Editors Note: The last four weeks have been an incredible experience for me. I am sure some of you have noticed my unusual absence. I apologize for my unexplained disappearance. The explanation will soon be forth coming. I have been on a journey of over 17,000 miles physically. Spiritually I traveled to heaven and back. A part of me refused to return. I have many things to write about so the pages left empty during my absence will not remain empty.
Shortly before I left I received this story from David Schaub, a fellow classmate from Pampa High School . I also consider David a good friend. He emailed it to me wanting to know what I thought.
My stories from the other side of the world may seem mundane after this. Get out your H&H dressing and slick back the hair. Slide a pack of Winston’s up the left sleeve of the tee shirt. This is the Pampa, Texas version of “Grease” and Hollywood could not have scripted this.
By David Schaub Pampa High School Class of 1968
The Junior Senior Prom
The Junior-Senior Prom had been a time honored event at dear old Pampa High School for years and years. Of course, everyone knew that this was for the girls to show off their dresses and lord knows there was only a few times a girl growing up in Pampa, Texas would be able to wear an evening gown. Except for those who belonged to the high school sororities which had a “formal” every year, most girls would be limited to the Prom and getting married to wear that special dress. So it was kind of a big deal to most of the girls.
Personally, I didn’t see much use in the thing. I was not going with anyone at the time who would force me to go. Being a senior and never going to it before, I thought it would not be anything that I would really miss. So, I figured that a bunch of us guys would just hang out at Caldwell’s Drive Inn and maybe get some beer or something. Well, I was wrong.
What I did not count on was that girls can be crafty and sly too. I was known to be buddies with several jjunior class gals that frequented Caldwell’s. They included Jeanie Hunter, Donna Cameron, Marilyn Gregory and Chris Reed. About a week before the Prom, we were in one of their cars at Caldwell’s and just talking when one of the girls asked me if I was going to the Prom.
I said “Hell no.That’s not something I would do.”
I mentioned that I might just go to Liberal, Kansas instead. Liberal was just 105 miles away, across two state lines, but it was just as its name implied—very liberal. And that included the fact that you get served alcohol at 18 years old! I had been 18 since November and I had ventured there with a couple of buddies twice before.
The ladies had gotten the story out of me as to the clubs we went to and what it was like on at least one or two occasions. They all wanted to go! The big drawback however was the fact that it took about an hour and a half to get there and it also took an hour and a half to get back. Three hours really cut down on the club time when their parents wanted them home by 11 pm or at the absolute latest, midnight!
If you left at 8 pm, you might have a couple of hours before you had to be home at 12 pm. I had really lenient parents who would let me get in at 1 am and sometimes (I think because they slept so soundly) I could get away with say 2 am.
Now all of this conversation occurred on Friday night just a week before the Prom. I drove up to Caldwell’s on Saturday night, looking for the guys and seeing who was “out”, when I spotted Jeanie’s car with Marilyn and Donna in it.
They all began yelling at me park and come on over “Right Now!”
I obeyed and crawled into the back seat of the car. Immediately, I was informed by all three that, “We’re going to Liberal!”
I said “Wait just a minute, it’s too late to go tonight!”
That’s when I was told it would be next weekend and I would have 2 dates for the Prom! I thought—Oh my, what have I got into? But what the heck, I had little to lose or at least I didn’t think I did!
Then they explained to me how this would work and why it would work. First, Chris could not go because she was supposed to be engaged to this college dude and her parents would not let her out of the house. Marilyn’s parents were going to be out of town that weekend! Aha, the old parents out of town trick. She had arranged to spend the night at Donna’s or at least that is what her parents thought, so she did not have to go with them! Donna and Jeanie had already arranged to stay at Marilyn’s house.
As deep cover for the whole operation, I would have a Prom date with Donna and Jeanie so their parents would really not suspect anything. It gave me an opportunity to pick everyone up because none of them had cars. I would pick up Donna at 7:15pm and then take her to Marilyn’s and then pick up Jeanie at 7:45pm and go over to Marilyn’s where everyone would change clothes. We then would be able to head to Liberal.
I actually had to set the time of return to keep MY parents off MY butt! Wow, it sounded like it would work!
