of my favorite Goose
Creek stories came out of New Guinea in World
Before the war, William A. "Bill" Owens, the novelist and folklorist,
taught at Robert E. Lee High School in Goose
Creek, then part of the future consolidated city of Baytown.
He mentioned "seeing the light of Goose Creek" in a note he wrote
to Nettie Hurr, a member of the REL class of 1937. She had sent
him an invitation to their 50-year reunion in 1987.
Owens wrote, "About Oct. 10, 1944, I landed at dusk in a Martin
mariner on Lake Sentani in New Guinea. I shook. We got out of the
plane and water and got in a jeep on a jungle road. In the darkness
we came upon an emergency power station just lighting up.
"Suddenly the world was all right for me. A sign stood out in the
glow: Goose, Creek, Texas, Power and Light. My love to the one who
put it there and you all."
Now, perhaps you are wondering who in the wide, wide world of World
War IIar II put up such a sign?
J.B. "Jug" Williams did, with the help of George "Moon" Mullens
and Floyd Ciruti, all from the Baytown -- pardon me -- Goose
Creek area. And what is more, the sign was portable.
By the time the war ended, the sign saying "Goose Creek, Texas"
had traveled throughout the Philippines.
No one knows what became of it, but it was last seen on Luzon. If
it is still somewhere out there, it surely would make a great souvenir.
Owens, who served in the intelligence branch of the U.S. Army, also
discussed the Goose Creek sign in a story in the Texas Humanist
magazine in the early 1980s He commented he felt at home when he
saw the name Goose Creek, Texas, because he had taught in the Goose
Creek district. "There is always this carrying with you a part of
the past," he said.
In the note to Hurr, Owens had conveyed his regrets at not being
able to attend the 50-year reunion. "Greetings to one and all,"
he wrote. "First to a boy named John, whom I shook in his seat till
his teeth rattled and who after the war greeted me at the Night
Hawk in Austin."
Owens in 1987 was living in Nyack, N.Y., where one of his neighbors
was the actress, Helen Hayes. A novelist, folklorist and historian,
he was retired from Columbia University where he taught English.
He died in Nyack in 1990.
In addition to his collections of folklore and his four volumes
of autobiography, Owens wrote several novels.