August 29, 2017


Ben Smith was invited to take a vacation this summer that he will never forget. Ben is the 12-year-old son of Aaron and Jennifer Smith of Diboll and the trip began with a destination of Eureka Springs, Missouri to attend the popular outdoor drama of the greatest story ever told in The Great Passion Play. Ben was excited explaining to me how “cool” the Holy Land tour was which included the colorful market place, the pageantry of the chariot and camel caravan and the hustle and bustle of the crowds as they go about their daily activities.  He loved the live animals on the streets of Jerusalem, visiting a replica of a first century Inn and stable typical of where Jesus was born, a life size Tabernacle with a guide explaining each part of it, the Tomb with the folded napkin and the dramatic and exciting ascension of Jesus into the night sky. He learned from visiting the Upper Room, where Jesus and his disciples feasted for the Last Supper, how differently dinner was served and that the guest of honor always faced the door. The Passion Play was the highlight of the evening.

On the next day’s itinerary Ben saw the famous arches in St. Louis which were under construction and unavailable. Going through Springfield, Illinois the next four nights were spent as guest of a farmer in Madison, Wisconsin. I know personally that Ben is not afraid of working and when he overheard a conversation about gathering cucumbers the next day, he volunteered to help. He was up early picturing the cucumbers along a fencerow like home. His eyes got big when he was told there was FOUR ACRES of cucumbers to pick but he and eight other pickers gathered over 2,000 cucumbers that day! He was truly impressed when the buckets of cucumbers were put on a conveyor where they were washed, boxed, loaded on pallets and then into a truck to be delivered to market. The rest of day was spent riding bicycles everywhere…sightseeing, visiting yard sales and even to the restaurant. Another day was spent at an indoor theme park in Wisconsin Dells. Ben was totally impressed with the six-story Ferris wheel and the African-themed carousel. There was also challenging ropes course, climbing walls, 24 lanes of bowling, go carts, mini golf, hundreds of arcades and much more. The rest of that day was spent on a pontoon boat on the Wisconsin River where Ben enjoyed jumping into the icy cold water. That evening he attended his first ever, drive-in movie and watched Plant of the Apes sitting aboard the pontoon boat. The next day Ben watched the Milwaukee Brewers win a baseball game over the Pittsburg Pirates and enjoyed watching the mascot slide down a long slide after a homerun.

The next day was spent mostly driving toward Minnesota and spending time at the Mall of American in Bloomington with more than 400 shops. Ben loved the Nickelodeon Universe which is seven acres of unique attractions and entertainment which includes Fly Over America flight simulator, Sea Life and most impressive to him, a 34’ tall LEGO Robot and roller coaster. That night Ben attended the Minnesota Twins and Arizona Diamondbacks game. He couldn’t believe they were giving away Rod Carew “bobble heads” and he got one. (Rodney Carew is a former Major League Baseball first baseman, second baseman and coach. He played from 1967 to 1985 for the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels and was elected to the All-Star game every season except his last.) Ben laughed about witnessing a marriage proposal on the Kisscam.

South Dakota’s Original 1880 TOWN is something I have seen and it also impressed Ben with more than 30 buildings from the 1880 to 1920 era, authentically furnished with thousands of relics and Dances with Wolves movie props. (I was disappointed Kevin Costner wasn’t there). Ben, like me, didn’t really appreciate and soon got bored with the drive through the Badlands on the way to Mount Rushmore National Park and on to see Crazy Horse which is the world’s largest mountain carving located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is a memorial for all Native American tribes. Ben was more impressed with Crazy Horse than Mount Rushmore. He spent the night in Nebraska and was one of the few thousands that watched the total eclipse in the Agape National Park. He said the park was filled with people 35 miles on both sides of the highway.  It was on to Kansas, Oklahoma and back to Texas to complete his memorable trip in time for Ben to begin school at Diboll Junior High. I was frantically taking notes as Ben told me about his trip without any notes. Thank you Ben for sharing your story.

