The truth is, it was Byke Bennet and myself that was the first to bring the alligators to the school, and turn them loose in the irrigation on the front lawn.
The class of 64 boys were foolish enough to take them out and get their pictures taken.
But that was all the bad deeds I did during school hours. 
Well maybe except when  ......

Tonya, first and foremost, many thanks for doing a superlative job with the web page! It is a true work of art!
Please accept the following as my memory recollects, it has, afterall, been a while . . .!
Re: Darvil West’s gators-in-the-irrigation story.
In the interest of historical correctness( don’t you just hate that) this is the rest of the story . . . or how Darvil came to be in possession of the gator in the first place!
It was a sunny spring day that found Howard and Harold Bloomer on their way into town and, for lack of anything else to do and because they had gone by it hundreds of times, they decided to stop in at The Alligator Farm. It didn’t take long to discover that the purveyors of said farm had decided on a different vocation and that decision had taken place previously enough that the gators were now feeding on each other. Many years later I would find out that this was not all that unusual, but at the time it was a bit shocking to The Twins and so, they decided to rescue one or more of the appetizers on the menu. (Who said conservancy was not alive and well in The Valley of the Sun?)
The next part of the equation was how to handle an alligator . . . the smaller ones would be a start. Strangely enough, a broom stick or any other limb would suffice, once it was offered in the vicinity of a creature that had, heretofore, been considered dinner. (It really does taste like chicken . . .) The speed and alacrity with which they would attach themselves to any offering was a bit unnerving, but now the lads had a handle with which to move said critters into a burlap bag for transportation. Apparently finding itself suddenly thrust into a dark place caused a bit of a skip in the DNA that would usually preclude it from turning loose of anything that had managed to get between its jaws, so the original tool was retrieved and the attention a stick flopping around in a tied off burlap bag would bring, was alleviated.
It was about now that our budding environmentalists (mind you, we couldn’t spell it then) decided that the gators needed water in their environment, so they headed off for West Pepper Place and this is where the train started coming off the tracks!
It was about this time that yours truly would make a short entry and exit into this production that would, unknowingly, create lore for years to come!
I rolled up to 1250 and discovered a familiar group of vehicles. ‘Ahah! A gathering and they’ve started without me . . .!’ I wandered out into the back yard and discovered Howard, Harold, Darvil, Byke, and Lenny Melcher (I think) all strategically located around the swimming pool, all staring at the same place in the pool, with blank looks on their faces.
“What’s goin’ on guys?”
“Gator”, no change of expression.
And lo and behold there was a gator in the bottom of my mother’s swimming pool, looking quite content, while schooling the brain trust with how long it could survive under water without breathing!
“ . . . how you going to get it out of there?”
“ . . . don’t know yet!”
At this time I should interject that my being welcome at this address could be a bit intermittent at times and seeing as how I was looking forward to dinner and my own bed for the evening, I said, “Well, one thing’s for sure, Helen will be home in about twenty minutes and this is probably going to stretch her sense of humor a bit. So, I’m going to leave you with it! Later!”
I’m sure that perhaps the most entertaining part of this whole scenario was in the ‘rescuing’ of said gator from its current environ, but I wasn’t there and therefore could not attest to it!
Sometime within the next few hours, Darvil must have ended up with the short straw and possession of the ill-tempered little critter. It had seemed quite content in water and so, I guess, it followed that water would be a good place for it. I heard that the Municipal Pool was under consideration at one time, but at some point Darvil remembered or discovered that MUHS was in its schedule for irrigation and Viola, a new home!
The next time I saw our new found friend was the following morning when I arrived at school to find a large crowd of fellow students gathered around the northwest lawn, and there, stompin’ across the water, was one of the biology teachers, shoes and socks held high with one hand, pants rolled up to his knees, white legs flashing in the sun, the other hand held high, waving a classic Yippe kai Yeah. It was obvious he didn’t know a whole lot about capturing gators, but he was leading the charge!
And that, as has been said many times, is the rest of the story!
Respectfully submitted by your Purveyor of momentary Historical Lore, Class of ’63!
Jim Sutterby
Jim, what a great memory you have, I do remember that something like that took place, but Byke made me do it.
Getting the alligator out of your mother's pool was a bit difficult, but there was enough people around to cheer it on. Actually that alligator went to someone else, Whitton, who put it in his shed and when he stuck a broom handle in the shed the next day, the alligator bit it in half.
The alligators that ended up in the irrigation on the front lawn of MHS were different.
These memories come from a 68 year old man that never did anything, but maybe twice.

