Pariah's Praise - October 26th

By Shoa Zilch

Love bears all things, trusts all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7
In my world, love was a concept actualized only in the movies. It was a product of “western idealism.” Talk of love was always followed with an eye-roll and a snicker. As a child, love translated to approval or disapproval. My arranged marriage at 18 only solidified the idea that love was a sentiment that stemmed from a well-earned approval. In other words, if I didn’t do well, love was NOT in the air.
Scripture calls our bodies vessels. What we fill these vessels with, is all that we can pour out. After I left my Muslim faith, not only was I physically isolated, but I was spiritually homeless. I drove endless, empty miles in my head looking for a place to call home. Acceptance was my greatest longing, and rejection my greatest fear.
As I moved on, I met a new breed of people-Christians. What struck me most about them was their joy and abounding love. When I was with them, smiles were easy and their extended hands of friendship genuine. Old habits, however, die hard. I struggled to reconcile my hurt with Jesus’s command to love one another. Although I could not understand it then, God broke me down so completely, only to build me up new again. Through Jason, my new husband, he poured in lessons of unconditional love. On the days when I was most unlovable, my husband’s firm faith in God’s promises got us through. He became the presence of Jesus in my life. The bond shared between him, and his parents were gospel lessons of commitment to be regardless of the circumstances. They loved like Jesus. I began to accept that the Living God loves unconditionally, and through Him, so could I.
If we have Jesus as our point of reference for love, we can stand steadfast and be strong enough to overcome emotional burdens that are meant to cripple us. In time, I was able to go back and face my abuser and forgive him. I was able to forgive family who had left my children and me when we most needed them. Forgiveness was not enough though. God wanted me to go back and be the face of Jesus to them. It was one thing to forgive my tormentors. It was an entirely different thing to bring them back into my life. While I struggled with the thought of being kind, I struggled even more with the idea of sharing the gift of Jesus with them. Surely their mocking hearts did not deserve the gift of such eternal grace.
But God does not waste a single tear. How would they change if they didn’t hear? How would they hear if someone didn’t tell them? God took my broken life and healed it. Then He sent me back to them so they could see firsthand that only Jesus can make an everlasting change, that His love is real, that the Living God is not petty or whimsical, and that His rock never moves.
I wish I could say it has been an easy road. Most certainly not. It is hard not to do all the talking and instead, let Jesus be the face they see and allow Jesus to work in their hearts. Has God laid a burden on your heart for someone? What can you say that can disarm that guarded person? Sometimes it is just a quiet prayer and the sincere love of Jesus on your face.

