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El Paso High School
Class Of 1964

Welcome to the El Paso High Class Of 1964 web site. "El Paso High will shine no more without the class of '64"


Our 50th Class Reunion will be held on May 23-25, 2014

Please click on Reunion Registration  link to tell us which events you will be attending.



6:00 pm El Paso Tennis Club (2510 St. Vrain)

Registration followed by visiting and dinner




10:00 am EPHS tour

12:30 No host lunch at Avila's (6232 N. Mesa)

5:30 pm Cocktails at El Paso Club (201 W. Main)

7:00 pm Dinner followed by program, music & dancing

Attire-Like going out to a nice dinner



10:30 am No host Brunch at The Greenery


$100 per person

Your check is your reservation

Send to:

EPHS Class Of ’64

c/o Elena Ruiz Tovar

6917 Rock Canyon Dr.

El Paso, Tx 79912


Hotel Information

Hilton Garden Inn: 111 W. University Ave, El Paso, TX 79902

To get our special group rate of $85.00 per night per room:

               Reserve by May 5, 2014

               Use Group Block Code:  EPHC64

Call: (915) 351-4905 or

Reserve on-line:



Early lessons shaped Libby Doggett’s career as preschool evangelist

Volunteering for a local Head Start program was rewarding in college, but Libby Doggett didn’t really think early childhood education was where her future would lie.

She recalled her classmates at the University of Texas referring to such classes as “kiddie lit,” with many assuming it was easy work with low pay.

“I’m sure there was a little bit of arrogance on my part back then,” Doggett said. “I considered myself a smart student. I should be doing something more. But then one day, I just sat up.”

Doggett realized education was her passion and that what the youngest children learn has significant lasting impact on their lives and the community. So she enrolled in every early childhood development class she could, setting a course that would shape her life and preschool education across the nation.

Doggett is now the deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Education who oversees early childhood education policy and is working to expand quality programs. She will be in town Monday for the Dallas Foundation’s series that will discuss the importance of early childhood education.

“I truly believe that we’re at a tipping point on early childhood education in Dallas,” said Mary Jalonick, foundation president. “Libby is such an expert in early childhood. If you hear her talk … it’s like a call to action. All of this is a call to action for us that early childhood education is a place that we all need to focus in on.”

A force for pre-K

While Doggett may shy away from taking too much credit, many are quick to note that she’s long been a driving force in advocating for quality preschool.

Before her current post, Doggett led efforts funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, including a five-year stint directing Pre-K Now, an initiative to advance quality preschool nationwide.

“Nationwide, we’re seeing all levels of government get more involved in education from birth to third grade to make sure kids don’t fall in between the cracks,” said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. “Libby is certainly one who has helped to move the country in that direction.”

Doggett grew up in El Paso, one of four children. As a UT student, Elizabeth Belk was interviewing candidates running for student body president when she met Lloyd Doggett, her husband who is now a Democratic congressman known for clashing with the state’s Republican leadership from time to time.

And while she would play a critical role on her husband’s campaign, Libby Doggett’s own career focused on education starting with a bilingual first-grade class she taught in Austin.

Doggett, who earned her doctorate in early childhood special education, spent a great deal of her career working on special education issues, including as executive director of The Arc of Texas.

She also worked on related efforts for Alabama and in U.S. Department of Education.

Then her career brought her back to early childhood education, specifically back to Head Start where she oversaw a reading program for preschool educators.

Doggett gives credit to the increased focus on early childhood education to President Obama, who in his 2013 State of the Union address called for high-quality preschool for every child in America.

Universal access

Since joining his administration last year, Doggett has overseen efforts to improve preschool and student access as well as push for universal pre-K.

It was just this month that a bipartisan bill was approved by the U.S. Senate that aims to have states improve the quality and safety of federally funded day care and after-school programs.

But some disagree that universal pre-K is the answer. At a recent early childhood education seminar in New Orleans, Grover Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, debated Doggett over preschool issues.

While Whitehurst agreed early childhood education is important, he said research doesn’t support one approach over another and said families should be allowed to use designated federal funds for programs as they see fit.

