| Good Ol Boys 1949-2005
Having never written anything professionally this short story is a labor of love and about an ongoing friendship that started a number of years ago in Iola, KS. I am proud to say that this friendship has continued and deepened over the years. Few, if any, can say that they have maintained a friendship for as long as John Masterson and I have for the length that we have. For those who can boast of a friendship such as ours, they are truly blessed! Much of my life has been blessed by good friends. As I reach my later years, my friends have been like the balance in my checking account. Never never enough!!! John has always been a part of my life and I am proud and blessed to have known him in my lifetime.
This story is about John and me as I recall but just a few events that we shared from our early years to the present. John is a college president now and me, I'm just a retired school teacher. John ended up going back to Iola to to live out his professional life. I am living in Denver, CO. We talk via phone and e-mails these days. However, we always spend time together every five years at our high school class '62, holds a reunions. Thanks to he and his loving wife , Georgia, they have provided me with lodging and meals at each and every reunion. I don't think that will ever change until we're too old to attend the gatherings or one or both of us have gone to our greater reward, at least for my part that's how I expect things to continue!
John and I started Kindergarten in 1949. We were never in the same class as he was always with older kids. Looking back, it was probably a good thing. We seem to have had plenty of opportunities to raise a bit of cane through the years. We were never destructive, but we were after all, “Good Ol Boys”, from the beginning.
During those elementary years much of our time was shared playing out back of John's home, on the baseball diamonds, or just plain knocking around. Just across Coon Creek, which was behind John's home, was a junk yard. Boys will we boys, we really enjoyed that junk yard. Often John and I with a few other selected friends would set up camp in a fox hole, we had dug, and use our BB guns to shoot windows in old junk cars. What neat fun this activity afforded us. However, it came to quick halt on Saturday when a new friend who was a first time invitee blundered horribly! This new guy took it upon himself to shoot the window of a car parked at the office of the junk yard. This in itself wasn't so bad except for the fact the owner was still sitting in the car at the time. Leona, John's mother, got us off, but that was the last of those get togethers!
Leona Masterson was a saint! Can't tell you the number of times or the different situations that she treated me as a member of the family over the years. Leona passed away several years ago and I have always regretted not being able to attend her funeral. One day I will visit her grave site and tell her how much she and Frank, John's father, meant to me over my lifetime. I truly miss her presence as she always treated me as another son.
Frank was a bit different in the child rearing department. He was a no-nonsense guy but left little latitude for some of the shananigans John and I pulled over the years. Frank earned extra money in the summer umpiring baseball. He made me a better pitcher! He never expected anything from me or John except that we gave our all and left our best efforts on the playing field. I know he delighted in giving both of us the “rasberries” at every opportunity, especially when we got a bit too arrogant. His criticisms were always honest!
John and I played together a lot as we grew up. Time, space and memory don't permit me to write down all those fond times. Trust me , however, I still cherish all the time we spent growing from childhood into adults. On one occasion we we took it upon ourselves to harass bums who would spend a night or two sleeping beneath an old train trestle not far from John's home. Our favorite activity was to catch one asleep and spray him with our water pistols and then remain hidden. However, on one such outing thanks to Andy Macdonald, we almost got caught due to the fact Andy gave away our position of safety by yelling “He's awake” at the top of his lungs. Needless to say our fear and hasty retreat prevented capture by the unfortunate being who was the target of our mischief.
Fourth of July was one of our favorite days of the year. John and I were always creative as we expended all sorts of firecrackers. Most of the time we were very judicious when shooting off our explosives. However, one year a neighbor boy, Gene McVay, changed that altogether. Gene's parents would not let him shoot firecrackers by himself because he was so young(3-4 years younger than John and me). This particular year I had divided up my arsenal of explosives. I put half of my firecrackers into two separate three-pound coffee cans. One was designated for morning use the other was left for afternoon and evening detonation. On that particular morning all was going well, that is until Gene made his appearance. For the better part of what seemed like hours, Gene hounded both John and I to shoot one of our firecrackers. Needless to say, neither John nor I wanted to submit to his constant pestering. In the end, I caved in and let this little booger shoot one of my bigger firecrackers. What a mistake! After lighting the explosive both John and I yelled at him to throw it, to keep from harming his hand. He threw that firecracker all right, right into my coffee can arsenal!!! What followed left me with an upset stomach and an empty coffee can. On that day Gene became one of the fastest humans on earth. Good thing, had I caught the little *******, God only knows what would have taken place. We never saw much of Gene after that! Can't say his absence was missed by either of us.