Well, the next week at school went very fast and everything was beginning to fall into place for the Prom. I told my parents I had a Prom date and that it would be late when I got in because there was always a “breakfast” afterward. I said it might be 2:00am or after. They didn’t even blink an eye and I thought, holy cow, this could work!! They asked me who I had a date with and I told them Jeanie since they knew her Mother! This was getting good!
On Friday I heard from my cousin, Shirley Williams, who had been living and going to school in Amarillo. We were both seniors and she was out for spring break and was home to visit her mother and sister. She was bored and called to see if we could go out Friday night. I said sure and went over and picked her up. After we got away from her house and her neat Mom, I told her what was going to happen on Saturday night. She wanted to go. She said her mother gave her lots of freedom and it would be no problem to be out that late.
I said we will see how the other the other ladies feel. We all got together in my car at Caldwell’s. Everyone knew Shirley from many years of going to school in Pampa. They agreed she could go and we went over the plan. Everything was in great shape. Marilyn’s parents were already gone so the clock was already in motion. We all headed home and I dropped Shirley off and said I would pick her up last, sometime before 8 pm on Saturday night.
The Pick Ups
Saturday rolled around and I went to work that morning. I worked in the parts department of Culberson-Stowers Chevrolet, where my dad worked! I decided to tell my cohort, Benny Lash, but threatened to make it a painful death if he spilled the beans. Thankfully, he did not. We only worked until noon but it was a really long day. I did not hear from any of the girls that afternoon so I assumed everything was OK. They said they would call if anything went wrong.
I got dressed in my Pampa Texas evening clothes—White coat, tuxedo shirt with black studs, red cumber bun, red bow tie, and black pants. Earlier that afternoon, I had put my clubbing clothes in the trunk of the car. I said goodbye to the folks and drove over to Donna’s house. On the way other there, it finally hit me…”What the hell are you doing? Donna’s dad is the Pastor of The First Baptist Church! He was a college football player! If this goes wrong, you are dead meat!”
I pulled into the circular drive and got out and went to the door. I almost did not ring the doorbell. Donna met me at the door and I said let’s go and she said, “Oh, we can’t go yet, Mother wants to take some pictures!!!” Are you kidding me! I’m cooked!
Fortunately, dad was not home nor her brother Bob who was my age! She even bought a corsage for me to pin on her! This was getting out of hand. About 6 pictures later and we finally are out the door! It was like we had gotten married . . . open the door and get her in the car . . . wave to Mom and sister as we leave . . . AAAHHHHHH!! I started breathing after we got about a quarter of a mile down Duncan Street! I chewed on Donna for the pictures and the corsage—Nobody said there would be PICTURES AND A CORSAGE!! But she calmed me down and my heart stopped trying to come out of my chest!
We made it to Marilyn’s in a flash. I dumped out Donna . . .and her coursage . . . and headed for Jeanie’s. I was slightly behind schedule, but close. I got out of the car at Jeanie’s and the front door opened! I got up to the door and Jeanie said let’s go. Wow, no pictures! I knew her Mom and she came to the door and gave me a hug. Off we go. In the car, I told her what happened at Donna’s. She thought it was funny! My blood pressure was still high but I was past the bad stuff. Shirley’s mother lived just around the corner from Jeanie and we were there in no time. I pulled in the driveway and Shirley ran out and jumped in the car. A wave to her mother and we are gone.
It took only about 5 minutes to get to Marilyn’s house. Jeanie had on a nice formal and like Donna had brought a little bag because I was dropping her off at Marilyn’s after the Prom. Actually, I guess, that part was exactly right. We arrived, jumped out and I got my clothes and ran in. We were changed in no more than 2 minutes. Back in the car and off we go. Hit the Perryton highway and it’s almost a straight shot directly to Liberal. The roads up there are very straight since there is very little reason to add curves.
To get to Liberal, you really only go thru one town, Perryton, Texas. It is about 2-3 miles from the Perryton city limits to the Oklahoma border. You then enter the Oklahoma panhandle and pass through Beaver County, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma panhandle is only 35 miles across so it does not take long to cross. Liberal is a couple of miles across the Oklahoma-Kansas border. This will all become important on the way home!
There were a couple of clubs the young adults frequented. They were both named the Tiki Club, Tiki East and Tiki West. I liked the Tiki East and so did most of my friends. We headed for it. I had never seen anyone carded in the clubs but I decided I better ask. In the parking lot, I asked the girls “Who is not already 18?”
