July 27, 2015

Some of my classmates from DHS had lunch together and enjoyed visiting and laughing at old stories. The gathering was due to Linda Sue (Baker) Smeltzer being in Diboll visiting family. Others present included her sister, Billie Jean Capps and her daughter, Susie Jones; Nita (Ramsey) Hurley, sisters, Betty Jean Hendrick and JoAnn Rainwater; and myself. All of us attended and graduated from DHS between 1960-1963 except for Susie, of course, and all but Nita grew up attending First Baptist. The Ramseys were an integral part of the Methodist Church where Nita has directed the music for more years than we want to mention. Four of us in this crowd took music lessons from Mrs. W. F. Purdy; we can never forget the piano recitals at the Methodist church where she lined the altar with fresh magnolias every year. We were all close and some of our funnier stories were from summer church camps at Pineywoods Baptist Encampment. I refuse to believe these girls when they said JoAnn and I stole the clapper from the dinner bell and threw it in the swimming pool. My deacon dad must not have learned about it because I would not have forgotten the consequences.

In talking with Linda Sue later, I had her fill in the gaps after she and I graduated in 1962 and attended a summer session at East Texas Baptist College in Marshall. We decided in that short time that SFA would be a lot closer to home. It was during that summer of 1962, a young Richard Smeltzer had graduated with a Forestry degree from Oklahoma State University and had moved to Diboll to train as a lumber inspector. Linda’s family introduced him to her and one year later they were married. While working as a SPIB inspector they lived in New Orleans then moved to Richmond, VA for 1-1/2 years where Linda continued college. The two then moved back to Diboll where Richard worked in different areas of the sawmill at Temple Industries. During the five years they were here Linda graduated from SFA and taught English at DHS for 2 years. After their first son Christopher was born in 1967, they moved to Nacogdoches where Richard earned his Master’s degree in Forestry. They moved to Appleton, Wisconsin where their second son Eric was born while Richard was attending the Institute of Paper Chemistry where he earned a second Masters and a Doctorate in Chemistry. Dr. Smeltzer was hired by International Paper and moved his family to North Carolina for a year of post doctorate work. Then the family moved to Monroe, New York for Richard to work at IP’s Corporate Research Center. I remember Linda saying his job was creating pine trees in a test tube. They also lived in Natchez, MS for 7 years and Tallahassee, FL for 13 years.

While living in Florida Linda was hired as the Youth Minister at a Southern Baptist Church that had 350 youth. In the meantime, Christopher had graduated from Baylor and Vanderbilt and had started his pediatrics practice in Nashville. In 1996 Eric had graduated from seminary in Ft. Worth and his little brother Jonathan had graduated from Baylor. These two brothers approached their parents with the idea of starting a Christian youth camp. At the age of 57, Richard retired and he and Linda bought 70 acres high in the mountains near Etowah, TN. Eric and Jonathan followed them and that’s where Camp Living Stones began and still is. All the family members worked hard clearing and building cabins, houses, dining halls and even cooking for as many as 145 students, 3 meals a day. The camp is going strong but now Eric and Jonathan are both pastors at the River Bible Church in Mountain Homes, AR. They and their families live there and Richard and Linda plan to spend time there to be closer to the grandchildren. They have a total of eight!

Craig Ruby has decided to retire after spending 28 years in the field of education. He’s not sure what his future plans are but for now is glad to have time to relax and enjoy whatever. His wife Elizabeth continues to work for Diboll ISD where she has spent the last ten years in accounts payable. Their son Cutler lives in Dallas and is working as a parole officer. Their daughter Meredith is a senior at SFA and plans to do social work. Craig and Elizabeth plan to travel to Waco this weekend to visit his sister, Brenda and Chip Seigman and their 5-year-old twin girls, Maddie and Mack.

DHS coaches Caroline and Kyle Austin have bought a new home in Tyler and will be moving there where both of them will be working for the John Tyler school district. Coach Danny Montgomery came in the store and had to remind me he once worked at Temple Inland. He is married to Christina (Rodriquez) who teaches 4th grade here and they have two sons; Akira, age 12 and Bruce, age 6. He was looking for large washers to pitch as the family was on their way to the lake for some fun and relaxation.

Garret Peck came in with his dad, Jamey. I learned Garret had just completed football camp and is looking forward to playing this year as a 7th grader. He loves football and has been playing for years. His 12th birthday was July 18th. He celebrated the event swimming and picnicking at Camp Tonkawa with good friends, Noah Farr and Dalton Moreno and his cousin Merick Fuller. That evening they went to his favorite place, Tsubaki where he likes to eat Hibachi steak and shrimp and loves their Miso soup. Garret had lots of grandparents and family that went along for the evening including: his parents, Jamey and Star; Nan and Wayne Fuller; Brenda and Benny Dickens; Naomi Holman; Letha Grandgeorge and Susan and Richard Payne.

