we were going to set the commode, which would be over the main entrance of the new (West) end of the building.  Then we had to lower the ladder back to the ground so we could get off the building.  The whole thing turned out to be a lot of work.  We made a pact with each other that nobody would say anything about it for fear that all of us would be kicked out of school.

Come Monday morning, nobody noticed the commode where we had put it.  It was removed after about the third of fourth day.  No comments; no hullabaloo; no nothing.  We decided that that had turned out to be more work than fun, and we should have put it in the Wall Street intersection.  Next time!!

TRAFFIC TICKETS GALORE

Not much to tell here; you break the law, you get caught, you pay the penalty.  Nine of my thirteen tickets were for excessive noise.  The other four were for what I considered to be minor infractions of the traffic laws.

I had put headers on my old beat-up ’50 model, 6 cylinder Chevrolet.  They dumped into Glasspak mufflers, then out tailpipes that stuck out just in front of the rear tires.  It had a sweet burble when idling, and would rattle windows when revved up.

But my old car was pretty easy to spot.  The original paint was that standard Chevrolet pea soup green.  I had to replace the front end after a wreck, and used parts off a black Chevy.  And it had gray primer spots all around the sides.  So I was easy pickins for John Law.

The first ticket was on a Saturday night.  Kids were lined up outside the Yucca Theater, waiting to get in for the midnight show.  I cruised down the street, and racked my pipes.  They sounded really good between the tall buildings.  But a cop was sitting just around the corner, and pulled me over.  That was the start of my bad luck.

This same cop wrote probably six out of the thirteen tickets for me.  He was always very nice.  Even called me Mr. Berry.  It got to where he would have his ticket mostly filled out before he even got out of his car.

I think those tickets were costing me like $12.50 each.  (You paid your tickets at a window in the City Hall.)  I could not afford many more, so I installed stock mufflers on my old car to quieten it down, but it was too late.  Seemed like every time I went out, I got stopped.  I think the word was out on me.  Infractions included no signal when making a turn, speeding on Wall Street, speeding on Illinois Street, and taking off too fast from a stop sign.  Everybody else did those things with impunity.  And finally, when I went in to pay my thirteenth ticket, the lady informed me that I had to make an appointment to see the Judge.  I told the judge that excessive noise tickets did not count as traffic law violations.  He said that was not what it said in his law books.  (Yeah, acting as my own lawyer worked out just fine.)   He revoked my driver’s license for 90 days.  And this just happened to include the last 60 days of my senior year.  Talk about misery.

As for my old Chevrolet, I fell out of love with her, towed her to the scrap metal yard, and had her put down.  May she rest in peace.

And I have been a law abiding citizen pretty much ever since.  My last traffic citation was in 1975 (speeding, of course).

And that now reminds me of my very first ticket.  One day in 1955, I got caught on my Cushman motor scooter doing 48 in a 30 zone going south on North Big Springs.  I had a 50 MPH brown norther at my back, and I was flying.  Got caught by radar; never even heard of it before.  And I have often wondered since then why they didn’t say something about no license or insurance.

On another subject, does anybody remember the ’55 T-Bird that Walgreens gave away when they opened their store there on Illinois and the Andrews Highway in 1955?  I think it was light blue, with a white hard top that had porthole windows.  You had to be 18 or older to enter; I was 14, but I had more than one hundred tickets in the drawing basket.  (I had swiped one of their ticket books, took it home and filled out every ticket.)  I just knew I would win!  I was even worried about where I was going to keep it.  About my only option was down the alley, through the gate, and into the backyard.  But I didn’t win it.  Heart-broken again.  Some old lady (35 or 40 at the time) won it.

THE END

(See, I told you that you would be wasting your time reading this drivel, so it’s your own fault.)

5 thoughts on “Part 2- MAX BERRY, MHS CLASS OF 1959

  1. Mike Morris July 31, 2020 / 9:25 pm

    Outstanding stories, Max! Loved how you got your picture made…and the toilet story really “moved” me. But the ticket adventures really were close to my heart because almost the same things happened to me and “Old Blue”, my 50 Olds 88, 2-door. I’ll include my car adventures when I conclude my input with my high school years…soon to come, I hope! Good job…I laughed a lot!

  2. John McElligott, Tom's Little Brother! August 3, 2020 / 2:32 pm

    Well guys I was too young to know what a car and a loud tail pipes could do to but we had dumps on our 57 Chevy. So when the cops would come close we just shut the dumps down and only open them up when we were drag raising on on old Andrews Hwy. You know I have never had a ticket in my life. Now I have been arrested once for sleeping in the back of a car while my two friends broke into a ice house without my permission. I spent the night in Jail and they went home. So much for protecting Gene Clark and Bill Godwin.

    • Max Berry August 12, 2020 / 9:25 pm

      Were they stealing ice, as in frozen water?

      And do you remember Jimmy Chilcoat and/or Pete Henderson? They both lived at the Terminal in their younger days. I think Jimmy’s Dad was a cop of some sort, and Pete’s Dad managed a produce warehouse.

  3. jmcelligottohswestcom January 4, 2021 / 4:31 pm

    Jimmy and my bother Tom were good friends. Jimmy picked on me and my brother Bruce until we grew up and were bigger than he was. I left for the military and 71/2 years later he was overwieght and now a pilot for some oil company. His father was a policeman and we never saw him or his mother. Bar hoping in Odessa was the only time I saw Jimmy since we raced go carts. Jimmy all ways cheated and would run us off the track.

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