Shirley and I plus Jeanie were already 18, Marilyn was 17 and holy cow, Donna was 16!! “Are you kidding me!” I told her. “Stay close to us and don’t go get a drink or beer. Have one of us do it.”
We walk into the club and wow, the music is loud and good, the club is about 2/3 full and I can’t believe it! There are 3 or 4 of my older buddies from the Class of 67! They come over and want to know what I’m doing with 4 girls!! The buddies consist of Billy Scribner, Teddy Bird, and several others I can’t remember. There were a a couple guys I did not know. They are home from college on spring break and decided to come to Liberal to party! What a deal. They snatch up the girls and away we go. We set up a large table and that is base of operations for the evening.
We had a time! I danced with darn near every girl in the place and I had way too much to drink! The fun never stopped all the time we were there. The music was a Rock-Ola and it played non stop with all of our favorites. We had a blast. I noticed that Donna was clinging to me and I got her almost every drink she had. The girls didn’t drink that much but they had fun.
About midnight, I was pretty lit and really hungry. I asked the gals if they wanted to get something to eat! Shirley and some dude I had never seen before said yeah. Donna grabbed me and said she did too. I told the other two girls to be at the Flying A Service Station at 12:30am! No later. They all had hooked up with guys who said they would deliver them.
The Close Call
Off we go to find an all night cafe. I am still a little woozy as we are driving down the road and come to a railroad track that cuts across the main highway. I don’t even look.
Someone shouts “Something’s coming!”
I look right and said “It’s only a motorcycle!” as I continue driving across the track.
A couple of seconds later a freight trains flies by and misses us by about twenty feet! We almost bought the farm right there, but we were too drunk to realize the gravity at the time!!
Fortunately, the food really helped and we all sobered upl. So we headed out to the Flying A Service Station. I decide I needed a six pack for the road and ran into a 7-11. We arrive at the service station at about 12:20am. Jeanie and one of the Pampa dudes soon show up. We are waiting for Marilyn and her guy. We wait and we wait. Finally at about 12:45am they show! Everyone jumps in the car and away we go for the border.
The Police Chase
Within 15 minutes everyone but me is either asleep or about to be. Donna is next to me in the front. Marilyn is shotgun. In the backseat is Jeanie and a lump in the corner is Shirley. I cruise toward Texas doing about 75 mph on the Oklahoma blacktop. I need to make up a little time lost waiting for Marilyn. I am approaching a curve within 3 or 4 miles of the Texas state line when I look in my rear view mirror and see flashing red lights in the distance.
Yikes. I start thinking and realize it is after 1:00am, I am drunk, I have beer in the car, a 17 year old girl in the car and a 16 year old girl in the car and I have crossed two state lines with them. Somehow I rationalize that I am already in so much trouble that a little more troubl isn’t that much more trouble than I am already in. I elbow Donna and ask her to look back and see if she sees what I do. Yep, looks like red lights in the far distance to her. I floor it.
We have to beat this Oklahoma Highway Patrolman to the Texas border. Now my old ’60 Chevy would run pretty good but I knew it could not outrun a patrol car. However, I had at least a mile distance on him, he had started off I think on a dirt road which overlooked the highway, and I was not sure he could catch me before I hit the border or not. I also knew I had to get into Perryton to lose him because of the hot pursuit laws so it was going to be close. I had to cover 4 to six miles before he could cover six to eight.
For whatever reason I don’t understand, I did outrun him. We finally come to the Perryton city limits and I jammed the brakes and made an extremely fast right hand turn into a neighborhood. I kept taking a right then a left until I was pretty sure he could not follow me. In any event, he had lost his line of sight and I felt pretty sure I had won. Needless to say, I was stone cold sober by now and everyone in the car was as well.
We still had 65 miles to go and I was low on fuel. I went back to the highway and pulled into the only all night station. I needed to add about 3 or 4 dollars worth of fuel to get home. After all, gasoline was only 29.9 cents per gallon then!
I walked into the service station and put $3 on the counter and this dude says, “Hey, did you just come from Oklahoma?” I said yeah and the attendant said, “Man, there was one really mad Oklahoma Highway Patrolman in here a minute ago looking for a car like yours!” I asked him which way he went and he said back toward Oklahoma. I ran out and pumped $3 of gas as fast as I could and jumped in and got the heck out of there. We never saw another cop on the way home. I was as nervous as a June bug in a hen house!
