“Water in Midland Career Fund”

By John McElligott

Many have been asking so I wanted to update all of you about “ The Water in Midland Career Fund” at Odessa College. So many of you have generously contributed to the fund for students seeking to receive a degree and/or certificate in the trade fields.  

The fund we established in 2021 is designed to help those students that are enrolled in workforce high skilled, high wage programs (electricians, engineers, medical careers, welding, truck drivers etc.) at the college. Odessa College provides the necessary training that leads students to gainful employment. The programs at the college are designed to prepare students for in demand careers that will help solidify longevity in the workforce and trade careers.

Our fund is able to assist students that show a lot of promise to excel but have financial need. It is not a scholarship based on high school academic scores. There are a lot of students, including myself, that were not academic scholars, but are bright students that want to advance in the workforce.

The programs at Odessa College allow them to get the necessary training and skills in order to get very good jobs without a four-year university degree. Students selected to receive “The Water in Midland Career Fund” have tuition, fees and supplies covered.

Here is the update on the fund:

⦁     Currently 40 generous donors to the “Water in Midland” endowment fund. Please consider this worthwhile program to make your donations. This is a legacy we can leave for future generations. You can make donations here: whatsinthewaterinmidlandtexas.com/water-in-midland-fund/

⦁     All donations are tax deductible! Help stimulate the economy by training students to enter the workforce and receive a tax break…WIN! WIN!

⦁     The first donations were invested in an endowment fund in 2021 and accrued interest until December 2022. We awarded 5% of the interest earned from the fund to the first 7 student recipients in 2023.

⦁     Read more about it at: The Water in Midland Career Fund (touchnet.net)

The Water in Midland Career FundThe Water in Midland Career Fundsecure.touchnet.net

Please note: This does not reflect the most recent donations for 2023. These numbers are based on the in investment of 2021 and 2022 funds.


Donations: $56, 335.68

Dividends: $1342,34

Gains: $2898.59


Donations: $10,480

Dividends: $1847.88

Gains: $1650.25

Funding for tuition, fees and supplies were awarded to a total of 7 students in January 2023 for the Spring Semester. Of note, 1 of our donors (MHS 1963 graduate) graciously paid for 1 student to complete the certificate program in its entirety. That student will complete the program this Fall 2023.  

Please keep in touch and continue to send stories for the blog. If you have any questions about the fund or would like to donate please reach out to me and/or leave a comment below and I will contact you.

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.

Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall

Submitted by Bob Ittner

A little history most people will never know.

Interesting Veterans Statistics off the Vietnam Memorial Wall

There are 58,267 names now listed on that polished black wall, including those added in 2010.

The names are arranged in the order in which they were taken from us by date and within each date the names are alphabetized. It is hard to believe it is 36 years since the last casualties.

The first known casualty was Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth , Mass. Listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having been killed on June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who was killed on Sept. 7, 1965.

There are three sets of fathers and sons on the Wall.

39,996 on the Wall were just 22 or younger.

8,283 were just 19 years old.

The largest age group, 33,103 were 18 years old.
12 soldiers on the Wall were 17 years old.

5 soldiers on the Wall were 16 years old.

One soldier, PFC Dan Bullock was 15 years old.

997 soldiers were killed on their first day in Vietnam .

1,448 soldiers were killed on their last day in Vietnam .

31 sets of brothers are on the Wall.

Thirty one sets of parents lost two of their sons.

54 soldiers attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia . I wonder why so many from one school.

8 Women are on the Wall. Nursing the wounded.

244 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War; 153 of them are on the Wall.

Beallsville, Ohio with a population of 475 lost 6 of her sons.

West Virginia had the highest casualty rate per capita in the nation. There are 711 West Virginians on the Wall.

The Marines of Morenci – They led some of the scrappiest high school football and basketball teams that the little Arizona copper town of Morenci (pop. 5,058) had ever known and cheered. They enjoyed roaring beer busts. In quieter moments, they rode horses along the Coronado Trail, stalked deer in the Apache National Forest. And in the patriotic camaraderie typical of Morenci’s mining families, the nine graduates of Morenci High enlisted as a group in the Marine Corps. Their service began on Independence Day, 1966. Only 3 returned home.

