Cedar City High School Class of 1960 Blog

Sluff Day Adventure


Al Matheson wrote:

On Senior Sluff Day, Chandler Whitelaw, Homer Pittard, Bryce Stapley and I boarded Homer’s 1957 Ford Fairlane convertible and headed South to Zion Canyon for the Class party and watermelon bust.  En route we were diverted by my having spent some significant amount of time with the engineers at the Air Force Hurricane Sam rocket site above Virgin.  Nothing would do but to drive to the sled site and say hello.

After surviving the precipitous road to the massive gate and guard station we introduced ourselves to the manager and he proceeded to show the group through the test site and machine/assembly and areas of the command center.  They were loading up one of the sleds for a hypervelocity test and we were all intrigued and appreciative of his time.  We must have not appeared too threatening because after an hour or two we returned to the offices and he bid us leave.  I asked him if we could drive down the rocket tracks to look off the end of the Hurricane Mesa from the blockhouses? Knowing I had been there several times and knowing the group, he acceded to my request, with a “don’t touch anything”???

Off we went!  That was about 10 AM in the morning.  There was nothing on that site we didn’t get into.  We climbed the towers, explored the block houses, examined the camera stations, water towers, hoist units for recovering the animals, ledge trash dumps, trailers…, everything we had an interest in.  The Sluff Day party was forgotten… that is until Bryce reminded us that we had water melon waiting in Zion?  And everyone knows Bryce never worried about food, unless he didn’t have some in his mouth.

By now it was late afternoon, and with some measure of excitement and regret we headed toward the main guard gate, only to find it locked and Bolted!  No one in sight.  Time passes swiftly when you have time and opportunity.    You never heard such a hue and cry.  “We’re all going to die” and “our parents will never find us!”  “We’ll be in jail for the rest of our live if they don’t shoot us at dawn…?” and on and on it went.  After listening to the moans and distractions long enough, I elected to find a way to climb over the 14 ft chain link barrier, using my coat to get over the barbed wire, and dropped down (fell) into the restricted area.  The moaning stopped as six sets of eyes followed me into the machine area, onto the roof, through an open window in search of a key of some kind.  No luck.  No key.  No phone. No power.

I exited the main door to see my class mates at the near side of the zoo fence, staring at me with great big eyes and bigger hopes.  Looking around, I spied a line of heavy equipment that included a huge articulated fork lift, but now, if I just could find some keys?… not to worry, the engine was exposed and I managed to hot wire the rig and it started right up.  Off we went to the gate races.  I poked some tools through the fence, lifted Homer up and over to the other side and we proceeded to dismantle that darned security gate right off its hinges, then we lifted it up and open, drove the convertible through to the open road and reassembled the gate with the guys now on the other side.  Then for the final act, returning the equipment to its original place, returning the tools to the “locked” machine shop, closing the office and locking it behind me–after writing a thank you note to Mr. Durrell Covington, the manager–expressing our appreciation for his courtesy and the challenges he had created for us in our departure (without giving him a clue to our solution) I left it on his desk.

It took a while for me to get back over the fence again, but with Chandler and Bryce helping in a clown stack we made it, and yes with a breath of relief we headed on to the Class party in Zion Canyon.  The story should have been over about now, but it wasn’t.  By the time we reached the picnic area, just below the trail to the Emerald Pools, the group had pretty well evaporated to the hills and we met most of the class on their way back from the falls.

As a group of four and pending darkness we continued on and by the time we got to the falls there was no one in sight… so, why not?  Chandler was the first as I recall, no one could then let themselves be out-done could they?  That water was so cold that by the time we hit the pool there was only enough breath left for one gasp and every appendage, on our body had shriveled to the point nothing could be seen but our teeth!  But I suppose that was a good thing, because about that time Barbara Batt and a couple of her friends (Lorraine Palmer?) came around the bend just in time to add impetus to the streak show.  Yes, after the adrenalin subsided we did make it back to Cedar City, NO water melon though.  Oh yes, and we did sleep well!  Sorry we missed you guys at the party, I am sure it was exciting…


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