June 19, 2017

Claire Roche, daughter of Merrick and Diana Roche, graduated from Lesley University’s School of Art and Design (Cambridge, MA) on Saturday, May 20, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with an emphasis on photography. The commencement ceremony was held at the beautiful Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, overlooking Boston Harbor. Claire assumed that her parents and brother Zach would be the only family members attending her commencement; however, she was surprised the day before with the arrival of two of her aunts, Julie Mettlen and Allison Amason, as well as cousins Mallory Dorman and Parker Amason. Zach had arrived Thursday night and was in on the surprise. He told Claire that they were meeting their parents at the airport Saturday at noon, where the four of them would then leave from there for a day trip to York Beach, Maine. Of course, upon arriving at the airport, Claire had a wonderful surprise awaiting her! Her Aunt Allison was ready with her cell phone to video Claire’s arrival and reaction to seeing her family members there. The look on Claire’s face was priceless! Blessed with absolutely perfect weather, Merrick and Diana rented a Ford Expedition that would accommodate all eight of their party and headed north to York Beach, Maine, a little over an hour’s drive from Boston. Merrick’s mother, Evelyn, is from York Beach, so Merrick and his family have spent many vacations in Maine, and wanted to share a few of their favorite sites with their guests. Their first stop was at Cape Neddick, (in York), where the Nubble Lighthouse, one of the most famous and most photographed lighthouses in the country is located. Within walking distance from the lighthouse is Fox’s Lobster House, a popular mainstay for lobster, chowder and ice cream. It was here that Claire and her family enjoyed Fox’s clam chowder, lobster bisque and ice cream, while soaking in the warm sunshine and the beauty of the Nubble Lighthouse. From there, they took a short drive north to Ogunquit to see the picturesque Perkin’s Cove. On the way back to Boston, they stopped in Kittery at the famous Bob’s Clam Hut, which has been in operation since 1956, known for their fried clam strips, lobster rolls and other traditional coastal Maine comfort foods. Claire and her family pretty much sampled everything on the menu! The lobster rolls were definitely a favorite!

On Saturday morning before her commencement ceremony, Claire gave her family a quick tour of her school and the art center, where some of her work was on display. From there, they took the subway to Harvard Square and walked around the Harvard campus. After the commencement ceremony, a celebration for Claire was held at Ristorante Limoncello, in Boston’s famous North End Italian District. It is one of many incredible Italian restaurants located along the historic cobblestone streets in the North End and is actually located right next door to Paul Revere’s home. After dinner, Claire took her family to her favorite bakery, Modern Pastry Shop on Hanover Street, where they purchased cannolis and other sweet treats. From there, it was on to Quincy Market and finally, the beautiful Boston Gardens and Boston Common. Despite sore feet and exhaustion, a wonderful weekend was had by all. Claire is currently employed at The Knot, in Boston, and is also teaching a weekly hip-hop class at the Dance Complex in Cambridge.

Over the years we have heard lots of fishing stories but the following from Robert Ramsey who works in sales for GP, tops every other story. Robert tells it as follows.  I was fishing with two hook droplines in a local creek catching a few fish for supper with my two buddies in Albany, TX when this monster showed up.  Two fat grown men in a canoe, no net, and trying to wrestle a 60lb op into an already unstable canoe was quite a rodeo.  We landed it, took pictures, and let it go about 1/4 to 1/2 mile from where we caught it.  We doubled up on bait the next night expecting to catch another one. As we were running the lines on the second morning we found we had “another” big’un.  I and our other friend finally landed another one under same conditions only to find out the fish looked very similar; had the same cut and abrasions.  We were able to identify from the pictures that were taken the day before; it was the same fish!  A couple of observations…..either the fish was stupid, hungry, or we were just that good of fishermen.  We went with the latter!!

Kathy Sample is thrilled that Cindy Barmore has moved to Diboll. Kathy and Cindy were friends in high school. Bonnie Donovan said it made her day when she stopped by and enjoyed visiting and reminiscing at the round table with Harold Maxwell, Sherrell Fears, J.R. and Mark Hafernick. Mark came another day with his daughter, Lauren Johnston, who decided to spend more time in Diboll with her family. Her plans were to travel on to Lafayette but decided to stay in Diboll due to possible stormy weather. She was looking forward to her dad preparing shrimp that evening, Cajun style. Our thanks to Mark for the wonderful sweet corn and tomatoes he brought us from his garden. Our thanks to Skeeter Scarborough who also brought us sweet corn. Keith Spencer brought cucumbers and figs that Andrea preserved.

