Over 50 years ago, a young 17-year-old Mike Gibson from Angelina County enlisted in the US Navy and soon found himself aboard the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier below the water line deep inside the rear Engine Room learning about gauges, instruments, temperatures, etc. Mike was on his way to Viet Nam aboard the WW II’s famous “Fighting Lady” that eventually earned 5 battle stars. This past October, Mike and his wife Dianne drove to Charleston, SC to attend the 68th annual USS Yorktown Association Reunion. Hurricane Matthew arrived about the same time and discouraged a number of veterans from attending the annual event at Patriots Point, SC. Mike, the youngest to attend, met former crew members some who served in WW II. He was truly impressed with the spry 96-year-old Art Leach from Illinois who was one of the first pilots to land and take off from the flight deck in 1943, the year the Yorktown was commissioned. Mike was excited to visit his old work place even though it was not on the tour. When planners of the reunion learned that Mike worked in the Engine Room on the Yorktown, they took him there and videoed an interview with him about the propulsion system and how they managed to work in 100+ degree temperatures. They plan to use his video for educational tours. Mike Gibson was one of the veterans of the USS Yorktown anti-submarine aircraft carrier that was treated to several dinners aboard the ship. On one occasion, the veterans were invited to autograph pictures for tourists who came aboard.
When Mike and Dianne Gibson realized that the hurricane Matthew was headed toward the USS Yorktown, Dianne was a bit anxious about finding a safe place. Mike assured her there was no safer place to be in a storm than in that ship that weighed 30,000 tons. It’s hard to imagine that it’s surface was almost the length of NINE football fields! It is also famous for recovering the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule in 1968. Those of you interested in Maritime museums might want to visit Patriots Point in Charleston, SC to not only see the USS Yorktown but also the USS Laffey Destroyer and the USS Clamagore Submarine.
On their way back to Texas, Mike and Dianne toured an antique Fire Museum, stopped in Savannah, GA, Pensacola FL and in Mobile, Alabama for Mike to tour the Battleship Alabama from WWII.
A large group of friends from this area traveled with their RVs to Waldron, Arkansas to attend the Turkey Track Bluegrass Festival. According to my reporter, Nettie Mann, they all enjoyed the music, playing dominoes, eating and most of all, the fellowship with old friends and making new friends. The highlight of their trip was seeing and hearing Rhonda Vincent and The Rage Band al Doyle Lawson and his Quick Silver Band. The group making this trip included: Bobby and Verna Mott; Marshall and Evelyn Crawford; Buddy and Becky Tims; Rolston and Dixie McDuffie; Gordon and Rita Craft; Freeman and Judy Thompson and Charlie and Nettie Mann. They are already looking forward to going back next year. From a “fact-check” Rhonda Vincent is “A firecracker of talent that powers one of the hottest shows in music.” Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver have multiple awards and nominations and are the reigning inspirational Country Music Association’s Vocal Group of the Year.
Received an email from Rosemary Berry that she and her husband John are traveling in their motorhome to Lake Livingston and enjoying a lot of rest and relaxation on their pontoon boat. About once a month after attending morning services at Burke Methodist Church (where she has played the organ/piano for 60 years) they load up in the motorhome and travel. Recently they made a trip to Memphis to enjoy Graceland and a paddle boat ride on the Mississippi River, spending the week playing like kids. During the summer they took a trip through the southern states, wading in the Atlantic Ocean and feeding 42 pair of beautiful white swans. Rosie said, “There’s a first time for everything.”
We did not recognize the tall handsome young man who came rolling in after closing one evening. He introduced himself as Hagen Spring and of course we immediately knew his grandparents, Vernon and Betty Burkhalter and Garner and Mary Lee Spring. Hagen was driving in from Houston on a Friday afternoon when Vernon called him and said, “Don’t speed but try to make it to Pouland’s in time to buy deer corn” Bless his heart, everyone had already left for the day and he had to load his own feed.
Earlier in the day I was introduced to Kenny Franklin who is married to Betty Burkhalter’s niece, Geralyn. They now live in Etoile but recently moved there after his wife, Dr. Geralyn McClure Franklin served as the Dean of Business at the United Arab Emirates University, College of Business and Economics. They were provided a 6,000 sq.ft. Villa with a gardener and Kenny enjoyed playing golf every day. They have one son, Tanner, a graduate of Texas A&M, Baylor school of law and is presently clerking for a federal judge in Beaumont.
For many years I did not know who owned the washteria in Diboll until he came into Pouland’s. Wayne Campbell is not only the owner of the one in Diboll but he also owns six others plus a car wash. One might say he is in the cleaning business! He was quick to tell us about his son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Kelli Campbell, who have purchased Ruben’s Chicken and Fish on Raguet Street. They use their own recipe for the batter. There is a small counter to eat inside but the facility is set up for drive-thru service.
Diboll Methodist minister, David Goodwin, announced at the round table that there will be a special breakfast at 8 AM on November 12th to honor veterans. He is encouraging all veterans to attend and bring any memorabilia to display. For more information, call the church office and talk with Shirley Harris, 829-4470.
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