Thanks Jim for the memories.


I’m writing to explain my excuse for not attending the 45th class reunion and tell a little about my life.  I work in an oil refinery in North Pole,
Alaska; I’m a civil consultant for the refinery. The refinery is about 14 miles from Fairbanks and duties are to help plan, design, estimate and supervise all dirt and building work within the refinery. I actually work for a contractor that is contracted by the refinery. At this time of year (October) we are desperately trying to finish the work on hand before winter really sets in and it will take me until about December to do that.

 So I think my attention needs to be here. 

We have time off in December and January, but not October or November.  I’m the type that needs to work, and it gives me a reason to get up in the morning.  

I came to Alaska to work on the oil pipeline in 1975 and stayed.  I’m not sorry because I love to hunt and fish anyway, so where’s a better place to be. The life in Fairbanks at that time was like the Wild West, it seemed like everyone had at least $5000 in their pocket and they thought there would be no end. Well there was an end. We now say Please Lord give us another pipeline and we promise not screw up this time.   There’s a street that we called 2 Street which was down town Fairbanks. It was two blocks long and had 7 or 8 bars. You could fall out of one bar and be in another one without even knowing it. There were at least 50 hookers on the 2 blocks trying to get that money. I went the slope in December of 75 as an equipment operator to Point Thomson on the Arctic Ocean to help build a huge pad for an oil rig, camp and machine shops. 

A very interesting thing happened while I was there. One night when I was there waiting for my crummy ride (a van that takes you to your work site or equipment) the wind was blowing and it was about -40 below. I saw a guy coming from the camp waving and pointing beyond me. The wind changed directions and I heard him say Polar Bear. I looked behind and sure enough there was a polar bear running towards me. I had my arctic gear with me plus a lunch. I dropped my arctic gear and lunch and ran for a 966 loader. When I first saw the polar bear he was about 100 yards from me and running hard. I was only about 50 feet from this loader. Believe me I hustled. When I got up in the loader and shut the door the polar bear put his paw on the bottom door glass. (This was more exciting then when Byke Bennet and I put the alligators in the irrigation on the front lawn of old main).  Anyway me in the loader and the bear outside, I was liking this situation. The bear tried for about an hour to figure how to get to me, when he found he couldn’t he took off into the dark. Needless to say I was glad to see him go.
The next day they called in an Eskimo hunter in from the nearest village, by law they were the only ones that could kill a polar bear. Anyway I met him and stayed up through my sleeping shift to talk with him about how it was when he was a young man in this harsh environment. He was over 60 then, and this is one story he told me. What was living like back when he was young, and what did they do for medical for instance. He told me when he was a young man he and his brother were out hunting. He said that an arctic fox had bit his brother, and after they killed it they realized that he had rabies. I asked what they did for that. He said he took him back to the village and watched him closely for signs that he to might also become rabid. When he started to act a little crazier the people from the village tied him to a post and watched him die. This Eskimo was a very interesting man with many stories. Like someone from the dark ages.

It is September and Moose hunting season, so every weekend I go Moose hunting. I have a hunting camp about 20 miles south across the Tanana river from Fairbanks as the raven flies. There is some swamp land over there that is about 150 miles long and 50 miles wide and some of the best Moose hunting in Alaska. I don’t hunt the whole area just a portion of it in my airboat. You know like they have in Florida. It’s a great way to hunt, especially for the little older generation. That means I can be hunting in about a half and hour after I launch the boat.

There are bears, wolves and about any other kind wild Alaskan animal over there. So sometimes I shoot a bear and sometimes I shoot a Moose and sometimes both. To me it’s the greatest. 

Well I hope you have enjoyed hearing about some of my life and I will be interested in reading about yours.  If anyone wants to hunt Alaska bring you, bug dope and lots of money and things will work out fine. 

I hope everyone has a great time at the reunion and I’ll be reading about you all later.

I am full a stories among other things, so any time you need a good story let me know.

Maybe the next one I tell will be about the gold claims I had.  





