I graduated from Jefferson High School in El Paso, Texas in 1962. Don’t know how I made after all the problems I had been through!
I started high school barely getting past junior high which was located on the same campus. A large part of my junior high school day were spent running away. Running away from gangs that were prevalent in the neighborhoods in the surrounding area. I was not a joiner but after I was chase from school a couple of time I decided to join on gang the Rivera Street Be Boppers for protection. It was mostly a matter of getting beat up and after a while that got old. I swear that I still wonder how I got through that period of my life. One time when things got really hot there was to be a rumble close by La Jeff. There were about five gangs involved and the gangs were to meet right on the railroad tracks. Nothing was going on so my small group thought that we should get things going. We were in the middle of the tracks when we heard lot of sirens. Cop came from all directions and the only ones that were caught were the Be Boppers! So much for being the tough guys.
It was pretty scary going to the Juvenile Detention Center. I had never been in this kind of trouble before in my life! It got even scarier when the other guys already there started to covet my shoes. I was not there very long because my Dad came to take care of things. Not much was said about my part and we gave each other the silent treatment all the way home.
But that was not the end of my problem because gang problem persisted. One time getting out of school I was chased and though that my goose was seriously cooked. Some members of a rival gang had me pinned against a fence and it looked like one of the guys had a knife! Just as I thought all was lost a car full of what looked like Navy guys home on leaf arrived and started beating up on the other guys with car bumper and bats. Not with what one would call weapons. I did not know the Navy guy and never saw them again. This almost seemed like miracle!
But somehow I made it into high school and even excelled at most of my studies. I was in the student council and even ran for president of the student council. These were the best year of my life! I was not the life of the party but more of a book worm. Most popular I was not! I did graduate in the top ten percent of my class. And during my senior year I was lieutenant cornel of my Junior T.O.T.C. unit the highest position a Jeff.
Junior R.O.T.C. was one area in which I was really comfortable. All of my close friends were from this classes. Being part of the drill team was a matter of pride for me. And it was fun too, to be able to dress in military garb and have the girls eye the shiny brass decorations.
So yes, I will remember always graduation time.