In recent years, some cities and states have stepped up their efforts to address pre-K needs. In 2012, for example, San Antonio voters approved an eighth of a cent sales tax increase to fund expanded programs in schools, a model cities nationwide have been following with a watchful eye.

“Cities have traditionally led the way in educational changes,” Doggett said. “Dallas could be the next San Antonio” by being a leader in preschool.

That’s what the Dallas Foundation hopes local nonprofits and community leaders will take away from Monday’s event, which also includes Frances Deviney from Texas KIDS COUNT, which is tracking preschool data in the state.

“It’s all about making people understand that it’s important. That reading to children, singing to children, all of this is important and makes a difference in their whole lives,” Jalonick said.


EVA-MARIE AYALA The Dallas Morning News

Staff writer

Published: 28 March 2014 11:14 PM

Updated: 29 March 2014 12:33 AM



Bobby Ortiz with his uncle Joe Torres EPHS graduate 1941 and his EPHS 100 year anniversary tile.


Sandy Marrs Young and I went to New York City in December to just have fun. Because of this web site we knew Jimmy Farah was living in NYC. Gave him a call while we were there. He suggested we meet in Soho and have a drink. It was great to see Jimmy and to see Soho. You never know where your classmates might be. It was so fun to reconnect in NYC. Thank God Sandy could navigate better than I could. Getting there was definitely half the fun. Otherwise if it wasn't for Jimmy, we probably would never have seen Soho. Thanks for the fun, Jimmy!

Margaret Morrow Van Dyken

The Class Reunion

by Jo David Stockwell

Every ten years, as summertime nears,
An announcement arrives in the mail.
"A reunion is planned; it'll be really grand,
Make plans to attend without fail".

I'll never forget the first time we met,
We tried so hard to impress.
We drove fancy cars, smoked big cigars,
And wore our most elegant dress.

It was quite an affair; the whole class was there.
It was held at a fancy hotel.
We wined, and we dined, and we acted refined,
And everyone thought it was swell.

The men all conversed about who had been first
To achieve great fortune and fame.
Meanwhile, their spouses described their fine houses
And how beautiful their children became.

The homecoming queen, who once had been lean,
Now weighed in at one-ninety-six.
The jocks who were there had all lost their hair,
And the cheerleaders could no longer do kicks.

No one had heard about the class nerd
Who'd guided a spacecraft to the moon;
Or poor little Jane, who's always been plain,
She married a shipping tycoon.

The boy we'd decreed "most apt to succeed"
Was serving ten years in the pen,
While the one voted "least" now was a priest;
Just shows you can be wrong now and then.

They awarded a prize to one of the guys
Who seemed to have aged the least.
Another was given to the grad who had driven
The farthest to attend the feast.

They took a class picture, a curious mixture
Of beehives, crew cuts and wide ties.
Tall, short, or skinny, the style was the mini,
You never saw so many thighs.

At our next get-together, no one cared whether
They impressed their classmates or not.
The mood was informal, a whole lot more normal,
By this time we'd all gone to pot.

It was held out-of-doors, at the lake shores,
We ate hamburgers, coleslaw, and beans.
Then most of us lay around in the shade,
In our comfortable T-shirts and jeans.

By the fortieth year, it was abundantly clear,
We were definitely over the hill.
Those who weren't dead had to crawl out of bed,
And be home in time for their pill.

And now I can't wait--they've set the date,
Our fiftieth is coming, I'm told.
It should be a ball, they've rented a hall
At the Shady Rest Home for the old.

Repairs have been made on my hearing aid,
My pacemaker's been turned up on high.
My wheelchair is oiled, and my teeth have been boiled,
And I've bought a new wig and glass eye.

I'm feeling quite hearty, and I'm ready to party,
I'm gonna dance 'til dawn's early light.
It'll be lots of fun. but I just hope that there's one
Other person who can make it that night.




“The Lady on the Hill” plans 100th celebration for 2016

Nancy R. Natalicio


     It’s only 2013, but it’s never too early to start planning for a 100th anniversary.

     So says Sandy Aaronson, mover and shaker among El Paso High Tigers-Friends & Exes, a group that supports the school’s needs.

