Part II: Westbury vs. Austin Football Game; 1962

How the Westbury High School Rebels of Houston, Texas,
Classes of 1962-1965
Saved Western Civilization from Extinction 

"Skipppppppp . . . . .

Don'tttt Catchhhhh . . . it!"

Another pretty true Texas story by a Westbury High School boy.

Westbury's 1963 Citadel tried to tell this story, but couldn't because its sports writers didn't know what happened. They said our destiny "slipped away" at the end of an important football game.Although neatly succinct, the details of that event, of which I have been the solitarily most apprised person in western civilization for the last forty-eight years, emphasize the  magnitude of the game's influence upon the lives of many of us attending Westbury High School in the fall of 1962.

Here, now entering the end of a half century later and for posterity are the facts of one of Texas' all time most dramatic coups. It usurped the honor of athletic competition. It changed my life and who knows how many others for the duration. And more importantly than that, it ended a phenomenon of human expression of the best that a class of people had brought to a moment in time, a great shining sparkling level of exhilaration hallmarking the triumph of their collective goodness. They strived and they achieved: they won all for themselves for which  before they had not thought possible. This group of people, a student body through its football team and faculty, these Westbury Rebels in the fall of 1962, came together, rising above themselves to become spectacular — the best. For that moment, we were.

The Westbury Rebels entered its first year of formal athletic competition in its second year of existence. It was 1962. While out on the acreage next to the track where I was alone strengthening my legs to acquire more speed,  Coach Mickey Sullivan came running out on that late October afternoon to tell me something of intense importance, at least according to the demeanor expressed in his face. Never before had he seemed that serious. He spoke, even softly yelled, from forty yards away "Skip, the Russians turned around! They didn't try to break the blockade! There's not going to be a nuclear war! We're safe!!!! "

In hindsight, I know that I was relieved beyond my youthful conscious understandings. I'm sure, too, that in his adult knowledge of the gravity of those events, Mr. Sullivan was happier than I even. I finished my exercise. For a teenager of sixteen years, bigger things were coming than just the prospective extinction of the human race and everything else that was alive along with it.

The story of the Rebels' football history for that season and its first non competition year of play is overviewed previously in the second part of "The Westbury Rebel's Meaning to Me," also entitled "The First Play from Scrimmage in the Westbury vs. Bellaire 50 Year Rivalry."  Summarizing, as the Citadel has done, Westbury High School was less than mediocre going into the calamity of the South Houston game, losing it 55 to 6, and incurring the punishment documented in Jimmy Wise's famous short story, "Moonball." But that night of practice so perfectly told by Jim inspired a group of boys and newly becoming young men to go on to uncontemplated if not to temporary greatness. It would be a life moment for all of us in the class.

In the next game, which was to be the first division challenge, Westbury in the beginning of its existence took San Jacinto High School. No one thought we could because of the previous week's shame attending the South Houston loss. No matter. Moonball lifted us up. It made us something different, albeit no one yet knew how much so.

And that difference presented in the stadium the next weekend as the extraordinary Mirabeau B. Lamar High School, representing the fabulously wealthy upper crust of River Oaks, Houston, Texas in the year 1962, came to asseverate that our resurrection was false. Lamar was a speed machine with Lee Wolf at halfback, the fastest boy in Texas history to the date, only challenged in that year by the next swiftest sprinter, Lloyd Currington, of Austin High School, and the competitor which would rue this next event, raising it in our minds to world status by the near end of the season.

Winning the Lamar game was a preciously wonderful shock at Westbury High School in the fall of 1962, not just for the student body, our coaches, and most (excepting probably those living over on Westheimer) of Houston, but for every man on the  team. For Rebels such as Brimer, Ripper, Jackson, LaFollette, Carruthers, Humphrey, Gosnell, Elmendorf, Tucker, Sells, Friesen, Pine,  Bell and the others, they entered a new state of individual and collective being: they were becoming WINNERS! And now they were being presented with the incomprehensible opportunity the next week to become more than they had ever been, or would be again. At the beginning of their lives, it was a time, a chance, to not just become champions but to establish for a community a tradition of becoming such.  Not, or even thought to be possible for BRAND NEW teams!

