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Stories Archives for 2017-10



One can only imagine what the Union soldiers must have thought at the sight of a giant wearing a confederate uniform running toward them in the heat of battle.  Henry Clay Thruston was beyond a doubt the tallest man in the Confederate army.  Perhaps at the time he lived he could have been one of the tallest men in the world at 7 feet 7 ½ inches in height.  The average height of the Union soldier was 5 feet 8 inches, and the tallest Union soldier was only 6 feet 10 ½ inches.  This Rebel towered over all the other fighting men like a pine sapling.
Henry was born May 4, 1830 in Greenville, S.C.  However soon after his birth his family moved to Missouri where he spent his early years.  In 1850 Henry married a distant cousin, Mary Thruston, and they had four children.
When the civil war broke out, Henry joined the Confederate Army, serving as a private under Col. John Q. Burbridge in the 4th Missouri Calvary.  Thruston survived the war hostilities with only a couple of relatively minor wounds.  He became a prisoner of war late in the conflict, but did not spend long in confinement, being paroled in June of 1865.
After the war, Thruston reunited with his family in Missouri then migrated to Texas, stopping when he got to Titus County.  He purchased 100 acres of land east of Mount Vernon, Texas, and spent most of the rest of his life there.
For many years following the Civil War, he spent most of his time traveling with a circus, and was always billed in these side shows as being “The World’s Tallest Man”.  In order to accent his height, he wore a tall beaver hat, high-top boots, and a long coat.  This made him look ten feet tall.  In those days, one of the big events of a circus coming to town was the parade through the downtown.  When the circus was in any of the Confederate states, he would always walk in the lead of the parade carrying a large Confederate flag over his shoulder, much like a human flag pole.
However, if the circus was performing in a Union state, he would usually lead the parade dressed as Uncle Sam, and carrying both the Union and Confederate flags.
Judge R. T. Wilkinson, of Mt. Vernon, was one of Thruston’s closest friends, and he said that Thruston was a vain old fellow, and proud of his height.  He was always willing and ready to recount events of the Civil War and of his life.  The Judge said that his hands were as big as hams, and his feet were so large that he had to have his shoes specially made, as well as his clothes.
He rode horseback quite a bit and when he was riding a smaller horse, his knees were usually pulled up as high as the horse’s back in order that his feet would not drag the ground.  He had a buggy specially built for him with the seat built high up in order that he could ride more comfortably.  In fact, Judge Wilkinson said that the old fellow always took great pains to call attention to his great height.
On Friday, July 2, 1909, Thruston sat down to supper with his son, Edward, his daughter-in-law and their son.  Mrs. Thruston told him that since he had not been feeling very well, he’d better pass on the cabbage.  The big man began to butter a biscuit when he fell back in his chair in heart failure.
Before Thruston could be laid to rest, the local undertaker had to await the arrival by train of a custom-made casket from Texarkana.  Being eight feet long, it could not fit into the hearse with the doors closed.  They buried him in a grave much longer than deep in Mt. Pleasant’s Edwards Cemetery.  His house, which had nine foot ceilings, still stands in Mount Vernon.
The editor of the local newspaper spoke for the whole community when he concluded, “He was our friend and we shall miss his cheering words and hearty handshake.”
Texas Tales – “Tallest Rebel” -  Mike Cox – 2/2/2007
Confederate Veteran Magazine -  December, 1909 issue
PO BOX 511
Cell: 936-275-6986
711 words


