Senior High School Years: 1961-1965
Freshman year started off with freshman initiation, during which a senior student had control over a freshman. The senior could dictate what the freshman wore during initiation day as well as other assigned duties. Fear of the unknown for freshmen was a prominent feeling. All had heard stories of Exlax-laced brownies. Roger Brown was my senior. I believe that I had to dress in a dress and to pull him a wagon to school. This was a problem because Roger lived in the far west side of the town and the high school was in the far east edge of town and up two long hills. Fortunately, he did not make me do any tricks or eat any unknown foods. My freshman class was the last class at Colfax High School to experience freshman initiation, but I take no pride in that.
I took Spanish classes from Nino Vargas who now goes by Sean. I had some good success in learning Spanish that helped me with taking Portuguese during my college years. He took Hal Taylor and me to the play Fantasticks in his two-door Corvair that had scented talc in the ashtrays. Nino, an effeminate individual, wrote the following in my annual for 1962:
…and Nature waits for the occasion,
when man will find his lost civilization;
animals come to see him by,
this curious creature of creation,
who has nothing to show
but his much bragged Intelligence Quotation.
Class sponsors were Mr. Thomas Hawbaker and Mrs. Esther Grosvenor. Hawbaker was a social studies teacher whose ability as a teacher made one wonder what he was doing at Colfax. I found out much later that he at one time had worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. Esther Grosvenor was our English teacher and had no such claim to fame, but her ability as an English teacher will be commented upon later.
Along with Bob Van Elsen, I was elected to the Student Council for my freshman year. The Council was about as active as you might imagine.
I participated on the boys’ baseball team during my freshman year. The team managed to win a few games, but I do not think that I contributed much.
I was a member of the concert band, the marching band, the pep band and the cornet trio. Our director was Mr. Donald C. Bury.
I was a member of the mixed chorus, the boys’ glee club and the double mixed quartet. Our voice director was Mrs. Winifred B. Bowen, an older woman. She was a wonderful music director. She was the best voice director that I had during my high school years.
I joined the choir at the United Methodist Church and continued to belong for the rest of my high school years. Mary Hunter was the choir director.
I was introduced to Nancy Hanel while swimming at the gravel pit just north of town during the summer before school started. She was a new student to Colfax.
I continued to be involved with the Methodist Youth Fellowship or MYF.
I joined the student newspaper section of the Orange and the Black of the Colfax Tribune. Usually, there was a senior student interview and perhaps an article about sports at Colfax High School. Sometimes there would be a local mimeographed publication for the high school students with gossip and special articles.
I was also a member of the operator’s club that meant I could show movies on a projector. Of course, this was when movies were on film.
I began to work more regularly at Easter’s grocery store. My father, the store manager, did not like it when I had to play in the band on Friday nights as it meant he would be short-staffed then.
Marilyn Monroe died on August 5, 1962. I recall that we were driving back from a Wisconsin vacation when the news was overtaken by reports of her death. My father listened closely to the radio on the way back to Colfax, something he seldom did. I knew her as a famous, sexy actress. She was only about 36 years of age when she died. Her death was completely unexpected and took all by surprise. Of course, the many conspiracy theories about her death had not yet been developed. Her ties to President Kennedy and his brother Robert were not public knowledge at the time.
Our sophomore class sponsors were Mr. Joe Caponigro and Mr. Roger Harrington. The former was the new science teacher who replaced Mr. James Dimit who was irreplaceable and the latter was the football coach. Caponigro thought very highly of himself and often mentioned his physical encounter with trichinosis. He had Janice Robson bring in a sample of straw from her horse barn and let it simmer for a period of time. He then put a liquid sample under the microscope, but was careful not to let us see what he deemed as not appropriate for our class. By innuendo, it had to do with sexual reproduction of organisms in the liquid.
Our English teacher, Mrs. Esther Grosvenor wrote a sometimes column for the Colfax Tribune under the penname “Figuero”. This was supposed to be a secret, but it was one of most poorly kept secrets of all time. She would often bring up the contents of the article in English class and muse about who the mysterious Figuero was.
