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A RUMBLE IN THE HALLWAYS

CATS, STOMPERS AND NEUTRALS
          Socorro’s schools were predominantly Spanish, and there were racial problems.  The school was divided into three groups: the Cats, the Stompers, and the remaining neutral students.  The Stompers were white boys (Anglo’s).  Their hair was short and they dressed in western shirts, Levi’s and leather belts with large belt buckles.  The girls, who ran around with the Stompers, dressed in western attire off the school grounds.  (Only dresses were worn at school.)
          The Cats were mostly Spanish.  The boys wore their hair longer and slicked back on the sides.  Their style was: Ivy League shirts, baggy pants that were inches too long and hung low with on their hips.
          I belonged to the neutral group who had friends on both sides. (Although away from school, I often wore my western clothes and my leather belt with a 4X4 buckle.)
          There were stories circulating of Stompers ganging up on Cats and visa versa.  One day
between classes in the High School hall, someone locked the instructors in the teacher’s lounge, and the Stompers and Cats had a free-for-all.
          There were bodies hurled against lockers and fists thrown into chins and stomachs, as feet hit shinbones. One Spanish girl picked up a small, Stomper boy and threw him down the hallway.
          The Junior High had not been involved in the upheaval, but we were included in the school assembly that followed.  The School Superintendent paced in front of the student body, as he threatened, exhorted and expressed his approval.  The angry, red-faced principal followed his speech.  The last speaker was the Chief of Police.  They all repeated the same warning...
          “This type of behavior will not be tolerated!  If another incident occurs, there will be stronger measures taken!”
          There wasn’t another “incident”, but the coolness of a cold war remained.  Toward the end of the school year, something happened that united the student body (at least for a time).  Two football players, Bob Price and Herman Aragon, were in a car wreck.  Herman, a popular Spanish boy, was killed.  Bob Price, a white boy, who all the girls swooned over, was left paralyzed from the waist down.  Jill and I attended Herman’s funeral at the Catholic Church.  Once more I was faced with the realities.  Life was full of uncertainties!  No one knew what would happen around the next curve in the road or in a river swim.
My 4x4 belt buckle...stomper style (although I was neutral)