Scouting Around
Stories about the Good Ole' Days



The Catholic Church in Fort Defiance


Does anyone remember the basement of the Catholic Church in Fort Defiance, the Power House and the Old Navajo Bldg next to the auditorium where they used to have movies every Friday night? The Canteen and the park on the main street on Fort Defiance.

James Manuelito-61

Yes, I vividly remember the basement of the Catholic Church; it was where we all received our Christian education. I remember the late Lenny Hickson, Blood Lawrence Hickson, Snuffy who is Betty Hickson, Dee Linda Slinkey, Rita Slinkey and all the rest. That's how I happen to play basketball with the CYO and the late Father Gale as the Coach. The canteen was where we would go after school to order fries and cokes and share our jokes, plans for the weekend, etc. The park in Fort Defiance is still there. All I recall about that place was it was a short cut home after the Wednesday night CYO Catholic Youth Organization meetings. How many of you remember the old bus that the Catholic Church used to have? I remember a few of us pushing that ole bus to get it started. We were late to a few games but eventually we all got there safe and sound. How sweet the memories.

Bea Betty Boyd Bowman - Class of 69

I remember the Catholic church, I was an altar boy for years. I remember bingo in the basement, studying Latin with Father Gale who has since passed away, CYO trips, and skating in the new hall. I also remember baseball and football games in the park in the Fort those cottonwood trees made painful out-of-bound markers! and the arroyo behind my house and next to the church. I think I lived in that arroyo in my earlier years. I remember playing war with Bill Brady, Charlie Parks, and Herman Fredenberg. And I remember the huge bonfire at homecoming in '66 where the top piece was an old outhouse we had "borrowed" from a neighbor.

Chuck McCammon-68

Another thing about the Catholic church, each Senior class would attend a service there on the Sunday before Graduation. I forget what it was called. Does anyone remember? I guess this was before "separation of church and state"! Baccalaurate or something like that?

Kathleen Smith and other friends and I would go peek into the basement dances to see if Wally Paisano and his buddies were down there.

Dorothy Mineer Hailey-63


The Old Presbyterian Church

Does anyone remember the old Presbyterian Church at the corner up from the Catholic Church and when it was torn down and a new one build down near the Navajo junction. It seemed so far out of town at the time. Now it seems to be right in the middle of Fort.

Lydia Hubbard-Pourier, '66

Regarding the old Presbyterian Church - I recall it used to be against the hill and those steep steps. I recall it being spooked especially during thunderstorms. You can only see the remnants of a building that once used to sit there.

Bea Boyd Bowman - Class of 69

I do remember the old Presbyterian Church. As a good Catholic I never stepped inside until it was closed and partially torn down. Herman, me and the Montoyo boys used it as our "fort" and played in it regularly, unless the cops chased us out, until it was raised to the ground.

I remember being "initiated" to the res by the Hickson brothers - they tossed me in the big pond in the arroyo summer of '59. We later laughed about it over football practice. I sure loved it there in the Fort.

Chuck McCammon - '68


Regarding the nickname for James Manuelito....


I have a some places from high school, the name was spelled Chookes..and now I see Chukes. James, could you clear this confusion up?

Nancy Martin Rikel Class of 1965

In reference to the spelling of Chookes vs Chukes...

Some spelled the name CHOOKS and other spelled it CHUKES so I used the second name where others remember me by the first name. but it does not matter as long as they know that I will respond to both.

I wonder if anyone knows how I got the nickname????

James Manuelito-61

In reference to how Chookes/Chukes got his name...

I think it is probably because of your pachuco haircut.

Beth Mays-Villegas '61

Chooks - I hope I don't sound to gruesome, but back in the days when the Hispanic gang, Pachukas ruled, their UD was a black leather jacket to be worn with a Sal Mineo hairdo. Since you and Norman took on this image, you were baptized as a pachuka or "chukes" for short. Am I close or is just my imagination getting carried away?? The name "Goon" still is symbolic of you, tho.

