Linda Ballard

Shortly after Facebook made its debut and people became more computer savvy, select groups were formed on this social media tool for various reasons but mainly to attempt to keep their conversations private above the masses. High school graduates began to post photos and updates on their fellow classmates. Then, a new fad started crossing those Facebook pages I was raised in… This group has someone who monitors who does or doesn’t qualify to be accepted in to partake in their memories of the good old times.

At any rate, from time to time, a spark flies and twinges the ears of a listener. That is exactly what happened this last week when the word Dairy Heart was mentioned on the “I Was Raised in Kilgore” Facebook posting. A post was made from a friend to a friend asking if anyone remembered the old Dairy Heart and a specific woman. Sparks went to flying with first one and then another trying to remember where it was located and by the time the third location was tossed out, Kilgore Historian Terry Stembridge went straight to the library to help out the cause. His limited and much appreciated time did help in eliminating the location on Industrial Drive (towards Laird Hill). True, there was one at that location, but it was a Dairy Freeze and had some kind of a specialty item like a corn dog according to that source. Another Dairy Queen of sorts was located across from Brookshire’s where McDonald’s is currently located, but not a Dairy Heart.

The children of two families whose mothers worked there in the 50’s has confirmed …drum roll, please…Dairy Hart owned by Woody Lee was located on U.S. Hwy 259 S. heading toward Henderson across from the current Arbor Grace Nursing Home in the near vicinity of Smitty’s Firearms.

Now, why was all of that so important? Because in the midst of those conversations flying around, a brother found brothers. The post came in from Ed Hutchison and he was asking if anyone could tell him anything about the Dairy Heart and Barbara Jean Newton- Smith.

The reply came from former Kilgoreite, Vernon Patterson, when he posted, “Yes, she was my mother.” Ed, who had been searching for his birth mother, also had reason to believe she was his mother, too.

Vernon said, “You have to understand we were stunned. We grew up just miles from each other. Before we figured out we were brothers we were friends first,” said Vernon Patterson. “We had a lot of similarities. Both of us served in the Army and both of us were Airborne Troopers and we just had a lot of things in common. I have been wracking my brain trying to remember how we first connected on Facebook. The only thing I can think of is a couple of years ago, I went to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana to attend the 100th Anniversary of the 82nd and 101st Infantry Division that was re-activated into airborne divisions. There were veterans from all over attending and I met several guys there that friended me on Facebook shortly after the anniversary. He must have been one of the veterans there and I cannot wait to ask him.”

Vernon was born and raised in Kilgore. After his discharge, he graduated from Kilgore High School in 1983 and enlisted in the U. S. Army. The East Texas oilfield was still down after their “bust” in 1984 and caused him to work a variety of jobs from Wal-Mart to 7 years at Southern Plastics and on to Plexi-Pack where an allergy to chemicals threatened his life. He found himself walking through the Longview Trade Days when he remarked to his wife that he thought he would enjoy being a vendor and they started selling silver jewelry. In time, Vernon liked working with the silver so much he became a silversmith; has his own business of 13 years in Shreveport, Louisiana. He crafts all kinds of jewelry, including high school rings.

It is understood Ed was at one time a police officer in Kilgore. He now lives in West Monroe, Louisiana.

Vernon and Ed have made plans to meet in Shreveport on February 20th to meet this time as brothers with both planning on carrying as much documentation from the past as possible. It seems their family has just grown larger.

Dairy Heart was a popular place during the 50’s. Others that worked at the Dairy Heart also included the late Dorothy Hutchison Worsham and Alice Faye.

About that Dairy Freeze – if anyone knows for sure what that “special something” was that they made, do not Facebook me. Please call.

HAVING AN EYE for detail was Mayor Ronnie Spradlin at the Chamber of Commerce’s “State of the Community” presentation held this week at Kilgore College.

In observation of the suits worn by men and women to the presentation he remarked, “ Have you noticed how many are wearing midnight blue suits again and did you know “Midnight Blue” was the color favored to look best in candle/lantern light because the yellow light turned black a green color and midnight blue looked black. Midnight Blue fell from favor when electric lights became popular.” The blue suits also resurfaced again in the 1930s with midnight blue and grey being mixed. Evidently, in the year 2020, we will be seeing the popular color rise again among those wearing suits.

CONGRATULATIONS to twenty-year old Ann Metz who was invited to Scotland to play in a soccer tournament. She attends and plays soccer at John Brown University in Siloam, Arkansas. She left on Friday. Her ecstatic parents are Kilgoreites Julia and Barry Metz.

MAY HIS LOVE and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. In the meantime, we may be reached at or 903-984-2593.


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