By: Gary Durossette (class of 63) and Gana Shriver Durossette (class of 66)
Gary : Alamo,MHS,LHS
Sports : LHS golf team Junior & senior years
College : Texas Tech BBA Marketing(John Franklin was roommate)
Military : US Air Force
Career : Oil & Gas business
Gary : I moved to Midland for my 9th grade and attended Alamo Jr. High. My father was employed by Halliburton as a petroleum engineer and his job responsibilities required us to move every year for the first eight years of my school life. This simply means that I had to attend a different school in a different town from the age of six until fifteen. Each town and school seemed larger and more imposing than the last. Friendships were difficult to make because why bother, I would only be there a short time. Then the move to Midland was next in line. Imagine my surprise when we stayed for several years and I learned early that my classmates and pals knew everyone else. I thought that all kids in an oilfield environment moved as I had done and we would all be on equal footing, not so, but also not difficult to fit in. I would seek out another newest kid in class and compare stories of each other’s live before Midland and then, before I knew it, I had my own list of friends, albeit not quite as long a list as those born and raised in west Texas but, none the less, a start. I now to this day call my friends from Midland my best friends and we stay in close touch.
How can you watch the movie “American Graffitti” without thinking “that was us” and the memories of cruising the streets. During the summer I started working in the oilfield as a roustabout at the age of 17 and lived in Big Lake in a converted storage room attached to a liquor store. From that experience I graduated to working on a frac crew for Halliburton and lived in Odessa. Didn’t they say you raised children in Midland and raised hell in Odessa, although we Midlander’s did not seem to have trouble with the latter in our own town. When you work 60 hours a week there does not leave much time for cruising the streets but that is where & how I met Gana(class of 66) at Burger Chef. I think the small hamburgers were cheap so I probably could be a big spender and treat her. From there we went to Texas Tech and married my last year in school. We celebrated our 51st wedding anniversary last January. My career after Tech was the US Air Force for four years and then the oil and gas business. Additional military information. I had just received my degree in marketing and was fortunate enough to serve in the Air Force stateside stationed in Austin and Denver, CO. My field was procurement. Gana and I moved and lived in 5 states and when asked where we were from we would proudly say “Midland,TX”. I am so glad that I stayed long enough to drink some of that water.
Suzi Northcutt Griffith
Hi, Gary – can’t remember you, but your name is familiar. I was MHS ’63 and went to TT, marrying in 66 and graduating 67. My husband graduated in 67 and was in USAF for 20 years. Rich memories living in Colorado — Tom started out at Supply School at Lowry AFB, Denver,1968, then seven or eight months at Ellsworth AFB,South Dakota, then he got into OTS and Pilot training at Del Rio. He spent 1971 in Chu Lai and DaNang flying OV-10. Then Vance AFB Oklahoma 4 years IP T-37, Mountain Home, Idaho CBPO, New Mexico and Arizona for training in F-4, then remote Kunsan,Korea, then to Seymour Johnson in North Carolina. Back to Randolph at HQ ATC.Then back to Del Rio where he was Student Squadron Commander till he retired in “88.
Two times at Maxwell in Alabama for SOS ’75 maybe and ACSC.’83.
I have missed my Midland friends so much over the years, and remember when we lived in Idaho, ’76-79, and discovered Texas Monthly. We’d pick it up at the BX or wherever we could and read it deliciously with other friends there who were from Dallas. Unbelievably, both our children were born in Texas, during pilot training in Del Rio, in 1970 and San Antonio in 1972. Guess I thought if I wrote all that down (while I can remember it) you may recall being in the same place at that time or someone else who reads this account may!
Gary & Gana Durossette
Suzi,Thank you for the reply, I appreciated hearing from you because our similarities early on from Tech forward is pretty amazing. Gana and I were married our last semester at Tech and moved to the “married dorms”. These were the cinder block apartments across the tracks and within sight of the stadium. Needless to say we started poor and then I went into the Air Force and we became poorer 🙂 My first stop after basic training was Lowery and because I was in procurement I must of shared proximity with Tom in supply. We lived in a converted motel not far from the base and close to Colfax Ave. Nice digs huh ? I was assigned to Bergstrom AFB in Austin where both of our children were born, son in 70′ and daughter in 72′. How about those similarities ?
I did not make a career of the military as Tom and so began my second life in the oil industry. We were transferred to Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Kentucky and then back again to Colorado. Another similarity with the constant moving. Our last home in Golden, Co. was better than the Lowry days —-ha! I promised Gana that things would get better and she has stayed around for 51 years.
I was blessed to be be able to retire early 15 years ago and we moved to Tyler,TX so I could care for aging parents. This is where we call home and it’s good to be back in Texas.
Thanks again for writing to me. I bet we all would have been friends if only could have made the connections.
I can add a little bit to the Gary and Gana saga, since I had the honor of being best man in their wedding way back in 1968. Gary and I have been best friends since probably our Senior year at Lee High School. Gana has been my best girl friend since the evening I met her in 1964 (she had a really good fake ID and would buy our beer for me and my friends — sure hope her children don’t see this LOL. She STILL looks exactly the same as she did at age 16. Amazing). I can partly claim responsibility for them getting together. Gary, Jim Epley and I were “cruising” around Midland while on Spring break from college (Jim and I were roommates at Univ. of Texas) and I walked over to this car with 3 girls in it at Burger Chef (I was talking to Gana’s best friend at the time), so Gary got to meet Gana. Of course, it took him a month to work up the courage to ask her out, and the rest is history. They have done very well with their marriage !!!
I have visited them in almost all the places they have lived during the last 51 years. In fact, my wife Kathy and I met them just a few weeks ago in Salado, TX and had a wonderful 3 day visit. There’s no friends like old friends !!
Suzi Northcutt Griffith
I remember one time in college I had a date and we were going to go to that club in Midland I think was called Pussycat A Go-Go. Y’all will surely remember it. It was a great place to dance. Anyway we females would wear a fake wedding ring to get in with our older dates, and that is what I told my dad my plan was. Unexpectedly, he demanded to see my driver’s license – I’m sure to ascertain if I had tampered with it. Well I had, but had done a very good job of it and then laminated it and he didn’t even notice. I think he would if we hadn’t had company around the dining table and he had had time to better scrutinize it. Whew!