Written by: Fred Underwood
We had moved into an apartment in the old BOQ at Terminal. I think that Mom took me to school the next day. The only thing that I remember from that day was meeting Coach Red Rutledge in the Principal’s office and again in my typing class (the most useful course I took in High School). I had been in the typing class for maybe two months, and during my time trials, I was typing about 35 words per minute. You should note that for each error, we took five keystrokes off of our score. At about this time, Coach Rutledge told us that he was changing the scoring rules. From that date forth, for each error, we had to subtract five words (25 keystrokes). On the next trial, I did the equivalent of taking 25 words a minute off a blank sheet of paper. I got a lot better as time went by.
Our physics teacher, Coach Patterson, took us out to a country road. We had at least one stopwatch. We got out, and Coach Patterson drove one mile down the road. He got out of the car and got our attention by waving at us. When we were all ready, he fired the shotgun. We started the stopwatch when we saw the smoke come out of the barrel and stopped it when we heard the bang. We had measured the speed of sound.
By changing schools, David Laverty, Guy Vanderpool, and I had lost one year of football eligibility. Therefore we practiced and played with the Junior Varsity team during the 1949 season.
On the 8th of October 1949, I became 16 years old and eligible for a Texas Drivers license. I went to the courthouse the first Saturday after my birthday. I aced the written exam, and then we started the driving test. I managed to get through the entire test, and the examiner told me that I had failed for many minor reasons. The next Saturday, the examiner and I got into the car and began the test. At the first corner, he said: “Turn Right.” I did, at the next corner and the next, and the next, he repeated: “Turn Right.” When we got to our starting point, he said: “Park.” He said: “you failed the test because you failed to yield the right of way on the first turn.” I wanted to spend some time in town sop Mom dropped me off, and I had to hitch-hike back to Terminal. A group of us were in the city park on west Wall Street. About 2:30 PM, I decided it was time for me to start my trip home to Terminal. About the third car, I thumbed stopped. I noticed something peculiar going on as he stopped. His window had opened, and his left arm was outside hanging down in the sign for stopping. It was the officer who had examined me that morning. For the next ten miles, he did everything right by the book. The following Saturday, I received my license without any comments.
I don’t recall anything else of significance for the rest of the school year.
During the summer, I got a job at the Washateria. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. I did what I was told to do, nothing more, nothing less. After two weeks, I was told don’t bother to come back. Apparently, it was easier to do what they wanted me to do than to spend all day supervising my every action. I didn’t know that I had learned a powerful message until many years later.