By Mike Morris

My Junior year, I was a cheerleader.  I don’t know how I was lucky enough to accomplish this, but it all started with Eloise Conger.  We knew each other casually just by interacting in passings in the halls, etc..  One day she stopped me and said we need to talk.  Wow!  What could this be?  We stepped aside and she asked me if I would be interested in being a cheerleader?  What!  Me, a cheerleader?  After the talk, I learned she was wanting to build a team of six to do Cheerleading for next year.  The team would be her, Margaret McDaniels, Ann Eliot (yes, Eloit), Bill Wristen, Bobby Saw and me.  In short, we ran and we were elected as the team for 1957. 

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Graduation Banquet Surprise!

Written by Mike Morris

MHS graduations, back then, consisted of an all-night dinner/dance/music/prize event.  If you lasted long enough to stay for the final prize drawing, you could see which graduating senior won a brand new CAR!  Yes, a CAR.  Now I don’t know who thought this car gift up, whether it was donated by Elder Chevrolet, or the school board budgeted it for the grad gift, or some generous Midlander gifted it, or just what, but in the preceding years, 1955, 56 and 57, one very lucky graduating senior had received a brand new car!  Of course, this was the highlight of the evening (morning), so most of us stuck around to see who was to be that lucky person. 

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The Driverless Car

Written by Mike Morris

The summer after graduation, I decided to make a cool car cruiser out of the old ’48 Chevy.  I went to my friend, Bruce McKague’s house to use his welding torch to heat the front springs on the ’48 to lower the front end as low as i could.  This was supposed to make it look as cool as possible, but it just made it look more like a tumble bug!  Next, I took all the seats out and leveled the floor with plywood, and found some old carpet and padding for guys to sit on.  Then, using an old webbed lawn chair as a drivers seat, a bunch of my friends and I would cruise around playing poker and drinking beer (Norman Booth could pass for 21).

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Learning About Girls (and Still Learning)

Written by Mike Morris

When I got my first car, I began taking girls out
to the movies, etc.  At the end of one of my dates, we pulled up in front of her house and began some casual talk.  As we sat talking, I saw that her profile reminded me of someone, and I blurted it out…”Hey, you remind me of my Grandmother!” 
Of course, she said, “WHAT!” 
I was startled because I loved my Grandmother.  She seemed upset.  But as I explained that her profile looked like what my Grandmother’s profile would have looked like when she was in her youth, she calmed down a bit. 
I wonder if that’s why she got out of the car then?

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Various Memories from 5th & 6th Grades in Midland

By: Mike Morris (Class of 58′)

Since I graduated MHS in 1958, I am friends with Dr. John’s brother, Tom.  He told me of this site and, even though I do not know but a few folks whose stories are being shared, I can relate to the exictment of their childhood and teen advntures.  I was invited to share some of my rememberances of those
growing up years in my life in hopes of adding to the entertaining reading that this site has so richly produced.  As you will hopefully see, my adventures can apply no matter what year you graduated!

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Junior High Days: Girls VS Boys

Written by Mike Morris

Junior high school days, for me, just seemed to flash by.  The first days of starting to “the BIG school” at Cowden Jr. High saw most of us just struggling to find the friends they knew from their old elementary schools.  Having that small bit of solace just seemed to keep the panic at bay for most of us.  Of course, I instantly picked up on those girls who just seemed to fit in so naturally and were instantly popular, (a word that wasn’t used much up to now by the boys!).  Social awareness was becoming an item that us little boys just had no clue about…especially me!  However, the girls were wayyy ahead of the boys on this subject.   And all the guys just seemed to put on this persona of toughness.  That stoic look that would be their protective armor.   Of course, none of the guys would admit to being uneasy (scared to death!), or uncomfortable with this new situation.  

About the most memorable thoughts for me during these first jr. high days were observing all these cute little girls walking around, most of whom I had never seen, who were beginning to grow chest bumps…some more noticeable than others.  And most of them hid their budding assets by holding their books and binders tightly to their chests as they walked along, usually two to three abreast, talking and smiling like they had not a worry in the world.  At the time, I wondered if they were just hiding them from the boys, or if some of the older girls had told them that’s just how “proper” girls carry their books.  But all, and I mean ALL of the girls did this.  Little did we boys realize, or even think of at the time, that seeing a girl carrying their books propped on their hip like a guy, would have appeared kinda “butch” to all others.  Yes, the hormones were stirring, and at that time, it seemed that only the boys were having that problem!  None of the girls EVER would let THAT secret out back then!  If we boys had only known!  

Junior High: The Sinister Payback!

