That Friday morning I caught a ride to school with my good friend Craig Davis; his Dad, Judge W.C. “Bill” Davis drove us in his green Buick. The Judge was a “Yellow Dog” Democrat, which wasn’t surprising because in 1963 only Democrats were electable in Brazos County.
Judge Davis always liked to tease me and so he asked me if I was going to the JFK $100.00 a plate fundraiser that night in Austin. I was much more interested in my first basketball practice that afternoon as a Lamar Bulldog. I was quite pleased about having “made” the seventh (7th) grade team after tryouts a week earlier.
I was probably day dreaming about my glorious future as a hoopster when the loudspeaker announcement came about President Kennedy being shot in Dallas. A few minutes later we were told he was dead. Everyone was stunned and it seemed like a fog of depression enveloped everyone in the school.
I turned 63 on November 5, 2013 and it was significant in that it was the first November 5th since I was born that I didn’t share a birthday with my cousin Squeaky, aka John M. Barron, Jr. Squeaky was an extremely colorful individual both as a youngster and later as a successful attorney.
To be perfectly honest, there were times during my adolescence that I tried to downplay my relationship with John Jr. (old Bryan people referred to him as “Squeaky”). When I studied Anthropology and Sociology in college I started thinking of John Jr. as a contemporary Ancestor. It always seemed like Squeaky was a step or two closer to the frontier that I was.
Squeaky and I had a Speech class together (I was a Sophomore and he was a Senior) at Stephen F. Austin High School. John was a painfully shy man and to say he was socially awkward would be a massive understatement. Example, while I was trying to talk to a girl in class another student came up and said “You are kin to Squeaky, Banks can you fart at will the way he can?”
Earlier than that I would hear reports that Squeaky had been banished from the Palace and Queen movie theatres due to mischievous and inappropriate conduct. There were allegations that he had switched the signs on the Men’s and Ladies Restrooms and also that he had dropped quantities of vegetable soup on patrons from the balcony while pretending to be nauseated.
There was also a recurring rumor that John Jr. was the BB Sniper who struck repeatedly at night in downtown Bryan. It was the era of Charles Whitman and Lee Harvey Oswald and the local press labeled the unknown perpetrator as the “BB Sniper.” To be fair Squeaky always claimed that it wasn’t him although later in life he did have a fondness for firearms. The true identity of the BB Sniper was never discovered.
When I took my Bride (Martha) to her first Aggie Bonfire, we were greeted by a drunk man in a cowboy hat, hitting on a bottle of whisky. He lost his balance and fell in the mud; as we were helping him up his coat opened and it was clear he had a .38 he was packing in a holster.
When he left my Bride said “Philip, how do you know somebody like that?” I said “That’s my cousin Squeaky.” She still claims she didn’t meet him until after we tied the knot, but her memory is subject to impeachment. I will continue this reminiscence in a future blog entry.
Phil Banks, Amy Banks, and Joe Patranella are attorneys in Brazos County, Texas.