Monday, August 06, 2007

Early Years Wichita Falls

I was born on a snowy 14th of February 1968. In Wichita Falls, Texas. I was supposedly a valentine from my Mom to my Dad. Mother swears I didn't crack a smile until I was six months old. They called me horrible Howard. My Dad worked for an optician and my Mom was a floral designer. She is still one of the best in Wichita Falls. Her real passion is writing. She has written since I can remember and has written several books. She recently published her first book, Come Hell Or High Water and the second one, The Hell Of Stallions is coming out Summer 2010.
Around 1977 my Dad got a job at a new plant being built just outside Wichita Falls called PPG or Pittsburgh Paint and Glass. This is where he is still employed today.
His new job afforded the new home in University Park. It was a three bedroom brick house with a garage. The house we were leaving in Sunnyside was a small two bedroom house with a carport that my parents bought from my Grandmother's foster mother, Bobbie. Deidre and I shared a room that was bright red with a bunk bed (i slept on the upper bunk). Hanging on the wall of our tiny room was the now famous red swimsuit Farrah poster. I bought it at the mall at Spencer gifts for $2.50. This is where we lived from approx 1970-1978. Our phone number was 767-7283 and our address was 1670 Hawes Wichita Falls, Texas 76303. Prior to the place on Hawes we lived in a small house at 1318 34th st. About a week before Christmas 1969 my parents and I were at a drive in movie. Upon returning we turned down our street and saw fire trucks and lights at our house. It had completely burned. We lost everything including our cat which was found under the bed burned to death. Luckily I was too young to remember any of this happening. We stayed at both grandma's Bop'and MawMaw's places for a couple of weeks or so until my parents got us moved to the house on Hawes.
In this 1974 pic, taken after my Uncle Bruce Bruno's wedding, are (lr) Ronnie Griffin with my Aunt Becky, Uncle Jerry Bruno and Aunt Kay. Kay was the manager at a bank in Geronimo, OK. Sadly she was killed in 1984 during a bank robbery. Two guys came into the bank and were evidently denied a loan. As the two men were leaving they said something rude and words were exchanged between the men and my aunt. A little while later the two men returned with guns and knives and killed nearly everyone in the bank. More on the Geronimo Bank Robbery later or go here. The boy in the white shirt and cast on his arm is another uncle, John Bruno. My mom (Paula), me, my dad (Ronnie Sr.), my cousin Donna (Kay and Jerry's daughter), Uncle Bruce and new 14 year old wife (Tanya Sue Bell Bruno) and finally my sister Dee Dee (Deidre).
For as long as I can remember I've always been interested music. As I grew up I would imagine these explosive all night parties where everyone was family and the fun never seemed to end. I got a lot of these ideas from things like the Studio 54 album and shows I would see on television. Since 1976 I have been a huge fan of Farrah Fawcett. It was what I thought every American woman should look like...the hair the teeth the carefree attitude. In 1978 as we had just settled into our new neighborhood on the southwest side of Wichita Falls. One day, while sizing us up from her yard next door, was future friend and new neighbor Stacey Lawrence. After a few minutes she yells, "Which one of you is the boy and which one is the girl?" Looking back a few years later I understood her confusion. Deidre was eight and I was ten. Deidre was topless in the front yard shooting birds with a bb gun. She had short messy brown hair and buck teeth. I however, had perched myself on the top step of our new front porch. My blonde hair was feathered back and to my shoulders. I was reading an article on Farrah in a Teen Beat magazine. I guess Stacey was asking a legitimate question really.

Deidre and I started the 1978-79 school year at our new school Jefferson elementary. I in the fifth grade Deidre the 3rd. I quickly made friends, being new and all, especially with the girls. After a while the other boys started to resent me. My disinterest in sports coupled with the fact that I wasn't exactly the most masculine of the bunch set the stage. Enter football player and Mr popular (and my new best friend of a few months) Eric W. Eric was a really cute kid with thick black hair, tan and cute smile. Most weekends we would stay over at one or the other's place. I remember walking all over his neighborhood one day with a portable 8 track player with the Village People blaring out of it. We would usually stay up late watching Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live. As time went on we silently became more fond of each other. It wasn't uncommon for me to wake up with Eric's arms and legs around me. Which I liked but was too afraid to acknowledge.  I remember waking up one Sunday morning to him tickling me and him calling me little Howie!


  1. You are a damn good storyteller... I couldn't have done it near as good. Exactly how I remember it and a few details I had forgotten.

    Love you!!

  2. I enjoyed reading your story. I have heard many stories about you through Donna. I agree with your sister. You are a good story teller. :) Kellie (Bruno)

  3. This has a great beginning, Ronnie -- I'm loving it, especially being a product of a remote tornado-targeted Texas town (Paris, TX, USA) myself. Gosh, do you have a lot more to write since you've come such a long way from those Farrah Fawcett poster days...I'm enthusiastic to follow along!

  4. That was the most interesting thing I have read in a while! I hope you're happy and doing well.

    Josh V