Bridge City has changed but it's where the heart is
Last updated 4/13/2021 at 8:31pm
Bridge City today is far different than it was 62 years ago when the Penny Record first hit the streets in April, 1959. My roots run deep in Bridge City soil. My dad, Clay, first located here in 1928, when he established the Silver Slipper Club on Lake Street. At the time, Lake Street was the main road and was an extension of Ferry Dr. The Bailey's had settled on Lake Sabine around 1926, near the ferry crossing to Port Arthur.
In 1946, after World War II, dad put in the Midway Motel on the new highway that ran over the Rainbow Bridge. It had been in continuous operation and was the town's only motel for many years and was still operating when Hurricane Ike hit. That storm wiped out the last of the buildings Clay had built.
In the mid-1950's, Phyl and I settled in Bridge City to raise our family. Three kids came along and it's the only home they have ever known. Besides our own children, a nephew and granddaughter we raised also call it home.
In the early 1960's, Bridge City didn't have organized youth sports for youngsters 12 years old and younger. Boys played baseball with make up teams behind Hatton School. In 1963, a group of us started building a three diamond baseball complex on Stark property, off of Sunset Drive. The property was low and had to be filled in. I was strickly a helper; many good craftsmen did the bulk of the work. Some, I recall, were Kenneth Young, Bill Powers, Raymond Stockton, Coy Morgan, Andy Guidry and others, who all put in their spare time building backstops, etc.
The BCYRA was formed, teams consisted of nine, ten and eleven year olds in one league and 11 and 12 year olds in another. For several years, I coached youth baseball and junior football. Some of the boys were needy kids without gloves, shoes or rides to practice. Often I brought them to our home for Phyl to feed.
The years went by and my partners and I made available property we had purchased to the Little League organization that had formed. Today the property is home not only to Little League, one of the best facilities in the area, but also houses a football stadium. On the same property, with the help of $148,000 raised by citizen pledges, the Community Center was built with donated building help from the unions. Also housed on the property are the Library, Senior Citizen's Center and City Park.
I'm proud of the part I was blessed enough to have played in the development of Bridge City and it's youth programs. Today, Phyl and I and all of the children still make Bridge City home.
The people of Bridge City have always been like one big family even though it has changed some since Hurricane Ike. Many of the citizens who helped make it the great place it is moved away but thankfully others, who find out about our God-given assets and family oriented community have started moving in.
Despite losing 1,000 citizens, our school district enrollment has grown. Like Phyl and I did many years ago, young couples are moving in to set roots and raise their families. When we started baseball, all those years ago, we couldn't have envisioned that today the Little League program would have over 850 boys and girls participating in it.
The same is true for The Penny Record, an eight inch by 10 inch, six sheet paper, started by Walter and Audrey Gaston which has grown to the extent it has and now has a sister paper, The County Record and a active website, http://www.therecordlive.com. We never would have dreamed that the two-lane highway that ran through the community would have spawn such businesses and activity.
We celebrate the paper's 62nd anniversary this week. We're proud to be this community's voice for all these years and we proudly call it home. It's where our hearts are, it's where our roots run deep.