Written by John McElligott
I met Melinda at the A&W Root Beer out by the Fiesta Drive Inn Theater in the Summer of 1961. I was 15 years old and Melinda was 3yrs older than me. Melinda had just finished her freshman year at Texas Tech, and I was working as a life guard & manager at Half Park. I saw her driving around a wheelchair bound senior from MHS, who I saw every day at school but did not know her name. I said, “Hello”. I knew Melinda from Austin Junior High when I was in the 7th grade and Melinda was a Cheerleader in the 9th, and I was a big fan!
I never met Melinda face to face or talked to her before that night. I was out with Mike Murphy and other lifeguards from the pools in Midland. We were eating our burgers and drinking something, but not root beer. I spent the rest of the evening talking to Melinda and her companion. I was smitten with her at once, and spent the rest of the summer every day and evening as much as I could possibly arrange.
I lived at Mike’s that summer and did not have a driver’s license yet, but did have a learner’s permit. So when I finished my summer school English class at Lee High, I would go to clean the pool up for the day and call Melinda for a date. She would drive, and I would just stare at her. It was the best two months of my young life. Melinda was beautiful and always smiling, and I could not wait to see her every afternoon when we would meet somewhere in Midland.
It was the best time of my life. One day, I talked by Dad into letting me take his car, and since Melinda had a real driver’s license, we (I drove) went to Balmorhea State Park swimming. Well we had a great day and l thought she had just hung the moon!!!
Well, driving back to Midland that afternoon, I was playing Mr. Cool, and was slouched down in the driver’s seat so far that you could not see me driving. Well the Highway Patrol pulled me over and wanted to see my license and so my permit was produced and he asked if Melinda was my parent? I said, “No”, and he asked Melinda for her license and proceeded to read me the riot act and made me sit up straight. Well we laughed all the way back to Midland and we went to A&W and the Fiesta Drive Inn. I was definitely falling for this beautiful older 18 year old TT student.
Well we did not miss a moment together and I was in heaven, but then something happened. Melinda called me one afternoon at the Pool and said we could not see each other anymore. I was floored and asked why? Melinda’s mother worked for the Midland Police Dept. and she found out that I had been detained at the jail along with WG and Gene the night of the 1961 Prom. I was shot down from the best thing that had happened in my life. Melinda was a dream come true and now I was headed into my worst depression since I ran away from home the summer of 1960.
The good news is I have a photographic memory, and I will never forgot her ever. We tried to find her almost a year before she died, but she was not answering her phone. However, thanks to a photographic memory, Melinda is there whenever I want!! Also, I don’t have to worry about getting pulled over when I dream about her, and also thankfully I now have a driver’s license!
RIP Melinda and I still love you!!!.
If anyone has pictures of Melinda or stories please send to us “water drinkers”.