The Key To the City

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
February 5, 2016

On November 4, I returned to Beaumont, Texas, the town where I’d lived for most of Elementary and Junior High School, for a trip down memory lane. The Colonel George Moffett Chapter, Kate Spencer Jabbia, Regent, had planned a very special day for me, which began with a good visit with Dr. Jan Garrison, District V Director, on our way to Beaumont, located 90 miles east of Houston on the Neches River near the Louisiana border. 

My father was a home builder and we moved there from Houston when I was in second grade to take advantage of the demand for new houses when the many oil refineries were being built in the Golden Triangle area.  My brother, sister and I enjoyed riding our bikes to school, playing in the street with the neighborhood children, being active in scouting, and having a wholesome childhood.  Shortly after we moved there, Beaumont experienced an epic flood and we were evacuated by a motor boat at our front door.  We hunkered down through several hurricanes but the weather highlight was snow.  In fact, the largest snowfall I’ve ever experienced in Texas was when I was in fourth grade and it was enough to make my first snow angel and build a snowman. 

We met Kate and Ida McFaddin Pyle at the Port of Beaumont where we were welcomed by Bill Carpenter, Deputy Port Director, and John Roby, Director of Corporate Affairs & Public Information Officer. The Port, celebrating its centennial in 2016, is the fourth largest in the country.  It is served by three major railroads and is 42 miles upstream from the Gulf.  It is an important shipping area because ships do not have to go through the Panama Canal.  A major partner in worldwide commerce, the primary products include petroleum, wood pulp, grains and wind turbines.  We were amused to learn that during World War II, there was a lack of petroleum so ships were launched with 7,000 pounds of bananas and peels greasing the skids.

We were joined by Lt. Col. Brad Bane, Commander, 842nd Transportation Battalion which is responsible for the transportation of all military equipment in the Gulf, Pacific Northwest and Alaska.  Maintaining a ready reserve force which can load and leave within five days, they have been used for humanitarian missions and relief supplies to Haiti, Liberia, and to West Africa to assist with the 2014 Ebola epidemic.

The military has been an important partner at the port since 1952 and we learned that this is the busiest military port in the world.  Since December 2002, over 600 ships docked at the Port of Beaumont during Operation Iraqi Freedom and other conflicts. We enjoyed a driving tour of the port to see the roll-on/roll-off ships which carry wheeled cargo, such as automobiles, trucks, and military equipment.  The Liberty Pride was being loaded with hundreds of pieces of equipment, including helicopters, jeeps and trucks for shipment to the mid-east. 

Lt. Col. Bane joined us as we visited the nearby Temple to the Brave, which was erected by the Col. George Moffett Chapter in 1932 as a memorial to Texas servicemen and women of all wars. This marvelous small museum is open to the public on patriotic holidays.  Committee chair Ida McFaddin Pyle showed pieces of a rope from Old Ironsides, a souvenir of its visit in 1932.

We enjoyed lunch at the Museum of Art before dropping into the Tyrrell Historical Library to view the genealogy collection.  I was an avid reader and my mother frequently took me to the library to check out books.

Driving a short distance to the McFaddin-Ward Visitor Center, the official Ceremony began with prayer and the presentation of colors of the U.S. Army Reserve 373rd CSSB.   With close to 100 people in attendance, The Honorable Mayor, Becky Ames, presented me with a key to the city.  Dr. John W. Frossard, Superintendent of Beaumont ISD, spoke briefly about his goals for Beaumont public schools. Also attending were former Mayor Evelyn Lord, a minister from our former church, representatives from the Port of Beaumont and my former elementary and junior high schools.  Several of the area chapter regents spoke briefly, as well as Dr. Garrison and Barbara Petrov, State Historian.

Kate presented me with a flag flown over the U.S. Capital on October 11 by Honorable Randy K. Weber, Member of Congress, 14th District which I, in turn, gave to the Office of the Historian General for the NSDAR Archives. Kate announced a donation to the Guardian Trust Campaign before adjourning the meeting for a reception.

The Colonel George Moffett Chapter was organized in 1906 and is thriving with more than 160 members.  The meetings are held at the lovely McFaddin-Ward Visitor Center.  The McFaddin-Ward House, the home of W. P.H. and Ida Caldwell McFaddin, was built in 1905-06 in the Beaux-Arts Colonial style. Mrs. McFaddin served as State Regent of Texas1931-1934 and Vice President General.  She was the grandmother of Ida Pyle. W. P. H. McFaddin was a part owner of the land where the Spindletop Oil Field was discovered. 

It was wonderful to visit with the many guests while enjoying the delicious refreshments.  It was a full day reminiscing about my childhood in Beaumont and the many people who impacted my youth.  I am deeply grateful for all who worked to make the day one which I shall cherish.

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