Friday, February 19, 2010

***On “The Long March” From North- For Linda, Class of 1964

Click on the headline to link to a "YouTube" film clip of Jerry Lee Lewis performing "Whole Lotta Shaking Goin' On"

Al Johnson, Class Of 1964, comment:
No, this will not be one of those everlasting screeds about the meaning of existent, the plight of modern humankind or our trials and tribulations since leaving the friendly confines of North those many years ago. We have been done that road before in this space and, moreover, this is a lite-user site and cannot stand that kind of weighty matter. Nor is it to be an exegesis on the heroic “long march” of the Chinese Red Army in the 1930s, although that is an interesting story. For that you can turn to the old-time journalist Edgar Snow’s eye-witness account, “Red Star Over China”. Today’s entry is much more mundane, although come to think it, in its own way it may have historic significance. The “long march’ in question is the one that some members of the class of 1964 (and 1963) took from North over to Atlantic Junior High (now Middle School) in the 7th grade.

Recently I have sent out a blizzard of e-mails to virtually anyone on the Classmates or North Quincy Alumni class lists that I could by any stretch of the imagination call upon to help me out with a problem that I am having. So some of you already know the gist of this entry and can move on. For the rest, here is the ‘skinny’:

"... I will get right to the point, although I feel a little awkward writing to classmates that I did not know at school or have not seen for a long time. I, moreover, do not want to get tough with senior citizens, particularly those grandmothers and grandfathers out there, but I need your help. And I intend to get it by any means necessary. As you may, or may not, know over the past couple of years I have, episodically, placed entries about the old days at North on any class-related Internet site that I could find. Some of the entries have come from a perusal of the 1964 “Manet", but, mainly from memory, my memory, and that is the problem. I need to hear other voices, other takes on our experience. Recently I have been reduced to dragging out elementary school daydreams and writing in the third person just to keep things moving. So there is our dilemma.

The question of the “inner demons” that have driven me to this work we will leave aside for now. What I need is ideas, and that is where you come in. This year, as you are painfully aware, those of us who went to Atlantic Junior High (now Middle School) are marking our 50th anniversary since graduation. Ouch! So what I am looking for is junior high memories, especially of the “long march” from North over to Atlantic when we were in 7th grade that I remember hearing much about at the time. I was not at the school at that time, having moved back to North Quincy in the spring of 1959 so I need to be filled in again. However any story will do. If this is too painful then tell me your hopes and dreams. Hell, I will listen to your frustrations. From back then. I already ‘know’ your nicks and bruises since graduation; we will leave that for another day. Better still write them up and place them on the message boards on your own.

And what if you decide not to cooperate. Well, then we will go back to that “any means necessary” statement above. Do you really want it broadcast all over the Internet about what you did, or did not do, at Wollaston Beach, Squaw Rock, or wherever I decide to place you, and with whom, on that hot, sultry July night in the summer of 1963? No, I thought not. So come on, let us show future generations of cyberspace-fixated North graduates that the Class of 1964 knew the stuff of dreams, and how to write about them. And seek immortality. Friendly regards, Al Johnson

Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On Lyrics

Sung by Jerry Lee Lewis, 1957
(from the 1957 Sun release)

Come along my baby, whole lotta shakin' goin' on
Yes, I said come along my baby, baby you can't go wrong
We ain't fakin', while lotta shakin' goin' on.

Well, I said come along my baby, we got chicken in the corn
Woo-huh, come along my baby, really got the bull by the horn
We ain't fakin', whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

Well, I said shake, baby, shake,
I said shake, baby, shake
I said shake it, baby, shake it
I said shake, baby, shake
Come on over, whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

Oh, let's go . . .(Piano break, guitar rift)

Well, I said come along my baby, we got chicken in the barn,
Whose barn, what barn, my barn
Come along my baby, really got the bull by the horn
We ain't fakin', whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

(Talking break) Easy now. Shake.
Ah, shake it baby
Yeah, you can shake it one time for me

Yeah-huh-huh-ha-ha, Come along my baby,
Whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

(Talking break) Now let's get down real low one time now
Shake, baby, shake
All you gotta do, honey, is kinda stand in one spot
Wiggle around just a little bit, that's what you got
Yeah, come on baby, whole lotta shakin' goin' on.

