How Folks From Dime Box and Thorndale Changed My Life

Alvin’s Service Center – Old Dime Box, Texas

My wife, Margie, taught at St. Paul Lutheran School in Austin for sixteen years until the school closed at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. For several years (and up until the school closed), the chairman of the school board was Charles Whitsel, who was from Dime Box. Charles and his wife Irene (who is from Thorndale) inadvertently played a major role in my life.

Here’s how…

Not long after I arrived in Austin in 2015, I asked one of the elders at St. Paul Austin too many questions after one Sunday service and found myself on the Stewardship Board, and shortly after that, on the Tech Board. Interestingly enough, although I had been attending for several months, I technically wasn’t yet a member (and ironically, I’m still helping with the technical maintenance of their web site even though we’re now members of St. Paul Thorndale)!

The following year, I returned to Austin after a weeklong trip to South Carolina, just after Labor Day. The next Sunday morning it was pretty clear there was an issue with the wireless microphone that our pastor was using (and a very distracting issue at that). After the service, Irene, who knew I was on the Tech Board, asked if I could take a look and see what could be done.

Several conversations later, I had determined that the microphone was stored in our pastor’s office, but by that time he had already gone home.

Well, truth be told almost everybody had gone home by that time… like my father before me, I’m usually one of the last people to leave the church!

So I began asking the few folks who were still there if anybody knew who might have a key to his office so I could take a look at the microphone. Someone pointed me in the direction of Kathy Achterberg (who was our Minister of Music) so I headed over to her office. Fortunately, she and her husband Bob are also life members of the “Last Folks to Leave the Church on Sunday Club,” her office door was open, and she was seated at her desk.

I stuck my head in, explained what I needed, and asked if I could borrow her keys.

Now up until that point, I knew Kathy was in her office (since I was talking to her). I may have also realized that Bob was in her office. I was most definitely not aware of the presence of the person who came running across the office with keys in her hand saying “I’ve got a key too! I’ve got a key too!” (and quite nearly knocked poor Bob over in the process).

And that’s how I met Margie Pacey, who I married on July 1, 2017 (yeah, I intended to post this on Monday, since that was our anniversary, but it’s taken me a while to get back into the swing of creating content for this page again)! It’s been a fantastic two years (okay, technically 2.00821918 years)!

Charles and Irene were tickled pink that Margie and I ended up together. I got to know Irene from my time on the Stewardship Board at St. Paul, and for the last year or so that the school was open I maintained the school web site, so I got to know Charles through that.

Some of y’all from Dime Box may recognize Charles Whitsel’s surname (or even know him); his uncle Eldie Whitsel ran the Highway Grocery in Old Dime Box for a number of years and served on the Lee County Commission. Eldie was also married to Pr. Ray Spitzenberger’s cousin, Lena Anschutz.

I don’t think the Highway Grocery building is still around (if I’m wrong, let me know), but there’s still quite a bit of business out on SH 21 in Old Dime Box. Trinity Lutheran is of course still there, and right next door is Alvin’s Service Center (pictured) plus I think there’s a restaurant next door (though I can’t remember since it’s been three and a half years since I took this picture).

It’s interesting to me that there are still businesses in Old Dime box even though most folks relocated out to “New” Dime Box on account of the railroad coming through. That’s much different than what happened with Serbin (nothing really remains of the original town except the church, though there are some buildings in Northrup, aka New Serbin) or Corn Hill (again, nothing left but the Catholic church from when folks relocated up the road to Jarrell). Perhaps the presence of a state highway running through Old Dime Box made the difference.

This weekend, Margie and I will be in Lee County again, and we’re going to take the trip to Dime Box that we intended to take a couple of weekends ago! I won’t be making a phone call on the pay phone, and hopefully, the sheriff won’t come out to see us (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke9AA8geApk).

And speaking of Dime Box and Pr. Spitzenberger, it’s a good time to pick up a copy of his book, “It Must Be the Noodles,” so head on over to Amazon (https://amzn.to/2VONf0T). Print editions are $9.99, or you can pick up the Kindle edition for $8.99 (I paid $12.99 for my copy a few weeks back at the museum in Serbin)! You can also view his past columns over at the Wendish Research Exchange (https://wendishresearch.org/category/spitzen-noodle/).

Oh, and we did get that microphone fixed!

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