John Criswell

Profile Updated: September 12, 2015
John Criswell
Residing In: Albuquerque, NM USA
Occupation: Retired Teacher & Construction General Contractor
Yes! Attending Reunion
Comments:

Graduated from UNM with a BA Degree in Industrial Arts Education in 1968. Taught in APS until 1980. Got a General Contractor license and worked as Criswell Construction until retirement in 2009.

School Story:

I was always fascinated with Native American culture. Their beliefs and the way they lived and their stories. One Lakota story really resonates with me. It's an allegorical tale as are many Native stories.

It's the Story of Jumping Mouse.

Once there was a little mouse who lived with the other mice who spent all their time gathering, collecting, and storing away food, bedding, and pretty little things so that they would not starve or freeze or become bored during the cold winters. This one little mouse was different. He would often stop his gathering, collecting, and storing and stand up on his hind legs and look around, sniff the air and listen. He could hear a roaring sound off in the distance and was curious as to what it might be. He asked the other mice if any of them could hear that roaring sound but they just chided him saying, "You had best quit your daydreaming and tend to your gathering, collecting, and storing or you will starve and/or freeze to death or die of boredom this winter".


The little mouse decided to ask the other creatures and waited on the trail where he had seen creatures pass by on a daily basis so he could ask them if they could hear that roaring sound off in the distance. As the first creature passed along the trail, the little mouse jumped out onto the path and said, "Hello, I am Mouse." The creature replied, "Hello little mouse, I am Raccoon." Mouse explained that when he would pause from his work of gathering, collecting, and storing, stand up on his hind legs and look around, sniff the air and listen, he could hear a roaring sound off in the distance and was curious as to what it might be.


"Oh yes! replied Raccoon. That is the sound of the mighty river that flows down at the bottom of this trail. I am going there now to wash my hands in its' cooling waters. You may follow along if you wish." And with that he was off continuing on his way down the trail. Mouse jumped behind him and really had to scurry to keep Raccoon in his sight. At one point Raccoon disappeared around a bolder and Mouse heard a loud splash. Mouse scurried up to the top of the bolder and there he saw it.... the Mighty River!


He could see Raccoon busy washing his hands at the waters' edge. Then he heard a voice call up from the river, "Hello!". He looked all around but could not see who had called up to him. "Hello, I'm down here floating on this lily pad." said the voice. There he saw a green creature sitting on a green lily pad. "Oh! Hello, I am Mouse." replied the little mouse. "Hello Mouse, I am Frog." replied the green creature. Mouse proceded to tell of his story of hearing a roaring sound and asking Raccoon about it then following him to discover this magnificent river. He then asked Frog a question that mice rarely, if ever, ask. He asked, "What lies beyond on the other side of the mighty river?"


Frog replied, "Often as I jump from lily pad to lily pad, I jump high enough to see what lies on the other side. First there lies a great plain of tall grass. Beyond that are the brush covered foot hills, and beyond that lie..... the Sacred Mountains."


"Oh if only I could see the beauty you have described." exclaimed the little mouse. Frog replied, "Perhaps if you crouch down on that boulder and jump up with all your might you might get high enough to see what I have seen." So the little mouse crouched down on all fours and with a mighty effort jumped up to See. Yes!..... as he went up in the air he saw it. The mighty grass covered plain and the brush covered foot hills and ..... and beyond that he got a glimpse of the Sacred Mountains!


In his excitement to jump up he had neglected to have a landing plan. As he came back down he missed the boulder and fell into the river. "Kick little mouse with your hind legs and paddle to shore with your front feet. After a lot of effort Mouse finally fell dripping wet onto the shore shouting, "You tricked me! I could have drowned!" Ignoring his outburst Frog replied, "Since you had the curiosity to jump up and see..... you have a new name. You are ...... Jumping Mouse."


In his anger Jumping Mouse scurried back up the trail to where the other mice were still working gathering, collecting, and storing. He was dripping wet and breathing heavily. The other mice asked, "What happened to you, Daydreamer?" and they all laughed saying, "I bet you wandered off and some creature tried to eat you ..... but you didn't taste good so they spit you out!" They were still laughing as they all went back their work of gathering, collecting, and storing.


