Optimist Charles Dixon is shown with his dog Albert Einstein.

The Noon Optimist Club of Marshall met online Wednesday, June 10, with President Le Ila Dixon expressing thanks to Optimist Michele Fuller, the club’s treasurer, for sending the $500 checks awarded last week on their way directly to the recipients with a cover letter.

In past years, they were presented at the MHS awards assembly. “It is our hope,” Le Ila said “that these graduating Seniors will spend the money on setting up their first dorm room/apartment, buying a computer or books for their freshman year in college, or purchasing clothing for their first adult jobs.

However they spend the money, we wish them well in the next stage of their lives.”

This week Optimist Charles Dixon shares some of his experiences as a chemist with a specialty in water analysis (and a side-line in calendars)—

“I graduated from Pine Tree High School in 1959 and East Texas Baptist College in 1962. My field was chemistry and I found a position in 1964 at Lone Star Steel. I remained there until 1985 working in their chemical lab where we analyzed the plant’s water source, Lone Star Lake, as well as Quality Control for Operations. From time to time, we also worked on problems related to production of the steel products themselves. One issue was pipes that would come apart at their welded seams.

Following Lone Star I tried a stint at teaching. I guess you could say my experience was broad but shallow. I taught at seven schools in seven years mostly eighth grade but occasionally the ninth.

Science was not really a school priority and I could not leave chemical processes running but had to take them down at the end of each class, greatly limiting the possibilities.

For a period, I worked at Thiokol but they were beginning their layoffs heralding their final closure. Then in 1995, I came to worked at the Marshall Utilities Department labs where I used my expertise in water analysis until retirement in 2006.

In 1977 at ETBC homecoming, Le Ila and I got reacquainted (14 years after our graduation from the college) and soon got married. She and her daughter Tiffany were living in Shreveport and I was living in Longview and my kids were living in Marshall. So we all moved to Marshall.

Both of us worked out of town and could not participate in clubs like the Optimists, but all of our kids graduated from Marshall ISD.

In 1988 we were both teaching, with summers off, and we were able to teach in China for a month, thus beginning a long and happy relationship with that country.

About 1992 I joined the Hallsville Rotary Club; Le Ila joined Marshall Optimists soon after retiring from Hallsville ISD in 1995. Later I joined the Optimists in 2010 as a friend and then a member in 2013.

I was especially motivated to help with the Backpack Program where I serve as treasurer of its separate board. We provide weekend meals to MISD elementary students who depend on them for most of their weekend nutrition.

The Optimist Club does the fundraising for the program. Optimists and community volunteers from Cumberland Presbyterian Church and St. Marks Methodist make up the board of directors that manage the program. ETBU and Wiley join the team to help deliver meals to all four elementary schools each week.

I have long been interested in numbers, things like Mayan Calendars, rainfall, math tricks. I save old calendars, and reuse them based on the 28 year calendar cycle. (Leap years only happen once for each day of the week, in 28 years, 4x7=28. Other years start at varying intervals.) Devon Willis at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church asked for 3 of my calendars one year and put them up in 3 different rooms of her house. Each one was from a different year, but was identical to the current year!

I started saving rainfall numbers when the Marshall News Messenger used to print the monthly and yearly rainfall totals going back to the 1890’s. When I worked for the City, I provided the paper with updates several times. Eventually, the paper discontinued those reports, but I still update my personal Rainfall List every year.

My interest in conservation and climate change really began when Lone Star Steel began “reclaiming and restoring” mined areas in the mid-to late 70’s, but then often suffered washouts due to big downpours. Around 1980, Lone Star shut down its own ore operations and began importing from Brazil.

In 1983, the EPA published both “Can We Delay a Greenhouse Warming?” and “Projecting Future Sea Level Rise.” After Lone Star shut down almost all their operations in 1985, I’ve been looking to find other people with climate concerns ever since.