Enjoyed a nice visit with Joe Anthony, retired post master from Lufkin. Joe grew up in Diboll. He and John Ralph shared lots of stories, most of them had been told and retold but we still enjoy hearing them over and over. Joe brought us beautiful “Champion” tomatoes from his garden. He told us that Myrtle Parker, who is a faithful reader of the Diboll Free Press, is recovering from hip surgery in Larkspur and looking forward to going home after completing physical therapy. A special note to Myrtle; do all that the therapists tell you to do, they know what’s best and thank you for your faithfulness to read The Diboll Free Press.

It’s been a happy “homecoming” for the postal employees in Diboll. As of June 10th, all the mail carriers are elated to be back working in the Diboll post office. We are happy too, our mail is arriving much earlier. Glenda Tobias shared this with me. She is one of the five carriers; the others are: Carolyn Stover, Christina Zamora, Arnold Buenustro and Blake Nerren.

It was a bittersweet celebration for the family of Dalton Powell who recently graduated from DHS, turned 18 on June 14th and will be leaving for the U.S. Army on July 3rd. His grandmother, Betty Powell, said friends, family and neighbors enjoyed a hamburger cookout at their home.

Dwayne Stanford fried fish at his and Stephanie’s home for another bittersweet celebration for his nephew, Jacob, who is also going into the Army; his older brother, Daniel, will be following him in a couple of months. Jacob’s twin brother, Michael, plans to attend SFA. These three boys are the sons of Lynn and Diana Stanford. Others of Dwayne’s family enjoying the delicious fried fish cooked on the Cajun Cooker from Pouland’s were Caleb and Hannah Stanford from Corrigan; Morgan and Julian Rios and four grandchildren.

Our granddaughter, Cheyenne Swor, is still having fun showing animals even though she is a senior at SFA. She and the show team from SFA recently attended the World Pork Expo in DesMoines, Iowa where she exhibited a Chester gilt and placed 4th in her class!

We have some interesting new yard art that’s just arrived. It will be very obvious when you come see us…’round the table.




June 26, 2017


40th Anniversaries can be traumatic (just a suggestion) use whatever you like.

Ray and Teresa Anthony had plans to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary with longtime friends, Pat and Ann Tomez. The foursome was entering a restaurant to enjoy a nice quiet meal together. Just as Ray was walking past a mirror sitting on the floor, it moved and Ray’s reflexes reacted to “catch” it which he did but the edge cut his hand deeply. A wise decision was made to go to a nearby clinic which promptly used six stitches to put his hand back together. The procedure didn’t cancel, only delayed, the special dinner date. They returned to the same restaurant and had two reasons to thankfully celebrate: a 40th anniversary and an injury that could have been much worse. The evening ended with a complimentary dessert. Congratulations and may you never celebrate your anniversary the same way.

Lewis and Shirley Ivey’s 41st anniversary was June 25th. Their anniversary trip this year was to coincide with the graduation wishes of their grandson, Dalton Powell, for a family camping trip to Garner State Park. Dalton’s plan to enter the US Army in July was moved up; the required tests, etc. caused the Garner trip to be cancelled. Last Saturday with no packing to do, Shirley, her daughter Brandy and KK decided to pamper themselves with appointments to get their nails done. As Shirley completed her pedicure and was getting out of the chair, she slipped down. The injury wasn’t enough to keep her from getting a manicure but later that evening her foot continued to swell and a decision was made to seek medical attention. An x-ray determined a broken foot and strained toes and ankle. She was sent home wearing an orthopedic boot which didn’t detain her and Lewis on Sunday morning, their 41st anniversary, from attending the Diboll Church of Christ and observing their 16-year-old grandson, Bill McGuire, being baptized. What better way to celebrate a wedding anniversary?

Jimmie Woodard was on the road again, but this time for just a day trip.  She and niece, Traci Parish Hall took Traci’s two girls, Sadie and Remie, to Gators and Friends in Greenwood, La.   2-1/2 year old Sadie was all smiles as she fed the many species of deer and goats.  There was a yak, capybara, zebra and llama all waiting for her little hand to reach in with food for them.  The kangaroos were all having a lazy day and the group did not get to see them hopping around, but the ostriches were very active and eager to be fed.  The lemurs were just “hanging around” and on a special diet, so no feeding them.  And then, the awaited alligator feeding!!!   The attendants came out, beat on the side of a bucket full of gator food and the gators lunged into the water to go get their dinner.  Attendants put the pieces of meat on a long hook pole and the gators “jumped” to get their share.   After the gator feeding, a baby gator was brought out (with his jaws taped closed, of course) for the children to hold and have their pictures made.   Sadie got right in line and waited her turn to hold the baby gator.   To Jimmie and Traci’s surprise, Sadie was excited and eager to do so.  9-month old Remie was too young to feed the animals, but was all smiles and excited to watch her sister feed them and to be pushed around in her stroller. The group closed the day with Sadie riding the Shetland ponies twice and then celebrating their fun day with a snow cone! Sadie and Remie’s dad is Andrew Hall. Their maternal grandparents are Cindy and Andy Parish and their paternal grandparents are Roy and Julie Hall.

