Down Life’s Highway : Don Jacobs “One of a Kind”
“One of a Kind”
Donald Wayne Jacobs, age 80, died Aug. 24, 2018. Don and I went back over 40 years. He started off writing a column for our Opportunity Valley News and later became editor of our Beaumont weekly, The Consumer Beacon. He continued to write for us at our Port Arthur/Mid-County publication, The Community Post. Throughout the years Don kept up his newspaper writing with a Country Music column in the Beaumont Enterprise. I gave him his first job as a column writer. Don was a natural writer and was described as a prolific wordsmith. He was witty and always entertaining. Don had an old Martin acoustic guitar and could play the snot out of it. He wrote many songs that could have been hits. He had that Roger Miller mentality. Once he quite everything, packed his old Martin and headed to Nashville hoping to break into country music big time. The columns we ran in our newspaper at the time were written by Don from Nashville. After awhile, Don gave it up and came home saying it was impossible to get your foot in the door in Nashville without inside connections. His friend Benny Barnes had landed a record deal. “A Bar With No Beer” was one of the songs that got him started. Benny didn’t want to be a big star, he would rather fish and didn’t want to do the traveling that was required by his recording label. He did record 129 songs, some written by Don. As a birthday gift Don gave me the entire log of Benny’s music plus all of his own songs. He especially recorded the song, “Legend of Roy Dunn—Who Did” as a gift to me. One of the lines was, “He was a simple coon-ass who made a follower out of the Leader.” When Phyl and I were younger, we often were lucky enough to play host to some of the most talented people, such as Don, Harold and his wife Shelia, Dan and Louise Green, Gordon Baxter, his wife Diane and a host of others who belonged to what Don called “Baxter Brigade.” We spent many hours together at different homes and at Bax’s place on Village Creek. When we visited Judge Beeson’s place we had to run the chickens off the couch and shut the door so the goats couldn’t come in. When Harold Beeson died, Don, Bax and I spoke at his funeral. It was the most unusual going away I had ever attended, with some great stories. Harold was an English teacher and great writer, he also served as Judge of Rose City. Don read some of Harold’s letters and told about some of their shenanigans, and how many places they had been run out of. Don had lived a colorful life. Born in Center, in East Texas, he started entertaining, picking and singing when he was 12 years old. His family moved to Nederland where he played football for Coach Bum Phillips. Few people I know could tell a story like Jacobs. His songs were hilarious. Beeson was also a published author, co-writing a children’s book called “Rags and Patches” with Bill Maddox. The book was considered to be made into a movie and can be found on Amazon. In all the years that Don wrote, I only recall one story about his grandmother, who had killed some of her children and stayed many years in prison. I believe she finally got out before she died. Many East Texans, like Millard Cox, probably remember that story that made national news. Don died at age 80. He was one of a special group I was fortunate enough to hang with. They are mostly all gone now. Don was cremated and a private memorial service will be held later. You would have had to know him to appreciate what a great talent and intelligent person he was. Rest in peace my friend.