Polly Langley Hyatt-Class of 1959

We were always gypsies, and not just because of Shell Pipeline. I grew up in a car with 3 siblings and a set of determined parents, (both with college degrees); daddy the coach and mother the music teacher. A shy but adventurous child, my earliest memories were of living in Shelton Station oil camp in MO near the ‘pump station; located in a wild forest; I thought I was goldilocks even though my hair was black.

I crossed the cattle guard more than once to look for the 3 bears. Anyway, I was quite independent for a 3 year old and ran off into the forest regularly for which my mother made me wear a dog collar hooked to the clothesline (wouldn’t CPS love to hear this story).

One morning I told Mrs. Sanders to go home so my mother could get her housework done. She left crying. Turned out that she was head of the draft board and my father (who was too old and had a bum knee) was drafted… Three weeks later, it came. My mother opened a box filled with my father’s clothes, (we could smell our Daddy in that little box, weird).

In a few days mother packed up my little sister (she was only 1), our Cocker Spaniel and me and we boarded a troop train in Tahlequah, OK bound for Ft. Lewis, WA. I still remember riding on the little ‘take-me-along’ bag because there was no seat for me. The soldiers stood on the train but ran from the train at each stop for our food -I had to eat baby food, what an insult! Anyway, WWII made its mark on me. We lived on the base and wore dog tags (used to know my number, yes, they were real, with the tooth notch, too).

After the war, my dad went back to Shell Pipeline as a Right-of-way and Claims Adjustor and for the next 25 years his job was to convince landowners to ‘want’ Shell build a pipeline across their land. His great victories were celebrated at home with admiration for our dad, including special dinners/deserts. My mother so loved my dad that our lives were devoted to his goals. Many families split when they were asked to move to a new territory (commonplace in oil company families); but not ours, mother made .sure we knew where we were moving (brochures making virtual tours of the new towns and their history) so we often knew more about our new home than those who had lived there for many years.

But, Midland was different. We had been told and believed that we would never move again when we were transferred to Colorado City (CCity); in just two years Shell moved West Texas headquarters from CCity to Midland; it made us sad to leave that tiny town. Midland overwhelmed me and I became shy again, blushing at every turn. My grades showed the strain. In Midland I began to save copies of my homework and carried my papers with me from town to town so I could just edit and re-copy old themes. We lived in Midland from the summer of 1956 until the spring of 1957 when my dad got an assignment to work the “4 Corners” Pipeline which ran from Northern New Mexico to Los Angeles. We filled large boxes with our belongings, rented our house in Midland, (we were to return in a year) and tossed the boxes on a train bound for Flagstaff, AZ, a fabulous place with Navajos walking everywhere, camping in the city park and participating in the All Indian Rodeo and Powwow.

We came to town after my father had secured a place for us, there were many families and individuals that had moved into ‘Flag’ and there was no place for us to live. My dad drove around, found a house he liked, knocked on the door and offered to lease the house for 6 months while he worked in the area. The couple was a professor at the college and his wife, a court reporter; they moved to the campus and we lived in their house filled with fabulous books. We listened to a radio station that played Indian chants and my sister Janey and I played 45 records as loud as we could from the second story window, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Little Richard on high volume! Flagstaff is a mountain city and that year it even snowed on Mother’s Day. Fell in love with the mountains. Alas, we were there only until November and then moved to Riverside CA.

From our house in Riverside, we swam at the Mission Inn Hotel pool and visited Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm when they were new. It was also the year I learned to drive, 85 miles an hour and bumper to bumper in CA traffic! WHEEWOO! Great time!

Then back home to Midland we went for my senior year in MHS. Never wrote anyone, felt guilty, rekindled my relationship with David Leggett who seemed to be waiting for my return. David {2 years older) left University of Texas to be in Midland for my senior year so I would not date anyone else. I prepared for and was accepted into the Plan A program at UT and had secured a room in the Scottish Rite Dorm. My parents had other plans; they made me go to Texas Tech so David and I would not get married or worse… That is one of the few regrets I have is that I did not marry him while I was still in MHS.

