Me and My Friend Doug
Doug Harrington and I go back 40 odd years. He opened his first store in 1965. It was located on Texas Avenue in Bridge City across from the present location. Doug’s dad was Sen. D. Roy Harrington, so he attended school in Austin part of the time. In fact, he and H.D. Pate attended the same school. When Pate arrived in Bridge City soon after Doug to hang his shingle, Doug spotted him and commented to a friend, “That old boy looks a lot like a guy named Hinny that I went to school in Austin with.” Sure enough it was. They have remained friends all these years.
Doug attended Texas A&M on a track scholarship. He was there during the Bear Bryant championship days. He has great stories about John David Crow, Charlie Krueger, Jack Pardee and former Bridge City high school principle Bill Godwin. Bill was a friend in college and they remained close through the years.
Doug went on to pharmacy school and married Helen, his high school sweetheart. The couple raised two children, Dana and Doug, Jr., in Bridge City. Some 28 years ago the marriage came to a parting. The two have remained friends and both are now happily remarried.
One day Doug stopped by to introduce his new bride-to-be to Phyl and me. Regina was a beautiful Cajun girl from Hampshire. He told of their wedding plans. This was her first trip to the altar so I asked if they planned to move near the schoolhouse. Doug wanted to know why. “So the kids can attend school,” I said. Doug just laughed at that. In a year Regina’s only child was born and Doug went through the school activities all over again.
That brings me up to the main reason the Harringtons will be moving away. Daughter Britanie will be getting married June 14 at Lake Conroe. Doug and Regina own a ranch out of Crockett where they will stay when their home here is sold. The plan is to then relocate near Spring, Texas, or Lake Conroe.
When Doug was 29 years old he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. A couple of years ago Doug had a stroke. This was a wake-up call for him. Regina has no people in the area and Doug got to thinking that she and her daughter, being extremely close, should be near each other. He sold his pharmacy and started making plans that would place them closer together should anything happen to him. The end is always a question of when, not if. So it’s an unselfish move on Doug’s part.
I have no better friend, the kind you can always depend on. He and I have lost a lot of people we were close to, good friends who were irreplaceable. Over these many years Doug and I have fought some political battles, not always on the same side. His dad and W.T. Oliver, both State Representatives, took on State Senator Jeb Fuller. Harrington and Oliver ended up in the runoff. I was for my close friend W.T. We lost. Later D. Roy and I became great friends and so did Doug and W.T.
Once in a particular election, Doug and I changed the course of history. It was only possible through our friendship. We both had a piece of the puzzle that would complete the deal. I was holding the trump card and only Doug had the connection with me to put the deal together. The leading candidate, just two days out, was a sure winner until Doug and I welded a deal that sealed his fate and the underdog became the winner. He and I share that secret. We were involved in many more races. He usually supported the liberal candidate; I always had a more conservative leaning. I worked hard to elect Gov. John Connally. State Rep. Clyde Haynes served in the House while Doug’s dad served in the Senate. He supported Clyde and I supported a young lawyer, schoolteacher, conservative candidate Wayne Peveto. It was mostly win-win for Doug and me, regardless of the outcome in any race, we had friends in high places with his candidate or mine.
Doug helped a young pharmacist, a Louisiana Cajun boy to get a drug store by being his partner. They put their first store in Danny’s Food Center in West Orange and later opened a store in Pinehurst. Carl Thibodeaux, who ended up with the West Orange store, became mayor of the city and is the longest-serving and one of the best county judges in county history.
On any given day, you might run into an elected official like U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson or others at Doug’s place. Most candidates running for statewide office, governor, attorney general etc. made a stop at the drug store. Our friend Jimmy Conn and I usually were on one side, Doug on the other. This led us to having a lot of fun. Jimmy was always pulling pranks on both of us. I messed with Doug so much that sometimes I was ashamed of myself.
Doug is a sportsman, duck hunter and so forth. He owned a beach house, had a sailboat, and at one time also owned a plane. I wouldn’t ride in either. H.D. and Jack Luther tell hair-raising stories about pilot Harrington. Pate said Doug was reading a book, the manual, attempting to land in Austin. Jack tells how scared he was flying with Doug who had to make an emergency landing in a cow pasture. Doug also raised stock, registered goats and exotic chickens. Dow Gene Anderson tells many stories about Harrington’s cattle ventures.
It’s been great years with me and my friend traveling down life’s highway. Thursday, May 29th, will be his last official day at the drug store. He’ll help out from time to time until he moves. When he goes, we will make the usual pact to stay in touch, visit and get together. I hold no illusions; Doug and I don’t do visiting. The many years of civic work and dealing with the public has us heading to our tee-pees, taking off our shoes and refusing to budge. We ate our share of English peas; we don’t make functions much any more. We’ll stay in touch but that will be about it.
We are both heading toward the sunset of our years. He’ll change lifestyles, meet new people, probably buy a pontoon and float Lake Conroe. We’ll communicate less with time and one day one of us will get the message about the other like we have so many of other friends before. We’ll always be great friends, it’s just a life change. Doug, you do to ride the range with. Thanks for everything, especially the memories. We made ‘em in style.