I decided to write this mainly out of finding nobody else seems to have composed anything about Reese Elementary School. If they did – I never found it. For three years this school was a big part of my life. The red and white brick building had to be for others as well.
This project will constantly be revised. What information I have took several days to compile. I own yearbooks from 4th and 5th grade, lacking a 6th grade book because we left school early that year. They were supposed to mail it but somehow the photo album never arrived in Alaska.
I’ll go ahead and publish unedited with flaws and typos on WordPress, as it might be several months before I get back to updating. Hopefully someone out there having attended Reese will find it useful.
My family moved from Selma, Alabama to a small trailer park located on Reese Air Force Base, the spring of 1963. Mom told friends and family back south that we were in Lubbock, but actually Reese A.F.B. was a part of Wolfforth, Texas. Most of that summer was spent getting acquainted with things before school began. I entered fourth grade that fall.
Located just across from our trailer was a section of asphalt used for aircraft. Some nights and early mornings, airplane mechanics would bring the T-33 trainers out to that area to test engines. The on and off roar of jet engines would last for hours. I never got used to it. I’m sure not sleeping some nights because of this noise, along with staying up late at night reading The Hardy Boys mystery series didn’t help in my studies.
One day I came home from school finding a big ragged tear in our trailer’s sheet metal. It was just above my brother and I’s bedroom window. Base personnel came over to inspect. They pulled out a chunk of jet engine compressor. When the engine disintegrated during testing it sent shrapnel everywhere. Our home became a pin cushion for pieces of hot metal.
Mrs. Hagan was my fourth grade teacher. I vaguely remember her as having dark hair with glasses. A photo of her kept this planted in my mind. I have nothing but good memories of this lady. She must’ve been patient working with me because I wasn’t the sharpest tack in class.
During recess I played marbles with a group of similar Marblehead’s. Keepsies was my favorite marble game. I ended up with a large bag, being quite adept at hitting the other kid’s marble. One of our younger players died during a routine tonsil removal. That was the first death I encountered of a friend.
We bailed out of swings and did the usual playground routine including merry-go-round and slide. There was a time I brought some tin foil to school. During recess, I took small pieces and wound it around cotton stalks in a field next to our playground. Later that afternoon when the sun hit it just right, there appeared to be fireflies in the day time. It got the attention of Mrs. Hagan and students. She finally put two and two together, after remembering seeing me out there that morning.
1963 was the year President Kennedy was assassinated. I still remember Mrs. Hagan wheeling a portable television into our room. Students from other classes came in to watch. I didn’t know what was happening, but sensed it was serious by the tears from teacher’s faces. After perhaps thirty minutes, arrangements were made for us to go home early. I rode my bike to school so that was no problem.
For three years I rode a bicycle to Reese. It was perhaps a half-mile drive so no biggie. Through rain, snow, sleet, and heat I pedaled. There were some rare occasions when mom was not working that she’d take me. I walked the route many times as well.
Just as you came to the base entrance was a silver B-25 bomber perched on a pedestal. There was a gate located close by that WWII airplane that I used to exit the military installation and reenter. On occasion during base lockdown I’d have to enter by the guard shack. The MP’s never asked to search me. That wouldn’t happen these days.
Because there was no air-conditioning in the school, on hot days I would get sleepy and have a hard time staying awake. Other students incurred the same. Mrs. Hagan had a large fan that she used to try and cool things down. The constant drone of fan motor only made things worse.
Larelia Sadler was in my class. I took a liking to her right away as did George Roberts. There was some jealousy between us boys, but Larelia picked no favorite. She treated us both equally.
In a school Christmas play I was Joseph and Larelia was Mary, so ultimately I came out on top, at least in my mind I did.
Other kids in my class that I’ve always remembered names to are: Michelle Barnes, Larry Grady, Todd Mold, Steven Maybe, Nicki McClure, and Thomas English. Of course I could always refresh my brain bo looking at the yearbooks.
A cotton field mentioned earlier sat next to our playground. I’d walk over some days to see how far the cotton had grown. A crop dusting airplane sprayed it one time when we were in class. We weren’t allowed outside. Students watched him from behind classroom windows. This same plane crashed after school was let out. I was told the pilot was uninjured. The plane was still sitting there the following day.
Mrs. Drake was my fifth grade teacher. I recall her having blond hair. Most of my classmates from the previous year were the same, as we were basically all military brats. There were a few new names and some of our former friends were gone. That’s the way it was being in a military family. Ninety percent of the students at Reese had military parents. In our group photo, I was savvy enough to make sure I stood next to Larelia Sadler. That is special to me because she like other kids, didn’t return for 6th grade. That was the sad part on being a military brat.
Mrs. Turner was my sixth grade teacher. I really liked her. If I can ever say I was a teacher’s pet, it was in her class. Because I always got to school early she let me clean the chalk board. Sometimes I had help from another fellow who rode his bike.
At the end of the school year dad was transferred to Alaska. We had to leave nine days before school let out. Mom picked me up early that last day and told me that Mrs. Turner had tears in her eyes. I did too because I was leaving kids that I’d been close to for three years. That’s one of the reasons I decided a military career wasn’t for me.
Mr. Harper was principal of Reese. He’d come into the classroom quite often to see how things were going. Thankfully, I never had to visit him in his office.
Where special activities were concerned, I belonged to children’s choir. It’s not that I liked to sing. Larelia Sadler was also in there and prodded me into joining. That push on her part helped get me the role of Joseph in a Christmas play. Larelia was Mary. I have a grainy photo that mom took of us on stage.
Sadly, Reese Elementary is no longer. The building is being used as an adult training center. Something tells me that air-conditioning was one of the first upgrades made.
Two out of three of my teachers have passed away. Mr. Harper the principal is gone as well. It’s logical that many former students have joined them. I’m no spring chicken.
I’ll never forget Reese, my teachers, Mr. Harper, and the majority of students. Something tells me that kids attending public elementary schools these days aren’t experiencing quite the same!
ALL PHOTOS FROM HERE ON TAKEN FROM MY TWO YEARBOOKS PLUS MISCELLANEOUS NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS