Sunday, July 10, 2011

It's A Furr Piece To Farr Point...

Spellbinding! That’s the only way to describe it. All the way from “Splat!” to “Eddie, don’t you know that yet?” I have not read such an enthralling book in a long, long time. Some of you know with many of my columns, I tend to get ahead of the story. This is another one of those times. So here we go.

When I was four years old, my family moved from Nederland to South Park in Beaumont. The year was 1941 and there were not many houses in the 1300 block of Pipkin. Thus there were not a lot of kids in the neighborhood. Nearly a year later, someone moved into the house behind our house. They lived on Edwin Street and our backyards met at the hedge row.

I watched our new neighbors as they moved their belongings into the new house. There was a tall, slender lady. The first thing I noticed was her red hair. Don’t know why but I always liked red hair. Then there was a little boy about my age. All I could tell from my vantage point was that he was skinny, had slender legs with boney knees and his hair was curly. I was too shy to venture closer, so I just watched.

A few days later, a new friend on Pipkin Street came over to play. His name was J. D. Middleton. His two front teeth were missing. My mom called him “snaggled-toothed.” Anyway, J. D. told me that a new family had moved in behind our house on Edwin Street and that they had a boy named, “Thammy Heaven.” I cupped my ear closer and asked, “Thammy who?” J. D. retorted, “Not Thammy. I thed, Thammy! Thammy Heaven.”

Thus was my indirect, informal introduction to Sammy Havens. Sammy was the skinny kid I saw moving in along with the tall red-headed lady who turned out to be his widowed mother. Mrs. Havens was a school teacher. I thought school teachers were very smart. I wanted her to notice me and say nice things to my mother about me. But I digress.

One day, Mrs. Havens and Sammy came to our house. She had baked for us a delicious lemon pie. She and my mother, who was a former school teacher, sat and visited while Sammy and I walked around the house looking at pictures on the walls and stuff like that.

I liked Sammy. He was very well-mannered and didn’t tear up my toys like Don Viguet and J. D. often did. I’ll never forget one night about 3:00 a.m., when Sammy and I stood out in front of my house and watched flames leap hundreds of feet into the air. Gasoline storage tanks had exploded at Magnolia Refinery. What a sight that was…vivid memory indeed.

Then the Havens moved away. And we moved. I have not seen Sammy in more than sixty years. We have, however, reunited on Face Book and on occasion chat about those yesteryears.

Today, I am proud to know Sam Havens, Professor Emeritus in Drama at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He founded the Drama Department and still teaches playwriting and screenwriting. He also taught playwriting and screenwriting for ten years at Rice University’s School of Continuing Studies. Some of his fifteen plays have been produced in the USA, Canada and Australia.

Recently, Sam published his first novel entitled, “Farr Point.” This is a mix of fictional non-fiction telling about a young boy’s experiences growing up with his school teaching mother. Warning! Once you pick up this book, you will not be able to put it down.

And Mrs. Havens? I’ll always love her. One day she told my mother that, “Winston is a very nice boy. I know you are proud of him.”

Winston Hamby


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