Sunday, July 08, 2012

Thirty Years Ago

In 1982 I loaded up a beat-up '66 Chevy pick-up truck (with a little Honda in the back) and headed for Houston.  First night in town I slept in the truck in a K-Mart parking lot on FM 1960.  Woke up with about a hundred mosquito bites.

Drove down to UH and checked into Moody Towers as a "visiting prospective student".  Parking was free, room was ten or fifteen bucks, phone was free, and I had a pass to swim in the outdoor 25m pool, mosquito bites and all.

Started making calls, unloaded the Honda, and the job search began.

Oscar Sarabia* at HISD got me a couple of campus interviews and I visited with the Milby HS and Jackson MS (originally Jackson JH) principals.  Jackson's Virgil Fisher took me on a tour and showed me around his campus (built in 1925 & named after Confederate General Stonewall Jackson).

Under the band hall was a four-lane, twenty-yard pool with hexagonal tile all around.  There was no circulation and the water level was down several feet.  Desks were floating in the green water.

Fisher asked me if I wanted to teach science and coach swimming.  I thought about life back in Terre Haute vs. working in a combat zone and it was a no-brainer:

Hell yeah!

Thirty years later I've retired from teaching.  Thanks to Oscar and Virgil for helping me get a start.

*Read a great piece in the Houston Chronicle (1990) about Oscar here.

Then, in 1970, he left the classroom to join HISD's personnel services. He became involved with recruiting, interviewing and evaluating teacher applicants. For the next 18 years, Oscar Sarabia played a key role in hiring thousands of teachers.

So there you have it. A different person in that job would not always have reached the same conclusions that Sarabia reached concerning the applicants. Many teachers who were hired and moved to Houston as a result of meeting with Sarabia might have wound up in Keokuk or Kankakee or wherever if he had become a pilot instead. If his uncle hadn't died in that crash.

Oscar Sarabia recently retired after 31 years with HISD. The past two years he was assistant principal at Waltrip High School.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Button!


Anonymous said...

Thirty years ago August 20th I was driving a brown 1974 Honda car down to Houston from Cedar Rapids. It had 2/60 AC but only if I could get it up to 60mph and both windows were down. Stayed at a friends house in Huffman until his wife kicked me out-about 10 days. My wife and 2 year old daughter had come down about then so we drove over to the Cy-Fair area and begged the apartment complex we were supposed to move into in a couple days to let us stay there. Slept on the floor. Couldn't afford a hotel if there had been one. And there wasn't one anywhere up and down 290 or FM 1960. The good news is I had a job. The move up north was only slightly less "interesting" O