Continuing the Jodie McClure Elementary memories of 1978-79:
Memorable Field Trips
Another memory I have of my time at Jodie McClure are the field trips we used to take to different places. We went to places that they wouldn’t even dare think about taking elementary school kids today. In fact, if I wanted to discuss it at length, it’s a sad commentary of how low discipline and accountability has fell within our schools today, and it also shows how my generation was raised to respect our elders, parents, teachers, etc., and how today’s generation of kids and their parents have not made that a priority. But that’s a soap box for another time. Back when I was in elementary school, we got to go on plenty of field trips to many different places. I can remember when I lived in Abilene, we went to the base airport control tower and got to see not only an incredible view of the base itself, but also what those who worked in the tower did and what their jobs were. It was very interesting to say the very least- especially having to climb what felt like ten stories of stairs and then climbing a real long ladder to reach the top. We got to see a few of the jets take off, and that was really cool. Of course, we also went to places such as the zoo and the city museum, but going to the base tower was probably the best trip of all at that time.
We also had our share of interesting field trips when I was at Jodie McClure. We attended a symphony at T.G. Fields Auditorium, and I also remember going to a magic show which I believe was also held at T.G. Fields also. (However, it might have been held at the school in the cafeteria. I don’t really remember.) I look back on those times and I don’t think the entire school went at one time; I think it was just the 4th and 5th grades on certain days and K-3rd grades on other days and/or times. I’m pretty sure it was done this way back then because Longview had around 8 or 9 elementary schools at the time (Let’s see: Jodie McClure, South Ward, Pinewood Park, Ware, East Ward, GK Foster, Bramlette, Valley View, Mozelle), and I’m sure that each school basically was K-5th grade back then, so each school sent the assigned grade level students on the field trips. I can remember seeing a lot of kids I didn’t know or recognize on these field trips from other schools who were to become my future classmates at Judson and LHS. I couldn’t tell which kids came from East Ward, but I’m sure all of my old friends from the 1st and 2nd grades were there also. I can also remember that for the most part things were organized very well and that there weren’t many issues of kids acting stupid or doing stupid things. The teachers from all the schools really kept things under control back then.
One day, we went on a career-based field trip. This meant we went to places where we might want to work at, or become someday. We went to the fire station (the one which used to be on Mobberly), and to Good Shepherd Hospital. No, we didn’t go into any patients’ rooms thankfully; we went to nurses’ stations and the cafeteria and laundry room- which were safe for kids. We walked and mainly looked around, and we knew not to touch anything, so there weren’t any problems. But there were two other places we went to that day which not only brought back some interesting memories, but also let me see the total irony in it today as I write these words.
First, we went to McDonald’s, of all places. Back then, the only McDonald’s in Longview was on Highway 80/ Marshall Avenue, and it was, by far, the most popular hamburger restaurant in the town, with the possible exception of Dairy Queen. (There were Dairy Queens all over the place back then.) We didn’t go there to buy anything; we went there to see how they make the hamburgers, fries, etc. I don’t think any of us had any money on us anyway, but that didn’t stop us from being really, really hungry. As we watched the cooks fry the burgers, half of us had already decided this was where we wanted to work someday. And they wouldn’t even have to pay us; just give us all the cheeseburgers, Big Macs, and fries we wanted. I’m sure Ronald McDonald or whoever ran McDonald’s back then would have said, “Cool!!” I look back on that now and wonder just how much those cooks were being paid back then. The minimum wage couldn’t been no more than $2 dollars and something. Come to think of it, those cooks (who looked to be in their 30s and 40s by the way) did not look too excited to be there, especially doing all that in front of twenty-something hungry little kids. The restaurant manager of course was gung-ho about the whole thing and making the job sound like it was the best job in the world. The funny thing was we actually believed him. Then, when we became teenagers and started high school and started working at McDonald’s or similar places, we realized that it wasn’t the best job in the world. Not even close. One can only eat so many burgers and french fries until it doesn’t matter and then you’re sick of the stuff. So, if one decided that when he or she became an adult, they weren’t going to work anywhere and just lay on their parents’ couches until they got put out, or decided to make money without working a honest job, well, that brings us to the OTHER place we visited.
Incredibly, we visited the GREGG COUNTY JAIL.
I am very serious. They actually took a bunch of us 5th graders into the actual jail. The jail where today, no one goes to unless they are an arrestee (prisoners) or arrester (sheriffs, deputies). I look back on that and think, There’s no way in you-know-where they’d do that today. There are prisoners’ rights, and kids’ safety, and sheriff and deputies’ safety, rules, rights, and so many other issues to worry about now, things they didn’t even think about back then. I remember the cells were bars and glass, and some were double barred and double glassed. Some you couldn’t even see into the cells. I remember for the real dangerous ones, you had to look through a small rectangular glass to be able to see them. Of course, we were all taking this kinda seriously, and the girls were very afraid to say the very least. Most of the prisoners didn’t react when we came in there, they just sat there with blank looks, some were asleep (or pretending to be asleep more than likely), while a few just waved and that was it. There were blacks and whites in there, so there wasn’t no majority of any particular race. But of course, you had to have a couple of fools who acted like that’s where they truly belonged, because they decided to start yelling at us and scream, “We’re going to get you kids when we get out!!! GROWL!!! HAHAHA!!!” Then they started banging on the bars, or glass, just to make sure they had our attention. The girls nearly peed on themselves when they did that, and I’ll never forget Rhonda literally jumping into my arms like Scooby Doo seeing the boogeyman or something. Myself, I wasn’t exactly the man without fear right at that moment, and I was very thankful that there were bars and glass separating us from them, or else it would’ve been chaotic with kids running around all over the place from prisoners, who probably would not have been running after us, but running to GET OUT.
But the main thing about all this is this: they were trying to show us 10-year olds that this is NOT the place you want to be when you grow up- not unless you want to be a sheriff or something like that. And most of us realized that right then. I remember thinking, I ain’t never coming back to this place. I’m pretty sure we all thought that, and for a few of us, sadly, we came back to stay awhile.
Field trips were fun back then, and a great way to break the monotony of sitting in school doing schoolwork and learn about places we probably would’ve never visited on our own. Again, there is no way they’d do this now, and it’s a credit to the teachers and us students how we acted on those trips back in the day.
The Gregg County Courthouse and Jail at the left