With the devastation and flooding from the hurricane Harvey, Cassi (Lenderman) Davis and her two sons, 3-year-old Jase and 10-month old Mack, left Stacy in Magnolia and came to her parents in Diboll. Her parents are Karon and Dennis Lenderman affectionately known as “Cootie” and “Grumps”. Jase told his dad that he planned to stay here “forever” with them.

Dwayne Jordan was in getting tires put on their Kubota ATV because the kids love to ride, especially Laura. Our thanks to Mark Hafernick for the Prickly Pear jelly he made from the cactus off Richard and Lisa Warners’ ranch. Barrett Duren came in for deer corn. If you ever have the opportunity, ask him to sing “Desperado”.

With the summer coming to an end, one certain grandmother and retired principal, Helen Cheshire, was determined four of her grandchildren would see the life-size recreation of Noah’s Ark and The Creation Museum in Williamstown, Kentucky. Helen drove the long distance not once, but twice! The first trip she took 14-year-old Garrison Cheshire and his 10-year-old sister, Laycee. The second trip she took their two younger sisters; 10-year-old Kaydee and 8-year-old, Emmee. The parents of these four are Chandra and Bobby Cheshire of Diboll. The ark is 1-1/2 football fields long and 7 stories high with animatronic life-like models. The developer, president and founder of Answers in Genesis, Australian-born Ken Ham, is good at spreading our belief, “That the Bible is a book of history and that this ark is intended to serve as a vivid warning that, according to the Bible, God sent a flood in Noah’s time to wipe out a depraved people, and God will deliver a fiery end to those who reject the Bible. We’re becoming more like the days of Noah in that we see increasing secularization in the culture,” Mr. Ham said.

Continue to remember those who have lost so much and come see us…’round the table.


August 21, 2017


Brigette Tobias, a frequent customer, practically grew up on the back of a horse being coached in barrel racing by her dad, Ronnie Casburn. She has passed the tradition on to her 14-year-old daughter, Lucchesse, who has won several barrel racing championships. The most recent being this month in Waco at the 2017 Texas National Barrel Horse Association State Championship where her winnings included: 1D Youth Champion and 1D Open Reserve Champion (competing with all ages). She also won Open 1D 1st Go and ran the fastest time during the whole competition. That’s quite an accomplishment for a ten year old! Her proud parents are Jason and Brigette Tobias and her maternal grandparents are Deborah (Bourrous) and the late Ronnie Casburn. Keep up the good work!

It was a real pleasure to meet 13-year-old Hannah Hagle who came in with her dad. She is the daughter of Brandon and Heather Hagle of Chireno. Hannah has been in training for Junior International Elite Gymnastics since she was six years old. It began when she broke her arm, was sent to rehab and got seriously interested in gymnastics. She is presently coached by Martin and Stacy Parsley in Tyler. Hannah and her parents are dedicated to this rigid training program which means she had to move to Tyler to live with her grandfather, Harold Hagle. Hannah begins her day in the gym from 7:30 to 10AM. She attends school from 10-2 with 7 others who are also in training and then back to the gym from 2 until 5:30. During the fall she will come home on weekends but during the summer she goes home every other day. In Chireno her parents have chicken houses and cattle and she loves following her 16-year-old brother Wyatt as he competes in showing steers across Texas. In her quest to be a future Olympian, Hannah is looking forward to October when she attends the National Developmental Team Training in Huntsville where she has met several members of the US Olympic Team including 2008 member Nastia Luikin and Gabby Douglas who was a member in 2012 and again in 2016. Good luck to you Hannah!

One of the fun things about working in a feed store is that we get to see people’s pets when they come to us for help. DHS sophomore Jessica Castor came in with her mom, Debora. Jessica found three baby rabbits in their yard and her dad, Fernando, said, “Go to Pouland’s they will know what to do”.

It was good to visit with Joe Flowers (senior) who recently retired in June. Joe has been driving trucks most of his life. He owned and operated his own truck for 25 years and for the last 15 years he drove for Lyons Propane. The first couple of months was difficult adjusting to being retired, Joe said, “you can only mow the grass so many times”. It’s better now that he is driving again, part time, for Johnson Excavating. Joe and his wife Connie just recently returned from a trip to Colorado to visit with her family in Lamar where Connie grew up. Connie now works at Albeldts after working 15 years at Timberland Pharmacy.