Under the banner of “Calloused Comments” Figuero wrote in April 1963:
Last week, young Hal Taylor, only a ninth grader, received a superior rating for his project at the Science Fair in Des Moines. Hal hits the books, but he’s interested in scouting, sports and Church work too. Then, there’s an account in last week’s paper about Kenneth Garrett. Ken was being honored because he demonstrated high scholastic ability in the field of engineering. They tell me he has a young brother up at the high school who is just as capable as he. (The ‘he’ would be me.}
It was also a poorly kept secret that I was a teacher’s pet of Esther Grosvenor. However, it must be said in all sincerity that others in my class were very appreciative of her skills in teaching them something about the English language.
I was a member of the basketball team during my sophomore year. The team had 3 wins and 15 losses during the season. Despite that poor record, we won two sectional games before losing to Pella Christian in the first round of the district tournament. I also played baseball and won a letter for the year 1963.
I belonged to the mixed chorus and the mixed and double mixed quartette. This was the last year for Winifred Bowen to be the music director. She was a lovely person and brought out the best in the chorus.. The mixed chorus received a rating of 2 in competition, but the chorus never sounded better. After receiving the rating of 2 instead of the anticipated 1, it is thought that Mrs. Bowen personally complained to the judges and expressed her displeasure at the rating while the contest was still going on. Mrs. Bowen really knew how to bring out the best of our abilities.
I played trumpet in the marching band, the concert band, the pep band, the dance band, and the brass quartette. Mr. Robert Skinner was the new band director. I sang several duets with Diane Mallory at the United Methodist Church.
Kendra Jones’ family moved from Newton, Iowa, and she joined the freshman class. She made her presence known by teasing (pestering?) me especially during marching band and football games by telling me how much I looked like her dog Cecil. I did have the nickname of Cecil as time went on. Kendra’s father was a General Practitioner in Colfax, later Newton. The family had lived in Colfax for several years previously before moving to Newton. In fact she had lived in a large house on South Oak Park that was near my house on Lincoln Street. Kendra recalls seeing me in her earlier years wearing earmuffs and carrying my trumpet.
I began to be interested in a senior girl, Tony (Teunisje) Van Boord. She had a lovely alto voice and usually sang with the tenors in mixed chorus. She had a lively personality an sharp mind and was fun to be around. At some point, I picked her up at her farmhouse west of town. Unfortunately, I only had a driver’s permit and could not drive alone. My mother sat in the front seat, and when we picked up Tony my mother slid over to sit in the middle of the front seat while Tony sat in the right side of the front seat.
I continued with the MYF.
The high school team of the year in 1962-1963 and perhaps the decade was the girls’ basketball team, also called the Tigerettes. At the time girls’ basketball was layed on one-half court, with one-half of the 6 girls on offense and the other three always on defense. The team made it to the state tournament and won the first game, before losing. Most of the starters were from the class of 1963.
The Cuban Missile Crisis took place from October 16-28, 1962. The US learned that the USSR had surreptitiously placed missiles in Cuba. The missiles could reach much of the eastern portions of the US. President John F. Kennedy created an embargo around Cuba and demanded that Russia remove its missiles. It seemed that we were never closer to a nuclear war than at that time. I recall my father sitting in the basement listening to the radio description of the ongoing events. He was clearly worried about how things were going to turn out. Although Khrushchev and the USSR ultimately backed down and removed its missiles from Cuba, the US quietly removed its Jupiter missiles from Turkey.
I was a member of the Drama Club and was an actor in the presentation of “A Rebel without a Cause”. This was presented on November 26th, 1962. I played the part of Ray, the juvenile officer. Nino Vargas directed the play. I was elected president of the sophomore class.
Other clubs included the Operators’ Club, the Orange and Black Staff, and the Science Fair Board.
Nancy Hanel left in the middle of the sophomore year after her father was transferred to the Des Moines area. She attended Roosevelt High School for the last two and one-half years of her high school career.
Duane Lewis also left for Marshalltown, Iowa. As previously noted, his father had died in 1959. Duane was musically talented and could play a variety of instruments including tuba, cornet, and the French horn. He could also sing well and we sometimes sang just for fun. I missed him during my final two years at Colfax.
