I grew up in a very middle class neighborhood. Ok, I believe it was very middle class, and in the 70s and 80s, it probably was. My house was the only two-story house on the block. I liked that about my house. My life was lived on the North side of Amarillo, Texas. I went to Will Rogers Elementary, Travis Jr. High, and Palo Duro High School. Notice I mentioned I grew up on the North side of Amarillo. That’s really the whole point to this blog post. I LOVED my neighborhood. I go back, driving through the neighborhood every once in a while, and I remember the good and the bad. I have always loved where I grew up. Not everyone in Amarillo thought so highly of the North side.
As it still is, the North side of Amarillo has always been considered the poor side of town. I never saw myself as poor when I was growing up. I had a roof over my head, clothes on my back (Yes, they were from K-mart, but I had no problem with that), shoes on my feet, and food to keep me from going hungry. I did not have the money to go shopping at the mall, to buy the best and most popular clothes or shoes, and I didn’t get to go to the movies or anything entertainment like some did. I had friends, most of them boys, and we would play football, basketball, and baseball together. If I remember correctly, there was only one girl on my block that was even close to my age, so I literally just hung out with guys. I didn’t hate it. In fact, I thought I was quite lucky. Again, I never thought of myself as poor.
Those who lived on the South side of Amarillo constantly berated the schools and people from the North side. If you were from the North side, you were never good enough for anything. You were from the ghetto, and you might as well have lived outside with the dogs. Knowing people thought that way, I still was very proud of where I went to school and where I lived. Coming from an elementary school where most people went to another jr. high was really hard. Most of the people that I had gone to elementary school with ended up going to Horace Mann Jr. High. I got to Travis not really knowing a lot of other people, and I was quite uncomfortable. I have always been an introvert, so that was really not helpful in my new school. The jr. high years were really some of my most hated of my academic life. I was picked on all the time. People were always trying to fight me, and I had no idea why. I had to become “harder” than the skinny little weak-looking girl that I was. I started wanting to be the one who was picking fights and wanted to just hit anyone who even thought about breathing too loudly around me. How I kept friends during this roller-coaster time is beyond me. I did meet some really good people at Travis, though. One person ended up being my best friend throughout high school.
I was 15 years old as I entered high school as a Sophomore. None of this Freshman stuff when I was in high school. Again, I had entered a new school with not a lot of friends. I was still wearing clothes that were not always up to par with what everyone else was wearing. I still did not see myself as poor. I did not see that I lived in the ghetto. I loved high school so much. I had my share of problems there as well, but I gained more than I lost. I was still trying to be tough as I felt I needed to be just to survive. I became friends with many more people, I got involved with groups, organizations, and a sports team. We would have these massive rivalries with Amarillo High. Kids now days have no clue how really big that rivalry was. Amarillo High was known as the rich, snobby school. So, when PD would play Amarillo High, it was poor vs. rich, North side vs. South side. It was always a big game regardless of stats and records. It was game for pride. We hated them as much as they hated us. As my three years in high school came to an end, I knew that I might never see all of the friends I had made ever again. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had become rich. I had become rich in friends.
I am now forty-five years old, and I still love Palo Duro High School. I cannot even begin to express how much pride I have to tell people I went there. Every time I pass by the school, I have a sense of pride that just puffs me up a little bit more. I learned way more than I ever expected at that school. I gained friends, some I never will see again, and I have some that I am fortunate enough to visit with daily even thought it may be just through Facebook. I love my friends from school. Someone I went to school with mentioned on Facebook that all of us that went to Palo Duro were, and are, more of a family than anything else. It’s true. We are a family! We comfort each other in times of crisis. We support each other in times of need. We give what we can to each other because that’s just what we do. That’s what family does. So, to my fellow Dons I say, I love each and every single one of you. I got your back. And………..GO BIG BLUE! GO BIG WHITE! GO DONS, GO DONS, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!!