That night Jumping Mouse had time to get over his anger and to think about what he had seen. By morning he had made the decision to set out on a journey to the Sacred Mountains. At daylight he scurried down to the Mighty River. Frog and Raccoon were nowhere to be seen. Remembering his swimming lesson from the day before Jumping Mouse jumped into the water and began swimming. The water became swift as he got toward the middle. He had to kick and paddle much harder then he had to on his first lesson. Soon he was able to crawl out on to the shore on the other side of the Mighty River. His journey had begun but he collapsed exhausted under a clump of grass and slept until the next morning.


Mice were well aware of what they called "The Spots". Specks in the sky that would swoop down on a group of mice while they were out doing their gathering, collecting, and storing appearing as a dark shadow that would scoop a fellow mouse up into the sky never to be seen again. Jumping Mouse was grateful for all the tall grasses that grew on the Great Plain so he could remain hidden from view and protected from "The Spots".


As he traveled along he noticed off in the distance a cloud of dust being kicked up into the sky. Curious as to what might be the cause he set his path to check it out.


He came to a sandy wallow where he saw the most magnificent creature he had ever seen rolling in the dirt kicking up that dust cloud that had led him here. "Hello! I am Jumping Mouse." he called out. The mighty creature stopped rolling and kicking up dust and slowly got to his feet shaking the dust from his furry coat. "Hello little mouse. I am Buffalo." Jumping Mouse said, "Buffalo you are the most magnificent creature I have ever seen!" Buffalo replied, "I may have been magnificent when I was in my youth but now I am old and have come to this wallow to die and join with the bones of my ancestors." "Oh no!" cried Jumping Mouse "That cannot be for such a magnificent creature as yourself. Is there anything I can do to prevent this form happening?" Buffalo replied, " I've heard it said that if a little mouse were willing to give up one of his eyes it would restore me to my youth and strength."


"Oh yes, I am willing to do that. I will still have one good eye to continue on my journey." No sooner said than one of Jumping Mouse's eyes popped out of his head and buffalo stomped and snorted and bellowed. "Thank you little mouse. Your willingness to give up one of your eyes has restored my youth. As your reward I shall accompany you on your journey to shield you from the spots. The grasses become thinner as you travel toward the brushy foothills and won't shield you any longer. You can scurry along under me in my shadow."


And so they set off on their journey together. Jumping Mouse was fearful of the four thundering hoofs crashing down around him but soon learned that buffalo was aware of where he put his hoofs and they soon set a comfortable pace as they traveled together.


After a few days Buffalo stopped and said, "I can go no further. I am a creature of the plains. We have arrived at the brush covered foothills. You can be safe from the spots if you scurry from bush to bush watching the sky with your one eye." They parted ways and Jumping Mouse continued his journey darting from bush to bush.


AS Jumping Mouse scurried to get under one bush he bumped into something solid but soft. When he looked up he saw it was a Fat Old Mouse. "Excuse me sir, I am Jumping Mouse and I am on a journey to the Sacred Mountains." The Old Mouse replied, "I'm just a Fat Old Mouse living out my last days here in my burrow. Please come in and rest from your long journey."
As they entered the Fat Old Mouse's burrow Jumping mouse was amazed at all the riches he saw piled up before him. The Fat Old Mouse had lived a long and successful life of gathering, collecting, and storing. As Jumping mouse expressed his amazement at what he saw the Fat Old Mouse stated, "But I have become old and I have nobody to leave all my riches to. Perhaps you would be interested in staying with me as my companion until I die and then this will be all yours." When Jumping Mouse hesitated the Fat Old Mouse said, "Please, stay the night and enjoy this feast I have prepared. In the morning you can decide if you would like to stay or continue on your journey."


Jumping Mouse never had a more satisfying meal or slept on a more comfortable bed. But his sweet dreams were of the Sacred Mountains so by morning he thanked the Fat Old Mouse for his hospitality but reluctantly said goodbye and continued on his journey toward the Sacred Mountains.


As he darted from bush to bush he could hear up in the distance a mournful howling followed by whimpering cries. As he approached the source of the cries he saw it was an intelligent lookin creature making all the howling and crying. "Hello, I am Jumping Mouse. I am on a journey toward the Sacred Mountains. Your mournful cries have led me to you."


The creature's ears perked up and he stared forward with intelligent eyes and said, "Hello little mouse. I am Wolf and I have become old and am losing my memory. That is why I am crying." He then appeared confused and began whimpering again. Jumping Mouse was dismayed and replied, "This cannot be that such an intelligent and cunning creature grow old and lose his memory. Is their anything I can do to prevent this from happening?"


