The letter said, “Write an article/story about BHS memories for our 50th class reunion” Not an easy task, I thought. What memories would my mind conjure up? What could I share? I began rummaging through the hallways of my mind—searching, opening and closing various doors behind which my memories resided. No, that one is too personal; nope, not interesting enough. I keep searching, reminiscing among those hidden memories ensconced in the recesses of my memory hallway.  Alas, I realize as I open and close the doors leading to different memories many of the memories have gathered dust and faded with the years. I realize that the memories I risk to share will be embellished, perhaps not completely accurately; but I’ll capture the essence of the moments and the meanderings of my mind in my words. I realize, in all honesty, I’m writing for me in an effort to preserve some moments of my youth—can it really be 50 years ago? Aha! Something we all shared in common; here are my recollections of Friday, October 25, 1957 at BHS.


TGIF at BHS ‘58
Frank C. Townsend & Syd Corbett

6:00 AM
The false dawn was lighting the sky as I awoke. The streetlight flickered and then turned off, so I knew it was 6:00 AMtime  to rise. I could hear the pigeons on the roof “cucurrucucu”, and several pairs of parakeets in the monkey plum tree across the street, AKA Santa Claus Lane, gossiping about their day’s activities. I, too, contemplated my Friday’s activities, deciding I best be movin’ to beat my sister, Syd, to the bathroom. The duplexes in the Gavilan area had only one bathroom—taught us time management at an early age. Mom was in the kitchen; dad had long since left for work.
Breakfast was a bowl of Cheerios with sliced banana and a glass of freshly squeezed Boquete OJ for a chaser. A pair of blue tanagers was out on the bird-feeder, arguing over the Boquete orange rinds.
“Mom,”, I reminded her, “I need to ride with you this morning because I’m ROTC Officer of the Day, and I don’t want to get my uniform sweaty if I ride my bike.” Although a Senior at BHS, I still was only 16 that October morning and wouldn’t get my driver license for 2 months. Hence a bicycle was my means of transportation.
“Also, please leave the bread out as I need to pack a lunch today.”

7:15 AM
I carefully climb into my mom’s tomato soup colored VW beetle, trying not to wrinkle my starched ROTC uniform. My notebooks, books, and brown bag lunch were cradled in my lap. (In those days, no one carried a backpack. Guys carried their books hanging under their arms, while gals used a protective 2 arm carry). Out of Gavilan area, down Balboa Road past the YMCA and police station, turn down Barnaby St. to Balboa elementary school. As a first grade teacher, my mom gets to park in front of the Goethals Monument, an easy walk to the ROTC building for me.

7:40-7:45 AM
Fortunately I had ROTC 1st period so I could leave my books and lunch at my desk in that wooden ROTC building.
Where is the rest of the color guard detail? As “officer of the day” I had the responsibility of raising the flag in front of BHS, the same flagpole that would go down in history as the catalyst for the 1964 riots. Willie LeBlanc was there, but we were missing Fred Dube. Aha! Here he comes. At least he wasn’t on the Gamboa bus which is always late due to the Gamboa Bridge light. As the color guard detail, we would be the only 3 in the entire school in khaki uniform that Friday.
We quickly form up. I lead, carrying the triangular-folded flag, while Willie and Fred follow. Arriving at the flagpole, we fasten it and await “Reveille” played on a scratchy phonograph. Tata-t-ta, the bugle call blares; Willie pulls on the halyard hoisting the flag, while Fred and I smartly salute.

1st Period
ROTC was my 1st period class in that old gray rickety wooden building behind the fire station. That fall was military history, and today Capt. Wheeler would be droning on about the Union defeat at the Civil War battle of Chickamauga Creek, GA, September 19 & 20, 1863. Somehow, Paul Bennett, George Barbier, Bob Kielhofer and I manage to look interested and stay awake. Mercifully, class ends; and I race across the street to deposit my extra books, notebooks, and lunch in my locker.
The hallways are crowded and noisy, reminding me of a flock of gossiping parakeets as we all change our classrooms. Mr. Vosburg looks sternly at me as I go trudging by, perhaps remembering my behavior in his English class last year and grateful that I had moved on. It’s “Spirit Day”; so everyone, with the exception of the color guard detail, is wearing red and white in anticipation of tonight’s football game against CHS.