Good friends, Bettye Greer and Garvis Baldree, decided they shouldn’t let their traveling abilities get rusted and decided to drive to Arkansas. Their destination was a cabin in Petit Jean State Park, one of Arkansas’s historic treasures. They were unable to get reservations in the Mather Lodge which holds the distinction of being the only lodge built in Arkansas by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The rustic Adirondack-style architecture of the mountain lodge is built of native log and stone with its bluff setting overlooking rugged Cedar Creek Canyon. The girls enjoyed meals served in the updated Mather Lodge restaurant. The original portions of the lodge date from the 1930s but the girls enjoyed their rustic-looking cabin with modern amenities. They commented this would be a great place for family camping trip with the rugged beauty of the mountain, hiking trails, streams, waterfalls, swimming pools and picnic areas. The park encompasses 2,658 acres of rare natural beauty. I learned the mountain received its name from the legend of Petit Jean, the story of a French girl who disguised herself as a boy and secretly accompanied her sweetheart, a sailor, to America.

Janice Farley called me to report that she and Tom have a new great-granddaughter, Lillyonna Rilynn Farley, who was born June 20th in Sholow, Arizona. Her parents are Shea and Kim and her grandfather is Richard Farley of Huntington. Janice, Tom, Richard and his family will be traveling to Snowflake, Arizona in July to attend the Ramsay family reunion which is only 11 miles from where Lillyonna lives. Last week Tom and Janice traveled to San Antonio and stayed with their son Randall and family to watch their 15-year-old grandson, Malachi, win second place in a tennis tournament. Malachi is going into his sophomore year and is ranked number 33 out of 705 other students. His 14-year-old brother Zeigen, is a member of a baseball team that will be playing in the World Series in Florida. Tom and Janice then drove to New Braunfels to visit with their son Allen and his wife, Amanda, who lived in Diboll for a while. Their children are: 14-year-old Aubra; 6-year-old Dax and 11-year-old Elijah whose base base team will also be attending the World Series in MS. Everyone was very proud that Elijah was chosen MVP, Most Valuable Player! Lots of congratulations to Janice and Tom Farley.

Fred Flournoy came in with his 10-year-old granddaughter, Abbieann Flournoy. She and I had a great visit, I couldn’t believe a 10-year-old could be such a great conversationalist and not in the least intimidated by an older adult but then I have to remember her grandmother is Cecilia Flournoy. Abbieann has a 7-year-old sister, Addiemay and a 3-year-old sister, Ammielee. Their parents are William and Jamie Flournoy. While the younger two girls are attending day care this summer, Abbieann is having the pleasure of staying with her PaPa Fred.

The Diboll Business Association encourages you to attend an Open House and Ribbon Cutting for Star Spangle Treasures, June 29, at 2:30. They are located in the former Flowers Body Shop just north of the new fireworks stand on highway 59 near the Diboll Depot. Please take the time to stop by and visit, they have a world of treasures.

The Diboll Business Association is also helping to sponsor “July in the Park” this Saturday, July 1st at 6PM in the beautiful Old Orchard Park. Lots of activities and fireworks!

Come see us…’round the table.


June 12, 2017


Christmas in June is what 9 year-old Brooklyn Hernandez recently experienced with her grandparents, Tina and Phil Jowell. One of Brooklyn’s Christmas presents last December was “Adopt an Animal” from the Cameron Zoo in Waco. Brooklyn chose to adopt an elephant named Tonya and was personally introduced to her at the zoo. It was an unforgettable one on one experience during an educational “behind the scenes” tour at the zoo. Tonya gave Brooklyn a “high 5” by putting her trunk into the palm of Brooklyn’s hand and also ate vegetables from Brooklyn’s hand. Tonya has been trained as an artist and painted Brooklyn a picture by blowing non-toxic paint onto a canvas. Brooklyn said this was the best Christmas present she has ever received!          Cameron Park Zoo rests on 52 acres adjacent to the Brazos River in Waco, Texas.  Lush native vegetation surrounds splashing waterfalls, a picturesque lake and ponds. In the midst of all this beauty, visitors see the wild ones in natural habitats with close-up encounters. The animal collection housed at Cameron Park Zoo includes more than 1,731 animals, representing 300 species featuring critically endangered Orangutans, Sumatran tigers, and Komodo Dragons.

