November 7, 2016 - I received a surprising 2-page hand-written (!) letter from my “blood brother” Jack Fontaine last week…. It was the first handwritten letter I’ve received in years and was extra special because it was from my friend Jack. It’s almost unbelievable that it has been over 60 years since I’ve seen him ….and you’d never guess his age by his picture or by reading his letter.
Jack and I became high school friends in the late forties and he, his twin brother Jerry and I worked part time at the Rio Theater in Center, Texas. We did it all. We took up tickets, ushered, popped popcorn and cleaned the theater on weekends. Nearby Adkinson’s Grocery was our favorite place to “stoke up”. “Stoking up” meant drinking as many nickle “sodie waters” as we could (especially the little Grapettes) and seeing who could drink down a whole bottle of 7-Up non-stop. We often hitch hiked to Shelbyville, Texas to fish and hunt on Teneha Creek and it was during an overnight camp-out on the creek that I drank my first (and last) cup of coffee. I also caught my first gasper ghoul (fresh water drum) on a set hook the next morning.
Jack’s engineer-father encouraged his boys to get a college education and even though he never knew it, he helped me to get one, too. “Henry, get a college education”, he’d say. ”It might be difficult, but you can do it” Even Jack’s older brother Tom (an A & M student at the time) came to our house to explain college life to me. All four of the Fontaine brothers got degrees from Texas A & M ….and I attended Seminary in Missouri and received a B.A. from ETBU in Marshall, Texas. So Jack’s Dad was right: It wasn’t easy, but by God’s grace, I did it.
Jack and I pulled on the same rope in numerous ways as we were growing up and now that we are older fellows, I see something else we have in common. We both have an unusual ability to remember….and I’m now recalling some of the best memories of my youth …..
….. because of my letter from Jack.