In April of 1960, Walter and Audrey Gaston started The Penny Record in Bridge City and operated it for 30 years. Plans are underway for our 50th anniversary and like previous years, we had hoped that Walter would be a part of it. He passed away Tuesday morning at age 89. Audrey died a few years ago. Walter was Bridge City proud. He loved the community he helped build. He was also proud of what the newspaper had become and the addition of The County Record, the sister paper that serves the greater Orange and outlining areas. About The Penny Record, he said, it’s the voice of the community. He believed every good town had it’s own newspaper. The Penny Record, over the years, has published local events, the formation and incorporation of the city, high school championships, including the state football championship. The paper was there through hurricanes and floods. The paper has covered deaths and weddings, recording a history of the communities of Bridge City and Orangefield. Walter was a veteran from the Greatest Generation and for many years was Mr. Lion’s Club in Bridge City. Walter would never leave the place he and Audrey pioneered and raised their family. He was, up to his death, one of the Penny Record’s biggest fans. He once said to our publisher, “You’re doing the community a favor with the newspaper.” Walter gave away his paper, so through the years The Penny and The County Record have never charged and are supported almost exclusively by local merchants, institutions and professional offices. It’s a sad day for all of us. Walter once asked if we were going to change the name of the paper that started with Penny Classifieds. It’s been thought of many times but the conclusion is always that The Penny Record is Bridge City. You can mention the paper anywhere and the reply always comes back, “Oh, in Bridge City.” Walter, we will miss you, rest in peace.  See obituary this issue*****I’d best move on. Come along, it won’t do you no harm.

Congressman Charles Wilson’s death last week left many friends he had made in Orange County saddened. Charlie, from the conservative Lufkin area, had been a state representative and senator when he announced for Congress. Con. John Dowdy had been indicted so it was decided that his wife would run in his seat. Dowdy had enjoyed liberal support. Charlie, a conservative, was suspect with the local labor leaders and liberals. Attorney H.D. Pate was contacted by Jere, a friend, to help Charlie. Ironically Charlie’s wife Jerry and H.D. had dated when he was in college on a football scholarship at UTA. Jere Fay lived with her parents across the street from the campus. While in Washington, she had written a weekly column for the Dunn family owned Opportunity Valley News. On Wilson’s first day in Orange County, after taking him around, Pate and his wife agreed to help him despite some liberal friends supporting Mrs. Dowdy. Charlie was elected in 1972 and served until 1994. He made a lot of local friends including Lynwood Sanders, his county campaign chairman. He also became a close friend of Charlie Wickersham, as well as many others. Charlie worked Orange County real hard realizing it was the largest and most important voting block in the district. Shaun Davis, now manager of the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commissioner, along with his wife Tammy, worked for Charlie for many years. Roy Dunn says Charlie, without notice, would pop into the OVN office and be accessible to any reporter who wanted to question him. He visited all newspapers and courthouses in his district regularly. He called it “keeping up with the home folks.” Many stories and a movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” have been written about Charlie’s exploits. Many more could be told by locals. This writer, while in Austin asked “Who is that wild nut on that motorcycle?” I was told it was “Good Time Charlie Wilson, state senator.” A memorial took place Sunday in Lufkin and as a Navy veteran Charlie will be buried in Arlington Cemetery in Washington. In closing here’s a quote by Karen Tumulty in the recent issue of Time magazine” “Nobody could have made up a character like Charlie Wilson.” Molly Ivins once wrote, “He hadn’t an ounce of hypocrisy.” Charlie wore out two hearts; he died Feb. 10 at age 76. We re-elected him 12 times. No office holder ever did as much for our county. I’m proud our paths crossed. We’re all proud to have known him.

Kenneth Charles Thayer was only 58 years old when he passed away Feb. 11, in Little Rock, Ark. Ken was a crime scene investigator for the Orange Police Department. His death was a big loss to the department and even more so for Chief Sam Kittrell who lost a friend and a man who had his highest respect. The chief was visibly shaken by Ken’s passing. All of us got to know Ken as the personable owner of Yocum’s Photography. To know him was to like him. Our condolences to his wife Rose, parents Newt and Jean, daughters Christi, Jennifer and Lori and their families. Also to his brothers David and Frank. Ken will also be missed by co-workers and many, many friends. May he rest in peace. (Please see obits.)