The Buddies of Midvale – LeRoy Tafoya, Jimmy Martinez, Tom Gonzales were all boyhood friends and lived on three consecutive streets in Midvale, Utah on Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues. They lived only a few yards apart. They played ball at the adjacent sandlot ball field. And they all went to Vietnam. In a span of 16 dark days in late 1967, all three would be killed. LeRoy was killed on Wednesday, Nov. 22, the fourth anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Jimmy died less than 24 hours later on Thanksgiving Day. Tom was shot dead assaulting the enemy on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

The most casualty deaths for a single day was on January 31, 1968 ~ 245 deaths.

The most casualty deaths for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415 casualties were incurred.

For most Americans who read this they will only see the numbers that the Vietnam War created.To those of us who survived the war, and to the families of those who did not, we see the faces, we feel the pain that these numbers created.We are, until we too pass away, haunted with these numbers, because they were our friends, fathers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.

Please pass this on to those who served during this time, and those who DO Care.

Boys of Autumn (Basketball) and Spring(Baseball)

First chapter and see if there is an outcry for more….

Written by  Bob Ittner

I grew up feeling more comfortable on the baseball diamond than on the basketball court. As others have expressed I have great memories of the Midland baseball scene where I played from age 9 to 17. I went out for high school baseball as a sophomore. Coach Selbo gave me a warm-up pitching jacket which was quite an accomplishment for a sophomore-that team ended up going to State. Someone stole the jacket and Coach Selbo blamed me for being careless so I quickly went to the outhouse. At the same time Coach Todd was telling me how good James “Boots” Reeder was doing in spring basketball. Although I continued to play baseball in the summer I never went out for the high school team again. My senior year, MHS had a new coach who asked me to come out. Over the weekend, I got my  glove and spikes together but for some reason  I did not to show up and it is a regret. I went out for basketball as an 8th grader at San Jacinto and was one of the last players chosen on the team. I was always one of the taller, skinnier guys and at some point I can’t remember when  I was 6’1 ½” and weighed 129.  I never saw the court as a player only as a spectator-I did get to watch Dubby Malaise at Odessa Bonham(?) who was great then and great at Texas Tech. In the ninth grade, I didn’t get to play until the last part of the year when  I did start a few games. After the season  Warren Lynn and myself, Mike Goslin and Melvin Freeman from Cowden were invited by Coach Todd to come to MHS to participate in spring drills. Sam Cox, the SJ coach, had encourage me to start jumping  rope which I did and continued through my college career. I started on the B team as a sophomore for the 59-60 season but the real news was one of the best teams MHS ever had on the Varsity: Mike Humphrey and Mike Marsh (Moose and Goose-6’8” ), Dick Campbell, Charlie Dishman (Charlie D.), and Bob Davis with Knox Nunnally coming off the bench. They were undefeated and beating  everyone by 20 points or more including Borger who they defeated  twice by 25 or 26 points. In Bi-regional, they lost a coin flip and ended up playing Borger at Borger and losing in OT-what a disappointment. Both Marsh and Humphrey were All-State,  Charlie D. second team, and Bob Davis honorable mention. Humphrey was all-conference at UT, Marsh and Davis played at SMU, and Charlie at UT/Hardin Simmons.

1960-1961 Basketball Season

Written by by Robert Ittner

A funny story about Mike Humphrey who had a mean streak. The Bulldogs were handily beating  Permian at their gym ( the first year of Permian) and Humphrey and Gene Ross (who later lettered in baseball at UT) were running side by side when Humphrey nonchalantly elbowed Ross in the chest almost sending him into the stands. Fortunately the referees did not see.

I was lucky to play under Coach ROBERT Todd who was a class person as well as a super basketball coach. He was a great fundamental coach and every Monday was fundamental day. He would open the gym during the summer on Tuesday night and players knew to come for pick up games. You would have college kids home for the summer and high school players wanting to get better. He was prohibited from coaching but it gave us a good opportunity to improve and what fun! It is interesting to see how people at this stage in your life can have a positive impact depending on their encouragement or discouragement-Coach Todd was a wonderful influence on me and his reputation as a coach helped me get a scholarship to UT.