2nd Period
Mr. Musselman’s Spanish class is on the 1st floor. As I slide into my desk—arrgh!—I remember that Friday is vocabulary quiz day. I easily translate most of the words as my mom had flashcard drilled me the night before. Janet Tribe in her Spirit Day cheerleader’s costume was only a minor distraction. Playa, Malecon, Olas, = beach, breakwater, waves, I translated. Where were the practical familiar Spanish words we heard in the hallways – chuleta, miercoles, and frijoles? At least Musselman has selected picturesque words, though they invited distracting daydreams of the white sands of Santa Clara and the fresh lobsters at Rio Mar. Of course, Mary Hebert is through before everyone; she looks out the window waiting for class to end, perhaps playa has her clairvoyantly dreaming of senior skip day at Taboga.
Changing of classes between 2nd and 3rd periods is a timing challenge for me. I race to meet “my significant other” under the clock—she’s  late.  Hopefully she’ll notice my regal ROTC uniform and be a little impressed. Of course, all the football players are wearing their letterman sweaters, dimming my importance.
“Lunch?” I ask.
“No, I’m going home for lunch,” she responds.
“Wait for me after I finish ROTC flag-lowering to walk you home?”
I quickly give her hand a squeeze; she smiles, while hall-monitoring hawk Mr. “Zip” Zerten frowns.
I race off to my locker, exchange books, scamper up the stairs two at a time to the 2nd floor, scooting into Miss Whitman’s Senior English class just before the bell.

3rd Period
We’re still trapped in Hamlet  At this time, I’m fearful that my uniform will make me stand out, an easy target to be called on.  Act 5, scene 1, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it.”  Billie Sue recites beautifully, must be her Rainbow Girl training. I sneak a peak at Jackie in her cheerleader’s uniform as I follow along, mindful that I could be called upon to continue after Billie Sue. Roger Million as King Claudiusends the scene:An hour of quiet shortly shall we see; Till then, in patience our proceeding be... As the scene ends, so also, mercifully, does the class. Unfortunately, “an hour of quiet” did not await me—I was off to Jacques Cook’s math class, a leisurely stroll just down the hall from Miss Whitman’s room.

4th Period
Mr. Cook watches sternly as we troop into his class, analytical geometry. This is the “brains” class—Joe Trower with his letterman sweater, Paul Bennett, Joan Dimpfl, Don Randel—and I wonder what I’m doing here. Friday is test day here too. I’m thankful that Mrs. Graham had prepared me well for algebra; and since my dad had drilled me the night before, I was prepared for whatever Jacques could throw our way. However, now the starched uniform with its long sleeves distracts me with discomfort; plus, my stomach grumbles hungrily, though lunch is still an hour away.  
Find the general equation of a circle whose center is at (-3,2) and passes through (1,2). Un pedazo de cake!

  1. I easily find the circle’s radius using the distance formula:                                         1
  2. The general equation of a circle is


  1. I quickly substitute in the values and move on.

      3 is the solution.

Oh rass! I dus hear de rain comin’ down from Ancon Hill. De football field gwin be muddy and dus make me white band shoes a mess. Dis am no light rain bajareque, but a real gully-washin’ aguacero!

At lunchtime, the cliques quickly head for their favorite lunch spots. The Gamboa gang heads for the train station for french fries and gravy with a milkshake (no cholesterol fear here!); others await a carpool coming down from the Building to ride home; some have a club meeting in a classroom; gals and guys hold hands as they head for the Balboa clubhouse for empanadas and cherry coke or the bowling alley for a burger. Me, I grab a coke from the firehouse coke machine and head for the basement rifle range beneath Mr. Vosburg’s room. Since I don’t want to get my uniform dirty, I’ll just be a “spotter” using the telescope to call out hits as the team practices. At least the rain has stopped.