I was just outside of Perryton about 20 minutes when a head appears at the back of the front seat. I see this guy in the rear view mirror.
I said, “Who are you?”
“Oh, my name is Jim Ridley”, he said drowsily.
“Where did you come from?”
“The floor board.”
“Where do you live?”
“We are not going to Chicago tonight!”
“No, no. I go to school at Tech in Lubbock.”
“Well, we are definitely not going to Lubbock tonight either!”
“Oh, that’s OK, I’m staying with Teddy Bird in Pampa,” he says.
“All right. I can drop you off there”, I replied as he slides back onto the floor.
Now I am worried. I got all these girls to get home, I have this dude to drop off at Teddy’s house and I don’t even know where that is! And I have to get home and sneak in because it is already 2:00am and I am late!
About 2:30am I dropped off three of the girls at Marilyn’s house. I ran Shirley to her house and it becomes very evident from the good night kiss that she is the one that found Ripley in Liberal. This guy knows exactly where Teddy’s house is and guides me right to it. The house is dark. I said good luck and never looked back after he got out.
The Last Obstacle
I have to use my best stealth approach to get into my house and to my room without waking anyone. I turn off the key before I hit the driveway and coast. I don’t even shut the door on the car. I just push it until the light goes out. I go to the front door and YES, it is unlocked. I turn the knob and ease open the door and go in. I go past my parent’s bedroom and I hear my father snoring. I have just about made it when my mother says, “David, is that you? What time is it?”
“It’s me. It must be about 2.” I whispered, lying and hoping she does not look at the alarm clock.
“OK”, she says.
My dad is still snoring!! I have made it. I go to my room and suddenly realize I left all the Prom clothes in the trunk. Oh, well, I thought. I will get them tomorrow and sneak them in.
I wake up about noon on Sunday. Just in time for dinner. My Mom wants to know if I had a good time. I reply that I did. No mention of the time I got in or anything. But, I am still not out of the woods. If the girls did not get caught or anything, then we are all home free.
That afternoon, I decided to go out for a while. There is no one down at Caldwell’s. I run the drag and no one is out. I come by the Pizza Hut and see Teddy Bird’s T-bird. I go in and there are the remnants of the gang we ran into in Liberal the night before. Even Ripley’s with them. But they had a tail of woe on getting home also. I told them of our adventure with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and then they told me what happened to them.
One of the two cars they were in took off and headed for Pampa and got turned around in Perryton and got on the wrong highway and ended up in Oklahoma and finally found a familiar road and made it to Pampa about 5am. They went to Teddy’s house and found Ripley asleep on the porch and almost frozen to death. Teddy’s parents were not home this weekend and they all came in to party over spring break but Teddy and Billy had not shown up yet with the key.
Apparently, Teddy and Billy had gotten lost coming out of Liberal and headed west instead of south. They ended up in Colorado with almost no gas, no cash and one credit card between them. They finally found a service station that was open but it would not take their credit card. They had to wait for a station to open that would take the card. It was 3:30am and the station opened at 5:30am. They finally got gas and headed for Texas.
At about 8am, they were stopped by a Texas Highway Patrolman between Dalhart and Amarillo and given a ticket for doing 85 mph. Fortunately, the booze had all worn off by then and he did not check the trunk. About 10:30am, they arrived in Pampa to find the rest of their party asleep in their car in the driveway at Teddy’s house. They were at the Pizza Hut having pizza for breakfast because no one could cook!
The girls had fooled their parents, I had gotten by with doing something really stupid without going to jail, and we had one Hell of a Prom night! I bet it would not have been that exciting if we had actually gone to the Prom! I wonder if Donna still has those pictures. There are a lot of memories in that corsage.
The next year, I went to Texas Tech in Lubbock and Jeanie was going to school there. She had managed to find Jim Ripley. We laughed about the Liberal trip and everything that happened. He turned out to be the dude with cousin Shirley in my car when we were almost hit by the train. We partied together for a couple of years. Later, my future wife introduced him to his future wife. He actually was going to Tech while he was an air traffic controller for the Air Force at Reese AFB. We used to go to the NCO club on the base,….but that’s another story. I have since lost track of him completely but I think I will try to find him someday.