Jimmie Woodard has been on another trip and sent me the following news. A trip to Las Vegas is always fun, but when you go with two other crazy ladies, it ends up being the old “What Happens in Vegas STAYS in Vegas” story.  Jimmie Woodard and two of her cousins, Linda Thompson and Sonnye Thompson spent 5 days sightseeing, walking, eating, shopping and laughing!  Jimmie had been to Vegas several times, Linda had never been and Sonnye had only visited for a short trip to enjoy a show.  So, Jimmie was the guide for the ladies and they were awed at the lights, casinos and hotels,  Fremont Street Experience, Hoover Dam, Ethel’s (M&M’s) Chocolate Factory, the Cactus Garden, the Eiffel Tower and  they even purchased RED SOLO CUPS for visiting Toby Keith’s, I Love This Bar & Grill. The ladies were shocked seeing the way some of the people dressed, especially on Fremont Street!!   And, YES, they enjoyed gambling, though none of the ladies came home any richer, it was fun hoping!  They enjoyed seeing the Righteous Brothers at Harrah’s and were totally amazed by the performances of the cast of Mystere by Cirque du Soleil!!!!  They also had a most marvelous dining experience at Gordon Ramsey’s Burger Restaurant at Planet Hollywood.  To top off the Vegas adventure, all three ladies got an ankle tattoo (temporary, of course! It only lasts about 3 to 4 weeks) just a spur of the day bonding moment!   Another great, fun adventure!!

Dianne (Tate) Gibson enjoyed a day trip recently to Houston to attend a luncheon for the graduates of St. Agnes Academy. Approximately 150 ladies enjoyed a delicious lunch held at the beautiful Junior League of Houston. Dianne and eleven other ladies represented their graduating class of 1958. A special recognition was given to a 95-year-old graduate who was present from the class of 1940.

Marlon and Jean Register traveled to Cleveland and out highway 32 to eat at the Ranch Hand Café. They had a chicken-fried steak and hamburger plus onion rings. They testified the small steak is all that you want to eat and the onion rings are wonderful.

Nine-year-old Camille Greer, daughter of Collin and Courtney Greer of Shelbyville, won Reserve Champion Charolais with her heifer “Sophie” at the Texas Junior Charolais Show at Tenroc Ranch near Salado. She also exhibited her last year’s show heifer, “Roxy” and Camille’s 6-year-old brother, Carter, showed Roxy’s calf, “Roscoe”. This sister and brother team won Second Place in the Cow and Calf Division at the same show. Proud grandparents are James and Becky Greer of Center and even prouder, great-grandmother of Diboll, Bettye Greer.

Grandparents, Keith and Kathy Spencer of Pollok, are very proud to welcome their first grandchild: Keith Alexander Spencer was born June 1st. His parents are Michael and Laura Spencer of Katy. The baby being named “Keith” was a total surprise to Grandpa Keith which will be happy to show you pictures of his namesake.

Charlene Ryan, a resident of Trinity Mission, called to let everyone know how proud and happy she was to be able to attend church services in the new building at the historic Ryan Chapel Methodist Church. She also enjoyed having lunch at the annual reunion.

We are always grateful to those who bring us fresh produce from their gardens: Roy Lee Lyles brought squash; Gary Jones, tomatoes; Skeeter Scarborough, cabbage and watermelon and Keith Spencer, huge zucchini. Melvin Durham was in getting a flat fixed on his garden tractor. We are proud that David and Sherry Karnes have moved to Beulah and found a feed store for their animals that includes a goat. They also bought pickled quail eggs from our selection of gourmet foods.

The Angelina County Extension office is offering Summer Canning Workshops. Each participant will receive hands-on instruction, recipes and two jars of the delicious finished produce to take home. This workshop will give you the confidence you need to know you can safely and effectively preserve nature’s bounty. The Fruit Jam Workshop will be Monday, June 19th, at 6 PM at Hudson High School but you must register by June 13th. The Salsa Workshop is Monday, July 10th at 6 PM also at the Hudson High School and register by July 5.

