Monday, April 25, 2011

Fallout From Good Friday...

Yes, this is Easter Sunday. This day carries great religious significance for Christians the world over. Easter weekend is special. Good Friday is special to all who hold that day to be holy. In my opinion, more people think about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ during this period than any other time of the year.

But wait a minute. Something is wrong here and I am not referring to Easter or Good Friday. Rather I have in mind the fact that last year on Good Friday, the machines moved in and began knocking down the South Park High School building, one of the most beautiful edifices in all of Beaumont and surrounding region. As a result, that inspiring structure, listed as a State of Texas historical landmark, no longer exists. Since I am a SPHS Greenie ’53, this is a double insult. Moving in on a religious holiday and destroying a stately historic building that did not need to be destroyed are the leading components of my displeasure.

I am not going to dwell upon all of the shenanigans pulled by Carroll Thomas and Company, sometimes referred to as Butch and his Cronies. The main reason I stay away from joining in that fray is because I prefer to keep the tenor of this column out of the stench of underhandedness and outright fraudulent activities as evidenced by the BISD school board. Should you take offense at the foregoing comment then so do I. Let the record speak for itself. I realize that CT is an intelligent man. I will give him that. But this is what makes it so confusing. A smart man should not function as he functions. I have heard that in some cases, PhD stands for “…piled higher and deeper.” This is my opinion but also is fodder for another column. Yes, another column where I will let my hair down and write what I think.

Although I now live in the Little Rock area, I have numerous friends in and around Beaumont who keep me posted on the news and views of what I call affectionately the Plague of Beaumont. I verify information by reading the Texas Education Agency web site and the online minutes of the BISD school board meetings. Anyone disagreeing with the slant of this essay also should read the aforementioned resources.

Yet from all of this, a bright star arose from the pit of chaos. The South Park High School Heritage Association (SPHSHA) was started years ago by Pat Gilbert, Mary Frances Freeman and others interested in preserving the memories of SPHS. When the school became a ninth-grade campus, a schoolroom adjacent to the school library was dedicated to housing the memorabilia. Later, as the Good Friday demolition of the building began, others rose to the occasion. Miriam Cade Nichol, Mike Getz, Reg Garner, Gene Van Meter and others moved the SPHSHA (museum) to another location. Gene Van Meter owns a building located at 505 W Florida. Gene has dedicated the use of this building to housing the historical facts and records of SPHS.

Following are a few of the items and articles collected and housed in the new SPHSHA museum:

Graduating Gowns, band blankets, uniforms, and shirts, cheerleader jackets, choir jackets, trophies (basketball, football, tennis, track, baseball, golf, volleyball, bowling, literary, etc.), yearbooks ranging from 1915 to 1986., collection of Greenie Gushers (school newspaper), Beaumont Enterprise/Journal articles covering sporting events, social events and columns of interest to all Greenies and surrounding communities.

Then there are items for sale such as South Park T-Shirts, caps and necklaces, SP coffee mugs and cups.

Here is my new slogan:

“Brick and mortar may experience demise,

But Greenie Spirit never dies.”

Winston Hamby


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Different Generations...Same Town...?

By Winston Hamby and Deana Hamby Nall

Beaumont Enterprise guest columnist Winston Hamby and his daughter,
Deana (Hamby) Nall, both have memories of teenage culture in Beaumont
from different eras. Winston is a 1953 graduate of South Park High
School and Deana graduated from Beaumont Christian High School in
1989. Recently, they sat down to talk about coming of age in the same
town—three decades apart.

D: Where in Beaumont did you live in the ’50s?

W: In South Park on Pipkin Street. Then we moved to Concord Road,
which was Voth Road back then. We only had one car. We would drive
downtown to the Goodhue Building to pick up my dad from work every

D: Where did you and your friends hang out?

W: Pig Stand #10 on Port Arthur Road and Washington Boulevard. There
was another Pig Stand on Calder, but that was the Beaumont High Pig

D: So if the South Park Pig Stand was #10, were there nine others?

W: No, just the two in Beaumont at that time.

D: Do you remember where my hangout was in the ’80s?

W: Rogers Park?

D: That was part of it. We hung out on Dowlen Road.

W: Oh, that was your drag.

D: Did you have a drag?

W: Pearl and Orleans, but after they were changed to one-way, it
became Pearl, Crockett, Orleans and College. We made a rectangle.

D: We just drove up and down Dowlen. When we got to Whataburger, we
turned around. When we got to Rogers Park, we turned around again. We
would drive up and down for hours—use up a whole tank of gas.

W: I used to worry about you out there.

D: We were just going out to see and be seen. The rule was to act
bored, but it was really a lot of fun.

W: One night I went out there in our red and gray van to see what you
were up to.

D: I called it the “Hambymobile.”