30 Years Ago-1980

A Mardi Gras Ball was held in Orange. Dr. George Eastman was crowned king. The winning masquerade team, “The Schlitz Sixpack” consisted of Louis and Beth Dugas, Brooks and Diana Hill and Claude and Jean Hamerly. Corky and Betty Harmon and James and Janet Fontenot were dressed as “Chinamen.” “Sayonara.” Karl and Joyce Kleinknecht were dressed as an Indian chief and his squaw. Bernie Kerwin, Frank Riddick, Becky Zoch and friends joined in the moving streetcar. Dr. Nolan Leblanc cheered everyone on. A great time was had by all. *****Bill Townes was hospitalized in Dallas with severe chest pains. He is in ICU. *****Tara Mathis will be 18 on Feb. 22. *****Billy Joe Holcomb and Gertrude Bellaire celebrate Feb. 23. *****Wilda and Lewis Martin celebrate an anniversary on Feb. 24. *****Anna Kuykendall is elected assistant cashier at Bridge City Bank. *****Fred C. Gregory, John N. Brooks, B.J. Fields, R.E. Odom, Austin Floyd, Dr. Paul Meyer, Dr. J.E. Barnett and Howard Morse were reelected to the board of directors at Bridge City Bank. (Editor’s note: Today Odom and Morse are the only two remaining.)*****A book-signing was held at the new K-Mart store in Orange for author Gordon Baxter. Manager Paul Wise reported a large crown had waited for over an hour for Bax to arrive. Orange Mayor Major Inman who could not wait, turned the ceremonies over to Roy Dunn, who is mentioned in the book, “Village Creek.” Baxter was presented with a special designers paperweight from the City of Orange. A few in the crowd of over 200 were June Wingate, Bessie Mazzola, Jeannie Bell, Bobbie Strawther, Reggie Ezell, Judy Brint, Janet Copeland, Barbara Newman, Betty Hudson, Barbara and C.W. Bryant, Nita Ladner, Joe Raber, Tallulah and Luke Higgins and Lynn Hall, Keble and Skipper Free, who preformed with Baxter in the past at night spots and Mary Stevens, who has listened to Bax since the 1940s on a Port Arthur radio station. *****Pretty Lynne Gooch, 17-year-old Little Cypress-Mauriceville senior, is the recipient of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s $1,500 scholarship. She will represent Orange County at the rodeo and is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Gooch of Mauriceville. *****Brian Beard and Holly Hollingsworth were crowned king and queen at Bridge City High School coronation by Principal Joe Chenella. Louis Garriga and Christi Ballard were named grand duke and grand duchess. *****Fred Gregory accompanied an all-girl jogging team to Houston in a 26-mile marathon. Running with Fred were June Gregory, Joette Jeannise, Sandra Broussard and Sue Sharp. June came in second in her division. Temperature was 33 degrees. (Editor’s note: Fred died several years ago, June, at 71, still runs. I’m not sure about the others.


This Saturday, Feb. 20, will see the Bridge City Chamber’s annual banquet to celebrate the accomplishments of the community. All citizens are invited. It’s a community function sponsored by the chamber. This year a Bridge City standout and University of Texas All-American, Steve Worster will be recognized as Citizen of the Year. He will be honored for the years of publicity and pride he brought to his city. All University of Texas grads are urged to attend and honor one of their own. Tickets are available at the Chamber or at the door. Many special guests are expected. A good night for all, you’ll come.