Rachael Chapman, daughter of Kim (Placker) and Darrell Chapman, is an independent young lady who earned a degree from Texas A&M and presently lives in Houston’s Rice Village and works in Spring. She proudly negotiated on her own to buy a beautiful new Cadillac SUV. She drove it to Diboll to show her “Granny Jo” JoNell Placker, and parked it under her wooden carport. Rachael told JoNell there would be “no eating”, “no drinking” and certainly “no pets” inside her new car. Rachael took her Granny Jo on a test drive the next day. They were enjoying a beautiful day until Rachel decided to demonstrate the open sun roof, immediately they both were covered in a ton of sawdust from the carpenter bees that must have worked all night in the wood of the carport where she had parked. Returning home they both worked for hours cleaning the new car!

Billie Jean (Walker) Jones took the time to drive from the Humble area to pick up former DHS classmates, Barbara (Vaughn) Spradley and JoNell (Vaught) Placker, to celebrate Barbara’s August birthday at the Olive Garden. Charlene “Polly” Leavell celebrated her August birthday with longtime friends and lunch at the Angelina County Airport. Those enjoying were Betty Hendrick; JoAnn Rainwater; Ginger Capps; Nita Hurley, Billie Jean Capps and of course, Polly; sorry I had to miss. It seems the conversation has switched through the years to discussing doctors’ visits.

Monthly flea pills for pets is a new item for us and seems to be very popular. In a month or so, we can ask Louise Ellison, Ronnie Kilgore and G. B. Treadway, “How did it work?” R. W. Oaks comes to Diboll quite frequently to his childhood home place where he loves to garden. He came in to buy pea seed for his fall garden and came back later with his great-granddaughter, Mattie Neiman, to get local honey and watermelon seed. Max Purgahn is a serious farmer; he plans to sell his crop and came in to buy enough cream pea seeds to plant on seven acres! Billie Jean Capps was in buying birdseed, sunflower seeds and reported, as always, busy making her famous jellies; mayhaw being the most popular. Glenda Tobias frequently comes in to buy chick feed. She’s learned from my experience how chickens love “Happy Chickens Mealy Worms”. These delicious treats make your chickens love you. Joel and Tammy Cheshire enjoyed visiting and looking around while waiting to get a lawnmower tire repaired. Earl Hutson was angry at all the wasps and ants around his house and had plans to get rid of them. DEMON XP is hard to keep in stock because it is such a good product to keep the unwanted pests away. Our thanks to Roy Lee Lyles for the fresh okra.

I appreciate friends who feel they can use this column to ask for prayers from its readers. A longtime friend, Janet Kilgore, called to share with me the devastating news her youngest son Johnnie has been diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Janet is home after being in Oregon for a month with Johnnie and his wife, Teresa and children; 14-year-old Gracie and 9-year-old Wesley. Janet grew up in Diboll and retired from Memorial hospital after 33-1/2 years. She worked as a surgical nurse so you may not have seen her. Janet is a strong woman and has battled with cancer for a few years but she is surrounded with love from her five sons: Lonnie, Ronnie, Donnie, Tommie and Johnnie. Please remember this special family in your prayers.

Come see us…’round the table


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.


