High School: I Remember When

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It is said that right before you die, your life flashes before your eyes; that in the waning moments of your corporeal existence on this Earth, you’ll remember everything you ever said, did, thought, tasted, smelled, felt and in a fraction of a second, no less.

Maybe.

But I also think this is included in the natural process of aging. The more removed we are from our youth, the more we’re inclined to think about it; to remember it. And taking natural order one step further, the farther we are from childhood, the closer we are to death.

Well, if that’s the case honey, then borrow a black dress from Rose Kennedy, because I’m probably dying soon. My life’s temps perdu (the good, the bad, the indifferent) have been foremost on my mind lately.

In the threadbare oeuvre that is this blog, I’ve written some posts about the toys I played with as a child. My youth. That in turn, got me thinking about my High School days.

I loathed High School.

Why?

Well, probably because it represented so much….the end of my youth, the beginning of adulthood and everything in between.

But I must admit that the road that was my High School matriculation wasn’t completely paved with repugnant memories.

Between my Freshman and Senior years, I fell in love twice; got my driver’s license and was game to trying many new and different things–most things could’ve put me in Sister Rhonda’s Wayward Girls Home and Car Battery Emporium.

On the straight side, I was a cheerleader; named “Miss Congeniality” in a beauty pageant. I was a class officer several different years, Editor-In-Chief of the yearbook; I was “Best Actress” in District U.I. L One Act play competition and my Senior year, I was named “Wittiest Girl” and a Sweetheart/Duchess in the Homecoming Court.

And when my parents horrific divorce dragged me into its clutches my Sophomore year, I learned that life sometimes hurts.

A lot.

Oh yes, make no mistake: I received an education in and out of the classroom.

I’ve mentioned before that small town life was good to a point. When I entered high school, I found it to be a restrictive environment. Finding new, different and entertaining things were few and far between. I mean, how many times can you remove the “L” from the word public from the facade of the Karnes City Public Library and still get a thrill out of it?

We grew up with many limitations.

That’s why for us small town kids, high school was everything—it was an integral part of our socialization; much more so than our big city counterparts.

So, here’s a Karnes City High School primer and a look back at my days as a nubile school girl who studied and toiled within it’s hallowed halls.

Let’s begin with a formal introduction to our school mascot: the Badger.

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Badgers…from the phyla Mustelidae: the same mammal family as ferrets, weasels and otters.

Aggressive little critters as “diggers” go.

Our team’s battle cry before every game, was “Stop or we’ll burrow you”.

God, we lost a lot of games.

But that didn’t matter. This is Texas….and as Texans, we’re born and raised with football. The first things I learned how to say as a tiny toddler were “Mama”, “bye-bye” and “Hey Ref, pull your head out of your ass, you blind bastard!! That wasn’t interference!!”

Our school colors were orange and black. Yes—baby aspirin, prison trusty jumpsuit and carrot—orange. And didn’t THAT lend itself to Halloween jokes!!

Here’s a relatively current shot of the mighty Karnes City Badgers in action on the gridiron.

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At least, I think this is a shot of the Badgers. The uniforms have changed quite a bit in the 30-years I’ve been away.

So, here’s a team, anyway defending their home turf against a green and white contender who’s called either the Bobcats, Foghat or the Fockers–I can’t quite read their jerseys.

As you can plainly see, calf development is big in Karnes City.

So were appetites.

Here’s a picture of our cheerleading squad at practice.

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Yes, that’s me being hoisted up in the air to make a salient cheerleading point about victory or spirit or weight vs. gravity.

Mikey “Legs” Horowitz was my base…you know, he lifted me up during our cheer routines. He had to go into the hospital the next day. I remember hearing that it was severe spinal compression or something. Guess he’d been wearing the wrong kind of shoes.

By the way, this photo was taken not long after I discovered carbohydrates.

We had a great high school band.   Members marched; they played and entertained at half time for every football game played.   Parades, all that stuff.   They won lots of contests and awards for various things.   One of the most lauded sub strata of my High School Band was a special music program for chubby kids with lower lumbar issues and a  major lack of coordination who also had penchants for big, brass instruments.

Here they are:   The Tubby Tuba Fours!!   Wit AND Width!!!

tubas

Speaking of the bad, we had twirlers, too. In true Texas tradition, we sometimes called them “Majorettes”.

They were a rowdy bunch. They constantly got into trouble with the school board because of their incredibly suggestive uniforms, which at times, actually showed a little thigh.

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By the way, one was a guy.

Paul “Skippy” Kramer was the first male twirler in KCHS history. He’s easy to spot; he’s the rather homely one who’s smiling with short, dark hair.

He’s holding a baton; one hand is on his hip and one of his knees is raised.

Back in the late 70’s, we had a virtually all female faculty at good ol’ Karnes City High School. Fortunately for our male students, there was no teacher dress code.