Teresa Bennett-73

At the risk of sounding naive and silly, as a child I thought that the name came from the older crowd wearing those Chook Chains.. They were like a silver chain worn on levis and could be twirled in case of a fight. After this explanation, everyone should feel to say almost anything! ha

Nancy Martin Rikel Class of 1965

I was informed that the name for chukes was supposed to be "Choke" for when Chukes used to play sports, he as in golf was always Choking on his playing abilities and losing the game -- but people were nice back then, so they just called him Chukes instead of Choke --

Joe Tomlinson-67


Question: Where was the first WRHS home basketball gym located?

Wasn't it the Window Rock Civic Center!

Vince Bohanan

This question is easy. It was at the "barn" were there were also dances held.

Beth Mays-Villegas '61

For James Goon Chukes: Everyone knows where the first basketball games were played. They were played in what use to be call the "Barn" which was located in north Fort just north of the old baseball field also where the first baseball games were played. This old building was used as a community activity center for Fort Defiance. Dances & socials were held there. Talk about "out behind the barn" - We used to park in the back to hide from the police at night. I believe it may have burned down as I don't recall seeing it there. Anyone out there know??

Ben Robbins 60'

I believe it was in the cultural hall just south of the tribal council building in Window Rock and next door to Frank LaFave's house. It was the same building that had a bowling alley in the basement.

Stephen Krause-66

I remember watching basketball games in the old barn up at Fort Defiance and also a bowling alley that we had to set the pins by hand after each roll -- also the basketball games in the middle school cafeteria -- take a jump shot and hit the iron beam --- and I'm just a young puppy --

Joe Tomlinson-67

The Barn was located north of the Main Street of Fort Defiance behind the old baseball field where the WRHS use to play the home baseball games also. It use to be an old barn that was used as an activity center for the community with dances, adult basketball tournament and a 2 lane bowling alley in the bottom section for league bowling and the basketball court was on the upper level. The court was renovated for the school to play their home games there, then in 61 the games were played at the new Window Rock Civic Center on the Fair Grounds. You probably remember during Homecoming when everybody had to be at the start of the parade, that's where the old barn was located north of the starting point and the open field was the baseball field. I don't remember anything that went on behind the Barn. lol

James Manuelito-61

After this enlightening conversation, I now recall going to the Barn in Fort Defiance. I would have been 9 years old, in the 5th grade, 1957. As I recall some of the teachers had a bowling night and I think it was on Tuesday nights.

I remember that there were two alleys and I would watch Joe Matthews among others reset the pins and then pull the string so that the pins would be lowered. Sometimes a pin would fall down after you reset it which meant that you had to crawl down and hand set that pin.

When the pins set, you would have to jump up on the side before the next ball was thrown. Joe would let me do the work sometimes and I remember how it was lots of fun but also a lot of work.

And, I now remember going to basketball games at the Barn. But I would not have remembered that without this conversation. Thank you!

As I recall, the bowling alley at the old Rec Center @ WR had pins that were set the same way.

By the way, back in those days, people like Ben Robbins, James Manuelito, Beth Mays, Jack Mays, Jim and Ken Ogle, Stephen and Karen Krause, Janie Wall, Malcolm Curley, etc, etc were like movie stars to us little kids. We watched everything they did and dreamed of the days that we would be all grown up, too. It's nice to actually "know" these "living legends" now.

Nancy Martin Rikel-65

Question: Does anyone remember going to the Catholic Church in Navajo, New Mexico to roller skate?..

I remember going to St. Michaels to roller skate in the gym there. What I remember most about that is the way the corners were washboard like from the years of roller skating. If you had any speed at all and hit the washboard floor, you would loose control. I lost control once and flew into the snack bar window!!! Crushed a lot of bags of chips!!

