By Jim “Pappy” Moore
We began our last semester at Lufkin Junior High in January of 1964. In five months we would graduate and head to Lufkin Senior High School. Our reign was near its end.
The new year rolled over to 1964, and it would be our last semester as the big dogs at Lufkin Junior High School. In the fall we would become lowly sophomores at Lufkin Senior High School. Those of us who got full licenses to drive would cruise Timberland Drive from Read’s Broilburger, past Ray’s Drive-In, down to Dairy Queen, where we would turn around and cruise again.
By mid-January American kids were rocking their socks off to “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” by the Beatles. It was the fun rush the kids of the country needed. Oh, the screaming and cheering. The delirium by girls was off the chart. The Mop Tops had invaded America.
The Beatles had taken over America without firing a shot in this British Invasion. John, Paul, George and Ringo. Who didn’t know their names? Who didn’t know their songs? Who didn’t rave about them?
There were American holdouts, of course. A strong contingent of Elvis fans refused to bow down to the new kids from jolly old England.
By April of 1964, the four boys from Britain held the top five songs in America. A straight flush of hits by the Royal quartet. Even our Junior High coaches got in on the Beatles scene. They appeared at an assembly with black mop tops – literally black mop tops – on their heads pretending to be the Beatles. Coach Bond and Coach Grove rocked the auditorium.
Meanwhile, life went on at Lufkin Junior High School as well as could be expected. Most of the ninth-graders were old enough to want to date, but not old enough for their parents to let them. Instead, kids who could drive legally would get the car to “go to the school library” on school nights. This subterfuge would provide cover for picking up friends, cruising Timberland, stopping at Read’s Broilburger to socialize, and perhaps getting in some study for five minutes with someone of the opposite sex who had mutual interest.
Here and there a kiss was had. Long hours of pining over the new love would occur. Listening to the local radio station and hearing the requests would reveal which couples were forming. The local DJ from our class, Bill Bartlett, would say “This goes out for Jan and Jerry, for Mary Jane and Jim, for Pat and Scotty – by the Beatles – I Wanna Hold Your Hand!”
The spring of 1964 was as much fun as the law allows. We were close to graduating, close to going to high school, already driving, already romping and stomping to sow some wild oats. Summer waited in the wings.
Kids had band contests. Kids had singing contests. The spring had all sorts of school related competitions. Those of us who worked lined up summer jobs where we would make money all day and party much of the night. We were practically adults, with all the freedoms of mid-teens and few adult responsibilities. Even our parents were cutting us some slack.
We enjoyed our three years at Lufkin Junior High School. In spite of significant events each year looming above us, we had fun. We had a blast! I loved my three years at Junior High. Senior High beckoned, and it would be even better!
Copyright 2023, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.