Our buddy Hubert “Sprad” Spradling is still in therapy however he’s managing to get around on a walker after hip surgery. His longtime friend Corky Harmon drove him to the Lunch Bunch gathering at Tuffy’s. The group dines at Robert’s Restaurant this week and next Wednesday at Novrozsky’s. Absent this past week was mayor T.W, Permenter, who was in snowy Kentucky, where he and Lyndia were picking up their granddaughter whose husband was leaving for the war zone. He will run for re-election at Pinehurst.*****Speaking of eating, Johnny Montagne and Roy had their annual kidney stew dinner last week. I hear it was the best yet. *****Curtis Lee with the Fraternal Order of Eagles fed our staff Friday with some of the Eagles’ great barbecue brisket and all the trimmings. If you have a chance to order barbecue from the Eagles you’ll get a great meal plus help a great cause. On Saturday a benefit for heating and air conditioning repairs for the Forever Young Learning Center will be at the Eagles Lodge, 803 N. 28th St., from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Also, chicken gumbo, a bake sale, auction, crafts, live music from local bands and a raffle for a Marlin .270 rifle. For tickets, call Cyminthia, 449-9364, Curtis, 718-5712 or Carolyn, 792-9094..*****Here’s another good thing, the Bridge City School District is giving free admission to senior citizens, 55 and older, to all athletic events. Attend a baseball game or other sporting events at no cost. Come enjoy watching our youngsters.*****We understand everyone’s buddy Harold Force had a big turn out for his 90th birthday party Saturday at the West Orange City Hall. We’re sorry we couldn’t make it but here’s wishing you many more healthy, happy years. *****It just occurred to me how fortunate we were to have Charlie Wilson representing us in Congress but also during that point in time. We were represented by state Senators D. Roy Harrington and Carl Parker. In the House, we had Wayne Peveto and Ron Lewis. All were locals who walked our streets and really cared about local folks. Today, area congressmen are from the Houston area, as is our state senator. Our county is split in two house districts without one voice. Wouldn’t it be nice if the new congressional district that will be created would serve rural east and southeast Texas? Houston or Dallas will most probably get it. They already control 19 of the 32 districts in one large state. It would be too good to happen. *****About the Afghanistan situation, I wonder why we have waited nine years to destroy the poppy fields, the Taliban source of income. They could have sprayed the field with poison or done something. Finally it’s happening and the fight is furious. *****A new Houston Chronicle poll Sunday shows if the election were held today, Mayor Bill White would trail Gov. Rick Perry by only six points. Ideal for White would be a runoff between Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison with Perry winning. The Chronicle has endorsed Hutchison and White for governor. The Chronicle said White is far and away the most qualified candidate to crack the Republican lock on statewide offices. *****Sis Keogh is at Ridgewood Retirement Center in Beaumont and doing quite well. Son Mike lives in Houston and son Danny is working in Africa. Her brother Curney Lormand still lives in the area. Sis’ husband Mike died several years ago. Every time election time rolls around, I think of Sis. She was politically active and served as election judge for many years. She’s a great lady and everyone’s friend. *****Special birthday wishes this week to our buddy Keith Wallace, the CEO of Reliable Cleaners and member of the Port of Orange board***** The Rev. Leo and Ivalyn Anderson will celebrate their 50th anniversary on Feb. 18. Brother Leo, like so many of us, got lucky. Sister Anderson has had quite a trip following Leo through the years; it ain’t easy being a preacher’s wife. She has also been an important contribution to their ministry of visiting the ill and plays a great gospel organ. Together they raised three fine sons. Sunday at 2 p.m. services they will renew their vows at Apostolic Pentecostal Church on IH-10. They invite all their friends for cake and goodies. We wish our friends many more happy healthy years. *****Anabel Anderson, 88, a wonderful lady whose background goes back to Abbeville. The only child of Felix DeMary, she was married to the late Arthur Anderson for many years. Together they raised a great family. Anabel is still going fairly well, regularly participating in services and activities at St. Mary’s Church across the street from her home. Daytime finds Judy Johnson Boyd staying with her. A nice lady that our buddy King Dunn says bakes the world’s best chocolate pie. Miss Anabel, let me know when it’s pie day and I’ll just happen to stop in.*****Did you ever hear the story about the time in the late 1940s, when after dropping his date off, Preston Conway ran into a herd of cattle at the Cow Bayou bridge. I’m not sure how many he killed. You might ask him. Preston will celebrate his 19th date of birth on Feb. 29. How old does that make him? *****I understand the commissioners are going to build Judge Janice a “Jersey Lily Law West of the Sabine” courtroom. Judge Roy Bean named his saloon and JP Court after Lilly Langtry. I’m not quite sure what Judge Menard will name her new building at the airport. Bean was a hanging judge, even if a violator only rode his horse too fast. Judge Janice, she just fines you with a smile. *****It was a cold Monday evening but Bridge City head baseball Coach Chad Landry was out watching his young troops. The freshmen and sophomore team was scrimmaging Port Neches-Groves. In fact, I hear Landry was calling balls and strikes as the official, unofficial umpire. He didn’t get any arguments. The Bridge City/Orangefield area loves their baseball and softball. Little League signs up an average of over 800 youngsters yearly. *****Speaking of baseball, Coach Sam Moore tells us he has three hours open on Saturdays for private batting and pitching lessons. Any age group. Call him on his cell phone, 988-6462. *****I bet Baylor graduate attorney Sharon Bearden is filled with joy since Baylor has hired Ken Starr as their university president. I’ll have to ask Judge Pat.