Now let's go one time
Shake it baby, shake, shake it baby, shake
Woo, shake baby, come on baby, shake it, baby, shake
Come on over, whole lot-ta sha-kin' go-in' on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

***For Brother James Connolly-Class of 1964

Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for the Oratorian Brothers. I think this is the right order.

Al Johnson, Class of 1964, comment:

In Honor of Brother James Connolly

Usually when I have had an occasion to use the word “brother” it is to ask for something like –“Say brother, can you spare a dime?” Or have used it as a slang word when I have addressed one of the male members of the eight million political causes that I have worked on in my life. Here, in speaking of one of our fellow classmates, Brother James Connolly, I am using the term as a sincere honorific. For those of you who do not know Brother James is a member of the Xaverian Brothers, a Catholic order somewhere down the hierarchical ladder of the Roman Catholic Church. Wherever that is, he, as my devout Irish Catholic grandmother would say (secretly hoping that it would apply to me), had the “calling” to serve the Church.

Now Brother James and I, except for a few sporadic e-mails over the last several years, have neither seen nor heard from each other since our school days. So this is something of an unsolicited testimonial on my part (although my intention is to draw him out into the public spotlight to write about his life and work). Moreover, except for a shared youthful adherence to the Catholic Church which I long ago placed on the back burner of my life there are no religious connections that bind us together. At one time I did delight in arguing, through the night, about the actual number of angels that could dance on the head of a needle, and the like, but that is long past. I do not want to comment on such matters, in any case, but rather that fact of Brother James’ doing good in this world.

We, from an early age, are told, no, ordered by parents, preachers, and Sunday school teachers that while we are about the business of ‘making and doing’ in the world to do good, or at least to do no evil. Most of us got that ‘making and doing’ part, and have paid stumbling, fumbling, mumbling lip service to the last part. Brother James, as his profession, and as a profession of his faith and that is important here, choose a different path. Maybe not my path, and maybe not yours, but certainly in Brother James’ case, as old Abe Lincoln said, the “better angels of our nature” prevailed over the grimy struggle for this world’s good. Most times I have to fidget around to find the right endings to my sketches, but not on this one. All honor to Brother James Connolly.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

***On “Now” Photos- For Robert Fleming, Class Of 1964

Click on the title to link to a YouTube film clip of Iris Dement performing Our Town. Sorry no After You're Gone by her that I could find on that site.

Al Johnson, Class Of 1964, comment:

“’Cause I’ve memorized each line in your face, and not even death can ever erase the story they tell to me”-a line from the folksinger/songwriter Iris DeMent’s hauntingly beautiful song, “After You’re Gone”. (You can Google for the rest of the lyrics. Some of her music is on “YouTube but I could not find this one.)

Well, of course, those lyrics only apply to our male classmates. After all Iris is singing about her gone man. I do not, the age of sexual equality or not, want to extend their application to our sister classmates because I do not need to have every cyber-stone in the universe thrown at me. But those same lyrics do bring me to the purpose for today’s entry. As part of getting a 'feel' for writing about old North I peruse the class profiles (on Classmates) and a number of you have placed your current photos there, although a number of people, including myself, are apparently camera-shy. Some, however, like the Chaisson brothers are not. (By the way, Jim and John, and others as well, what is up with the hats? We are Kennedy-era boys and hats were not part of our uniform.). Or like born again "muscle man" Bill Cadger, the star cross country runner and track man our class, who has previously been mentioned in this space as slender-strided and gracefully-gaited. That photo-readiness forms the basis for my comment

I have to admit that I have been startled by some of the photos. Many of them seem to have been taken by your grandchildren just before their naps. Isn’t the digital age supposed to have made the camera instantly user-friendly? Why all the soft-focus, looking through a fish tank kind of shots. And why does everyone seem to be have been photographed down the far end of some dark corridor or by someone about six miles away? Nobody expects Bachrach-quality photos but something is amiss here.

In contrast, a new arrival on this class site (Classmates), Robert Fleming, has found just the right approach. Initially, Robert placed a recent shot of himself on his profile page. Frankly, the old codger looked like he was wanted in about six states for “kiting” checks, and maybe had done a little “time”. More recently his page has been graced with a stock photo provided by the site, a tastefully-shot, resplendent wide old tree. Automatically I now associate Robert with the tree of life, with oneness with the universe, with solidity, with the root of matter in him, and with bending but not breaking. Wise choice. Now I do not have to suppress a need to dial 911, but rather can think of Robert as one who walks with kings, as a sage for the ages. And nothing can ever erase the story that tells to me.

