If you had asked me about 20 or 30 years ago which is my favorite movie? I would have answered “The Quiet Man” with John Wayne. Of course all John Wayne movies were my favorite. However, in my later years and being nostalgic I would say “Grease” is my favorite now.
The movie “Grease” reminds me of my years at Lanier High School from my Freshman to Senior years. Not because of the music but because of the dress and characters. Even though they portrayed anglos, the similarities are the same whether they were anglos or Hispanic.
In my freshman year, I was still growing up and not mature enough to understand life. It was an education that has lasted a lifetime. Lanier High School, even though it had it’s harsh rule, made a big impression on me. The students were very prideful of their many events that made them standout in the community. The football and basketball team called the “Voks” became the mainstay of Lanier.
The first time we went to the gym, I was overcome by the smell of sweat in the locker room. After a while we got used to it. We were required to change into our shorts and tennis shoes before we went onto the gym floor. That was because it was used as a competition floor. So the girls would be on one side and the boys on the other. If you didn’t play, you sat on the bleachers. After wards we would take showers regardless if you need one or not. There would be a lot of towel snapping especially against freshmen like us who have never had a community shower.
The first year every freshman got a taste of vocational studies from Woodworking, auto shop, or the like to see where they would fit in the curriculum. If they like it, they would stay with it.
One of the things I like about Lanier is the social clubs. Each club would ask you to join their club based on your friendship with one of the members. There would be initiation to become a member. This would be held at the beginning of the school year. Afterward you would be required to help in their activities which would be fundraising or hosting a dance. You would mix with sophomores, juniors and seniors and learn from them.
Our dress changed as we went throughout the years at Lanier. I started wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt. Then jeans and a short sleeve shirt. When I joined the ROTC, I started wearing khaki pants and a short sleeve shirt. Some days we would wear our ROTC uniform. As for our hair, it went from duck tails and front curly hair to flat tops and short hair to Mohawk for the ROTC drill team. In my senior year I was wearing a see through short sleeve shirt with denim pants that came to a point at the bottom held up with a thin silver belt and wearing Stacy Adams shoes. I never wore a suit until I graduated from high school.
Every year during football season, we would have a rally in the middle of the campus between the shops and cafeteria. The band and cheerleaders would be out there trying to instill support for the team. In the beginning of my freshman year I didn’t pay too much attention to the rallies and just stood on the sidelines and wondering why all the hoopla. Later on, because of my involvement with the basketball and drill team, it became obvious that we needed the kids behind us and pushing us on to become successful.
The 1950s were turbulent years. We had a war in Korea and Eisenhower was our president. We didn’t know it then but there were several crises that almost went to a nuclear war. We lived in that era and were very innocent of those events. We lived peacefully. However, there were veterans who came back from Korea and re-enrolled at Lanier to get their graduation diploma. There was no GED at that time. They were former students who joined the service before they graduated.
Like any school which has rivals they compete with every year, Lanier had ours. Tech High School had been our rival ever since the 1940s. Not solely because of the football team but because they were the other mostly Hispanic team and that most students came from the west side. Students who chose to go to Tech even though they should have gone to Lanier. It was labeled the Annual “Chili Bowl”. So there was a little animosity there. Back then, there were raids against the school and vise versa. However, it was made in fun. Victory against Tech necessitated a ride down Houston and Commerce street if you had a car. We had some altercations after the game, depending who won but we made up afterwards because we had to ride the same bus back home. Some of the Lanier student were dating Tech students, even married them. How’s that for rivalry?
Today the tradition continues. Student from the fifties meet and share their stories. Reunions are scheduled and funds collected go to the San Antonio School District foundation for the purpose of providing scholarships for deserving students.