John was instrumental in opening my eyes to sex at an early age. He had a female rabbit that he wanted to have bred so he could sell the offspring. We took the female rabbit over to the local feed store where she was introduced to a young buck rabbit. It didn' t take long for the buck to take care of business. It was an eye opener for me that day!!! Gotta say those baby bunnies, from the breeding, were about the cutest things I have ever seen.
Since I am writing about animals, must tell about the black rooster John raised. Meanest bird I was ever around. It only took once to go in the coop with that black devil and you quickly learned never to turn your back to him. He would attack given the least bit of opportunity and flog you with vigor. Toughest bird I ever saw. Frequently, to deter his onslaughts, John would literally kick the s*** out of that rooster to fend off his attacks! Don't know what ever became of that rooster, but to this day I have a healthy respect for the black fowl of the coop!
John and I around the time we were 11 or 12 took our first drink of hard liquor together. His father always had a bottle of liquor hidden beneath the kitchen sink. One evening while I was over at the Masterson home watching TV, John and I decided to have a snort! Needless to say his parents were not at home at this time. Can't even remember what kind of whiskey we tasted. I just remember it burned like hell going down, and at the time wondered what sort of pleasure could anyone get from such a burning liquid! Of course later in life, both John and I enjoyed the heck out of 'Brother Hooch” !!! This is not to say that alcohol ever dominated our lives or good sense.
About fifth grade John had to be fitted with glasses. Fortunately for him within a few years he was able to wear contact lenses. In fact he was probably was one of the first people in our town of Iola who ever wore the new corrective devices. He still wears them today at age 60. He's had little difficulty wearing them and must point out few people today actually know he needs corrective help to see 20/20.
During the winters we spent many an hour sledding down Kirk's Hill which was at the north end of Iola. Hard to remember how many times we flew down that hill on our trusty sleds at breakneck speeds. Racing and crashing were the pleasures of the cold weather activities during those times. Each and every day ended when we became unbearably wet and cold and could endure no more winter exposure. Leona always provided wonderful hot chocolate so we recycled for the next day of fun very quickly.
One of our very favorite summer activities was to fish for craw dads at the old train trestle. Must of caught hundreds of the little crustaceans. They were great to use for fish bait or just to play with we never seemed to give this activity a second thought, it was just “Good Ol Boy” fun.
Probably the worst thing to happen to us when we were out being our darling selves was the attempt we made to cross a plowed field on our bicycles. The activity itself should not have been much of a challenge for the “Good Ol Boys”. However, as we soon learned, timing is everything in life no matter what the challenge!!! We chose to cross that plowed ground shortly after a good rain storm. I don't want to say that John or I were always the cleanest little snooks on the block, we were average, at best! However after attempting to cross that small patch of ground, nobody, including our loving parents wanted o claim us as theirs! If a picture is worth a thousand words, the sight of us, well, maybe several thousand words could thoroughly describe what we looked like. Fortunately, for us, nobody took pictures before, during or after the event! THANK GOD for that!!! Worst of all after we became immersed in the mud, much the same as Brar Rabbit and the Tar Baby, we had to walk a very long way home and explain how we had gotten so muddy and that our bicycles were still fender deep in that nasty stuff! Looking back now, how could a future college president or an future educator, be so G** d*** stupid!!!
John and I were fairly normal kids growing up in a small town in Kansas. Our interests were quite similar in that we enjoyed sports, some radio music, TV when our families finally could afford one, carrying newspapers, and most other activities kids of our age group participated in regularly. Often we went to the Pic, Uptown and Iola theaters. We especially enjoyed scary movies even though much of the time we observed those movies looking between the seat in front of us as if we needed to be protected from the on screen horrors. This was especially true when we went to see “The House of Wax”, a new 3-D movie. Often as we walked home we would part company in front of the E.U.B Church and head straight home as fast as little legs would carry us. We weren't scared of the dark, but why take chances of being caught by any of the movie characters we'd just seen at the movie house. Never knew the time it took either of us to reach our respective front doors, but am share the times were record pace!
The elementary years having come and gone, John and I looked forward to new and exciting times at Iola Junior High School! Good old Harlan Issac was the principal there and he ruled the roost like a dictator or so we all thought. Truth of the matter was he was a good man and served as an administrator at the school until his retirement some years after John and I had completed our time there.