All we had to do was beat Austin, arguably by those in the know to be the second  greatest team in Texas, only behind as it would turn out forever to be our arch rival, Bellaire High School, which many of us had attended before being shuffled to the outback of Westbury with its new school's opening during the portentous tragedy: Hurricane Carla -  September, 1961. Bellaire would then be ours in the final. This game was an ambition dream, conjured only in novels or movies. It was hyped as the beginnings of the state playoffs while still in local division only competition. And no matter that we had upset the third great power just that previous week, nobody thought the Rebels had a prayer. But like all good rebels, we were going to show up for the fight.

Austin's fullback was the best, an M1 Abrams tank. Pulling for and then leading the sweeps, he came harder and hit more ferociously than any blocking back I played against in my eight  years of youngster athletics participation. Some people in his role would come out with a little vigor and then roll on the ground simulating an attempt to either hook or kick out Sherman LaFollette, our right defensive end. Or if on the sweep he went down after disabling a pulling guard, plus usually taking out the left halfback and quarterback, too, all would-be blockers of this never-say-die Westbury brave, as in unintimitable lineman, then Austin's fullback, always thanks to LaFollette, would be  mine  alone  to clear out, creating the path to the ball carrier for me if I were still standing. Or if not, that defensive group would fill the gaps  with Wise's coming up from safety and in conjunction with right side linebacker, Davis or Elmendorf. They were stringing those fast and powerful as thunder pulling guards and backs all the way into the stands if necessary.

When that already college-fullback-level-comparable athlete  from the other and thought by us sometimes to be rougher side of town — Austin high school and which originally provided my environment for growing up — came on, he was the engine leading the train, with Currington being the lightning and every which way but loose caboose with the ball. That FB hit on every single play going all out with each  muscle every second. And when meeting him, you could feel his impact like no other athletic force with which I had matched up in Texas. I regret that I don't remember his name, as he deserves recognition for the sheer constant and consistent application of himself. The next day's game photo in the Chronicle gave him a credit, showing him trying to block me, but which he did not do, allowing me in the best physical effort of my life, not withstanding the endurance sustained during my military tour three years later in Southeast Asia, to stop Currington at our 2-yard line.

And that is the way it went all night. That brilliant talent from Austin strived with all its stunning force into our center: Humphry, Carruthers, our weight lifter Cyprow, Gosnell and  Kelly -  Elmendorf and Davis at middle linebackers, not just holding them again and again, but shoving them back into their own backfield. That was the name of that battle that night in Texas history: our line destroyed theirs, moving one of the State's three greatest offenses backwards at most every series of downs. In fact, that's how we moved the ball along the field to position ourselves to score our twelve points to their seven - shoving  the Austin offense to the rear.

It was Westbury's magnificent defensive line, which wasn't supposed to be that magnificent. But they were even better than that. Fighting, battling, grueling, stacking-up, exacting, intimidating - becoming the best linemen of 1962.

From my role out in the far recesses of the pasture at right defensive back, where I was always so removed - lonely I didn't even know anybody else's first name,  I remained in a state of astonishment, imbued by the sight before me. In every second following every snap of the ball, our Westbury line imparted extraordinary courage,  raw strength, and every bit coordinated with complete and incomparable honor attending the administration of indefatigable stamina — unrelentingly pouring of themselves into the most challenging fray of our lives.

On the other side where Brimer was at defensive end, Palmer at left cornerback and Wise going all the way over from safety to fill the gaps, those three Westbury determined men denied the complete Austin backfield  the outside, as again and again Kim, Ken and Jim kept bringing the racehorse Currington down for no gains. Austin's heralded quarterback, an arrogant tall fellow, wasn't even a factor against those never ground-giving Rebels comprising our left flank.