I just have to comment on the alligator story.  You know, of course, Ernie could not have been involved. He has spent his life in Law enforcement.  I have it on the best authority, he was even a body guard for a former governor of Arizona.  Surely he wouldn't have been involved in anything shady.  Right Ernie?  In fact, he is so upright and respectable that every Christmas when we went out to dinner for our office Christmas Party (Joanne, his wife, was office manager for my husband), the waiter invariably tried to give him the check at the end of the evening because he looked like "the boss".  No, it couldn't have been Ernie Swanty that put the alligator in the water!  Joanne Ray Fillmore

I was a participant in a day long relay race onboard the USS Coral Sea (CV-43).  For those who don't know, that is an aircraft carrier built before the Nuclear Age carriers of today.  Beginning at approximately 6:00 am, and lasting until approximately 5:00 pm, a runner from each Department of the ship would run 5 times around the flight deck and then pass the baton onto another runner from each department.  This went on all day until the USS Coral Sea passed through the Suez Canal, which is a length of about 50 miles.  Our Department finished in second place and it was believed that we ran about 250 miles to complete the run. If you can, just imagine a huge aircraft carrier floating down a canal barely wide enough to allow the ship to pass through and to do it for 50 miles.  There was absolutely nothing to see but sand for as far as you can see on both sides, except for an occasional oasis.  If nothing else, it was definitely a memorable day.  About the only unbelievable thing in this story would be little ol' Billy gettin' out of Mesa for awhile and travelin' the Seven Seas.

Some interesting Mesa History:
Had a return phone call from the archivist in the Mesa
Room at Mesa Public Library. She checked an "old" map;
think she said 1961 which all of us know is not "old".
Anyway, prior to being called Stapley, the road about
halfway between Gilbert Rd. and Mesa Drive was named
Power House Rd due to its having a powerplant on it.
Once that rd was within Mesa proper, the name within
city limits was changed to Stapley due to Stapleys
hving a farm along it but the name Power House was
retained both north and south of those limits (how
confusing). She said that was pretty much the custom,
to have county roads names reflect something along
She then mentioned that University was 4th St. (which
I knew) and before that was named Transmission Rd.
from Tempe clear to Apache Jct. AND, and this I didn't
know, that Broadway (formerly 4th Ave.) had once been
named Creamery Rd because of a creamery along the
And for those of your interested, she also said, when
I told her I was in Mesa High class of 63, that the
Mesa Room has a complete set of MHS yearbooks from
1900 onward. Just in case any of you need to know

The Mesa High website is a masterpiece.  I have enjoyed surfing through it several times.  What great memories and it seems just like yesterday. It was particularly interesting to look at the athletic information.  I can well remember Andy Livingston's footprints on my chest as I landed on my back during attempts to tackle him!
Unfortunately, Carol and I will not be able to attend.  

Hope to see my classmates in future years. 


This is what I've been up to: 

After graduating from Mesa High, I headed off to ArizonaStateUniversity with the goal of getting educated and making a life for myself.  Printy Crandall from my high school days and I were married during my sophomore year, with Collis Lovely as best man.  Our first child, Louanne, joined us while I was at ASU and Rob came along after I transferred to the University of Arizona to study for my Ph.D. degree.  Louanne now lives in Utah with her husband, Joe Tillman, and four of their five children.  Brian, the oldest, followed his love of computers to Phoenix where he works in the field.  Rob lives near me in Gainesville, Florida.  Printy returned to Mesa after our 16-year marriage, while I continued with my career as an entomologist.  Carol Lee Carlysle and I married in 1988 because we love each other and it takes two to manage our sailboat!  

My post-high school years in Arizona became a time of exploration and personal growth.  I was “on my own,” so money was a constant preoccupation if I were to remain in school.  To pay tuition, I sold the yellow 57 Chevy I had in high school, the one Gary Tibsherany, Bob Petersen, Charlie Bevelle, many other friends and I used to drive around with the windows up to make our classmates jealous and think that we had air conditioning.  The Vietnam War was another concern but I had a deferment as a pre-med student and Air Force ROTC provide my clothes, along with some practice marching.  At night, I worked first as a busboy at Paul Shanks French Quarter in Scottsdale and then became a quality control technician for Kodak in Phoenix.  Later, I worked as a parking lot security attendant at LegendCity.  I drove a worn out Sunbeam Alpine convertible, red like the one Elizabeth Taylor drove in the film Butterfield 8.  Had to have one!  I left the top down so I could see out over the windshield- anything to be cool.


