MATTIE'S CORNER: G.E. Refrigerator demonstration leads to matrimony for Phabrice Montgomery and Rex Payne

The Paynes were members of the once popular '29 Club of Flappers and Jelly Beans

EDITOR'S NOTE: Longtime newspaper columnist and radio personality Mattie Dellinger wrote “Mattie's Party Line” column for years in The Light and Champion and other newspapers. She passed away May 28, 2013, but reprints of her columns are being made possible with the help of Mattie's daughter, Dixie Dellinger. This is an installment of the online version of Mattie's columns — “Mattie's Corner.” This week's column focuses on the period around the week of March, 2005.


Recalling Mrs. Rex Payne.  Perhaps you remember her from the time she first broadcast Payne's Community News Program daily over KDET  until her death Nov. 12, 1982 from an illness.

  Her life span was filled to the fullest with accomplishments as a business leader, church and civic leader.  

  Maybe you remember it was she who started the fund to install the elevator in the First Methodist Church in Center.

  Born in Vernon, Texas she grew up in Oklahoma and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L.O. Montgomery.  Rex always called her Monty.

  Mrs. Payne was a graduate of an Oklahoma University and had received a degree in Home Economics.  General Electric hired her to travel about the country to demonstrate how to use a new invention on the market, an electric box.  

  Thus she came to Center as Miss Phabrice Montgomery in 1930  to demonstrate the G.E. refrigerator, for which Payne and Payne Hardware was the local agent.

  You know the rest of the story in that soon after her first visit, she and the handsome tall Texan store owner Rex Payne were married.

  She soon loved the hardware business almost as much as her husband Rex.  He was a third generation Payne to own and operate the business at that site. Vance was the fourth generation.

  I believe her gift shop was the first in Center and Mrs. Payne soon changed the system of how bridal showers were arranged.

  Most of them had been kept a secret to the bride-to-be until the day of the shower.  The bride's gifts were often duplicates and had not been selected by her.

  Rex and Phabrice started a newer and safer way to celebrate Halloween in Center.  They first arranged a big party which included both adults and children at the Exhibit Hall on the fairgrounds with prizes for the best make-up and outfit. 

  Other events which were provided in the Halloween celebrations were the school's Halloween Queen contests which raised money for some of the school's projects.

  Rex and Phabrice were members of the once popular '29 Club of Flappers and Jelly Beans.  The group traveled and performed in Texas and Louisiana with their Charleston dance, ukelele  playing and singing of the '20's songs.  They dressed in the attire of the Roaring Twenties.  Phabrice taught and coached the '29 ers to do "Balling the Jack", a dance and song routine.

I became a close friend of Phabrice Payne during the 20 plus years we were active members and officers of the Texas Press Women's organization.  We traveled all over Texas attending district and state meetings.

  Rex and Phabrice lived their lives to the fullest.  After their three children were grown, they joined a travel club and traveled all over the world.

  Their deaths left a void in the business and community life of Center that was hard to fill.


 There are two former Center women who are having their 90 plus birthdays today and tomorrow. Kate Kimbro who lives with her daughter in Sulphur, LA. will be 93 on March 5, and Obera Ramsey who lives in Friendswood, Tx will be 92.  Her husband was a former Center barber and their daughter Sue Nell was a 1953 graduate.


  Before we had vacuum cleaners, the housewives had to hang their rugs on the clothes line and beat them with a broom stick. Sweeping the rugs wouldn't get the ground in dirt out of the rugs.

  Those were the days when Perry Brothers, dry goods stores and drugstores stocked these items:  corset strings, lamp chimneys and wicks, Sen-Sen, Whiz Bang magazines along with the Police Gazette (both no-nos), sleeve holders, collar buttons, cedar pencils, Collier and Liberty magazines, Mavis Talc, O-Boy gum, Walko tablets for chickens, school book satchels and straps, milk bottle caps, fruit jar rings, hair switches and hat pins.


  Sam Malone, my friend from San Augustine, whose birthday was March 2 said he was proud that he and the State of Texas had the same birthday.