My Memories of Midland

Written by Fred Underwood (MHS Class 51′)

My memories of Midland began in July 1949.  We were living in Mexia, TX.  Dad came home and announced that we would be moving to Midland.  The Pure Oil Co had a long-term contract to sell all its oil at a price that had been overtaken by inflation.  I spent my first two weeks of my junior year at Mexia High School.  In geometry class, we did nothing but memorize the twelve theorems upon which all proofs were based.  This effort became germain my first day in Mrs. Phillipus’ geometry class at Midland High School.

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Part Two- My Memories of Midland (1949 – 1950)

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. 

Midland Memories Part 3

Written by Fred Underwood

During the summer between my Junior and Senior year, two events of note happened.  First, we moved from Terminal to a house we rented at 1100 West Illinois.  When I walked out the front door and kept on walking across the street, I found myself on the walkway to the main entrance to Midland High School.  Across the street to the right of our house was the Youth Center.  To me, it was an ideal location.  I enjoyed school so much that I was the first one to school almost every day.  The second event was that I became sweet on a young lady who could sing like a diva.  To spend more time with her, I joined the Youth Choir at the First Medothist Church.  The Minister of Music insisted that I sing tenor instead of the melody.  When I got it right, I fell in love with harmony.  A song was put in my heart, and I didn’t care which one it was.  Just so you know my status, when I sang, I perceived that I sounded like Jim Neighbors.  When I heard my voice recorded, I realized that everyone else was hearing Gomer Pyle.

Football season started immediately.  Our ineligibility year was over, so Gus Baker, David Laverty, Guy Vanderpool, and Fred Underwood became members of the practice team preparing the Varsity for the games.  Coach Tugboat Jones and his single-wing offense did very well.  In District play, we lost to Odessa and soundly beat Lubbock  Lubbock then beat Odessa.  We were all set to be in a three-way tie for District Champions.  All we had to do was to earn a win over little Lamesa (the district doormat).  Alas, we lost 14 to 12.  As I recall it, after the end of football season, the sweet young thing that put a song in my heart dumped me for a basketball player.  I still thank her for putting that song in my heart.  She now lives in Albuquerque

I took every math course the school offered and all the science courses except biology.  I thoroughly enjoyed my two years living in Midland.  After graduation, I went to the U.S. Naval Academy and retired 32 years later.  By that time, I had no connections left in Midland.  So we retired in Appomattox, Va.