Here are a few tales Cheyanne sent to me plus one I stole from
another place. (thanks Alton Moore)
And Cheyanne's own "You Can Go Home Again" poem.
"I was reading through Bear's Tales and I came upon the story by Alton
Moore about the Model T coil and Bill Helmer. Bill Helmer, Penny Payte and
I were all close friends. In fact, Penny was my steady. Not sticking with
Penny wasn't the worst mistake of my life but it has to rank in the top two.
That's another story, though. I had an old Model A Ford, stripped down,
souped up, no top and no fenders. Jimmy Shawn's father machined many
pounds off the flywheel and modified it to use a Ford V8 clutch, which it
sorely needed. This thing was affectionately (most of the time) known as
"the Hot Rod." It's official name (painted on the cowling) was the "Coughin'
Coffin." Helmer's 46
a top. Even at the low price of gasoline back then, gasoline was scarce,
when you didn't have any money. Bill had a box mounted on the dash that
said, "Contribute to the gas fund. Also, hanging from the rear view mirror
was a little rubber soldier. One day, Bill picked me up and as I got into the
car, Bill said, "Contribute to the gas fund or I'll hex you." I laughed
(because I didn't have any money, either). He picked up this large hat pin
from the gas money box and stuck the rubber soldier in the behind with it.
As he did, he pressed a hidden switch with his foot and I nearly clawed the
headliner out of the car trying to get my butt clear of the seat. Helmer had
hidden a piece of screen wire in the seat cover and hooked it to
the infamous Model T coil. Luckily for me, Penny's father began letting us
use his '51 Studebaker for dates so we weren't dependent on Helmer in
That's the story. Bill is quite a charcter. He wrote his Master's thesis on
the Thompson submachine gun, a weapon with which I am intimately
familiar after many, many years in the service. It's called "The Gun that
Made The Twenties Roar. Jim Rebman
I was in the class of 58, (Dellia Heaney) Dee Dee, I have so many memories of high school and as I get older I think about my class and where we all ended up. My best memories where at the Big Freezer drinking rootbeer floats. Miles may seperate us now, but our memories will always hold us together.
Some of my fondest memories
are: typing in Mrs. Koch's class, sitting by
Billy Spenser, humming Kathy's Clown and typing to it. Hummm, Also had a
lot of fun in Mr. Cain's bookkeeping class ...again sitting by Billy Spenser
and talking too much. Poor Billy always got the blame. (grin) So many great
memories: eating at the Big Freezer, crusing with Kay in her new beautiful
white with red interior Impala convertable, band trips, slumber parties, Y
Teens, school dances, going to
chosen Key Club Sweetheart in 1961.
~Carolyn Danz Beckett~
(the dog that thought he was Bear)
by Barbara Callis Walker
I am curious as to what became of my dog, Senator. He loved
school, hamburgers, and chasing the football team members. When I went to
Baylor , he didn't want to stay home with my Dad. After Dad's death, I
think he started living with the
ANY screen door. Next to school, he loved to go into town and go "shopping" at the grocery stores. Once in, whatever was down on his level that he could grab and open, he "charged it" to my Dad's account. By the way, Senator opened the accounts, my Dad always paid cash or check. I'm sure lots of
"kids" will remember him.
Remember the time when class 51/52 burned PSJA in the McAllen Football field, before the game that Friday night.
The whole school got in trouble, trying to find out who was responsible. Go Bears!!!!! (So who did it?)
Betty (Barber) Lankford
Memories from 1953
DON ARCHIBALD....BEING HONORED BY THE BEARETTES AS THEIR SWEETHEART AND
TRI-CAPTAIN OF THE FOOTBALL TEAM!
SHIRLEY CARDNER SNIDER....LEARNING TO JITTERBUG FOR TENNIS CLASS!
EDDIE COLBURN....DRIVING AROUND THE CITRIANA!
BETTY JO CRAFT NEVILLES (WARREN)....TRYING OUT FOR THE CHOIR AND MR.
THERON KIRK. AFTER LISTENING TO MY SINGING, HE SAID I HAD A GOOD EAR AND
DID I WANT TO BE IN THE CHOIR? DRINKING COKES AND EATING TUNA FISH
SANDWICHES WITH ONIONS AT VELDA RATCLIFF'S HOUSE!