    “There’s so much to do,” she said.  The Tile Project is one of the group’s chief efforts. “Each tile will have an etched outline of the school and three lines for names of graduates, family members, friends and current students,” Aaronson said.

     Zamorano’s Monument Company has prepared samples of personalized commemorative tiles. Co-owner Olga Zamorano described the process, which takes about an hour and a half by hand per tile.

     “We lay a stencil on top, then sandblast the image and lettering onto the tile. Slate is a material that lends itself well to this method,” she said.

     “The tiles are beautiful and a great way for graduates to honor family members and friends,” Aaronson said.  They will be placed and remain around the campus in various locations.


Active Alums

     “Those of us who graduated in the sixties have been very active as exes,” said Amada Flores, owner of AIM Construction, who earned her diploma in 1963.  “Our class is especially close, but so are the classes of ‘62, ’64, and ’66, to name a few.”

     Elvia Hernandez, a former City Council member and LULAC President who now resides in Dallas, is one of the cheerleaders for the efforts. “We keep in touch by email and phone often.”

    “Another is Jack Maxon,” Flores added. Maxon is the retired owner of Jaxon’s Restaurant, an El Paso fixture for 40 years until its recent closing. “Jack has always been a faithful supporter of the school.”

     Mary Jo Melby (1958) feels her years at EPHS were good preparation for life. “Our class was small—only about 200—but we were a cultural mix of Anglo, Hispanic, Syrian, Lebanese, Turkish, Chinese and Jewish families. We weren’t really aware of the benefits until years later.”

     Melby fondly remembers her drama teacher, Mrs. Hutchins, who also taught F. Murray Abraham (star of the movie “Amadeus”).

     Flores underscored the importance of making time to reminisce with fellow graduates.  “After all, as someone said, to remember is to live again,” she said.


Future Plans

     Michael Montes (1997), a relative newcomer, is President of the Alumni Association and announcer at many of its sports activities.

    “I have two major goals for the next two years,” Montes said, “fundraising and getting more young people involved through technology.”

     Plans include a golf tournament, 5K and 10K runs, a declaration of “El Paso High School Day” by the city, and participation in the Sun Carnival Parade.

    “For the parade we want to have people dressed in the clothing of each decade of the last 100 years,” Montes said.

    He rattled off a few famous attendees from various decades, including Jacob Ehrlich (also known as Jack Earle and Pecos Bill), Hollywood actor from age 13 and tallest man in the world for decades at 7 feet 7 inches, and William D. Hawkins,1930 graduate at age 16 and a World War II hero.

    More recent graduates include Jim Paul, former Diablos owner and current Executive Director of Hospice of El Paso; Jimmy Rogers (1952), “Mr. Sun Bowl” and owner of Rogers and Belding Insurance Agency, and Hector “El Pipo” Barragan (1955), owner of Pipo’s Barber Shop and Academy of Hair Design.

    Montes, who will meet with three graduating classes this month, has put together a 35-minute video about the school’s history.

    “Not many know that EPHS is actually 127 years old,” he said.  From 1885 to 1900 it was at the corner of Myrtle and Campbell. Then it moved to the old Morehead Elementary.

     “In 1912 the Superintendent said they needed a new building, so the Board bought the present four-block site for $28,500 and built the school for $500,000. A cost analysis indicates our present building would cost over ten million dollars,” Montes said.

     The building was completed in 1916, and the gym, cafeteria and library added later.     Designed by Trost and Trost in the Greco-Roman style, the “Lady on the Hill” has been honored across the country for its unique features and design, Aaronson said.

     Sample tiles appear on the school’s Facebook page as well as on EPHS’ 1964 and 1966 class websites.  For more information and to obtain an order form for a tile, email;; or, or visit Pipo’s Barber Shop, 3500 Montana.


Friday, 8 November, 6:30 PM, KTSM-TV Channel 9 (TWC Channel 10) in El Paso, will broadcast a news feature on "The 1963 Game the Wasn't."  

You recall that game was cancelled because of the assassination of President Kenneday that day in Dallas.  Players from the 1963 teams at both schools played a "make-up" game 20-years later.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and KTSM News has prepared a feature story:

Our special report on the game's cancellation and the impact will air tonight at 6:30.