Whenever Jumping Mouse would speak Wolf would regain his alert and intelligent self for the moment. "I've heard it said that if a little mouse would be willing to give up one of his eyes Wolf would regain the cunning and intelligence of his youth." As Wolf reverted back to his mournful cries Jumping Mouse thought about what Wolf had said. If he gave up his other eye he would be blind. He brought up the topic with Wolf who replied, "If I were to regain the cunning and intelligence of my youth, I could use my restored powers to guide you on your journey to the Sacred Mountains.


The deal was struck and Jumping Mouse's remaining eye popped out of his head and he was blind. He could hear Wolf's loud and strong howl as his memory, cunning, and intelligence were restored. "Thank you little mouse. Your sacrifice has made me young again and as your reward I will be your guide and protector as you continue on your journey. I will tell you which way to turn and how to use your intelligence and cunning to work your way along your path.


So off they set continuing on their journey to the Sacred Mountains. Jumping Mouse was taught to use his scene of smell and touch, feeling his way using his whiskers and listening to sounds and echo's as a guide. Having given up his sight he was learning new ways of "seeing".


After a few days Wolf stopped and said he could go no further. "I am a creature of the foothills and we have arrived at The Sacred Mountains. Use what you have learned and stay on an upward path and you will reach the summit of your journey.


They parted ways and Jumping Mouse began climbing using his new found ways of seeing. The forest was thick and full of sounds. His fear of the Spots had vanished. If he encountered an object in his path he would shift and change course. As he climbed ever upward he thought he could see shadows. Then he could make out shapes and as he progressed he realized his sight was returning. As he approached the Summit of the Sacred Mountains his vision had returned much sharper than ever before.


As he climbed the final boulder that led to the peak of the Sacred Mountains he felt the strong winds and feared being blown off the boulder to his death on the rocks below. As he looked over into the valley below he saw his old friend Frog floating on a lily pad on the Spirit Lake that lie shimmering in the sunlight. Frog called up to Jumping Mouse saying, "Jump up little mouse ..... Jump up upon the wind."


Jumping Mouse crouched down low and with a mighty leap he jumped! He was caught up by the wind and it began to lift him up high above the Sacred Mountains. As he looked around he could see off in the distance the Mighty River where he had learned to jump up and see and that had set him off on his long journey. He could see the grass covered plains where he met Buffalo and had learned if he were willing to give up his old ways of seeing things he would be given the strength of the Buffalo to help him on his journey.


He saw the brush covered foothills where he met the Fat Old Mouse where his journey might have ended had he yielded to the temptation of riches and comfort offered him. He saw the nest where he met Wolf where he learned if he was willing to give up his old ways of perceiving he would be given the intelligence and cunning of the Wolf to learn new ways of "seeing".


And now as he soared high above the Sacred Mountains .... he saw more then he had ever seen before .... and he understood more than he saw.


He heard Frog call up to him one last time saying, "You have a new name ............. You are Eagle!

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Does any one remember the day someone rode a motorcycle down the hallowed halls of Highland High during class. I was unaware in an upstairs classroom at the time but all the talk in the hallway was, Did you see it! Did you hear it? Who was it?.....

Fast forward 10 years and I'm the shop teacher at Harrison Jr. High in Albuquerque's South Valley. Bill Worthen, the crafts teacher and I had graduated from UNM's Industrial Arts Education program together. Bill, a good friend and an avid dirt biker, and I were shooting the breeze after school one day talking about motor bikes when he told me this story from his school days at Rio Grande High School.

One day Bill and two friends decided to cut class and rode their motor bikes up to the Heights ending up at Highland High School. Bill, always a prankster, and his two friends wondered what they could do for excitement. Bill stationed one friend at one end of the school's main hallway to hold open the door and the other friend at the other end to make sure a door was open so he could make a clean getaway. With the coconspirators in place and doors held open Bill fired up his bike, roared through the door, up the steps, through the hall, down the steps, and out the door.

I'm sure the three pranksters had a good "High School Rivalry" tale to tell once they went back to class at Rio Grande. I know they left Highland High students wondering...... Who was it???