In 1972, I finally graduated and moved to Florida as a member of a new laboratory established by the USDA to answer political criticism generated by Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring.”  Too many people and animals were being poisoned by pesticides.  Some of the interesting agricultural events that have kept me working and possibly obsessed during the past nearly 40 years include: the safety of our food supply (salmonella and ecoli outbreaks); biosecurity (911, North American Free-trade Agreement, etc.); alternatives to chemical pesticides (biological control, etc.); eradication of medfly from California and Florida (sterile insects); non-chemical management of pink bollworm in Arizona and California (established a USDA laboratory near Broadway Road in Phoenix); eradication of screwworm from the U.S., Mexico and Central America (worked in Mexico and Guatemala); commercial biological control for greenhouses (one of my former students handles biological control for EuroFresh near Tucson), and so forth.  The following news story describes my crusade to help make the world safer: 

 Dr. Norm Leppla, an avid sailor, is “Steering the course of IPM in Florida.”  “Integrated pest management (IPM) is critically important because it offers sustainable long-term management, rather than the single tactic of repeated chemical pesticide application. “Norm Leppla, professor and IPM coordinator at the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has worked in entomology and IPM since receiving his Ph.D. in entomology/biological sciences from the University of Arizona in 1972.  An avid outdoorsman with a love for natural history, Leppla’s career path was influenced early on by the founding members of the EPA.  “When I was studying to receive my bachelor’s degree in zoology at ArizonaStateUniversity, some of the founding members of the EPA visited the campus and talked to people about how they were going to protect our environment.  I heard them talking about it and said to myself, that’s what I want to do,” said Leppla.  As a professor and IPM coordinator, Leppla works with faculty members and individuals from other institutions to develop programs to advance the use of IPM. Together they work to improve research, extension, and education projects, and generate the funds and resources necessary to help make these programs successful.  “We don’t just need funds to make an IPM program successful, we need high caliber people to actually conduct the work,” said Leppla. “Fortunately for us that is exactly what our universities produce, high caliber students and graduates. This is in addition to our excellent faculties and cooperators.”  Leppla has a long history of involvement in research projects, including assisting in the commercial production of a pest mole cricket nematode.  The project has prompted additional work to distribute two or three insects that are natural enemies of mole crickets across the southeastern U. S. and Puerto Rico.  Not only has Leppla been involved in field research, he has given back to the University of Florida’s education system by assisting in the development of the Doctor of Plant Medicine program. “We are very, very pleased and excited about the program and its future,” said Leppla. “The program gives graduates unlimited career opportunities because they have very broad training, opening many doors for them.”  Currently, Leppla works across Florida and the Caribbean to safeguard the U.S. against non-indigenous, invasive species.  By implementing IPM practices, particularly advanced surveillance and detection systems, Leppla and his team work together to increase the U.S.’s capacity for detecting and excluding pests that threaten our borders.  An active member and chair of numerous organizations and committees, Leppla is proud of the opportunities to help colleagues succeed.  He also advises and directs the research of 10 to 15 graduate students a year.  “These graduate students, really are the future of IPM, so I try to spend a lot of time with them,” said Leppla.  Dr. Norm Leppla can be reached at or 352 392-1901 ext. 120, his website is” 


I moved to Mesa, March of 1955, went to Alma school in the 4th grade, went to Franklin in 5th grade, Lowell in 6th grade and East Mesa Junior High, then of course Mesa High. I remember the Sands drive in theather out east of Mesa, and the Pioneer drive in out west. We got in the drive in's for $1.00 a car load. I also remember .the Artic Circle west of Alma School road on main, and the Village Inn Pizza on the corner of Alma School and Main,. Bob's Big Boy, The Waldorf Cafe, Pete's fish and chips, Marquee drive in, across from Franklin grade school, The first Jack-n-box  next door to Brown & Hoeye.. Do you remember the Fairs we had down town in Mesa, and the Rendezvous Swimming Pool?. Those were some good old days. Marilyn
I remember the A&W, the old ice house where we would get ice blocks and ride them down the hill at the country club, swimming in the canals, especially the one next to the Country Club, Woolworths store, there was a resturant on main street that had steaks but can't remember the name. Junior Assembly at the Country Club where we learned to dance. The Pioneer Drive-in and I think there was two (one on both sides of town).
 Every Saturday morning, we listened to the Top 40 Countdown. Then we would go to the record shop and try a new 45 and hope we liked the song on the back, too. It was also the day we starched our slips so they would look great for the dance that night. Coach Willard made homemade ice cream for us sometimes when we had swim meets. How fun it was to drive over to Bob's in Phoenix when we got our driver's license. We drove the loop from the Marquee to the A & W in West Mesa looking for guys. Remember in Junior High how the guys would come by the Home Ec Room on the days we cooked looking for samples. Loved being on the 2nd floor of Mesa High so we could check out what was going on outside from the large windows. How great were those western dances on the tennis courts at Mesa High with a live band and Miriam Johnson (Mrs. Waylon Jennings!) singing! Anyone remember when Ricky Nelson came to the Fair?

