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Home News-Telegram News Yantis Masonic Lodge 382 recognizes Enola Gay Mathews as Community Builder

Yantis Masonic Lodge 382 recognizes Enola Gay Mathews as Community Builder

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Yantis Masonic Lodge will honor Enola Gay Mathews Saturday, Feb. 15, for her community contributions, especially those to promote the Jamboree and Reilly Springs community.

“The Community Builder Award is an annual award that a local Masonic Lodge can present to an individual in the lodge's community who is a non-Mason and has, in the past, contributed to the betterment of the community,” Gordon Krantz, lodge secretary, said in a press release.

Mathews’ efforts promoting the Jamboree and Reilly Springs community were especially noteworthy because of the lodge’s connection to the small southeastern Hopkins County community, located just  five miles north of Yantis.

“The Yantis Masonic Lodge is one of the oldest lodges in East Texas, and spent the first 25 years of its existence in the community of Reilly Springs. The charter members of the Lodge were contributors to many aspects of the growth of Reilly Springs before the lodge was physically moved to Yantis in the late 1800s,” Krantz noted. “The lodge membership is grateful for the effort that Enola Gay has put forth to keep the Reilly Springs spirit alive today and well over the past several years with her involvement with the Reilly Springs Jamboree.”

“Being recognized by the lodge for my interest in the Jamboree came as a surprise. But, I found that the Yantis Masons share a close link with Reilly Springs. I am not a Hopkins County native, but I cherish tradition and history, and that's why I wanted to keep the Jamboree going. It's nice to be noticed for something I've been having so much fun doing,” said Mathews, who grew up part of a Longview restaurant family in the 1960s.

Mathews says while she doesn’t live in Reilly Springs, her interest in the Jamboree started after she went to work part-time for KSST in 1989, after moving her family to Sulphur Springs. She discovered recordings and photos in the station’s study archives made during the KSST broadcast of Saturday night Jamboree shows from the venues’ heyday, 1956-1964.

“It wasn't long ‘til I hatched a plan to ‘revive’ the show, and the first one was staged in 1995 at the VFW. Bill Bradford reluctantly carried it, saying that I shouldn't count on getting an audience. That Reilly Springs Jamboree Reunion was presented to a packed house and brought many of the original performers back to Sulphur Springs. After that, at least a few Jamborees were staged each year as I could,” Mathews said.

In 2009, Roger Reed and the Sunshine Band joined Mathews at RSJ, performing with guest talent on a regular basis every third-Saturday night of the month.

“For me, just being in Reilly Springs is interesting. I found out the farming community probably had the only General Store/Record Shop combination in existence in the 1940s. I made the acquaintance of the ‘Queen of Reilly Springs,’ Helen Boggs, and my late friend,  Luther McCullough. I was befriended by dairywoman Vera Harrington. I shared a precious hour with Tumbleweed Smith and Pete McDonald at his store. I’ve gotten stopped three times by [Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper] Brandon Owens. I've learned some backstage stories from Mickey Ledbetter and I've enjoyed the hospitality and friendship of numerous Reilly Springs characters (I mean residents),” Mathews added.

This year, Mathews and Jamboree historian Francell Burnett hope to get permission from the state to place a marker of permanence, marking the site of the Reilly Springs Jamboree with a Texas Historical Event marker. They’ve still got a lot of work and documentation yet to finish to make that happen, but have set it as a goal for the year.

“And with the New Year has come an unexpected opportunity, to begin staging our shows in town, at the new Reed's Entertainment Theatre. We might reach larger audiences in that venue, and thus might generate some funds for improvements on the community center. We might preserve and present the flavor and tradition of the Reilly Springs shows for visitors who never heard of our home community or had one of their own. But what might we lose? There's bound to be comments on both sides of the idea, and I need to hear them. I believe the world would be a better place for knowing about Reilly Springs, Texas, USA.”

Learning Yantis Masonic Lodge’s connection to Reilly Springs “is a point of pride” to Mathews.

“The Yantis Masonic Lodge was once the Reilly Springs Masonic Lodge, as it was established there in the 1920s, when people knew the value of bonding with their neighbors to better their community,” said Mathews, who utilizes her position at KSST, to help promote Lodge 382 events. She also is a champion of swing music. She utilizes her morning radio show often to help promote numerous community activities and recognize individuals and groups for the service and achievements.

“When I moved to Sulphur Springs, I was ready to have a ‘hometown.’ I was 35 years old with five 5 children to raise, and decided that Sulphur Springs would be our last move. I do not live at Reilly Springs. Only through the Jamboree has it become ‘mine.’ I am supposed to be laid to rest at Brinker, but have pondered changing that,” she said with a grin and not toward Reilly Springs.

Appropriately, Yantis Masonic Lodge 382 will present Mathews with the Community Builder Award Saturday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m. just prior to the 7 p.m. start of the monthly Jamboree in the heart of Reilly Springs, the community center located on County Road 1439.

“We are looking forward to presenting it to her at the Jamboree,” Krantz said. “Everyone is invited to attend the Jamboree on the evening of February 15, 2014 and assist in presenting this award to Enola Gay.”

 

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