Home Sweet Home - July 2007

Part 1 - Home Sweet Home

By Bruce McAlexander 

My first day at school in Security was in January 1957. I was in third grade and my teacher was Mr. Walker, who worked as a barber on the weekends. I had moved from Oberlin, Kansas in December and we moved on Chatfield Drive next to Marcia Hagen. Marcia’s parents came over and introduced themselves and helped physically to help us move into our house we were renting. After coming from a small school in Kansas, I was scared to death at the first day of school at Widefield Elementary. I don’t remember if it was the first recess or over lunch, but I had gone out the north doors of the building and started to cry. At the time I didn’t know that my mom was driving by to check on her kids and saw me outside crying. After awhile, the door opened and out came Brad Douglas along with his mother, who worked in the office. She told me that Brad wanted to take me out on the playground to play and meet the other kids. Thus, started Bruce’s social life at Widefield Elementary. My mom was a good mom.

I only went that spring to Widefield Elementary then switched to North elementary after we moved to our house in the keyhole on Rose Drive. I liked my teacher in third grade, Mr. Walker, and remembered I liked Nan Manning as well. I remember being scared of a teacher with flaming red hair named Mrs. Smith who was always blowing a whistle in the school cafeteria. I remember she made me stand in the corner of the lunch room because I had thrown a piece of pizza at someone. I never ate pizza after that until I went one time with Joy Woods and friends to some pizza parlor because I thought all pizza tasted like that at the school cafeteria. But I did like the sloppy jo’s. 

I had lost most of my contact with my third grade classmates until junior high after going to North. My fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Lybsack . My best friend that year was Dean Otey, but he left to go back to Widefield Elementary for fifth grade. All the smart kids were in the other fourth grade class and that’s probably why I had such a good time. I remember sledding down the hills in Security and being pulled behind cars on our sleds. We had like a thirty five inch snow storm that April and got to miss school for days. Linda Thomas told me that her dad and one of his friends jumped a train to go to Colorado Springs to get groceries since Simms wasn’t open yet or had run out of stuff. I remember my dad and other adults shoveling snow off the flattops. We had so much fun in that snow storm playing king of the mountain, to even building igloo’s out of the snow. I had so many friends from North that are still my friends to this day - Ronnie Petty, Don Collier (Martinez), Candy Burdell, Joy Woods, Linda Thomas, Barber Billingsley, Terry Chambers, Larry Cordova, Rhonda Richard, and Tommy Shepherd who got killed in a car wreck right after high school. Mary Ellen Brada lived across from north and Rhonda Richards too along with Larry Shelton. I thought they were so lucky. Becky Estes lived down on Doris, and Suzy Gates lived down on Sherri. Warren Knight lived up on Main. Ken Loveless, Dave Lowe, and Vicki Resley. Beth Plana up behind the park. My parents still live on Hallam Blvd. Where we moved when I was a senior.

The north end of Security was my stomping grounds and to this day remember where so many of my class mates lived and some still do to this day. Gary Emrich, Jerry Moyers, Linda Murphy, Don Collier, Ron Petty, and Larry Anglesey lived on Davie. We all have those memories in Security. Riding our bikes up and down the streets hour after hour, checking out where the girls lived. 

My fifth grade teacher was Mrs. Herbert. She was my Miss Landers for those who remember Leave it to Beaver. I couldn’t believe she was married to Mr. Herbert up at Sproul Junior High. Well, he must have had good taste and she was apparently very compassionate. And then there was Judy Brown in fifth grade. The girls might not remember her, but we boys did. Beth Plana was the toughest competition when we went to the chalk board to solve math problems. I don’t exactly remember when the grade school put on Pinocchio, but Ron Petty and Warren Knight were the stars. Bruce was a rabbit, but I did it well. We had those spelling bees and evidently I didn’t go very far because I don’t remember who won. I remember one talent contest where Don Collier could put both his legs around his neck, it was disgusting to put your body in such a painful position. 

Then came sixth grade and Mrs. Townsley was my teacher. I was put in the smart class and I found out I wasn’t so smart thanks to Warren Knight, Vicki Resley and a few others. Dean Otey came back to North and asked me once “what happened to you? You’re not as smart.” I thought Mrs. Townsley was a grump. Our Principal was a short man named Mr. Stuart who I wished he was our teacher instead. But in sixth grade came a girl named Gerry Wright and only for that one year. She had a Texas accent and for the girls that don’t remember her, we boys do. I gave up my normal recess habits to play jacks with Gerry. She was a head taller than I was , but who cared. I was so glad that my older sister taught me to play jacks. It was about this year that Twila Wilson started to be well known for her Alley Oop routine. I remember her performing it at a Phil Martin’s party. She had talent.

I thought I had talent once too. I sang an Elvis song for Joy Woods and Candy Burdell and they laughed so hard that to this day, I have to be discreet who I sing Elvis songs to.

I have a lot of memories in Mrs. Townsley’s class. Warren Knight brought Poker chips and cards to school and I learned to play Poker on snowy days. Paul Snell, Ron Petty, Warren Knight and I were on a basketball team called the Bullfrogs. By this time we began to have parties in our garages and driveways. I believe Don Collier and Joy Woods had the most. Joy’s mom taught me to play spin the bottle and post office. Modena (Joy’s mom) always had pop and chips with dip. I had a fight with my parents in high school and ran away from home to Joy’s. It was great for more than one reason. I remember Modena finally saying “don’t you think it’s time to go home?” All good things must come to an end. I always thought Larry Sheldon and Tom Shepherd had it made living around the corner from Joy and her friends.

In sixth grade we were suppose to go on a class picnic, but it was a yucky” day and Warren’s mother had the whole class to Warren’s basement For the picnic. 

Since there were so many military stationed in Security, a lot of my childhood friends moved on. One of them was a boy named Terry Chase. He lived up on Main street. One night I slept in his back yard in a tent, and we waited for his mom to come out to make sure we were asleep. And as soon as she did, we crawled out of our sleeping bags and headed toward Twila’s, for she was having a slumber party. Twila’s parents caught us, but instead of chasing us away, they invited us into the basement where we saw all the girls in their flannels. We didn’t stay long because we didn’t want to get into trouble. I believe this was my first occasion sneaking out; I usually sneaked out of the bedroom windows later in life

On one occasion in Mrs. Townsley’s class, she started yelling for all of us to say in our seats because she had lost a contact lens. So we had to watch her crawl around on all fours to find this new invention. Mrs. Townsley had her favorites, but who cares after all these years, Warren? 

Valentines’s Day was my favorite holiday in grade school because I wanted to get those Valentine cards from the girls. And the other high light for me in sixth grade was to be a safety patrolman. That was my first taste of power. I did have fun thanks to all of my friends. I do remember other kids in the other classes who were friends, but they sometimes ended up fighting. Dennis O’rourke and Marty Dostal seemed to fight often, but always remained friends. I remember a boy who lived down by Dean and Diane Otey on Hallam who wore braces on his legs and he had polio. I remember those shots and was so glad when we got the sugar cubes instead. He, even with the braces, could hit the soft ball so far on the playground and run the bases. I had a brain concussion on the jungle gym bars and have never recovered. Mary Ellen Brada was the artist in grade school. I had trouble making a circle with a compass

Since those childhood memories, I have found out a lot about what was happening in everyone’s family. I had no idea there were so many parents that were alcoholics and abusive. I was oblivious to many things and to this day, still am. I was fortunate to have been in a loving and safe environment. But I remember you all being part of my extended family and part of my American Graffiti.

Then came Sproul Junior High.