By John McElligott
My first memory as child is standing on an old asphalt sidewalk in my underwear (A.K.A. “Tidy Whities”). I looked at my brothers, Tom, Bruce and their friends all dressed in their jeans and shorts. I ran into our home, the old military barracks, and quickly put on some shorts and went back out to face the world. It’s here in Terminal, Texas, a plot of 220 acres between Midland and Odessa, Texas, that my journey began. Terminal was later purchased by Midland County, and as you will learn, Midland is where I drank the water until 1965.
Lots of kids of all ages gathered on that sidewalk. We all shared one thing in common in that we all lived with hard working parents in an abandoned Army military airbase. How did they get there? I don’t know, but we all lived near the sidewalk in either a one- or two-story barrack. Most were two income working families with one car. Most worked as roughnecks, pumpers and chemical operators for the oil companies or were employed with the airlines. There were also ranch hands, barbers, grocery store operators, and a lot of teachers. My mom was a part-time teacher, and sold tickets at the Texas Drive Inn Theater at night. My dad worked for the airlines.
One of my most vivid memories is the sewer plant where we played tag and often ran around the 3-foot pools of poop and water. If you fell in the sewer water, you could expect ass kicking time when you got home, since we did not have any extra sets of clothes and the sewer smell never went away.
I distinctly remember the sewer plant operator, Mr. Davis. He looked just like Santa. Mr. Davis went off one day, got a gun and held up the Terminal Police and the Texas Highway Patrol. I think the smell of the poop must have driven him crazy. I don’t remember ever seeing him again.
Terminal also had its own post office. My mother was appointed Postmaster General by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on April 2nd 1958. After she was appointed, we moved downstairs behind the post office. The fondest memories include roller-skating upstairs. We also had 6 toilets and 8 shower heads, and when we flooded the bathroom, we could swim. My brothers and I lived there until we graduated high school.
I met some of my lifelong friends on that sidewalk. This includes families like the Fishers. They had 10 kids (9 boys, 1 girl)! Other families included, the Rawles’, Myers, Galloway’s, Allen’s, Hammock’s, Pittman’s, Robert’s, Reed’s, Roberts, Thornton’s, Price’s and many more. Most of these kids started school at the Terminal Texas Independent School District.
In 1963, at the age of 17, I graduated Midland High School. I was told to go to college, work or join the military. After failing at the first two, I joined the Navy in 1965. I breezed through boot camp due to my upbringing in Terminal and Midland Texas. I could do everything with exceptional ease and success thanks to the water I drank and the sidewalks I walked in the place we called home, Midland, Texas.