The 2017 Masonic Scholarship Shootout will be Saturday, June 24th, sponsored by the Lufkin Masonic Lodge #669. According to mason Keith Spencer, this lodge gave away $8,500 in scholarships last year. For more information, call 465-4699.

Don’t forget Sunday is Father’s Day and think about Pouland’s, The Everything Store if you need a gift.

Come see us…’round the table.

June 5, 2017


A “Blast from the Past”. This week’s column is a reprint from July, 1996.

“NEW YORK, NEW YORK” is my song this week.  Because I was away from the RT a few days, some of this column will be dedicated to my most recent experience in the Big Apple. Needing a way to get to the airport, JR arranged me a ride with Woody Ingram, Andy Jordan, and John Fulton.  These three dentists were flying to Montana to go fly fishing.  My flight was to leave at 8:30 so they had me there by 7 a.m.  My traveling comrade for this trip was JoAnn (Hendrick) Rainwater from Houston and she arrived (on time according to her personal schedule) at 8:29 just in time to walk aboard the plane.  On our arrival at LaGuardia airport my luggage was almost unrecognizable; thank goodness the contents were undisturbed!  I’m happy to report that Continental Airlines promptly replaced it with a new bag.  Our destination was midtown Manhattan where we were the guests of Christine Lynch, a 20 year transplanted Houstonian.  NYC is the only place I know that has a super-abundance of buildings that rise to the sky and buses that kneel to the ground.

We arrived before our hostess and after a short rest, decided to hit the streets of NYC.  Since she lives only a half block from the United Nations Building, we walked to the garden there and admired the roses and looked for any Ambassadors that we might recognize.  That night we joined another friend, Jennifer Falk a native New Yorker, and dined at a wonderful Italian Ristorante, il Gabbiano, where I tried tender venison from New Zealand.  Other places we tried were The Swiss Inn and Becco on the west side of town near Broadway.

Because Jennifer works for Ted Turner’s New Line Cinema, she was able to get us passes to see the movie “Independence Day”.  Needless to say we felt a bit uncomfortable since the Empire State Building is destroyed in that movie and we were sitting within blocks of that famous landmark.  Also thanks to Jennifer we had fourth row orchestra seats to see Julie Andrews portray “Victor/Victoria” and the same seating the next night to see Betty Buckley as Norma Desmond in “Sunset Blvd.”  It’s interesting to note that Dan Hackler, T/I Director of HR, has a sister whose company, Scaena Studios, painted the elaborate scenery in “Sunset Blvd.”

We ate hamburgers at the 108-year-old P.J. Clark’s; had lunch in the Crystal Room at The Tavern on the Green and walked through Central Park observing thousands of people enjoying a beautiful day and 80 degree weather.  There were lots of roller blades, Frisbees, kids, kites and carriages.  Another day we ate at The Water Club in lower Manhattan that overlooks the East River.  We then walked (which we did a lot of) past the 21 Club to the Museum of Television and Radio.  It was most interesting.  In one screening room we saw the 1955 live interview of Edward R. Murrow with Marilyn Monroe in the home of photographer Milton Greene.  We also saw Flip Wilson as the lively “Geraldine” being interviewed by Perry Como – now that’s comedy!  The museum’s library has 75,000 video tapes instantly available.  Christine is a dedicated Moody Blues fan and was able to see a video of Justin Hayward perform their famous “Nights in White Satin and JoAnn found a rerun of Placido Domingo performing in Central Park which brings me to the real reason for our trip to NYC: to see The Three Tenors’ (Carreras, Domingo, and Pavarotti) Live Concert at Giant Stadium.  Most people cannot imagine a sports stadium filled to capacity with opera fans, approximately 80,000 attended and we were four of them.  It was awesome!

For the concert, our native New Yorkers leased a limousine for us to ride to the Meadowlands in NJ where Giant Stadium is located.  When we arrived at the stadium there were more limos than cars in the parking lot.  EVERYONE had the same idea!  One big problem; the officials would not allow us to be dropped off at the stadium so we were sent across the freeway to park and use the walking tunnels all the way back to the stadium.  After the concert, the tunnels were jammed with people trying to get to their transportation.  In our long dresses, we followed a small group of people that left the crowd and jay-walked across six lanes of congested traffic, climbed over a concrete barricade that had a chain-link fence on top of it and jay-walked across six more lanes of traffic to get to our rented limousine.  The thought “I can’t believe we’re really dong this” crossed our minds several times.  I shall NEVER forget my first limousine ride.  All in all it was a wonderful trip but I did miss the RT.

See you later…’round the table.