2019-02-06 / Front Page

Winter Texan golfer says life has been good to him so far

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Staff Writer


BILL BAKER TEES OFF AT THE RAYMONDVILLE CITY GOLF COURSE on his 90th birthday. His foursome won their tournament. (Photo by Allen Essex) BILL BAKER TEES OFF AT THE RAYMONDVILLE CITY GOLF COURSE on his 90th birthday. His foursome won their tournament. (Photo by Allen Essex) Winter Texan Bill Baker turned 90 years old last week and his foursome won a golf tournament at the Raymondville city golf course.

He stays active which is why he’s still around to enjoy retirement years, he said.

His longevity may be the result of working outdoors all his life as a house painter, painting houses, apartment buildings and anything else. He doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke, either. He used to do those things, but quit when his daughter was born.

Baker has lived many places, but says his travel trailer at Gateway Mobile Home Park, especially his screened-in porch, is one of the best places to be.

An Arkansas resident, he comes down to Raymondville in November, and usually stays until March, finding a lot to do in Willacy County.

He originally had a travel trailer in East Texas and kept moving farther south to get away from cold weather, trying Bay City, then Corpus Christi, finally settling in Raymondville.

“I used to go to back to Arkansas every spring, spend summer up there...the fall up there,” said. Hitching up his pickup truck to a travel trailer, he kept going farther south to escape winter and then saw a sign for Port Mansfield.

“That’s where you do the fishing,” he said. “I met an old boy down there from New Mexico. He was a fisherman and I’ve always been a pretty good fisherman. We would fish almost every day, unless there was too much wind or something.”

“Hot weather doesn’t bother you unless you’re involved in air conditioning, in your house, in our car and all those other places and you get accustomed to that.”

He has two air conditioners in his home, one in his computer room and one in the living room. He rarely turns them on. Just fans. But he does use air conditioning in his car, a big Lincoln.

“The screened-in porch keeps out mosquitos and other bugs,” he said. “The only problem is dust, which comes right through the screens.”

He learned to play golf on Okinawa while in the Army during the Korean War, Baker said. He was supposed to be on his way to Korea but was taken off the troop ship in Okinawa because of his radio operator skills and spent his service there.

His three-year enlistment in the Army might have turned into a career except President Harry Truman extended his stay by one year.

“I started to re-enlist for six more years to go to Germany,” Baker said. “I got so angered I got out.”

He has tried several brands of golf clubs and finds that some brands are no longer made in America. He also finds some brand’s claims misleading-you can try out their clubs and return them, if you don’t like them.

His father had served in World War I, but he was gassed and suffered greatly; the Germans used poison gas as a weapon in the “Great War.” His father also suffered from the “Spanish flu,” an epidemic that killed millions of people.

Not all the places he has lived were as pleasant as his present winter home, Baker said.

“The worst place was Ranger, Texas, west of Fort Worth, where there was a lot of oil and gas activity,” he said. “And Texarkana, they have a (paper manufacturing) plant down there that puts out the awfullest smell from green wood. That’s the two places I’ve been that had a terrible, awful odor.”

He has always found ways to make money, Baker said. When he was 40 years old, he lived near Kansas City and bought a motorcycle in the winter, when the price was low. He learned to ride but never wanted to ride on highways, preferring trails and country roads instead.

The next year he bought a dozen more motorcycles in the winter and sold them all in the spring for a big profit, he said.

He has enjoyed many pastimes in his life, such as golf, photography, fishing and travel. He also attended college in Little Rock, Ark. There is always something to do, Baker said.

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