So now you know...... Who it was!
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I always wondered why there were no Black students in our graduating class. In fact, if you count surnames there were only 17 or 18 Hispanics, one Native American, one Pacific Islander, and three Asians. We were basically an all white school. I don't recall ever seeing a black student in all my years as an APS student at Monte Vista Elementary, Jefferson Jr. High, or Highland High. With Kirkland Air Force Base so near one would think a black student would show up at some point in all those post war years.

After my parents died I found the Abstract of Title to their property at 333 Montclaire NE. It's 3/4's of an inch thick and follows the history of ownership of the property from 1892 up to 1947 when my parents bought their lot and house in the new Broadmoor Addition. On page 6, on the "Protective Covenants Imposed Upon Broadmoor, An Addition To The City Of Albuquerque, New Mexico 1945" I found and I quote article 16 .............

" No person of any race other than the Caucasian race shall own, use or occupy any building of any lot of this subdivision except that this covenant shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant."

I had found the answer to my question. It took me 50 years to realize I was raised in a totally segregated neighborhood! I thought that was only a problem in the South. I find it to be an embarrassing mind set of Post War America. Thankfully I was born and raised in the State of New Mexico which influenced me to celebrate diversity despite "Imposed Restrictive Covenants".

PS I was just reminded by Susie Strong (Neuschwanger) that we did have one black student in our graduating class, Diane Arrington. Sorry for the omission. I was "color" blind in High School. Still am. Diversity rules!

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Do you remember an underclassman by the name of Clay Jones? Unfortunately he was bullied and harassed because of his mannerisms and suffered by being called "Gay" Jones by assholes who thought it was fun. I saw him being "teased" in the hallway on a couple of occasions. I was so angered by what was happening that I wanted to speak out in defense of Clay Jones ...... but at the same time I was fearful. I didn't know if Clay Jones was gay or not but I knew full well that I was. I feared that speaking out would make me a target of the bullies ........ I remained silent. I grew to admire Clay Jones for standing up to the bullies.

As a result I felt it best for me to cut a low profile in high school. I remember the biggest threat to my invisibility was in an English/Literature class in which the teacher's technique of schooling was to fire off a barrage of questions and then call out names from her seating chart to target students for answers. I called her the "kamikaze questioner". I spent the entire school year fearful of having a "kamikaze question" fired my way.

I did have a couple of advantages working on my behalf. Her alphabetical seating cart put me in the last seat of the window row of seats. However, my best advantage was that Perky Perkins was in the same class seated front and center with his hand constantly waving in her face. Soon her focus was on him and a few other students in his immediate proximity. I don't remember the teacher's name, I'm not even sure it was an English class, I just remember being elated on the last day of school that my "shield of invisibility" was fully in tact and working.

Ironically, 15 years later I'm the teacher..... teaching metal shop at our old nemesis rival Rio Grande High School. One student who caught my attention was the Senior Class Playboy Herbie Dutcher. I noticed him because he drove a fully restored tan and brown 1948 Ford pickup truck. He always had a truck load of girls in the front seat with his "spares" riding in the truck bed. I related to his vehicle. I had driven a black 1946 Ford coupe my Senior year at Highland.

The metal shop had gained a reputation as a refuse from mandatory attendance at pep assemblies. One day the playboy "himbo" Herbie Dutcher ducked into the shop to seek refuse from another mind numbing pep assembly. It was the first time I had met him face to face. We were all sitting around on work benches "shooting the breeze" when one guy started to bad mouth gay people. Herb Dutcher immediately flew off that work bench and got right in the guy's face and said, "I have a lot of friends and some of them are gay friends. You will not speak that way about gay people in my presence!" The guy got real humble and apologized and Herb Dutcher went from "himbo" to my hero in my book. He had just done what I had been afraid to do for Clay Jones at Highland.

Herb Dutcher and Clay Jones are hero's of mine!

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CARS at HHS

I remember a teacher at Highland commenting in class on student’s cars compared to teacher’s cars. He said if you compare the cars in the teacher’s parking lot to the car’s found in the student’s parking lot at Highland High you would find newer and nicer cars in the student lot. What high school kid wouldn’t want a nice car to drive to school?

