The little town that existed alongside the Houston Ship Channel.
I remember my cousin living there, probably in the very early 1960’s, and visiting him on an unnamed drive to protect their privacy… . Somewhere along the way their house number changed as the street went through changes. Although I am sure I do not remember the old number, what I do remember is the new number…
Wait a moment while I verify on a map somewhere…
Yep. It’s still there! The picture shows barges parked in the channel/river across the street and down the bluff. Close to them lived someone else I am connected with from high school journalism and now on Facebook. Again, I don’t want to divulge too much information, but I remember her as Virginia.
We moved to Channelview in 1965, after class had been in session for a while. Leaving Seabrook, we trekked across the ship channel and ended up closer to where dad worked at Champion Paper Company. I left many friends behind, most of them were connected to the NASA program via their parents. We left a great living place where we had 140+ acres to roam next to Clear Lake – cows, chickens, barns, tractor, pier, great swimming pool, all the play equipment you needed, and life with a company fair/picnic that even included Bozo the clown (who put his attire on in the boy’s bedroom!)…
We ended up on South Brentwood. I have written about it enough, but I do remember it as a great place to be – large yards, woods across the street, gully down the road, and it seems like there were kids everywhere. Not the same place today…
So, I spent part of our first year in Channelview at Viola Cobb elementary, adjusting to a new life. My siblings went there far more than the 6 months or so that I spent there.
How do you adjust with a last name like “Gurley”?
I spent the second year in Channelview at DeZavalla Elementary School – where my cousin went to school – and for that one year of experience where I had the worst teacher anyone would hope their kids never got to experience, I can only say, wow! I remember the teacher came out of retirement, but I have no clue of any of her past. When everyone is making straight A’s, including someone who had failed two years in a row (as I remember it), and you take to cheating in order to just have fun (American Sign Language and Morse Code), then there is something wrong with the experience. I remember only a few of the faces from that time period – it was, and is, mostly a blur.
I spent the next 5 years of schooling at the complex that included the newly built Junior High and the older High School building. They were separated by the Administration building but all other facilities were shared by each school. Mr Madry was the principle in Junior High and Mr Troy Cooper was the principle in HS. I have written about Mr Cooper several times, a really good man that I enjoyed knowing during those few years.
Junior High, where I spent 7th and 8th grade, was a weird experience. I tried out for basketball in the 8th grade and a medical checkup found I had a hernia. I missed the first 4 weeks of school and 6 weeks of life. It was difficult to catchup and feel apart of the class experience that year. I never felt like I caught onto Spanish as a result. The other courses were good, with some great instructors – Ms Kitty Sue Barber and Mr Doolittle were my favorites. Ms Barber fed my hunger for literature, and Mr Doolittle kept my gaze on science and space. I suspect I had other good teachers, but their classes and names escape my memory right now.
I remember kids getting pops by a paddle, even with little holes drilled in them so the paddle would whistle as it got closer.
I remember some move-in’s – my cousin’s cousin, Terry, and a girl named Judy with the neatest accent. I kept my friendship with David (from 5th-6th grades), who’s dad had a stroke and later died – I went to the funeral in Liberty, TX, and stayed with cousins there.
I remember there was no A/C, and we were not allowed into the building until they opened the school doors – regardless of how cold, hot or stormy it might have been.
It was in HS that I found out how much I hated school. Sitting in class all day long… Now, I know I teach college these days, but it is an online experience where students and teachers come and go at will and meet specific deadlines along the way.
I remember my Aunt Carol teaching Business there and of all the clacking noise that came out of the typewriters and other business machines!
There are a couple of classes and teachers that stood out. Mrs Chance in Spanish recaptured my interest in the language, although I am not very proficient today at all. Mr Baldwin, a new graduate from Texas A&M, taught Biology and furthered my interest in the sciences. Mrs James for Journalism (Newspaper and Annual). Mrs Overstreet wore out the overhead projector, but I believe I learned a foundation for Algebra that was ruined by the following Geometry and Algebra II classes – hence, I hate math… As I think about it, I have no memory of History or English… Strange, since both of these subjects are a huge part of my life today.
I remember taking Typing I and using manual typewriters. I have no clue who the teacher was, but it sure set my fingers in motion to be effective in programming later on.
In my Junior year, Mr Cooper invited me to be a part of the Youth Advisory Board for First State Bank of Greens Bayou. This was typically a Senior appointment, but he hunted me down and asked me if I wanted to participate. Sure! Anything to get me out of class. Of course, that was the ultimate reason for High School, right? Learn how to get out of class!
It was hard to get off campus for lunch, but my cousin and I had a note from a special teacher. Every so often we would go over to the Drug Store and eat a delicious hamburger at the dining counter. Cherry Coke! Yum…
Hence my interest in Photo Journalism. The ultimate purpose in life is to take pictures of other people that are doing something, who also wanted their own picture in the paper or the annual… I spent a week at Texas A&M between 9th and 10th grade learning about Photo Journalism… All in all I really loved this experience!
In the years of taking pictures, I was surrounded by very talented and creative people. I earned my own money mowing yards and working at D&L Grocery to buy my first 35mm camera. I still have it. While others had better named cameras (Nikon, Canon, Pentax, etc.) I flew along with my Yashica TL-E (pictured on the left). I still have the camera bag – remember, I do not throw away anything and if nothing, my life is replete of museum quality pieces! In school I often lugged around the 110mm camera, and really cool Yashica D or MAT 124 (pictured on right). I bought this one on eBay a few years ago for sentimental reasons. Of course, the battery pack weighed about 10lbs…
I am not even sure you can buy film for these ancient devices!
We took our own pictures, developed and printed them, and learned how they fit into the newspaper and annual. I migrated up to a Pentax MX and later a digital 35mm that I truly enjoy – but one thing I have learned, cameras require care, and you generally lug around a big bag full of stuff (lenses, caps, film, straps, tripods, etc.). This can be a little tiring.
One of the really great experiences was getting to travel to away sporting events. It was fun going to a Friday Night game and getting to ride the band, drill / cheerleader team, or even the football bus. It was most fun being on the bus that had all the girls…
How can we make it through this discussion without talking about cars? Another blog in the future is how!
So… I made it through the 11th grade and thus ended my education at Channelview. My mom was a teacher and taught in LaPorte, TX. There, my 18 credits completed at Channelview were enough to graduate High School with. My only missing requirement was Government. So, I went to LaPorte my Senior year, took government from 7:30-8:30 from September to December, and skipped the rest of the school day and the remainder of the school year. I worked full time at First State Bank and Trust from 9:00am until the end of the work day, around 6pm, and started going to College in January, 1973, where I took my first banking course, Principles of Banking (which I later taught at Anchorage Community College for about 3 years in the 80’s.)
Graduation was a non-event, and I am happy to say I do not miss having missed it. Life was happening and a ceremony was not part of it. I do not know the school song. The colors were Blue and Gold. I understand the school has been torn down and a new facility is in is place.
Thanks to some on Facebook who took photo’s and linked them in so I could enjoy those years once again.