Written by John McElligott
The last year was fun, fast and full of excitement, but nothing compared to the summer with George McBride, Mike Murphy, Arvol Brown, and a host of younger classmates from a younger generation. I spent that summer running around in a Speedo.
Thank God, I took summer school English under Mr. Cummings from LHS and not from Francis Carter, MA Rice University. I told my brother, Bruce., not to miss summer school but he was in love and did not have time.
Well I did graduate on time! Bruce waited until August of 1963 since he and others did not make the cut due to that class. Plus, my summer school experience was made easier since I gave Mr. Cummings kids a ride home from Hogan Pool several times a week. Good life guard!! Wearing a Speedo all the time had its advantages, and unfortunately, underwear will never be the same.
My best and most fun class was Biology with Mr. Hoyle and my lab partner was Gracie McIntyre. We smoked the class since we both loved the class and smiled all the time.
Swimming became my passion and Gere Gaige, Don Goodson and I became captains of the team.
In addition Gere Gaige, James Dunn, John Braun and I won the University of Texas Swim Meet Medley Relay in the fall of 1962. Competing from the 7th lane (last to qualify) we kicked ass and took names. No one wins the relay championship in the last lane since you swallow more water and usually default. But the Rocket Man (Gere Gaige) blasted off and James kept us even until Starman (me) blasted off followed by the Junior on the Team, John Braun, who never looked back and we won hands down.
Years later when I came home from the military, Harry Miller said we made HS All Americans. Something I loved to hear even to this day.
The rest of the year was hanging out with Todd Southern, Bill Buskirk (AKA Buzzard), and Bill Cumbie. Mike Murphy and Arvol took up their normal school projects… Acting, singing and, in Arvol’s case, lecturing women on his still famous romance stories. Todd and Buzzard became swim team partners and travel comrades to Juarez and Balmarhae. Now, Bill Cumbie reunited me with Billy Pitman who’s family lived behind Bruce and me in Terminal. We had a evening program where Billy bought the beer and Bill and I (underage) drank most of it on old back roads between Midland and Terminal. Interestingly, when I came back from the military and a student at NTSU (after leaving Baylor), I worked for Billy and WG was a salesman.
Now going back to my senior year… swimming was my life and MHS won district and Doug Russell began his quest to the Olympics. I hope Gere Gaige can add to this wonderful last swimming season.
I made my way to Odessa College where I met up with Paco aka Nugent Brasher and this is when I found out I was smarter than I thought.
Now September 6, 1963 was when I became a father, and this was a difficult but delightful change in my demeanor and dedication. I knew I would not be a great partner, but I was determined to become the best father and friend to my son and he was the little brother I never had.
(*See in later years “The Best Deal I Ever Made”).
Again, Nugent was my mentor and soon I knew my son and his mother needed benefits. So that spring of 1964 when Nugent left Odessa College, I joined the Navy and we never saw each other again. However, what Nugent taught me made me want to excel no matter what I was attempting the rest of my life.
More to come. Hopefully Paco will add to the story.