Martin Jones came in and told me he wouldn’t have any need to buy anymore horse feed as his beloved thoroughbred named “Booger” died at almost 37 years of age. His 37th birthday would have been August 9th. Martin had owned Booger since a colt. He was an “all around” horse that Martin had trained to ride, rope and hunt. His dad, Jack Jones had even trained Booger to plow. It’s hard to lose a good friend.

Come see us…’round the table.

July 20, 2015

Othal Lowery and her niece Linda Lowery, stopped by late one afternoon to visit at the RT. As usual, John Ralph has old photos and other memorabilia at his fingertips. They looked at photos and shared stories of several mutual acquaintances. He just happened to have a 1946 DHS annual. Miss DHS that year was a lovely Othal Russell. She was also Football Sweetheart and Reporter for the Future Homemakers. While sitting at the round table, Othal received a call from her son, Joe Bruce, who was vacationing in Colorado with his son, Matt. They were enjoying the cooler temperatures and the good fishing. Although it was raining when he called, Joe had a taken a photo of that morning’s sunrise and posted it on his FB page. He truly has a talent for seeing beauty through the lens of a camera and sharing it with those who do not. I learned in talking with his mother though, she got him interested in painting as a young boy that surely led to his artistic photography. Joe Lowery’s work has been published on the covers and inside of many magazines and hangs on the walls of many homes. Check out his Facebook page for some awesome photographs, Joe Lowery Photography.

Four members of the Minton family celebrated birthdays at a recent family gathering at Woodlawn Baptist Church where Kenny Mayo is the pastor. Billy Frank Minton, Mutt Minton, Thomas Minton and JoAnn (Minton) Grigson are now a year older and a bit wiser. A few of the others gathered for the occasion included Frances “Pesty” Mayo; Sandra Minton; Pokey; Rosie, Nancy Jo and about 30 more. The group enjoyed BBQ brisket with all the trimmings and of course, birthday cake.

Dianne and Mike Gibson celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary, July 14th, with good friends, Don & Sandy Hendrick. The Gibsons were invited to the Hendricks’ lake home on Rayburn and later treated to a meal at the Dairy Mart in Broaddus. The Dairy Mart is always packed because of the good food and friendly atmosphere. The Gibsons ate their famous hamburgers and the Hendricks had their fried shrimp. A few days after that, Mike and Dianne drove granddaughters, Raven and Sabra Modisette, to the Broadway Mall in Tyler. This past weekend, Mike and Dianne both served as judges at a BBQ Cook-off at the Nacogdoches Expo Center. They are always doing something fun or is it they have fun at whatever they do? Congratulations!

Crowds at restaurants usually indicated there is something good going on inside. That was the case last Friday evening when JR and I went to Wells to eat catfish at DeLeon’s. Arriving about the same time was Dwight Lyons who joined us. Sitting at the next table was Carol Ruby from Forest. He re-introduced himself and reminded us that his first visit to the RT was one rainy day when he pulled a trailer load of hay under our shed to keep it from getting wet. He came inside and when he started to leave JR insisted he stay and eat lunch. Carol is a very interesting person. He was a barber for years in Houston and knows lots of folks there and around here. Yes, he is related to Diboll’s legendary Milford Ruby, Mary Lou Havard is his aunt and he knew Jimmy and Brenda Martin when he lived in Houston. Small world.

Shane Garrett was volunteering at the Ellen Trout Zoo when he met Crissy Hall who is one of the supervisors at the zoo. It took him about month before he got the courage to ask Crissy for a date to the movies. Because she likes scary movies, they went to see Cabin in the Woods. That was three years ago. A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday afternoon at the zoo, Shane had one of Crissy’s co-workers call her on her radio to come to the hippo area, which by the way, is her favorite animal. Shane surprised Crissy when he knelt down and asked her to marry him. When she said “yes”, he put an engagement ring on her finger. His parents, Phil and Loretta Garrett and his sister, Alecia, were in the shadows and recorded the event. The wedding is September 19th. At lunch that day of the secret proposal, the Garrets had gathered to celebrate Shane’s grandmother’s birthday, Jessie Ship. Crissy was there also and everyone knew about the proposal except her. Mrs. Jessie shares her birthday with her twin, Lillie Mae McGuire.