John Chauvin, Kim Harmon, Mellisa Tuttle, Rolf Schulz, Alayna George, Tom Edwards, Ashley Floyd, Bernice Say, Betty Drachenberg, Betty Smith, Betty Davis, Leah Gunstream, Charlotte North, Christy Faulk, Darrin Havens, Jason Clark, Martha Pittman, Nathan Dickman, Ron Teaff, Sydney Peet, Allison Floyd, Erin Boren, Jim Izer, Amanda Newman, B.E. “Bob” Hankins, George W. Stevens, Harry Risher, Jasmine Lindner, John Curphy, Leslie Braus, Wesley Arnold, Brint Carlton, Jody Andes, Crystal Jones, Misti Bishop, Juanita Sullivan, Kelle Betz, Matthew Bland, Rachel Doucet and Joe Hebert.


On Feb. 18, Molly Ringwald will be 42; Matt Dillon, 46; Vanna White, 53; John Travolta, 56, Yoko Ono, 77 and Helen Gurley Brown will be 88. ***Feb. 19, Haylie Duff will be 25; Justine Bateman, 44; Jeff Daniels, 55 and Smokey Robinson, 70. ***Feb. 20, Rihanna, 22; Andrew Shue, 43; Cindy Crawford, 44; Charles Barkley, 47; Jennifer O’Neill, 62; Nancy Wilson, 73; Sidney Poitier, 83, Gloria Vanderbilt, 86; Patty Hearst, 56 and Ivana Trump, 61. ***Feb. 21, Jennifer Love Hewitt, 31; Kelsey Grammer, 55; John Lewis, 70 and Tyne Daly, 64. ***Feb. 22, Drew Barrymore, 35; Julius Erving, 60; Sparky Anderson, 76 and Brad Nowell, 42. ***Dakota Fanning, 16; Tommy McCarthy, 30; Michael Dell, 45; Peter Fonda, 71 and Johnny Winter, 66. ***Feb. 24, Eddie Murray, 54; Billy Zane, 44 and Joe Lieberman will be 68.

Clovis Boudreaux, 87, was stopped by da police on Highway 13, between Crowley and Kaplan. Da old man talked his way out of a speeding ticket. He told da policeman, “Well me, I was hurrying because I wanted to get dere before I forgot where it was dat I was going.”


Tuesday concluded the first day of early voting in Orange County.  393 votes were cast in the Democratic Primary, 176 in the Republican Primary. Please take time to vote and remember, don’t tell a candidate you voted when you didn’t because they know daily who voted and who didn’t. At the end of the election they will know who did their duty. Also, voting is important. Early voting is the easy way to vote with no waiting. Early voting continues through Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and again next week Monday through Friday. You may also vote by mail. *****The parties are over, Mardi Gras ended on Fat Tuesday and the 40 days of Lent begin from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. It’s a time devoted Catholics take seriously. Many don’t eat meat on Friday and attend Holy services like Good Friday, Palm Sunday, The Way of the Cross etc. *****I have to go now but I sure thank you for coming along. Please read us cover to cover. Shop with our advertising family when you can. Till next time, take care and God bless.