Here's the link to the feature that was aired...



Classmates: Please note the following announcement, which appears below and on the website of the EPHS Class of ’61. It is about a recently published book written by Pat Kahn Simons (class of ’61), sister of Marian Kahn Daross. The fast-paced book is a true account of how their father and uncle escaped Nazi Germany and fought in the Spanish Civil War. It is very well-written and is a real page-turner!

El Paso High School Class Of 1961 ANNOUNCEMENT! Pat Kahn Simons has recently published her new book and it is getting rave reviews! The latest review was last week on the news website, St. Louis Jewish Light. It can be viewed at www.stljewishlightreview. Also as a promotion, the e-book will be free from today, June 18 to June 21 at Amazon. Here is a link to the book on Amazon: There is also a promotion on From June 17 to July 16, people who would like a free print copy can enter a raffle and they will choose 10 winners. Pat will send the winners copies at no charge. Don't miss this chance to obtain a great book from one of our own classmates -- It's a great read with lots of history as well.




EPHS Tile Project for 100 Year Anniversary..Order Form Below


Picture of actual finished tiles


Hector "El Pipo" Barragan



20th Reunion Football Game-Austin vs. EPHS-July 1984




On November 22, 1963, El Paso High Class of ’64 was scheduled to play arch rival Austin High in one of the most anticipated high school football games of the season.  But on that morning, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and all sporting events were cancelled.  No make-up games were scheduled.

Twenty years later, El Paso grad Pat Wieland and Austin alum Stafford Werner came up with an idea to finally play “The Game.”  After the idea was conceived, each reunion committee embraced it wholeheartedly and “The Game” took on a life of its own. It was such a serious endeavor for the Tiger football players that they practiced 5 nights a week, with their original coach Jackie Meeks, and they actually closed those practice sessions, due to suspected spies!

For EPHS Class of ’64 grads this would be much more than a game. The “Claw”, which was awarded each season to the victor of the EPHS vs. Austin game, had eluded the EPHS football team for seven long years. There was no question that EPHS would finally win back The Claw on game day. The victory would provide a fitting end to the high school football careers of all seniors. But the opportunity to win that “Claw” was denied, as was the opportunity to close the book on their high school football careers. Until…..

“The Game” took place at El Paso High’s Jones Stadium on a hot July day in 1984, complete with original coaches, original cheerleaders and more than 5000 fans.  There was tremendous community & alumni support led in part by TV Channel 7’s General Manager Richard Pearson, an El Paso High alum and Outstanding Ex.  Sportscaster Kevin Lovell was sent to take all the footage he could, much of which has now been preserved on DVD. On game day, there was even a mention of “The Game” on the network’s nationally televised morning show.

Excitement filled the air on Game Day. The setting was complete with fans cheering as the players ran through a paper barrier while the EPHS fight song blared loudly from a Miller beer truck parked on the sidelines. The Tigers prevailed by 36-28, scoring the winning touchdown with about a minute to play. The EPHS football team had won the coveted “Claw” and could finally fill the void left by the cancellation of their final football game.

EPHS Class of ’64 was able to complete the last chapter and close the book on their unforgettable high school years. A victory delayed is no less sweet. GO TIGERS!




1984: 20-year issue settled


By Ruben Villegas
Times staff writer

After 20 years, the El Paso High and Austin classes of 1964 bridged a historic rivalry gap, when the El Paso Tigers won the 1963 battle for the claws 36-28 at El Paso High.

Saturday’s football game was a make-up of the original 1963 contest that was canceled after the assassination of President John Kennedy.

The 20th-year reunion flag football game lived up to its billing as an exciting rivalry, complete with posters, cheerleaders, pep band and of course, a tied football game with 6:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The 28-all deadlock threw the more than 2,400 Jones Stadium fans into a frenzy while players on the sidelines asked each other the obvious. “What happens if we tie?”

The teams remained scoreless past the two-minute mark, when only eight plays remained, regardless of the clock and the rules laid out before the contest.

On the fourth play – also the fourth down just 10 yards short of the goal line – El Paso quarterback Eddie Ortegon fired a quick aerial to wide receiver Eddie Fisher for six points. On the two-point conversion, Ortegon again passed to Fisher to secure the final 36-28 score.