Written by Mike Morris

Although most of us guys were not muscle bound at that time in our body development, there were some guys who were.  Of those who were, there was this one guy who was NOT very nice.  His name was Tommy Gebhardt.   His last name may have been spelled differently, but it doesn’t matter at this point!  He had failed a grade and was a couple of grades ahead of us newcomers, so that made him much older and much larger than most of us, and he knew we were scared to death of him!   He would randomly pick on any of us little guys at any time as he towered over us.  To us, this guy was meaner than the proverbial junk yard dog.  The classic bully who reminded me so much of the bully kid right out of the movie,  “A Christmas Story”, with his toothy sneer and scary laugh and grin.  This poor kid must have had the poorest upbringing known to mankind, because at times, he made life for a bunch of us just miserable….probably just as miserable as was his life.

On occasion, my good friend, Louis Holiman and I would go to lunch across the street from the school at a little hamburger joint called Bob’s Burgers ( I think).  We would usually get a hamburger, fries and a small drink for about 75 cents.  Then we would pool what little change we had left to buy Hershey bars…usually a nickel each.  We ate at tables outside the stand that were scattered randomly around the building.  When and if we saw Tommy coming to our table, we would quickly wolf everything down we hadn’t eaten because we knew he would take whatever we had not yet eaten for himself.  This would make him mad and he would hassle us for a bit, but then he would move on and go around to other tables seeking what he could take from other kids.  Sadly, we just did not realize this poor guy had no support from home and was probably just hungry…probably had not eaten breakfast either.  He was just out there trying to survive….at other’s expense.  Actually, the thing he took from us mostly though, was our candy, because he timed the “visits” when he saw we a Hershey bar on the table and hadn’t started eating it.  We would try hiding it beforehand, but found that it would melt in our pockets, making it a real mess to eat.

There was a drug store down the street from the school.  Louis and I were shopping there one afternoon after school.  I heard Louis call my name from across the store isles.  I looked up to see him excitedly waving his hands, so I went to see what he wanted.  He was smiling broadly and proudly said, “Look what I found!”.  There it was!  I heard angels sing!  The answer to how to get back at what Tommy had been doing to us and others during our lunch period!  Chocolate flavored ExLax bars!  Man!  What a sinister payback!  In time, we finally saved enough lunch money to buy a bar of this stuff (it was expensive!).  The big day came.  We strategically set the “chocolate” bar out in plain site on the table.  When Tommy approached our table on his scavenger hunt,  we acted like we were attempting to keep him from seeing it.  To our expectations, he immediately grabbed it from our hands and it disappeared in two bites!  He never saw the words, “ExLax” boldly embossed in each square of the “chocolate” bar.  Later in class that afternoon, we heard someone running down the hall, yelling, and the restroom door slamming to the doorstop!  We never saw him, but we soon heard the janitors and their mop buckets along with a lot of mumbling…and a foul odor!  And, although we didn’t see him for a couple or so days, we ate our lunches in peace for a while.  He never caught on to what we had done, (thank goodness), and it did not deter him from the occasional food grabs at lunch….but it was worth putting up with for what we had accomplished.

Another “Tommy” incident involved one of the muscle-bound good guys named George “T” Barr.  Of course, everyone called him T Barr. He looked like one of those Greek god statues with muscle definition everywhere on his body. One day, Tommy was picking on a friend of ours on the entrance steps to the school.  Of course, no body wanted to get hurt by stepping in, but T Bar happened to see what Tommy was doing to our friend and he took the initiative to stop Tommy’s bullying.  Everyone watching was elated to see that Tommy was about to get his ass whipped!  “T” walked up behind him, grabbed Tommy by the shoulder, swung him around and slapped him pretty hard across his face!  You could hear the “report” from across the street!  “T” smiled at him and then asked him if he wanted some more of that.  Everyone watching almost wet their pants they were so happy to finally see someone do to Tommy that they all WISHED they could do.  Of  course, Tommy didn’t dare fight “T”, because  NOBODY was dumb enough to do that!  That’s when “T” told Tommy if he ever saw, or even heard of him bothering our friend again, he would, “hunt him down like a dog”!  Words that belonged in a John Wayne movie!  Our hero…everybody loved T Barr!  “T Barr for president!”  That moment was etched in all of the observer’s minds!  I don’t think anyone has EVER forgotten that scene.  Many years later, I was informed that Tommy ended up going to prison.  His life ended when the other prisoners beat the life out of him.  Sad ending to a sad life.

My friend, Dean Atwood Chase (D.A.)