Artist: Dement Iris
Song: After You're Gone
Album: Infamous Angel Iris Dement Sheet Music

There'll be laughter even after you're gone.
I'll find reasons to face that empty dawn.
'Cause I've memorised each line in your face,
And not even death can ever erase the story they tell to me.

I'll miss you.
Oh, how I'll miss you.
I'll dream of you,
And I'll cry a million tears.
But the sorrow will pass.
And the one thing that will last,
Is the love that you've given to me.

There'll be laughter even after you're gone.
I'll find reasons and I'll face that empty dawn.
'Cause I've memorised each line in your face,
And not even death could ever erase the story they tell to me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

***An Old Geezer Sighting At The "Dust Bowl"-For Bill Cadger, Class Of 1964

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Hicham el Guerouj, the Moroccan Knight, setting the one mile run world record in 2008.

Al Johnson, Class Of 1964, comment:

I have written a number of entries in this space about the old days at North, and the like. This one follows in that same tradition, although with this twist- the "old geezer" described in the headline to this entry has requested anonymity for reasons that will become obvious once the tale he has asked me to tell unfolds. I think, however, that the average, above-average, classmates that old North produced can all figure this one out. Right?

For those of us who went to Atlantic Junior High and can remember that far back this year marks the 50th anniversary of our graduation from that school. For the old geezer, a man given to the faux-heroic feat, the odd-ball, off-hand symbolic gesture, and a disturbingly steadfast adherence to the drumbeat of history this called for some action. Since this year also marked the 50th anniversary of his first seriously taking up running as a sport, under the guidance of Coach Lewis, that gesture revolved around an attempt to run one mile around the old "Dust Bowl" track that has served as an 'athletic field' for the North community since Hector was a pup. This, in spite of the fact that he had done no more, at most, than run for the bus for the past quarter of a century, or more. Note also that the distance was one mile he sought to run. Not for him that old "lame" 600 yards around the front driveway circle at North that everyone had to do as part of the old-time President's Physical Fitness Test. No, indeed.

For those not familiar with the location the old "Dust Bowl" is the field the next street over from Atlantic. It served as our field at Atlantic for some sports. It also was the place where the legendary 1964 football team, led by "Bullwinkle", "Woj", Jim Fallon, Charlie McDonald, Tom Kiley, Walt Simmons, Don McNally, Lee Munson and a host of others practiced being mean under Coach Leone in order to beat beleaguered cross town arch-rival Quincy that year. Now I know that some readers "know" that location.

Furthermore, it was also the training ground and meet location for the spring track team where the silky-strided Bill Cadger held forth in distance running, Ritchie McCulley and others in the middle distances, Brooks Maloof in the sprints, Carl Lindholm and Ralph Morse in the hurdles, Al Bartoloni in the pole vault and a host of others who ran around in their skimpy black shorts, including the old geezer who was distinguished by being a consummate well-below average runner. He was not sure on this one, nor am I, but, perhaps, the cheerleaders led by the spunky Josie Weinstein, the sprightly Roxanne Goward, and the plucky Linda Pratt also practiced there. In short, if you are not familiar with the locale then you stand accused of being willfully out of touch with old North reality.

I should also mention that this name "Dust Bowl" is not mere hyperbole on my part. In summer and fall, at least, there was more dust that the EPA would find tolerable these days. Moreover, as the old geezer told me the field 'owed' him. So revenge was also a motive here, as well. Apparently he still has cinders in his left knee from when he fell while running on the track 50 years ago. Ouch! He told me to ask you if you had similar "war stories". Moreover, and this is symbolic in its own way, the track is not the normal quarter-mile one that you only had to go around four times (for the non-Math whizzes out there) but five laps to the mile. That may explain many things about our subsequent lives, right?

Okay, now to the big event. In the interest of accuracy this "event", according to the old geezer's information, occurred at about 9:00 AM on February 6, 2010. Now why he was not in Florida or at least in some warm house instead of being out on the "track" will go a long way to explaining the "inner demons" that plague this sixty-three year-old man's psyche. Moreover, he continued on with his quest despite having to wait upon dogs, and their owners, who seemingly felt such an hour was ripe for a canine national convention at the old bowl. But, we digress.