EVA GODINEZ BARRON (ELI)....SITTING ON THE LAWN IN FRONT OF THE SCHOOL
DURING LUNCH. THE BOYS IN ONE GROUP AND THE GIRLS IN ANOTHER....TELLING
JOKES, LAUGHING AND THE BOYS BEING SILLY....AS USUAL! THE BEAR'S DEN AND
DANCING TO THE JUKEBOX AFTER THE GAMES!
ELIZABETH GOFF TERRY (ROBERT)....SINGING "LET ME CALL YOU
FOR MR. BUCKNER!
JOYCE JOHNSON BALLEW (JOE) MY YEARS IN THE BAND AND CHOIR ARE FULL OF
WONDERFUL MEMORIES BUT ONE OF MY HAPPIEST MOMENTS WAS WHEN I ACHIEVED AN
A+ FOR THE SEMESTER FROM MRS. WODRICH IN MY BIOLOGY CLASS!
JANIE LILES GROVES (ALVIN)....I REMEMBER DECORATING THE DEN, GOING TO
THE CITRIANA, DRAGGING MAIN STREET IN MCALLEN, DATES, FUN AFTER FOOTBALL
GAMES AND EDITING THE ANNUALS!
DOSSETT MCCULLOUGH....OUR SENIOR TRIP TO MEXICO IN THE SPRING OF 1953
WITH EMMA MARTINEZ AS OUR SPONSOR, MEETING SOME PEOPLE FROM MONTERREY
WITH WHOM I HAVE BEEN FRIENDS WITH EVER SINCE!
FRED MCGEHEE....THE JR/SR BANQUET AND DANCE MY JUNIOR YEAR. WE PAINTED
MURALS ON ALL THE WALLS OF THE BEAR'S DEN WITHOUT ASKING PERMISSION.
EVERYONE SEEMED TO HAVE A GREAT TIME AT THE EVENT. WE DIDN'T MAKE ANY
MONEY THOUGH AS THE ADMINISTRATION CONFISCATED IT ALL TO REPAINT THE
JOHN MYERS....PLAYING DOUBLES WITH SPENCER KNAPP IN THE FINALS OF THE
TEXAS INTERSCHOLASTIC LEAGUE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS IN AUSTIN IN APRIL OF
CONNIE RALSTON MYERS (JOHN)....GETTING TO SCHOOL EARLY SO I COULD VISIT
VELDA RATCLIFF LADD (LOY)....MY FAVORITE MEMORIES ARE CONNECTED TO
JEANETTE CAIN AND THE BEARETTES!
SUE SLATE HOWARD (TERRY)....THE SENIOR TRIP TO MEXICO AND SOFTBALL
TOURNAMENTS WITH MY FAVORITE P.E. COACH, JEANETTE CAIN. TOO MANY OTHER
GREAT MEMORIES TO LIST!
TOMMY WALKER....MOST OF MY MEMORIES HAVE FADED WITH TIME. WE ENJOYED OUR
FRIENDS, TEACHERS AND SMALL COMMUNITY AND THE MANY ACTIVITIES WE HAD!
PAT WILLIAMS DIETZ (DICK)....I REMEMBER WHEN THE FIRETRUCKS CAME AND
WATERED OUR GRASS AT THE LITTLE SAN JUAN SCHOOL. I REMEMBER WONDERFUL
FOOTBALL GAMES ON FRIDAY NIGHT AND I LOVED MR. THERON KIRK AND HIS
WONDERFUL MUSICAL CHOIRS!
ROBERT YOUNG....THE JR/SR BANQUET, PROM AND THE SENIOR TRIP!
FAVORITE MEMORIES......1954 CLASS
DON BARTLEY....I HAVE MANY FOND MEMORIES OF EVENTS AT THE CACTUS
DRIVE-IN. I WORKED THERE A COUPLE OF YEARS MYSELF. PROBABLY WORE OUT
SEVERAL TIRES GOING AROUND THE CITRIANA!
NORMA BEAVERS RIDER (E.C.)....ALL MY SCHOOL DAYS AND TIMES WITH MY
FRIENDS WERE JUST WONDERFUL!
ROBERT BLACK....BEACH PARTY WITH DARYL TYSDAL, DICK TRACY AND BOBBY
CLOTILDE "COTY" GUERRA GARZA....THE FRIENDSHIPS,
TEACHERS, THE OLD
SCHOOL....TOO MANY GREAT MEMORIES!
NITA HINES MORRIS (BILL)....THOSE GREAT FOOTBALL GAMES....AND AFTER!