Written by Mike Morris

Later in the year, I made a new friend.  Dean Atwood Chase.  With a name like that, (one belonging on a family crest), he preferred that everyone called him by the initials of his first and middle names…D.A.  At that time of our lives, no one had yet come up with the negative association that now identifies one as a D.A., so everyone just called him D.A. without concern.  I found we both liked motorcycles and building model airplanes with gas engines.  He became kind of a role model to me as he had a Cushman motor scooter and we would ride around for hours on that thing, so I held him in high esteem.  One day he introduced me to a high school friend of his who rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle.  He weighed around 235 pounds, wore a dirty, sleeveless t-shirt and greasy jeans that drug the ground, and had a big ole’ belly that shined beneath the edge of the bottom of his t-shirt.  When we rode up to where he was, he was squatted down working on his bike with the “plumber’s butt crack” exposed.  During our conversation,  the only thing I remember him saying was “If a Harley doesn’t leak oil, it’s out of oil!”  Harley owners back then were always having to work on them as they were highly unreliable.  So, in order to be a Harley rider back then, you either had to either like being greasy all the time, or have a lot of money to pay for maintence.  Thankfully, they (Harleys) have somewhat improved since then.

D.A. and I were both about the same small, but he attempted to “bulk up” by wearing a big ole’ black leather motorcycle jacket and the same color clunky motorcycle boots.  I could hear him coming down the hall by the sound his boots made.  For lunches, we would sometimes walk to the Spudnut donut shop across from the front of the school and grab a couple of donuts.  This action probably started me on my later-in-life battle with atherosclerosis, but I didn’t know that big word back then, so nothing was off the menu for me.  After eating our donuts, we would join some other guys out back of the store, and smoke cigarettes.  Now I didn’t smoke…had never even tried to…and didn’t even want to. And, of course, I became the constant target of an immense amount of teasing and ragging by the smoking crowd because I didn’t smoke.  D.A. just kept quite.  I had to bear this unmerciful teasing on a regular basis.  So, one day, tiring of this, I decided that in order for me to shut these guys up, I was just going to have to show them that I could smoke a cigarette.  D.A. gave me one of his Lucky Strikes, I lit it and puffed away.  No big deal!  And then…here it came.  I caught another round of hell from the smokers because I wasn’t inhaling!  Worse thing was though, is that they instructed me on how I should be inhaling by taking a big ole’ drag from the cigarette and then quickly taking a deep breath with my mouth wide open.  Well…I did!  I immediately thought I was going to die!  I saw stars!  Then I went blind!  I couldn’t get my breath…it had gone into lockdown mode and I thought I was going to choke to death!  I was on the ground rolling around and hoping someone was calling an ambulance!  I was not breathing!  Then I lost my donuts all in one projectile moment!   Damn!  There went my lunch!  Throughout all this panic, I was hearing an uproarious chorus of laughter and, when my sight returned, I saw that all of the smokers were rolling around on the ground with me, tears of laughter running down their nicotine stained faces!  D.A. poured some of his drink on my face and that helped, somehow, for me to come back to a state of semi-normalcy.  I made it back to school for afternoon classes, but I just know the teachers were wondering why my face was green…or at least it felt that way to me.  BTW, I quit smoking at age 25, and I’m glad I did because I lost some good friends to lung cancer.  Even lost one good friend, Tom Steele, to lung cancer who DIDN’T smoke…but his Mama did…until she also died with lung cancer.

D.A and I maintained a casual friendship through the years, and we saw and visited each other at all of our high school class reunions.  After high school, he went on to attend Tech in Lubbock to study engineering, but left school his junior year because he was upset with, as he said, “How liberal all his damn professors were.”  So, as he was very mechanically talented, (he helped me completely overhaul the engine on my ’50 Olds when we were Juniors), he opened up a small automotive repair shop.  Later, after his parents passed, he took some of his inheritance, bought a 36′ sail boat, learned how to sail and sailed around the world….twice!  He earned spending money by sailing from port to port offering his mechanical skills to rich yacht owners whose boats needed repairs.  And he also made a good living installing water purification and reverse osmosis systems in remote island plantations.  He surprised me with a visit about 10 years back.  It would be our last visit, because he passed about a year later from the bad kind of skin cancer.  All of that ocean sun apparently had taken its toll…and although he never mentioned it, I kinda think he knew, thus, the reason for the visit. 

