He got it from his father, Willie Taylor, another man of impeccable style in my family tree! Special THANKS to my Aunt Frances Taylor Marshall for sharing this very special photo of her father (my grandfather) with me. I must say when I pulled this photo out of the envelope, all I could do was grin. My grandfather was a very handsome man and I can only imagine his swag was smooth as the man he was too! Now I understand why his wife (my step-grandmother) was so “fiercely” jealous where he was concerned. Yep, Willie was quite dapper in his day. What say you about this man of impeccable style in my family tree?
Marriage: Mildred St. Romarin for 46 years, Houston, Texas July 27, 1939
Church Affiliation: Northside Antioch Baptist Church (Over 30 years)
Sunset: December 14, 1985 10:30 P.M.
Survivors: A devoted wife, Mildred; one son, John W. Taylor; one daughter, Mrs. Elaine Baker; a sister, Mrs. Ella Seller of New York; an aunt, Ms. Sally Lewis, Houston; two uncles:Jessie Green of Houston and Sterling Green of Bakersfield, California; four grandsons: Elgin, Jon and Michael; one grand-daughter, Marlive; one great grandson, Marcus and three great-grand-daughters:Nicole, Nichelle and Nia; other family members and loving friends. Also Victor, grandson.
= ORDER OF SERVICE =
Minister and Family
Old and New Testament
Reverend Robert Staggers
The family wishes to express their most sincere thanks and appreciation for the many kind expressions of sympathy extended during the hours of their sorrow.
It’s Treasure Chest Thursday and from my digital collection is a photo featuring an employee celebration for Willie Taylor!
My grandfather began working at the Maxwell House Coffee Plant in Houston around the same time that my Uncle Jesse started working there in 1930. His first job was in the Receiving & Shipping (R&S) Department and by the time he retired in the late 1970’s, he was a Plant Services Foreman in addition to being the head coach of the company’s all-black baseball team. He was well liked and a very respected employee on and off the job. His hard work and dedication to the coffee industry was definitely a time to celebrate —
3/4 million man hours without a lost time accident
My paternal grandfather, Willie Taylor, wasn’t the only popular Maxwell House Man in my family tree. My great uncle Jesse Earl Green from Chappel Hill, Texas, with only a third grade education, went on to become the “first” African American Assistant Department Head of the Roast and Blend Division at Maxwell House!
Uncle Jesse, the youngest of seven children was born December 29, 1911 to Lula Routt and Jim Green in Chappel Hill, Texas. He was just 18 years old when he left Chappel Hill in 1929 and came to Houston seeking employment and a better life. He worked odd jobs consistently until he was hired at Maxwell House as extra help in 1930. Once at Maxwell House, uncle Jesse was on the move! He quickly moved up the ranks as porter, coffee blender, sub roaster, regulator roaster and finally as special roaster where his special blend was a mixture of Brazilian and Colombian beans. His final promotion made Maxwell House history — he became the first African American Assistant Department Head of the Roast and Blend Division! He held this position until he retired in 1977.
According to the inscription on the back of the photo above, everyone featured represents 244 years of service to Maxwell House. Standing (left to right) is Jesse Earl Green (42 yrs), Lillian Riddle (43 yrs), C.W. “Tex” Cook (30 yrs), Willie Taylor (42 yrs), Frank Lenich (32 yrs), and George Curtis (35 yrs).
My uncle worked for Maxwell House for forty-seven years! Can you imagine working for any company forty-seven years? People just don’t work jobs for long periods of time anymore. Heck, companies don’t maintain internal departments long enough for anyone to work that long anymore! Well, forty-seven years is a very long time and his colleagues often said they were blessed to have had someone of his character for forty-seven years of service. At uncle’s retirement gala, his gift from Maxwell House was a batch of coffee of his own special blend — Brazilian and Colombian beans — put into cans labeled “Green House Coffee” with a picture of him on the label wearing his trademark — red bow tie!
While working at Maxwell House, Uncle Jesse went on to earn his Doctorate in Theology from Southwestern Theological Seminary. This advanced degree enhanced his service and leadership as Senior Pastor of Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church, a church he organized in May of 1950 in Houston, Texas.
Uncle Jesse Earl Green passed away on March 21, 1998 and was laid to rest in the Golden Gate Cemetery, 8400 Hirsch Road, Houston, Texas 77016
If you have my great uncle Jesse Earl Green, a real Maxwell House legend in your family tree, let me hear from you because . . .
I’m claiming kin!
My paternal grandfather, Willie Taylor, loved, loved, LOVED, baseball! But what I didn’t know until now was — he was the head coach of the all black Maxwell House Company Baseball Team during the 1950’s and 1960’s!
I tell you, this photo of my grandfather with the company’s all black baseball team is a true TREASURE!
So what does the history of baseball and Maxwell House have in common? Well, according to, You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . . by Lillian and Nina Africano, the first baseball game in the US was not played in Cooperstown, New York;
the first recorded organized baseball game was played on June 19, 1846, at Hoboken’s Elysian Fields, later site of the Maxwell House Coffee plant.” 
I don’t know if Maxwell House facilities in Jacksonville, FL, and San Leandro, CA had company baseball teams, but the Houston factory sure did and their success kept them playing baseball for many years!
The section of the book titled, “You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . . Diamonds are a Boy’s Best Friend,” goes on to say,
By 1900 baseball had truly become America’s pastime, and practically every town in Jersey had a baseball team. Company teams like the Newark Westinghouse Nine, the Doherty Silk Sox of Paterson, and the Michelin Tire Company team of Millville were among the strongest.”
Jersey wasn’t the only state with popular company baseball teams on the horizon during that time. Texas had some prominent company baseball teams too such as the Alamo Furniture Baseball Team in Houston, Southern Pine Lumber Baseball Team from East Texas, The Southern Select Baseball Team, the Pepsi-Cola Ball Club better known as the Austin 9, and of course — the Maxwell House Baseball Team!
My oldest brother remembers after little league practice watching in “awe” the Maxwell House baseball team pitching and power-hitting on the baseball fields at Finnegan Park — located in the Greater 5th Ward Community! Grand-dad was a quiet man by nature. Oh but when he stepped on a baseball field with his team, he transformed into a force to be reckoned with!
He started coaching the Maxwell House team before I was born. But my brother promises that if I had been old enough to go to games, I would have loved his unique coaching style and his team’s fierce competitive spirit! My brother, who is in his sixties now, says some of the men who grew up around Finnegan Park during that time, still talk about how great Maxwell House played baseball. The fact that they rarely lost a game made them real legends for the company and for Houston’s 5th Ward community too!
If you recognize any of the players in the photos above, I would love to hear from you.
If you have Coach Willie Taylor in your family research, definitely let me hear from you because . . . I’m claiming kin!
1. Africano, Lillian, and Nina Africano. “You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . . Diamonds Are a Boy’s Best Friend.” You Know You’re in New Jersey When . . .: 101 Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of the Garden State. First ed. Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot, 2007. 7. Print. You Know You’re In Series.