Kissin' Kuzzins - October 26th

 By Dickie Dixon

For Posterity’s Eyes - October birthdays: 19th: Maria (Lopez) Moreno, Carli Bynum 20th: Betty Collins 21st: E. E. (Buzz) Patrick, Annette Lee, Grace Ann Wilson, Michael Allen 22nd: Gay Pruett 23rd: Danylle Michelle Owens 24th: Nancy (Russell) Allen, Dianne (Havard) Amerine 25th: Billie Mims, William Seay 26th: Elaine Chrenee
When Fall Is in the Air - The last few mornings have had that chill in the air, reminding me of the season when I was a boy. Long before the chill would arrive, Para Lee McKnight had sold me some sweaters on layaway at Canon-Parker, and by this time I had paid them out—just in time to wear to one of the Panther games to keep the chill off. Also, on the way to my father’s store, Dixon Furniture Company, on North Chestnut Pete Distefano displayed his sugar cane for sale on the porch at S &S Grocery. As many times as we passed by there in a day, sometimes I would catch a glimpse of him in a white butcher’s apron with an unlit stogie in his mouth. If you passed Sharkey’s on North Timberland, you could also see the sugar cane Bill Windsor had displayed outside. Every year my father bought a few stalks for us to chew some cane.
One of the fondest memories I have of the beginning of the season was getting to sit around the fire in the fireplaces at both my grandmothers’ houses. Granny (Nanny to others) Hinson’s was just a single fireplace; I frequently cut down post oak trees for her and cut them in to firewood with my new red Plumb single bit axe I got for Christmas. At MaMa (Blanche to others) Dixon’s, her fireplace was a double one—one heated the living room and the other their bedroom. My mother said my grandfather Bony could burn more firewood than any one she knew. Although I never had to cut it for them—except for the kindling, which I split—there was lots to do on Sundays to fill up her wood box. During those years, my uncle ran Moore Chair Company over on Lufkin Avenue, and, as a result, he took the oak cut outs from the seats of the chairs and barstools to her for firewood. She also had greener cord wood to stoke the fire with, so I had three kinds of wood to get gathered for her. It made the Sunday afternoons pass faster, when I had nothing to do while my Mom and Dad visited with them and my aunts and uncles. Plus, she tipped me a little bit for my effort, so, not only did I help her, but I also profited monetarily, although it wasn’t much. It was nice to be able to help her, and it was one thing less she had to do. On those colder winter nights, when it was too cold to sleep in the front bedroom, I slept on a cot in front of the fireplace in their bedroom.
There were other things that ushered in the cooler fall season like hayrides and the whoosh you got when you got up in a house heated by space heaters. Until it had the chance to warm up the room, you huddled around the heater just to keep warm. Of course, at my father’s furniture store, we had the ritual of getting the heater radiants down out of storage to get them ready to be replacements for our customers. My father prided himself on the fact that he carried about twenty of them. My Mom told him one time: “I think you would rather sell a heater radiant than a sofa.”
All of these things come together as fond memories of the time of the year when fall is in the air.
Save the Date! The Angelina County Genealogical Society is putting together three strands of topics to honor Pearl Harbor casualties and survivors for its Monday, November 20, 2017 meeting in the Railroad Depot of Kurth Memorial Library on 702 South Raguet Street in Lufkin, Texas at 4 P.M.
Bobbi Allen’s stepfather, a survivor, will serve as one, Titter Hogan’s late husband, another survivor, will serve as another, a man named Kimmey, a casualty, the brother of Helen Kimmey, will serve as the third one. For more information, call Dickie Dixon at (936) 240-8378, or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For book notices or reviews please send me a complimentary copy to Kissin’ Kuzzins P. O. Box 151001 Lufkin TX 75915-1001.
Send your queries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by mail to Kissin’ Kuzzins P. O. Box 151001 Lufkin TX 75915-1001 or by phone to (936) 240-8378.

Schreiner University honors the father of Trinity resident

KERRVILLE---The late Albert B. “Monk” Keith, golf coach at Schreiner University from 1966 to 1984, was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Honor on April 23. He is the father of Don Keith of Trinity.

After professional careers in baseball and golf, Keith moved from Houston to Kerrville to help develop what is now Riverhill Country Club. Playing golf with Schreiner President Andy Edington led to Keith’s coaching the Schreiner men’s golf team part time in 1966. He became a fulltime coach in 1970 and served through 1984.

Keith led the golf team to several junior college conference titles, upper-tier finishes in regional tournaments, and one third-place finish nationally. He was voted national junior college golf coach of the year in 1977.

Keith also coached the first women’s golf teams at Schreiner during the 1970s.

Golf was his second professional sport. Keith played baseball in the 1930s for several minor league and semi-pro teams, sharing the diamond with legends such as Dizzy Dean, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. He earned the nickname “Monk” when he climbed a backstop in pursuit of a foul ball.

His aggressive play led to a broken glove hand, and he eventually turned from baseball to golf. Keith became manager of the Hughes Tool Company’s country club and golf course, and served as president of the Texas Professional Golfers’ Association.

Remembered by former students as both a trusted counselor and patient coach, Keith and his wife, Helen, were dorm parents for girls living in L. A. Schreiner Hall after the school started on-campus residence facilities for females.

