MADISONVILLE, TEXAS: The first time that I met Gala Nettles, I was a little intimidated. It was my first month as managing editor for The Madisonville Meteor, and Mrs. Gala was a columnist for the paper. Her column always ran in the same spot and was filled with all the normal news about the community, plus she added her own little spice of encouragement toward the end her writing.
From what everyone was telling me – I needed to make sure I was on her good side.
Being new, of course, and having all this wonderful journalism experience under my belt, I was like, “Whatever.” But deep down, I was a little nervous. From the way everyone was talking she was a mixture of Meryl Streep’s character in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and Barbara Stanwyck’s Victoria Barkley in ‘The Big Valley.’
And … Gala Nettles was a former school teacher … and had written several books… And she is married to Ronnie Nettles.
Oh, you know him – talk about the real deal cowboy. Ronnie is world-famous and a champion in the National Cutting Horse Association, and a world-class, stirrup-creator. Mr. Ronnie can just look at you, and without saying a verbal word, he has spoken volumes. His work keeps them busy and on the road most of the 365 days of the year. Check out Nettles Stirrups – that is Mr. Ronnie.
So, yeah, I was nervous.
Within two seconds of the meeting, Mrs. Gala became not only my confidante, my biggest cheerleader, a person who could ‘proverbially kick my rear,’ and a friend, she became my mentor.
The Nettles have touched so many lives – not only with their work – but personally as well. Just walk down the street in Madisonville, and pop in to Walkers Cafe or over to the Cowboy Church or to the chamber of commerce offices, and mention Mrs. Gala’s name, or Mr. Ronnie’s, and nine out of 10 people you ask with have a good story to tell about the Nettles.
If Mrs. Gala and Mr. Ronnie knew of a need, especially in their community, they would be two of the first people to show up with their sleeves rolled up, or would see about getting that need met … a lot of times sacrificing something of their own to do so.
They have their own children and grandchildren – a large brood that they are very proud of. Then, there are those that Mrs. Gala and Mr. Ronnie ‘took under their wings’ just because that is how they are.
For decades, her column was the first thing that people read in the Meteor. Dave Barry and Dear Abby and Lewis Grizzard all had strong followings, but Mrs. G, well, her fan club was larger … yes, I said larger.
Mrs. Gala’s column isn’t in the Meteor anymore. It was a management decision … probably not a smart one based on the number of folks who have voiced their opinions in Madisonville.
Imagine, if you would, watching NCIS and finding out Mark Harmon’s character, Gibbs, was retiring – but not by choice, and he was sailing his boat off in the sunset? It wouldn’t feel so good, would it?
I mean, without Gibbs, what is NCIS?
Never fear though. Mrs. G is still out there on Nettles Lane, putting together new items for the store, traveling with Mr. Ronnie, setting up appointments and writing for the horse magazines.
And they are still out there, being good neighbors – helping people who can’t help themselves. That is just how the Nettles are made – good people, good stock …
To me, they are the best examples of ‘good neighbors’ that I know.
Find us on Facebook and Linked In @themurphygazette and Twitter @tmurphygazette.