Martha Monroe’s father committed suicide in October 1962. He was the president of the Monroe Company, at the time the largest producer of folding tables in the world. The Monroe Company had started as the Back to Nature Company producing canvas tenting. It was difficult to know how to help Martha through the grieving process. I recall that that classmates Jim and Julia Musgrove were upset because we had not afforded similar flowers or sentiments at the death of her brother.
I got my driver’s license in June 1963. It was just a paper square of documentation without a picture on it.
During our junior year, we had three class sponsors, including Mr. Everett Traylor, Mrs. Linda Smith, and Miss Arlene Rinehart. Traylor was a teacher for shop, Smith for French, and Rinehart for home economics.
A seminal event that loomed large during my junior year was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963. I was in typing class at the time, and class was interrupted by live radio broadcast over the PA system. I am not sure if school was let out early, but the next few days were gloomy indeed as the country stayed glued to the television.
I was a member of the boys’ baseball team, but not the basketball team for my junior year.
I think it was during the summer of 1963 that I finally woke up to the pop hit sounds of rock and roll. The seminal song was “One Fine Day” made popular at the time by the Chiffons. The song resonated with me for some reason, but it was like I became awakened to pop sounds.
I belonged to the concert band, the marching band, the pep band, and the dance band. Robert Skinner continued as the music director. I often played taps for military funerals and could leave class without penalty to participate in the funerals. It was exceedingly difficult to play Taps during cold weather.
At the end of the year, I was given the fifth annual award of John Philip Sousa Band Award at a potluck banquet for the band. The award is given each year to the student showing the greatest all around ability in band work. My mother attended, but dad was working so could not attend.
The vocal music director was Miss Jo Ellen Dutton. Colfax was her first teaching experience after college and she just not prepared to handle large groups of students. When we would not follow her direction, she never yelled, but just held her chin in her hand and stared at us. The technique did not work. I was part of the mixed chorus, the mixed and double mixed quartettes. After the experience of the previous two years, the junior year’s quality of voice suffered tremendously.
I invited Tony Van Boord to the homecoming dance in the fall of 1963. At the time she was a freshman at the University of Iowa. We ate at Bob and Frankie’s in Mitchellville, Iowa. This was our last date.
My date for the Junior/Senior prom was Nancy Hanel who had left Colfax for Des Moines in the middle of the sophomore year. She stayed with Karen Bale after the prom. Interestingly, she did not sign my dance card.
Kendra wrote in my annual:
To a boy whom I admire very much! I honestly don’t see how you keep up those straight As, participate in all that you take part in, and still have time to be my psychiatrist! Also to the only person I know who would have nerve enough to try and psychoanalyze me! I don’t have to wish you good luck wherever you go you make your own luck. But I will wish you luck anyway so here it is. Best of luck always. I know that someday when you are a famous lawyer I can look back and say, “I wrote my name in the dust of his car.” Well, I seem to be running out of room so — Don’t ever change! Kendy
I believe that it was during the summer between my sophomore and junior years that I attended the national conference of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. I am pretty sure that it was held at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. After I returned, I had to substitute for Rev. Dale J. Nicholson in the pulpit at the United Methodist Church. My talk was a review of my experience at the conference and only lasted a few minutes. The congregants were let out early, so I don’t think they minded that too much.
I was president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship at Colfax.
I was again elected president of the class. As president, I was responsible organizing the annual Junior/Senior prom held in the spring. The theme was “Stairway to the Stars”, and the event was held at the Colfax Methodist Church on April 25th, 1964. I don’t recall why the Methodist Church was chosen as a venue instead of the American Legion Hall. It may be that the dance was held elsewhere, but none of the several classmates I queried seemed to know either. See also ‘Social’. As president, I had to give a welcoming speech. See Appendix 8 for the speech.
I also belonged to the operators’ club and the Orange and Black Staff.
There was no Junior class play during my junior year. Nino Vargas had left and Mr. Ronald Vierling took over as artistic director. There were auditions for a play, and I was actually chosen to be one of the four cast members. However, the play was deemed too racy and was scrapped. Even my mother got involved, though I do not know how. She was aware, though, that the lead female was to appear in a slip during the play. This was just too much for the citizens of Colfax at the time.
