Thursday, May 05, 2011

"Bax" And His "Yacks"...

I moved my family back to Beaumont in 1983. We bought a house on Redwood Drive, near what then was French High School.

After we unloaded our stuff, every room in the house--including the garage--was swamped with furniture and boxes filled to their brims. My wife and I got to work unloading and straightening things up.

As the afternoon wore on, Mardell and I grew weary and hungry. About 5 p.m., there was a knock at the door. We mulled over who it could be.

I opened the door and a man was standing there with an armload of hamburgers and sodas. He said, “Hello folks, my name is Gordon Baxter and you are our new across-the-street neighbors.” I invited him in and said, “Are you a Gordon Baxter or are you THE Gordon Baxter?” Turned out he was the one and only Gordon Baxter, well-known radio personality, author, pilot, and outdoorsman. In fact, he was many things to most people.

“Bax” had worked at many of the radio stations in the area at one time or another. We exchanged many stories of the days gone by. I had listened to him on the radio since I was a teenager.

Now he had married Diane and they had a beautiful daughter named Jenny. They had the home on Redwood Drive plus a cabin home up on Village Creek.

Bax liked my ham radio station (KF5D) and came over several times to play with all the equipment.

One of the funniest personal stories I recall about being neighbors with the Baxters is this: One day I went out to get into my car. Across the street was Jenny with a lemonade stand up and running. She was about seven years old and Bax was out there with her.

It seemed that Jenny wasn’t experiencing many sales. In fact, her pitcher of the good juice was still full. So I meandered over and learned that lemonade was ten cents per cup. I said, “Hey Jenny, here’s a dime. Give me a cup of that tasty-looking stuff.” So she did.

One medium sip of that lemonade presented me with more than one dilemma. First I realized that this product was the most horrible mistake that I had ever put into my mouth. Next, I was aware that both Gordon and Jenny were watching my every move, seeking to observe my every reaction to their homemade fountain drink. I knew there was nothing else I could do but to turn the cup up and chug-a-lug all of it.

Involuntarily, my eyes closed for a few seconds and when I managed to open them, Jenny and Bax were still watching my every reaction. There was nothing else to do but say, “Jenny, here’s another dime. Give me another cup.” You see, I wasn’t worried about hurting Bax’s feelings. He could take it. But Jenny’s eyes were hoping so much that I would like whatever it was I was drinking. I think it must have been one-half water and one-half lemon juice and no sugar. She poured me a second cup. I turned it up and guzzled away. However, this time my body began to quiver. I could feel my face drawing up into fine wrinkles. I turned away from Jenny so she could not witness my convulsions.

Bax walked me to the street as I was leaving for work. When we got out of Jenny’s hearing, he said, “Neighbor, that was a noble thing you did, but whatever you do, don’t regurgitate in my ditch.”

I told him not to worry and went on my way.

But you know those wrinkles I mentioned? I can still see them when I look into a mirror.

Winston Hamby


Anonymous Christene Zagone  said...

Mr. Winston, I just found your column through and it is already in my favorites tab. I have only read a couple of your articles, but plan to read them ALL! I grew up on Campus Street and went to Pietzsch, MacArthur, and South Park. My dad (Henry Zagone) was a ham radio operator-his call letters were WA5JGY. Thanks for bringing back memories,
Christene Zagone

Sat May 14, 05:31:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Winston  said...

Christene: Your dad and I were great friends...we hammed together many times and attended the ham meetings at the old fire house at Magnolia Park...

Sun May 15, 09:08:00 PM 2011  

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