The entire defensive effort was synchronized, as Jim said in "Moonball," with the "precision" of a clock. Everybody had a job; and what he did with it was coordinated with somebody else's movements and application of themselves. The story of the 1962 Austin game is that, apparently due to the change attending that moonlit Monday practice session - punishment, that clock was dutifully wound and homogenously ticking perfectly, creating a positive synergism that made each individual contribution better than it was when taken only by a particular solitary performance. Participating in that force, as well as I've been told over the years by observers, yielded from both player and viewer experiences a phenomenon of excellence rarely known in human interactions. People from Westbury have told me over ten, twenty-five, and even forty-five years, "That was the best competitive performance I've seen including college and pro games - EVER!"

Our line, linebackers and defensive backs had fought Austin High School's valiant and oft touted as explosive, even opined to be uncontainable offense to its knees. It was their demise, their ending. And, they were relegated by the Wesbury Rebel  cohesive phenomenon to their last play in legitimate competition for the night. Fourth down and ten, with one minute and thirty-three seconds to go in the game; this extraordinary competitor was on its own 20-yard line. Punting was not an option. If we stopped this pass, it was over on downs and our game.

Coach Allen, with his hands held to his mouth like a megaphone and yelling at me from the far end of the sideline shouted "SKIP. DON'T CATCH IT!!!! That meant that as everyone watching knew, just knocking the ball down instead of intercepting fifty  yards down the field would put us first and ten on the opposition's twenty, no Austin time-outs remaining and our then sitting out the clock thirty seconds per snap.

Coach Mickey Sullivan, who was five yards closer up the sideline followed suit. "SKIP!!! DON'T CATCH IT!!!" Then he made a diagonal sweep down across his upper body with his arms, emphasizing to knock the ball down. "Pass it on to the other backs!" And I did, telling Wise and the Corner. Thornhill then started jogging like a huge pro tackle in a Westbury blue and red trimmed shiny jacket toward me, but still three feet on the other side of the chalk. Without yelling and only ten yards away, he said "Skip. Don't Catch it. Do you understand that this is it?!" "Yes sir. I know what to do."

I was not a very good athlete, not as compared to the rest of this team. But I did know how to study the coming opposition's plays, which were always copied as schematics and handed out. I poured over the drawings throughout the week before the competitions to make up for my physical shortcomings. And if I had a talent, it was that I could key on the offensive linemen and see the play that was coming, even in the instant of its initiation. With the single exception of Jesse Jones' quarterback of the 1963 season, I think I always knew ahead of time where every ball was to be thrown. That intuitive sense allowed me for a while to be the statistical leader in Houston for pass interceptions.

Thus, I knew what was coming. The only play they had yet to run was their best. Currington, whom I had defended successfully against all night - he had not caught a pass on my side of the field - would run a V pattern going first in as if heading deep across the center, then turn. He would plant his right foot and head outside to my right — his left — corner as fast as he could move. But I was so far back that I looked like I was playing on the specialty punt return team. He wouldn't have a chance. And he didn't.

Everybody on the sideline, on the field, in the stands on the Westbury Rebels' side knew that if we knocked this pass down that the upstart Rebels from Westbury High School, the young men who weren't even supposed to be in this contest, would be playing the Bellaire Cardinals the next weekend for the Texas High School State Championship even before we got out of the local division. That's how highly these three opponents — Lamar first, whom we'd already put down; Austin second, whom we would defeat in this defensive slugfest if this last pass fell incomplete; and the almighty Bellaire third, to be met the next weekend — had been rated at the beginning of and throughout the season.

On the snap, each Austin player followed the exact course drawn in their scripts. The flow was to take us to their far right. But the main focus of this life moment was to be Currington. He would go against our currents that were supposed to follow theirs.

