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.
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!
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.
I spent the First Grade at St. Ann’s in Midland, but changed schools for the second grade. In those days, my mother worked at the Terminal Independent School System as a part time substitute teacher, so I requested a transfer. My brothers, Tom and Bruce, already went to school there. Tom tells me that my dog, Roof, and I slept on the ground outside the school window waiting for the bell to ring at 3 pm. We wanted to make sure both got home OK.
After the 3rd grade we were bused into town. I think we went to South elementary. I think that’s where I knew Bill Bearden from. Bill you will have to help me on this one. The only thing I remember about that year is there was some kind of contest. And I was running for queen of something. I think we had to sell something. Some kind of tickets. Whoever sold the most was named “queen”. I got runner up. I remember hearing my mom and her friends saying I should have won but the girl that won, her mother cheated by buying her daughter’s tickets. I had to pick an escort and I couldn’t decide between James Hubbard and Davis Ellis. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings. Like they cared! Lol I think we had a man teacher but I don’t remember his name. Maybe Bill does. Hope you have more memories about that year Bill.
I did go to South my entire elementary school years. The first grade we were in a Bible Study class in a church across the street. There were other first graders in other rooms in the church as well. In the third grade I went in an old (probably 100 years old) red brick building that was probably the original building. The remainder of the time I went to the new building. I do know the kids from Terminal started to school with us in the 4th grade. I think the teacher was Mr. Anderson. There were a number of kids in my class from Terminal that year. I rode my bike to school starting in the third grade … it was probably five or six miles. Hard to believe. And I do remember that you were in the class.
Growing up we lived in Terminal Texas. From the time I was one until I was eleven years old, we lived in Terminal in the old Army barracks. Terminal (right off Highway 80 and in the middle of the Scarborough Ranch) was a fun, but challenging place, since we were 10 miles from Midland and 12 from Odessa, Texas.
Christmas was one of the best parts of being a McElligott. We would get a big tree every year to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. A few days before Christmas Eve, we would decorate the tree. It was always after dark so the lights could be lit and remain on until after New Year’s Day.
Decorating the tree was a family event, and we had all our miniature trains set up as well. My brother, Tom, still has the big gauge tract and large old engine and cars that were my father’s when he was a kid.
The tree was fully decorated with bulbs, icicles, candy canes, and angels with one giant angel on the top point of the tree. But mostly, we treasured the giant red bulb and who would get to hang it. Being the shortest kid was a bummer but nonetheless my mom would pick one of us to hang this beautiful red bulb. This tradition was the most memorable. I have always remembered that moment and I still cry!!