Recently, during a phone conversation between Jerry Callaway and A.W. “Peanut” Hammock, the two shared fond memories of their times growing up in Terminal and Midland, Texas, as well as, recalling memories of their high school track days.
How we got to Midland
“My father was a Highway Patrolman in North Texas. He did really well and he loved being a Highway Patrolman. He said it was the most exciting thing he ever did in his life. When we lived in Dalhart, his sister’s husband was working in the oil field business. We went down to visit with them every once in a while, and we went to my uncle’s, Uncle Cord, several times. He lived outside of Dalhart. My father found out that working for the Highway Patrol wasn’t making a whole lot of money for the family. So, he quit and went to work for Mobil Oil. We went first to West Texas and lived there a year or two. I cannot remember the name of the town. Then we moved to Kermit for a year until we finally moved to Terminal, Texas. We moved to Terminal because it was much less expensive to live there than to live in Midland. We lived in the old Army barracks for 7-8 years while Dad was working in various places south of Midland. He worked mostly in the oil fields just south of Terminal and that meant he could go to work every day. He had to go check on oil drilling wells. I would get to go with him every once in a while. He couldn’t take us very often. It was flabbergasting to me because we had no idea what he did but he would check on the levels in the big tanks. Now that doesn’t sound that dangerous, but at the time, they were blowing off excess fuel off the tanks with big torches. It was really interesting. One day he came up with an easier way to reach the top of those tanks to burn off the excess oil. He shot burning arrows up to the top of the tanks to light the excess fuel needing to be burned off. What he went through to keep it going was dangerous!”
When we were kids, what did we do in Terminal?
“Well there was a shooting range. We would go and dig up all the old metal bullets and we would take and melt them down. We got in trouble a time or two for melting the bullets in my mother’s pan. We would go regularly and gather up all the old metal and we would take it to the junkyard. We would get about $10 or something like that and made a little bit of money out of it. We thought it was the greatest thing in the world. So, we would gather regularly from the shooting range. One day we were messing around and took a short cut. We had a wagon that we hauled the recovered bullets in. Anyway, on the short cut we saw a short range with small bullets. The ants had started making ant hills with the bullets. So, we started collecting those too! We’d go every couple of weeks and collect them. Later we learned it was probably from the old Air force military base.”
“There were people in Midland that didn’t make a lot of money quite frankly. And it was cheap and inexpensive to live in Terminal. Looking back life was quite interesting living in Terminal We had a good one. There were a batch of kids that would run around together. We had neighbors that were older than us. There was one football player that was a darn good one. Another guy that was next door was a track star. I remember mostly that we played outside a lot. Once, he asked us to “race” him and he even said he would give us a 10-15-yard head start. The deal was whoever won would get $2. Well none of us had $2, but we raced anyway. One evening he gave us a 15-yard lead. And as luck would have it, we got ahead of him for a little bit. Unfortunately, he forgot about the clothesline in the yard up ahead and went smack right into it. He slipped and fell and we thought it had killed him. Luckily, he just ended up with a red streak across his forehead. That was the end of the racing trips up and down the yards.”
Midland High School Track:
“Running the neighborhood was one of the things that helped me to develop the skills for track and hurdles. I was very fortunate. I had a darn good coach, too. He was the real deal. Coach Nixon really made me as far as hurdling is concerned. I ended up being really good at it and I went to “State”. My senior year in high school I had the second fastest time in high hurdles and 3rd in low hurdles in the state of Texas. Sadly, I hurt my foot and we thought it would get better, but it just kept hurting. Finally, we went to a doctor because it hurt so badly. Unfortunately, it didn’t get healed up in time, and I wasn’t able to compete at state that year. I go to go and watch.”
Do You remember the Border Olympics?
“There was an orange tree out front of the hotel we stayed in. None of us had ever seen an orange tree. We had no idea what they were. Wahoo (McDaniel) was out there and said, “I bet I can hit the back of that building over there.” Needless to say, we weren’t going to let him out do us so we all got into trying to hit the back of the building. A couple of the thrown oranges went over the building. Coach Nixon came running out saying that the filling station was on the other side of the building and we were hitting the customers! We spent 2-3 days there. The Border Olympics are a pretty big deal. I remember I won a race but think in high hurdles another guy beat me. I was very upset. He ended up being the runner up in State that year. I think I was a junior that year.”
Story about Wahoo McDaniel and Buddy Mote.
