DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
SPICEWOOD — Conway Laxson picked up a box of doughnuts before his regular morning gathering Feb. 6 at the Spicewood Feed & Supply on CR 404. For Laxson and several other gentlemen, a morning just isn’t a morning without sitting in David and Nita Naumann’s feed store sipping on coffee and talking about the day’s events and anything else they want to discuss.
Even though his wife of 62 years, Fran, told him he didn’t need to take those doughnuts, Conway wanted to make sure the rest of the guys had something to go with the coffee.
“I got here a little early to make sure I got one,” the World War II veteran said with a laugh.
But it turns out his wife was correct. Conway didn’t need those doughnuts because after setting out the treats and taking his seat to be ready to talk about whatever the day’s topic was, David Naumann emerged from the back of the store carrying a white-and-blue cake. Then, with a little cue from Naumann, several folks broke out into “Happy Birthday.”
“I was absolutely surprised,” Conway said after the singing died down and the birthday congratulations wrapped up.
The Naumanns and his regular cohorts conspired to throw Conway a 90th birthday party.
“They come in here just about every morning I’m open,” David Naumann said of the group of men. “We just wanted to surprise Conway for his birthday. He served in World War II and just deserves this.”
Conway’s actual birthday was Feb. 4, but what’s a couple of days among friends?
Conway, a native of Brownwood, served 2½ years in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He was called up at the age of 18. During his service, he was a gunner in a B-17 that flew bombing runs out of Italy.
After his stint in the air corps, Conway attended then-Texas A&I University for two years before putting the school work behind him. He returned to the Brownwood area, where he eventually landed a job with the Sante Fe railroad company.
“I needed a job, and they were hiring,” Conway said regarding his jump into what would become a 36-year career with the railroad. During those years, Conway worked as a brakeman and a conductor, mostly on freight trains. The rails took him across North Texas, sometimes with only a couple of hours of sleep.
Now, he and his wife call Spicewood home.
The group crowded into Naumann Feed & Supply and joked with each other. And they didn’t mind ribbing Conway, despite his nine decades of life and experiences.
“If we had 90 candles on that cake, we’d have to call the county for a burn permit,” Patsy Lester joked after someone asked Conway why there weren’t candles.
While he’s enjoyed life the past 90 years, Conway still would like to do one thing.
“I’d like to ride in a P-51 (Mustang),” the former B-17 gunner said. “They would escort us when we went out (during bombing runs.) If I were blind and one flew over today, I would know it’s a P-51. Those were something.”
As for what he was going to do after the surprise birthday party, Conway smiled and said, “Probably just stay right here.”