During the fall of 1963, my father developed complications from a condition called Hirschprung disease. He was hospitalized initially at Skiff Hospital in Newton, Iowa, but was transferred to the hospital at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. He
was managed conservatively and sent home. As far as I know, he did not have any more problems with it. He was under the care of Kendra’s father, Dr. Maynard L Jones in Colfax. This event caused much concern for my mother, of course.
I was chosen to attend Boys’ State held at Camp Dodge, Iowa during the summer of 1964 by the local American Legion. My brother Kenny had been chosen to attend Boys’ State in the past. I was elected City Treasurer, about as low an elective post as possible. I had to give a report to the American Legion in Colfax after the conclusion of Boys’ State. I had no particular knowledge of what Boys’ State was or what was expected of me. For some attendees, it was a political exercise. I am reminded that President Bill Clinton had attended Boys’ State in Arkansas and a picture exists showing him and then President John Kennedy who was visiting at the time. See Appendix 9 for information on Boys and Girls State.
Mr. Earle P. Leslie, Superintendent of the Colfax Community School District, and Mr. Robert Dimit, High School Principal, were replaced in an administrative shakeup by Mr. William J. Slicker and Mr. David D. Murdock respectively.
I was elected to the Student Council during my senior year. My main responsibility was to try to get Nancy Tomlonovic, a junior class student council member, elected to be student council president for the following year. My nomination speech before the student assembly must not have been very convincing as her rival, Gene Conley, won the election.
My other activities included: a charter member of the James Norman Hall Chapter of the Quill and Scroll Society, and I continued on with the Orange and Black Staff.
During my senior year, I was becoming more obsessed with achieving academic success. I spent a lot of time with my studies and spent much time in the school library doing homework. This was done at the expense of spending time with friends.
Looking back, I was what could be called a ‘nerd’. I did not participate in sports very much, and I tended to wear the same clothes on the same day of the week. For example, I would wear a blue shirt on Monday, a green shirt on Tuesday, and so on. [ed. Nerd!] But most nerdly of all was that I used my glasses case as a pocket protector, and in it I always had a compass, a protractor, and several pens.
On Skip Day, Bob Van Elsen and I went to Eldora to play several rounds of golf, prepping Bob for an upcoming tournament that he thought was to be held at Eldora. Just back on the east edge of Colfax, Bob reached over and turned off the ignition of my 1954 Chevy that I was driving. Coasting, I attempted to restart the car at which time the muffler exploded from unconsumed gas fumes. I may have left the car in the drive position rather than shifting to neutral. Why he turned off the ignition switch remains a mystery to this day. As an aside, the tournament was held at another town and not at Eldora.
Baccalaureate Services were held on Sunday, May 16th, 1965 followed by the Commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 19th. Bob Van Elsen and I shared awards in Science and Math, while I won the award for excellence in English. I received the Iowa Bar Association American Citizenship Award from Mr. Arnold Myhra representing the Jasper county Bar Association.
It was announced at Commencement that I was named Valedictorian with a fouryear scholastic average of 97.61. Linda Provost was named Salutatorian with a class average of 95.1. More importantly I had outscored my brother Kenny’s salutatorian average of 96.0 in 1960. At Commencement I did make a few remarks of thanks.
See Appendix 10 for the image of my high school diploma.
I attended the Colfax High School Alumni Banquet and the following Memorial Day services at the Colfax Cemetery. These were my last activities associated with my four years at Colfax High School.
I was selected to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, beginning July 1, 1965. I had also been admitted to the University of Iowa, but chose to attend West Point. See Appendix 11 for details of the college selection process.
My only sport during my senior year was basketball. I typically played the forward position, but sometimes center. I was 6 foot 1 inches in height, so was not particularly challenging foe at either position. The team won only two games that year. I am not sure we even went to sectionals. Mr. Roger Callahan was the coach.
I belonged to the same band groups as previously mentioned, but also assumed a student conductor role. Mr. Robert Skinner remained as the band instructor. After high school I met him again many years later when he was the manager at Adventureland Campground in Altoona, Iowa. It was a shock to see him as an elderly adult. I also remembered that he drove a primitive VW bus in high school.
