Thursday, July 9, 2009

Remembrances of Lukin, Texas-- "Good Time Charlie" Wilson

Mrs. Hicks, owner/operator of the famed Hubbard City Cafe, has shut it down this week for alleged "improvements". Billy Roy asked how can you improve something that's perfect? This past weekend I had a perfect plate of fried okra, macaroni and cheese, stuffed bell pepper, and cole slaw with my iced tea and chocolate pudding. So on a slow news week from the cafe, I digress.

Occasionally when I go with Mom to the Cafe I will do what out-of-towners tend to do frequently, and that is to try to impress the locals with places I have been and things I have seen or done.

Recently it was a particularly slow day. In fact, Butch Jackson, local philosopher and researcher of pertinent facts, had just informed the group that it was "impossible for someone to lick their own elbow".

I took this as an opening to tell one of my stories.

January of 1965 just prior to my 23rd birthday, Sue and I ,after 6 months of training, were moved by IBM to Lufkin, Texas. It was my honor to be the first IBM computer salesman in that part of the State of Texas. We bought a brand new 1,490 square foot brick home (with a car port) and took out a huge $15,400 mortgage (100% of the purchase price). Sue had been teaching for two years, so we cashed in her teacher retirement (100% of it) and bought $1,000 worth of furniture which filled the entire house and still left over enough money to sod the entire yard (front and back) with real San Augustine grass.

Just around the corner from us lived a young 32 year old former Naval Academy grad by the name of Charlie Wilson from Trinity, Texas. Yep, the same one as in the movie and book, "Charlie Wilson's War". Charlie worked for a brilliant man named Arthur Temple who ran Temple Industries, a large east Texas timber products company which was one of my many IBM customers. Arthur sold Temple Industries to Time Inc., became Co-Chairman of Time Inc., spun Temple Industries back out, and today it operates as a very successful company named Temple Inland.

Charlie Wilson went on to become a 12-term Democratic Party United States Congressman from Texas' District 2. He, more than any other single person, was responsible for the Russian defeat in Afghanistan as he appropriated close to $1B annually which was matched by the Saudis to deliver weaponry to the Mujaheddin. The book, "Charlie Wilson's War", is an excellent read with great insight into the covert operations of Charlie and the CIA. It is also informative as to how Wilson became known as "Good Time Charlie".

In the mid 1960's Charlie was more concerned with his election to the Texas House. When we knew him and his lovely first wife, they were masterful campaigners. For example, they would hide their new Buick Riviera and drive an old beat up Chevy during the weeks prior to the election so they could better mix with the folks.

Being new to East Texas I was amazed to find the big issue during one of Charlie's hard fought elections was an accusation from his opponent that, if elected, Wilson would enforce the law making it illegal to hunt deer with dogs. Not only did Charlie buy local TV time (black and white, of course) but he held a rally at a football stadium where he mounted the stage with several borrowed bird dogs. His speech was short and to the point, "my granddaddy hunted deer with dogs, my daddy hunted deer with dogs, and I will continue to hunt deer with dogs long after this election". The result was one of many landslides for "Good Time Charlie".

Later in D.C. Charlie's office staff was known as "Charlie's Angels" since most were former beauty queens. It is reported that Bill Clinton, then President, said that Charlie Wilson is the only person who can come to the Oval Office unannounced-- as long as he is accompanied by his staff.

It is my understanding that Charlie (now in his 70's) has since married a former ballerina, recently received a heart transplant, and is living in Lufkin. Some think liquor did Charlie's heart in, but I think it was his passion for life and his love of country.

They just don't make em like Charlie Wilson anymore. If Charlie would have followed Congressional rules, the Soviet Union would be in tack and threatening the Free World.

Oh by the way, at least 75% of you people who have read this blog will have already tried to lick your elbow! You guys are so silly.

Think about it,


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