by Martin (Buster) Bradley, Tech 1938
The big game of the year for us was with our cross-town rival, Central High. We won the games the three years I attended Tech.
The rivalry reached its peak a few days before the game and often caused trouble. One night a group of our students visited the Central campus. I was one of them. I think this was arranged by Nick Anargas. We met at the corner of Cleveland and Poplar which was near Tech, and walked the few blocks to Central.
Their team had recently gotten new football uniforms that were real shiny, like silk. We called them silk panties and associated them with femininity. Nick had a sack with some old panties tied to a piece of rope, and a can of grease. He planned to tie these to Central’s flagpole and apply grease on the way down I had bought a small paint brush and two cans of paint, blue and yellow. Gold paint wasn’t available. I was going to paint my predicted score of the upcoming game on the entry steps, Tech 28, Central 0.
Each year Mr. Highsaw had a dream of the Central-Tech game and it was printed in the Yellow Jacket. He described the outstanding plays and the players making them, how they scored and the final outcome. Yes, Tech always won the “thriller.” I don’t recall what his predicted score was that year, but I was close. Tech won 26 to 0. I had painted the steps and sidewalk as Nick was working on the flagpole.
There were five or six of us watching Nick when the entry doors of the school opened and two Central student ROTC officers, possibly there as guards, and the female assistant principal came out. We did not know her, but had heard she was a no-nonsense disciplinarian. She looked up and asked Nick. “What are you doing up there?”
Nick mumbled, “nothing,” and accidentally dropped a pair of the panties that floated down and landed at the woman’s feet. One of the officers picked it up and told her, “It looks like a piece of underwear.”
She told Nick, “come down right now and bring that trash with you before I call the police.”
In the meantime we were all slowly moving away. When Nick reached the ground we left Central High in a hurry.
This incident did not receive much publicity at school. It is possible that the Central principal or his assistant notified Mr. Highsaw and all considered it just a prank.
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There was another shameful incident that occurred preceding the Central-Tech game. I believe this one, a “snake parade,” was also organized by Nick. We met after school one afternoon and marched west on Poplar Avenue to Main Street. There were probably a hundred of us, many in our ROTC uniforms. Fay Ashburn led the parade. He had a wooden casket strapped to the top of his car and CENTRAL HIGH painted on each side. I had an old snare drum and was beating it along the way, much too hard as the top skin broke.
The parade turned south on Main Street and became offensive. We were giving our school yells and songs when the line entered S. H. Kresge, the Kress dime store as we called it, and were taking merchandise from the counters. I picked up candy and peanuts, dropping them into the broken drum. I ate some and gave most of it away.
From there we went north and around the corner to the Claridge Hotel. A radio station, WHBQ I think it was, had its studios on one of the upper floors. A small group of us went up to the office and into one of the cubicles where the broadcast was in progress. We gave one or two of our cheers and left. I have often wondered what they thought of us.
Some of the students were out on Front Street and had a fruit stand surrounded. I don’t know what they were doing. I’d had enough so I left them and went home.
This escapade didn’t make the front page of our morning newspaper but it was mentioned. At school the next morning almost everyone had heard what we had done and were in small groups discussing it.
Dad (Shop Teacher: Martin Bradley) had seen the paper and at breakfast asked me about my part in the parade. I described what I had done. He asked, “How much of the Kress stuff did you take?” I had already figured it at eighty-five cents. He said, “The first thing you do when you get to school is to go to the office and see Mr. Highsaw. Tell him you were involved and give him the eighty-five cents.”
I did as I was ordered and was able to see Mr. Highsaw when I got to school.
The following dialog covers the worst five or ten minutes I ever spent at Tech.
He asked me, “Buster, were you in that group of hoodlums that went downtown yesterday?”
I said, “Yes, Mr. Highsaw, and I am apologizing for what I did. I took about eighty-five cents worth of stuff from Kress,” and put the money on his desk. He did not acknowledge my apology, but his anger and displeasure were evident.
He continued, “I hope others will come forward and admit their guilt. Do you students realize the disgrace you brought upon us? Not only upon your families, this school and all associated with it, but the United States Army whose uniform you were wearing. It was something innocent that got entirely out of control. You experienced mob rule, and under no circumstance is there an excuse for what you did. How can this school apologize to all who were affected?”
I don’t remember answering him, and I don’t think he expected an answer. I was relieved when he told me to get to my homeroom, as there were others waiting to see him. He didn’t ask me to name others involved, and I believe there was a reason.
Our Assistant Principal, Miss Effie Wright was very protective of her football players, they could do no wrong. It was known that some of the players were in the parade and probably would not be punished, so this had to apply to all involved.
Most of this occurred during Thanksgiving week, and after the big game we returned to a quiet school on Monday.
Tech had to pay for the damage we had done, and all who filed complaints were paid. I learned this overhearing some of Dad’s conversations.