Let’s talk connections. Specifically East Texas connections.
Though my family officially left East Texas (Commerce) more than a half-century ago, we didn’t stray too far – to Denton – and our hearts never left.
The pull was so strong that Dad made it back in the early ‘90s. (He’s from Baytown, Mom was from Marshall, and they met at college in Jacksonville.) And a sister, who also attended the defunct Lon Morris College, has relocated to Tyler.
I once interviewed with the company that was responsible for taking so many area newspapers out of families, with Lindale being a likely prospect, but it didn’t happen. Other jobs and ownership possibilities have come and gone until our most recent sojourn.
Now that we’re back, I’m anxious to begin making those connections – connections that prove indeed that it is a small world.
It shows us that we have much more in common than we do differences. That our shared history helps us to forge ahead and make a positive difference in our communities.
Here are a few geographic nuggets to help begin making those connections.
I was born in Hughes Springs in a clinic that, last time we were through there, had a dollar store on the site. Dad was in his third rotation as a Methodist circuit rider, with one church near the Lone Star steel mill.
From there it was on to Big Sandy and his first full-time church (right along Highway 80), and then into the campus ministry, first at Commerce (we called it East Texas State), then to Denton’s two universities with a detour to own a service station (remember those – pump the gas, clean the windshield and check the oil?).
We made at least one trip to East Texas every year, to grandparents in Longview at Thanksgiving.
Then in later years as we became involved with the North and East Texas Press Association, we visited numerous cities and sites in the region and met many of the newspaper folks.
My wife even has a bit of a connection, with relatives in Fruitvale, one of whom once worked on the press at the Grand Saline Sun, which I assume also printed the Wood County Democrat as it was owned by the Woodall family as well.
The Woodalls were some of the first folks we met when we began our relationship with the regional press group in the 1980s, later getting to know their son, Bill, from whom we bought the Monitor.
Have you made a connection yet?
Among my interests are history, especially local history, so I can’t wait to dig into that. I am acutely aware of the flaws and foibles of this part of the world (as well as its beauty and many wonderful people).
Just an example: I do remember the infamous sign that hung over the highway going through Greenville.
But there are many other great stories to be told, or retold, and we look forward to that. I am already fascinated by the history of the Meredith Foundation.
Getting the paper back to the local level has been more time consuming than we had hoped, but we will be making the rounds and making those connections as soon as the situation allows.
In the meantime we are thankful for those who have stopped by to visit and begin making connections.
We’ve already heard some great stories and look forward to many more.