The dance band played at several venues including at least on prom at a distant high school.
There were thirty-eight members of the marching band during my senior year. Sadly, in 2016 there were only thirteen members of the marching band. The marching band played at all home games, went to the Iowa State Fair and marched at Homecoming, the 4H parade and the Memorial Day parade. At the latter event, the band would start at the Colfax Cemetery for services and then march to the Skunk River just north of town for brief services there and the dropping of flowers into the river.
Vocal involvement was pretty much the same as in years past. Mrs. Peggy Elsworth was the vocal instructor. Again, we were just a shadow of our former selves from my sophomore year.
There was a music recital at Colfax Community School on Sunday, February 28th, 1965. Linda Provost, Kendra Jones, and myself presented as individual soloists. The accompanist was Miss Eleanor Howell. Miss Eleanor Grace Howell (1915-2006) was a lovely older person who generously donated her time as accompanist. Very late in life, she married a widower named Bates who had been her sweetheart when Eleanor was in school. Unfortunately, she died not long after her marriage.
I took part in a cantata with the Colfax Community Chorus on April 11th, 1965. The sacred cantata by Josef Haydn was titled The Seven Last Words of Christ. I sang as a tenor, my usual voice range.
The Colfax High School band and chorus presented a spring concert on April 25th, 1965. I conducted the band in its opening selection.
Kendra and I began to spend more time together. She would often find me in the library studying. Her parents would often include me in trips to movies or trips out to eat. Other times we would double-date with Bob Van Elsen and his date. As I recall, I usually drove.
When Kendra and I were out with other friends (typically Nancy Tomlonovic, Mary Jane Tomlonovic and Bruce Green), there was a common joke about pretending to search for dimes under the restaurant table. Not sure about the origin of that joke or exactly what it meant, but it carried through to the end of the senior year.
Kendra’s father gave me first taste of alcohol when he mixed a ‘Brandy Alexander’ at Kendra’s home. It was good, but never had another one. My mother would have been shocked that the incident happened.
Several times I would bring my Sears’c Silvertone stereo phonograph to the high school gymnasium and spin some records for people to dance to. I do not recall that we called it a sock hop, but it is possible. Most of the music was from 45 rpm records.
I do not recall going to the Homecoming dance, but I imagine that I did and would have taken Kendra. I do recall asking Kendra to the Junior/Senior prom. She was a junior and I was a senior. The event was entitled “Sayonara” and was held at the American Legion Hall on Friday, May 14, 1965.
I was selected as president or leader of the regional Methodist Youth Fellowship for 1964-1965. I imagine that Rev. Dale J. Nicholson had lobbied hard for me to assume that position. I worked with other youth leaders from MYFs to organize several meetings throughout the church year. I started a newsletter that was to go to the MYF groups to keep them up to date on happenings. It was called “The Traveler”, and I used a mimeograph machine in the basement of the parsonage of Rev. Nicholson to produce it. A messy endeavor. During the second half of the year, I had a sudden realization that I no longer believed in organized religion and that I could not continue as a youth leader. I presented my feelings at a meeting of the youth leaders and expressed my doubts. At the conclusion of my remarks, I walked out and drove home. This act took everyone by surprise, including the minister supervising the group though he wished me well in my search. I did not hear from Rev. Nicholson who must have been very disappointed in my actions.
I think it was during the summer of 1964 that I purchased my brother’s 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air for $125. He had graduated from Iowa State University that spring and had purchased a 1964 Plymouth. The Chevrolet was blue and white, a fourdoor, and an automatic. It served me well during my senior year in high school. After graduation, my father took over use of the car and disposed of it. It was burning oil pretty vigorously by the time I left for West Point.
The fall of 1964 meant another Presidential election. The election pitted Barry Goldwater (Republican) against incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson (Democrat). Goldwater was from the conservative side of the Republican Party and expressed views of self-sufficiency, patriotism, etc., much of which I agreed with at the time.