Jana and Donald Coulter spent several days lavishing in the sun at the Silver Leaf Hill Resort on Canyon Lake near New Baunfels. With them was 15-year-old son Waylon; Jana’s niece and nephew, Steven and Tera Thompson and John and Tammy Beeson from Baytown. The group spent three days floating down the Guadalupe River, one day at Schlitterbahn, one day at the Tanger Outlet mall in San Marcus and enjoyed cooking out and swimming at the resort pool. Joining them for one day of floating down the river was Theresa and James Burns. They all returned home in time for Waylon to enjoy a birthday dinner on the 16th at Logan’s. Other family and friends that attended were: Chris Coulter; Hannah Jones; Brenda, Manuel and Jesse Herrada; Madison Villarreal; Shelia Hess; Amber Hess; Katie Hess; Karen Coulter; Nita Coulter; Chris, Debbie, Kelsey, and Dillon Haschke; Connie and Matt Moreno; Amanda Scarborough; Theresa, Tanner and Jaydn Burns. During July Waylon got his drivers permit and completed his TX Boaters Education course so he is licensed to drive the boat when the family has outings on the lake.

I received the following from Kitty Bounds: VOLUNTEERS, MENTORS AND COMMUNITY LEADERS NEEDED: Calling the Christian community to attend a start-up meeting for the forming of the Christian Men’s Center/Christian Men’s Job Corps (CMJC). This ministry will be patterned after The Mosaic Center in Lufkin for women. We have two meetings available to attend to explain our mission and gather volunteers. The Community Meeting’s” will be held on July 28th, and August 18th at 6:00pm in the Lufkin Middle School Auditorium. If you can attend a meeting, a volunteer form will be sent to you to fill out and bring or you may pick one up at the meeting. Only attend one meeting, please. Judge Paul White, Judge Bob Inselmann, Jerry Spann, Love, Inc., Police Chief Gerald Williamson, Becky Ellison state represent for CMJC, and Site Coordinator John Fulbright III, will be presenting. The mission of this ministry is to provide job training, life skills, education and personal development for men who have a desire to change their lives. The plan uses Christian principals to help them discover the love of Christ and want a better life for themselves and to become a vital part of our community. What we need right now is to gather men and women leaders, who are willing to work toward the united goals of this mission. These two meetings will provide an overview of needs and challenge you to volunteer and share your resources. Your prayers of support are needed. Please contact John Fulbright. III, @ 214-669-5276 or by email at: johnfulbright3@yahoo.com if you can attend the meeting. We also can send you a volunteer form if you cannot attend.

Please send me your vacation news to sandra@poulands.com.
Come see us…’round the table.


July 13, 2015

Enjoyed visiting at the RT with two young ladies who are cousins; Shara Friese and Lauren (Calloway) Roberts. With them was 11-year-old Colson Porterfield who joined us at the table but was more interested in his video games. Their maternal grandparents are James and Barbara Smith of Apple Springs. Lauren teaches at Anderson Elementary. She and her husband, Kevin, are expecting their first child in January. Shara graduated from Diboll and Texas A&M where she majored in Chemistry. After graduating from A&M she got a job about 2-3 minutes from the college working for Fuji Film. One would presume she makes film but not so. When the film market disappeared, Fuji went into the biotechnology industry. Shara works with test tubes and microscopes wearing white coats and extra protective gear while working with the development of a large scale flu vaccine.

Waynette (Goins) Patterson was treated to a trip to Pensacola, Florida with her son and daughter-in-law, Randy and Vicki who live in the Plano-Richardson area. Also traveling with them were their two daughters, 17-year-old Rachel and 15-year-old Sara and cousin, 16-year-old Madison McMullen of Lufkin. Waynette and Madison met the others in Shreveport and the two car caravan drove to Florida where they group enjoyed playing on the beach, shopping and especially, eating. They enjoyed lots of fresh seafood at Crabs and Joe’s Crab Shack. Madison, her sister Chelsea, her parents, Lydia and George McMullen are leaving this week to enjoy the beautiful beaches and sand in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Ginger Walker, receptionist for Dr. Woody Ingram, enjoyed a trip to Pocahontas, Arkansas for a small family reunion. She carried her dad, Robert (Bob) Walker from Zavalla along with her daughters, 8-year-old Taylor and 14-year-old Hailey and her inseparable friend, Mollie Clifton. About fifteen family members enjoyed a July 4th fish fry and it was great to see her dad visit with his brother, Bill Wallace, who came from Tennessee.

Zane Anthony, a 2012 DHS graduate is the son of Ray and Teresa Anthony. Following in his father’s footsteps, Zane recently graduated from the Kilgore Police Academy and is employed with the Lufkin PD. He has dated Whitney Dugat for a couple of years. He had purchased an engagement ring to surprise her but Whitney surprised him when she found it in his pickup. They are planning a 2016 June wedding.

