Rayburn were part of a group I ran around with in high school which
included Jeff Franks, Dan Harrison and George Pfeiffer as , well as our
girl friends. Other folks were in the mix from time to time, but this
was the core group.
I had met Meredith in the eighth grade through my friend Herb
Farnsworth whom I guess I have told you before, now receives his mail at
a Texas penitentiary. Bobby I have known or known of most of my life,
as he grew up in the neighborhood. I know that I have written about Bob
at least once.
At any rate, the three of us were thrown together in an English class
our Junior year, Bob was also in my homeroom. In English, Bob sat right
next to me and Craig right behind me, there we would plot out activities
for the weekend which on more than one occasion involved the ingestion
of an illegal, but we felt harmless, drug.
The fact that marijuana was a felony at that time and there were people
serving thirty years in the slammer for possession of it, so we probably
should have been a bit more careful, but all's well that ends well.
At any rate, this story focuses on Bob, then aka Bobby, now Robert. Of
all my friends, Bob was the most energetic. He could not sit still and
always seemed to be somehow locomoting, even while sitting in a chair.
He was also one of those guys who, because he moved and thought so fast,
often did bother to think twice before doing something or saying
something. He was not cautious about anything. He has bought a
Volkswagen Beetle for $100 from someone and he drove it mostly in fourth
gear and without the use of brakes. It had brakes, I think, but as far
as Bob was concerned they were in the car just for decorative purposes.
Bob preferred dodging things like people, dogs and stop signs, rather
than to slow down , or, God forbid, stop down for them. That Volkswagen
could take any punishment and was used basically as a four wheel drive vehicle
with Bob taking it off road and, on one terrifying occasion for me, up a
hill which had no road. I will say that Bob was not so reckless as he
Now this English class we all took together was a hoot. The teacher was
a man named Sugg, and he was a very flamboyant character. He had a real
liking for Bob (most teachers did because they thought that he was a
little "scamp" and not capable of doing anything too bad. Depending upon
your definition of "bad" these teachers were all incorrect, but Bob, no
matter what he did, always landed on his feet.
This story takes place in January of 1970. We had all just returned from
a Christmas vacation and were starting the new semester. These were the
days before computers, or at least before the day that any computer
made was not stored in a building the size of a 7/11. In those days, at
the beginning of every semester, the teacher would hand out preprinted
index cards for all students to fill in with their name and address,
etc.. These cards were then alphabetized so that the teacher could
determine tardies and absences with them.
My class that January had a lot of new students. Our High School that
year was very civilized and had allowed us to change teachers a midterm
for any reason. In history class, I gave up a football coach with a flat
top, for a blonde former cheerleader from the University of Texas who
actually knew a little bit about the subject. But I digress.
As I stated before, Bob sat right next to me in Suggs room and I noticed
when I handed him the index cards that he took two.
It was actually fairly common practice in those days to fill out false
names on these cards in order to get a good laugh at the teacher, sort
of let him/her be put on notice that we would not be intimidated. Today
when they want the teacher to get that same message, they often assault
the teacher, but these were simpler times.
Our buddy Jeff Franks had told me over the holidays that someone in one
of his classes had turned in the name
"Sid Chauncey" and that that name had been called that name everyday for
three or four weeks before the joke became tiresome and someone told the
teacher that Sid had transferred to another class. I had related this to
Bob whom I guess decided to go a step further (or a bridge too far,
depending on your tolerance level for such pranks ).
The classic fake name, although one that I had never seen actually
attempted was Richard "Dick"
Hertz. You can probably see the humor in this, at least if you are
still on a seventh grade level sense of humor, which most of our class,
including me, was.
Now there are three things that came happen when you attempt this
particular trick. The first risk is that the teacher will recognize the
trick before calling the name. The second risk is that the teacher will
call out "Richard Hertz" which is not nearly as funny as Dick Hertz. The
their possibility which makes the joke work to perfection, the teacher
must go through a three line cycle calling out just like this, and in
this order: 1. "Dick Hertz" (pause) "Dick" (pause), and finally, "who's
Dick Hertz ?" Laughter then ensues and the teacher turns red. Bob's
effort succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. There was Sugg, going
through the correct order of call outs needed for the joke, ending with
Who's Dick Hertz ? Ah, immortality for Rayburn, although his immediate
future did not quite so promising exactly At least he did not attempt
the last stage by answering the question, "Mine does Mr. Sugg."
After class, while Bob hid somewhere in the bowels of Bellaire High
School I approached Sugg to help him search through the cared and find
the culprit. By the way, this is the one mistake Bob made, if you can
get someone, not in the class to fill out an index card, you are bullet
proof. Bob had not done that, leading me to believe that it was a spur
of the moment idea. As I mentioned before, Bob did not often think twice
about such things, none of the great ones do..
As Sugg went through the cards I pointed out someone whose name I don't
recall, the was a manager (towel boy) for the baseball team Thus guy
was always trying to get us to sign petitions to support the team. I
figured, why not ? No one would blame me if I got this guy in trouble..
But Sugg then ran across Rayburn's card and compared them side by side.
"Well, you know it's not Rayburn" I said optimistically. Sugg gave me a
cold stare did not say a word, and went to lunch. I think he felt a
little betrayed because Bob was just about his favorite student. He
called him, for reasons I never understood, but was always concerned
As the day wore on, "Bobble" made himself very scarce. Somehow, between
the end of English, and the beginning of that class the next day, The
evidence disappeared. That card being the only thing which could tie Bob
to the crime, he got off Scot free, as he invariably did, and the world
turned as it always had.