Highland High School was “the” school in Albuquerque in 1963. I heard that Rick Galles drove a new Corvette to school. (Of course, his family owning the Chevy dealership may have had something to do with that.) I don’t really know if the student lot was full of newer and nicer cars because I never parked there. Both my parents were school teachers so we belonged to that “teacher class” of car ownership. I drove a black 1946 Ford coupe to school my senior year. It was a car even older than the ones in the teacher’s lot. It was sharp for its age so I learned that you don’t have to afford a new car to be noticed for what you drive. That was the spark of interest for starting of my hobby of collecting cars. Old cars.

I parked my ‘46 Ford on the street at the west entrance to the main building. We were on a split schedule that year. Most senior classes began at 7:30 AM. I had my 5 classes and then “D” lunch which meant I was finished at 12:30 and I was out of there in my ‘46 Ford headed for wherever I wanted to go. PE was my last period class so I was often out of there even earlier. I felt special that senior year.

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Life Lessons and a 1946 Ford Coupe


In 1961 my parents (both school teachers) were driving their '56 Chrysler Winsor and their old '50 Hudson Pacemaker to work. My older brother wrecked the Hudson so my mom was looking to buy a replacement. I told her of a old lady at our church Mrs. Neighbors who drove a pristine 1946 black Ford Coupe. I saw her a few weeks earlier backing out of a space in the church parking lot when she snagged her rear passenger side fender on the car next to her. The back portion of the fender ended bent up and inside the fender well. I told my mom that she might consider selling it since it now had that damaged fender. Sure enough $200.00 and a week later my mom had a replacement for the Hudson to drive to work. I saw Mrs. Neighbors drive up to church the next week in a tan and brown 1954 Chevrolet. A good trade all around.

The '46 Ford had been kept in Mrs. Neighbors' garage since she bought it new. It came with the original sales slip and owner's manual. She had had the mohair seats covered over with some gaudy plaid seat covers when new. The paint was a deep shiny black and of course I ripped out the seat covers so we could enjoy the original mohair upholstery. Unfortunately the mohair was dry rotted in spots and my mom had to get the front seat reupholstered. It had a black cloth and gold vinyl covered front seat the whole time I owned it.
The summer of 1962 my parents bought a new '62 Buick and no longer needed the '46 Ford. We made a deal for me to box in the eves of the house with soffit and fascia and paint all the exterior trim in exchange for ownership of the '46 Ford. Thus were planted the seeds of my future construction career and ..... I got my first car in the deal.

Right away I decided to change the oil and filter. I took off the top of the oil canister to remove the filter and found a rock hard carbon substance instead. I thought, hey??... it must be some kind of charcoal filter or something? I had seen charcoal water filters so ... why not? I just put the cap back on, changed the oil and drove on. Duh!

For the next oil change I wised up and went to buy a new filter before changing the oil. For some reason they didn't have any "charcoal" oil filters and sold me a paper cartridge filter as shown in their parts book. I couldn't get that old filter out so I resorted to a hammer and big screwdriver to chip away at the hard carbon. About half way down I finally struck oil and was able to work out the old filter. It was a cartridge filter just like the one I had just bought. Duh! It was at that point that I realized that Mrs. Neighbors didn't know much about regular automotive maintenance. I don't think that oil filter had ever been changed.

A few weeks later I was driving up to Santa Fe when all of a sudden I heard a poof and the windshield became coated with red goop so thick I had to stick my head out the driver's side window to see where I was going as I pulled off the highway. A heater hose had blown off. I cut off the bad end, re-clamped it, added some water I was carrying in the trunk, and roared onward toward Santa Fe. I bet that radiator had never been flushed. I was reminded again that Mrs. Neighbors didn't know much about regular automotive maintenance. Gradually I was realizing I wasn't much better at maintenance than she was ...... but I was learning.

One day I was out on the driveway working under the hood when a guy drove up and stopped. He said he noticed I had some dents. There was that fender Mrs. Neighbors had messed up and there was a dent in the cowling where the driver door had blown open too far in the wind. For $10.00 he offered to fix those dents. Dumb kid... I said yes. He took a hammer and dolly from his car and proceeded to pull out the fender that was folded into the wheel well. I thought he was going to pull the fender completely off the car. After he got it pulled back into position he used the hammer and dolly on the crease to flatten it out. He then went to work on the crease in the cowling. To my horror he took a big screwdriver and hammer and began to punch holes in the door jam so he could pry the crease out using the screwdriver. I said WHAT ARE YOU DOING? He said don't worry about it and kept punching holes. When he finished he took a tube of grey spot putty and spread it over the fender and cowling areas. What about the holes you punched? He replied that it's not noticeable when the door is closed and that I'll need to sand down the area when the putty dries. $10.00 and in 10 minuets he was done and gone. I felt so stupid. Lesson learned!