I remember when Rick Nelson came to town. I got to have my picture taken with him. It was at the County Fair and I had entered some candy and a cake with his name on it. I got blue ribbons on all of them and they asked me if I would like to have my picture taken with him. What did they think, that I was going to say no. He had a green sharkskin suit with a white shirt and yellow tie. Years later he came to town to do a show at JD's and I was able to get backstage and he signed the picture for me. He laughed at how young he was. It was weird because Waylon was in the dressing room too. Fun memories.
I also remember the Nile was the only place to see a movie until they built the Mesa Theater and you could get in for .25. Wrights Market was on Main next to the Nile, Everybodys drug was the place to go to get a cherry coke, Gilbert Rd ended at Main and became, I think the Cooley ranch. If you lived past University (4th St) and Broadway (4th Ave) were pretty much lived way out of town. Extension Rd was a dirt path with an irrigation ditch on one side. The place to go was Main St on Saturdays to shop and you would walk the two blocks that had stores, from Robson & Center. The Waldorf, Green Frog were the only bars in that area. Cruising Main from the Marquee and Bob's Big Boy. Going to dances at the skating rink at Rendezvous Park, the pool where everyone went to swim, the baseball field that is where the Chicago Cubs would play for spring training. Your phone number was Woodland 4 and then added 9 before the number that came after that. Calling on a number that would ring busy and talking to people in between the busy beeps. The El Charro was on Main & Country Club until they built a bigger one on 1st St & Country Club. If you were going to meet someone you would meet at the "old" or "new" El Charro. Things have changed so much that sometimes I am not really sure where I am. It has grown so much. When we graduated from High School there were about 40,000 people that lived here.
I grew up on 9th place between Center and Grand. Our road was the last one to get paved, so Saturdays we had the Indians drive their wagon down our road to go to Bashas or the Co-Op that was on Robson and Pepper. I remember the water truck driver that watered down our road, he would slow down so that we could play in his spray, he would go down one side and turn around and come back so there were always muddy areas in front of our house. I remember the Ice man who brought ice to our house for the Ice Box. He would lift up his canvas curtain on the back of his truck to get the ice and would let us have the ice chips, how wonderful it tasted in the hot summer time. We slept on a Sleeping porch behind the main house, granddad would turn on the big black fan to cool us in the summer (grandma would heat bricks or have hot water bottles wrapped in old army blanket pouches put at the bottom of our beds in the winter), Granddad would then turn on the radio to "Lucky Lager Dance Time" (I seem to think that it was an Oklahoma radio station) to go to sleep. I still go to sleep better with a radio on. Remember when they would run the sheep from Lehi to Chandler down Center Street, or the water fountains on Main Street, or the old Penney's store with the vacuum tubes that took the money for your purchase up to the upper office area. How lucky you were when you got your Summer Porter thongs (no not swimming bikini or underwear) but shoes. How we had to have our Levis for the dances at the high school western dances, we would wear them as long as we could before we washed them (always felt that they could stand in the corner by themselves) so that they wouldn't fade. Did you every fix your hair the night before school and got the best hair-do only to have it look terrible when the morning came. Kay mentioned the old phone system, remember also the party line, when you had to remember if your ring was 2 short or 1 long ring with 2 short (that was our ring; 1 long & 2 short, which became grandmas trade mark honking when she came to the swimming pool to pick us kids up. The workers at the pool also knew her sound and would call us to let us know she was there for us). So many, many wonderful memories of Our Mesa!
Where did you go and what did you do for fun in our small Arizona town? The eternal teenage guest of those years would be hardly recognizable in today's world, but we sure had fun! Oh, those HOT Arizona Summers days! 110 degrees in the shade and no shade. Sidewalks too hot to walk on with your barefeet even if you were courageous enough to go outside during the blistering afternoons. And right in the middle of all of this, Everybody's Drug Store on the corner of Main and MacDonald. All we had to do was open the door and that cool, refreshing air wrapped its arm around us and brushed away the drops of sweat rolling off our brows as a result of both the heat and studying too hard (at least that's how we remember it-perhaps our teachers would have disagreed). There in front of us stretched that long soda fountain with its innumerable delights-ice cold cokes, root beer floats, chocolate sundays, all mixed to perfection by those bartenders of our youth, the soda jerks. A perfect interlude with friends to discuss the serious matters of the day such as who was dating who, or who would like to date who, or who do that voodoo that you do so well.


Who would have thought it!!
The Class of 63 boys sure left an alligator legacy
This is a float made for the MHS class of 2007
Who would have thought it!! The Class of 63 boys sure left an alligator legacy This is a float made for the MHS class of 2007