The old geezer started off okay with the usual burst of adrenaline one gets when the big day finally comes carrying him along for a while, he then settled into a 'pace' and all went well until he started breathing heavily, got light-headed and began feeling cramps in his thigh, and that was only on the first lap. It went down hill from there. But intrepid soul that he is he"dogged" it out. He informed me that his time for the mile has been declared a matter of national security and therefore not available to the public, although he did allude to an unfavorable comparison with the time it takes to get to the moon and back. Nevertheless the gesture is in the books, a member of the class of 1964 has been vindicated, and life can return to normal. Oh, the old geezer did mention this. For those of you with grandchildren under the age of five he is ready to take on all comers. Okay.


Below is some traffic from Classmates on another matter but which deals with some fellow NQHS recollections of the old "Dust Bowl".

Replies 16 messages

(2) . . . Runners

Craig Warren 1957 (view profile)

Posted: Jul 13 2008 12:11pm PST
In reply to Alfred Johnson 1964

Mr. Johnson;

I agree that "back in the Day" the NQHS Cross Country, Winter Track and Spring track athletes were usually the "forgotten ones." It may have been in part because they were not considered "team sports" like football, basketball and baseball. About the only way a track athlete would be recognised would be if he were a star in at least one of the team sports. I graduated from North in 1957 and was a mediocre cross country runner in 10th and 12th grades, and I was probably close to the last on 1955 team to get a letter. I made a few points in the 1955-56 winter track season and the 1957 spring track season. I probably never would have participated in track at all if it hadn't been for my 9th grade English Teacher Dave Meaney. I guess he thought my being just over 6 ft. tall and just under 150 lbs. I had a possibility of being a distance runner. Bob Gentry was the winter track coach and got me to try the mile after being in a few 1000 yd. races in the old Metropolitan Indoor Track League. What I remember most from those days was that we always seemed to enjoy ourselves and had a lot of laughs, regardless of a meet's outcome. I have often wondered if anyone kept track of North's cross country and track meets over the years. Winter track competitions were not always held indoors. During the 1956-57 winter track season we had a meet against Weymouth which had an outdoor slightly elevated board track. We even had to walk through about 8 inches of snow to get to the track. Those were the days. I'm glad to see you "campaigning" for a former classmate who was such a good runner, and recognizing Ms. Enos who was my 10th grade English even though English may not have been my best subject back then. I took a few walks along Wollaston Beach in 2007 when I went back for my class' 50th reunion. Takle care.

Craig S. Warren
NQHS 1957

(3) Runners

Alfred Johnson 1964

Posted: Jul 23 2008 05:13am PST
In reply to Craig Warren 1957

Craig- Thanks for note and all the good information about the years just before Bill and I ran at North. A couple of information points in my role as Bill’s 'flak'. I noticed from your communities on your profile page that you served in the Navy. Right after high school Bill, for a number of reasons, also joined the Navy and served for four years (1964-68). That was kind of the point in my commentary about Bill's being somewhat before his time as a great runner. Nobody from colleges and places like that was offering track guys much of anything in those days so the Navy was Bill's escape route. I do not know if you save your writings but if you still have your comments about the old days you could either e-mail them or send a note to Bill's bulletin board on the 1964 members list. I know he would be happy to read them and I am sure has some comments from his perspective.

A couple of points for my own information. My family moved back to North Quincy from the Germantown projects in early 1959 so that when I transferred schools it was to the new Atlantic Junior High School. I noticed that you went to North Quincy Junior High. Where was that? Was it part of North? Someone recently told me that during 1959 just before I got to Atlantic that a big move over from North had occurred. Is that true? I also noticed that you went to Squantum Elementary. I believe that is gone now, true? Also that you went to the Quincy Elementary School. I know that is gone, right? My late mother (NQHS 1943) and late younger brother (NQHS 1966) went there.

My career in track and cross country seems to have paralleled yours. A few good races but mainly "the slows". I got letters in all three sports but some of them, frankly, were gifts. My best year in Cross Country was probably in 11th grade. Indoor and Outdoor track nothing memorable. I started running in the 9th grade and thought I was going to be a star. As I pointed out in "A Walk Down Dream Street" that I have today reposted in the All School Discussion Page on this site so much for some dreams. The reason I ran was because I was not, and am not now, good at team efforts yet wanted to do some physical activity. Such is life.