My leanings were definitely conservative. In fact I wrote a letter to the Des Moines Register expressing the view that the labels of Republican or Democrat would be dropped in favor of Conservative or Liberal. The letter was published. However, the Democrats made much of the phrase: “Goldwater in 64, no water in 65” or some such. Goldwater’s slogan was “In your heart, you know he’s right.” Johnson won the election in a landslide.
I did go to the Republican convention for Iowa, held at Veteran’s Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. I believe that Mrs. Grosvenor chose who would be allowed to attend the convention instead of going to school. Martha Monroe, as long time Republican supporter, was most annoyed that I was chosen to attend as I had no particular, expressed political leanings at the time.
My senior interview was published in the Colfax Tribune on November 19th, 1964. The author was not identified.
Brown hair, a height of 6’2” and eyes that change with the season are the recognizable features of Craig Garrett, the senior in the spotlight this week.
Craig, born Jun 28, 1947, attended the Pleasantville schools before coming to Colfax while in the lower elementary grades.
Craig’s subjects this year are: social problems, math IV, chemistry and English IV.
His hobby is trying to figure out people and his pastime is being alone.
People who demand total equality is his pet peeve.
When asked about his plans after graduation, he replied, “It’s too early to put one’s plan in a little package.” However, it is quite obvious Craig is a boy with high ambitions, abilities, and will undoubtedly attend college after graduation.
His opinion of CHS is that it is a good school where more than the 3 Rs are taught.
In writing this story, I happened to read the backs of senior pictures from 1965 and 1964. One woman wrote, “I hope I’ll eventually understand you,” while another said, “I too hope that someday I’ll understand you—if that is possible.” I wonder if there is some small connection with these observations and my senior interview.
My good friends Bob Van Elsen and Linda Provost were kind enough to have a farewell gathering as reported in the Colfax Tribune:
A farewell and birthday courtesy honoring Craig Garrett was given by Miss Linda Provost and Bob Van Elsen at the Lucien Van Elsen home, Monday, June 28th.
Games were enjoyed after which refreshments of cake and pop were served. A gift of an attaché case was presented to Craig from the group.
Those attending were Janice Robson, Sharon Mallory, Cathy Wenes, Cindy Jones, Linda Sneller, Terri Smith, Martha Monroe, Pat Taylor, Nancy Tomlonovic, Mary Jane Tomlonovic, Bonnie Hanke Pratt, Ralph Pratt, Jim, Jerry and Randy Briles, Gene Steenhoek, Don Edwards,
Mitchellville, Nancy Hanel and Beth Barrett, Des Moines, Dorothy Cannon, Prairie City, John Wilson, Fred Miller, Janis Milbourn, Terry Karsten, Linda Darrock, Linda Provost, Bob Van Elsen and the honored guest Craig Garrett.
Kendra was quite upset that she could not attend the above event, but she was out of town. She had some thought that one of the young women attending might make try to attract me away from her. Of course, nothing could have been further from the truth.
With the end of June 1965 my work history at Easter’s Super Valu in Colfax that my father continued to manage concluded. I had worked in the grocery and produce departments as well as being a cashier and a grocery bagger. I learned a lot and am forever indebted to my father for having forgotten about nepotism in giving me a job. I earned $571.95 in 1961, $883.00 the following year, and $626.43 in the first six months of 1965. By contrast, I earned $830.40 for the next six months as cadet at West Point.
My parents seldom took vacations. My father only had two-weeks of vacation per year, and I think he enjoyed his work more than taking vacation... or perhaps he was concerned that the grocery store could not go on without him. I do remember a trip to Albany, New York to see maternal Aunt Ruth, several trips to an island house owned by maternal Aunt Mildred on Pelican Lake in Wisconsin, a trip to Mount Rushmore, and traveling to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. We always traveled by car. I did not travel by plane until I left for West Point at the end of June 1965. By contrast my brother Ken flew to be with the Kunz family on several occasions. I do not know for sure, but I imagine that the Kunzes paid for his airfare.
My brother Kenneth graduated from Iowa State University in 1964 and began working for AT&T. Our father and mother moved to Mason City, Iowa in 1965 to manage a new store for Easters. My mother worked evenings at Heritage Nursing Home in Mason City.