Monday, June 27, 2016

Zavaleta Escapes Viet Nam, Back in Saddle at Texas Southmost College

Judge Neece Swears in Zavaleta
"After graduation, the '64 classes of St. Joseph's, St. Mary's and Brownsville High School were invited to Jacob Brown Auditorium for a test with the results to be announced the next day.  After reading the names of those passing the test and eligible for Texas Southmost College, the master of ceremonies said that boys who didn't pass were likely headed for Viet Nam.," stated Dr. Tony Zavaleta, after being sworn in as TSC Trustee by Judge Ben Neece.

Nena, Visiting with Adela Garza
with Grandsons
Yes, the Viet Nam era. Nena spent one year at BHS, but actually graduated from Copperas Cove High School in 1963 as her father, Manuel Perez, was stationed at Fort Hood.  After looking briefly for a job, she joined the army, too, serving from '63 to '66.  I met Nena in '66.  I still had my deferment. 

Only a few in town will remember Bill Williams, carnival barker, world traveler, snappy dresser, but above all else, salesman.  In December '66, Bill asked me to drive him into Matamoros to purchase some cookware, but suggested a stop at the Drive Inn first for libations.  4 or 5 of us, at the bar, got involved in this huge discussion, argument about the Viet Nam War.  Bill had a tab at the Drive Inn and told the bartender to "keep them coming." Before morning, Bill was forced to empty his wallet to put "something" on the tab.  I found one nickle on the floorboard of my '59 VW, just enough to get back across the B&M Bridge.  Bill asked me a few days later:  "How were you able to drive back?"

Zavaleta, in remarks after the swearing in, lamented that, unlike some other community colleges, TSC did not, as yet, offer a bachelor's degree.

"Make no mistake, we've lost our university." he observed, referring to the bulk of UT-RGV, along with the administration, being moved to Edinburg.

The old warhorse, describing himself as "a hard worker," vows to "bring TSC back."  Actually, the test, issued years ago at Jacob Brown  Auditorium, is ongoing. 

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