A Foreword from the Founder

By John McElligott

Why write when you can’t spell? Why talk about water drinkers in Midland, Texas when they hated the taste? Well… I am not sure, but I will try to give you something to think about and a reason to laugh, smile and cry.

 This blog is written by you, the guys and girls of Midland.  It is not just a bunch of gibberish about something that is fiction; it’s real and comes from our memories.

This blog comes from us Midlanders who lived during a time period that was different from any of the others during our lifetime.  The focus is on the 1955 to 1965 classes at Midland High School and later Robert E. Lee High School. This block of time was special and produced all different types of personalities and each and every one of us has a story.

Now the blog timeline begins with me standing on a sidewalk in Terminal in my underwear, and will end when my heart stops beating. If you close your eyes and breathe slow and deep you will see your sidewalk and remember the day you saw the beginning of your life.

So why a blog? Why just write about anything that comes to mind?  Well…that is the point!!! If you ‘thunk’ it then it’s worth hearing about, and if you write it down it will last forever!

You will read stories that are funny and some that are sad. The laughable stories will make you smile and smiling is therapeutic. The stories that make us tear up and sad, make us not only humble, but more intuitive. Both make you a better person.

Remember what Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”  Or those famous words by Babe Ruth, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

Now I will close by introducing the choice of foreword writers!

Dennis “Wemus” Grubb was never a childhood friend, but I watched him play music since my senior year in High School. At all the high school reunions, he would bring out his bands of the past. He will be asked the impossible by me and that is to put the Blog to music. We hope to have plenty of stories about his absolutely fascinating life. I do recommend that you put on your Depends when you read his stuff.

The contributors of this blog have stories and music throughout. Please enjoy!  Remember that this blog will not only be continued by us and our children, but their children, too.

Dianne Whittington of course is my favorite person of all, and has pushed the blog since the beginning. I mistakenly (and repeatedly) called her husband of 50 years, “Denton”. He is now officially called “Glenn” (his real name). Dianne will contribute and inspire our ladies of Midland to continue to write stories.

Linda Mills is our most mentioned classmate from her class of 1964.  She posted the most memorable last thoughts and words of Bobby Garst. Denton and I are looking for more stuff from this talented lady. Sorry, I meant Glenn.

Bobby Garst (RIP) wrote the following piece several years before he passed away, and it seems most fitting to use as the foreword to this blog. Please enjoy it here: https://whatsinthewaterinmidlandtexas.com/category/garst-bobby-rip/

The Sidewalk

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.


The Fisher and Hammock Families

By John McElligott

There were several families in Terminal, Texas that influenced my brother, Tom and me. This is the one that influenced me the most.

The Fisher Family

(John, Joe, Tom, Jim, Jerry, Gene, Mike, Pat, Frank, and Susie)

 We all grew up within walking distance of my family’s one story barracks (see pictures) and then later, our two story barrack which housed the Terminal Texas Post office. 

My house, and the sidewalk where I became a 3 year old nudist. The water tower which we climbed many times and sat on the cat walk at the top.

Since we went to St Ann’s with most of the kids in the Fisher family, we spent a lot of time with them. Tom, my older brother and John Fisher were in the same grade and together they graduated from 8th grade at St. Ann’s. John and my brother Tom went to MHS together until graduation in 1958. John received a scholarship for Texas A&M, and later Joe, Tom and a few other Fisher kids followed him to Texas A&M. Let’s put it this way, the Fisher family became one of the first families (to my knowledge), to populate Texas A&M . 
Now lunch at the Fisher house, with all the kids, was my favorite part of the day. The mother, Alice Fisher, would lay out lunch meat and bread with mustard and jalapeno peppers (with the dragon on the jar). I never missed a day eating lunch, and enjoyed woofing down those peppers that would smoke your poop shoot for days. This is why I have never had hemorrhoids! Thanks, Alice Fisher!

Clyde Fisher would eat peppers by the jar. He was a different and yet amazing father. Mr Fisher was an electrician by trade and the first person I ever met who was in a Union. He got the union to sponsor our Boy Scout Troop.

Speaking of Boy Scouts, I was one merit badge away from making Eagle Scout. (You will see the reason later in the book and it had to do with a trip I took at the age of 13.) Since we had the best scout troop ever, we entered all kinds of competitions like starting a fire to tying knots.  Roy Vaughn, MHS 63, was also a member of the troop, and coincidentally, my first trauma case on my way to becoming a medical professional. Mr. Fisher made the camping trips something special and really made you want to be an outdoors person. I can say the trips actually made being in the military much easier for me, in comparison to those who came from families that did not have the Fishers (and the other scouts) that taught us how to suck it up.

Now my second trauma case with the scout troop was me! We were out camping in the dead of winter in the middle of West Texas and I stabbed a can of beans with my pocket knife. The blade folded up and cut my finger half off at the joint of my little finger on my right hand. Scout Master Clyde Fisher washed out my wound with a canteen of water, and put my finger in a cloth glove. The glove soaked up the blood and the winter cold froze the finger. I left the glove on night and day. Upon arriving home three days later, my mother soaked the glove off my finger and, to my surprise, my finger was in one piece! To this day, that finger functions normally. While in the military, serving with the Marines, I used the same technique on many occasions. I tell people that growing up in Terminal and being a boy scout with Clyde Fisher made the boot camp in the military seem like nothing!


Terminal Texas Memory

Click below to listen to “No Particular Place to Go” by Chuck Berry. Listen while you read!

By William Godwin

I remember when the Terminal kids came to Alamo. I met John McElligott and Gene Clark. We became fast friends. I went to Terminal all the time to visit them. Many treats including eating John’s Mother’s cooking, taking showers in the high showers with six or eight heads, and stopping up the drains in the shower. It almost became a swimming pool! We went into all the tunnels under the runways. It was a great time!


Terminal, Texas

by Bekki Maier Welch

I can remember back in the day when we moved to Midland. Well.. I don’t really remember because I was only four. There wasn’t any housing available in Midland, so we lived in Terminal, which is the airport, but at the time it was also an Army and Air Force base during the war. It was a great place to live. It was like a tiny town. We had a grocery store, fire dept., police dept.,school, library and on Saturdays they would show cartoons and Abbott and Costello for the kids. I went to school there through the third grade, then we were bused into town. Eventually businesses started moving into Terminal. We were called the Terminal Termites. Well I could go on and on about Terminal, but on to other things.

In reference to the name of the book (What’s in the Water in Midland, Texas) the water in Midland was terrible, and still is but not as bad as it used to be! People would come to visit and nearly throw up. We didn’t have bottled water back then so if you lived here you drank it. We were used to it and  would laugh at people that came to see us.


RIP-William “Bill” Joseph Connery

William “Bill” Joseph Connery, aged 78, peacefully passed away following a prolonged illness.
He was born in Philadelphia, PA, but later his family relocated to Texas. In 1963, he proudly graduated from Midland High School. Bill’s sense of duty led him to join the army, where he was selected for officer candidate school. After an honorable discharge, he ventured into the world of finance, becoming a successful stockbroker and pursuing various entrepreneurial endeavors.

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Summer Vacations on Colorado

Written by Bob Ittner

This Thursday June 8 we will be flying to Albuquerque and then motoring to Santa Fe for a couple of days and then on to South Fork Colorado to stay with friends. I am reminded of the fond memories of summer vacations in Colorado. 

We would leave the hundred degree heat of Midland to travel to Santa Fe on our way to Lake City Colorado. My father would get everyone up by playing at full blast John Phillips Sousa marches. My mom would pack a picnic lunch and off we would go. We would reach the coolness and charm of Santa Fe in the late afternoon so different from what we left. The next day we would start on our way to Lake City stopping at Alamosa or Del Norte to buy groceries. My father had a grocery list which he kept for all of our trips so he didn’t have to make a new list each time we went. On the way we would stop for lunch but we didn’t eat out once we got there. 

We didn’t refer to our father as dad or father or pops we called him Frank, which was his name. He was an excellent cook and took the art seriously. He wanted my mom to rest on the vacation so he did all the cooking.

When we got to South Fork which we will be visiting next week, we turned north to go to Creede. At that point you’re starting to get into the mountains. For years the road from Creede to Lake City was unpaved. We first stayed on the lake in rustic cabins although we didn’t think they were rustic. Frank, who was not an early riser, could get up without an alarm clock to fish the lake in front of our cabin. He was an excellent fly fisherman and might have five or six fish not long after the sun was up. In those days, it wasn’t catch and release, so we would cook any fish that we caught. Near the end of our trip he devised a method using empty milk cartons to freeze the fish so we could take them back to Midland. 

We would wade the streams and not see a single person. There were no houses on the stream. Some of the streams we fished might be eight or 10 yards wide. We figured out that if you started late in the afternoon you could get into really good action at feeding time. Wading was very peaceful, the rushing water, trees, the mountains, the blue sky, the solitude. In all the years that we went, we never had a TV nor did anyone else. We listened to the radio which was sporadic in its reception, but one radio station KOMA  in Oklahoma City we could get most of the time. Much has changed since then not all of it for the better but I sure do have some great memories.

Fred Shurlock Underwood, CAPT (USN, Ret) (RIP)

Fred Shurlock Underwood, CAPT (USN, Ret) passed away on February 19, 2023 of natural causes surrounded by family in Jarrell, TX. He was 89 years old. Born October 8, 1933 in Tulsa, OK the son of Wayne Shurlock Underwood and Erma Holmquist Underwood, he lived most of his childhood in the small towns of Van and Mexia, TX. Graduating from Midland HS, Midland, TX, Fred received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, Twenty Second Company, where he played Soccer during his First Class year, graduating in 1955.