I also remember the bowling alley in the basement of the Rec Center at Window Rock. I thought it was terrible when they removed the bowling alley and put in a Library, however being smart like we all were, it soon became a way for all of us to meet on a school night. We would tell our parents we were going to the library to study or do research. We would, but then we would also just hang out with friends. We really fooled our parents, or so I thought. Right before my mother died about 7 years ago, we talked a lot about those days. She knew about our library rendezvous. Seems we forgot about the people living across the street from the Rec Center. Our parents had a great network.

Already thinking about the next reunion. Is there a date yet? Anything I can do to help? We will try to get more from the 70's at the next. It was a blast.

Jerry Skiles "73"

I was setting pins down there in the '50's when my dad bowled. At that time they paid us $1.50 a night to set pins for three games. We'd sit back there in the pits while my dad and Dick Clark and the other "big" men would wind up and "shoot" that ball down the alley and the pins would fly all over. We'd run for cover and they would laugh their heads off. Finally, my dad talked us into going on strike for better wages, so I rounded us as many kids as I could and we told them that $1.50 wasn't enough money. Wala, they raised our wages to $3.00 a night. We though we were soooo rich Actually I don't think the raise had anything to do with our alleged strike, rather I think the fathers put some pressure on the bowling league leaders. Frank LaFave was also a pin setter and I think Pete Cooper, several others set pins too. It would give us enough money to go down to the Lodge and order fry bread and a bottle of Pepsi everyday after school for a week. Very fun times, plus we got to stay up late on pin setting nights.

Larry Nelson-66

Question: Is the Catholic Church in Fort Defiance still "open"?

Dominic Hall in Fort is still open. I believe it is being used for church socials, bingos of course, youth basketball, etc.

Ben Robbins-60

The Catholic Church Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament at Fort still stands. Skating at St. Dominic hall has been replaced by Bingo. The floor has become uneven and warped and it just wasn't safe anymore. I think they still have the skates but they aren't used anymore.

And I remember those skating days at St. Dominic's. Barbara and Beverly used to take me. Now that I think about it, I don't think I ever learned how to skate. All I remember is Alfred Slinkey bending down to my level and looking into my eyes with those pretty hazel eyes of his and asking if I wanted to go for some candy. They would take me to either Rudeau's or Jack Beach's for candy or a Popsicle. I do believe it was a "pay off" - to keep me quiet about my sisters riding around in Grandma's truck instead of being where we were suppose to be.

Terry Bennett-73

The Catholic Church at the corner of Sawmill road is still going strong. I attended Ron Benally's mother's funeral there. In fact, they have a small Navajo choir. Eddie Richards, who graduated from WRHS, and is Mary Showalter Richards, also WRHS alum his mother is still going strong and sings in the choir.

Speaking of the Catholic Church. I remember driving my mother to work at the hospital in our brand new Buick 98 in winter of 62-63, it had just snowed and that Sawmill road was icy. I was going a little too fast around that curve and slid up on the side walk and hit the low iron pipe fence in front of the power house. I remember looking at the church and saying a little prayer that my dad wouldn't kill me and I wouldn't be grounded too long. I was with my brothers, Chester and Joe, and had to go to the old Fort Defiance court house before the new court house was built at Window Rock just SW of the Good Shepherd mission and tell my father, the Judge, that I had put a dent in his new car less than a week old. The prayers must have worked because he didn't even ground me.

And, I was just talking about "Skip" Curley! I sent the stuff on golfing and basketball and the website to his wife Kathy, whose e-mail address I happen to have. At my most recent job as the CEO of the Navajo Health Care System Corp., I had the privilege of working with Skip who I hired as our contracting officer. It was so much fun working with and getting to know better someone who I had always looked up to during high school days and who I remembered as being so dynamic. I knew about him even though I came to WR in 1960.

