This is Living Stories, featuring voices from the collections of the Baylor University Institute for Oral History. I'm Kim Patterson.
Junior high and middle school are not days that most people would want to relive. But awkward though they may be, these years influence the rest of our lives and hopefully provide some cherished memories.
Woodrow Carlile of Waco reflects on his days at South Junior High School:
"I'm left-handed, and I went in this class and I went to the blackboard and started writing with my left hand on the board. My teacher hit me a lick across the shoulder or something and said, ‘Quit playing around. Write with your right hand.' And, you know, to this day, I can't write on a blackboard with my left hand. I—(laughter) I guess I may have explained to her."
Carlile's wife: "So I guess some of that—"
"But I appreciated that teacher. She was—she had her problems. (laughter) But she was a good—and I especially enjoyed the woodworking and the metalworking shops and the harmonica clubs and the gym classes. And I may have related that the brother who is next to me, older, won the history medal. When he went up on the stage, they requested that he wear shoes if possible. (laughs)"
Hewitt Mayor Pro-Tem Charlie Turner recalls an early experience that helped shape his outlook on life:
"When you're 5' 5" and weigh 108 pounds, football—you're closer to the weight of the football than you are the other players. And the old story goes, you know, the first time I suited out for football, they snapped the ball—they had a guy against me; Kelly Smith(??) was his name, I believe. It was at West Junior High School. And when they hiked the ball, I took the ball. Coach had said, ‘Hit him hard as you can.' I did, and I'm exaggerating a little bit but not much. When I woke up, probably an hour later, I realized I was a lover, not a fighter, and so I joined the band, and I played drums ever since."
Dr. Clifford Madsen, respected music scholar and educator at Florida State University, describes the impact of early mentors in Price, Utah:
"In junior high school, I was kind of adopted by a couple of people in the community by the name of Brown, Dorothy Brown and her husband. They were both music teachers. Dorothy was kind of the mainstay of the community. She used to be the person that would get the Messiah together every Christmas—or parts of it. And I—I can't remember—Deene Brown was his name, and he was the junior high school vocal person. So when I got into junior high school and playing in the band, he wanted me in the chorus, too. And he was the one that first started teaching me about theory. I can remember going to his house one time and his teaching me "this is dominant, this is super dominant," you know, those kinds of things. And I thought, Goodness, you know. This sounds strange and funny, and why do they have all those names? And I guess he was thinking also that somewhere along the way I'd be a musician or whatever. And those kinds of experiences, of course, are very nurturing musically for young people."
Junior high and middle school experiences leave lasting impressions. As adulthood inches ever closer, young teens are looking for answers to who they are and what that means in the big picture.
Living Stories is heard every Tuesday on 103 point 3 FM, Waco NPR. For program transcripts or more information about the Institute for Oral History, visit baylor.edu/livingstories.
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