Bill really had the silky stride and the determination to go for it. We used to run Wollaston Beach in the early morning summers. (Our 'exploits' later in the day are commented on in "Anyone Remember Wollaston Beach?" also posted on this site.) I would do some running but he was driven to go farther and harder. I certainly remember the old "Dust Bowl" off of Hollis Avenue where we practiced. And running to Long Island during Cross Country season. And the chaotic Met League meets indoors. Anyone who ran winter track cannot fail to remember that damn Weymouth outdoor wooden track where we has 'indoor' meets on what seemed to always be the coldest day of the winter. But enough of that.

Finally, I did not realize that Bob Gentry had been the coach during the 1950's. Bill and I have talked about him and his capacities as a coach. We recognized that track and cross country were 'poor relatives' compared to sexy sports like football and basketball and that we were lucky to get running shoes out of the deal. However Coach Gentry really did fail to appreciate that in Bill he had an exceptional talent and that he should have moved mountains to promote his career. Coach Gentry always acted more like a timeserver than a coach in that regard. Your comments.

(4) Running at NQHS . . .

Craig Warren 1957 (view profile)

Posted: Jul 23 2008 10:02am PST
In reply to Alfred Johnson 1964


My "running career" at North was only in sophomore, junior and senior years, and was not continuous. As I mentioned before, my 9th grade English teacher Dave Meaney was the reason I considered running. At the beginning of the 10th grade (1954), he called a few of us to his classroom to see if we might be interested in cross country. I took the chance and ended up as the 5th, 6th or 7th kid in most meets that season. That gave me enough to barely get a letter. I didn't compete in the 1954-55 indoor season, because I didn't know it existed. I started 1955 spring track and got as far as running the 880 in the first meet. Sadly, I ran the race with the start of a case of the mumps and ended up missing the rest of the season.
I began working nights at a variety store on Billings Road the summer of 1955 and didn't go out for cross country that year. Then a friend, Ron Coleman, convinced me to try out for winter track in the 1955-56 season. We started running the 1000 and even ran in the State Meet at the old Boston Garden. I was near the end of that race. Running on a 10 or 11 lap board track for the first time was scary. In any given race, Ron was ahead of me, because he was faster and had a good "kick" at the end. If he was 1st, I was 2nd. If he was 2nd, I was 3rd, and so on. Coach Gentry switched me to the mile just past mid-season. I still didn't win a race, but came in second once to Natick's 1000 yd. State Champion. Gentry even tried to get me to break 5:00 during practice around the circle in front of the school. He put 2 or 3 guys who normally ran the 600 to act as "rabbits," but the best I could do was 5:01.5. Somebody later said the Mile wasn't measured right around the circle, but I never knew if it was short or long. I did manage a letter for that season. Somewhere in there coach Meaney had a heart attack and I didn't go out for spring track in 1956.
I started cross country in the fall of 1956 with coach Gentry. We had a bunch of good young distance runners that year, so I was put on the "junior varsity" team, which ran a shorter course. We even ran up and down Huckins avenue in Squantum to get some hill practice, and also ran out to coach Gentry's house in Merrymount where he served refreshments. I barely made it to mid season when I decided to leave the team. I started the 1956-57 winter track season. Then in January I chopped off part of my right index finger slicing bolgna where I worked nights. So much for my senior winter track season. Then came spring track again. That time I tried to give it "my all." We held a "Junior Olympics" in which all competed in all track and field events. I was one of a very few who actually did compete in all events even though I still had my arm bandaged from the January accident. Those who competed in everything were given new uniforms and shoes. I think I was near the top in the overall competition, but probably because I did try all events, though the results were far from spectacular. I ran the 880 all season with Ron Coleman again just ahead of me. The most fun race was the last one against Quincy at Memorial Stadium. Coach Meaney was back and for some reason put Ron in the mile. He also switched Jim Baldwin (jr.) and Russ Landberg (soph.) to the 880. Jim was a good all-round athlete who also played football and basketball. Russ was a good all-round runner. I thought, "Oh,boy. A chance to win a race." We swept the 880 with Russ 1st, Jim 2nd and me 3rd. I was a bit disappointed, but was ecstatic over our sweeping the race. I thought we had won that meet, but Ron didn't think so. Oh, well. At least my last meet was fun and I again managed to get a letter. Memories that made the rest of life in those days bearable.

