When I arrived at Univ. of Texas, fall of 1964, I repeatedly heard the expression “Midland people – you could stir ‘Em with a stick.” Of course at first, I thought this was an insult. But now, I understand it completely and consider it a compliment.
Midland people are brave, strong, outgoing, loyal, adventurous, accomplished, kind, spirited and unique. We all share those qualities. So yes, it is quite a compliment to say ” we are all stirred by the same stick.”
Well, the funniest thing is I think those who went to Lee think I graduated from Midland and those who graduated from Midland think I graduated from Lee since that was the year Lee opened.
Actually, my junior year, my Dad went to work for Husky Oil and we moved to Denver where I graduated from HS, then went to Oklahoma State and transferred to El Paso my junior year in college. I ended up graduating from UTEP in ‘68.
Arrived pre-school age in Midland first in 1949, with my geologist dad (Magnolia Oil Company in those days, with “Pegasus”, its flying red horse) moving us from Illinois to a red-brick duplex on Nobles Street, not far from Big Spring Avenue, Johnny Henderson’s grocery and the Spudnut shop next door.
Dad ordered an FHA financed house to be built by James Chestnut’s dad a bit further west on Nobles (616) closer to the “A” Street Park. That house backed up to the cemetery (spooky) and its dirt alley was a great place to find horned toads, jump away from rattle snakes and chase blowing tumbleweeds. Started first grade there (North Elementary) and lasted through some of the fourth – with a big interruption of budding friendships in the middle. (Explains why most of you did not know me in those years.)
I was 4/5 years old (1949) when we moved to Midland from Silver City, New Mexico. My mother, brother, and I were all born in Silver. My father was in charge of the silver mine in the town of Vanadium, a mining town of about 20 houses and about 15 minutes from Silver City. He moved there after college graduation with US Smelting, Refining and Mining and married my mother. Our move to Midland began my father ‘s career in the oil business. I am pretty sure that my mother cried for the first year that we lived there. She thought we had moved to the flattest, most desolate place possible. The heat was unbearable and the dust storms continually filled the house with sand. We had neighbors to the east but the west was a sea of vacant lots filled with tumbleweeds that always blew into our cinderblock fence.
We lived at 1909 Michigan and it was always hot most of the year. Where our driveway ended the vacant lots seemed to go on forever. My mother and father were campers and outdoor people so they cautioned us to not roam in the vacant lots as rattlesnakes had been found there. They told us if we ever heard a rattle to freeze and not move. I think I was six and my brother and I went out to play in the neighborhood—probably barefooted. I heard the rattle as I went out the back gate. I froze, looked down, and saw the snake coiled in front of me. My brother got my mother and she killed it with a hoe. I will never know how I was not so traumatized that I never went outside again.
Looking back on my childhood in Midland, the thing that first comes to mind is the freedom to be independent and to experience life as it happened. I certainly had rules and expectations that I would hopefully follow them. The rules changed as I grew older and they were always there to help me get older—not always the way I saw them. The independence part came early—even before we started 1st grade. It was leaving the house in early morning, roaming the neighborhood until lunch, leaving again and coming home for dinner. There was no one organizing the games we played. Imaginations ran wild and the only limits were to try not break the few rules. The 50’s and 60’s in Midland gave us an ideal time to grow up. There were not the frantic times of today–no TV, no cell phones, and a slower way of life. I must really be old now as I am beginning to hear myself say what my parents used to say to me when I was 30. I thought they had become senile.
By: Gary Durossette (class of 63) and Gana Shriver Durossette (class of 66)
Gary : Alamo,MHS,LHS
Sports : LHS golf team Junior & senior years
College : Texas Tech BBA Marketing(John Franklin was roommate)
Military : US Air Force
Career : Oil & Gas business
Gary : I moved to Midland for my 9th grade and attended Alamo Jr. High. My father was employed by Halliburton as a petroleum engineer and his job responsibilities required us to move every year for the first eight years of my school life. This simply means that I had to attend a different school in a different town from the age of six until fifteen. Each town and school seemed larger and more imposing than the last. Friendships were difficult to make because why bother, I would only be there a short time. Then the move to Midland was next in line. Imagine my surprise when we stayed for several years and I learned early that my classmates and pals knew everyone else. I thought that all kids in an oilfield environment moved as I had done and we would all be on equal footing, not so, but also not difficult to fit in. I would seek out another newest kid in class and compare stories of each other’s live before Midland and then, before I knew it, I had my own list of friends, albeit not quite as long a list as those born and raised in west Texas but, none the less, a start. I now to this day call my friends from Midland my best friends and we stay in close touch.
