From the Palace to Triumph
It was the late 70's, early 80's. On the heels of the Urban Cowboy craze. John Travolta; Spurger, TX and Gilley's club in Pasadena. (Incidentally, I live just about 30 miles from Spurger, Tx ... and Travolta pronounced it wrong in the movie.)
The Palace was the first large and fancy dance hall in Beaumont, TX. There were large one's before (Lady Longleggs) but none that were fancy. One half of downstairs was a large restaurant, the other half a nightclub/disco....yet the DJ spun almost entirely country music. The upstairs had an auditorium where you could hear some of your favorites in rather small live concerts. The other part of the upstairs was a second level of the restaurant that ringed the first level. You could sit upstairs and look down on everyone dining below.
I was a regular. In my Levi's, western shirts, brown felt cowboy hat and Justin boots. Brown hair in curls to perfectly frame the edge of my hat. Ate in the restaurant a time or two. Attended several of the concerts upstairs, including Conway Twitty and John Connaly. But mostly, I frequented the disco.
I never even discovered I could dance until after I was out of high school and of legal age. (18 back then in Texas) But I learned I had a knack for it. Two-step, cotton-eyed Joe, shottish, waltz, jitterbug. I became a regular when I got back from a two year stint at college. I'd go all by myself many times. Often no cover on girls. Walk in, look over the crowd, pick out the fellows I planned to make eye contact with, order a drink and have a seat. Usually not seated too long. I'd stay and close it down. Sometimes go with others for breakfast somewhere, sometimes just go home. Suppose I was a good enough patron to get invited to their private Christmas party two years in a row. For the employees. I think the bartenders and bouncers got to pick which patrons to invite.
I had fun. Lots of fun. I drank. Sometimes I was loud. Sometimes too loose. Occasionally downright drunk. Met plenty of guys in my adventures there. But none ever panned out to be relationship material. Often cried when I was alone, as I seemed so alone. Sort of like Johnny Lee's song about "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Looking for love in too many faces."
Time marches on, I met my Pete. Settled down. Had Bubba. Lost my desire to drink or be nursing a hangover. Desired to be a Mama like Mama was. Tienamin Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Stormin' Norman chasing Saddam out of Kuwait. All theses things got me to thinking and pondering more and more on the truths I was raised with. Constant feelings of unhappiness, anger, sadness. I was out of control towards everyone around me. I picked up the worn copy of The Living Bible my mom had bought me for my 16th birthday. Started reading through a few underlined passages. Wondered how I had forgotten them. Started reading the whole thing. Couldn't read it fast enough. Couldn't put it down. Read. See how far off course I was. Cry. Pray. Repent. On and on. Bubba was almost three. And I knew, my place was back in church.
I was a lost sheep. Jesus called to me through the words I read and the desire to read them. He restored me to the flock through the prayers and tears. I had gone from the "Sugar high" of fun and revelry to the "Bread" of life more abundant. Peace within. Joy without stimulation.
I don't know just how long the Palace operated. It started going downhill. Times changed and a new craze came along. The building had been vacant and for sale for some time.
But now it is a place of triumph. For that is what it is called, Triumph Church. Can't no one tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor! This congregation bought that building and did the same thing that God did with me. They rearranged the inside. They threw out what was useless to them. They built new things within those same old walls. The basic structure is the same. But the design, intent and purpose is evident in the building. Somewhere to worship God. A place to bring glory to Him. A testimony to what He did and can do.
Yeah, somewhere in that building you might find a small piece of something original. Just as I am still me. But you see something very different now there, than you saw 25 years ago. Just like me.