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Joe Max Wilson Is Always Ready To Help

Joe Max Wilson

?I was born in the Evansville Coal Mine,? said Joe Max Wilson. ?That?s before it became Texas Westmoreland.? Max and Lillie Lee Wilson lived in Evansville when Joe Max was born on October 22, 1934. When Joe Max was five years old they moved to Wilson Chapel. ?I never knew my daddy,? said Joe Max. ?He left when my mother was pregnant with my brother Bill.

In October of 1940, on Joe Max?s sixth birthday, he started school in Donie but after first grade they moved to Ephesus, Texas, close to Newby, and started second grade in Jewett schools. His mother began teaching at Jewett and they rode the school bus together. Joe Max, Bill and their mother lived with their grandpa and grandma Long and Joe Max helped his grandpa on the farm with growing the corn, peas and everything else on the farm; especially harvesting. ?In those days everyone helped each other,? said Joe Max. ?When your crop was harvested you went to any of the neighbors who needed help with their harvest.?

That wasn?t all Joe Max did. When he was ten years old you would find him on the streets of Jewett, with his homemade shoeshine box, shining shoes. He still has the shoeshine box that he made. Joe Max had to be a self made man growing up without a father. He gave the money he made to his mother to help her with the cost of living and raising two boys. In the summer of 1946, when he was 12 years old, Joe Max and brother Bill picked peas. They made 3 cents a pound.

Joe Max graduated from Teague High School in 1952. He worked as a ?soda jerk? in the drug store in Jewett. ?Ice cream was 5 cents a scoop and we sold a lot of malts,? he said. ?On Saturday lots of people would come to town to sell peas and they all wanted something cold and sweet.?

Following his high school graduation, Joe Max attended Navarro College where, in his second year, he worked as a lab assistant in the Chemistry Lab for $20 per week. When he finished two years at Navarro, Joe Max decided to work for Magnolia Petroleum Company in Houston, as they would pay for his college.

While driving a Navarro Junior College bus, he started courting a lovely girl named Louise , who lived in Freestone. Since his brother would have his mom?s car, Joe Max would drive the Navarro College bus to Freestone to date Louise.

On May 31, 1954, Joe Max married Louise and his mom had to sign for him since he was only 19. They lived in the Geppert Apartments that were on the corner of 4th and Cedar, next to Leon?s Garage. During this time Joe Max delivered milk for Pure Milk Company in Waco. His route was in Teague and two streets in Mexia. Joe Max said, ?The ?milk man? back then would come in the house and put the order in the refrigerator if that was what the customer wanted. I would open the door and say, ?milk man?, so that no one would be surprised or be caught in their nightgown or something like that. So I went into the house and called out ?milk man? and I heard someone say, ?What are you doing here.? I looked around and called out but couldn?t find anyone. That?s when I noticed the parrot. It was the bird who was asking the questions. What a surprise that was for me!? Joe Max was made a route superintendent and he oversaw the building of a delivery route for a new area.

July 1, 1955, Lester Stacks hired Joe Max as a Teague Brick Yard foreman. The job included loading bricks, trucks, boxcars and taking bricks out of the kiln and stacking them properly. He was over 30 other men. He remembers working with Billy Burns, Cleo McDonald, Charlie Baker, McKinsey Jackson, Johnny Mims, Charley Ray Levels, and Roger Levels. ?All good men and really hard workers,? said Joe Max. In 1958 they built a tunnel kiln so there would be continuous hours of processing, moving the bricks through at 2000?F.

In April of 1960 Joe Max went to work for the Burlington Northern Railroad as a brakeman. For the first five years it was a struggle due to the fluctuation of business that the railroad had and being lowest on seniority, Joe Max was laid off fairly often. Dick Boyd who was in Telegraph Operations for the railroad and who later owned the brick yard said that he always had a job at the brickyard when he needed one. He said, ?I finally could hold the ?extra board? and could manage to stay on.

During all this time Joe Max was trying to support his family and get better positions. Joe Max and Louise had three children: Joe Max Jr., born November 1957; Janet Lynn, born October 1959; and Susan Jill, born July 1962. While raising the children Joe Max and Louise had fun playing tennis, participating on a bowling league, and Joe Max played golf. In 1953 he caddied for Earl Turnham, and taught Lester Stacks to play golf. He played at Mexia Country Club until they opened Teague Country Club in 1967.

Joe Max retired from the railroad on July 25, 1990 with a disability. He always loved to garden but after retiring he has been growing spectacular gardens.

Now Joe Max works at Big Cedar Country Club as a Superintendent and takes care of anything pertaining to the golf course.

The children are all grown and married now: Joe Max Jr. and wife Beth, children Sarah, Katie and Jacob; Janet Lynn and husband Mark Burger, children Cameron and twins Hannah and Hayden; and Susan Jill and husband Rodney Stallings, children Lucas and Shelby; and one great grandson Gabriel Folwell.

We have four grandsons and four granddaughters. In the summer three of the boys worked for me at Big Cedar. ?When the boys were little they told everyone that their grandpa owns Big Cedar Country Club,? he said with a smile.

In October of 1998, Joe Max was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He had surgery in 1999 and started chemo. ?I?m blessed to have good family and friends,? said Joe Max. ?Every trip to chemo Harvey Huffman and Tom Suttle, my brothers-in-law, would go with me and Louise of course. I had such great support.? The treatment was successful and Joe Max has been cancer free for 15 years.

Joe Max and Louise are active members of First Baptist Church in Teague.

Some people are very successful in business, some are successful in their profession, others are successful in America?s armed forces, and still others in media or entertainment, however, a man who works hard for his wife and family and gives 100 percent to make a marriage last for 60 years, could be the most successful of all.

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