Here, a sturdy
old gin has found a new life as an entertainment venue that draws
crowds from all over East
Texas and performers like Mark Chestnut, Pee Wee Walker, and
And the sounds of the Saturday night music and comedy go out on
the air waves of the best named rural radio station in Texas--KMOO
of Mineola. Youíll find
it at 99.9 on your radio dial.
The old cotton gin sat unused beside U.S. Highway 69 since the 1970s,
when it stopped ginning cotton for Rains Countyís farmers. But about
five and a half years ago, Brent Cason and his mother and father,
Lena and Joe Ben Cason, saw something different in the dirty, neglected
With the support of Pointís
people, they turned the gin into The Cotton Pickiní Theater and
opened it to music performers of all kinds.
Today, each Saturday night, the old gin comes alive as people drive
to Point for some
of the best entertainment in East
While country music is the mainstay at the gin, the second and fifth
Saturday nights of each month are devoted to gospel music. And on
the fourth Saturday night, the Rural American Idol contests pulls
in contestants from all over the map.
Performers come in all size and ages, from three years old to 85.
No one really knows when Pointís
gin was built, but it probably dates back to Pointís
town began as a flag station and post office around 1880 on a section
of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad from Mineola
Residents proposed the name Riceís Point for William
Rice, a Kentuckian who settled in the area, but the post office
rejected the name and several others because they were already in
In 2006, Point opened
another landmark, also related to the communityís farming heritage.
A large monument, sitting beside the old cotton gin, was built to
recognize the birth of the National Farmers Union by Isaac Newton
Gresham at Point
Founded to address farm issues during a time when America was courting
the American industrial revolution. Gresham was a small town newspaper
editor who was sympathetic with the problems faced by small farmers
around the turn of the century.
Today, the NFU has a membership of 250,000 farm and ranch families
in 26 states and continues with Greshamís mission of protecting
the economic well-being of farmers and ranchers and their rural
Meanwhile, the Point
gin keeps on ginning--not with cotton, but music.
The other day, however, Joe Ben Cason found a survivor of the old
cotton days--a live boll weevil.
No one knows
how he survived or why he stayed.
Maybe he just liked the music.
Bowman's East Texas >
A weekly column syndicated in 109 East Texas newspapers
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin
is the author of more than 50 books about East
Texas history and folklore. )
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