The Good Times We Had

65-yearbookIn a valley near the east shore of Texas

‘Neath the vast and the clear Texas sky

Stands a monument to honor Our Lady:

It’s our own Mt. Carmel High.

Though it’s walls echo cheers and much laughter,

It’s for knowledge and culture we fight:

For with each passing year,

Our love grows more dear,

For we’re led by that great Carmel might.

While we sing of the praises of Carmel

We are loyal to the old brown and white:

Though our mem’ries dim

We’ll be true to Him

And to Her of the great Carmel might!

By the 1964-1965 school year those of us in the Class of 1966 were coming into our own. Gone were our childish expressions, replaced by the conviction that we were at long last on our way to adulthood and positions of leadership. Our resolve was reflected in our eyes and in the way we began to take charge and work together for the betterment of the school and the community. It was a year of learning about the history of our country and understanding the chemistry of life. Algebra II introduced us to our first inklings of higher mathematics and in our Religion classes we began to discuss very adult topics along with learning more about the Bible. Some of us came early in the morning to take Latin III in addition to being introduced to German. We expanded our horizons with Art, Mechanical Drawing, Choral, Clothing, and Home Economics. We had learned how to balance the rigor of academics with the growing number of activities in which we engaged.

I finally turned sixteen in November but still didn’t get to drive a car. That would have to wait for a later time when the burden of paying for insurance didn’t fall on my mom. It didn’t really matter because so many of my friends were willing to chauffeur me to all of the wonderful events that we would enjoy that year. Father Shane still insisted that we attend plays at the Alley Theater and concerts at the Music Hall. Of course I loved going to those special presentations that were making me the citizen of the world that he promised we would become. I remember how he taught us to wait for the signal from the conductor before clapping and we always felt a bit smug when students from the other schools brought their hands together at inappropriate moments.

So many of us were now officers in the various clubs and organizations. I was the Vice President of the ever growing Medical Careers Club. Paul Colby and Harry Butler were winning first place trophies in Debate. Sixteen of us became eligible for induction into the National Honor Society. Our junior representatives on the Student Council were Jeannine Mandola, Margaret Rae, Mike Bole, Judy Loisey, David Patton, Janis Lowe, Johnny McAughan and somehow even I earned a spot with that illustrious group. A large contingency of juniors worked as Library Assistants and became members of the Texas Association of German Students. Interest in The CarmeLight newspaper grew by leaps and bounds with the sports section becoming particularly popular under the guidance of Richard Powers. Father Franz asked a few of us to become members of the Chroniclers Club to maintain the history of our school. (To this day I wonder what happened to the work that we did.)  Linda Derks and Judy Loisey were installed as officers in the Future Teachers Club while the Choral Club grew large enough to fill a set of bleachers. The Dance Committee planed events for Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Easter. The Mission club quietly performed good works for people in difficult situations. MIke Petru was one of the leaders of the Science Club. The Cadettes continued their pursuit of excellence with Margaret Rae, Judy Loisey, Janis Lowe,Ruth Hoesel, Jeanette Mikeska, and Kit Lyle earning officer positions. There was bowling and a Camera Club and even a swim team. A number of juniors posted wins in the annual Science Fair. Ruth Hoesel and Janis Lowe were All Stars of the first place basketball team. Janis Repsdorph and Margaret Rae served as captains of the volleyball teams. Of course we all loved watching our classmates on the football field, the baseball diamond and the basketball court. Everyone was busy and having fun.

Two events that I always recall from that year involved community service. Each homeroom collected food and gifts for a needy family at Christmas time. The students in my group were beyond generous and I loved shopping for the turkey with all of the fixings that we would eventually present to our family. We had enough funds to purchase lovely gifts for every member of the family and sharing our own good fortune with those who had less made Christmas all the more meaningful.

The other big project was collecting enough contributions to purchase an International Scout for missionaries who came to visit our school. They mentioned that their old auto had fallen apart from long and hazardous drives in the mountains of South America. They needed reliable transportation to get from one village to another. Somehow we managed to collect enough donations to provide them with a brand new vehicle designed for rugged terrain. It felt wonderful knowing that we had done something so remarkable.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was inaugurated as the 36th President of the United States in 1965. There were violent outbreaks in Selma Alabama as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a procession of 4,000 from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones started a music invasion from England that would change the direction of music. Dr. Zhivago, The Sound of Music and Help were box office hits at the movies.

In the spring the Class of 1966 honored the seniors of 1965 with Davy Jones Locker a roast and a toast for the soon to be graduates. The nautical theme was spectacular particularly with the wit of Harry Butler who had a surprisingly humorous way with words. We were decked out as sailors and pirates as we gave our nods to each of the members of the class that had come before us. We also began tryouts for cheerleader with a huge group of students performing before the student body. There were even elections for Student Body offices.

I decided to run for Student Body Secretary. I wasn’t as well known as my opponents, Janis Lowe and Judy Loisey but I felt the need to push myself out of my comfort zone. I remember thinking that I was surely going to collapse from fear as I gave my speech to the entire school. My right leg was shaking so hard that I had to lean on the podium to stay upright. Once it was over I was relieved and proud of myself for doing something that had been so painful. I wasn’t elected but I do believe that giving that speech became in many ways the first day of the rest of my life because I was never again afraid to stand before a crowd and speak my mind.

We ended that school year knowing that we would return at the top of the student pecking order to begin our final year at Mt. Carmel High School. The time had flown by so quickly and we were poised to enjoy one of the best years of our lives.