Adventure, Harmony, and Turmoil, Coronado 1953-4

Dan Jr. High Coronado, Track team(2nd lft), and class 1953(4th lft)  (Track team second in Dan, Brad Holcomb, and John Shellenberger followed by class picture Coronado Jr. High 1954 Dan fourth in top row)           (Point your mouse on all the pictures for details  and click to expand photos) When Coronado H.S. played Oceanside in football, we lost 64-0. A Black running back named C. R. Roberts scored six touchdowns. On many of his blazing runs, he carried the ball over fifty yards. Since I sat near the field as a member of the band, when the game ended I ran over to him and asked, “What’s your secret, C.R.? “Keep your nose clean and play with your heart.” He looked at me for a second, holding his head high, covered with sweat and dirt, while steam drifted from his head in the stadium lights. For that moment, he seemed like a statue of a black muscular god. I learned from the Boy Scouts in our troop that he wore the uniform of an Eagle Scout, and planned on going to the National Scout Jamboree held at Irvine Ranch in the summer. He also ran track, earning CIF honors in many events. He became a tailback at USC, played professional Football for the San Francisco Forty-Niners, and was an excellent student and respected man of character. In the high school band, a select group of musicians practiced creative music brought to us by our fiery red-haired director, Paul Hennenberg, who always wore wildly colorful shirts. He introduced us to classical, foreign, jazz, rock and roll, blues, and experimental music. I played third trumpet behind Alan Manchester, who liked to clown around. Phil Andreen, a joker, played every instrument in the band, but concentrated on trombone. Chip played first saxophone, and friends George Mardock, baritone, and Earl Barlow, the only Black musician, played base fiddle. Peter Gray was fabulous on his French horn, followed by Jan MacGregor and Kathy Stevens, and Kathy Lewis thrilled us all with her marvelous oboe solos. Dan,Tom, and Susan middle front, Kathy and Jan second row, Bob, Jack, Jody,and Brad  Mr. Charles Granzer third row Coronado Jr. High Band 1953-4 One day during a tedious band practice, Alan and Phil blurted out a few deliberately bad notes to break up the mood. Droning an off-key riff, I joined in. Paul Hennenberg threw his baton against the wall, glared, and bellowed, “I’ll dismiss the next person to mess with this band. Take a break to change your juvenile attitude.” I had seen him angry before, but never like that and slinked back in my seat.   The band meant so much to me I would have hated having our leader boot me off for foolishness. Under his intense direction we played The Planets, op.32 (1916) by Gustav Holst for many sessions until we were prepared for state competition. Each planet had its own haunting sound appropriate to the symbol it represented: Mars-War, Venus-Peace, Mercury-Winged Messenger, Jupiter-Jollity, Saturn-Old Age, Uranus-Magician, and Neptune-Mystic. Typically, Paul spent the most time working on Jupiter since jollity seemed a characteristic of our eclectic group of musicians. “The FBI March” kept us current with a popular television show from Sergei Prokofiev’s Opera, The Love for Three Oranges, op. 33  (1921), for flute, oboe, two clarinets, bassoon, two horns, two trumpets, strings, piano, and percussion. Our music appreciation teacher introduced us to classical composers in his conservative business suit when lecturing. He had a clever way of exploring many classics including Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, and George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. After playing the entire piece of music on his phonograph, he would emphasize special features like repetition of a melody by different instruments, unusual rhythms and sounds, and the crescendos, especially at the end. For our final exam he played brief parts of the pieces for us to identify. Dad paid for private trumpet lessons for me and saxophone lessons for Chip by sailors assigned to the superb Navy band. A skilled Hispanic musician made a two-year commitment to the Navy and introduced us to the jazz of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others saying, “Theirs is the music of the future. Try to emulate their sounds and rhythms so you’ll have an idea where to take your music.” He brought us records that differed from anything we had heard, showed us how these artists created a livelier sound from an old favorite through improvisation, and  how to play spontaneously. During gym class as a seventh grader, Steve Ashworth and I laughed during roll call after Danny Clifford let fly a silent deadly one that created a stench. A two hundred pound varsity football coach with black eye patch, red face, baldhead, and menacing expression glared at us from a bloodshot eye, like a pirate in a Disney movie. After dismissing the class, he pointed at Steve and me, “You two jokers follow me.” He led us across the basketball floor to a closet, took Steve in, closed the door, and said, “Drop your pants, bend over, and grab your ankles.” A loud WHACK, “OOOUUUWWW,” followed as Steve rushed out with tears in his eyes and staggered bent over from pain while I quivered with fear. The evil bully held something behind his back and barked, “You’re next, Sonny. Get in there, drop your pants, bend over, and grab your ankles.” He closed the door. An excruciating pain from my butt ran down my legs made me tremble after the same loud WHACK that left Steve