CHITCHAT CORNER

If these steps could talk

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THE MARK OF a genuine writer is being able to find “the story” no matter where you are or the circumstances surrounding it, or so I have been told. It is an easy task when you are surrounded by the rich history of the East Texas Oilfield. Usually, you not only end up with at least one good story, but the makings of several others.

This week, Mary Shelton Hearn celebrated her 40th Anniversary at Bell Supply.

“It’s been a long haul here,” she said. “It is not all what you think. There have been a lot of ups and downs as we know with the downturn in the oilfields in the last several years. But, we are still here,” she laughed.

Mary was born and raised in Kilgore, the daughter of Ben and Doris Shelton. Evidently she got her stamina for staying with the oilfield from her father, who retired from Mobil Oil Company. When Mary started high school her mother became owner of the Campus Lunch Café.

“Mother called it her burger joint,” Mary said fondly. “And it was located across from Kilgore Jr. High, or now KHS. A lot of people get it confused with the Bulldog Inn, but it was back behind the school by the band hall and the Bulldog Inn was across from the high school.”

Mary originally began work at Bell Supply in February 1971 and a year later became engaged to Matt Hearn, a member of the U.S. Navy, and left for California to begin married life. Her sister-in-law, Teresa Hearn, stepped in to take her place and six years later, after Mary had returned to the area, Teresa asked her if she wanted her job back.

“I was working at Max Daiches Jewelers,” she said. “When Teresa called me. Shoot, yes, I wanted to go back to work! It was a whole fifty cents higher in wages. That meant a lot and still does,” she laughed.

She started as general office then into accounts payable. Today, she is corporately known as Super Processor. And when she asks you to step right

into her office you come face-to-face with another set of steps.

“Bell started in 1945 and the building was originally an old house. People lived upstairs,” said Mary. “Those steps led into the house and are part of the original storefront,” she said.

“As a kid I can remember when, riding by, they had a bell out front like an old liberty bell and ‘Ring Bell for Service’ was their slogan. To my knowledge, though, no one by the name of Bell ever owned the business.”

Bell Supply was purchased in 2001 by John Schmidtz and became part of Synergy Energy Holdings, LLC

Mary holds the title for being the oldest employee at the company with the next in line having been there a mere nine years. Those steps and a refurbished photo of the old Bell Supply remain in her office to entice the inquisitive visitor to strike up a conversation.

She has two daughters, April who lives in Kilgore and Niesy who lives in Koontz and three grandsons. “Nothing special about me,” she said. “I am just a single working mom.” That makes her pretty special in the eyes of her family and friends.

IT HAS BEEN A WEEK with talk about the new year. If you think the influenza has everyone concerned, people who are addicted to their phones and apps, apps, and more apps is running next in line. The fact that people are now connected to their work 24 hours a day is a biggy shared with co-workers. It has been suggested to turn all work related devices off at 6 p.m. The KNH staff found that quite funny. It is easier said than done; you may want to give it a try.

SMITTY SMITH at Smitty’s Firearms is pleased to see the new year. “We started to see an increase in sales right before Christmas. Not yet as good as previous years when the oilfield was booming but we are moving in that direction,” he said. Smitty’s son works in the oil field and they are keeping him on the roll according to Smitty who is determined to fill the air with some optimism.

SAVE THE DATE! St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Woman to Woman Ministry presents its 2nd annual Women’s Conference on Saturday, February 3 from 8:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. For more information you may call 903-984-3576.

May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the Week. In the meantime, we may be reached at 903-984-2593or chitchatlinda@aol.com.

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