Or a code of conduct for that matter.

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One of these lovelies was named “Favorite Teacher” by the male members of the KCHS Senior class of 1975. Receiving the vote unanimously was none other than Spanish teacher, Seniorita Maria Conchetta de la Spermatazoa who hails from Swallows, Georgia.

Mr. Bruce was our Band Director and Drama Coach. Interestingly enough, he favored the male students. He insisted on giving them rub downs before every drama club meeting and play rehearsal.

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He’s seen here in his costume from the Karnes City Little Theater’s all male production of “Jailhouse Cock—The Musical: One Rooster’s Story of Redemption”.

Mr. Bruce reprised his role as “Head Inmate”.

I excelled in athletics…namely track. I was encouraged by the kind yet probing hands of our Girls’ Track Coach and P.E. teacher, Gladys “Hank” Pomeranz.

coach.jpg.

Our high school had a Glee Club but it was small and made up primarily of members of Karnes City’s small, cloistered Muslim community. Outside of school, some members formed an all girl singing group. They sang 50’s doo-wop songs and called themselves, “The Minarettes”.

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They were quite popular and had nice voices. On nights and weekends (after sundown) they’d play the “circuit” as we’d call it. They’d regularly sing at weddings, private parties…..bar mitzvahs.

I didn’t know them well or talk to them much. They kept to themselves mostly, but I’d overhear their conversations from time to time. As best I could tell, they each had a brother named “Shaheed” or something like that. Must be a common name among their people.

Even so, I thought their act was explosive.

I was popular, relatively speaking, and made it a point to be nice to all my fellow classmates. That was important to me. I even befriended Mbutu, the foreign exchange student from Namibia. We couldn’t converse very well together–her English was horrible and I didn’t understand “Click”, but she was nice.

Going to lunch with her in the school cafeteria was interesting. As you can see, I was forced early on to learn the significance of that old adage—you can take the girl out of Namibia, but you can’t take Namibia out of the girl.

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In early 1976, Mbutu was thrilled when she finally saved enough money to buy something she’d wanted all her life:  her very own 20-inch, solid state color TV!!   I remember the day she bought it and took it home.

She was in a neck brace for two months!!!

Prom: the pinnacle of the High School social season.

I was excited about the prospect of going to my first one…the legendary Junior Prom, 1976. Everyone who was anyone would be there.   But that year, there weren’t any decorations, though.  The class president used all the class money on dope and when time came to buy decortions for the prom they couldn’t afford anything.   It was just bare, unadorned High School cafeteria.

In an effort to save face, at the last minute, the class tried to convince everyone  that the theme was the very progressive and forward thinking, “Homage To Minimalism”.   

No one bought it…not even members of the Philosophy Club, then again, none of them were there. 

Here I am, soliciting a date two hours before the Prom started.

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As it turned out, I didn’t get to go….something about a police undercover sting operation.

But I went to the Prom my Senior year and I pulled out all the stops. I lost weight, got my hair done and bought a new dress.

Here I am with my date, Kevin “Tard” Lipschitz.

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Kevin was the president of the Chess Club, the Debate team, he won the Texas State Biology Club competition with his exposé, “I Dream of Genome”.   He was the local chairperson of “The Society of Future Pocket Protectors of America” ;  he was  the acting Vice President and Senior Taste Tester of the social club, “Jews for Cheeses”  and was the charter member of the Geometry Club,  “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angle”. 

He was also in the band.    He played the triangle.

high school couple      .This was the most beautiful and most popular couple on our high school campus:  Steve and Stephanie.   She was the head cheerleader; he was the captain of the football team.   They broke up after we graduated in ‘77.   She went to college at Tulane.  He played football at Bowling Green.  They saw each other for the first time since HS graduation at our 30th class reunion in 2007.

I was sitting at their table and witnessed their personal reunion.   It was moving and the conversation went something like this:

“Hello Steph!  How have you been after all these years?”

“Well Steve,  I’m OK I guess, but I should tell you that I have some good AND bad news for you!”

“After all these years?   Well let’s hear it!”

“Bad news first?”

“That’s fine, tell me anything, Stephanie!”

“Well Steve,  I had to have a hysterectomy a few years back.”

” Oh that’s terrible,  Steph.  I’m very sorry.  I hope the good is that you’re doing better.”

“Yes, I’m fine but that’s not what I want to tell you.    Actually, my doctor said he found the Senior class ring you thought you lost back in ‘76!”

Good times.

And of course, the next big event in my Senior year was graduation. My, my, my, all of these things that happened so very long ago; longer than I care to admit..

Yes, but it was what it was. 

High School:  I remember it well..

