I hated high school, all U.S. school, was violently depressed, and was alarmed; and, frankly, I know today my great friend, Raul Botello, whom I have not seen since 1960, was not so happy either.
(excerpt from Last Laugh LXXXIII)
There is no beginning. The Aransas Coast is moist and mysterious, warm. Female. Alligator country. Redneck. Drug country. Warm Gulf of Mexico. Poor whites in trailors squatting in the brush. Tex Mex. In the day in 1958 coyotes howled in the scrub oak brush when I, being I had ceased to go to school, helped my father clear brush for our cinder block house, split level, stout little house, designed by my mother, an original house with fire place and windows suitable for the tropics, which in a power dream rise with the savages in the south and overrun this civilization In the fifties the deer and pig tracks were gone, and are here in the nineties. A mile from us in the city limits a large alligator was captured, made the Corpus Christi news a few times. If it came from the alligator farm a few miles the other direction toward Rockport, I wonder maybe drunk teenagers or shrimpers had given it a ride. There have been generations of tales of alligators, and of course R.D. Hatch III watched an adult ocelot pouncing in the grass on his property, toward Ingleside other side of Aransas. Aransas Pass is the shrimping capitol of Texas or the world and shrimpers are predictable rascals in their big drunks and now the industry is poorer on earth and the underground drug economy in the area does well. The winter populations of Port Aransas and Aransas Pass together is always under ten thousand but transients from anywhere come through. Tankers and freighters dock at Harbor Island between Port Aransas and Aransas Pass. Couple days ago I had taken Mother to physical therapy, and having left LL to be xeroxed at a slow and expensive little unbusy place in the downtown section, very strange now for a Walmart took the business, no longer are there parking meters like in the fifties, few business places running, neither movie house is open, where before each I had incident of mano a mano, which built on my charisma such reputation, and to visit the office of R.D. Hatch III I cut through an alley, and had to encounter a probable alcoholic chap maybe my age, maybe years younger, carry in a little sack looked like foodstuffs, smoking an offensive cigarette, who wanted to talk or hit me up, smiling said, you look like you've been around the world a few times. I kept moving, shrugged palms out, oh, not really. But I see men fear my hat less here. Had my hat on, Dear Reader. On the Aransas Coast this bent leather hat, which, in Austin I have never had a hat draw compliment from so many females, is even more attractive to the ladies because here it is respectable in society, not just macho or outlaw - on the Aransas Coast my Medicine Hat means world traveler or cavalier adventurer - on the Aransas Coast even normal women openly admire a swashbuckler. Anybbdy may pass through the Aransas Coast. Perhaps they should know I am just visiting my parents. It is hurricane country, pirate country, the tides bring myth, some days the beaches are washed bare of all but myth, other days there are chunks of oil, flotsam and garbage from our uncertain time. Before the teenagers got weed and LSD and Port Aransas and Aransas Pass became towns of unshorn males, wierdos were common. We were strange and we harassed strange types young or old in the fifties. Boredom was causing me more craziness than I needed and my gay friend Dick McConchie (older brother of Old Dave and Rattlesnake, we firstly got together as I was an outspoken atheist and himself secretly one, first atheist I knew besides myself, or in the eyes of fake Christianity - I did believe in spirit - in a couple years Dick would be living with a mad M.D. in New York, maybe still does, has had at least one heart attack) and I estimated, with help from our friend the grand seducer, Bobby Seevers, ten percent of the males in the high school practiced homosexuality. This was so wierd and interesting, I attempted to organise a club for the study of homosexuality. I could get nobody to join, and in the brief period of this attempted organization other fellows called it "Olive's Queer Club." It is complimentary of my sixteen year old heterosexuality, and virginal, most fifties teenage girls in the little school, preferred to not be seen talking with me, nobody suspected me of being queer, or nobody did so who was more reasonable than my worrisome parents (but short memory span, later in the year my good father- he would do this stuff, Little League, Pony League - organised us a boxing team - we beat all the high schools in the Corpus Christi area in Golden Gloves - I got knocked out but 1 was a slugger, still am, haven't been knocked out since - I was supposed to get back at my grades, everything failed but English in this high school that required homework, but couldn't do it, nor hang in long following year, so no more organised boxing though I could at