floundering. “OOOUUUWWW,” I yelled. Tears rolled down my cheeks, I gasped for air and felt nauseous. The thick wooden paddle he had hid from view had carved holes that left welts on our butts from a weapon deliberately fashioned to make bruises. Because he knew we would yell when whacked, he closed the door to hide his cruelty. The sign urging athletes that “Winners Never Quit” made me glad this thug was not my coach. Our butts ached for a week. The American Legion had tryouts for its hardball league at Coronado for kids sixteen and younger. They selected me as their second baseman. Most of the team was fifteen and sixteen-year-old athletes except for me, Jody Wesson, Walt Albright, and Robin Crenshaw. John Crawford, a muscular athlete, shot putter on the track team, was the team’s leading hitter. Coach Minnie moved me to left field and put a varsity basketball player, Wayne Nix, on second base when our shortstop brought him to join us against a strong San Diego team. Determined to succeed despite my demotion, I hit a bases-loaded double. “Don’t worry about the outfield move. You’re a good ball player with plenty of time to play infield," Coach said. We had two Black athletes that gave us an opportunity to learn about people from a different background. Willie Dickey led off and ran like a scared rabbit around the bases and with lightning speed in the outfield after balls. He made diving catches while sliding on the grass at full speed. He set fire to the base paths that sent puffs of dust like a greyhound and chunks of dirt flying off his cleats from stealing bases, making extra base hits, or turning a routine ground ball into a single. Catcher Herman Wright, ran track like Willie, stole bases whenever he wanted to, batted over .300, and had a rifle arm. I developed a passionate attraction to athletics but also became interested in girls my age with a crush on tall dark-haired and beautiful Kathy Stevens, long blond Judy Hutchinson, athletic Buffy Wilson, and sexy Jackie Stamps. Distracted by fads, the latest music, and being “cool,” I spent hours on the phone with my fantasy girl friends, raced to the beach with Chip, and had little time left for Mom. Unfortunately our Junior High Band director, Mr. Granzer, believed a hearsay report and said,"Because you started a fight on the playground, you are removed from your position as Vice President of the eight grade. No one can hold office here who acts that way. You should be ashamed." I smiled and left knowing what a farce the hearing was. Some fight! A huge seventh grader, forty pounds heavier and four inches taller, pounded me three times from behind for rebounds in a pick-up basketball game on the outdoor courts leading with his elbows in my back and shoulders. The last time I ended up on the asphalt with skinned knees. "I'll meet you on the playing fields after this game ," I said angrily to him. He chuckled at my vapid threat and met me there when the game ended. We agreed not to throw punches and to wrestle. Lunging in anger at him, I threw him down with an arm tightly around his neck in an instant. He grabbed my neck and there we stayed glued together like a pair of lovers hugging cheeks together, dogs in heat, for twenty minutes sweating in the hot sun, dust, and crab grass. "This is stupid," I finally said, tired of the farce of a fight. We got up, shook hands, and laughed. We were lucky someone didn't report us for homosexuality--a deadly sin those days. Continuing my love of Boy Scouts, I joined the Coronado troop and completed all the merit badges for Life Scout. The camping badge required many nights in a tent at camp outs in wild areas surrounding San Diego and a few nights in a hammock tent in our enclosed backyard. Hiking with my backpack with friends to the mountains, swimming in lakes, rivers, and streams, cooking over campfires, singing folk songs, hearing ghost stories, talking with other scouts in a tent in my sleeping bag, peaking up at the stars, and the camaraderie made me love Boy Scouts. On one trip Steve Ashworth brought his .22 Rifle as did a few others under the supervision of our scoutmaster, Mac. On a rugged hike I said, “There’s a rabbit hiding under that shrub.”Steve quickly shot the motionless rabbit a foot away. “Why did you do that? “That’s what guns are for.” “You should have scared him so he’d run. That takes skill to hit a fast rabbit.” “Fuck you, Lavery. You don’t even own a gun.” “Can I use it for target practice?” “Yeah, when I get finished looking for things to shoot.” Later, I enjoyed hitting a rock, fence post, can, and a tree. I joined the nation of scouts at the annual Jamboree in Irvine for three days of adventure. We met scouts from almost every state. Our leader, a muscular Scotsman, led us in executing a raid on another scout camp. My friends joined me with other scouts on the secret mission. We left our calling card to those troops we invaded at night emulating a military surprise attack, escape, and evasion. While at the Jamboree exchanging memorabilia I saw C. R. Roberts in shorts with green Boy Scout stockings. No one would dare laugh at the muscular athlete for wearing shorts. Kathy Stevens drove all the way to Irvine to see the Jamboree and for a visit with Jan MacGregor and me. I was proud to be part of an organization that cultivated patriotism, friendship, love of the outdoors, and the military values of honor, discipline, and physical fitness. (Click on the small icons below to expand)

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