The year 1960-1961 I made the A team and started a couple of games when Knox was still footballing and one game when he was sick. We had one returning starter Charlie D surrounded by Knox, Ross Lynn, Albert Pierce, and Royce Woodard. Ron Peavy was 6th man and started some games late in the year. Charlie D. was a great high school player-All State with an unstoppable jump shot where he gathered his feet like a beaver hitting his tail on the water. Knox was an incredible competitor kind of herky jerky but very quick who later starred at UT for Darrell Royal and played on a National Championship team that beat Navy with Staubach in the Cotton Bowl. The other players filled in nicely. I believe each player scored at least 20 points in a game. Royce played at Tech and I understand is a scratch golfer in Midland. Ron Peavy also played in college at Pasadena Nazarene.

That team won district and beat a team from El Paso to reach Bi-Regional where we faced All State Steve Carter and Amarillo Palo Duro. Carter was a long range shooter who we wore down in the first half. In the second half he regained his touch and begin draining what would now be 3 pointers. Charlie D. had an off game having just broken up with Lynn Wallace and missed a lay-up putting the ball over the rim rather than off the backboard like Coach Todd taught us to do. Nevertheless it was a great season and the community really embraced the  team.

Basketball 1961-1962

Written by Robert Ittner

The year 1961-1962 dawned with great promise although the squad only returned 2 letterman-me and Warren Lynn and no starters. Coming up from the undefeated B team were 6’8” James (Long Tall Sally-so named after the Little Richard song) , Joe Sanchez, Dwain White, and underclass man Scotty Gilmour.  On the B team the year before Coach Spears labelled Dwain White and Ken Hancock the “Gold Dust Twins” because they had dyed their hair peroxide blonde to go with their cavalier attitudes.   In the Odessa tournament early in the year we lost in 5 OT’s to the Lubbock Westerners when Jimmy Fullerton hit a shot from the corner at the buzzer when we missed a free throw. We had beaten them earlier in their own gym. We also lost to Abilene in Abilene at the buzzer with a Virgil Pate shot after hammering them at home.

Continue reading

Christmas Memories

By Bob Ittner

My first memory of Midland is disembarking from the Texas and Pacific railcar on a chilly night in December 1952 after leaving our sunny and green Pasadena California home to be greeted by freezing weather and brown grass. Another memory is my father and me visiting an abandoned Christmas tree lot, gathering up the trees left behind, and placing them in front of our house on 2701 North “L”.

Click here to Read more

Staying Alive-ah, ha, ha, ha, Stayin’ Alive

By Bob Ittner

Click above to listen to “Do You Feel Like We Do” by Peter Frampton

Danamite: Tell me what you do to stay in 75-year-old shape, soon to be 76.

Ittner: First, I picked good parents. My father had heart trouble around 50. His normal breakfast was bacon, eggs, toast with butter, whole milk. My parents quickly moved to starting their day with a soy protein drink with non-fat dry milk, banana, and a wide array of vitamins. Other concessions included removing the skin from chicken, cutting the fat off of steaks, giving up butter, etc. My Dad walked to the post office every day about a mile. When he located a downed tree, he asked the person to deliver the tree to the vacant lot behind our house which he chopped for firewood. He played tennis until shortly before he died at 95. My Mom was a regular at the Y for an exercise class where she passed away from a heart attack at 93.

Danamite: I knew you played basketball at MHS. What impact did that have?

Ittner: Once again, good fortune. MHS had a wonderful basketball coach Robert Todd. I did everything I could to be a better player. I lifted weights to try to gain weight. Doc Dodson gave me a boot with weights to strengthen my quads which I used religiously. As others have pointed out Doc was always positive source of encouragement. Warren Lynn and I took a yoga class at the Y. I think Warren still practices. One morning at 6 AM Bill Ingram joined me for a session and I treated him to yogurt and brewer’s yeast afterwards. Bill says he has never had yogurt since.