Redneck Repair Kit


In my experience with East Texas Rednecks and their sons, Good Ole Boys, I have found that they are generally good at repairing what ever breaks.  They seem to be able to figure out how a gadget works and what needs to be done to fix it.  In recent years, most have narrowed down their list of repair tools to only two items, WD-40 and Duct tape.
The general theory they use is twofold: 1. If something moves and is not supposed to, repair it with Duct tape.  2.  If something does not move and is supposed to move, spray it with WD-40.  To them, these are miracle products which will make temporary repairs a snap.  They can get back to their pastime of hunting and fishing.  
Let’s take a closer look at these two repair products:
WD-40 is a product that was developed in 1953 by Dr. Norman Larson, the founder of Rocky Chemical Company in San Diego, California.  Mr. Larson was looking for a formula to displace water and prevent corrosion in nuclear missiles.   The Atlas missile program was just getting started and water and rust was a serious problem.
The official name for WD-40 is “Water Displacement, 40th formula”.  On the fortieth experiment, Dr. Larson discovered the correct formulation of the product that has expanded to include many more uses than it was originally designed to do.  The top ten uses of WD-40, according to a recent survey, are:
1. Protects silverware from tarnishing.
2. Removes road tar and grime from automobiles.
3. Keeps flies off cows and horses.
4. Loosens stubborn zippers.
5. Cleans and restores chalk boards.
6. Keeps bathroom mirrors from fogging.
7. Keeps pigeons off balconies.
8. Removes duct tape.
9. Catches fish – spray on live bait or lures to attract fish.
10.  Treats fire ant bites – takes the sting away instantly.
Duct Tape was developed during WWII by Revolite Company, a division of Johnson & Johnson.  It was an adhesive made from rubber based material which was applied to a durable duck cloth backing.  It was excellent at resisting water and was used as sealing tape on ammunition boxes during the war.  It was first called Duck Tape.  The reason? It was related to the cloth cotton duck fabric.  It had the water proof characteristics of a duck, and was influenced by the amphibious military vehicle DUKW, pronounced “duck”.
It was not until the air conditioning and heating units became popular and service men used the duck tape to seal the joints in the air ducts that the product’s name was changed to “duct tape”.
Duct tape performs its job so well that it has been stowed on almost every space mission since the Gemini days.  In fact, over the years duct tape has been used by astronauts to make emergency repairs to the space ship or the moon rover.  Astronaut Ed Smylie remarked in 2005, “One thing a Southern boy will never say is ‘I don’t think duct tape will fix it.’  In fact, I feel a sense of relief to know that I have several rolls of duct tape on board.”
These days you can find Duct tape in many different colors for those who want to add a little sophistication to their project.
So, it would appear that the Rednecks have made wise selections in their repair kit.  Actually, if a Red neck with Duct tape or WD-40 can’t repair an item, then it is not really worth saving.  You may as well throw it away.
PO BOX 511
Cell: 936-275-6986
593 Words


World's Funniest Puns


You may be like me and enjoy puns. They are short and to the point, and sometimes require a bit of thinking in order to get the point of the pun.  What is a pun, anyway?  Going way back in time we find an Italian word “puntiglio” which means “a fine point”.  It is hence a verbal quibble, and is most likely the source of the English word “punctilious”. 
A pun is defined by Webster as “the humorous use of a word, or of words which are formed or sounded alike but have different meanings, in such a way as to play on two or more of the possible applications; or, a play on words”.
A little research has found the world’s funniest puns listed in a publication titled Pun FAQtory.  The following puns have been voted the top of the list:
  • Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off?  He’s all right now.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.  Then it hit me.
  • I’m reading a book about anti-gravity.  It’s impossible to put down.
  • I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.
  • Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda?  He was lucky it was a soft drink.
  • I’m glad that I know sign language.  It’s pretty handy.
  • I couldn’t quite remember how to throw a boomerang, but eventually it came back to me.
  • A new type of broom has been invented.  It’s sweeping the nation.
  • The person who invented the door knocker got a No-bell prize.
  • The other day I held the door open for a clown.  I thought it was a nice jester.
  • The butcher backed into the meat grinder and he got a little behind in his work.
  • When the cannibal showed up late for the luncheon, he was given the cold shoulder.
  • A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall.  The police are looking into it.
  • Smaller babies may be delivered by a stork, but heavier ones need a crane.
  • It was an emotional wedding.  Even the cake was in tiers.
  • Sleeping comes so naturally to me I could do it with my eyes closed.
  • I really wanted a camouflage shirt, but I could never find one.
  • Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway.  One hat says to the other, “You stay here.  I’ll go on a head.”
  • Broken puppets for sale.  No strings attached.
  • Police were called to a daycare where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
  • He drove his expensive car into a tree and found out how the Mercedes bends.
  • The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
  • When William joined the army, he disliked the phrase “fire at will”.
  • Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
  • Have you ever tried to eat a clock?  It’s very time consuming.
  • Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.
  • I used to have a fear of hurdles, but I got over it.
  • There was a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.
Why do people groan when a pun is used, such as the ones listed above?  Children love this type of obvious humor and can laugh at it without reproachments.  Adults, on the other hand, are more likely to have a twinge of envy and “why didn’t I think of that?”  It is this envy in adults that subconsciously causes them to groan upon hearing a pun.  As time goes by, it can only be hoped that adults will eventually learn to react more like a child and less like a groan-up!
PO BOX 511
Cell: 936-275-6986
649 words


Dickey Chapelle Breaking Ground


In Honor of Women who served or helped in the military here is the tale of the first American female journalist to die in a war.  She was ferrous and dedicated to her cause.  Her name was Dickey Chapelle.  Disclaimer she was a war photographer some photos will be of war. 


To read the article click here:  


This will download a PDF file.  





