Historic Retrospective: Mac in the Sixties

by Gary Jackson, Class of 1965

Old GarnerI attended Garner Jr. High in 7th and 8th grades from 1960-61, so I saw firsthand the changes. I had 7th grade math with Mrs. Kenney at the far West end of the old Garner main wing, just next to where the auditorium would be constructed the following year.  The old Garner east wing at the far right of the photo ran north to south. There I had 8th grade American history and also English with teacher Kenneth Staggs in '60-'61.

On the walkway between the two Garner wings we overheard the famous Mazerowski home run for the Pirates in the 1960 World Series (they played in the daytime in those days). I remember the Kennedy and Nixon stickers the kids put on their 3-ring notebooks and book covers. I recall my best friend Bill James explaining to Mr. Staggs why a certain grammatical expression was correct. Bill said "I have this English box in my head" that told him what was right! The class roared with laughter - Bill was a swell guy with a great sense of humor.

To the North of this building there were some old wooden classrooms painted institutional light green. I remember having 7th grade Science with Mr. Cowan in Spring 1960 in one of the old green wooden buildings. I had 8th grade Science in one of the temporaries. The buildings were removed in 1961 after I completed 8th grade. You can still see some of the sidewalks put in for these structures. I recall learning how to dance the polka and waltz in unusual co-ed gym classes with girls in the Garner gym. I remember the time one of the girls had a botched hair dye, and what a brave soul! She attended classes anyway, with hair turned a dark green, and she was so embarrassed!

What been the Garner campus was given over to the high school for the start of 9th grade in Fall 1961, the first year Mac had 9-12th instead of 10-12th grades.

The auditorium was completed in 1961, I think. I remember having to shield our eyes against the intense bright lights of the welders. Between it and the old Northeast HS main wing had been an old green wooden building (probably the old band facility -- it had some small music practice rooms.)  That was where I had Mr. Miller for 9th grade English 1961-2. In your photo, this wooden structure has been razed in prep for a new wing which they haven't started building yet.  It was finished in 1963 I think - I had English class there 1964-5 with Ms. Barlow.

The back fence of MacArthur was the city limit of San Antonio. I recall going on a mid-day insect hunt in those fields in Spring 1963 during class time for Mrs. Evans' 10th grade biology class. A little further north, we used to go on hayrides in the "Starlight Terrace" area. The old blacksmith shop where the original Nacogdoches Road and Perrin-Beitel Road used to intersect was still there in 1999 when I last visited home. The whole area is all built up for miles and miles now!

It brought tears to my eyes to see the photo of Little General. Folks find it hard to believe that we had our own live bull mascot. I believe that is Eddie Woodley, star fullback, holding the reins. His brother Billy played for Mac also, and then for Trinity I understand. I think Eddie went to SMU, but am really not sure. I do remember he took the trouble to come visit us in Mr. Keith Kruse's physics class when I was a senior. (Note: I believe Mr. Kruse was himself a grad of NEHS/Mac HS -- some of us spotted his picture in an old annual in the library). Woodleys' dad drowned on a road north of Loop 410 during the heavy rains and flooding of May 1965. MacArthur students grieved at this sad loss. I recall that the Flowers family, who lived on Bitters Road near the intersection with Broadway, took care of Little General until he became too much of a burden and they had to send him off in, I think, 1963. And I'd like to honor a swell guy and friend, Clint Hylen, who was killed so young in a motorcycle wreck the summer after graduation.

Naturally, I think MacArthur was the greatest high school experience anybody could ask for, and that the class of 1965 was the very best class of all. Those years were a very special time that overlapped real rock and roll the end of the "Ozzie and Harriet/Father Knows Best" traditional America with the long hot 1963 summer of civil rights demonstrations and the Montgomery, Alabama bridge incident. The Beetles hit the scene in December 1963-January 1964, and long hair immediately became the thing for boys. Drugs, hippies, heavy metal, and anti-Vietnam War protests were still a year or more in the future. 

We had excellent teachers; everybody got along. Ben Harris, our principal, was a great man who was truly beloved by all. Mr. Costanzo, vice-principal, was a tough but respected disciplinarian. It was another sad day in 1967 when Mr. Harris' son Barney, who was star tailback for MacArthur, starred for Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl in 1967 when they defeated Alabama, but Mr. Harris did not see this triumph having passed away from cancer just a few days earlier.

I'd like to take this chance to thank some teachers I remember at this moment: Mrs Lukeman (Algebra 2 and Trig), Mr. Miller (English/speech), Mr. Moeller (Chem), Mr. Hummell (Latin 1 & his tales of how he and friend Raoul chased Brigitte Bardot in France on their Vespa scooter!), Mr. Shippen (Latin 2), Ms. Atkinson/Steele (a no-nonsense rigorous summer school of American History!), Mrs. Pruitt (homeroom), Colonel Burnett (geometry - a kindly grandfather who calmed us during the October 1962 Cuba missile/nuclear war crisis), Mr. Briske (Algebra 1), Mrs. Peak (Jr English - "Common Errors" - never say "refer back", Neitsche, and J.M. Barrie - what a combo!). 

Naturally, there were the usual cheerleader and football player subgroups. The players were pretty much regular guys, not really snobby. I was in the lower intellectual half of the "smart guys" crowd.  The really smart kids included Bill Gordon, Terry Gaschen, Sam Reed, Brian Chamberlain, Sandy Wormser, Susan Richardson, and others. But Barney Harris was also one of my friends. Sam Reed, tight end, was a really outstanding student who went to Rice. Warren Grimmel was in the class behind us. He turned down an academic scholarship to Princeton to play football for Texas! There was no campus crime or bullying, even though some of the guys were supposed to be "hoods." Everybody was together in great high spirits behind our teams - especially the football teams. The thunderously loud pep rallies in the old gym were terrific -  we made that place shake! 

We used to fill up NEISD stadium. Fall of 1962 football was devastating - they forced us to forfeit 4 games because one of the players had stayed to live with his grandmother while his Air Force dad and mom went to England. A 7-3 season became 3-7. I remember that some games were televised on a local TV station.  I could go on and on - the memories ..... Today's students need to know that their pride in MacArthur High is very real, based on a wonderful tradition written into history by great and good teachers, and administrators like Ben Harris. 

And a truly sad day it was for all students when General MacArthur died in 1964. Mrs. Peak played
the record of his 1962 farewell to West Point - very patriotic and inspirational - maybe that's why I made my first career in the Army!).

November 22, 2001
revised May 6, 2005

Gary L. Jackson, Ph.D.
Major, Military Intelligence, U.S. Army (Retired)
MacArthur Class of 1965

P.S., a quick bio: MacArthur HS, 1965, Trinity Univ 1969: scholarship, BA in political science, summa cum laude, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, 1969-72:  University Fellow Dissertation research in Germany 1972-3, Married in Germany to Meridel Pettyjohn of Kansas City, MO. Sons Gary II in 1977 and Thomas in 1979.  U.S. Army active service 1974-94: Military Intelligence officer, worked nights and weekends on my PhD dissertation) PhD, Georgetown Univ, in Government 1985 (finally!!) Staff scholar ("Fellow"), Center for Strategic & Int'l Studies think tank in Washington, DC, 1995-6, Computer security engineer, Science Applications Int'l Corp, 1997 to present.

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