Back Story

We’ve got high schools and middle schools, and upper and lower and elementary schools. There are magnet schools and alternative schools, ninth-grade centers and private schools. And, we’ve got Montessori schools and charter schools.

Very complicated. But it wasn’t always so.

For decades, the Dallas Independent School District had the same structure: first through eighth grades in one building, ninth through 12th in another — a simple, uncomplicated system. But as the city’s population increased, so did school overcrowding, and younger teens were becoming more sophisticated, which generated a new adolescent cluster. The DISD school board made a decision, and voila! The junior high was created.

Eventually, seventh- and eighth-graders, plucked from elementary schools, and ninth graders, formerly a part of the high school structuring, comprised the new junior highs. The first to be built in Oak Cliff? Boude Storey, in 1933.

In 1944, boys at Greiner Junior High wanted to play football, but the only junior high program at the time was basketball. Unthinkable today, the DISD allowed the Greiner boys who were in the Sunset district to ride their bikes to the high school and play for the Bison JV, nicknamed the “Hamburger Team”.

 

In the early 1950s, the junior highs were handed a full slate of athletic teams, along with cheerleaders, girls’ drill teams, majorettes and marching band activities. The junior high programs mirrored, on a smaller scale, their high school counterparts.

Thus began the heyday of the junior high.

On the drill team front, there were the Storey Eaglettes and the Greiner Jacketeers. Zumwalt had the Lionettes, Holmes the Tigerettes, Kimball Junior High the Knightelears, Browne the Troyanns, Stockard the Strutters and Atwell the Arboletes — all comprised of ninth-grade girls. Each squad had officers, and there were head cheerleaders, head majorettes and drum majors. Some had flag corps and pep squads. The whole enchilada. (Don’t miss this slideshow with more photos, including the columnist in her Kimball Knightelear drill team uniform.)

Each activity group ordered custom-designed jackets with participation logos on the front, embellished with the student’s name. On the back, factory stitched lettering announced the group’s name and years involved. Athletes earned letter sweaters, while girls flocked to Robert’s Jewelers in Wynnewood Village or to A. Harris to order boot, megaphone or baton charms to wear on chains around their necks. (There were no girls’ sports.)

Junior high football games were played two-to-a-night on Saturdays, normally at either P.C. Cobb or Sprague stadiums. The stands were populated, the stadium lights blazed, and the games were fierce. Track meets were held at different facilities, with the south zone meets at Sprague and the city meet at Cobb. Basketball games took place at either Cobb or Sprague field houses, and baseball games were played on diamonds at the individual schools, as were the tennis team matches.

Before football games, and for important basketball games, students decorated the family cars with crepe paper in school colors and painted white shoe polish messages on the windows. Naturally, parents drove everyone to and from games, and afterward to Kip’s, Goff’s or Phillip’s Freezette for a burger and shake. It was a booming time of participation and camaraderie, and much of Oak Cliff was involved.

In the late ’70s, however, the DISD decided to reinsert the freshmen into the high schools, and to pull up the sixth-graders to the new “middle” schools. These middle schools had sports programs, but they were after-school activities. And each middle school administration decided which extracurricular programs it would offer. Some had cheerleaders and/or drill teams and marching bands. Some didn’t.

As of 2007, the athletic period is back in the DISD school day schedule, for both boys and girls. However, the individual campuses’ administrations still decide which, if any, additional extracurricular activities they’ll offer — much different from earlier times.

The heyday of junior high school, as many of us knew it, is now a forgotten relic. The old Greiner building has been replaced, and the former Jacketeer, Troyann, Arbolete and other drill team uniforms are a thing of the past. Kip’s, Goff’s, and the Freezette are all gone, as well.

All gone, yes. But not forgotten.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Oak Cliff.
Written By
More from Gayla Brooks

Back Story

At its peak, Wynnewood Village had it all.   Built in the...
Read More
  • Gloria Lochridge Malone

    Such a wonderful article. Enjoyed the slideshow and recognized the Zumwalt Cheerleaders. I was in drill team @ Zumwalt then went onto South Oak Cliff to be a cheerleader. Those were the best memories growing up in Oak Cliff. Everyone who ever lived in Oak Cliff should visit the wonderful site on Facebook…Oak Cliff Boomers. They have done a fantastic job.

  • roger Tate

    Gayla, thks 4 letting me know now why I’m so socially deprived in life! All we had was grade sch & high, didn’t know what jr or mid sch was, & kinder was in the big city of Big Spring, whereas I was country when country wasn’t Kool!!! We did at Knott have football jackets, class rings, yearbooks, et, so we tho’t we were normal at the time. Even had a donkey basketball game once, & Harlem Globetrotters before they became famous. Love these trips down Memory Lane (them wuz th’ days!), thks! love, rog.

  • Danny Smith

    I remember watching O.W. Holmes being built from our back yard. My sister went there when it opened and was a member of the first cheerleading squad. I was in the band at John Neely Bryan Elementary School and couldn’t wait to get to Holmes to put on the spiffy uniforms and march at the halftime shows. But I wasn’t aware that you had to show up early to try out, so I missed my chance. We moved the next year so I got my chance at T.W. Browne and later Kimball. Good times and great memories. Thanks, Gayla, for another great article.

