I remember the old High School in Comanche, Texas so very well. Of course, at the time I entered it in 1970, I had no idea that it was opened in the early 1920s, nor did I realize that the old college (West Side School) was razed when the “new high school” was built. I didn’t even realize that the gym where I spent so much of my time sat right on top of the spot where the old college had been.
No, all I knew back then was that it was a gorgeous old building that I could have fallen in love with had it not housed a school! It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my friends or even that I did not like my teachers because I actually did…I just did not like school, plain and simple!
You have to remember that my heathen friends and I came of age in what was an extremely negative time in this country. In our twelve years we saw JFK, Bobby, and Martin murdered. We saw Governor George Wallace confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life due to a single bullet.
We saw Kent State, and we were told to buy bomb shelters because the Russians were coming. We saw the Civil Rights movement play out in front of us while the Guard escorted a young black woman into a white school…and we saw water hoses turned on children because of the color of their skin.
We saw sit-ins, love-ins, and Laugh In, and we saw Water Gate. We saw Gary Summers march off never to return, and we saw protestors spit into the faces of those boys who did come home.
In retrospect, I don’t see that it should have been a shock to anyone that we went through a rebellious period the likes of which had not really been seen in small-town Comanche up until that time. Looking back across the years, it seems a little naïve to me that our parents didn’t see us coming, but they didn’t.
I’ve often looked at the photo featured on this page and wished I could have been a part of it. To me, it represents a time in Comanche history when young people were still young people, when the world still made at least some sense to them. If you stop and think about it, even in the WWII years Americans were positive people. They waved flags and used ration stamps while they grew victory gardens…because they didn’t really KNOW.
My Viet Nam generation lost that attitude when we watched the war play out on the television that brought it into our living rooms every night. Maybe for the first time, we understood what war really was, and we didn’t like it, but even we were humiliated and appalled as we watched our peers turn their anger on the messengers instead of those who pulled the strings and pushed the buttons.
And now I have to tell you that as usual, this article has taken over and become something that is not at all what I had planned when I first sat down to write. My goal was simply to talk about the old high school building, not the events it saw play out in the world around it.
My original goal was to remember that the building had three floors, with the wonderful old auditorium, a real auditorium, located on the top floor. Never in my life has there been another room that could equal that old room, where senior plays (Remember senior plays?), band concerts, magic shows, graduations, group meetings, and any other event you can imagine were held.
We had no air conditioning, just what breeze we could find through those huge old windows, and I don’t remember that we suffered. I certainly did not even though I was used to central air at home.
Of course, when we I entered high school girls could not wear pants, which made no sense considering we had to climb tall staircases all day long in those very, very short dresses. Later in life when I was a teacher, I often thought of the things we wore, and I was never very good about enforcing a dress code on my students because I remembered WHEN!!
Before we graduated, times had changed and we were allowed to wear pants, but my goodness! I look back at pictures and wonder why our mothers let us out of the house. Our pants were frayed, our hair was parted in the middle and hung board straight below our shoulders, and most of us would have looked like a counterpart to the bad Jimmy Dean if we had just had a cigarette between our fingers!
There are so many, many things that I remember about this building where I spent the better part of four years, but since I have let this get so long I think I will ask you to record your memories of the building in the Facebook feed or comment box below…but I just remembered one more thing…the two front doors!
Students today would never understand this, but do you remember that one of those doors was for the girls to enter and the other for the boys? What a hoot!
If you have any idea who the kids in this photo are, please let us know!