By Jim “Pappy” Moore
(Second of a five-part series.)
After the Hurricane Carla onslaught passed, things returned to normal quickly. My new teacher for the seventh grade was Mrs. Wooten. She would teach our core classes. I had choir and physical education taught by others. This was the program for all seventh graders, except band students had their time away from their main seventh grade teacher with the band.
Mrs. Wooten was adamant about good behaviors and disciplined students. Some called her “Rootin’ Tootin’ Wooten,” although I liked her a great deal. Dale Duren, my friend since 4th grade, was in that class. So were Joe Stringer, whom I would get to know better when we played football together, and Jim Seitz, who quickly impressed me with his humor, insights, and laudable behaviors.
Every seventh grader took a course in Texas History and all of us used the same book, which had cartoon drawings, to accompany the lessons. It gave a good history of Texas, from the days of Spanish and French explorers to the present. Texas History was a required course for all students in the 7th grade, as well it should be.
Mrs. Wooten always wanted me to work harder, but I figured five A’s and one B were good enough for me, and I did not care to tax myself otherwise. At lunch boys would play marbles or do tricks with their yoyos. The yoyos were the big new thing that year. All kinds of different colors and styles were prominent. We could walk the dog, rock the baby in the cradle, and generally terrorize each other with ninja-like uses. Sometimes the girls would sing popular songs after lunch but before we returned to class.
Mrs. Wooten would instruct boys and girls on proper etiquette and general behaviors. Our teachers were expected to tutor us in good conduct, as well as educational materials. Some teachers were harder than others, but as a group of seventh grade teachers the five men and eleven women did well.
In addition to Mrs. Wooten, there were other seventh grade teachers whose names I must mention. Mrs. Burkett, Mrs. Massey, Mr. Tittle, Mr. English, Mr. Mason, Mr. Glass, Mrs. Shands, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Dinges, Mr. Ford, Mrs. Gibbs, Mrs. Pray, Mrs. Norton, Mrs. Harris, and Mrs. Logan.
As 1962 rolled around, we were getting along well in Junior High School, having run the gauntlet of breaking into a new school, and where older classmates dominated the landscape.
In the fall we would head to the eighth grade, wiser, battle-tested, and ready to take our place among the students in Lufkin Junior High School. We arrived in the 8th grade in the fall of 1962. We were not the top dogs, but not the new kids on the block, either. The boys who wanted to would play athletics – football, basketball, track, or Pony League baseball.
We were ready for our studies and our place on the campus. Our eighth-grade year would begin with a crisis we had not seen coming.
Copyright 2023, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.