I hot-rodded around the first few months until the old dried out and cracked tires wore smooth. I had to buy four new 600-16 tires complete with tubes and had false white walls installed for a little over $40.00. That outrageous amount set me back so much I swore off wheel spinning for good. I was earning $2.00 an hour washing dishes and I could fill up the '46 Ford with gas at Trapp's Texaco for $3.00-$4.00. Those tires were still on the car 21 years later when I sold it. Suddenly I had learned thrift.

Among the "hot rodding" I did is what I called "shooting the arroyos". Town ended at Eubank and dirt roads wandered out toward the Sandia foothills. Juan Tabo road was a undulating dirt road that ran along the base of the Sandias. It's called Tramway today. There were dozens of arroyos running down through the east mesa from the Sandias toward town. For kicks we would drive out Juan Tabo Road find a nice wide arroyo and "shoot" down it to Eubank in my old Ford. Of course arroyos wouldn't stay wide or smooth or straight. The secrete was to keep your speed up regardless of changing arroyo conditions. One wild ride after flying off a sand bar on a sudden sharp turn and after getting back to a firm road, I noticed the Ford severally leaning to one side. I was afraid I had broken my car. We drove down to where my brother worked at Tolbert's Service Station. I teased my friend saying that people would think he was a real lard-ass with the car leaning so much. I asked Mr. Tolbert what he thought was wrong. He said let's put it on the lift and take a look. As soon as the wheels lifted off there was a big loud POP! He put it back down and it stood level. He calmly said "You flipped your shackles". It seems that old Fords have transverse leaf springs. One across both the front and rear axels. Evidently flying off a sand bar in the middle of a turn impacts a running gear of an old Ford hard enough to flip the spring shackles on the high side. Another lesson learned. I bought a dirt bike.

When my Granddad died I wanted to have the shiniest black car in the funeral procession. I read somewhere that people used kerosene to rub down their paint jobs to obtain the deepest shine. I tried it and the car looked brand new with a deep black shine. It looked good for about a week. I didn't realize that the kerosene would attract dust like flies to fly paper. It did look great for the funeral.

I gradually began to understand why the oil pressure gage only registered when I was driving 40-50 Miles per hour. With a clogged oil filter and general lack of maintenance I felt an inspection of the connecting rod bearings was called for. I backed the '46 Ford Coupe into the garage, blocked it up, then pulled the oil pan. I knew enough to line up the con-rod caps in the proper order and orientation as I removed them so I could put them back in correct order. I never thought of taking one off, inspecting, then replacing it before taking off the next. About the time I was removing the last two rod bearing caps some friends drove up and asked what I was doing and offered to help. Before I knew it they had slid under the car to see what I was doing and crashed into to my neatly ordered con-rod caps scattering them all over the place. I spent the next two days trying to refit the proper caps to the proper connecting rods. I used plasti-gage to test fit all the caps. I put the oil pan back on when I felt satisfied I got them all back in their proper places. Still ..I was afraid I had gotten a connecting rod bearing cap on backward or misplaced. After a couple of months my worst fear was taking shape. I began to hear a knock in my '46 Ford's V-8 engine.

Every summer since I was 16 I would go and work on my uncle Warren's farm located East of Claremore, OK. That summer after graduating from high school I was going to drive my very own car out to Oklahoma for the first time. Only problem was I had a Ford with a knocking connecting rod. I had noticed it wouldn't knock as I was gradually accelerating or as I was gradually decelerating. So ..... I adjusted my driving accordingly. Being a dumb kid .... of course I was going to drive 700 miles in the heat of summer in an old car with a rod knocking. At least I had new tires. I figured if the engine blew before I got to Amarillo my folks would rescue me and if I got past Amarillo my uncle could come and tow me. Duh! and double Duh!