LIBBY ANN LINN KLINGAMON (GARY)....BEING CHOSEN SENIOR FAVORITE!
MARVIN MIRE....THE SENIOR TRIP TO MONTERREY!
LUIS QUENTERO....TOO MANY MEMORIES TO SORT OUT! I HAVE LIVED AN
ENCHANTED LIFE. EVERY DAY BRINGS A NEW AND EXCITING EXPERIENCE BUT
MEMORIES OF MY PSJA FRIENDS AND THOSE "GOOD OLD DAYS" ARE MOST
PETE ROMERO....DURING OUR ANNUAL T CLUB FUND RAISER (SLAVE SALE) TWO
GIRLS KEPT BIDDING FOR ME SO I HAD TO STAY ON THE STAGE FOR OVER TEN
MINUTES UNTIL ONE GIRL WON! IN THE MEALTIME....I WAS SWEATING!
MARIA SANCHEZ PRUNEDA (RAMIRO)....BEING IN THE BEARETTES, THE FOOTBALL
GAMES, ALL MY FRIENDS AND DANCING IN THE DEN!
JOHN TEMPLE-GROTE....BILLY HAVENS AND I PESTERING LIBBY ANN LINN ON OUR
SENIOR TRIP TO MEXICO. I HAVE SO MANY GOOD MEMORIES!
BOBBIE TRENT ARCHIBALD....THE SLUMBER PARTIES!
AHDELL WOFORD BERENS....THE 1953 PSJA BAND. WE WERE GOOD! MARCHING TO
"LADY OF SPAIN" IN 3/4 TIME AND WINNING HONORS AT THE PIGSKIN JUBILEE!
JOYCE ANDERSON GRASSEL......WHEN I WAS CHOSEN HONEYBEAR (FOOTBALL
SWEETHEART) AND WENT ON TO WIN ALL VALLEY FOOTBALL SWEETHEART! CAMPBELL
DEROULAC WAS MY ESCORT!
SANDRA AVERY SMITH.....ALL 4 YEARS OF HIGH SCHOOL!
GENE BARNES.....THE TIME I TOLD MRS. WADRICH THAT I DIDN'T COME FROM A
BUCKET OF WATER....SHE MARKED 20 POINTS OFF MY SCORE!
KATHY LOHR HENDRICKS.....FUN AT THE CITRIANA!
DAVID NASH.....THE TIME JOHNNY GROSS REMOVED ALL THE LIGHT BULBS FROM
THE CHOIR ROOM AND MR. POLLARD HAD THE ELECTRICIANS CHECKING THE WIRING
SO GRADUATION CEREMONIES COULD BE REHERSED THERE. HE WAS WATCHING TO SEE
WHO THE GUILTY PARTY WAS. I DID CONFESS TO HIM 30 YEARS LATER WHEN I MET
HIM IN HOUSTON. HE GAVE ME 5 DEMERITS AND WENT LOOKING FOR JOHNNY! THE
TIME BUTCH ALCORN HID A STINK BOMB IN THE LOCKER OVER THE WEEK-END....HE
NEVER DID CONFESS!
SHARON ENGLAND GRIFFITH....WHEN I WAS CROWNED BAND SWEETHEART IN 1957. I
STILL HAVE MY CROWN!
JUANITA ROJAS MILLER.....GRADUATION DAY AND ....NIGHT!
CLAIRE LONG GAUNTLETT.....PLAYING THAT SILLY BASS CLARINET IN THE BAND,
MARCHING TO "ST LOUIS BLUES" AND SLUMBER PARTIES!
PEGGY DONEIS EBERWEIN.....BAND AND CHOIR TRIPS, ESPECIALLY THE TRIP TO
GIDDINGS WITH THE CONCERT CHOIR AND MR. POLLARD AS THE BUS DRIVER!
ELVA ELIZONDO BENITEZ.....ALL THE FUN WE HAD ON BAND TRIPS!
DAVID FINN.....THEY SAY ONE'S MEMORY IS THE FIRST TO GO, SO ANY MEMORY
IS DEFINITELY A FAVORITE!