“Monk was not just our coach,” says one of his former players, Oscar Elizondo, ’84. “He was also like a father figure for those of us that needed direction, discipline and good family values. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, it was usually profound.”

Keith died in Kerrville in 1995 at age 84.

Local veteran celebrates 92nd birthday, reflects

World War II veteran Bob Colston recently celebrated his 92nd birthday with a work luncheon and family picnic. Colston is a well-known man in Trinity with an active lifestyle, and many friends.

Bob Colston was born May 14, 1924, to a small town in Mississippi. He was the first of eight children.

Early in life, Colston developed a love for sports, particularly baseball and later golf, that he carried with him through life. He began working early, taking on a job in a cotton mill at the age of 13. It would also be only three years later that he married another young woman named Jean, who was to be his wife of 70 years (until her passing in 2011).

As the second World War began and raged on, Colston and his coworkers were some of the few males exempt from the draft, as their mill was designated as a “war plant,” producing vital textiles for the war effort overseas. Colston, however, volunteered to the military anyway in 1944, and after boot camp was deployed to Italy.

According to Colston, the most harrowing part of his war experience, was not the deployment, but the journey from Virginia to Italy. At the time, German U-Boats were virtually unopposed in those waters, and hunted for targets freely. The journey was a dangerous, 13 day creep across the Atlantic Ocean, down to the shore of Africa, and up into Italy.

Five months into Colston’s deployment the war ended. Colston was then tasked with remaining there for several months more, a time which he remembers fondly, as a deeply enriching experience. 

Colston returned home 15 months later, but as it would happen, with the war behind them, the cotton mill did not remain open for much longer. It closed in 1947, and so in 1949, Colston took a train to Houston, Texas, where he and his wife briefly lived with his brother-in-law before gaining his footing and developing a small, but successful masonry company that employed as many as 20 individuals.

Colston left the masonry business in 1967, but followed up by taking interest in the insurance business. He studied and obtained an insurance license, picking up work for several years as an insurance agent at Ward Bros & Associates Insurance Agency.

In 1982, Colston’s daughter Barbara and her husband Jack moved to Trinity, Texas. Soon thereafter, Colston began commuting back and forth between Houston and Trinity, where he continued his work in insurance. In 1984, Colston finally made the move and has lived in Trinity ever since.

“I’d lived most of my life in Houston,” Colston said. “Wish I’d lived on those years here, really… I’ve had a really wonderful life here in Trinity. Far as I know, I don’t have an enemy anywhere.”

Today, Colston lives in West Wood Shores with his son (Kevin) and daughter-in-law (Rachel). He continues an athletic lifestyle, sells insurance at Rollo’s Insurance Agency, and is highly active in his church and the local community. He has been an elder in both Bammel Road Church of Christ and the Lake Houston Church, along with serving on numerous community boards. Locally, he has long been regarded as a valuable and respected asset to the community.

“I had a wonderful, wonderful life,” Colston said. “I’ve been so fortunate.”

Legendary gospel group featuring Groveton native to perform

By Chris Edwards

One of the most heralded groups in gospel music history is performing in Groveton next month and for one of its members the concert will be for a hometown crowd.

Melissa Kemper (formerly Mericle), a native of Groveton, recently rejoined the group as its soprano singer. Kemper performed with the Chuck Wagon Gang from 2001 until 2006, when she left to be with her children during their formative years. 

Last year she began singing with the group again and is now on the road with them full-time.  A graduate of Groveton High School (class of ‘94) she still calls Groveton home. When not on the road with the legendary group, she and her husband Jamie reside in town.

“I am very happy that God has brought me back into the group after all these years,” Kemper wrote on the official Chuck Wagon Gang website. “I am truly blessed.”

Kemper is part of a legacy that goes back 80 years when the group was formed by D.P. (Dad) Carter, his son Jim (Ernest) and daughters Rose (Lola) and Anna (Effie) in Lubbock. The group performed its country gospel standards on radio shows and soon acquired a sponsorship with also Bewley Flour. The Gang soon signed with Columbia Records and stayed with the international label for 39 years. 