Speaking about remembering the old barn at Fort. I remember coming to an adult basketball game with my Dad at a Tournament being held there. I must have been about 4-6 years old. I never verified with my Dad when that was. He played for the Ganado Mission Bears. My mom and dad worked for the Presbyterian Mission at Ganado before we moved to Window Rock and my Dad became a tribal judge. I remember that the sound system at the Fort Barn played Sousa marches between games. Funny how things like that stick out in your memory. That was a long way to go for a game but my Dad was pretty fanatical about basketball. As I turned out to be. I followed Jeff, my son, all over the Southwest during his high school basketball days and when the Scouts guys won their first and only BB championship. I never missed a single game of his high school career basketball and football which is a major accomplishment. I once made it from Washington DC flight left Dulles at 3:10 landed in Albuquerque at 5:45PM and I walked into the Field House with heels and work clothes as the tip-off 8:03 pm was occurring. Funny how sports and for us, our own sports and cheerleading played such a fun part of our high school days. Ha-cha-cha!

Lydia Hubbard Pourier-66

Wow, Lydia just about wrote a book.

I did not know she ran into the old church at Fort. Does anyone remember when the school bus lost brakes and ran into the smoke stack at the church? Elvira Damon, now Vann was telling me that story the other day. She was on the bus! Elvira graduated in 1970 and was a Pom Pon girl. Her nickname was, and still is, Spider. Ironically, she works with me in Indiana. Occasionally I get mutton stew and fried bread thanks to Spider. Each year she and I set up a display for Native American Heritage Month using our artifacts from the Navajo Nation and others we have collected from other tribes. This year our theme was the Navajo Code Talkers. Her dad was a Code Talker, so we had a lot of neat stuff. Terry Bennett also sent a bunch of stuff for our display. We got several compliments.

I'm trying to talk Elvira into coming to the reunion next year. Funny that two WR alumni end up at a small military base in the middle of Indiana. It is so unlike the Reservation here. The local tribe is a band from the Miami's. The Miami's have a very pale skin tone. There is no reservation here, but they have a local cultural center, where of course we have bingo. Indianapolis, 70 miles to our south, has a great Native American Museum, the Eiteljorg. I just went and saw the glass work of Dale Chihuly. It was great. Saw a lot of Navajo blankets.

Speaking of the Hubbard's, someone needs to ask Dozy about what happened to her band instrument. I will leave it at that for now because I don't want to get Hubby Joe in trouble again.

Jerry Skiles-73

RE the Mighty Scouts becoming the Fighting Scouts....

The name was changed in the late 70`s. Some thought the name was offensive as in traitor. I think the athletic director at the time was Roger Trotter. So, they changed it to Fighting Scouts


I noticed your remark regarding not knowing when the WR Scouts were changed to the WR Fighting Scouts. It is my understanding it was changed by the class of 1978 because back in the day when the fighting between the Indians and the Whites was happening , "scouts" were traitor Indians scouting for the Whiteman. The class of '78 changed this to WR Fighting Scouts, to represent an honorable Indian instead of a traitor. This was told to me by a 1978 class member recently name withheld, who I was told was a credible source.

Lisa Dixon-DiGann '83

Thank you so much for your nice comments about the "oldies" from WRHS. We're glad we could be good role models. I'm also glad that we have gotten into contact with one another.

Beth Mays Villegas-61

It's funny what we remember. Someone said bowing and as young as I was back then, I do remember when my mom, Mr. Nelson and I think my dad and Silas Bohanon bowling in the basement of the rec hall. I think Barb & Bev tried setting the pins a couple of times - or maybe they just got in Larry and Frankie's way. In fact the Police Dept team names were the Silos for the men and the Siloettes for the women. Wow - that was a long time ago!

I also remember the "little theater" group which came about in the early to mid 70's. It was a bunch of community people that got together and put on plays. Fiddler on the Roof was one of them but there were a whole bunch of other plays. Mom being the seamstress she was, not only performed in some of the plays, but she did some of the costumes also. No wonder I catch myself humming "if I were a rich man...." We even had an attorney who was a nephew to Jack Elam - the difference being that Kim was handsome and he didn't have a glass eye.