Austin had four plays left but one pass was dropped, another pass earned 2 yards, and a receiver fell after catching a lateral. On the final play, an Austin pass fell incomplete.

“We needed a bomb on that last play,” Austin ex quarterback Tony Harper said, “but the old arm won’t go that far.”

The players ages - most were in their late 30s – proved to be a factor of sorts.

For instance:

-Before the game Austin Coach Jerry Wilson told his players to stretch out to avoid hamstring injuries. However, as the team exited from its lower floor locker room someone yelled, “And don’t get hurt climbing those steps.”

-An observer who read the “64/84” poster embedded on a 14-foot wooden “A” frame remarked that one couldn’t be sure if the numbers referred to the class or the differences in belt sizes.

-El Paso ex George Look said his team “got real tired at the end of the first half but a lot of it had to do with the excitement. We went to the locker rooms at halftime and did a lot of stretching.”

Look set the pace on the first play of the game when he intercepted Harper’s aerial and barged in for the touchdown. With the two-point conversion El Paso owned an 8-0 lead.

Austin marched back in nine plays, Bob Arnold connecting with Harper for a touchdown. The two-point conversion run failed and the first quarter ended with El Paso on top 8-6.

Defenses kept the two teams busy in the second quarter until the two-minute mark, when each team received eight final plays.

On El Paso’s sixth play Ortegon fired a pass but it was deflected before Look snatched the football for a score. The two-point conversion failed.

Austin regrouped, and on it’s second play Harper connected with Keith Alexander for six points. The two-point conversion was good and the teams were tied at 14.

El Paso had two plays left and needed but one to score on a bomb from Ortegon to Fisher.

The conversion was good and El Paso led 22-14 at the half.

Austin then took only four plays to score when Harper connected with Robert Reyes. The conversion pass failed.

El Paso failed to retain possession and Austin needed only three plays before Harper connected with Richard Melendez for another touchdown. The two-point pass failed and the score was tied at 28.

“We were getting a little tired and we ran out of gas in the third quarter.” El Paso Coach Jackie Meeks said. “Plus they had some god players, too.”

After the game, the players and fans gathered at midfield for handshakes. A little girl, wandering aimlessly, looked up at the grown men and asked no one in particular. “Who won?”

Ask the Tigers.


Austin vs. El Paso High: Storied football rivalry takes field for 80th time

by Evan Mohl / El Paso Times

Posted: 09/23/2011 04:12:39 PM MDT

Pat Wieland knows and accepts the numbers. The former Tiger linebacker understands that when the Austin and El Paso high school football teams meet tonight, the record books will indicate the 80th anniversary of a bitter rivalry.

Wieland, 65 years old and semi-retired from the real estate business, also realizes that statistics, figures or any other kind of quantitative data can never encapsulate the annual Battle of the Claw.

The game never happened in 1963 because of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. But Wieland and his fellow '64 classmates at both El Paso and Austin found a way to play it - even if it was 20 years late and will never show up in the record book.

The Battle of the Claw means that much, as the make-up game still resonates in Wieland's sharp memory.

Historic cancellation

The sounds and sights of Nov. 22, 1963, remain vivid in Wieland's and his teammates' memories.

The day started like all previous Battles of the Claw with the simultaneous pep rallies. El Paso High students and staff packed their auditorium, while a few miles up the road and around the base of the Franklin Mountains, the student body

at Austin High assembled in its gym.

At around 11 a.m., the cheering started, broadcast live on KTSM radio for all of El Paso to hear. Each side received three allotted time slots for a deafening battle of cheers that would go back-and-forth for a half-hour.

"We are the Panthers, couldn't be prouder, if you can't hear us, we'll yell a little louder!," roared the Panther faithful.

El Paso answered emphatically.

"We are the Tigers, couldn't be prouder, if you can't hear us, we'll yell a little louder!," replied the Tiger crowd.

The adrenaline flowed that Friday morning, the atmosphere electric for the 33rd meeting between the two teams.

But the game never happened.