John and I played both eighth grade and ninth grade football while we were there. We both performed well enough as ninth graders that we were selected along with four other players to move up and play on a freshman/sophomore team. We both relished this as it extended our season and we got to play several more games that season. John played as an offensive guard as did I. What a hoot!!! Unfortunately I got my nose broken and saw little playing time. In those days we were playing with hand-me-down helmets(leather) and they had no face guards for protection. Fortunately for me, my nose healed very straight and showed no signs of permanent damage. For John, he's always had bit of a slope to his otherwise perfect nose. Don't know how he ever got it, but it always gave me something to tease him about. John has always had an almost perfect physique his entire life. He's worked hard to maintain a finely tuned body. It never hurt that he's always been a handsome SOB. Needless to say, worth mentioning, his good looks remain in tact to this day. I'm not even sure he has any gray hair yet? If you note a bit of envy here, you're d*** right!!!
Two incidents stick in my mind that happened during our Junior High years that bear some note. On Halloween night during our seventh or eighth grade year we went on our last Halloween outing together. The reason this was so special was two fold. Upon making our early rounds of several homes we had each acquired a rather large bag of candy. Well as per usual, we weren't ready to quit for the evening so we sought other avenues of treat collection. Brassy little s***s that we were, we took it upon ourselves to visit the three or four beer joints on the Iola square intent on expanding our Halloween treasures! What gold mines those establishments were! Not only did we haul in more candy, but of all things we were given small sums of cash. We thought, at the time, we'd struck the bonanza of a lifetime. Yet, we still were not satisfied with the size of our stock piles of goodies? After spending some time beneath a street lamp, as it was pitch black unless one was directly under those city lamps, we heard a few small voices heading in our direction. Cunning little devils that we were that night, we jumped behind some bushes and lay in wait just to scare the on coming youngsters. At least that was our original plan. Well, as fate would have it when John and I sprang out on the little guys, they were so frightened by the scene they tore off for home leaving behind their accumulated Halloween treats. Yep, you got it, John and I grabbed up that loot and decided our night had come to a successful end. Off for home we went never thinking twice about the incident. Oh, we were boogers that night and loved every minute of the experience.
The other situation that comes to mind was the evening of our Freshman Halloween Party. Following the festivities at school John and I set out for home. As we crossed North St. I gave a start and yelled, “It's the bowling alley boys” at the top of my lungs. Point being, those guys according to local hearsay were some of the toughest kids in town. Many stories had circulated over the years as to the evil doings of those characters when they caught regular kids idling around their turf. John's feet never touched the ground until he reach his front porch. Truth of the situation I'd pulled one over on him that time. No bowling alley boys were around, I just pranked John and I did one h**l of a job!!!
School years '60,'61, and '62 were a blast! Rock and roll was here to stay, the school mixers, athletics, girls, school work, it was a fun time in our lives. Often wish we could go back to some of those times. Homecoming bonfires, snake dances around the square, hanging out at the pool in the summer, girls, Ollie's, girls, after-game dances, prom nights, girls, able to drive, transistor radios, and ALL the other good stuff that went on in those years.
Would never want to accuse John of not being a good student, however, Bill Lacy and I helped him quite a bit by providing him with completed homework on numerous occasions. Bill was the student among us. In fact he went on to become a lawyer. Bite my tongue when I think of all the other bottom feeders that profession has let loose on humanity!!! Need to digress for a moment. During our ninth grade year all of us were exposed to, in MY opinion, one of the worst examples of an educator as I ever came across. This teacher's attempt at educating us was to have us outline chapters of a book as a method of teaching. We soon hatched the idea to check up on his proof reading skills, when he called for our chapter outlines to be graded or so he told us. Just to see how attentive this teacher was to reading our outlining, John and I would write little notes in the text of the outlines such as, “Mr. S...... have you read this far yet”?, or “How's the coffee in the teacher's lounge”? We NEVER once got caught!! Says something about a teacher's diligence!!! Must admit the first few times we did this, we sweat it out for a few days. No harm no foul!
Our high school years were great. John and I participated in about as many activities as ant two normal kids had time for. As a result there were many memorable incidents along the way. One of those took place in speech class during the supervision of Mr. Keith Akins, who was also the vice principal at the time. John, for what ever reason, had let his speech book at home one day. It was an early spring day when the weather was just starting to warm. Mr. Akins had opened the windows to keep things cool in the room. As it happened a fly came into the room and began to harass John. John would swat at the fly to chase it away. However this fly seemed content to return shortly and John would take a swing only to just chase the fly away short term. This seemed to go on for several minutes. At some point Mr Akins was called out of the room for just a minute. At almost the same time Mr. Akins left the room the bothersome fly settled on the pages of the book John was holding. WHAM, John slammed the book shut. When he reopened the book, the fly had been transformed into a design that could have easily passed for a Rorschach Ink Blot example. At the end of class John returned the book to Mr. Akins, never to mention that it now held the remains of a squished fly!