JIMMY STEWART.....A MUCH SIMPLER LIFESTYLE, GOING BAREFOOT, SWIMMING IN
THE CANALS AND CASCADE SWINNING POOL, DANCING AT THE COVERED WAGON, MY
1953 STUDEBAKER HARDTOP C AND EVERYONE FROM CARNAHAN THROUGH GRADUATION!
Pam (Lankford) Rhoden - class 72
Hey creator, this is a great idea. I graduated in 1972. My mother Betty Barber graduated exactly 20 years before me in
52, and my brother Doug Lankford, graduated in 1977. Any how the blood runs deep. Wanted to ask if you could put
in a place for special memories, such as in 1971 the football coach sent McAllen Bulldogs coach a case of baby food in
jars and on each jar there was a picture representing each Bulldog ball player. This is a cute memory and from talking
to Mom and Ann I know there are lots more out there.
Also wanted to add to your Bears Tale about the time the class 71/72 football players were in Ms. Carman's english
class and she had her hearing aid in, but the boys talked really low or just moved their lips making her think her hearing
aid was off, so she turned it up and when they talked normally they almost blew her eardrum out. Anyways everybody
knows the Carmen sisters. Just wanted to let you know even the bears in 71/72 were cruel.
Just after the turn of the century, Henry Ford revolutionized the
automobile industry by introducing mass production of the Model-T Ford, and
therein hangs a tale.
Spark for the ignition was produced by the famous Model-T spark coil, which was nothing more than an electromagnet housed in a wooden box, and arranged so that when power was applied to it, a relay switch was attracted to the iron core, which broke the power contact, which caused the switch to snap back into position and re-apply power, etc., etc. This resulted in the rapid rise and collapse of a magnetic field about the coil, which in turn resulted in a beautiful blue spark, and, if you happened to get across the contacts, a nasty shock.
At the time the events of which I write took place, the Model-T coil was
about as obsolete as Cleo's barge, but there were a few stuck away in odd
corners, and one of them came to the attention of Bill Helmer (Class of 56, I
think, but might have been 55, now the balding and moustachioed Associate
Editor of Playboy Magazine). Bill's dark genius concocted a scheme to
wire the spark coil into the chassis of his '46 Plymouth with which he shocked
the pee-waddlin' out of anyone who had the temerity to lean on his old gray
ghost. After getting the crap knocked out of me a few times, I began to
thirst for revenge, so began an earnest search for a Model-T spark coil of my
I happened to mention it to Jimmy Shawn one day, and it turned out he had a dozen of them, still wrapped in the original wax paper packing. We quickly arranged a trade, his coils for my brother Dwight's defunct motorbike.
So now I had coils to spare, but I was faced with a serious drawback, namely, I had no car in which to install one. John McDaniel, on the other hand, had managed to cobble together a junked chassis, a junked engine and a junked front seat into a movable jalopy. In fact, it moved quite fast, unencumbered as it was by a body and dash board, which later proved to be a good thing, at least for us. We put the coil on John's junker, and headed for the Citriana.
When we arrived, we pulled in behind a waiting customer - I'd like to think it was Bill Helmer, but I'm sure it wasn't - and lightly kissed bumpers with him to make good electrical contact. Then Doris Kruger came out with a metal window tray full of burgers, fries and cokes, and as she placed it on the car in front of us, John hit the switch. The resultant shock caused Doris' forearms to contract violently, thus lifting the tray and its contents into a graceful arc over her head and onto the ground. There followed a moment of general consternation as we made ready to leave, and our departure was hastened when the manager erupted from the front door shouting imprecations -- got downright vulgar, as I recall - so John put the jalopy into a high-speed power slide around the Citriana's circular driveway and out on the highway. He turned off the lights, and we took refuge in a darkened citrus orchard until the manager quit looking for us, then headed for Reynosa to let things cool down a little.
About fifteen years ago, I wrote a short story describing the event, but I made Bill Helmer the driver of the car in front of us. Nobody would ever have believed that it wasn't he who had shocked the pee out of Doris Kruger on that long ago Saturday night at the Citriana.
A Drive In Tale
by Alton Moore
I remember when Interstate Theatres built the Cactus drive in in Pharr, TX.
I lived only a block
away, and when the wind was out of the east, I could lie in bed and listen to it and hear every word
The year I was eleven (1951), only a few months after it was opened, I was hired as the flashlight
boy. You remember, the guy with the flashlight who vainly tried to direct traffic to open spots,
only to have most of the cars drive past on their way to the tenth row! It was also my job to go
around with the flit gun, and offer to spray for mosquitos. A lot of people on the tenth row were
quite surprised when I came knocking on cars that were rocking!
