I Remember When . . . .
Great Stories about growing up in the Horntown, Oklahoma area!

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Making Memories at Moss

     I attended Fairview School from first through ninth grades.  The school closed and I was transferred to Moss.  I was out by the cow lot the day Kenneth Hull came and talked to my dad about picking me up each school day for the bus-ride to Moss.  We attended school in the summer in those days and got out in the fall to help with the harvest. Arriving at Moss the first day was a bit unnerving as I knew no one except the Fairview transferees.  It didn't take me too long to make friends with Gary Shields, Roy Welch and James Montgomery.  My favorite classes became Vocational Agriculture taught by Joseph Raunikar and ball practice under coach Hull.  These two individuals were most influential in my life and literally changed the course of my life.
     Mr. Raunikar got me involved with the FFA and shop, both of which taught me skills that would carry me for the rest of my life.  He required every boy in his Vo-Ag classes to make an insect collection.  I did very poorly on the collection and did not make a good grade on it.  But, somehow, it inspired me and I kept on collecting insects and built my own display cases complete with mitered grooves and a glass slide.  The collection was intended to determine who would be enlisted to study for the Entomology team that would travel to various contests around the state to compete with students from other FFA chapters.  It soon became obvious that I would be the one to take the lone insect book in Mr. Raunikar's library and begin to study it in preparation for the upcoming contests.  At first, he taught me all he knew about the subject.  It was not long, however, before suddenly I knew more and could teach my teammates, three other individuals to compete with me on the Entomology team.  I had a list of key insects and terms issued by the Department of Entomology, Oklahoma State University, and this connection would later become crucial to my future.  I was accustomed to competing with other individuals as I had been a land judging specialist in the 4-H Club at Fairview and was familiar with competition.    
     During my first year at Moss, the various Entomology contests around eastern Oklahoma were won primarily by other chapters as I was still in the learning phase.  During my junior year, however, I began to score higher in the contests.  On one occasion at a regional contest, an FFA student from a competing chapter and I produced perfect scores.  A coin was tossed and one of the officials called it for us.  I lost the toss and came in second while the other individual came in first.  It seemed fair and I was not overly troubled by the call.  Later, however, the call would go in my favor.  That came at the very last competition of my junior year at OSU.  FFA students gathered from several schools around the state for the competition.  This time, I would score highest in a tie with another FFA student from another chapter.  This time, when the coin was tossed, it came down in my favor and I was high individual in the state.  During my senior year, I scored first or second in every Entomology contest including high individual at OSU for the second year in a row.  Joe Raunikar gave us the freedom to become all that we could become and he encouraged us to rise to each occasion.
     Mr. Raunikar was also in charge of shop class and I learned much.  My father was a pretty good builder and could do a lot of things with his hands.  As soon as we moved to the house five miles north of Horntown, my dad designed and we built on two extra rooms as the, at that time, five-room house and a path, was a bit crowded  for my parents, three brothers and a sister.  The two extra rooms provided two more bedrooms.  At Moss, however, we learned a lot of useful things including building with wood, fence erection including posthole digging and barbwire stringing, welding, dehorning cattle, screwworm treatment, and many more things that were useful skills that could be used around the house or farm.  I built a small sawhorse-like device that was used for many years around our farm.  I had already done a lot of posthole digging and fence building on our 80-acre farm.
     I had participated in baseball and basketball at Fairview and went out for these two sports at Moss.  I suddenly discovered my team members on the baseball team were a cut above what I was accustomed to.  Paul Dwayne Brown and Lonnie McGuire threw harder than I had ever experienced or faced and that was unnerving.  Kenneth Hull was an excellent coach, always encouraging us and instructing us in the finer items of the games.  My problem, perhaps, was that I did not take practice as seriously as I should have and failed to reach the potential that I could have reached with a little more effort.
     He did the best he could with what he had and the team did go to the state championship in 1957 and 1958 to win both times.  It was a great and memorable experience and taught us how to be team members and support each other as we worked together for the common good.
     Mr. Raunikar took me to Stillwater to meet with Dr. D. E. Howell, the Head of the Entomology Department and I was on my way to obtaining a B.S. and M.S. degree in Entomology.  Dr. Howell's example would by my inspiration to work for and obtain the doctorate at the University of Georgia.  Later, I would work toward an MBA degree in business but would have to drop out short of that achievement.
     I was fortunate first to have an older brother, Mack, a World War II hero, who attended Oklahoma A & M College graduating in agriculture in 1949.  His ship was shot out from under him but he was able to swim to shore.  He was my inspiration.  My own father and mother were inspirations for me to live a godly life and work for the honest rewards in my life.  Mr. Raunikar and Mr. Hull were important inspirations for me to work and achieve to become the very best I could become.  I value highly the inspiration these people provided for me and which guided my to where I am today.   Most of all, I thank God for protecting me, for supplying a wonderful wife for 35 years and for giving me loving children and grandchildren.  I have lived a full life and will cherish my years at Moss which got the ball rolling, so to speak, and which continues to provide the memories and inspiration to live life to the fullest.  I would not be where I am today were it not for the great teachers and leaders who provided the instruction and moral examples for me to excel in life.  At age 60, many are thinking of retirement, but I am having too much fun and productivity to hang it up yet.  Moss continues to push me to become what the future holds.  I look forward to great things.
Phil Keathley, class of 1960

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