He came out with all his strength, that extraordinary speed, catching up to Wise at the center of the stadium, planting that right foot and trying to head for the outside and supposedly even pass me. Regrettably for him, however, because I'd read their book, I stuck and was so far deep that I might as well have been playing left field for the Astros.

Currington, after having made his outbound cut for the sidelines had no doubt heard me yell at Jimmy that the flyer would be coming back out my way, and that I would take him. He did, and not within the scope of competition: he wasn't in it from the onset. As the Westbury Rebel line clawed their way to overpower the Austin quarterback one last time, in panic he looked straight into my eyes and lofted the ball not to the receiver, little Lloyd, but so far down field that the only guy there in a sports uniform was me. I could see the terror of defeat in  his face as he let go of it, hoping against all that SOMEBODY, on his team that is, would catch it and save them from this ignominious defeat by these Rebels, a so-called, albeit seemingly inspired, know-nothing group, certainly not of the nonpareil masculine vintage of the nearly incomparable Stephen F. Austin, one of the all time Houston football team winning high schools, even after having sent its students to fight in the Second and Korean Wars, and with its distinguished founding roots emanating from the heart of the Great Depression there on the struggling east side of downtown Houston, Texas. Austin High School was an historic and uplifting contributor to and for the betterment of our world.

While the ball was entering orbit on its way to this solitary defensive back, and with no one including the intended receiver within twenty-five yards of me, I contemplated for a glossy nanosecond disobeying orders and grabbing the ball, which was impossible to miss as the quarterback threw it at my face guard, and hooking 'em for the endzone, which at that moment was on a clear track and only sixty yards away. There wasn't a green uniform representing an Austinite between me and paydirt. Even with Currington's track speed, I knew he could never catch me.

Silence filled the coliseum's air. As in Zen, I was one with that ball. I thought from the moment it left that QB's hand "It's mine." But orders were orders; strategy was strategy; and supreme intelligence was supreme intelligence; and I didn't want to get fired. Worse and when only a few feet from me, a clarion but to this day unknown voice  crescendoed across the still quiet "SKIPPPPPPPP . . . . . DON'TTTT CATCHHHHH IT!" So in that instant twinkling of fate, I leaped as high as I could into the air and slam-batted the ball straight down into Jeppesen's turf. The whistle blew. The ball rolled to a stop and was picked up by the near referee. It was over, the most amazing experience to that moment of my young life.

We had won! We had overcome the impossible by doing more than what we thought before that we were capable of doing. And we had done it twice. In the world of competition, through its spirit, we had proven ourselves to be not just equal, but good, and to warrant respect for that goodness. We would see the following week if  with providence we could show to our peers that in that month, in that year, we were the best there was. And I had been a part of it; we all had. The center of the Rebel line, every man on the team, the managers who brought us towels and water during the breaks, the coaches in their brilliance, all combined with the cheering Westbury students and their leaders, the Junior Varsity team which provided us with our ready depth to stand in for injuries, the individual support that Mrs. Rivers Lodge gave to me every Monday morning following a game weekend, the inspirational sounds offered by the Westbury Band playing our fighting anthem Dixie — with a roar of determination, grit and fierceness to succeed I've never seen again in fifty years of listening to its presentation —  raising fire in our hearts, our blood and our limbs, our beloved Rebelettes with their crafted precisional intertwining of their resounding bugles, the roll of thunder created by their drums, and the dancing notes from the fifes, and with the grace of Mr. Burns' wise and kind humane leadership, we announced with fortitude and the application of the best that we had our new and valued presence as a meaningful and contributing member to our home and its community, our culture. Others had and would go on to do that in different and even better ways, for example in academic achievement and through artistic expression as would our great Jimmy Rabby, and writers like Naomi Bryson and Karon Houghton Mathews, and through our performing artists from our  drama clubs who've, like Kathleen Landry Raitt brought the world musicals, and still others who went on to manage our educational systems like Principal Tana McGraw Shaffer, and those students who would ascend to the leaderships of our business and social-caring enterprises. But for that moment in the arena of athletic competition and all that it stood for in that era, we all had done good.