Click below to listen to “Susie Darlin” by Robin Luke
By: Suzi Northcutt Griffith (MHS’63)
My dad was transferred by Magnolia Petroleum from Kermit to Midland in 1946.Our first home was rented on the south side of town from a couple who became close friends of my parents for life. Bea and Leonard Clark. They had come to Midland during the war from San Antonio because Leonard helped develop the Norden Bombsight which was used on planes at Midland Field during the war. He could fix or create anything, and for many years he was the only piano tuner in the Permian Basin. He’d go all the way into New Mexico to tune pianos. Eventually they moved to a house on Illinois St. I don’t know when the High School was built, but I do remember playing in the vacant land on the east of their house where years later The Midland Youth Center would be built. Don’t remember much from this time because I was so young, but I did have a tricycle and rode it on the sidewalk. Mother told me they bought Ozarka water for me because the fluoride in the wells would stain the teeth of young children. About three years later we moved into the house my dad built with the help of friends. This was on land that he bought from a local rancher, Conrad Holzgraf, who was selling lots for development. Conrad’s house fronted on a dirt road that became Golf Course Road and a dirt road that became “A” Street. The southwest corner of that intersection and beyond in both directions became the golf course for the original Midland Country Club. I can remember quite the commotion from a loudspeaker during tournaments (Wildscatter, I suppose). The Holzgrafs had a windmill and there was another windmill further west by Golf Course Road. If you traveled south toward town on “A” street, you would come to the cemetery. Looking north, there was nothing but grass and mesquite and not much of either between my house and Midland Draw.
WHERE ARE THE TREES?A sheltered look at growing up in Midland as a PK (Pastor’s Kid)
I was entering 3rd grade when my family of 6 moved from Dallas to Midland, Texas. Where were the trees? In Dallas the family lived in a beautiful old mansion at 401 North Rosemont. That structure still stands as an event center. Trees lined the entire corner of the block ….tall trees. They turned colors in the fall before shedding their leaves. When my family lived there the mansion was purchased by the Lutheran Church to serve as both a mission church and a “parsonage”. The first floor was used as the church and the second was where our family lived. To my young eyes the 19 century house was beautiful with it’s stained glass windows on the landing of the wide staircase that led up to “our home.” But now we were in west Texas—Midland, Texas. Midland was home to the tumbleweeds and dust storms the likes of which our family had never seen. Once in HS my dad sent me down to Furr’s grocery store for milk or something we needed for Sunday lunch. I hopped on my bicycle pedaling against the wind of a sand storm, head down and determined. I rode right into the back of a car parked on the curb near our church. The entire time I was in Midland I yearned for a beautiful green yard with lots of trees. I remember, at Christmas, helping mother decorate a little tumbleweed tree , made of graduated sizes of tumbleweeds. We stacked 3 one on top of another, shaped much like a snowman. The “tree” was first sprayed with canned snow. We also had a real tree, a Douglas fir, often brittle before we took it down after Epiphany. By then, brown needles blanketed the floor around it. Our house wasn’t quite ready when we arrived to Midland in 1952. A very kind and talented carpenter and member of the Dallas church built both the Midland church and was still living in our house as he was still putting on the finishing touches to both church and house..
I remembered that I had fairly recently seen a photo of my home (under construction at the time of the photo), which brought back a flood of memories. The original email (below) went to my grandchildren, trying to give them a flavor of my earlier years.
Before going further I would like to add that I have lived away from Midland since my graduation in 1964. I now am living in North Texas in the Sherman/Denison area. When discussions start and people want to know where you grew up, I always tell them Midland, Texas. This always brings positive comments about how wonderful the people are in West Texas and it must have been a great place to grow up. And I concur completely. I wouldn’t trade the time and place in my life for anything.
So with that, maybe the musings below will be a sweet memory for our classmates.