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, January 3, 2011

Random Memories, Part 1

Let's start 2011 off by catching up on some little things.  These are little fragments of memories that individually are too small to make up a blog entry, so let's put them all together to make one nice, big, fluffy blog entry.  They're a bit disjointed, but then again, so am I...

Jello Kites

Next to the Jello at Buddy Gray's store one day, they had Jello kites for sale for ten cents apiece.  Even in the early sixties, ten cents for a kite was a true bargain.  So, we got two - one for me and one for my sister Janet.  They were true paper kites, none of that indestructible plastic that they have nowadays.  We put them together and had great fun flying them in the field next to our house.  It must have been an unusually good day, I guess, because the pleasant memory of flying those Jello kites has stayed with me for about 45 years.  There's always room for Jello.

White Stuff Falling From The Sky

No, it wasn't snow on that summer Sunday afternoon.  It was late afternoon, just before it was time to come in and get ready for church.  I don't remember it being particularly stormy, just extremely windy like when a front is about to move in.  We were playing out in the front yard when these large white fluffy things started falling from the sky.  They were about the size of a quarter, and they were being blown in on the wind.  I think they must have been some kind of plant material like seed pods or spores or something, but it was weird.  We thought at the time that maybe they had been sucked up by the wind in some place far away and were now being released by the same wind that had picked them up.  Who knows?  I've never seen that happen since then, though.

Our Cool Book Satchels

Once upon a time, in a land far away, little children carried their books to school in book satchels.  When we started first grade, Mama got a little plaid book satchel each for me and Janet.  They were red and green, made of vinyl, and had a little slot where we could put our name.  Mama probably got them at Parsley's.  We were so proud of them, and they probably made going off to school a little easier.  I've seen our little satchels somewhere in recent years, in a box stored somewhere.  I just don't remember exactly where.

My Cowboy Lunch Box

Somewhere along about the same time as the book satchels, I got a cowboy lunchbox.  It was brown vinyl, had a snap-down lid, and had one of those plastic things on the front that was a picture of a cowboy riding a bucking bronc, and when you turned it at a different angle, the picture shifted, so that by moving the thing back and forth you could make the horse and cowboy look like they were in motion.  I carried that lunch box from first through third grade, at which point I started having lunch at the candy store (see my blog entry Lunch At The Candy Store).  A few years ago, I saw a lunch box just like it at a flea market, and the price tag was $250.  Dang.
Say Hello, Herbie

Herbie the Guinea Pig

Sometime in the late 1960's, we became the owners of a pet guinea pig.  Why, I don't know, although I believe my brother Phil was involved somehow.  Herbie was a sweet little fellow who loved to munch on clover in the field, which we could let him do because guinea pigs are slow and there was not much danger of him running away, as long as we kept an eye on him.  Of course, he had to stay in his cage most of the time, which was located in the back yard.  Early on, Herbie began to associate the sound of the screen door opening with the potential for food, so he established the pattern of squealing whenever he heard the back door open.  This became a regular occurrence, and was in truth not one of Herbie's most endearing characteristics.  I don't recall what eventually happened to Herbie, but once we were out of the guinea pig business, we never pursued it again.

The Bates Wild Man

For a brief period of time in about third or fourth grade, all the elementary students were gravely concerned about stories we had heard concerning a wild man who lived at Bates.  Uniformly, we felt that if there was a wild man at Bates, it was very likely that he would soon make his way to Waldron.  This rumor was spread primarily at the candy store at lunch, and we cautiously examined every adult face on the premises in the event that the wild man may have infiltrated our favorite hangout.  Over time, we were able to suppress our fears, and the Bates Wild Man was never heard from again.