When the city of Houston, and in fact as would be shown in the next year by the reviewers and sports enthusiasts of the time, thereafter when speaking of the Westbury Rebels it was with the dignity attending deference, meaning in this instance respectful regard. That is what we had fairly earned at that moment in the actual history of our culture.

As I walked off the field in that surrealistic state of the feeling of complete satisfaction at having achieved a task — done my job — and I was nearing the out of bounds marker, there came a voice from what no doubt had transcended just for this moment in history extending backwards as a time - space warp from the yet to be launched Appollo 13 moon mission:

"Westbury! We have a problem!"

And here it came, changing this life's destiny, along probably with others'.  As the game film showed, a full eight seconds after play was ended, that is, the referee on the spot had whistled the ball dead and play over, Loyd Currington ran up from directly behind and grabbed me around the waist simultaneously pushing me to the chalk mark while trying his best, albeit ineffectually, to throw me to the ground. I thought he had gone nuts. At first, I did nothing as my arms were pinned from my back by the unromantic  embrace to my sides. In the film, it didn't look  just bizarre, but also comical. 

Finally, I threw him off me as, although he was fast, he was not very strong. After doing so, I turned to face him thinking he had started a fight because we had won the game. A referee coming from the far side of the field fired a red flag from somewhere in the middle of the stadium. I thought it was on Currington for the attack. Instead, the umpire was calling a personal foul on me when I otherwise was trying to stop Currington from breaking my neck. Our replacements were already coming onto the field. I also was, and without discussion, immediately expelled from the game. The actions were not just patently in violation of the facts, but indisputably in contradiction of the state's rules governing athletic competition. The act was obscene — the calls lacked rationale and reason altogether.  Currington had initiated an illegal action against an undefended  opponent as he was leaving the field.

Plus, that was an old ploy sometimes used by desperate receivers to instigate conflict when there was no further hope for them; the referee already had the ball by the time the con was employed. And I had not engaged the offense except to defend myself from being injured. I said nothing to the impotent wrestler or the ref, but did then stand looking at the latter who was eight feet away, and trying to understand in my stunned state what he was saying and doing. Howard Allen, walking on to the field and coming between the umpire and me intervened "Go on in Skip. I'll take care of this. You had a good night."

The same referee, then, gave the Rebels a fifteen yard penalty from the point of the snap, at Austin's original twenty, and in another dramatic error gave the ball back to Austin instead of turning it over to us. Even if I had fouled Currington by throwing him off of me, which I did not do — the coming four day later film would show he fouled me instead through initiation of the action — the misrepresentation on which the judgment was based had occurred as the film also showed a full fifteen seconds after the fourth down play had been whistled dead, and the respective offensive and defensive competitors were leaving the field as instructed.

Allen, after having returned to the sideline and then realizing what the referee was doing, and while our offense was  being confusingly sent back off the field and simultaneously yelling for our defense to get back on, and as the Austin offensive team lined up for scrimmage with a new set of downs from their thirty-five, and with his initial calmness apparently being vanquished by the portentousness of the happenings, walked — ran — back out onto the field, heading straight into the scrimmage line between the two competitors who had gone to their point stances. The referees were directing it so. Allen kicked the ball out of the Austin center's hands before it could be hiked. A verbal battle ensued, another red flag went into the air, Coach Allen was penalized fifteen more yards, and then sent to the sidelines on threat of being ordered from the stadium.

On their next play, which was now being initiated from the 50-yard line, and in the only instance where I would not work in fair competition against him, Currington was flanked right and sent on a fly pattern down the sideline. Getting a step behind Palmer, Ken threw his right hand up into the prospective receiver's face without looking over his shoulder for the ball, which was going ten  yards in another direction. Although it wasn't close enough to be considered catchable — an element needed for interference with a legitimate receiver — the play drew another call, except that it was later to be protested formally that the play itself was illegitimate in the first place. 