Went to Tech but David would call and then drive up to Lubbock for a date. I was impressed … Anyway, I was at Tech 3 years and met Pete Hyatt, a friend I could go to football games and parties with, etc. Pete was fun and we enjoyed each other’s company. David and I continued to date whenever he drove to Lubbock. He asked me to marry him and I said yes. We were married in the fall of 1962. He completed Law School and took the bar exam {having nothing but an MHS diploma because he refused to take Spanish and P.E., arguing with them that it was not necessary to his professional future). He ‘aced’ the bar exam in ’63 and went to work as a Briefing Attorney at the Texas Supreme Court. When his tenure was completed he had options and chose to go to work for Gulf Oil. He was in demand and whenever he was asked, Gulf let him go to assist a Texas judge with difficult trials (oil & gas). David was a successful oil and gas attorney and he was to address the Texas Bar Association in July ’66 but tragically was killed in a car wreck in June. I was devastated, took our beautiful daughters {Marianne was 2, Alice was 6 weeks) and moved back to Midland and my parent’s home. They were so gracious.

After a year (1967), we moved back to Long Beach, CA so my father could complete the final part of the 4 Corners line; my mother, father, brother Mike and sister Sally, me and Marianne and Alice moved into a high rise hotel for another summer of fun. I had found Pete and he was coming back from Guam, having served in the Navy, bound for San Francisco.

The girls and I returned to Texas and I had already enrolled in UTEP to finish the final year of college. It was not to be. My mother became ill and I moved back to Midland after my first semester to care for Mother. Correspondence and visits with Pete were exciting; we renewed our relationship and married in May. We moved to Dallas {settled in Richardson) and lived in North Dallas so the girls could attend Richardson schools. Pete’s daughter, Jo Beth was born in 1970 and we lived in Dallas; then the opportunity came for Pete to get a job in Amarillo. I was so excited to return to the dry desert air. The children were active in ballet and gymnastics so Amarillo was perfect. Neil Hess had a ballet company in Amarillo and Marianne said she knew of him and we moved in January of her junior year in high school.

I began to fear “Empty Nest Syndrome” like it was the plague. I had been a stay-at-home mom and was very involved in my daughter’s lives, even to the point of making all our bread by hand. What was I going to do? When we moved to Amarillo I began to play duplicate bridge (sometimes up to 12 times a week). I had different partners so I could learn different styles of play and then took the test to become a director of the games. I have been playing, directing and serving on the Board of Directors since I began to play in earnest in 1984. My first experience had been as a child when we played as the fourth with our parents; then, David played in the big money games at UT but was too good to play with me; then, I found a friend in Dallas (1974) and we signed up for bridge lessons at the Y and went to the first ‘class’ but it was a huge game—we made up our own rules and won the first time, we were hooked.

But it was in Amarillo that I practically forsook my family for the game. I think I could become a bridge bum, sleeping on the floor of hotel rooms of my friends (oops, already done that) and going without food (seldom happens) for THE GAME. Last summer I went to the ACBL Summer Nationals in Vegas and my partner, (Landon Blair) and I placed 8th overall – we were so proud. If anyone wants to play, just call or come to Amarillo, I will be at the local club when the doors open {I direct the WED, THU & FRI night games, (game time is at 7pm but I am there at 6pm), have sometimes taken off work (I work at United Way’s 2-1-1 affiliate as database manager) to play. It is an addiction!

All three daughters have made me so proud. Each graduated from a different University in Texas with different degrees and goals. Marianne has her degrees in Drama and French and lives in London, working a day job and writing and singing her own songs in a cabaret act there. Alice has her masters in Math and teaches at various colleges around the Dallas area, living in DeSoto with her husband (Kevin) and two sons (Travis, 18; and Parker, 8). Jo Beth graduated with her degree in social work and is the Executive Director of Mosaic in Dallas, (married to Tim) with their charming son, Nicholas who is 6. I have stayed behind in Amarillo because of the weather and NO TRAFFIC. I have lived in 40+ homes yet lived in our first home in Dallas 13 years, my first home in Amarillo 5 years and my second (and current) home in Amarillo for 21 years! Plans are to retire, travel and move my home nearer my fabulous grandsons. Aren’t grandchildren the best?

That is my story and I am sticking to it!!!

2 thoughts on “Polly Langley Hyatt-Class of 1959

  1. John McElligott November 19, 2021 / 3:20 am

    Wow!! Amazing. John McElligott MHS 63. Duke 1974.

  2. Anonymous November 28, 2021 / 11:36 pm

    Love these stories!

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