A few hours after the pep rally news quickly spread throughout the school that President Kennedy had been assassinated.

"Someone in the hallway came up running to me and told me the president was shot," El Paso linebacker George Look said. "I thought he was talking about the Austin school president. I didn't think in a million years the president of the United States."

Coaches then delivered a second shocker to the players: The Battle of the Claw was canceled.

It would not be rescheduled.


About the rivalry

As players dealt with Kennedy's assassination, they also tried to come to terms with the canceled football game. Both depressed students. But it was the game, the highlight of the fall for the Class of 1964, that stung.

"Not to take anything away from the president's assassination," Wieland said, "but we were devastated about the game."

The rivalry, which began in 1930, matched two schools separated by 3.9 miles.

Austin player Stafford Werner and Wieland lived across the street from each other.

Austin and El Paso, particularly in the early years, were also the city's powerhouse teams. Their contest usually determined which team from El Paso would advance to the state playoffs.

Everything was on the line - from bragging rights to the season. The game and days leading up to it came to envelop the magnitude, including the broadcast.

Werner remembers an "E" burned into Austin's grass field. Another time, the Panther mascot was covered in black paint. The El Paso "E" on the Franklin Mountains went through a few disassembles as well.

In 1960, a trophy, called "The Claw" in honor of the mascots, was created for the winner of the game to claim for a whole year. "The Claw," now a replica because the original went missing in 2003, is on display as part of a Texas high school football exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

The trophy represents one of the five longest, continuous rivalries across the state.

Missed opportunity

Wieland calls the 1963 game a chance at redemption. The Tigers had lost seven straight years to the Panthers, including the 1962 heartbreaker, when the Tigers rallied from a 22-0 halftime deficit only to lose 28-22 in front of a record 15,000 fans at Kidd Field.

El Paso, for the first time in years, was the favorite. Austin suffered injuries and had fallen to 2-7. El Paso entered the game 7-1-1, just one game behind Bel Air for the district championship.

"We were ready to end all those years of misery," said Willie Sanchez, El Paso's quarterback. "I don't think there was any doubt we were going to win."

The cancellation left doubt. It also meant El Paso would not go to the playoffs. Bel Air was awarded the district title in nine games.

For most, that was the end of football. No college scholarship existed. No more Friday night lights. No more packed stadiums. No pep rallies.

And several of the players, who had spent years sweating and laboring on junior varsity squads, missed their one opportunity to play for "The Claw."

Redemption: 20 years later

The players, coaches, students and Wieland moved on, but he never quite forgot about the game. The what-ifs stuck like a thorn in his side.

Wieland attended Texas Western, soon to become UTEP, and eventually settled down in El Paso. One of his frat brothers and business partners was Werner.

One night in 1984 as the two dined and drank together, they began reminiscing. The details remain unclear, but Wieland, or so he says, threw out an absurd idea: What if, at the 20th reunion, the two schools ended all the doubt once and for all and played for The Claw.

Werner loved the idea. He went back to his reunion steering committee and pitched it.

A few weeks later, Wieland, who never thought the game would gain much traction, ran into Austin player James Luckett in Downtown. Luckett told Wieland the Panthers would win.

The game was on.

Back on the field

The idea began as a friendly pick-up flag football game between 38-year-olds. It quickly turned serious.

Both teams practiced well before the showdown - El Paso three times a week for two hours a couple of months before the game; and Austin a few weeks as well. They worked out and got back in shape.

They even got coaches -Jackie Meeks, the old Tigers backfields coach for El Paso, and Jerry Wilson for Austin, who helped design playbooks full of reverses, post routes, and hook and ladders. They even set up audibles at the line of scrimmage.

At one point, the Tigers closed practice for fear of spies.

"It got dead serious," Wieland said. "It was like we were 17."

The scene on game day, besides a few gray hairs and some bigger guts, looked like what 1963 was supposed to.

It had all the hoopla - and more - of an intense football game between two archrivals.

The teams played at El Paso's Jones Stadium - where the 1963 contest was supposed to be held - in front of 2,400 fans on a hot July day. Referees were hired and the scoreboard was set. Both teams had color-coordinated jerseys and hats.