Coach Russell and the “M” word

Written by Mike Morris

I’ll never forget the time Coach Russell had a sit down P.E. class with a film and discussion on Human Anatomy and Reproduction.  I think we were in the 9th grade by then, and all of us were very excited and looked forward to seeing the old 16mm film projector begin the film with it’s familiar rattle and smell.  We were all anxiously leaning forward in our desks, intensely focused on what we may soon be observing!  Oh boy…maybe we were finally going to get the chance to see real pictures of the mysteries of the taboo female anatomy!  Something all of us knew absolutely nothing about, but talked a good game, “behind the barn”, on what we thought we knew.  Well…the film began.   It was then that we disappointingly discovered that there were just DRAWINGS in the film!  Damn!  What a letdown…we didn’t learn a thing….and we were so disappointed because we hadn’t seen “The REAL THING”.  Hell, we could see this much in those little “Betty Boop” nasty comic books they had back then!  However, Coach next did a small segment on human reproduction and how that took place (our minds really wandered here), but then he brought up a taboo word that almost NONE of us had even heard of at that age…the “M” word!!!  We knew it by other words, but I won’t go there.  All of us suddenly got really quiet.  Now I know Coach Russell must have done this session with other classes many times prior to ours, and this next part of his lesson was probably a high point for him.  He began his discussion by saying that anyone could vividly tell if they had ever “M”-ed before!  What!  He had everyone’s attention now!  No one moved…not even blinked!  It got really quiet!  All eyes front!  He then said…and this was really profound….”It causes hair to begin growing in the palms of your hands.”  No one moved…for a little bit…then….very, very slowly, heads straight forward, eyes began to lower, mouths began to curve downward, and one hand on each guy began to slowly open, palm up to inspect them for that mysterious hair that they just KNEW was beginning to appear there!  Then, each guy, realizing what was happening around them, closed their hand and shot their eyes straight forward, as I’m sure, in that moment, Coach was doing all he could to stifle a laugh.  Had to be entertaining from his point of view.  After class, walking out into the bright West Texas sunlight, you could glimpse around at a few of the guys doing a closer palm exam, then looking around to see if anyone saw them.  And Coach didn’t even say anything about what the girls did!  Bummer! 


Written by Mike Morris

Football!  In the 8th grade, I decided I just HAD to play football if I was going to have any chance for the girls to like, or to even notice me.  I went to the Coach and told him I wanted to try out for the football team.  I’ll never forget the look on his face as he intertwined his fingers behind his head and leaned back in that creaky old swivel chair.  As he contemplated my announcement…almost a sneer came upon his face, but then, with a slight grin…a reply came of, “Son…have you ever played on a school football team?”  “Yes sir…on my 6th grade team at Crockett!”  He then replied, “Well son, that was two years ago and most of the team members here have done some growing since then, but looks like you’re a little behind”.  Well, this really instilled me with a lot of confidence!  Way to go Coach!  He then sent me to the locker room where I was outfitted with some of the stinkiest, dirtiest, old and heavily padded uniform I had ever experienced.  I think the padding, for the most part, was cork…crumbled cork…and very thin at that!  The shoulder pads fit like they had belonged to The Incredible Hulk, and were so heavy I could barely lift them over my head to put them on.  They had no tie-downs so the jersey (also a Hulk item), had to hold the shoulder pads in place.  It was so bad that when I ran drills, the pads would bounce up and down so badly that I was blind on the up bounce, and slammed to the ground on the downstroke…well… almost.  It was at that point that I gained immense respect for any running back who could outrun their adversaries wearing all of this heavy chain mail.  You could hear me running from across the street I rattled so loud!  It was like trying to run with another person piggyback!  Then, after a week or two, Coach began teaching us blocking skills.  After a few “dry” lessons on the blocking dummy, he started us on “live” blocking practice.  Ok, here I am at a whopping 125 pounds, (wet), and Coach matched me to a blocking partner named Norman Booth.  Now with a last name of Booth, you can just conjure up a pretty good image of good ole’ Norman (did I mention the word telephone?).  Ok, we line up across from each other.  It was actually a little cooler for me while I was in his shadow.  Then, coach utters “Hut!”, and I immediately felt that I had just been hit by a stray car that had accidently left the street!  Then, l feel Coach lifting up on my waist band trying to get me to take a breath, I guess.  That padding did absolutely nothing to protect me…nothing!  Afterwards, another player looking on when I was “Boothed”, told me everybody watching groaned when it happened.  Some solace!   I moaned too…for about three days.  Well, that ended the desire for me to do something so foolish just to get attention from the pretty little girls.  That was enough for me!   In fact, I was really glad there weren’t any girls watching when the attempted murder took place.  I think I saw Coach smiling when they carried me to the locker room.  Hummm….I wonder?  

It was at this time I decided to join the band and learn to play the drums.  One of the best decisions I ever made.  It later opened up opportunities that I never imagined. 

Soon to come…my high school years…loved every minute of them!