one shining time during World
War II, New Guinea had a Goose
Creek, Texas, connection. |
Famed author William A. “Bill” Owens, who
taught at Robert E. Lee High School in the 1930s in the Goose
Creek school district, mentioned it in a note to former members of the REL
class of 1937.
“On about Oct. 10, 1944,” he wrote, “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 was 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.”
Owens, who served in
the intelligence branch of the U.S. Army, also mentioned the Goose Creek sign
in an article 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,”
Owens had no idea, at the time, who made and installed the Goose
Creek sign, but later learned their names.
J.B. “Jug” Williams put
up the sign, assisted by fellow soldiers George “Moon” Mullens and Floyd Ciruti.
All three were from the Goose
Creek area, now part of present-day Baytown.
The sign-makers made sure they could easily dismantle and take it with them wherever
they went, and 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 the sign was last seen on Luzon.
his note, penned in 1987, to the REL class of ‘37, Owens conveyed his regrets
for not being able to attend their 50-year reunion. “Greetings to one and all,”
he began. “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 a retired
Columbia University English professor. He died in Nyack in 1990.
to his collections of folklore and four volumes of autobiography, Owens wrote
|He authored Slave
Mutiny: The Revolt of the Schooner Amistad (1953), which several years after
his death provided material for the Steven Spielberg film, Amistad (1997).
Owens was with the Extension Division of the University of Texas, he recorded
folk songs from East Texas to the
Mexican border and worked closely with Roy Bedichek, J. Frank Dobie and Walter
Prescott Webb. His close relationship with the legendary literary trio led to
his publishing Three Friends (1969), a collection of letters that Dobie,
Bedichek, and Webb wrote to one another.
in the small northeast town of Pin
Hook, Owens treasured his years in Texas.
Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing
Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic
photos, please contact