All posts filed under: Hawthorne

Be True to Your School: the ’59 Cinderella Season

This article commemorates the 56th anniversary of the start of the 1959 football season for the Hawthorne High Cougars.  In this Cinderella season, the Cougars went undefeated in eight regular season games, two post-season play-off games, and squared off against the mighty Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championship in front of 14,906 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Friday, December 11, 1959.  In a happy coincidence, dates and days of the week are the same this year as they were in 1959.   The night before Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev landed in Los Angeles to begin his historic visit to the United States, Hawthorne High students had a decidedly less global event on their minds.  The traditional Kick-Off Dance was held in the boys’ gymnasium Friday, September 18, from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  The dress code was dressy cottons for girls and slacks and sport coats for boys.  It was the first social event of the new school year and was designed to get the student body pumped …

Russia Comes to LA and Hawthorne High

On September 8, 1959, 1,900 students trudged through the doors of Hawthorne High, including seventeen-year-old seniors Al Jardine and Brian Wilson, and Brian’s fourteen-year-old brother Dennis, one of 500 entering freshmen of the Class of ’63.  As much as they hated to return to school, there was some good news.  The school day would be thirty minutes shorter this year.  It still began sharply at 8:30 a.m. and each of the seven periods still lasted 53 minutes, but a half-hour was shaved from the two lunch periods.  The new schedule gave cafeteria workers more time to restock food and prepare for the second lunch period.  The not-so-good news was getting accustomed to the new bell system signaling when to change classes as students had seven minutes to scurry to their next class.  The lunch periods began at 11:23 a.m. and 12:23 p.m., and each lasted thirty-eight minutes.  If you didn’t pack your lunch, you spent a great deal of that precious time waiting in line. Senior Jean Robertson returned to Hawthorne High after spending her …

Hawthorne’s Plaza Theater and The Tingler

Movies were a popular pastime for teenagers in the 1950s. And for parents, they were an unbeatable value. For less than a dollar, movies got the kids out of the house, occupied them for an entire afternoon, and, even after forking over a little spending money, were still cheaper than a babysitter. The kids would leave late morning and not be seen again until dinner time. They were treated to about five hours of entertainment—cartoons with Tom and Jerry, and Woody Woodpecker, boring newsreels, coming attractions, serials of Superman, Tarzan, Zorro, and Flash Gordon, and at least two feature-length movies. And since theaters weren’t emptied between showings, lots of kids stayed to see a movie again. Another movie phenomenon of the time was hearing, from somewhere in the darkened theater, “Oh, this is where we came in.” No one paid attention to timetables or when movies started. You just went, began watching at whatever scene on which you entered, and stayed until that scene came around again. People stood up, excused themselves down a row …

The Tikis

In spring 1959, Gary Winfrey, Al Jardine, and Bob Barrow formed a folk music trio called the Tikis, inspired by their shared admiration for the music of the Kingston Trio. When I began researching the book, Bob and Gary graciously spoke with me about their days at Hawthorne High School, their friendship with Al Jardine, and the Tikis. I am happy to share more of their stories. Bob Barrow As the Kingston Trio’s Tom Dooley hit big in fall 1958, the start of their junior year, Bob Barrow, Al Jardine, and senior Gary Winfrey, discovered a shared musical interest in the Kingston Trio and began singing selections from the Trio’s eponymous debut album after football practice in the locker room of Hawthorne High School. By spring 1959, they formed a folk music trio called the Tikis. Although Brian knew Jardine, Barrow, and Winfrey from football, he didn’t socialize with them off the field. But he certainly knew of the Tikis. Everyone at Hawthorne High did. The musical spark that motivated Jardine to help form the …