Cheerleaders worked the sidelines in full 1963 uniform - pom-poms, sweater, skirts and homecoming mums. They rattled off cheers, jumped and kicked as if they had hopped into a time machine. School songs blared over speakers from the Miller Lite truck while some band members, who had rummaged old instruments, played along.

The Tigers ran out onto the field through a hand-drawn banner that read, "Pulverize the Panthers."

"It was just like we were playing for real," Sanchez said. "And we weren't playing for funsies."

In the first quarter alone, El Paso committed two personal fouls. Sanchez remembers watching players persist through injury and do things 38-year-old bodies weren't supposed to, as Eddie Fisher ran through a pulled hamstring muscle just to score a touchdown.

The Tigers led the majority of the game, but as so often happened in this rivalry, Austin rallied to tie the game at 28 late in the fourth.

El Paso answered. On fourth-and-12, Tiger quarterback Eddie Ortegon threw a strike to Fisher for a 36-28 victory that set off pandemonium.

The Tigers carried Meeks off the field, celebrating like teens.

"I've been a part of some national championships (college) and some World Series," said Sanchez, who later was a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

"But I'd have to put that game, that rivalry right up there."

After the game, El Paso held an awards ceremony.

It was emotional.

When Ortegon, a former fullback, came up to receive his award for Most Valuable Player, he limped to the podium with eyes welling up.

The lost game had been found. The void no longer there, Wieland's what-ifs answered.

Players, after 20 years, finally whistled closure on what should have been one of their most treasured teenage memories.


It took about 35 seconds for two of El Paso's more visible and sometimes controversial pieces of history to fall to the ground and disintegrate just after the sun rose on a clear, almost windless Saturday morning.

One cannon-like, reverberating boom was followed several seconds later by another reverberating boom.

Those were the sounds produced after about 300 pounds of explosives were detonated inside the bases of two huge concrete smokestacks. They slowly fell like giant trees onto cushioned dirt beds on the former 126-year-old Asarco copper smelter site in West-Central El Paso. Three unexpected paragliders hovered in the sky above Juárez to get a bird's-eye of the planned destruction.

At 6:55 a.m., the smokestacks were gone.

"It's the end of an era. It's changed the skyline," said Ted Houghton, an El Paso businessman and chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission, who watched the demolition from a special viewing area near Executive Center Boulevard and Interstate 10.

Huge, gray clouds of what Asarco site Trustee Roberto Puga said was concrete dust erupted as the smokestacks fell with two thunderous thuds.

The mass of dust clouds spread from the Asarco site to nearby neighborhoods in Juárez, where residents coughed and worried about the dust's effects.

The clouds also moved across a closed section of I-10 to the University of Texas at El Paso area, where several hundred people stood on rocky hills bordering the freeway to view and photograph the historic occasion. Twenty-six water cannons shot 500,000 gallons of mist at the falling stacks, but that didn't deter the clouds' escape. Puga said the mist and other measures reduced the dust.

The dust was mostly gone from the Asarco site about 25 minutes after the demolition, but a dust cloud still hung over Downtown El Paso more than an hour after the smokestacks tumbled down. The Sunset Heights neighborhood near UTEP was also hit hard by the dust clouds, people reported.

Traffic jammed Mesa Avenue and other nearby streets Saturday morning because of a two-hour closing of a section of I-10 and about a four-hour closing of a part of Paisano Drive for the demolition.

"What can I say, it's no good to cry," said Miguel Beltran, 85, a former Asarco worker. But his eyes were tearing up after watching the smokestacks fall. He and and handful of other workers were among about 100 guests of the Asarco site trustee at the viewing area. TV anchormen stood in an adjacent media area, giving their still sleepy El Paso-area audiences a blow-by-blow account of the big fall.

"It's a sad day, a black day for us. I still love Asarco," Beltran said as he stood next to two other former Asarco workers. "I raised all my (seven) kids" working at Asarco 25 years, he said. The smelter closed in 1999.

Puga, the trustee in charge of cleaning up the former copper smelter site, said the demolition went as planned as he got into an SUV about 25 minutes after the demolition to go from the Executive Center viewing area to the Asarco site to inspect the smokestacks' rubble.