W: I pulled into Rogers Park and I saw you sitting on the hood of a
car with some friends. You were holding a Bible in your lap and I felt
bad for thinking you were up to no good.

D: Dad, I never had a Bible in Rogers Park.

W: You didn’t?

D: No. I did read the Bible, just not in Rogers Park.

W: I wonder why I remember that, then.

D: Wishful thinking, I guess.

W: We had a Bible class at South Park High School in the ’50s. There
was a huge cheating ring in there.

D: Did you learn anything in that class? I mean, you were a preacher’s kid.

W: I can’t remember.

D: What was the West End back then?

W: It was fields. Where West End is now was a town called Amelia that
was five miles from Beaumont.

D: So Amelia was its own town?

W: Yes. I didn’t go out there much. I didn’t leave town very often.

D: Oh, we did.

W: Where did you go?

D: Louisiana. A lot of us would go across the state line on weekend
nights. There were a couple of clubs in Vinton where we would go line
dancing. I didn’t even like country music, but we had a blast out

W: I just took dates to the Jefferson Theater and the Pig Stand on the way home.

D: Which movies did you see there?

W: Oh… “Singing in the Rain” with… what’s his name?

D: Gene Kelly.

W: Yes.

D: How did I know that and you didn’t? I wasn’t even born until 1971.

W: What were your generation’s movies?

D: Tom Cruise was big in the ’80s. I saw “Top Gun” on opening night at
the Gaylynn a few years before it closed. I liked movies, but I liked
music more. What were you listening to in the ’50s?

W: Jo Stafford, Vic Damone, Pat Boone. Bing Crosby was phasing out but I still liked him. And Glenn Miller. There was Elvis Presley, but he
took some getting used to because he was a little weird at first. I
also liked Spike Jones and his satirical renditions of popular music.

D: I remember Spike Jones because we had a record when I was a kid.
There was a song about a horse race.

W: Oh, yeah. “Beetle Bomb.”

D: The music in the ’80s was all about pop and hair bands.

W: I didn’t like hair bands. I thought they were too “hippie.”

D: “Hippie?” When I think of hair bands, “hippie” doesn’t exactly come to mind.

W: I saw hippies wearing them in the ’70s and I didn’t like them.

D: Dad, hair bands were not something you wore in your hair. Hair
bands were rock bands in the ’80s made up of members who had lots of
big hair. Like Ratt and Poison.

W: I do remember Rat Poison.

D: Ratt and Poison. They were two different bands.

W: Oh. They probably sounded the same.

D: You know ’80s music better than I thought. Did you listen to
records or the radio in the ’50s?

W: Both. I listened to Gordon Baxter on the radio. He was hired and
fired by just about every radio station in Jefferson County.

D: He lived across the street from us on Redwood Drive in the ’80s.

W: Yes. He was quite a character.

D: Where did you eat in Beaumont in the ’50s?

W: The Golden Arrow was nice. Their worms were better than most.

D: Worms?

W: They always had worms in their salads.

D: And you kept going back?

W: Yeah. We just ate around them. We also ate at the Enterprise Café.
I loved their breaded veal cutlets and cream gravy. And I liked
Shelton’s and Motor Lunch.

D: Motor Lunch doesn’t sound appetizing in the least.

W: I ate there when the Pig Stand and Shelton’s parking lots were
full. There was also the Seven Seas restaurant toward Port Arthur. It
had the same manager as the Golden Arrow.

D: Did Seven Seas have worms in their salads, too? Since it had the
same manager?

W: I couldn’t tell. The lights were pretty dim. They kind of blended
in with the tomatoes.

D: We had Novrozky’s in the ’80s, across from the mall. That was a fun
place to hang out. I loved their hickory burgers.

W: Are they still open?

D: I don’t know. Mr. Gatti’s was right next door to it. It’s closed now.

W: In the ’50s, I liked Phelan’s Coffee because of its slogan: “Good
to the last drop.”

D: That’s Maxwell House.

W: It is?

D: Yes.

W: Oh.

D: Why do you think Beaumont was such a fun place to come of age in
the ’50s and ’80s?

W: For me, it was just where I lived. There were a lot of fun things to do.
D: The ’50s and ’80s were eras of optimism. I think that made those
decades seem more carefree. Plus both decades had the best music and
cars of the 20th Century.

W: I drove a ’39 Buick. And I never missed a driveway.

D: Oh, I put cars in ditches all over Beaumont.

W: I know. I had Bra-K Wrecker Service on my speed dial.

D: It’s hard enough learning to drive. And Beaumont has ditches all
over the place. They were unavoidable.

W: Well, you made it through your teen years alive.

D: We both did.

W: I’m glad we both spent our teen years in Beaumont.

D: It was a fun place to be a teenager. I think we are lucky.

W: I think so, too.