When my dad died, my mom and I moved to the West Texas town of Odessa Texas. For a kid from a school with less than 100 students in all twelve grades, I moved into an 8th grade class with an equal number of students. Had my dad not passed away, I would probably have grown up on the farm. His passing changed my life more than I could ever have imagined.
Odessa was in the heart of the Permian Basin. An oil town surrounded by sage brush and sand dunes. Talk about a culture change. These were the times of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Roy Orbison, a local Permian Basin talent. But the thing I remember most, about that time, was Tommy’s Drive-In. On Friday nights and Saturdays, we would all pile into a car head to Tommy’s. This was exactly as it was portrayed in American Graffiti. These were the best of times.
You may wonder what this has to do with Panama. Nothing really. Only I recently received an email about a class reunion for the classes 1960-1965 to be held in Irving, Texas on September 13th of 2008. My high school graduating class was 1960. I can only assume that Irving was chosen, instead of Odessa, because most graduates left Odessa and many wound up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
Michael Moore created a website documenting Tommy’s Drive-In. I am sure that no one reading Chiriquí Chatter is familiar with Odessa Texas, but I am sure that others lived and grew up in the 50s and 60s and have similar memories of that time and the effect it had on their lives. You might enjoy dropping in th Michael’s site, if only to listen to some of the Roy Orbison’s songs that it contains.
In my senior year, Odessa split Odessa High into two schools, the second was named Permian. You may know Permian because of the movie Friday Night Lights. I had as many friends in PHS as I did in OHS.
The opening photo in this post is of my 1960 year book. It has obviously seen better days, but so have I. Still, the memories contained in this ragged album are some of the happiest memories that I have. I am sure those memories will never fade.
Following is my photo from that yearbook. It tells a great deal about me at that time. It shows that my life hinged around basketball and studies. “C” and “A” team basketball indicate that I was a member of the sophomore and senior basketball teams. I thought I could learn more by playing in a private league my junior year. That was a mistake, but I was able to return and make the senior squad the following year.
I considered being a member of the National Honor Society quite a feat considering my aunt had told me I would find school in Odessa very difficult. She was concerned that my small country school house would not have provided the background I needed. I always enjoyed school, except for English. Writing was something that really was a challenge for me. I guess some challenges are always with us.
This was a time of duck tail haircuts and flat top haircuts. I always wanted a flattop, but my hair never wanted to cooperate and as you can see, I compromised into a crew cut.
I always liked technical things and as the photo shows, I thought I wanted to become an electrical engineer. I really don’t know where that direction got altered, but I went on to enter college working for a degree in mathematics.
The following photo was my yearbook basketball photo. I find a couple of things interesting here. One you can see that current basketball shorts have changed a lot. I think most are knee length now. Maybe that is because a seven foot center in very short shorts would not look all that good on TV.
Another thing is that all photos were taken of us shooting a set shot. While we shot mostly jump shots, there were many that used a set shot as well. Today, a player would never get time to get off a set shot. I see the socks were falling down, and you can’t see the shoes, which I know were white Converse. No respectable basketball player would be caught in anything other than Converse.
I don’t know if I will make the reunion or not, but I am giving it some thought. I am glad I received the email from Michael Moore. It caused me to reflect on times gone by that were some of the best times I ever had.