A Half Century Obligation Met with this Dedication

This "Pretty True Texas Stories Series" from How the Westbury High School Rebels Saved Western Civilization from Extinction is submitted here as the theme or paper I promised the Westbury High School English teacher, who passed me because she cared about my situation as a child, that I would someday write and submit to her. Although over the years I would in guilt go out of my way to avoid her, when we were near in Westbury's halls she would softly say

"Skip. I'm still looking for that paper on my desk . . .
I know that some day you'll turn it in."

I let her and myself down by not meeting that obligation, until now. Thanks madam for accepting the work late. I know that wherever you are, that you'll review it with great diligence and skill as the remarkable contribution to teaching that you were and forever will be. You were to me one of the hearts and souls of Westbury High School, classes of 1962 through 1965, and in conjunction with our other teachers, principals, and educational molders of our citizen young people the most profound contributor to the heritage about which I've written in this paper.

Reva Moment Update

In the 1982 movie In the Spirit, Marlowe Thomas played the character of Reva (with an unspellable Polish last name), an American new-age or -waver enthusiast who would, because of her faith in the ongoing and always related processes of an integrated  and usually meaningful karmaically influenced universe, interpret all apparently coincidentally occurring incidents as she saw them  presenting within the greater unfolding and pretty much to her no doubt cosmic picture. She gave meaning to and thus enjoyment through drama to what others would argue were just consequences or other randomness-based manifestations predicted and accounted for in and by the philosophy of entropy. So when my fellow editor and friend  Tana McGraw Shaffer from Westbury High School class  of 1963 and I (from 1964) entered debate about whether an occurrence having life meanings (sometimes) was coincidental or an act of  God promoting one rationale over another, we solved the debate by assigning the experience the reconciling term "A Reva Moment." It meant that that argument had already been made by better proponents of the different philosophical sides than we.

Those other Reva-countervailant voices and views were presented by Elain May and Peter Falk, playing two also, but more practically grounded, hilarious characters. Thereafter, those of us still present in the twenty-first century could let the debate lie and move on to other business, conveying meaning, fun and even some practicality in our enjoyable hobby; that is, passing on to the membership of Westbury High School  Houston dot com a time-saving method for addressing derision, at least regarding one consideration of certain of our wide assortment of differences in and between secular- and non-secular-based beliefs.

Guessing that you might like an example  of a "Reva Moment," here is one that started long ago, and also provided the rationale for this discussion. It equally accorded an important moment in our Westbury High School 1961-1965 lives. It became manifest during the referenced dedication.

I was failing an English class when I first got to Westbury from Johnston Jr. High, albeit making the transition through one semester at Bellaire High School. It was said that my sentences were too short and that I didn't use enough words.  Plus, I rarely went to class. Then, I was told that because of this ongoing and likely failure, I  would be ineligible to play on the varsity football team in my second year on it, which was always touch and go for me to make. That negative influenced by not succeeding academically in parallel was an outcome which I had not planned when skipping class.

An English teacher whose name I could never remember — but whose face I did hold in my memory — had read one of my themes on death of a loved one. Because she liked it, she thought I might be redeemable. So, as explained earlier, she said "I'm going to pass you Skip so that you can play ball in the fall (1962 season) on the condition that you bring in your term theme when you get it done after you leave the class." You know the rest of that story. I didn't do it, which failure, coming along with the surprised discovery of my friend, Billie Friesen's, loss, evolved eventually into this site, fifty years later.

To thank her properly, in starting this place I looked assiduously for her name and picture in my 1964 annual to provide proper attribution. But I never found her. 

Then, Mrs. Tana McGraw Shaffer published her Westbury memoires and completed them with  the recognition of her favorite teacher, who sadly for Tana and everyone else, died in a car crash on the same day that John Kennedy was killed, November 22, 1963. That had affected Tana also for fifty years.

In working with Mrs. Shaffer from time to time, I kept hearing about how personally wonderful was this teacher, a very caring woman, but who died tragically on an otherwise equally tragic day for our nation. After about a year and a half of this shared working activity and periodic reflections by Tana on this lady's great value, it came to be time to recognize Tana's appreciation of this woman in the In Memory section with Mr.s Burns and Gupton, Billie and the rest of those who'd gone before us. I also wanted to help Tana to reconcile this long-time matter, sometimes opining to myself "NOBODY could have been  THAT fine to warrant all this recollection activity after so many years! Tana's probably overdoing this memory stuff. Maybe she shouldn't have read Sharansky."

I couldn't find a picture of the teacher; so Tana sent hers from the first yearbook, the 1962 edition. I was going to add the deserving teacher to the video. In my shock, and then later tears, I recognized her as the teacher for whom I had thought about for all these years, and who had also been so important to my life and the anonymous person to whom I had dedicated this paper, due such a long time ago. I knew who she was immediately; and now she finally had a name: Ms. Mabel Gene Campbell.

Not only did she help two people way back then, and who had remained in both our memories as one of the all-time stellar persons of our different lives, but she created another Reva Moment for this half century later. Almost sounds like a "mystic cord of memory," doesn't it?

Thank you, again, Ms. Campbell. I hope and I even bet that you are in a good place, and that you approve of the work. Thanks, too, for the additional Reva experience for a couple of folks still wandering around in the beginnings of the twenty-first century.

Hmmm . . . I wonder if she ever helped anyone else?

Jesse W. (Skip) Collins II