While at the United States Naval Academy, he met the love of his life, Maude, while visiting Philly for the Army Navy Football Game, and they married in 1956. Together they lived the Navy life, traveling and moving frequently. During his 28 years of Naval service Fred’s tour of duties included the USS Heermann (‘55-’57 Newport, RI), USS Mullinnix (’58 Boston, MA), USS Pinnacle (‘59-’60 Charleston, SC), Naval Postgraduate School, receiving a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (‘60-’63 Monterey, CA), USS Luce (‘63-’64 Mayport, FL), Norfolk Naval Shipyard (‘64-’67 Norfolk, VA), ComServPac Staff (‘67-’68 Pearl Harbor, HI), US Naval Ship Repair Facility Guam (‘68-’71 Guam, MI) Defense Management School (’71), NavSec (’72-’76 Hyattsville, MD), NavSea (’75-’80 Arlington, VA), Indian Head Naval Ordnance Station (‘80-’83 Indian Head, MD).

Among his memorable Navy accomplishments was the crossing of the equator on 06 July 1958, when he was initiated into the Solemn Mysteries of the Ancient Order of the Deep; the opportunity to be the Captain of the Naval Honor Guard at Prince Rainier’s wedding to Grace Kelly, where he received the Monaco Bronze Medal; passing his Professional Engineering in the Electrical Field Exam in 1969; receiving the Navy Commendation Medal for his work while at Naval Shore Electronics Engineering Activity while on Guam. More importantly, he was in the original design team for the Aegis Nuclear Cruiser while at NavSec and moved on to see the Aegis Cruiser to full development while at NavSea, a rare feat indeed. Lastly, he served as the Base Commander at the Naval Ordnance Station, where he enjoyed the atmosphere and joked “that all is good as long as it was not BOOMING”.

After Fred’s retirement from the Navy, he and Maude moved to Appomattox, VA. They loved the rural location enjoying the land, the animals, the environment and especially the friendly neighbors which were all dear to their hearts. Fred and Maude became involved in local groups and activities, including the Ruritans, the Depot Dramatics and both the Memorial United Methodist Church choir as well as the handbell choir. Feeling a call to service again, Fred became a member of the Appomattox County Electoral Board (‘95-‘13) and spent time making sure that the elections held were fair and free from controversy.

After Maude’s passing, Fred returned to the Lone Star State, choosing to live in the Army Residence Community in San Antonio, a retirement community of retired Officers from all services, allowing him to be close to his children. He enjoyed spending his days helping others via the Computer Club with general Q & A, as well as presentations on how to use computers for everyday conveniences such as shopping and dictation. He also taught classes coaching other residents in writing their memoirs. Continuing his joy of music, Fred joined the chapel choir, and the Seniors of Note performing group, where he was applauded for his comedic song performances.

Fred’s desire was not to be famous, but to be memorable. His goal each day was to make someone smile. His laughter was infectious and his hugs were legendary. He had a genuine interest in people, and enjoyed making new friends. He loved music and his favorite food was ice cream.

Fred is preceded in death by both parents, as well as his wife Maude Moore Underwood and his sister Ruth LeNelle Cittadin. He is survived by his four children, CDR Max Wayne Underwood, (USN, ret) and his wife Jane (San Antonio): Nancy Leigh Honeycutt and her husband Kyle (Raleigh, NC); Tacy Lyn Armstrong and her husband Rob (Georgetown, TX): Rebekah Sue Valenzuela and her husband Joe (Jarrell, TX), seven grandchildren: Don Underwood, Richard Underwood, Kathleen Davis, Kristine Whalen, Joe Valenzuela II, Zoey Armstrong, Amy Armstrong along with 13 Great Grandchildren, his two sisters, Elizabeth Mixon and Louise Nunes, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Fred’s family and friends will be celebrating his life, Saturday March 25 from 11-2pm. For information regarding location please contact the family at fredunderwood33@gmail.com

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the United Services Organization.

More Terminal, Texas Memories

Written by Bekki Maier Welch

I thought I would see what I can remember about growing up in Terminal.

I remember in the first grade Jackie Reed, Freda Caudle, and I started school together. Freda and I were in Mrs. Dukes class and Jackie was in Mrs. Harmon’s .

I remember a kid we called Punkin… No not pumpkin! He was one of those kids that was mischievous as for a nicer way to put it. He jabbed me in the arm with a pencil, and I still have the lead in there where it broke off. Now… you get the picture of what kind of kid he was!

Jackie tells the story about when we were at recess and she got mud on my new red tennis shoes. I was so mad at her that I put glue in her seat. Then one day we were playing on the seesaw. Freda and I on one end and Jackie on the other and Jackie jumped off and I landed on my butt. I told the teacher on her(Jackie) and she was punished by having to stand at the chalk board with her nose in a circle that was drawn on it. At least that’s the way she tells it.

For some reason I don’t remember the second grade. Maybe Jackie can remember.