Toward the middle of my senior year at SFAHS, my plan to enroll at Oklahoma State University began to unravel and I started to look around for an alternative. A couple of the high school band guys had enrolled at Texas A&I the previous semester, and my dad, for some reason, knew a little about the school. So we took a quick trip to Kingsville and after a few hours on campus signed on for the upcoming school year.
Things went well for me at A&I. I was in the band, having a good time on campus, and actually passing most of my classes without the burden of putting in excess study time. Then toward the end of the semester I received a short letter from my parents stating (my words not theirs) that the next time I decided to come home I should plan on spending a little more on gas and be prepared to drive north an extra four hours. My family was moving because my dad had been transferred to Arlington, Texas.
At semester’s end, I followed their instructions and headed north to Arlington. There, I got a glamorous job loading boxcars in the 125 degree heat, and discovered a very nice junior college, Arlington State College, which would require a twenty minute ride to the campus instead of a nine hour drive back to Kingsville. That and the fact that Al Bond, with whom I had grown up in Garden Villas and who I consider the brother I never had, was already enrolled at ASC led me to forget about A&I and enroll at Arlington State.
More good times followed. The band was great, I enjoyed ROTC, the football team was the national junior college champs, and the band got a free trip to California to see the title game and to march in The Rose Bowl Parade.
One other incident from my Arlington days should be mentioned. One hot day after drilling with the ROTC band for an hour or so, I stopped by the student center to cool off and have a nice cold soda. As I sat slumped in my chair, the aforementioned Al Bond appeared out of nowhere and announced that he had a date for the movies that night and his date had a girlfriend whom she had invited to go along. He then asked if I wanted a blind date for the evening. Before I could answer, his girlfriend appeared and with her was her beautiful brown eyed friend.
“Clinton, this is Dixie,” Al said.
On January 29, 2008, Dixie and I will have been married 49 years.
Our marriage marked the beginning of several years of almost nomadic movement. I signed on with the American Can Company and was promptly transferred to Fairport, New York. In those days, advancing in the company required frequent transfers for new experiences and to continuously update one’s management skills. Rochester, New York, Memphis, Tennessee, Princeton, New Jersey, and San Antonio, Texas were among our many stops. In retrospect, working at the corporate headquarters at 100 Park Avenue in New York City provided some of the most interesting times of them all. At the end of my twenty year association with the company, buy-outs and mergers brought what was once the largest container manufacturer in the world to its knees. Ironically, my last transfer
before the company went out of business was back to Houston where I started.
As we traveled the country, our family grew. Our first child, Donna, graduated from Baylor University, and after teaching for three years she married and settled in Ovila, Texas. She is the mother of our five grandchildren. The two oldest grandchildren are now in college. Lydia attends DBU and Stephen has just enrolled at Texas A&M. The others still at home are Amanda, James, and Gracie.
David, our oldest son, received his PHD in math and computer science from The University of Texas at Arlington. He works in the New York area in software development.
Richard, our youngest, graduated from San Jacinto College and has been a respiratory therapist at Methodist Hospital for several years.
After our return to Houston, I worked for a couple of years with the company and finally resigned to take a teaching job with the Harris County Department of Education and to begin a second career doing something I had wanted to do for many years. While teaching for Harris County, the College of the Mainland in Texas City. hired me as an adjunct instructor to teach developmental writing students. Sometime later I accepted a full-time position as an Associate Professor of Developmental Studies, and taught at the college for the next eleven years before retiring in 2004. I have continued to teach at least one course a semester since my retirement.
To keep me busy in my spare time, I dabble as a freelance writer and take some pride in the fact that several dozen of my manuscripts have been accepted and published by a variety of print and online publications.
After all these years I still have fond memories of my time at Austin High School. I remember the first day at school when all the students gathered around the front flagpole and cheered as Mr. Spopinato’s Mustang Band marched by playing the Mustang Fight Song and then stopped and played the National Anthem as the flag was raised and we all sang at the top of our voices and really meant it.
I remember playing with “The Moonlighters Orchestra” at dances, school events, pancake suppers and anywhere else we could. Formed by Ronnie Worsham, the band included at one time or another Raymond Wilson, Bobby Whatley, Jim Faughn, Conoley Ballard, John Kirby, Terry Anderson, Virgil Parker, Chuck Jones, and me. We had great times together and made a few bucks along the way.
And, of course, there were football games, homerooms, majorettes, and the mysticism of 12th grade math. All in all it was a pretty interesting time of my life.
Finally, regrets. I have a few but not many. The biggie has to be that once Dixie and I left Texas I couldn’t or didn’t maintain the wonderful friendships I had made at Austin. Maybe the reunion will help a bit.