Descendants of town’s bench sitters sought for celebration

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

July 28, 2021

A celebration based on Whitney’s 1949 claim to fame dubbed “The Battle of the Benches” has been planned for August, and the organizer is looking for descendants of the “bench sitters” of that time to participate.

Whitney was featured in the August 15, 1949, edition of Life Magazine after a special election was called to determine whether the elderly men in town would be able to keep their downtown bench, which had been removed at the request of a group of ladies in Whitney.

The men were victorious in their bid to keep their favorite spot for “whittling, spitting and passing judgment on everything that passed” (as one of the opposing ladies described the situation).

A bench and historical marker can still be found in the same location, at the corner of Brazos Street and Washington Avenue in downtown Whitney.

Anne Chastain, who now operates Juniper Cove Winery out of the building at that location, decided to celebrate the town’s history with a special event on Saturday, August 14.

More details about the event, and historical information about The Battle of the Benches for those who may not know the story, will be featured in upcoming editions of The Lakelander. For now, the focus is on finding descendants of the bench sitters who were featured in the 1949 Life Magazine article.

The descendants will be invited to attend the dedication of the refurbished bench at the site and have their picture taken on the bench.

Those who would like to participate are invited to contact Chastain at info@battleofthe or 254-266-5351.

Businesses located in the 76692 zip code are also being invited to enter the Battle of the Bench challenge and decorate their own bench to reflect Whitney’s spirit, history and the personality of their business. Deadline to enter the contest is 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 11.

More information will be released in The Lakelander and at in the coming weeks. See page 5 for historical reporting from The Whitney Messenger on The Battle of the Benches.

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