I also had to walk around to every damned last speaker on the lot and turn the volume down at
the first intermission, and after the last feature.
A year or so later, I graduated to the ticket booth where we did both mosquito spraying and
windshield cleaning while collecting the money and passing back ticket stubs. And still later, I was
elevated to the concession stand and made responsible for the fountain cokes and popcorn sales.
John Connelly was the manager for the first few years at the Cactus, and he tolerated teens and
sub-teens working for him without many problems, but as time went on, child labor laws and a
new manager by the name of Agnew came along, and I retired from the drive in. I later wound up
as the assistant manager (at the age of 15) of the Rex Theatre in San Juan, and still later, the
projectionist at the Rex and at the Plaza in Donna.
And where did I go on dates in high school? Why, to the Cactus, of course, although I
remember a couple of steamy sessions at the Wes-Mer, where nobody knew me and I could enter
The last time I actually went to a drive in movie was in the early seventies. I was teaching
Spanish at Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, and went to see a few Cantinflas movies
at the drive in in Mission.I think it was the Buckhorn, but by the mid-seventies, all the remaining
open ones show only Spanish language movies down here, and the animals were gone.
There is a vacant ex-Walmart building and a strip mall where the Cactus used to be. Some of
the others are now sites for fleas markets.
I remember the animals at the Buckhorn, but mostly I remember the monkey cage at the
Cactus. There was a female chimp named Betty that I was half in love with. Is that why my kids
have such big ears? Nah, they got it from me.
We were just a few weeks into the school year. The history teacher's name was Elvis Ballew (not sure about the spelling on that last name) I had history just before lunch. Since the beginning of school Mr. Ballew had endured snide remarks during class about his first name 'ELVIS'. One day he turned to the class and announced "I will not tolerate any more cute remarks or comments about my name. If I hear anymore such comments I will keep you in through the lunch period, pretty soon you'll learn". With that, he turned back to the blackboard. The class wit promptly announced, " Yea, pretty soon we'll learn to bring our lunch"
~D L Archibald~
THEY SAY YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN
IT WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
THE BEST OF MY HOMETOWN IS GONE
AND I WONDER WHO'S TO BLAME
THERE IS A WHATABURGER
WHERE JO AND ART'S ONCE STOOD
I WAS FIFTEEN AND A CARHOP
OH, THE FIFTIES WERE SO GOOD
ALL THE KIDS WOULD DRIVE OUT THERE
AND SIT ON THE HOOD OF THEIR CAR
TO LAUGH, FLIRT AND SING
WITH THE JUKEBOX OR A GUITAR
THERE IS A CAR REPAIR SHOP
IN PLACE OF THE SKATING RINK
WHERE WE MET BOYS ON FRIDAY NIGHT
AND I GOT MY FIRST GROWN-UP WINK
WE'D DRAG THE ROBIN AND SAMMY'S
ALL PILED UP IN THE CAR
GAS WAS A QUARTER A GALLON THEN
SO IT NEVER MATTERED HOW FAR
WE DROVE....TO THE CITRIANA
BACK AND FORTH IN A RUT
ON TO THE CHUNG MEI DRIVE-IN
NOW IT'S GONE, THERE'S A PIZZA HUT
THE CACTUS DRIVE-IN THEATER
AND NO, IT ISN'T BUNK!
SOME OF THE KIDS GOT IN FREE
BY HIDING IN THE TRUNK
THE CACTUS IS GONE I HEAR
WAL-MARTS CAME TO TOWN
I HOPE THEY'RE HAPPY WITH THEIR STORE
IT STANDS ON "HALLOWED" GROUND!
ON HACKBERRY AND TENTH ONE NIGHT
I SAT IN UTTER BLISS
WHILE ELVIS SANG HEARTBREAK HOTEL
I GOT MY FIRST GROWNUP KISS
IT WAS AN EXTRA SPECIAL KISS
FROM THE FIRST LOVE OF MY LIFE
HE MADE QUITE AN IMPRESSION
'CAUSE I'M HAPPILY HIS WIFE
WHOEVER SAID IT WAS WRONG
YOU CAN GO HOME, I FIND
TURN ON THE MEMORY MACHINE
IT'S ALL THERE IN YOUR MIND
CLEAR, INTACT AND WONDERFUL
I SEE OLD FRIEND'S HAPPY FACES
READ THESE WORDS AND COME WITH ME
TO VISIT THOSE LONG AGO PLACES!