You couldn't help going to the rec hall without stopping by the Kirks, the LaFave's and the McLemore's. And didn't the Clauschee's live there also?

And remember when the Shephards would push all the tables aside and have dances on the weekends at the Lodge. I even remember when the "original" Navajo Taco was created - what a treat that be a part of our local history and not even know it until many year later. We can actually say "hey, I was there!!"

And since we're reminiscing, when Chukes' dad worked with the police dept, he transplanted some trees for those of us in police quarters. You should see those trees now. They are still standing and are HUGE!! If you're ever back in the Window Rock, take a drive up Chee Dodge Drive. All the blue spruce trees on that street were planted by Jimmy Manuelito. What a wonderful & gifted man he was.

Unfortunately I was only a baby back in the late 50's so I don't remember a whole lot. But I do remember a little from the 60's. From the 70's on, I tend to have selective memory and will only admit to the goody-two-shoe stuff.

In fact, when Jerry Skiles and a bunch of his play mates got into trouble and were banned from going to the WR park for a year, I was NOT there.

Teresa "Terry" Bennett class of '73

Hey, Larry Nelson, do you remember when they put in the semi-automatic pin setting machines at the old bowling alley? Like you, I also got the the opportunity to set pins by hand.

Do you remember the Window Rock Activity committee giving all us kids in town a Halloween party in the old rec hall? They set up booths and had a spook alley. Those were great times. I often think back on those days with all of you kids and how simple life was then.

Steve Krause, Class of 1966.

Window Rock 4th of July community celebrations:

Ask all who remembers the 4th of July community celebrations under the "Window", and summer night hide-and-go-seek games when the Rec Hall was "base", the "elf tracks" at the base of the saddle rock and the nights listening to KOMA at the top of the needle, the "club house" root cellar between the Speichers and the Collins houses, the old Polly-wog pond, rich-mans cave, and the alarm on the water tank above the Snez's house. WOW! what memories. Who remembers, Johnny and Mark Reno, Sandra Mortenson and the Harper kids on their bikes?

Eldon McCabe, Class of 1965

Yes, Eldon, I remember Johnny and Mark Reno! Johnny used to love to bake in the kitchen, and my mom always let my brother Bryce and him make cakes--one time they burnt a hole in her new plastic table cloth---she was "not happy"! Do you remember all the 4H dances we used to hold at the Rec Center right off of the library in Window Rock? Our theme song that opened every dance was "Rock A Round the Clock"? Dorothy Mineer was in charge of making kool-aide, which she was pretty famous for from our 4H meetings. I think I was Rec. leader so that took care of having dances whenever the mood struck! But we used to hold dances there even before the 4 H started having them and Mark Reno and Johnny Reno used to go---does anyone else remember these dances? Beth, do you? I don't remember the Window Rock 4th. of July celebrations--guess I'd moved away by then---darn it! Remember getting fry bread for 15 cents at the Lodge? --remember pineapple grapefruit soda? It went really good with the fry bread---best of the best memories!

Patsy Dale Gilbert, Class of 1964

I do remember the Reno brothers. Johnny was s-o-o-o-o-o short!! I also remember the 4th of July celebrations. One year my mother made a beautiful chocolate cake. I insisted on carrying it--stepped into the sand and dropped the cake!! I remember dances where someone taught us the box step in the old rec hall. I also along with my brother Jack and Bryce set pins in the basement!

The Good old Days

Beth Mays-Villegas Class of 1961

I remember the dances at the Rec Hall very well. It was the first meeting of anyone at Window Rock for me. Roy and Dorothy Mineer were the first two people I met after moving from Gallup. Dorothy was so sweet it helped to brake the ice, and began to change the negative attitude I had about moving to Window Rock, can you believe anyone could have a negative attitude about the greatest place on earth to grow up?

Jim Medlock, Class of 1966