Abby (Anthony) Lawrence had hair appointments with Meredith Jenkins for her, Lola and Tucker. Meredith was almost through with a special coloring on 6-year-old Lola when her little brother fell from a short window sill. Being a school nurse, Abby realized it was serious. Going above and beyond the call of duty, Meredith quickly finished Lola’s hair and drove them to the ER while Abby held Tucker’s arm in place. Diagnosis revealed both bones are fractured in his arm. Tucker is in a cast and everyone is helping to keep this active 2-year-old still for six weeks. Good luck!.

Busy lady, Cecilia Mendoze, took a short break to sit down at the RT while she was delivering this month’s edition of The Journey. Cecilia graduated from DHS and played volleyball under Coach Drake. Girls’ softball was not available but Cecilia played on Diboll Youth leagues until she was14. After graduating in 1991 from high school and later earning two associate degrees from Angelina College, she began to coach and do volunteer work. She coached T-ball for 13 years, baseball for 4 years and girls softball for 6 years. She has two children, Cecilia is 10 and Hugh is 13. Cecilia is always on the go. She volunteers at the library, participates in the Diboll Civic Club, co-ordinates the Spanish Club’s dancers who have performed at The Tamale Fest, Cinco de Mayo, Officer’s Banquet and other events. She will be volunteering at the Geeks, Games and Gadgets, designed for kids and adults this weekend, July 17-18 at the Nacogdoches Expo Center. Geeks, Games, and Gadgets is a Lifestyle Event combining the best features of Man Expo, Kid Escape, and a Comic Con. Indoor & Outdoor activities including paintball, table and video games, great vendors, comedy and movie events, barbecue cook off, Guinness world record break attempt, monster truck rides and much, much more. Tickets are $15/day or $20 for 2 days.

Leonard & Billie Robison ‘s home was invaded by thousands of bees that decided to manufacture honey in the front eaves of their second story home in Deer Trace. Leonard had no takers when he offered the bees to anyone that might be interested in removing them from his house. He then called Cary Sims, the Extension Agent for Angelina County. After much discussion and persuasion, Cary who is also a beekeeper, committed to the task of removing the bees. It was an ordeal that could not be done from the top of a tall step ladder. A mechanical lift was used to raise Cary and his equipment up face to face with the throng of bees. It was a very hot day, Cary was sweating profusely unprotected from the hot sun and wearing the usual beekeeper protection. Cary devised a system using a shop vacuum that gently sucked the bees from their hive into his bee box and transported them to a new location.

A few days later, Leonard Robison was able to enjoy being outside, doing what he does best, BBQing for friends and family. Some of the neighbors, Steve and Dortha Jackson, came to visit and commended Leonard on his good BBQ. Dortha, an accomplished pianist, demonstrated her musical skills on Billie’s 60th anniversary gift, a petite grand piano. Other neighbors listening to Dortha play included Earl and Carolyn Hutson (who also played for the group); Dave and Elaine Winfrey; John and Gloria Ogden and Dick and Linda Miller.

Stay cool, be safe and come see us…’round the table.

July 6, 2015


Kathy and Richard Nelson had a whirlwind first-anniversary (July 6) trip to Baytown (where Richard grew up) and Kemah. Kathy, Richard and his niece, Danielle, picked up Richard’s brother, Eddie, at Hobby Airport on Friday afternoon. They made it to Bicentennial Park in Baytown in time to see .38 Special perform a free concert with longtime friends.

Saturday morning the foursome completed the Baytown Heat Wave, an aptly named five-mile run. Eddie complained that he wouldn’t be able finish, but he outdid Richard by about 4 minutes. Richard commented that two years ago he finished the run about a minute faster and didn’t try it last year because it was too near the wedding date. So, he figures marriage has slowed him down. After running with the guys the first mile, 17-year-old Danielle fell back to keep Kathy company. Richard said he’s very proud of his wife for finishing the event about 10 minutes faster than they predicted.

Saturday afternoon, Richard and Kathy headed to Kemah. They ate dinner at Opus Bistro, which wasn’t on the Boardwalk, but about a mile away. It is definitely a place they will make it a point to go back to – especially since a total stranger paid for their meal! They had asparagus parmesan, garnished with crab meat and tomatoes; ribeye with shrimp and crabmeat; a shrimp and scallops pasta dish; and bananas foster. They highly recommend the place.
The Boardwalk area was way too crowded to really enjoy the fireworks, but a family did decide to get up and leave their table and offer it to the Nelsons. Saturday was certainly their lucky day!