5th Period
Band is like family to me; we even have our own house. For 4 years, we’ve met together upstairs in the wooden band shack, practiced, marched in the rain or a muddy football field, and given Christmas concerts at the Balboa theater. Don Randel is the assistant conductor and drum major. The class of ’58 is well represented: Eddie Cunningham, Danny Roberts, and David Reese on trombone; Carlos Meggers on trumpet;, Sandra Matheny on flute; Doris Young, Judy Fuller, Edgar Ameglio, Mage Smith, and Laura Dew on sax; Jenny Livingston, and I on horn—to name a few.
“One more time, from the top,” Randel instructs as we rehearse Sousa’s “The Thunderer.” “And don’t forget, here, in uniform by 6:15 PM for the game.”

6th Period
Since we have a pep rally today, Mr. Myer’s 6th period physics class is cancelled.
Fifth period band is shortened, and Randel forms us up in the parking lot to march over to the lower gym to play for the pep rally. Ta-rump, ta-rump, ta-rump, rump, rump! The drum cadence keeps us in step as we march over to the gym and take our places.
Jackie, Lynn Raymond, and Janet Tribe with the other cheerleaders lead us through the cheers, and then perform a skit with Douglas, Million, Burch, Corrigan, and Halvosa. Coach Horine promises victory against the CHS Tigers tonight.
Since the school busses have the street crowded, we don’t have to march back to the band building. I race back, leave my horn for tonight, and hustle to the ROTC building to form up the color guard and lower the flag. “To the Colors” sounds over the scratchy phonograph as Willie slowly lowers the flag. He and Fred triangularly fold the flag and salute as they hand it to me.
After depositing the flag and dismissing the color guard, I race back to my locker, grab my books, and rush out to the mahogany tree in front of school.
Whew! My “significant other” is there, waiting to walk home with me.

5:00 PM
A quick dinner, and I’m ready for my 5:45 PM carpool back to the band-room. I’m wearing a long-sleeve white shirt, red tie, Levis, and white (soon to become very muddy) Keds tennis shoes. I’ll change into my itchy red wool band pants with a white stripe down the legs at the band building.

7:00 PM
The CHS Tigers have ridden the train over from the “Other Side,” sharing the last stretch with the Gamboa gang.
The game begins. Bateman is unstoppable tonight, but his continual runs up the middle have made a morass of the field upon which we soon will have to march. Randel forms us up for the half-time show. Somehow we manage the tricky formations without slipping or falling down and exit with our classic “B” formation.
The game ends – BHS 14    CHS 0
Back to the band house to change back into my Levis. Fortunately, the post-game dance is a “sock-hop” in the upper gym, so I can leave my muddy Keds at the door with the others. We band members still wear our white shirts and red ties—proud to identify ourselves as being in the band. Some of the CHS kids would join us, as most rivalries were confined to the football field. Tonight  we are dancing the ’57 hits: “Tammy” (Debbie Reynolds), “Young Love” (Tab Hunter), and “Chances Are” (Johnny Mathis), with several Lucho favorites tossed in—“Taboga,” “Alfredo, Si Tu Te Vas” and, of course “La Pachanga.”
Miss Brigham (our own dear Bloody Mary) with her six-inch ruler is prowling around chaperoning to make be no one is dancing too close. “You, there, back up!” I hear as I see the little green ruler out of the corner of my eye. I’m sure CZ girls will dance at arm’s length long into the future, trained well.  

10:00 PM
The dance begins to break up. The CHS kids and Gamboa gang have a train to catch, those with cars head for onion rings at the Drive Inn or Pete’s Catalina, and the “red-turtleneck” gang leaves on their motorcycles. I hunt and find my muddy tennis shoes and begin walking my date home along Balboa Ave.

A long satisfying day: two tests, two different uniforms, a dance, and goodnight kiss. Although a thousand Fridays have since passed, who would wish to forget those early formative high school days? Good times and great memories!