"The engineering for the drop was right on target. All the ordinance was exploded," said Puga, a geophysicist, who said he slept very little in the nights leading up to the demolition.

The dust cloud was expected and was within the area established for air monitoring, he said. More than $1 million was spent on dust-control measures, including the water cannons. Without those dust-mitigation efforts, the cloud would have been worse, Puga said at a news conference five hours after the demolition.

The demolition's price tag is expected to be $1.6 million to $2 million.

State Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, in a written statement released Saturday afternoon, said the thick clouds of dust reported in various areas on both sides of the border concern him, and he called for a "thorough review" of the event.

"Despite reassurances from the trustee, TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) and EPA, thousands of people in El Paso and Juárez were exposed to a cloud of Asarco dust," Rodríguez said.

Puga said tests of nine core samples from the two concrete smokestacks done before the demolition found no indications of anything in the stacks that would harm people or the environment.

Initial reports Saturday from air-monitoring sites around Asarco found dust levels from the demolition did not exceed regulatory standards, Puga said. Final air-monitoring results from the demolition will be posted on the Asarco trustee's website in about a week, he said.

No structural damage or injuries were reported on either side of the border after the demolition, Puga said.

Former El Paso Mayor Larry Francis said Puga deserves to be congratulated for a job well done on the stacks' demolition.

"No surprises. That's good. If there were surprises, it would have been bad," Francis said as he boarded a shuttle bus to leave the special viewing area on Executive Center.

"I thought it was good they (stacks) came down. There was no good reason to keep them in the air," said Francis, 79, who was mayor from 1993 to 1997. "It's a valuable piece of property, and we need to move on."

The first to go down was the 63-year-old, 612-foot smokestack, which had served the long-closed lead smelter at the Asarco site. It was almost as tall as a 50-story building. The top half of the stack broke off as it toppled to the ground.

The second to go in a dramatic, slow-motion fall was the iconic, 47-year-old, 828-foot main smokestack used for the copper smelter. It was almost as tall as a 70-story building and had large Asarco letters on the side. A top section of the stack broke off as it neared the ground during the demolition.

A small group of El Pasoans spent about a year in an unsuccessful attempt to save the big stack from demolition. But they could not come up with the millions of dollars needed to preserve what they viewed as an important, historic landmark.

The demolition reduced the stacks to piles of mostly small pieces of concrete mixed with tangled rebar. The news media were allowed to view the rubble inside the Asarco site Saturday afternoon. The stacks were made up of about 30,000 tons of concrete and rebar, Puga said. A small part of the big stack's base remained after the demolition, but the stack's Asarco lettering disintegrated.

Puga said it will take several months to clean up the demolition site and dispose of the rubble. The rebar will be removed and recycled. Only a few big chunks remained from the largest smokestack. The plan is to preserve one of those large chunks and have it used as a monument somewhere on the site, Puga said before the demolition. Some small chunks from the big stack will be gathered and encased in plastic to be given as momentos to various people, he said.

The concrete debris will be crushed further and buried at the Asarco site.

The weather was perfect for the demolition. But there were some last-minute hitches.

The demolition's start, scheduled for 6:45 a.m., was delayed about 10 minutes because two or three gawkers were seen walking in an arroyo along the Asarco site and the Border Patrol had to take them away from the area before the demolition could begin, Asarco site officials reported.

The three paragliders who appeared shortly before the demolition started were a surprise, Puga said.

"They were on the Mexican side (of the border), and there was nothing we could do about it," he said. They caused no problems for the demolition, he said.

Another potential problem came up Friday when an unidentified woman called 911 and said she saw a bald eagle, which is a protected species under federal law, on one of the smokestacks. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent went to the Asarco site to investigate. It was determined that the bird was a red-tailed hawk, which did not affect demolition plans, Puga said.

The stacks' demolition does not end the $52 million cleanup of the 430-acre Asarco site, which began several years ago. The site includes about 200 acres that could be developed between I-10 and the Rio Grande. The cleanup is expected to be completed by 2015 and the land then put up for sale, Puga said.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at vkolenc@elpasotimes. Follow him on Twitter @vickolenc





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