By Charles Hall
1st Grade, Sam Houston Elementary — Moving to MidlandOctober, 1951. I was happily attending 1st grade at Jefferson Elementary in Casper, Wyoming. My parents informed me that my Father was being transferred by his employer (Atlantic Refining Company) to the “huge” oil town of Midland, Texas. (A current google search reveals that 215 oil companies had offices in Midland at the time) At age 6, about all I understood was that I didn’t want to move. I can remember landing at the Midland/Odessa airport Terminal in that DC3 propeller driven plane – and all I could see was flat and barren and desolate looking. (And little did I imagine that in about 4 or 5 years I would be climbing on the Terminal water tower, scooting through a big drainage pipe under the runway, and hunting jackrabbits in those barren fields.) Casper was green and had a mountain at the edge of town. I was scared. Turned out moving to Midland was one of the best things that ever happened to me.Houses were hard to find then (Midland has always been boom or bust), but my parents found a little 3 bedroom, one bath home at 2605 W. Illinois, about 1 mile West of downtown. They got me and my sister Barbara enrolled at Sam Houston Elementary (Barbara was in the 4th grade, I was in 1st grade). Jesse Barber became my “best friend” and quickly showed me the ropes – ie. how to get out of storytelling time and going outside to the playground.Midland was really growing rapidly at the time, and I had thepleasure of attending 3 different brand new schools during the next 12 years (Lamar Elementary, Alamo Junior High, and then Midland Lee High School my Junior year in 1961). My parents lived in the same house from 1951 until 1969 when I got out of Marine Corps boot camp, then as soon as I finished my leave and headed for my duty station, they retired to Fort Walton Beach, Florida – quite a pleasant change. I bring this up because, even though I lived in the same house my whole time in Midland, I often changed schools and went through the “trauma” of starting over. This too proved to be a good thing.Sam Houston Elementary in the 1st grade, Lamar Elementary in the 2nd and 3rd grade, West Elementary in the 4th grade, and back to Lamar in the 5th and 6th grade. Totally different people at each school, so I got to know people who lived all over town. Again, a good thing. In later years, I came to realize that friends who didn’t move to Midland until they were in Junior High or later didn’t have that wide base of friends and acquaintances like I did.Midland always seemed like the same town to me – wide streets and a “safe” feel. I guess it really helped to grow up with the city as it boomed. The population was a little over 20,000 when I moved there in 1951, and grew to over 60,000 by the time I graduated from Lee High School in 1963.