  • Bill Halstead

    Hi Gayla,

    Interesting stuff. For some reason I didn’t recall that your guy Jimmy was in my sister’s class at Greiner. How’s his flipper these days? Tell him that from the time I was 44 (1990) until I left the Washington, DC area in 2001, I pitched on an over-30 team that, at the end of that stretch, won six consecutive league championships.

    One other note to test his memory: In 1993, I married someone he might recall — Judy Coffee.

    Regards,

    Bill Halstead

  • steph

    This is a great article and very timely as Sunset’s Class of 1968 celebrates our collective 60th birthdays tonight and the Sunset Alumni Association has its “all class” get together at El Fenix downtown tonight. It was great fun…what am I saying??? It’s still fun!

  • Mary Newton Maxwell

    Just when I have commented that your last article was the best ever, the next one comes along to warrant that same compliment. I really mean it this time. I LOVED the slide show. And I love that cute little chick who was the Kimball Knight Majorette. ((and you still got it)) To all Gayla’s readers, please visit our sites on Facebook for Oak Cliff Boomers, LV Stockard, JF Kimball, and LO Donald. We have some great pictures out there. Looking forward to the next article, Gayla!

  • Robert Reviel

    Gayla,
    Great reading. I went to eagle ford school my first 4 years.
    Lived in Cement City.I have really great memories of that
    period in my life.

  • Lonnie Speck

    Gayla, once again you surely captured the moment….it’s hard to forget those first time experiences at Storey of pep rallies, competitive athletics, Friday morning dances and of course, pup love. You know it must have been a special place and time when you still have some of those same friends after 50 years.

    Thanks for the memories…Lonnie

  • Carol A. Clark Paul

    Your article took me down memory lane. Keep up the good work.We were the first class to enter the new “Zumwalt Jr. High” and those were the good ole days..

  • Darlene (Gann) Jasper

    Great history article. Keep up all thae goog work you do!

  • Annette Duncan

    Wow! Another memory jog, and what a happy one!! It’s good to know what happened to the DISD set up after we left the hallowed halls of Kimball. The junior high days were just amazingly fun and we were all so full of school spirit. I always thought it amazing that a lot of the class of ’64 started school at JFK on its very first day and spent our entire junior high/senior high years in the same school – at least we didn’t have to “start over” as lowly sophomores. What a blessing your columns are to all of us.

    Annette

  • Gina Brooks

    Hi Cuz, yes, great article!
    I love that you are a writer and a history buff =)
    I will never forget my visit when I came to see all of you. That is my history too
    XOXOXOXO
    Gina Brooks
    I love you so much!!!!!

  • Lon Oakley

    So lady…when are you starting your next book to capture all these stories for posterity. You continue to amaze and stir our memory banks with these columns. Please keep them coming Gayla. (let us know if we need to become your silent investors to get this book off the ground) LON Adamson ’65

  • Terry Prichard

    Gayla, As usual another wonderful reminder of days gone by. Some of my best memories were in the fall of ’64 working together with you as Captain of the drill team and my being the Drum Major, we both led super talented groups.

    Thanks for the memories. Terry Prichard

  • Stephen Cumming

    Gayla:
    Excellent article! It brought back so many, many memories of my days at T.W. Browne Junior High School. I still remember quite well the New Student Open House that Browne hosted for all of 6th graders who would be incoming 7th grade students. There was a talk by the Principal, Dr. Edwin Artman, and then presentations from all of student groups i.e. Troyanns, Band, Majorettes, etc. The big highlight was the tour of the school! Consider the amazement of prospective students as they saw the Industrial Arts wing withe the Drafting Rooms, Metal and Wood shops, the Art Room, Music Room, Band Hall, Science labs, Library, and the dreaded Study Hall! As we progressed from lowly 7th graders to “mighty” Freshmen, lo did we not realize that when we left Browne, we would again start all over again as lowly Sophomores at Kimball!!

    Thanks again for a wonderful article as usual!

  • sue benson

    Loved the article and the fabulous pics….were that things were so simple now. Such pure joy from those cheerleading days, sock hops, and football games. One of the best times of my life!!!

  • Linda Shipp Moon

    Gayla! You keep coming back month after month with memory lane articles!!! Without a doubt my most fond memories were Kimball Jr. Hi! What an innocent time for us and so much fun! Would go back to Jr. Hi days in a split second!!!

  • Carol Bullard Hull

    What fun we had!!! I was a Drum Majorette at Greiner 1975-76. It was the very last year of Jr. High marching bands and drill teams. Jr. High was my favorite time–even better than high school.

  • Denise Landell Klos

    Fantastic job! You bring back many wonderful memories.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Actually, girls were ‘allowed’ to play on the tennis teams, I believe. However, there were no all-girls athletic activities during those days. GBK

  • Bill Konrad

    Gayla – I really enjoy your articles. We were so fortunate to have grown up in Oak Cliff and had the parents we had. I do miss them.

    I still keep in touch with some of the Kimball friends. Golf with Lloyd Woody and NASCAR with Danny Pitccok and Mike Atwood this April.

    I admire what you are doing.

    Best wishes – Bill Konrad

  • Peggy Samford

    Great article! We had the most unusual Jr. High experience being in the same building as the Sr. High at Kimball, but the separate athletic programs and drill teams, etc. gave us a presence of our own. The Knightelears looked great. Thanks, you’ve done it again!