My brother Gene had a radio beside his bed that he kept tuned to WLS in Chicago.  When Gene and later my brother Phil were serving in the Navy in Vietnam, I inherited the bed and WLS.  WLS was an AM station, which meant that its signal could only be picked up at night. FM radio, with it's less powerful but more clear signal, hadn't really caught on that much, so WLS was one of the few sources to hear popular music.  I would lie in bed at night with the radio on, volume down as low as I could go and still hear it, and listen to groups like the Bee Gees, Jefferson Airplane, Blood Sweat and Tears, The 5th Dimension, and many, many others.  I remember one of my favorite disc jockeys was John "Records" Landecker, who always followed his name by saying, "Records truly is my middle name."  John once announced an upcoming concert in Chicago by the Bee Gees, saying the Bee Gees would be accompanied by a full orchestra.  That, I thought, was cool. 

Click here to see John Records Landecker in action.

Nine Bowen

I can just barely remember Nine Bowen.  He lived in a little shed not far from our house, and one of the things Nine did to make his way in life was to plow people's garden spot.  Nine had a missing finger, thus the first name Nine.  This happened before my time, but the story is told about Nine plowing up our family's garden spot, and the ever curious little Phil being out there watching him.  Well, Nine stopped to take a drink of water from his fruit jar, and Phil joined him by taking a swig of Nine's water as well.  When Mama discovered this, she got in a bit of a panic, unsure of the cleanliness of the enterprise.  When Daddy got home from work, Mama said, "Abb, Phil took a drink of water from Nine Bowen's jar!"  Daddy, calm as usual, replied, "Oh, I wouldn't care to drink after Nine."  Mama, reassured, began to relax, but the next time the garden got plowed, Phil was kept inside.

A Bit of Serious Drama

Before I had my dog Skipper (see "Skipper Breaks His Leg!"), I had a little dog named Scooter.  When I was about ten, Scooter got killed.  A Mr. Kitchens, who lived around the block from us, shot him and some other dogs who were in his yard.  I don't remember how I found out about it, but I was brokenhearted.  However, my grief was tempered by genuine concern because my best friend Randy's sister Swanna was sitting on her porch swing when the moronic Mr. Kitchens fired his shotgun, and one of the pellets hit her in the neck.  She was rushed to the hospital, the pellet barely missing the arteries in her neck.  What a sad day!

A Note of Thanks

I would like to say thanks to all of you who have been reading my blog.  Your comments, either on the blog or on Facebook, are greatly appreciated.  I get a great deal of joy from writing down these memories, and I'd like to encourage all of you to do the same.  Making a blog is the easiest thing in the world, and I would love to read some of your memories!  So, if you decide to make a blog, let me know so that I can follow it.  And thanks for letting others know about this blog.  I wish you all the best, and I hope 2011 is the best year yet!  I'm almost out of elementary school memories, so this blog is soon moving into the Junior High years, during which I redefined nerddom and started my Jr. High School career off with the worst decision I ever made.  But, that's a story for another day...


  1. Book satchel.....I remember those little gems, but have a vague memory of what they looked like... Great memories though. Just found the blog and it is very entertaining...
    Dwayne Brothers

  2. Billy - I just got a new vehicle and with it came a three-month free trial of XM Radio where I have discovered my new favorite station...."70's on 7" !!! Driving to school yesterday (Monday) I heard the Bee Gees song "Jive Talkin'" (which I had not heard in years and years) ... and naturally thought of you! How you were a Bee Gees fan long before they became so popular after Saturday Night Fever.
    I was thinking that you should write a Blog article about them .... and now you have!

    And I remember the day that you lost Scooter and Swanna was wounded. Very scary times. I remember being afraid to play outside the next few days!

    My book satchel was navy blue and green plaid and had lots of pockets and buckles. I thought it was the coolest thing ever when I got it (from the Sears Roebuck Catalog).... only to get to school the first day and find that I was the only one in my class carrying one. I tried leaving it at home after that, but my Mom made me take it anyway!

  3. Cindy, I loved 70's on 7 when I had XM Radio. Also, somewhere around 164 or 169 is Old Time Radio Classics; nothing but old radio programs from the 40's and 50's...it was another one of my favorites (even though I wasn't around for their original broadcasts...)