Using my gradually accelerating, then gradually decelerating driving technique I made it to OK... ok. As payment for my summer's work my uncle agreed to buy me a rebuilt flat head Ford short block from a place in Little Rock, Arkansas. Once it was delivered to Claremore I backed my '46 Ford into the hay barn, pulled the hood, then the old motor, and began the work of putting the new block together. I reused the old heads, intake and exhaust manifolds, carburetor, fuel pump, and distributor. My uncle did the show and tell at each step and I did all the work. At his suggestion I installed two rebuilt water pumps and clutch pressure plate along with a new clutch disk, throw-out and pilot bearings. I didn't even know what a "pilot" bearing was or how to replace it. I didn't think of maintaining matching motor numbers as collectors are so keen on today. Thanks to my uncle's guidance and mentorship I learned a lot that summer. I was becoming a man. Not so Duh! anymore.

The next summer I decided to drive out to Oklahoma at night and avoid the heat. I remember driving through western Oklahoma at 1 AM. Nobody on the road but me and a black 1952 Chevrolet. We drove along side-by-side for 2-3 hours. My '46 Ford pulling ahead on the hills with the Chevy blowing past me on the down hill and straight-a-ways. The Ford had the power and gearing to pull the hills but need to have a two-speed axel for any kind of speed. At 65-70 MPH that flat head was screaming loud enough to shed parts
.
After college I bought a new '68 Chevy pickup to drive and use for school and work. I still used the Ford occasionally. In the early '80's I put some bad brake fluid in the '46. It caused the brakes to cease-up when they got hot. That coupled with low cash flow in my fledgling construction company and the sun baked condition the old Ford was becoming, I reluctantly sold my 1946 Ford Coupe. I have regretted it ever since.

The Ford represents my life choices as I was becoming a man. Two weeks before I started college I had no idea what I wanted to do or what courses to take. As I thumbed through the college catalog I ran across the section on Industrial Arts Education. I hadn't thought of being a teacher like my parents but there was listed all the classes I would love to take. Woodworking, machine shop, welding, foundry, construction. plastics, auto mechanics, drafting, architectural drawing, electrical/electronics theory. All the things I was exposed as a result of owing that old Ford.

If I were to get this car back would it change my life? Probably not. It had already done that job. It"s a reminder of where I have been and what I have done during my life as a result of all I learned as a result owning that one old Ford.

We are in the process of planning our 50th Highland High School reunion for August 2-4, 2013. Wouldn't it be a kick in the pants to drive up to that reunion in my old 1946 Ford Coupe 50 years later?

At least I can hope it is still cranking on. I know I am.

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May 24, 2019 at 2:33 PM

Thanks Robyn for making post high school meaningful for all of us. You are missed!

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Hope you had a good one. Best wishes

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Church at Acoma watercolor by Jim Pecha

John Criswell has left an In Memory comment for James Pecha.
Jan 23, 2016 at 2:33 PM

 

 

Obituary

Written by Jim's sister Connie Welty

John Criswell has left an In Memory comment for James Pecha.
Jan 23, 2016 at 2:33 PM

Jim Pecha 70th birthday June 2015 with John Criswell

 

 

John Criswell has left an In Memory comment for James Pecha.
Jan 18, 2016 at 6:33 PM

Jim Pecha - watercolor

John Criswell has left an In Memory comment for James Pecha.
Jan 18, 2016 at 6:33 PM

Jim Pecha - watercolor ...... Jim loved traveling New Mexico painting adobe churches. He was also an accomplished potter, photographer, and jewelry craftsman. A multi-talented member of HHS Class of 1963.

John Criswell has left an In Memory comment for James Pecha.
Jan 18, 2016 at 6:33 PM

Jim Pecha - Watercolor

John Criswell has a birthday today. New comment added.
Oct 20, 2015 at 10:17 AM

Posted on: Oct 20, 2015 at 2:33 AM

John Criswell has left an In Memory comment for Hugh Price.
Jun 24, 2015 at 10:32 AM

In PE we had to run a cross country race. I hated running and I hated PE for that matter. Anyway Hugh and I were neck and neck for last place. In the sprint to the finish line all the classmates were cheering for Hugh. Thanks to all the encouragement from the cheering PE class I "won" last place and Hugh was greeted as a hero for not coming in last. Thinking back he really was a hero. Did I mention I hated PE?

John Criswell

HHS Class of 1963

 

John Criswell has left an In Memory comment for Bill Stone.
Feb 01, 2015 at 2:33 PM

Oct 20, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Happy Birthday John!!

John Criswell has a birthday today.
Oct 20, 2014 at 2:33 AM
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