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Memories of Hubert Gregg, the 'Peanut Man' (October 2011)

Memories of Hubert Gregg, the 'Peanut Man'
By Van Craddock

It has long been my contention that not enough remarkable folks get monuments. I'm glad to say Hubert Gregg at least has a plaque at Longview's Lobo Stadium. The blind "Peanut Man" was, after all, one of Gregg County's best-known residents for many years.
Hubert Gregg came to Longview in 1931 from El Dorado, Ark. He first sold silver and glassware polish, then hawked newspapers. But a year later, when a couple of Texas League baseball teams played an exhibition game in Longview, Gregg decided he'd sell roasted peanuts to the crowd. He did so well he continued sell goobers until his death six decades later.
For many years Gregg had a downtown route. He pulled a bright red wagon loaded with peanuts and apples behind him as a guide dog led him. He started selling peanuts at Lobo Stadium in 1945 and was a regular sight at local youth league baseball parks beginning in 1951. He could always be found at the Gregg County Fair in September.
I got to know Gregg when I was 8 years old. Between ball games the youngsters would gather around him and pet his dog, a boxer named Buck. Gregg dearly loved children, and they loved him.
Gregg married in 1960. The marriage lasted 20 years until Lina's death in 1980. He had four stepchildren from the marriage.
He grew up in Nebraska, born there in February 1899. He was just 6 years old when meningitis cost him his sight. As a young man he tuned pianos and organs and played at revival meetings in the Midwest. He operated a tobacco stand in El Dorado for a decade but was glad to get to Gregg County when the great East Texas Oil Field was discovered.
Gregg was much involved in the life of the community. When I interviewed him for a newspaper article in the 1980s, the "Peanut Man" noted he had "no regrets. I've had my ups and downs, but I get to get out and meet people. And they've been darned good to me."
Hubert Gregg died in May 1991. He was 92. Gregg had continued selling his roasted peanuts until only a year before his death.
In 1993, friends of Gregg, led by Vic Ferchill, dedicated a memorial plaque to Hubert Gregg at Lobo Stadium. The cast bronze plaque, located where Gregg stood for years selling his wares, has a likeness of the honoree and reads:
"THE PEANUT MAN" - Dedicated to the memory of Hubert Gregg (1899-1991), long-time supporter of Longview ISD. For 45 years the popular blind vendor sold his peanuts at Lobo home games … "Gregg" never considered himself handicapped. This industrious, independent man of gentle humor never met a stranger and was known to generations of Longview residents as simply "The Peanut Man."
So many people contributed to the memorial plaque that money was left over. Thanks to the wonderful response, a Hubert Gregg Scholarship Fund was established to help physically challenged students attending Longview High School.
"The Peanut Man" would have been proud.