Can you name a publication, other than the Diboll Free Press, that has been produced continually in Diboll since 1967? The correct answer is the Community Birthday Calendar, which is now in its 46th year as a local product.
Louis Landers and the History Center staff were able to find a reference to the first issue in an archived copy of the Free Press. Geneva Ard provided details about how the Pilot Club initiated the project.
“Maron Parr became president of the club when it was chartered in 1965,” Ard said. “She had the idea for a Birthday Calendar as a fundraiser, so the group began work on it and had the first one ready before 1967 started.”
The price for that first issue was $1 per calendar and 25 cents for each name that anyone wanted to list.
One person in the club usually did most of the work, and the birthdays had to be handwritten then typed on a typewriter. The copies were sent to a company in Georgia for printing. They had to be sent off three months before delivery in order to be completed on time.
“Every month was pretty full of birthdays,” Ard said. “At first we also listed anniversaries, but that was eventually phased out. However, several individuals did continue over the years to list their pets’ birthdays.”
Ard said that in the early days the person who sold the calendar to a community member was responsible for collecting the money and delivering the finished product. She joined the club in 1971, and because she served as city secretary, she knew many people in town, and it was easier to know if the names were spelled correctly.
“We had a lot of newspaper coverage, and we would sit in front of the bank to sell calendars and collect names to put on them,” Ard said.
Free Press columnists like Judy Gartman, Nan Miller, and Vicki and Ray Paulsey would usually end their articles each week with a list of birthdays “according to the Pilot Club Birthday Calendar.”
The calendar had the same layout that the current publication does, with ads on the top half and birthdays on the bottom half for each month. For a few years, there were some ads that extended beyond the bottom of the page, but that format was changed because it incurred additional printing expenses.
Some of the early advertisers included Pavlic’s Grocery, Weisinger’s Body Shop, Diboll State Bank, Big Tin Barn, and Warner’s Gulf Station. The company that eventually became Temple-Inland always had the largest ad which usually filled 4-6 spaces. With the recent sale of the company, the coming year will be the first time ever for the calendar not to include a Temple ad.
In the late 1980s the Pilot Club decided to stop publishing the calendar, but it was so popular and such a good fundraiser that the Band Boosters took over its production. This group continued to issue the calendar until 1997.
Only a few changes were made. Because of inflation, the price per calendar went to $3, but names could still be listed for 25 cents. And while the Pilot Club version featured a different local picture on the cover each year, the Band Boosters printed a picture of that year’s Diboll High School band. The current calendar has a generic cover because it is not visible when the calendar hangs on the wall.
Since 1997, the Diboll PTSA has sponsored the calendar. Project Chairman Jan Wilkerson has done most of the sales and name collection over the last few years, with the majority being done by mail.
“It’s really not all that hard now,” Wilkerson said. “Since I have my system worked out, and it’s all on computer, I can save everything from year to year and just do whatever additions or deletions are necessary. The printing is now done locally, and the price is $5 per calendar, but names still cost only 25 cents.”
Orders are being taken until Oct. 31 for the 2014 edition of the Community Birthday Calendar. To request an order form or to place an order, contact Wilkerson at 936-829-4817 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Calendars will be delivered the week between Christmas and New Years.