By Paula Crites Pieri
I went to North Elementary and remember it fondly. We used to walk to school every day gathering a little group of friends as we walked along. I still remember those kids and can recognize them in our 3rd grade Rhythm Band photo. When I was in the 5th grade, I was playing Deep Roving Right Field, hoping no one would hit a ball my way, when I met a little girl, Emily Stall, who had just transferred from West Elementary. She was to become my best friend and still is today. She lived on the corner of A Street and Club House Drive, just across from the Country Club, then the Elks Club, now the park with the lake. Most of our calls ended with “Meet me at the corner I have something to tell you” and I would run down the alley and we would meet halfway. She introduced me to the world of bossy big sisters and snoopy little brothers.
I went to Cowden in Jr. High. The “cut off” for Cowden and the new school, San Jacinto, was Cuthbert, the street behind Storey. All my friends went to San Jacinto and I went to Cowden. I didn’t really enjoy Cowden, since I didn’t know that many people. Thank goodness there was High School.
Midland Highs School was the only high school in Midland then, and we all came together again. There were so many great memories of MHS. There was The Youth Center where we ate lunch every day. We listened to the newest rock and roll music, and went to so many great dances. I remember driving to the Rendezvous, and drinking lime Dr. Peppers, and having nachos after the dances at the Diamond Horseshoe and listening to Billy Thornton, Bill Lord and Tom Brown sing Kingston Trio songs.
Naturally, there were the Friday Night Midland Bulldog games that were never missed. The girls always wore a mum decorated with purple and gold. There were the beautiful skirt and sweater sets and circle skirts with lots of petticoats; all worn with penny loafers. It was a great look, but so hard to walk in a sandstorm, hold your books and keep your skirt from blowing over your head. There was shopping at Career Girl and the Treasure Shop. The boys had flat tops and jeans and cool cars. There were lots of fond memories of the drive-in theaters on warm summer nights. I still think the 50s had the most beautiful clothes-not to mention the great music that we helped to make so popular. Thanks to our generation for the gift of Rock and Roll.
We first saw Elvis Presley in the tiny Record Store about 1954, while I was getting my first 78 record- Rock Around the Clock. He was on his first tour with Sun Records and not well known. We thought he was cute but his hair was too long. We later saw him on the local TV station and were surprised he was so popular and so good. Roy Orbison sang commercials for the Odessa furniture store and we laughed since he was so “funny looking”. Our parents were so shocked that we listened to such crazy songs, sung by guys with long hair and black men wearing makeup (Little Richard comes to mind).
The intro song for the Roy Orbison tv show was…
“Hello everybody everywhere.
Pioneer Furniture is on the air.
You’ll always find bargains galore,
Down at the Pioneer Furniture store.”
Roy was from Wink and relatively unknown in the mid-50’s, but his voice was unbelievable, and I watched the show every week. My parents moved from Midland to Tyler in 1959, but I still have nothing but great memories of growing up in West Texas. At the 50 yr reunion of MHS in 2011, Bill Thompson and I sang the song and shocked each other that we still remembered the words.