Craig S. Warren
NQHS 1957
El Paso, TX since 1967

(6) Coach Bob Gentry . . .

Craig Warren 1957 (view profile)

Posted: Jul 24 2008 10:24am PST
In reply to Alfred Johnson 1964


You have mentioned that coach Gentry just seemed to be "doing his time" while you were at NQHS. I first became acquainted with him when I went out for Winter Track for the 1955-56 season. I was told that he was teaching at one of the Junior High Schools while coaching Winter Track at North. I never had any difficulties in my dealings with him. Maybe my expectations weren't very high, because my "running talent" was somewhat limited. He did seem to pay a bit more attention to those of us who needed more guidance and let the more talented kids just "do their thing." He did seem to want to get the most out of the talent he had "for the good of the team" and may have rubbed a few egos the wrong way. He, like coach Meaney, may not have been perfect, but I felt they both were fairly sympathetic to the weaknesses of all of us. In 1955-56 coach Gentry was probably around 50 years old, so by the time you guys dealt with him, he was closing in on 60. His seeming to be just "doing his time" may have been due to other causes outside of school and coaching. Who knows? Teachers and coaches are more-or-less human, too. We had a few who may have been a bit on the "nutty side" or may have had problems with booze or at home. Adolescents, as in most eras, don't really understand adults and vice versa. Sometimes it might just be a lack of "chemistry" between pupil/athlete and teacher/coach. Life isn't always "fair" and some of us may not be as flexible or adaptable as we could be. Anyway, I saw Gentry as a decent coach and we may have actually won a few meets with him. We had one runner who was Class "C" State Champion for the 300 yd. dash (George Doring) one year and later ran for the four years he was at Brandeis University. He told me that in those four years Brandeis didn't win a track meet, but he did end up in their Hall of Fame. However, it is good that you are campaigning for your friend's being recognized. I'm not so sure North has a hall of fame for anything other than football or possibly basketball. It could be time to recognize the "marginal sports," including those of the past. I have tried to keep up with track at North, but it's not easy from El Paso. I even sent a message to the Patriot Ledger a couple years ago asking about High School sports, but they said they were not alloted enough space to cover everything. As I said, life is not always fair and we may not always get what we want when we want it. I constantly tell my 9 year old grandson that he should not let frustration cause him to give up on anything.

Hang in there Alfred!

Craig in El Paso

P.S. While touring the old school last year, I asked a guy who seemed to be a teacher or coach why there was little or no recognition for some of the NQHS teams after 1992, which seemed to have been a banner year. His answer was brief; "Budget."

(7) Track at N.Q.H.S.

Joseph Crowley 1954 (view profile)

Posted: Jul 24 2008 11:57am PST
In reply to Craig Warren 1957

I ran track in 7th and 8th grade and then moved over to football, basketball and baseball. Track and cross country are fabulous sports but never received much recognition back in my time at North ( class 1954).Dave Meaney was a terrific individual and loved coaching track. He was the reason I found a way to run track in prep school when meets didn't conflict with the baseball schedule.

Track and baseball don't have Hall of Fame status simply because no one has taken charge of an effort to establish one. The football and basketball Hall of Fames are self funded and managed by organizations that were formed to support deserving athletes such as Bill Cadger.I'd love to see track and cross country athletes recieve the recognition they deserve...go for it.

Joe Crowley "54

(11) "Hollis Field" . . .

Craig Warren 1957 (view profile)