In one formal snap of the ball and approximately twenty seconds of game time, a referee had done what Austin's team hadn't been able to do all night against the Rebel defense. He moved the ball seventy yards down field. That put Austin on our ten. With three more downs, and only seconds to run them, the Westbury line held as they had all night — no gain. On fourth down, with the clock running out, the ball was deflected by one of our leaping center linemen while attacking the quarterback. It fell after wobbling around in the air into the arms and stomach of none other than Loyd Currington, who happened to have been knocked deranged to the ground, and who was coincidentally and unceremoniously on his knees a yard inside the endzone as the ball fell into his cradle. Interimly, the clock had gone to all zeros. The buzzer sounded. The game was over a second time, but this one with a different ending and different winner: the referee.

Westbury fans, who had been yelling their heads off for their Rebels, fell silent. Austin went bananas.And a young sophomore, Linda Lambright, who was sitting in the Westbury stands with her friends from both Austin and Westbury, and who after the pass had been deflected that should have ended the game had for only a minute turned to talk with one of them, sat perplexed. She then asked "How did they get from way down there to all the way over here after we'd already won?"

Our school filed a formal protest. Regardless that the adjudicators agreed that the referee erred in the initial foul and then a second time giving the ball after the first mistake to Austin, the game's outcome was not reversed, sending the division championship into a three way tie, that is, if we were to beat the Bellaire Cardinals the next week. We did not. Competing for the statistical option of participating in a three way quarter toss, that is, each of the division's leaders in that scenario would have finished with one loss and circuitously each team's negating the winning right over the others — we (had we in this numeric hypothetical) beat Bellaire, Bellaire had already beat Austin, and Austin beat Westbury — is not the same as competing for unqualified ownership of the division title.

Morever, the pinnacle of morale that was initiated from that night Wise has recorded for us in "Moonball" was gone. Although I'm sure that every member of the team gave it his best individual effort in the next week's Bellaire vs. Westbury game, the great shining shared moment of dedication to exact the best from our team Self with that group of boys, young men, the Rebelettes, the Rebel's cheerleaders, and the Westbury faculty and students in the fall of 1962 had passed.

I was told later in private by the highest authority at Westbury that the referee who had thrown me out of the game was said to have been Currington's uncle. I never knew if that rumor was true. And no one would pursue that prospective interrogatory and any attendant meaning. We didn't do that in those days. Nor did I care after Westbury's protest was rejected, except that I would know forever that that official not only was patently wrong in his actions, but in the process of their implementation that he additionally wronged a class of very fine citizens deserving of the honor which they in honest good stead had earned.

As evidence that not a single note of this author's telling of that story has not contained an element of hyperbole or other exaggeration, Mr. Allen was honored in his first season of real competition as Houston's 1962 High School Coach of The Year, and only for the team's magical performances in the two contests with Lamar and Austin. The Rebels' record both before and after those two events were inconsequential to his award. Moreover, at the start of the next (1963) football season, statewide sportscasters predicted the Westbury Rebels to be the 4th team most likely to win the state championship.  From then on, our deserving students would be watched equally with the rest of the communities and accorded proper recognition and then scholarships to the best schools. 