The Ohly Factor


I did not know it in the middle 1940s when I was in elementary school in San Augustine, Texas, but I was breaking the law.  In fact all we students were lawbreakers.  Some of you might recall this event that the courts now say was very detrimental to our very souls.  Yet, most of us grew up to be intelligent and useful citizens in spite of the learned judges’ opinions.
Once a year, without fail, the principal would report to each class room that there would be a general assembly in the auditorium at 10:30.  I usually had an idea what was going to occur, and I was excited about it.
Several hundred six to twelve year old students would be herded into the large auditorium for a special program.  Yes, I was right.  I could see the large felt board on the stage and there she was, Mrs. Ohly.  She and her husband, R. M. Ohly from Tyler, Texas, toured from school to school sharing Bible stories with all the students.  Now she was on our stage, and she had a magic board.
She always began her presentation with these words, “Good morning, students.  My name is Mrs. Ohly – O-H-L-Y.”  As she told stories from the Bible she would use cutouts of the different characters which she would place on the large board and they would magically stick.  I never figured out how that worked.  As she related stories of Noah and the Ark, Daniel in the lion’s den, the birth of Jesus, Jonah and the whale, and many others, she would illustrate the stories with the figures placed strategically on the magic felt board.  Her stories always captured our young imaginations. If I had only known what damage she was doing to my mind I would have exercised my right to stay in my class room.
After her stories were over, she always gave each student a small New Testament to take home and read.  We then returned to our studies refreshed and just a little wiser in the ways of God.  Perhaps we did not realize that at the time. 


The Bus Ride


Back in the “good old days” buses were the main mode of travel from city A to city B by the general populace.  We are fortunate that San Augustine had a nice bus station with service to several large cities in Texas.
Around 1947 I took my first unaccompanied bus ride from Beaumont to San Augustine.  At age ten I was plenty nervous about this trip.  My parents had left me in Beaumont on Calder Avenue to visit with my long-time friends, Hoyt and Bessie Burkhalter.  They owned and operated a feed store there for many years.
They took me to the Beaumont Trailways station and made sure I got on the right bus.  I recall asking the bus operator “does this bus go straight to San Augustine?”  The driver, being cute, answered, “No, son, it makes several turns along the way.”  I was very happy to see the bus turn into the bus depot in San Augustine because I was home safe.
From 1939 through 1956 the bus depot located at the corner of Main and Montgomery streets served our city well.  In January of 1939, Mr. Sam Hankla had the depot built from native rock, the architect being Rayford Stripling. Randolph Hankla, the son of Sam, helped in the operation of the depot after his graduation from college.
The bus depot was divided into three distinct operations, the bus traffic, a restaurant, and a service station.  In 1941 Nay Carter took over the service station area selling Magnolia oil products.  The ‘Airline Bus Station’ suffered serious fire damage on January 5, 1945.  A $10,000 motor coach was destroyed and damaged the service station area.  Shortly thereafter Mr. C. H. Williams took over operations of the ‘Airline Service Station’ selling Sinclair products.
In December of 1945 the “Airline Motor Coaches” entered into a special arrangement with Dixie-Sunshine Trailways to offer through bus service to Dallas and Beaumont.  The citizens of San Augustine County could now have direct service to Dallas, with stops in Nacogdoches, Henderson, Tyler, Canton, Wills Point, and Terrell.  On the way to Beaumont, riders stopped at Jasper, Kirbyville, and Silsbee.
The “Airline Bus Station Café” was operated by Carmen (Buddie) Fussell in late 1945.  They served plate lunches, short orders, drinks, and candies.  Records indicate that the service station had several operators over the years, including Howard Epps, and Archie Stewart.
On September 13, 1956 Dr. Curtis Haley purchased the bus station building from Sam Hankla.   It was remodeled and changed into a medical office shortly thereafter.  Dr. Curtis Haley’s clinic remains to this day.
The bus service to the city was taken over by Mr. Opal L. Wells, who moved it to 816 W. Columbia Street where it remained for a number of years.  Ruth Bright was the new agent for Continental Trailways, where she also opened the “Lazy Susan Inn” at the new location.
In February of 1964 Elsie Nichols opened “The Ranch House Restaurant” at the bus station. In June of 1972 John and Judy Lynch remodeled the restaurant building and opened the “New Continental Restaurant”.  John had plans to open a taxi service, though no records can be located verifying that this did happen.
In November, 1972, the bus station and restaurant were damaged by a windstorm.  Approximately a year later, the bus station was moved to a location on Highway 96 north.  Luis and Lewis Jewel were the operators at that time.
Eventually bus service to San Augustine was terminated in the late 1970s.  With no passenger train service or bus service, the city had to rely solely on their automobiles, as it remains today.
Personally, I made use of the bus service one final time in 1960 when I rode to Houston to take my physical examination for the military.  But that’s another story.


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