Memories of Benson: 1962 and Earlier

In the middle 50’s all grammar school students were required to line up by grade groups outside before the start of school to say the pledge of allegiance while the flag was being raised. A boy who played the trumpet played a patriotic tune while the flag was being raised. That old flag pole was the only element of the beautiful grammar school that remains today.

All girls wore dresses or skirts. No pants or casual wear was ever used or allowed at school.

On the last day of high school my senior year a couple of us boys wore Bermuda shorts to school. We were told we had to go home and change clothes to attend the last school day.

The senior class each year would take a senior trip to Disneyland, the beach, and other Los Angeles, CA attractions. We also went to the Coconut Grove in Hollywood which was a popular night club. Lawrence Welk was performing as I recall. Sharon Hesser was called upon to dance the polka with one of the musicians.

The seniors in the class of ’57 or ’58 went to Mexico for their senior trip. My cousins Connie Caballero and Amelia Romero were in that class. Do seniors still take senior trips??

The freshman classes were initiated each year at the beginning of the school year. The boys in 1958 (my first year in HS) had to wear girls slips, wear makeup, and do chores for the sophomores. Do they still have this initiation custom?

A huge bonfire was built on the baseball field at night during the first week of school prior to the first football game. The coaches and team captains spoke. Afterward, a long line of students held hands and ran through the center of town. The long line was called a whip and it was difficult to stay in contact with the person in front it went so fast and zig-zagged down the streets.

Sierra Vista didn’t become a town until the 50’s.  The first time we played football at Sierra Vista (a class A school, we were class B) we had to play in the afternoon on a dirt field. Sierra Vista was a brand new school and still had not planted grass nor installed lights.

The public swimming pool was located about a mile outside of town. It was run by the City. The girls on the pom-pom squad took turns there working during the summer selling candy and soft drinks and charging the 25 cent entry fee. Fernando Mendival (class of ’57 or so?) was the head life guard and a small group of us soon-to-be seniors helped as assistant life guards. We “worked” for 50 cents an hour. We were Dewitt Casner, Bobby Caballero, George Potter, and Steve Woods. Each day the cash register started out with $20 in it. At the end of the summer the City let us life guards have the final $20 to go to Tombstone  for a pizza dinner. That was the first time many of us had ever tasted a pizza pie. It was delicious. Benson did not have a restaurant that sold pizza. I don’t remember any girl wearing a bikini or even a two piece bathing suit. They all wore the old fashioned one-piece style bathing suits.

And of course the public swimming pool was not the only swimming resource.  I wonder if  today’s kids ever swim in stock tanks?  It was probably pretty unsanitary, but fun.