Currington would go to Texas A & M. Sherman — with his mom, the remarkable Mrs. Anne LaFollette, who would give me following a tragedy in my family a place to live in my last year of high school while I worked in the equally remarkable Nancy Rose managed Westbury Distributive Education (DE) program — was elected President of the 1964 class and after graduating from the University of Texas would also receive a  Masters Degree in urban planning. Kim Brimer became Senator Brimer and served nearly two decades as the Senate leader in the Texas legislature. Coach Sullivan would return to his alma mater at Baylor University to become that  school's and the all-time winningest world collegiate baseball coach in history; Mr. Sullivan passed away at the beginning of 2012. Rest in peace, and thanks for keeping me up-to-date on the Russians on that October afternoon in 1962. Jim Wise attended The University of Vanderbilt, no not on the athletic scholarships offered due to his own blazing speed exhibited in Houston football and track the next year, but on instead a scholarship rewarding him for stellar academic performance. He would go on to become an attorney and build his own distinguished law firm, and then retire in his later years to eventually to enter a new love, establishing himself as an artist. Bill Cyprow passed away and is eulogized by Sue Gibson Wright — herself to become one of the senior leaders of the 1963 season's Rebelettes and best citizen of our 1964 class —  and his other friends as both an imaginative and fun young man and a later to be wonderful father, even "gentle giant," in the Westbury virtual In Memory section on this site. Our extraordinarily courageous tackle John Kelly became a gynecologist and married one of the leaders of the Rebelettes, Carol Butterworth. Ken Palmer — who from our ages eleven grew up in my front yard playing touch football with our third Muscateer friend, Jeffo Lee, who also was on that Westbury team and who would later serve in the US Army and then return to become the President of the NBC affiliate KPRC TV in Houston, Texas; but better than that he would be selected in the 1970s as Houston's most handsome and eligible bachelor — went on to be elected to the Little All Southwest Conference team in his college years, eventually then getting married, earning a Degree in Accounting from the University of Houston, and having several children along the way. Very sadly, Ken lost one of them, his son, to brain cancer just before the Westbury 40th year reunion held in 2006. Jim Humphry built a plumbing contracting firm. John Gosnell dedicated twenty-six years of his life to this country by serving in the United States Navy. Bruce Ripper was elected to the 1963 season's Houston All City team for his contribution as Westbury's premier receiver in that year, thereafter playing for and graduating from the University of Houston and becoming the CEO of Texas' leading property appraisal corporation. Our extraordinary principal, Mr. Burns, died in the summer of 1966 just before I ended my tour in Vietnam.  In the section on this site entitled "Principal W.L. Burns," I and some others wrote  eulogies to his memory, emphasizing what I've come to believe over the years was a gift to the human race: his ability to care for single student who desperately needed his help. I do not know what life gave to John Davis, except that he became famous in Westbury's males' circles for having married one of the most beautiful women of Houston, Texas, Ms. Marilyn Smith, also a Westbury graduate; given John's great heart that he applied in all things, I'm sure that he must have done something else of note. Bob Carruthers joined the Navy, served on a mine sweeper in Vietnam during that war, earned a doctorate in education, and became a superintendent of school districts in Texas. Harry Elmendorf served with the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, received a Masters Degree from Texas A&M, became a primary executive for an aerospace company, and now drives his own sailboat around in the Caribbean. My third fine friend, Billie Friesen one of our most gifted offensive halfbacks, served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war; I was privileged to attend his 1967 graduation from bootcamp in San Diego. At five feet six inches tall he marched at the honored front of his graduating platoon with great physical stature, snapping with pride at the command "EYES RIGHT!" his head to the reviewing stand where his group was saluted by the Admiral commanding that Naval Base. When I discovered in 2005 that Billie had died, the shock of his death induced a need to write a private eulogy to him; it became the personal impetus for the development of this site. James Bell, our starting center on offense, never missing a play over three years and another of my closest friends beginning with the fifh grade at Shearn Elementary, completed after the end of the 1963 season the DE program as a Vetinarian's assistant — the Bellaire game, the finale for us of 1963, was played Friday night; Mrs. Rose reminds me in 2010 that Jim and I signed up together with her  on the following Monday morning to start our serious transition into the adult world of employment. I'm so proud to say further of my friend of fifty-five years that he  served in the United States Army as a combat infantryman in Vietnam during one of the most difficult times of that war, married Westbury's 1965 Queen of Hearts, Linda Wilson, and became a Houston Police Sergeant serving and protecting our citizenry for over twenty years; at last report he had become the choir director for his church in Magnolia, Texas. The lyrics "Stouthearted men bold and true"  reflected in that famous traditional song were written for James (Price) Bell. The perplexed sophomore sitting in the stands would later be Mrs. Linda Hagerman, a "Waiting Wife" to a Navy husband during the Vietnam War, and eventually Houston's preeminent, and emphasizing self-made, real estate and business empiress expanding her industry into the northeastern United States taking Texas styled competition to the Yankees' financial aristocracy — must have been the Rebel's influences — and became known as the Mother of Westbury High School reunions, holding them in some instances by herself for nearly thirty years.I don't know what happened to the Austin fullback. He was a good man and, in my view as a dedicated opponent of both him and Austin High School's other star that year Lloyd Currington, was that program's greatest football hero of 1962. I played one more year at Westbury and upon graduation went to the Marines, then  lived an experience for which in restrospection of nearly half a century  was the finest contribution that I have made to humankind and for which I am the proudest, except possibly for only two things of near-equal value where I have applied myself as completely: the first has been to my work in my thirty-five year professional career of trauma management, and the other was in the young effort that I made within those several hours as a part of a fine team in the 1962 Westbury vs. Austin game.