welterweight whip anyone on our team but the heavyweight and I expected to take him by the next year. Yea for crazy Bill Olive). I am using this as example - at A.P.H.S. on the Aransas Coast in the fifties (four hundred student high school then, double A. in the eighties same size, maybe up to Triple A now), wierdness was commonplace one half step off the the school's social clique of athletes and wealth and general white bullshit. An older victim among wierdos who was not us was discovered and named "Salomy" by Packy Gunter and Larry Ray in 1954 or 1955, in the movie theater, because, sitting in the section near the wall, he would stick a rolled newspaper in his ear, turn his face to the wall, and listen at the screen. Gothic and Ray (pompous, bright, gay, in the closet yet) would get behind him and toss stuff and talk at him:, he would lurch back with a cane he always had, sweep at them. He had this voice exceedingly hoarse, they imitated, and he had two sentences. Get out of town! Go home! Maybe if he had been sixty years younger he could have been one of us. He smoked a pipe stuck in his mouth upside down. He wore a single pair of pants for the year. which he cut off for the warm weather. He always carried a newspaper. Salomy walks kncbby legged on a cane in the summer heat, head down, pipe upside down, newspaper rolled up under his arm, ragged shorts, some kind of hat on his head, a tattered straw hat - lives in a shack down on the flats by the sea wall. I myself in this case did not harass him, if I remember, would only passingly say, hello, Mr. Salomy, to be ordered home or out of town, but the kids in lower grades took up the sport when they came into high school - the next being perhaps Skin Olesen and Ransome Briscoe who got severe, took his splintered, bamboo cane from him as trophy. Salomy got another, let those two follow him into an alley, he came around at them with a butcher knife and pursued them a ways. They claimed he was fast. Next, using chains and a pickup, they pulled off a wall of his house.. Salomy was seen at least as late as 1961, and I guess he was harassed unto death. But I nor Porky or Hatch never preferred wierdos to torment, as some, such as Ray would prefer, we went after anyone reactive and vulnerable enough. We and many more of the youth including a few girls would drive teachers insane. One teacher locked himself in a closet and was taken away. We were subtle as Huns, though we could use imagination. Packy Gunter Gothic was among the best here, let us pray it was not the pinnacle of his illustrious career, no, no, surely not. Anyway he fell out with his partner Ray. So Hatch and I, and Clyde Magner, whose family moved to Oklahoma in 1956. quite a tough character and good compadre, turned on pompous Ray too. It was Ray's general bullshit and need to lead. Ray liked to try to lord it over someone intellectually. Magner would just threaten him bodily. I knew I was his superior, would stop him mid sentence asking him what meant such and such large word, and of course neither Packy or Hatch tolerated pretentiousness from anyone and we concluded he was a sissie. At first, in about 1955, Hatch, I cannot remember why, was with Ray and aligned against Packy and me. The particulars have been swept, but maybe something to do with my getting to Hatch on phone that I was extraterrestrial. Trouble was, I brought Packy in on my farce, and that blew it. Hatch had known Packy too well, too long in Aransas Pass grammer school before I, from Harbor island, where I went to school in Port Aransas grades fourth to eighth, entered APHS, my family moving to Aransas Fass in 1955. Possibly, I am getting different events confused, Dear Reader, it was about thirty nine years ago. Howsomever, Ray's leadership ambitions did annoy Black Hatch, a natural leader himself, and we got him to set Ray up for a flour bagging. The name, "Black Hatch," did come from another homosexual, Sam Mansell, a lad who stuck small flashlights up his ass, not your usual homosexual - who between eack class drank a Coke, stood by the Coke machine complimenting surly R.D. Hatch III: Black Hatch....Black Hatch....Hatch knocked on Ray's door, and Packy and Magner and I hid behind shrubbery, but Ray saw Packy's German Shepard and knew something was up, and was unfriendly to Hatch, which offended Hatch for Ray was not supposed to know of the double cross. Still, we got him with the flour sacks - we got this from the Boy Scouts, Camp Karankawa - little paper sacks of flour of a size to throw - one pisses on the sacks so they will bust, but these did not bust. I remember Packy was a good thrower. Packy's caught Ray in the ribs like a punch before he ran back inside. Down with Ray! we screamed, giving his mother some kind of collapse according to my mother. Meanwhile. Bobby Seevers and his friend (and ours) Kenneth Cross, and somebody else 1 can't recall had chosen Ray's side, were driving around in Kenneth Cross' car singing at us, "We are the Rayamees, if you