Posted: Jul 30 2008 07:39am PST
In reply to Alfred Johnson 1964


Sorry 'bout that. I think the "dust bowl" you refer to is still called Hollis Field. The first time I ever set foot on that track was our first or second practice for cross country in the fall of 1954. We started by jogging 5 laps (1 mile) and the legs were hurting for a week, since I had never really run more than a few yards before that. Then there was spring track in 1955 when I ran my first 880. The mumps prevented me from finishing my first season of track. It may have been that same spring pre-season when I tripped over a teammate's heel and fell. I suffered a pretty bad scrape, but I got up and finished the 220 without looking at the wound. It was just practice, and most were trying all events to see where we would fit in on the team. Coach Meaney cleaned up the scrape the best he could with his first aid box. The bleeding soon stopped and I still have a couple cinder chips in my left knee.
Anyway, we did have our home track meets at Hollis Field. I don't remember it as being that "dusty," but it was far from being a good track facility. There were bleachers on both sides of the field, but never many spectators. The 5-lap track made it difficult for me when I had to run on a 4-lap (440 yd./400 meter) track. Most of Us still had fun at Hollis in spite of its failings. Where does North hold its home meets these days? Most tracks these days appear to have a rubberized asphalt surface instead of the old cinder/dirt. I never have run on such a track. My only running after high school was for the Navy's annual physical fitness tests or an occasional jog around the neighborhood.

I tried to get to the field in 2007, but was confused by the way they have one-way streets around it. It was easier when we walked from the school to the field "back in the day."

Craig S. Warren 1957

(12) "The Dust Bowl"

Joseph Crowley 1954 (view profile)

Posted: Jul 30 2008 10:54am PST
In reply to Craig Warren 1957


The actual name for what we always referred to as "The Dust Bowl" is Cavanaugh Stadium. If you had practiced football on that surface you would return to the locker room with a dust covered uniform.

Many, such as yourself ,wear the badge of honor from that old cinder track. Those cinders were mean to the body if you were unlucky enough to take a spill.

I have fond memories of my many hours practicing at that field. As poor as that facility was some outstanding athletes were developed on that track and field. Great memories for all of us.

Joe Crowley "54

(14) "The Dust Bowl" Redux

Alfred Johnson 1964

Posted: Aug 01 2008 04:29pm PST
In reply to Joseph Crowley 1954

Sir, thank you for your memory of the "dust bowl". I knew, from a trip over to the old oval last year, that Cavanaugh was its real name. Strangely, after not having seen it for something over forty years it was basically the same. A little better surface on the track (although not much). They had taken out, and not replaced, the old bleachers that were there in 1964.

Now for my "dust bowl" war story. In spring track in the seventh grade at Atlantic Junior High School (now Middle School) I fell down after the start of a dash. I took 'cinders', as you mentioned in your comment. Last year I had a knee replacement operation and noticed that the cinders were still there. I believe that I should get a "purple heart" or something, right? Do you have a 'cinder' story? Regards, Al Johnson

(15) I stand corrected . . .

Craig Warren 1957 (view profile)

Posted: Aug 01 2008 07:30pm PST
In reply to Alfred Johnson 1964


That's what's good about getting more people involved in these messages. I stand corrected concerning the name of the old "dust bowl." Cavanaugh Stadium does ring a bell. Have they put that rubberized asphalt on the track?

I just remembered another incident that could have been fatal to one of our track team mates about the spring of 1957. The team's javelin throwers were practicing one day and one of the other guys took it upon himself to throw the javelin back to them from the other end of the field after each toss. The "returner" was waiting for one of their tosses when it seemed something off the field distracted him. The javelin grazed one of that "returner's" eyebrows, nicking him slightly. Talk about lucky. Another centimeter and the thing would have lodged in his eye socket and probably killed him. He didn't say much for a few minutes and had a very surprised expression on his face. I ran into that guy at our 50th reunion last year and asked if he remembered the incident. He laughed and said, "Oh, yeah. I haven't been the same since." He was another of our good all-round athletes and had a heckuva sense of humor. Good to see he still has it.
As an aside to that incident, I think it may have been Coach Dave Meaney who had told us that most high schools in the western states didn't have the javelin throw as one of their events. That's still true today, at least here in El Paso. That scary incident at Cavanaugh Stadium kind of confirmed what he had said. Curiously, the discus probably isn't much safer.

Anyway, thanks for the correction.

Craig S. Warren '57

(16) "Dust Bowl", Once Again

Alfred Johnson 1964

Posted: Aug 02 2008 06:33am PST
In reply to Craig Warren 1957

Craig and Joseph- is there anyone who went on to that track (at least in the old days) who does not still have cinders somewhere on their body as a reminder of their youthful activity? I asked Bill Cadger about it and, naturally, he related his 'cinder' experience. Was this a "rite of passage" from the vengeful track gods and goddesses? I think you could still pick up some these days from what I saw of the track last year. Regards, Al