A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.





Monday, October 31, 2011

Over On Pine Street

Tonight, a rerun of a previous post that talks about Halloween on Pine Street...

I don’t know for sure that it was always called Pine Street; seems like in my early, early days, it didn’t have a name at all. It was a dirt road when I was little, like most of the streets in Waldron. Which was a good thing, actually, because our faithful dog Lucky’s favorite game was to chase rocks that we picked up from the road and threw. All you had to say was, “Lucky, you wanna go chase rocks?” and Lucky would bound out on the road and intently watch your every movement until the rock left your hand, whereupon he would chase the missile down. Fortunately, he never caught the rocks in his mouth, just let them roll and when they had slowed down, he would pick them up briefly and then drop them, just to show them he was in charge.

Watching the road graders come by and grade the road was a fascinating experience. We would sit on the sloping bank of our front yard and watch transfixed and the two Champion roadgraders transformed the pitted, rough surface of the road into a nice, smooth surface. Raymond Davis was one of the operators, and I don't remember the name of the other fellow, but they were celebrities among the kids on Pine Street. I doubt that an astronaut would have held any greater admiration than one of our roadgrader operators.

If I went out and stood in the middle of the road and looked to the north, I could see a grey house at the very end of Pine Street (even beyond where it crossed Church Street) which I was thoroughly convinced was a castle. This little grey house is still there, and when I was older and could ride my bicycle across the highway and see it, I was surprised at how small it actually was. I had seen pictures of castles in story books, and they were always grey, so I was convinced that at the very end of Pine Street you could find probably the only castle in the city of Waldron.

The part of Pine Street that belonged to my world was from Church Street to 8th Street. That was from Gentry Priest’s house up to my Aunt Lola’s house. Gentry Priest had the nicest house on our street, and it was always a thrill to go there on Halloween. After we got our candy from Gentry, we crossed the street and visited Norman Goodner’s house. Now this was usually the highlight of the night, because Norman gave out FULL-SIZED NICKLE HERSHEY BARS! This type of generosity was unprecedented anywhere else on Pine Street, and formed my earliest concept of what high-class meant. Next up the street were Thurman and Florene Douglass, whose kids were comparable in age to the kids in my family, and who have remained lifelong friends to all the Yates’. In fact, Cindy, their youngest, was more than likely trick-or-treating with us. From there, it was only a few steps over to Mr. Ayers’ house. Mr. and Mrs. Ayers were great neighbors to my grandmother. They were an older couple, very nice. After their house, my grandmother (Memaw) was next. She lived alone and had been widowed for many years but always spent a little of her meager income for some candy for Halloween.

Rapidly, we worked our way up the street. James Hicks’ house, Maude Rice, Violette Smith, George Hawkins’ house. George was fascinating because he operated a wrecker service, and he often brought in wrecked cars and put them in an empty lot beside his house. My older brothers once went over and staged some pictures of themselves, seemingly mortally injured, hanging out of one of the wrecked cars. George even had a military halftrack once, a tank-like vehicle that was incredibly fun to play in.

Across from our house were Bill and Clemmie Bobbitt. Their kids were older than my sister and I, but their youngest, Donnie, was a great friend to my brothers and my parents and often came to visit them as an adult. I distinctly remember standing in my front yard and singing “Oh My Darling Clementine” at the top of my lungs as I faced their house. Why, I have no idea; I think the similarity between “Clemmie” and “Clementine” was just too much to pass up. Dan and Margie Allen were in the next house. Dan and Margie drove a beautiful red 1962 Chevy Impala, possible the nicest car on our street. Dan worked at the furniture factory and was in the National Guard. Their little daughter Tammy (now Tammy Slagle) would stand out in their driveway and wait for us to come out and talk to her. Next to the Allen’s were Allie, her sister Rachel, and Rachel’s husband George. Don’t remember who was in the next few houses, but across the road was The Field, an open area that was our precious playground. Directly behind the field were Horace and Annabelle Bottoms, parents to my greatest childhood friend Randy and his sister Swanna. Hoss, as we called Horace, often took all of us kids riding in the back of his pickup out in the country. That was always great fun.

My Aunt Lola Ferguson and her husband Dennis lived at the end of the block. Most people called Dennis “Squirrel”, but we never did. He had a brother named "Strawberry.” Lola was my Daddy’s older sister and the owner of “The Field.” She also possessed the only set of encyclopedias on the street, and many school projects meant a trip to Lola’s house to do research. She also gave out popcorn balls on Halloween, which were as much anticipated as one of Norman Goodner’s candy bars. On Halloween, she always answered the door with a Halloween mask on, which normally terrified me, but hey, the popcorn balls were worth it. She had one of those joyous, explosive laughs that would ring out and just make you feel good to hear. She always laughed when she got us with the Halloween mask.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, we learned everything we needed to know about life on Pine Street. There was nothing like the feel of watersking on your bike after or during a summer rain shower. I think that was after the street was paved, though! I remember when Maude Ferguson gave us a big ole bean pod for halloween one year. That's something you remember! Pine Street was a perfect place to ride your bike but not so great for me while trying to ride Bruce Keener's motorcycle!

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  2. Pine Street was the best street to grow up on in all of Waldron! We had the best neighbors and my best friends were all there!
    And I remember the "Bruce Keener Motorcycle Incident" !!!!! That nearly scared me to death!
    And I always thought that the next best thing to the road graders coming by was when the City came out and sprayed for mesquitoes in the summer time with the truck with the fog machine on the back of it!!

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  3. Yes, and I used to run around in the middle of all that pesticide yelling, "I'm in a cloud, I'm in a cloud!"

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