August 14, 2017


More than 60 years ago was the first Fastrill reunion. Established in 1922, the Fastrill logging camp eventually became the largest and longest-lasting of all the Southern Pine Lumber Company (SPLC) camps in East Texas. The camp operated for almost 20 years, and served as the home for 600 residents. Three of those original residents attended the small reunion last Saturday. Mary Lou (Stokes) Havard, Sherrill Fears and John Richard Powers all remember it being the best part of their young lives. Fastrill was a company town, owned and operated by Southern Pine Lumber Company, SPLC. But, it was also a permanent site that differed from the mobile logging camps that sprang up across the region. A post office opened shortly after the town was founded in 1922, and soon thereafter Southern Pine opened a general store, barber shop, cleaning and pressing shop, gas station, cannery, school and church. SPLC provided electrical power at certain times of the day. Mary Lou’s dad, Fisher Stokes, operated the dynamo and would “flick the lights” at 9PM and leave them off all night unless someone had died in which case he left them on.The camp employees worked six days a week, getting Sundays off to go to church and spend time with their families. Mary Lou also remember a favorite recreational activity for the people of Fastrill, swimming in the nearby Neches River. The Fastrill camp operated through the Great Depression, lasting until 1941, when it finally exhausted the available timber in the surrounding forest. That September, the local post office closed, and the town quickly shut down as well. The residents of Fastrill were sent to Diboll, where the men were given new jobs with Southern Pine. John Powers has been heard to say more than once, “That’s the best move that ever happened to Diboll”. John and his wife Mable and daughter Natalie enjoyed the reunion. Also present was Wanda (Burchfield) Guidry whose Aunt Gertie White was well known among the residents. Ada (Smith) White who was married to Herman “Mousey” White attended with her children: Morris who was there with his two children, Natalie and Nick and granddaughter, Aria; her daughter Lori Boonstra came from the Tyler area.

Burlon and Jan Wilkerson have returned from a week in Maryland.  The couple flew from Dallas Love Field to Baltimore where they were met by their daughter Krista Canfield. Krista is a third year student of the Texas A&M Vet School.  Her husband Shaun is stationed at Walter Reed Hospital in Silver Springs, Maryland and Krista is spending the summer there with him in Middletown. During the visit the Wilkersons spent a day in Washington, D.C. visiting the Memorials and Monuments.  They also went to the Museum of American History and the Native American Museum. One day was spent in Luray, Virginia at Luray Caverns which is the largest cavern on the east coast.  In addition to the caverns, there is a huge maze, a ropes course and several museums.  It was a fun adventure that was located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the Amish country, the group visited Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania and took a tour through the farm land with a stop at a dairy farm and ended the day with homemade ice cream made with fresh milk.  The Amish live a very uncomplicated life and visits are so peaceful. Jan and Krista found plenty of shopping there. The last trip of the week was to Hershey Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  All things chocolate!  The group enjoyed a 4-D movie, a trolley tour of the town, a chocolate tasting and a tour of the factory.  The highlight was making their own Hershey chocolate bars.  Each of them designed their own labels for the bars.  Hershey is a must for families.  It was a fun day, filled with chocolate treats at each activity. The last day, Burlon and Jan joined Krista and Shaun for Trade Days.  Jan carried several of her handmade crochet items to sell and also enjoyed walking around seeing all the unique items for sale.

Super Seniors of Diboll First Baptist traveled to the new Del Rio for lunch on Tuesday. Driving the church van was a young adult, Marcie Fenner, who also drives for the children’s activities. When asked her if the seniors behaved any better than the children, she responded “Well, I only had to tell the seniors to sit down one time.” Some folks met at the restaurant and others rode with Marcie including her grandmother, Garvis Baldree; Billie and Leonard Robison; Leonard, Jr. and Camille Robison; Betty Kee; JoNell Placker; Joyce Carlton; Isabelle Hardy; Ruth Mullins; Jim and Polly Leavell. Others were: Bro. Kenny Hibbs; Earl & Joyce Carr; Geneva Ard; Ginger Capps and Sue Baker. Hopefully, I didn’t miss anyone.

Bro.David Goodwin, pastor of Diboll First Methodist, is recovering from knee surgery and having to slow down and take it easier. He came to the round table early one morning bringing a sugar free pumpkin pie that his wife Melanie, had made. Several folks enjoyed a slice including a couple from California who have decided to move to beautiful East Texas.

I learned more about the recent 61st commissioning ceremony for Texas Game Wardens during which 21-year-old Justin Lenderman was memorialized. Justin was an SFA senior criminal justice major from Jasper when he passed away on Feb. 12, 2016. He had already been accepted for this 61st training session. The rugged seven months of training took place in Hamilton and during the commissioning ceremony Justin’s dad, Ray Lenderman, was presented with the US flag that flew over the cadets during that time. Ray was also presented with Justin’s official Game Warden badge.

The film crew of Lone Star Law was present at the commissioning ceremony and interviewed Ray Lenderman afterwards about Justin’s dream of being a game warden. That episode will air during this fall season.

Buddy and Susie Jordan attended the “Meet the Jacks’ Friday evening and returned to Diboll Saturday morning to watch them and their grandson, Brady Jordan, scrimmage  They arrived at 9AM and learned it didn’t start until 10AM and decided to visit the RT. With five children and 15 grandchildren Buddy and Susie stay busy following and supporting them plus they are all invited every Sunday for lunch after church. Their children are: Manonne Johnson; Matt; Muriel Pope; Marian Ellis; and John. Most everyone lives rather close except Marian who lives in Boerne. Matt’s daughter, Allie, will be moving to Sweden this month to work two years for Campus Crusade for Christ. Susie encourages everyone to follow her daughter Marian’s blog on which is also available as an “app” on your phone. Check out her website for many good bible studies and devotionals.

Vera Jones had let her family know that she didn’t want a party for her birthday that is on August 16th. Little did she know that her family had planned a party last Sunday in the home of her granddaughter Jennifer and Aaron Smith. All the family members were present to surprise her with a 103 birthday celebration but they also surprised her son and daughter-in-law, Gary and Brenda Jones with a 45th wedding anniversary party. Each special occasion had its own cake. Congratulations to Vera, Brenda and Gary.

Come see us…’round the table.