August 7, 2017


You may know Leo Lytle as the pastor of Faith Family Church for the past two years but he is also a phenomenal and rare wood craftsman. Leo stopped by to show us a photo of his latest project that is completed and ready to be delivered. It is a beautiful white oak curved staircase that Leo said, “requires using all of your skills and critical layout but it’s also the ‘dessert’ to a seasonal craftsman and makes you look forward to going to work”. Leo began his career sweeping up in his dad’s shop who did architectural millwork and owned Southern Woodcraft in Shreveport, LA. By the age of 16 Leo had been trained in the millwork and earned $1.65 an hour. Through experience and work ethics he became a foreman at the age of 18 responsible for 20 men who worked under his management. His life changed at 19 when he surrendered his life to the ministry and attended night classes at the Baptist Theological Seminary and worked during the day. With his hammer, a few tools and a skill saw he left footprints all over New Orleans including lots of work on the World’s Fair in the 80’s and the many hotels that were built during that time. July 21st ten years ago he married Valerie Culp and moved his business to their home in Pine Valley. He is a bi-vocational pastor and continues to do specialty work in Louisiana. Presently he is working on a plantation home north of Alexander that was built in 1835, the only one that didn’t get burned during the Civil War.

Sophie and Raymond Lenderman were proud to attend the 61st graduation of the Game Warden Academy held on the floor of the House of Representatives in the Texas capitol. Their grandson, Justin Lenderman, would have been the 42nd member of this class until his untimely death in 2015. Justin’s dad, Ray Lenderman has worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife for 16 years and was very influential in Justin wanting to become a game warden. At SFA Justin was an honor student who made the dean’s list while pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice and would have graduated in May of 2016 and had been accepted into the academy the following January. A black draped desk was present during the entire training to remind those trainees that Justin was “watching over them”. During the solemn graduation many fine comments were made by Carter P. Smith. Afterwards, a portrait of Justin and a framed poem signed by all 41 new game wardens was presented to his family. Dennis and Karon Lenderman drove his parents to this special occasion which was also attended by about 20 other family members and friends. Raymond and Sophie were glad to have a short visit with their grandson Zach on their way home. Zach is a highway patrolman in Polk County and was glad to see his parents and grandparents.

JoNell Placker was invited to celebrate her birthday in the home of her daughter and son-in-law, Kim and Derrell Chapman who live in Bullard. Granddaughters, Elizabeth and Rachel Chapman were also present for Granny Jo’s party but JoNell was surprised to see so many others that had been invited for the special occasion. JoNell is part of a special group that call themselves “the Park Street Kids” as all of them at one time lived on Park Street here in Diboll. That group included: Linda (Johnson) Cook and her son, Jim; Mary Alice (Bunch) and her husband, Billy Shivers; Elaine (Bunch) and her husband, Donald “Pinky” Pinkerton. Others family present were: William and Vivian Vaught; Carlie Vaught and Emily Vaught. Classmate, Barbara (Vaughn) and Roxann Spradley. And, Diana and James Wilson; Hunter Rush, Trace Turgood, Ann and Allen Koch. It was a good day and memorable birthday.

Two longtime friends since the church nursery at First Methodist in Lufkin, Jonanna (Perry) Reidinger and Alyceanne Baggett, made a special trip to The Everything Store. They came to purchase Green Tomato Pickles after seeing them on Facebook. Jonanna’s dad was A. G. Perry and Alyceanne’s dad was Ele Baggett. We also learned that Joe and Beth Denman were Alyceanne’s godparents. She followed in her family’s footsteps and worked as a banker in Austin for 50 years. Jonanna who lives in Ft. Worth shared memories of having butterscotch pie at the Pine Bough. She also was hungry and anxious to get to LaUnica’s for lunch.

Rolando Salazar came in with his mother Juana, carrying a cute solid white puppy that was part St. Barnard. Rolando graduated from DHS in 2014 and attended two years of college on an academic scholarship. He will be transferring to Illinois College where he plans to complete his major in Mathematics and Spanish. He has been on a tennis team since a sophomore at DHS.

JJ Wyatt will be leaving DISD to accept a teaching and coaching position at Texas City. He will be teaching high school and coaching wide receivers in football and also girls JV basketball. The good thing he will be living near fresh seafood, just two miles from the boardwalk in Kemah.

Don’t forget should you be interested in hearing stories and learning more about the logging camp, Fastrill, to meet at Catfish King for lunch this Saturday, August 12th at 11:30. I’ve heard that John Powers and already been rehearsing his stories at the Burchfield family reunion last Saturday.

Come see us..’round the table.