Wednesday, July 31, 2013



Temecula, CA – Over the years one truth came out first. The high school that I graduated from was unique from all others I have ever heard about. Returning to my old Alma Mata in the block long building I attended, now an ample Salvation Army facility, and being back in the company of fellow grad classmates at the country club dinner bash was certainly something I hope my grandfather in Paradise witnessed and smiled about.

Always a class act, the late afternoon-evening 50 year class reunion featured the sweetest compliment to Walt Oster, creator of the tee shirt/cake top reunion logo. More for sports than artistic talent is how I remember Walt, but either way, Male pulled the best out of its pupils. After the jump, a look at some classmates and the room we all enjoyed each other’s company again together.

At the receiving line to check in, I ran into old chum (neighborhood, family, church, school, etc.), Ellis Bullock. Except for my jobs in cable TV, no other person or time contributed more to my being the successful social butterfly I am today. In high school it is all about fitting in, the innies and the outties. The innies are all the groups/cliques that you see stereotyped in the movies. Being part of Ellis' group, one of the most influential aka popular, put me dead nuts center inny. Always the one with the next plan/event, it seemed apropos to see Ellis first, after my co-hosts (Will Rodgers & Ann Long).

As more and more grads joined the gathering, Ellis renewed old ties in his familiar high school way.

Indeed, before the scheduled festivities started, I ran up on

Al Perry and his wife Juanita. It was Al who along with Ellis, co-founded our social club, The Royal Dukes. Nowadays school officials would label us a gang, but we were cultured, so not a 'mob', and citified, therefore a club. Plus the Dukes wasn't a school sanctioned club but we had adult sponsorship in the form of a clubhouse building and chaperons. As I mentioned in past stories, our parties made the newspaper, albeit the local black-owned newspaper. Maybe one day I will find out if my white Male classmates ever heard about the Royal Dukes parties we hosted. I fantasied about bringing music for a big interracial bash at the time of our last big graduation blow-out. In the next life.

Victor Hardin, is a close friend I instantly made in the tenth grade when he laughed at an under the breath comment of mine. Over the course of high school Vic's wise council was a ying to my yang many times. As such, I always knew Vic would go far, and he did; all the way to Tokyo for his bride of over 30+ years.

A person I remember most from a science class incident is Danny Frederick, here with his wife.

Our tenth grade biology teacher's habit was to have the class do open book studying while he went to the teachers lounge. Perhaps this was his way of dealing with teaching to an integrated class, or maybe he was just a lazy teacher. When he walked back into the room, if you were caught talking, you got a lick from his wooden paddle. In fact if you were caught talking in his class at all, you got a paddlin',
One day the teacher passed out samples of legumes [various beans] to everyone before he left the room. My friend Alonzo Hodges was shaking his head 'no' as I looked at the beans in my hand with a little nod. As if reading my mind, Danny fires a bean that bounces off my noggin, and it's on. 
Soon the whole class is engaged in a bean fight right down to the McCoy twins, who never did anything to cause a disruption.
Throughout this whole ordeal as I am ducking, dodging, and returning fire, Alonzo is sitting there, not joining in. He had a right to be afraid. Of the last twenty people paddled, Alonzo had been nineteen of them. Since he sat right across the aisle from me in class, like Bart Simpson, I felt partly responsible. 
After my constant heckling Alonzo finally threw caution to the wind and with a leap upward, hand cocked to release a fat Lima bean at Danny, the one who started the melee, Mr. Kellerman, a sharp-eyed, beak-noised teacher similar to Mr. Crocker (Fairly Odd Parents) stepped into the room.
Curiously, everyone, including myself had momentarily stopped hurling beans as if to gather more up from the ones on the floor around us.
We all sat in silence listening to five crisp paddle licks echo off the granite marble floors and metal lockers, given to one who was innocent but was suffering for all of us. We sat there and tried not to bust out laughing at the misfortune of our classmate. When Alonzo slowly walked back into the classroom, both our eyes were glassy but for two opposite reasons. It was high school, and we were kids. Today I would be appalled if my son had my attitude of old.