At one point the group was Columbia’s biggest selling act and sold over 39 million records. Over the years of record making and tours, the group has performed at many esteemed venues including Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry and the Hollywood Bowl. The Chuck Wagon Gang has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and its recordings catalogued in the Smithsonian Institution’s library of classic American recordings. 

Currently the Chuck Wagon Gang is led by Shaye Smith, who is the granddaughter of Anna (Effie) Carter of the original quartet and Howard Gordon, who served as the group’s guitarist for many years. Smith sings alto, while Stan Hill sings tenor; Jeremy Stephens provides bass vocals and plays guitar and Kemper’s beautiful soprano vocals round out the quartet. Before Kemper rejoined the group, they released a new album, Meeting in Heaven, a collection composed entirely of songs penned by legendary country singer/songwriter/guitarist Marty Stuart. The group was also the subject of a recent PBS documentary that chronicled its long and storied history.

The concert will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 15 at First Baptist Church in Groveton. The group will have merchandise available and will be on hand afterward for autographs.

Area man, father of three, brings MMA to Trinity

By Jordan Likens

Tim Lashley, Trinity County resident and father of three, is the owner of TCOB Fitness and MMA, a local gym that offers fitness and mixed martial arts (MMA) classes to children and adults. TCOB Fitness and MMA recently relocated to a facility on East Main Street that is three times larger than its original location. 

In addition to a new location, Lashley expects to make more changes to the gym and what it has to offer to the public.

“We’re probably going to be starting an 11 a.m. class really soon and adding a bunch of new things. The best is yet to come. There’s a lot to come for this gym,” Lashley said.

Before finding success with his gym and in his own MMA fighting career, Lashley pursued many other career paths. Not only has Lashley worked as a correctional officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for 12 years, but has also worked in chemical plants and as a scaffold builder. 

Lashley was introduced to the world of MMA when two men saw potential in his strength and fighting skills.

“I started doing MMA about five years ago. I trained with Collin Cantrell and Chris Buffalo Rose at Death Row Mixed Martial Arts. They kicked my butt,” Lashley said.

Upon beginning his MMA training, Lashley began to discover what a difference his new love for fitness made.

“I believe MMA helps with your confidence level. I believe it creates a difference in your attitude. I weighed 240 pounds when I started and I have cut 165 pounds since. It teaches you proper nutrition. It teaches you what to put into your body and what not to put into your body,” Lashley said.

As his love for MMA grew, so did Lashley’s desire to start his own gym. When he opened TCOB Fitness and MMA, his intentions for the gym exceeded a simple business venture.

“We’re dedicated to Trinity, Texas. There’s so much negativity, so we wanted to bring positivity to the community,” he said.

With this goal in mind, Lashley chose to focus this positivity on the youth of Trinity.

“Our goal is to get kids off the streets and into the gym to teach them respect, discipline, and to show them a family atmosphere, so they don’t turn to drugs and violence,” Lashley said.

Lashley has seen the benefits of MMA for many of his students, including one student whose father passed away.

“He came to the gym the day of his father’s funeral crying and hugged me and told me that if his father was still alive this is where he would want him to be,” Lashley said.

TCOB Fitness and MMA appeals to more than just the youth of Trinity, however. The gym has a wide array of classes to offer for adults.

“We have a women’s fitness class and personal training,” Lashley said.

TCOB Fitness and MMA is open Monday through Friday and offers children’s classes at 5 p.m., adult classes at 6 p.m., and female group fitness classes throughout the day. TCOB Fitness and MMA can be found on Facebook. For more information about classes offered, contact 936-435-4734.

Lashley would like to thank his sponsors Mark Tatom, J&J Foundation Repair, and RNP Enterprises for their contributions to TCOB Fitness and MMA.