please," something Seevers took off a Disney movie, Siamese cats, singing I, think, and next. weI think broke a car window with these sacks which would not bust and Cross stopped and got out and jumped on Packy and they had a fist fight. Ray, head of the Red Cross in Viet Nam so I'm told, a successful type, stuff with TV and what not, endured persecution from us ruffians a year or two. He acquired some respect by getting himself into a fight with Dick MoConchie in 1957. A pompous type bully and nasty personality when it looks safe, it suited his malice to tell people Dick McConchie was a male whore in Corpus Christi. Ray was still in the closet, and but with Seevers and Mansel, Dick was in the high school and Aransas Pass, including with his hard-bitten stepmother and dope injecting M.D. father, before being disowned (as was Danny, for other reasons), though, indeed, it was Dick's fun to go cruising in Corpus and meet strange young men, though not for money. A fistic duel was proper, so I gave my good friend Dick maybe two or three practice sessions with my boxing gloves, but my grace and skill was poor age sixteen, and I punched him too hard one day so he terminated the work, said he was sure he could whip Ray anyway. At age seventeen Dick McConchie and Larry Ray were physically similiar, about six feet and one fifty or sixty, with Ray larger in bone. Larry Ray had never had a fight even as a child probably, and paled, but had to come fight. After very funny big argument in the hall both snarling and quoting Fat Pat, one girl who did like me, and had no qualms, a popular girl, too. One noon hour all kids in the school yard left to see this historical fight. Not in Ray's back yard, as he suggested, but in a muddy field edge of town. They removed shirts and, pawing, they commenced. Dick was still about as inept as Ray and I continued as his coach. Probably, besides aggressiveness.. my main philosophy was to not neglect the body, which suited the case for both held their elbows shoulder high, or higher, and flailed. Ray's violence in fear was more than Dick's rightousness.. and, nobody could know it then, Ray is one of these individuals gifted with a punch. It might have been two hundred kids screaming for Larry Ray's blood this day, and Dick pawed a couple jabs and Ray clouted Dick in the face and Dick reeled backward, stunned, falling to his knees. Dick was promptly back up, bleeding off his cheekbone. No doubt Dick would win and I did my part and the crowd gave us plenty room. Yet again, Dick took a shot that drove him to his knees, and rose and came forth. It was an exaustive round for the fighters and as third man I saw to Dick's following, his instructions and eventually he did stick Ray in the body a few times, lower torso. In the rising hostility and din Ray lost much of his considerable courage and crumpled and embraced his knees. Dick demanded he get up and tried to lift him but was too tired. Couple footballers, Casey Chatman, whom I liked a lot, and Sam Colette, a loud mouth, both stars, good running backs in Double A stepped in to inspect. and I snarled for them to get back. But Ray's showing had been sufficient and he judged to not rise. A farmer sort was approaching and people walked off to their cars. Somebody, girls, had given Ray a ride to his fight, but they left and he had no ride back to school. Butch Ousley from Port Aransas, friend of mine I fought twice in fifth grade gave Ray a ride. I had come up with Dick in his car but his nose and cheek were running a lot of blood and he had me drive to his father's office where the nurse sewed three stitches on the cheekbone cut. Dick droe from there - I had much difficulty with the automobile in those days. We entered Mrs. Piercy's civics class and Dick was cheered. Skin's brother Curt cheered me for being the referee. Larry Ray, who, in a in a persuasion upon the mob was actually rather in, before the battle, now was, after justice served, respected for more than this fear of his arrogant wordiness. I accepted him better, and in a year he requested I show him boxing. I beat on him till he got it down. We did spar one day and no need of clobbering him I found truly he had a knockout lick, awkward strictly unpracticed right hook. Mike Olive also sparred with him that day, saw what I meant. But Ray and I never got back arournd to it. But fact is, had Ray the mindset, he could have been an athlete. The Aransas Coast is redneck but breeds wierdos. How do I leave out this chapter so much on Bobby Seevers, big bottle butted seducer and very funny man, my favorite homosexual, became success as ballet dancer in Dallas, to start - my favorite queer because he is bold and honest and funny and smart and never a nuisance - not your usual homosexual - but these are long stories - nor is it my task now to tell of other things in even the high school in the land of the strange in my dismal and angry teenage years. Spirit in the Aransas Coast I have come to love. Histories of life, mystique, much war I fought here.