I think…

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32 comments

  1. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. Now I remember why I played football and stayed away from the Band Hall. I’m looking forward to old age and memory loss.
    How about a piece on the teaching staff at old KCHS and our janitoral crew–the frito bandito–or the smoke that poured from the teachers lounge at the bell each hour.

  2. Obviously all the pictures of your good self were authentic, but I am a bit dubious about the one of the badger. The ones we have are cute, cuddly piebald creatures. And I don’t remember them having those viscious looking canine teeth. Is the Spanish teacher the girl in purple? I bet she could teach me a thing or two!

  3. I have just laughed my ass off. And that was a lot of laughing!!!! I think the stuffed Badger still looks like the one in the picture only hairless!!!! Yes, that is “the” mighty badger football team. You forget about the wonderful twirlers. We were very valuable to the school, ha ha.

  4. Your school mascot: Ferocious, aggressive . . . a congressman. Is that another picture of Dennis Kucinich?

    Very, very funny post! Sorry about your junior prom. Leave it to small-town cops to ruin everything for the kids.


    Greg, we’re gonna have to jump the broom now because I was thinking the same thing when I first saw the badger’s face. Chilean fruit bat…Kucinich….Badger.

    He just has GOT to win the presidency. He’s got to be elected. Without him, I’m completely out of material!

  5. Kendrick, you are one seriously f’d up woman! I laughed at this story so hard, my wife actually came into the room to make sure I was OK.

    I laugh at your material regularly, but this one, was hilarious squared.

    Very, very funny.

  6. Thanks, for the great story. You really are an incredible writer and I know you’ll always have something wonderful, funny, and outstanding for us to read. Again , thank you for your wonderful stories!!!!

  7. My god! This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. I loved it. Not sure where you got the pictures (the one of the exchange student was hilarious!!!) but every one was perfect.

    I’m still laughing.

  8. Thanks for this story–I loved it. Not many people can make me laugh out loud–but I just added you to that short list.

    Great stuff!

    -Murphy

  9. I, like the people above, were searching for karnes city badger on google image and absolutely loved the blog. Excellent writing and witty commentary about the kc.

  10. I don’t know who you are and I came across your website while looking for a picture of a badger, but you made me laugh when I needed it. Thank you!

  11. I really enjoyed reading this and kept cracking up! You have a knack for comedy writing! Thanks for posting it! It brought back fond memories of KCHS and all my crazy friends! Please give us more!

  12. oh boy what fun !
    I had one of those sno cone makers and when the ice ran out hell we just got snow from out side
    I recall they gave you like 4 packs of syrup- cheap skates.

    I had a magic set from Matell called SHOW STOPPERS and it was the best magic set I ever had yet to this day I cannot find a image of the kit, and when I wrote to Matell they gave me the shove off and said they could not respond to these type of request, and you know they have a brand new one in their archives and pictures of it and so ….can you help me find an image of my beloved magic kit?

    It was a pop up vinyl suitcase with creepy colors like faint pink and gray- and you pop up the sides and the front became the brace and you had a sort of stage now, then the whole thing folded flat- it always smelled of PVC
    and the illusions that came with it were , a rabbit that appeared out of a tube , a glass of water that vanished after you poured water in the plastic tube held in place with a ring that the bunny appeared out of , a blue coaster that made a quarter go through a solid drinking glass, a way to suspend water in a pop bottle, that’s right a pop bottle, and you could poke a pencil up into it to prove that there was no cap over the mouth, a paper fold down box that made items vanish – one of the best play on perspective that I had ever seen , it was like a cage and when you looked through the slats of the front at the item that once was – was now gone !

    That’ all I can recall- but that silly kit lead me on a quest for more magic and by the age of 13 I was a professional and did my 1st show for $35.00 ( for one 45 min presentation) complete with music from cheech and chong- and I did it for a nursing home- overnight I was a hit- and by 16 I was on the road to Chicago where I met a man in the basement theater doing a magic show , his name was David Copperfield, and that led me to more magic and then to an artist named DAVID HOCKNEY and the rest is history – Hockney loved the magic flew me to LA and we have been friends now for 25 years, I have been painted 4 times by him and one sold for 250,000 – today it would be worth around 1.5 million- see what happens when you follow your heart?

    Magic rules, and in my life was the compass to my success.

    Thank you for all the great memories and a wonder site indeed my friend – indeed !

    ***

    Why thank you and you are welcome.

    Childhood is the perfect way to start off life, dontcha think? Playing is a wonderful intro to adulthood. That said, I know all about following your heart. I was bound and determined to be a successful broadcast journalist and while Mattell’s or Marx didn’t make a Jr. Walter Cronkite Correspondence Fun Kit, I did wile away many hours with hairbrush in hand pretending to interview newsmakers.

    Well, congrats to you for following your muse. Mattell would be pleased to know how much it’s served as one for so many baby boomers.

    Best,
    LK

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