Danamite: So you were active growing up?

Ittner: Yes, besides basketball I played baseball in the summer starting when I was 9 and played what we now call rec ball through my junior year in high school-my last year I hit 3 out of Hogan Park which was unusual at the time. Steve Thomas, John Waid, Nugent Brasher and I played on a Little League team with George W. Bush. I regretted that I did not go out for the MHS team after my sophomore year but had a clash with the coach when he thought I had not been careful enough with a warm up jacket that was stolen from my locker. Iris Todd, Coach Todd’s wife (Coach Todd passed away from Alzheimer’s about 8 years ago) reminds me that I probably would not have accomplished as much in basketball if I had divided my attention. In retrospect she is probably right.

Danamite: I understand you played basketball for the University of Texas.

Ittner: A wonderful experience that paid for my college education when Midland was in one of its oil slumps. I am still in contact with the three others that were scholarship freshman-all have had very successful lives. I got to play with Midlander Mike Humphrey (MHS ’60) and rub shoulders with other Midlanders on scholarship-Bill Munn, Charles Giesey, Mark and Mike King, Knox Nunnally, Bob Stanley, Dick Kimbrough. Who am I leaving out?

Charlie Dishman (MHS ’61) did not return after his freshman year to my disappointment. Don Patteson and Robert Lambert played on the freshman team when I was a sophomore. Lynn S. and Jay Brim were cheerleaders at UT during this time.

I lived in Moore Hill Hall, the jock dorm, all 4 years a 4-story building with no elevator living at 401 my freshman year. Coach Bradley told us how important it was to get up and have breakfast so I scheduled six 8 AM classes my first couple of years (that means Saturday). I would get up before breakfast and jump rope until the upper classman in 301 came up one morning rubbing the sleep from his eyes “this better not happen again.”

I learned a lot from sports which helped which has helped me in life and in business. UT had success winning the SWC my freshman (Elite Eight in NCAA’s-freshman not eligible) and junior years. As a junior I had the pleasure of watching and playing with Larry Franks (RIP) who was performing at his highest level. It is the only time in my athletic career that I can remember one of my teammates putting it all together (self actualization-the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities). Although only a part time starter I was Captain my senior year and had my best varsity performance my final game at Gregory Gym!

Danamite: Take me from there.

Ittner: I played slow pitch softball up until my late 30’s, tennis until a couple of years ago, and racquetball for about 40 years. I really enjoyed RB-great work-out. Larry Prescott (Midlander) and I played at least once a week from the late 70’s until he retired in 2006 and moved to Santa Fe.

Danamite: What are you doing now?

Ittner: I gave up tennis and RB to save my knees. 17 years ago I started riding in the MS 150 which is a 150 mile two day bicycle ride from Houston to College Station to find a cure for those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. This year’s ride scheduled for May 2 and 3 has been postponed until September 26.  

The rest of the time I try to go to the gym (before they were shut down) every weekday morning setting my alarm for 6:00 to ride the stationary bicycle, do light weight work, and/or play wallyball-volleyball in a racquetball court. During the crisis I have been walking our two golden retrievers twice a day trying to get 10,000 steps minimum. I am contemplating taking up yoga again.

Danamite: Anything else?

Ittner: My wife Linda is 63 and has lots of energy. My Father always advised to hang around younger people. Easy to do now because everyone is younger! Last year we went to Sayulita Mexico, took an Alaskan cruise, and had a great trip to Nashville. In February this year we went to Mexico City (wedding) and Oaxaca (visit Nugent). We were going to go to Italy to ski in March and take a Grand Canyon raft trip (postponed until September 2021). Still on the drawing board is a trip to San Diego in September and a wedding in Cabo in November.  Who knows?

Danamite: Final thoughts?

Ittner: God willing and the Creek don’t rise I could live a long time. I know it is important to stay active physically and mentally, eat judiciously, and hang around younger people like my wife, our children, grandchildren, John McElligott and Wemasario! And have a glass of wine. “Well, woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand. Whose wine? What wine? Where the hell did I dine?” Peter Frampton