What did I learn from this experience and what would I have done, if anything, differently given what I've come to understand during the following fifty years about life, culture and the nuances attending decision making pertaining to the intricate balances and interplays pitting individuality against the serenity of following directions within twentieth and twenty-first century precision crafted and auto synchronized systems? Regarding the first question, except for my short stint  in the United States Marine Corps, I've learned not to obey an order contradicting my better judgment. And to the second, actually a wishful dream that has plagued my conscience since and probably will forevermore, after whoever yelled that last time "Skipppppppp . . . DON'T Catchhhhh . . . It!!!!", I would have concluded just in the nick of time "By God there's still room for the individual in this society!" and then grabbed that ball out of that perfectly clear Houston evening air and hauled ass for indisputable personal glory!

I could have then walked over to Howard Allen. Handed him the ball. And resigned.



I would like to thank Mrs. Tana McGraw Shaffer from the Westbury High School class of 1963, and who has been a professional teacher of writing for thirty years and a writer, herself, for having worked in this piece, providing invaluable grammatical contributions. She made sure the somewhat longer sentences were punctuated properly. She asked the same question that most of you have presented to me. "Skip. Did you take English from Ms. Dixon?"


Series Contents

  1. “Part I: Women of Eden, Texas; 1838-1963-2014”
  2. “Part I: Navy Corpsmen: Tribute to a Westbury Hero”
  3. "Part II: (beginning) The Westbury Rebel's Meaning to Me," or "The First Play from Scrimmage in the Westbury vs Bellaire Fifty Year Rivalry"
  4. "Part II: (conclusion) What Happened at the End of the 1962 Westbury vs. Austin Football Game?"
  5. “Part II: Entertainment in the 1960s”
  6. "Part III: The Good Rebel in Most of Us (beginning); For What Do Good Rebels Fight and Die?"
  7. "Part III: The Good Rebel in Most of Us (continued); Competitions, Challenges, and Making Things Right"
  8. "Part III: The Good Rebel in Most of Us (conclusion); Distinguishing Good from Bad Rebels"
  9. "Part IV: Westbury Rebel Management of Really Serious Troublemakers in (and from) the Global"
  10. "Part IV: Master of the Lake; The Great Peking Duck and Yorkshire Terrier Battle; or, A Scientifically acceptable Anecdotal Example for the Study of Visceralness in Fighting"
  11. “Part V: Turn the World Right Side Up: Theory and Application for Depowering Psychopaths, BS Managers gone Berzerk (Bad Rebels), and the National to International Institutions they Manage"