The spread was set out and we all got in line for the buffet with a serving lane on each side.

And then everyone got settled for the evening's presentations. Cameras and phones came out then.

Like in our youth, the class leaders of old again rose to the occasion with Ann Long starting off.

Here Marjorie Sidebottom [Burchette] is awarded in front of the awaiting presenters. Once again as the prizes were handed out, there was one for the longest distance. This time it was Walt, a retired drug enforcement/police officer, who presented me with my award.

Though the AC'd room was by no means freezing, my blood has thinned out being here in So Cali so I donned my light leather jacket. Then after accepting the black box with a commemorative seal, I slowly segued my way of explaining my book Memoirs of Mr. Pete & Mary Jane Green from living in California, a state where medical marijuana is allowed.

I had briefly dwelled on the irony that Walt is/was a cop, but remembering him from the past and then seeing his shoes, I said to myself 'this guy can take a joke'. So I hawked Mary Jane and my book about her to my fellow student body from 1963. I doubt any other class ever got a pot plug.

Other people won raffle prizes, like Vic, below.

When our class president, Phil Wallace, delivered his wrap-up, it was time to mingle again.

Cheerleaders posed with former jocks from teams we all cheered for. Second from left is Terry Atchison who bought then forgot his copy of Memoirs to get signed. A signed copy was left with Will to present to Terry at the 50 Year Bash wrap-up committee meeting. We said it before the Army, 'No Male High person gets left behind.'
The second 'Terry' in the above picture is another 'chum' and all that entails, Terry Davis, yellow cap. Another Church friend also, Terry arranged for Ellis, Ann, his sister Myrtle, and myself to attend a service in the church we all grew up in. Later in my road trip I would attend a service at the Church I joined in Iowa. Both were good experiences.

Meandering around the room I saw Rosita Lopez and her husband along with many others that I recognized by name at the function but not later through the photos.

However I did see Lester Goins (first pic) and Carey Guess (second pic) who both still look the same.

Background, far left, Terry Davis, Ellis Bullock, Arthur Faust yellow cap; foreground 2nd left, Lester Goins, right, M. Sidebottom

In the end, the hardworking Class of '63 volunteers, Conny Delap [Morris] and Ann Long pictured with Karen Walter [Roberts] standing, along with the rest of the class committee and the Woodhaven staff made this event special for everyone who attended.

I got to chat about my favorite topic, cough, and my current City of Oz over the rainbow lifestyle

But you have to know that as the 'last' Royal Duke, the moment that surprised me as the most fulfilling was Ellis came over, inquired about the book's theme and then bought a copy. 

Later on Al Perry came over and got his copy. Two days after the Bash, local paper the Courier-Journal would do a front page story about medical marijuana showing the Royal Dukes are still ahead of the pack, as always. 


Donald Bryant                                Robert Magruder
Tommy Cain                                  Jerry Martin
James Clark                                   Jesse McClure
Mary Ellen McLane [Clark]*            Carolyn McDade [Leslie]
Joan Davis [Wilmoth]                      Michael Mueller **             
Glenda Dockery                              Ron Netherton
John Feiock                                   William Nunn
Beryl Fentress                                Charles Parker
Ralph Given                                   Jesse Phillips
Paul Gooch                                    Larry Poe
William Gooch                                James Sellars
Curtis Gousha                                Tom Shake
James Hopper                                Beverly Staton [Sumner]
Arnold Jacobs                                Judith Trauth [Mudd]
James Lawrence                            Barbara Ward [Avenna]
George Leffler                               Beverly Wilcher [Meredith]
David Lile                                     Gary Williams
Marsha Madden [Onstott]               James Stark

(*- died 11/63; **- killed in Vietnam; all photos - Will Rodgers, Class of 63)

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