I suppose you could say that Kevin and Andrea Swor celebrated a wedding anniversary with a short trip to south Texas. June 22th was their 24th anniversary and it’s also Kevin’s birthday. It was a business/pleasure trip in that Kevin was invited, along with thirty other Ag teachers, to tour businesses and ranches and listen to speakers. They were part of the LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Development) Program. Their trip began in San Antonio with dinner at MiTerra Mexican food. Kevin and Andrea really enjoyed visiting with former DISD Ag teacher Robert Washington who now teaches in Gonzales. The next morning the group traveled to George West to visit the Sick Dog Ranch owned by Mitchell Dale who owns McRae Ford dealership in Dickenson. Mr. Dale spoke to the group about organizational values and the Ford Leadership Scholars.

After lunch was served the group traveled to tour the LaPaloma/ElCoyote Ranches. The host at the LaPaloma Ranch was a father and daughter team, Felix & Della Serna. All their ranches together total about 200,000 acres. One of their 48,000-acre cattle ranches processes 300 18-wheeler loads of cattle per week. At that location the group learned about international farming and ranching. El Coyote and its sister ranch La Paloma sprawl over the counties of Brooks, Hidalgo, Kleberg and Kenedy at the tip of the Coastal Bend of Texas near the historic King Ranch in Kingsville. The El Coyote Ranch is represented by an elite herd of Texas Longhorns. They breed Longhorns in the old tradition using today’s ideas and technology. Their blend of past and present is proven in the fact that this ranch is home to the Guinness World Book Record Longhorn; 115” tip to tip.

Thursday morning the group of Ag teachers were treated to a delicious breakfast of Chorizo, eggs and homemade tortillas and tamales at the LaMuneca Cattle Company, owned by Carlos Guerra and family. Mr. Guerra spoke about being a good steward and giving back to the community and teaching students to get involved. He lives by his favorite saying of ten two-letter words, “If it is to be it is up to me.” Carlos and his brother Victor created a scholarship fund in honor of their brother that died the summer of 1979 before he was to enter Texas A&I. From the initial $10,000 family honorarium to further youth education, the Guerra family has awarded more than one million dollars in scholarships since 1979!

The group also toured the Chorizo de San Manuel plant in Linn, Texas. This plant grinds 20,000 pounds of pork daily to make Chorizo which is a Hispanic spiced sausage with a distinct and spicy flavor. The firm’s meat products, sold under the Chorizo De San Manuel and San Luis brands, are all-natural, with no added preservatives or fillers and are available at most food retailers. The Swors are back at work but enjoyed their informative days off.
My granddaughter Cheyenne and two of her friends, Ashley Thigpen and Courtney Nicols, traveled to Galveston for a three day outing. The three good friends enjoyed their first unchaperoned trip making fun memories at the water park, Pleasure Pier and walking the Strand where they made an Old Timey keepsake photo. They also enjoyed a nice visit to the Rain Forest Café.

Spending the July 4th holiday in Bullard with Kim and Darrell Chapman were Kim’s mother JoNell Placker, their daughter Elizabeth of Dallas and Hunter Rush of Tyler. Longtime friends that grew up in Diboll were also there: Elaine (Bunch) Pinkerton of Longview; her sister Mary Alice Shivers and her daughters Kim from Georgia and Shawn of Austin. Two grandchildren, Elizabeth and Shane of Austin had to listen to lots of old stories that were shared from this group that call themselves the “Park Street” gang.

You just never know who you will find at the Round Table. One day during lunch folks who came in were treated to live music from the talented Glen Lenderman and Kevin Carter who sang for more than an hour. Glen’s wife, Cricket (Laura), came during her lunch break and sang a couple of songs with the guys. Some who enjoyed this musical treat were: Raymond and Sofia Lenderman; Karon and Dennis Lenderman; J. D. & Sue Johnson; JoNell Placker; Jeanetta Stewart; Rhonda Flowers; Fran McGilvra; Mark Hafernick; Margie Harrell; Richard Rainwater; Bubba Covington; Dee Adams; Richard Nelson, all of us and several customers who came in to shop. They ended their mini concert showing their expertise on the strings and vocals with “The Devil went down to Georgia” and “Long Black Train”. Our thanks to Glen and Kevin and we hope they will come back, soon.

Sherrel Fears called and wanted to let the folks in Diboll know that his grandson, Chris Wells and his band, will be playing at the Benita Creek Hall in Nacogdoches this Saturday, July 11th at 8PM.

Come see us…’round the table.