“We went to a track meet in Austin. Buddy was a hurdler, too. He wasn’t as good as others on the team, but we took him anyway. Wahoo did very well in shot put. We were heading home from the trip and Wahoo and Buddy kept messing around picking on each other. They kept irritating each other for some reason. Things escalated and got out of hand and into a full-blown altercation. Wahoo was in the seat behind Buddy and Buddy got up and punched Wahoo so hard in the chest that he went over the seat and fell into the back of the bus. After that, Wahoo never messed with Buddy again. Turns out Buddy was a helluva boxer. He won a state championship one year. Unfortunately, a few years later Buddy died as a result of a tragic boxing accident.”
Football at Midland High:
Jerry Callaway and A.W. Hammock:
“Peanut was a hellauva football player too. Kids in West Texas played football and only played other sports the rest of the year to stay in shape for football season.
One year we played the main high school team in El Paso. We were the “B” team and we beat them pretty good. After the game were back at the hotel and a couple of cops came by the hotel. Coach came out and told all the boys to stay in their rooms and not come out. Apparently, the “other” team had come to give us a “talk” because they were upset.”
“In football, we went all over the State to play. Once we took an airplane trip to play a game. We must have been the first team in Texas that flew to a game! Apparently, somebody has come up with a lot of money for us to make that trip. To my knowledge, it was the only time the team ever flew.”
“Our senior year, the football team only lost one game. We lost to Abilene. Abilene won the state championship. So, we were #2 in the state.”
“Tom Inman from MHS was the All State Center. Interesting fact, all us football players had to work in the oil fields in the summertime to condition for football. Tom worked in a shoe store in the air conditioning yet he was in better shape than all of us!! Tom and I rode together in an old Ford. We paid $.50 a week for gas. He was just a really great guy.
Baseball at Midland High:
“During my Freshman year of high school, I started playing baseball. I didn’t have a way to get to and from practice, so I began hitchhiking. Very seldom did I have any trouble. Just a different age and time.
“Tugboat Jones was my coach. The year after we left Midland High School, Tugboat went to Dallas and won the State Championship.”
“Coach Nixon was our track coach. He was a super great guy that never changed. He came to the reunions and he was the same guy wearing the same shiny shoes and the same perfect haircut. He was quite a character.”
Who were you influences growing up?:
“We spent most of the time with our coaches, so they were always our biggest influencers. Coach Nixon pushed me to be an athlete. He was responsible for me. When I was a sophomore, I had to walk a long way just to get to the point where I could hitchhike. He even drove me home 2-3 times. Finally, when I was a junior in high school, I got a car.
“Albert McKandles was a year older and gave me rides for many years. Albert is still going. He is one of the funniest and greatest guys I have ever known. He’s very gentle and decent. A unique guy. Quite a guy! Slowest eating person I have ever known.
He had a stroke a few years back and started to do some rehabilitation following his discharge from the hospital. A therapist came into the room and told him she was there to help him with his speech. He laughed and told her he was from Texas and had talked like that his entire life. She said well I guess you don’t need me then!”
Memories of Midland:
“I have lived in this one spot for the last 60 years. I bought 5.5 acres when it was $25 an acre. Now I am still here and enjoying retirement.
I guess kids today still do the same crap we did back then. Although back then we could get away with things that kids today would get in a lot of trouble doing. Back then I didn’t know if the stuff I was doing was good, bad or indifferent. We just had fun. Drinking too much beer a time or two was probably the worst thing we ever did. We never had to worry about drugs at our school and we never knew anyone that did drugs. To my knowledge there was no such thing back then.”
“Fats Domino and Little Richard came to Midland a time or two. Even though it was a time of segregation, we went to the other side of town and we were welcomed. Elvis Presley also came when he was first starting out.”
“There was a record store in town that Elvis Presley would hang out at. He was just like the rest of us in a pair of Levi’s and a t-shirt. He was really nice and would sit and talk with us. Hard to believe they were “no big deal” until you look back on the experiences.”
“One thing about Midland, they brought in good entertainers. My uncle owned the “Ace of Spades” club in Odessa. Once in a while he would let us come by and listen to music. Roy Orbison was there several times. Very interesting to think about that years later.”
“While I was working on filming Lonesome Doves, we were told not to talk to Tommie Lee Jones as he didn’t like to be bothered. However, I talked to him and said we went to school together in Midland. I played a little football with a guy named Wahoo. Tommie said, Hey I used to come and watch you guys on Friday Nights. I remember you!”
“Martha Epperson was also at MHS. Years later while filming movie in Louisiana, I ran into her and I was able to get her husband and kids to be extras in a movie we were shooting. “
Jerry Callaway and A.W. Hammock have been friends since high school. They talk by telephone regularly. Jerry just celebrated his 83rd birthday and A.W. Hammock joked that he is the young one at 82 years old. They still laugh and share stories even after all of these years. Thank you to both gentlemen for sharing some of their fondest memories.