The summer following graduation, John and I were kept pretty busy what with jobs, baseball, umpiring baseball and even coaching a championship little league team. We were paid $2.00 a game for umpiring little league baseball. Usually we did two games the nights were scheduled to umpire. We didn't get rich, but at the time it paid for gas for the cars and all the other running around we did that summer. We earned ever cent of that umpiring fee for all the “rasberries” we caught from the crowd! Most of it coming from Frank Masterson, Wendell Bass, Sr., John Bass, and most especially Jo Turley. Jo, an excellent female athlete in her own right, always sat in the stands right behind home plate. She offered her “two cents” on every questionable ball or strike called as well as on any close plays made at home plate. God bless her, she had a voice anyone could hear in a thunder storm! All in all those people were good folks and most of their “cat calls” were offered in the form of constructive criticism. This was especially true of Frank, Wendell Sr., and John Bass. They had done many years of umpiring and they were always more than willing to provide some good-natured , yet positive advice on John and my shortcomings as “rookie” baseball officials!!!
John and I had the pleasure that summer of 1962 to manage one of the best little league teams in Iola. Can't say we were the best of coaches, but we were blessed with lots of talent that made US look exceptional. I was not one of the original coaches, but I did fill in the second half of the season when one coach had to drop out due to job constraints. Our team was bolstered by the Bass brothers, Wendell, Jr., Chief, and Ralph as well as two brothers from the Kettle family(not to be confused with the movie couple Ma. & Pa. Kettle). We put in lots of time with those little snooks. In the end it paid off ten fold. To everyone's amazement, everyone contributed to a winning season. This included a couple of players who each only had one base hit each the entire season. However, those base hits came at critical times and contributed to winning games. God bless Robert E. Lee and Lloyd Quatney, they had little talent for baseball but they did their d******. We were proud of the fact that the entire season each and every player, regardless of ability, as long as they came to practice, played at least half of every five inning game. That was a great summer for all of us!
John and I graduated in the upper third of our class in 1962. We both received scholarships to attend Iola Junior College. After our freshman year he went on to Emporia State and I attended Missouri University for a year. I joined him at Emporia, where we both completed our under graduate studies. Of course while we were under graduates at Emporia John and I shared many fun-filled activities. He talked me into joining Sigma tau Gamma, a social fraternity. I asked him to become my “pledge pop” and that made being part of the frat life even more fun. We played on the Sig Tau intramural football teams for two years. In those two years, we lost but one game and both year '64 and '65 we helped win the All Sports Trophy which covered all intramural sports held on campus. Of all that took place those two years the most memorable event took place during the campus sponsored “Greek Games”, an activity that pitted all the campus fraternities in such competitions as tug-of-war, various racing events, and lots of nonsense events. The tug-of-war was conducted across Wooster Lake, a small duck pond on the Emporia campus. John took it upon himself one year to prepare for the event by consuming quite a large amount of a liquid put out by a company in Colorado, which prided its liquid drink of being produced only with the finest of Rocky Mountain Spring Water. Under most circumstances, John's strength would have helped Sigma Tau Gamma win that event. However, due to his liquid induced stated he spent more time chest deep in Lake Wooster, hanging on the rope or holding conversations with the ducks, who would frequently swim close to him during event! There's even a picture in the college yearbook of John to substantiate this story. Yes, it became a cherished memory of this, “Good Ol Boy”!!!
Upon graduation, I went to Overland Park and be came a classroom teacher until 1983. John hung around a bit longer at Emporia. He completed some graduate work there and finished his Masters at the University of Kansas.
We both got married while in college. We both started our families while in college. John is now the proud father of John and Jennie. He is also the ultra proud Grandfather of two grand daughters.
Since leaving Emporia, John returned to Iola to work at the now Allen County Community College as guidance counselor and baseball coach, a bank, returned to ACCC as a Vice President and soon became the ACCC President. He is currently serving as the president of the college as I write this story.
This story is not unique. It is true. I leave it to the readers of this story to challenge its validity! The whole story probably will never be written in its entirety. It has been a joy to write this story because I was and continue to be a part of it! I hope I have written nothing offensive or of demeaning nature. In truth really don't give a d*** what anyone , but John thinks of what might appear as “kiss and tell”. In closing, would be remiss if didn't point out, John has and will be a friend I truly admire and respect. My life has truly been blessed by being associated with this man, this gentleman, this “Good Ol Boy”!!!
Thank you John for all the fun over the years. Am looking forward to many many more! I love you! God bless you and your wonderful family that you have shared with me for so long.
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