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Walter P. Whoopee was 50 years ago today

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

Random thoughts cross my mind as I wonder where Sally Stackhouse is today.

Actually, Sally has much to do with the title of today’s column as I remember it as today is the 50th anniversary of the “Walter P. Whoopee” at then Walter P. Chrysler Memorial High School in New Castle.

The Walter P. Whoopee was a fundraising event for all of the high school clubs and organizations held at the same time and together on the concourse and floor of New Castle Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 8, 1969.

It was held the very next day after the Trojan football team concluded its 0-10 season with a 49-14 loss to visiting Lafayette Jefferson on then Trojan Field (now Neal Field).

The objective of the Whoopee was to bring together a large group of students (and adults) in this large event. They would then proceed from booth to booth, table to table, or station to station and spend their money at various activities or games offered by these clubs or organizations. Prizes were awarded for good performances.

In my journal of 50 years ago, I wrote down that I went to the Fieldhouse Saturday morning to set up things for that Saturday night’s Whoopee event. I was a member of band and was vice president of the Math Club, but I didn’t state for what club or organization I set things up, and I don’t remember either.

But I do member the Whoopee on Saturday night. Back then, I was a fairly decent basketball player (not good or tall enough to play for the Trojans, though) and a really good free throw shooter as I practiced a lot on the portable goal my dad built for me and my brother.

I played Church League Basketball for First United Methodist Church in those days, and our games were played in the old Armory on Grand Avenue. My name even got in this newspaper for a few of my performances. Check it out if you don’t believe me.

Anyway, back then the pom-pom corps and flag corps was part of the marching band, and these two entities also performed at home basketball games where the band played.

The pom-pom corps had a free-throw shooting contest as its activity in an attempt to raise money. Naturally, being a good free throw shooter and a red-blooded American guy who liked to be around pretty girls, I gravitated toward the pom-pom station.

Free paper flowers made by the girls in the pom-pom corps were the prizes awarded for hitting so many three throws (or so many free throws in a row). I think the cost was a quarter for each time at the line and you got several shots for each quarter you spent (a quarter could buy some stuff back in those days).

Anyway, I won eight paper flowers with my free throw shooting prowess, so many that the pom-pom corps started to run out of them to give to other participants if they won.

Sally and another girl on the pom-pom corps came up to me in the Fieldhouse and asked if I would be willing to give back some of my paper flowers and then they would make some more after the event and give me back in school the following week the flowers I gave up.

I couldn’t say no to Sally Stackhouse. Sally was one of those girls every high school class seems to have: sweet, pretty, popular, and nice to everyone. In fact, I thought she was out of my league.

But that was true for me with about every girl I was attracted to in high school. I was kind of shy around cute girls and assumed they never would go out with me, so I never bothered to ask. Much later in life, I found out that one of those girls would have gone out with me, so I missed out on an opportunity.

I don’t remember how much money clubs or organizations made at the Whoopee, but I think that was the only year for it, which was my junior year of high school. But I do remember Sally.

Sally was Homecoming Queen in 1970, an honor voted upon by the student body and one for which only one girl received every five years back then. I never asked her out, of course, but she flirted with me on occasion, which made me (kind of a nobody in high school) feel important.

We hugged twice after basketball games, the first time when the Trojans upset No. 2 Richmond in Civic Hall back in December 1970, and again after the Trojans came back from a 10-point deficit at the end of the third quarter to stun Batesville 68-63 in the second afternoon semifinal of the Hinkle semi-state in March 1971.

Sally and I graduated in June 1971, she went to Purdue and I to Ball State, and I lost track of her after that. I hope she shows up at our 50th class reunion in 2021.

When I was a college instructor and we covered communication in my class, three barriers to communication are selective perception, selective exposure, and selective retention.

Selective perception means we interpret the same stimuli differently. Selective exposure means we sometimes choose which stimuli we want to encounter (missing some opportunities along the way), and selective retention means we remember what we want to remember, usually the best and worst things that happen to us.

It’s funny how big a role these barriers to communication play in our lives.

One final point involving Sally. When I was in the high school band way back when, the flag corps and pom-pom corps would perform during the elaborate pre-game patriotic ceremony at all home basketball games, and the pom-pom corps and sometimes the flag corps frequently would entertain fans at halftime of those games. The band also would play tunes before, during, and after the games.

What happened to that? I wish it would come back because I miss it. But I’m an “old” goat now and some folks probably would tell me to shut up because that’s a relic of the past.

As the new basketball season approaches, I guess what we have to look forward to for halftime entertainment is to watch folks spend a buck in an attempt to win a two-liter bottle of pop.

Oh, by the way you remaining members of the 1969 Trojan football team. The final tally in the “Golden Bear Gridiron Watch” is Shelbyville 21, Opponents 589 for 10 games compared to the 1969 Trojans’ New Castle 61, Opponents 512 ledger for 10 games. So, you’re off the hook.

David Risley is sports editor at The Courier-Times and plans to be so for a number of years.