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, March 28, 2011

Places of Business In Waldron 1951

Ok, 1951 was admittedly 5 years before my time, but this is a rather interesting look at Waldron commerce circa 1951, courtesy of the advertisers in the 1951 WHS yearbook:

Plummer's Grocery
H.E. Rice Hardware
Adam's Mercantile
Bank of Waldron
Dozier and Son (Groceries, Fresh Meats, Feed) Telephone 152
Waldron Cleaners (Phone 40)
Parsley's 5c to $1.00 (Phone 136)
Elliott Hardware (Phone 248)
Waldron Tractor Company (Phone 319)
Blasingame's (Drygoods, Groceries, and Furniture)
R.G. Oliver Fine Jewelry (Elgin, Hamilton, and Bulova Watches, Parker Pens) Phone 297
Cox Dry Good Company (Latest Fashions)
Plemmons Bros. (Firestone Tires, Appliances) Phone 285
Dierk's Lumber & Coal Company (We carry a wide variety of general merchandise) Forester, Arkansas
Harris Motor Company (Ford Sales and Service) Phone 155
Jones Grocery (Freezer Lockers, Fresh Vegetables) Phone 267
Hughes Insurance Agency (M.C. Bird, Manager) Phone 333
O.B. Coley (Ready-to-wear, Dry Goods) Phone 140
J.C. Rawlings General Merchandise (Ladies Wear)  Phone 253
Rice Funeral Home and Burial Society (Ambulance) Day Phone 95, Night Phone 171
Dr. R.R. Wilson, Dentist
Waldron Flower and Gift Shop (Phone 400, South Courthouse Square)
Duncan Motor Company (Studebaker Dealer) Phone 345
The Bulldog Staff

The following individuals were listed on a page called "Bulldog Boosters":
Irene Cherry
Hubert Cherry
Dale Millard
Fish McGaugh
Joe Dean Tinder
Lester L. Denton
Bob Bottoms
Knox Dozier
Windell Henderson
Ernest Terry
Si Rice
Lenard Rodgers
Etta V. Condry
Howard H. Brown
H.S. Gentz
Isom Crutchfield
Cecil Newman
Luella Rawlings
Spot Harberson
Mary Ruth Taylor
W.J. Rimmer
Norman Goodner
Gene Davidson
John Black
Lex Sanders

A time when phone numbers consisted of three digits, when you had more clothing and dry good stores than grocery stores, when you called the funeral home if you needed an ambulance, and when you could go downtown and check out all the new Studebakers.  What a time it must have been!

By the way, here's the results of the 1950 Waldron High School Bulldog Football Team, coached by L.R. Sawyer and Wilson Kell:

Waldron 25, Alma 0
Waldron 77, Ozark 0
Waldron 40, Fort Smith "B" 7
Waldron 26, Booneville 0
Waldron 25, Ark. Deaf School 12
Waldron 45, Paris 0
Waldron 7, Greenwood 7
Waldron 34, Mansfield 7
Waldron 19, Mena 0
Waldron 13, Hartford 6 (Homecoming)

Team Roster:

Bill Davis
"Bush" McGaugh
Bobby Oliver
Pat McQuery
Don Sevier
John Evans
Billy Bobbitt
Sam Allen
Gene Harberson
Don Webb
Charles Kitchens
Leon Bobbitt
Dale Huddleston
Junior Hall
Kenneth Vanderpool
Paul Cash
Paul Beverly
William Stout
Jeired Hill
Junior Speaks
Gene Stewart
Bobby Evatt
Billy Sanders
Clyde Weir
Harold Oliver
John Evatt - Manager
Joe Edd Hawkins - Manager

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend Special: The Old School

It was even before my time.  My only memory of the old High School was when they were leveling the hill upon which it formerly resided to make a space to build what would become the "new" first and second grade building (now the Waldron branch of Rich Mountain Community College). 

But I've heard stories about the fire.  Daddy was Fire Chief that cold winter night when the old school building burned down.  When he came home after fighting the fire, he had icicles hanging from his clothing.

I guess maybe it served as the Junior High after the new High School was built; not sure about that.  But I think my brothers were in Jr. High when they spent a year or two riding the school bus to Boles, going to school there until the new Jr. High was added on to the High School.

Do you have a memory of the old school?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hey Janet, It's Thedy Sue Hill

 It was a particular episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour that haunted us.  This particular episode was called The Jar.  Inside "the jar" was some indeterminate thing, the only somewhat recognizable part being what looked a great deal like an eye.  In the show, a country bumpkin named Charlie Hill (played by Pat Buttram, Mr. Haney from Green Acres) goes to a carnival and is so intrigued by this side show exhibit that he buys it and takes it home. 

Waiting at home for hapless Charlie is his beautiful wife, Thedy Sue Hill. Thedy Sue is somewhat wrapped up in herself, and loves her hair ribbon embossed with her name. She is also unfaithful to Charlie, and never misses an opportunity to ridicule him. When she sees the mysterious glob in the jar and learns that he paid money for it, she becomes angry at Charlie's stupidity.

 Charlie's neighbors, however, are fascinated by the jar.  Everyone who looks at it sees something different.  Some see horror, while others see beauty.  Every night, a crowd of people come to see the jar, which makes Charlie feel like a big man, but makes Thedy Sue jealous.  She is furious that they are paying attention to Charlie and not her.  So, in a fit of anger, she destroys the contents of the jar.  Charlie, however, has gotten used to being the center of attention, and is not happy that Thedy Sue has destroyed his claim to fame.

So, the next night, when everyone is over to look at the jar, a little girl is staring at the contents and comments on the pretty ribbon that appears to be part of the mysterious glob.  At that point, to everyone's complete horror, they discover that inside the jar now is THE HEAD OF THEDY SUE HILL!!!

This episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour aired on February 14, 1964.  You can watch it here on Hulu.  I highly recommend it if you have an hour to spare; it's quite good.  However, it scared the bejeebers out of Janet and me.  Her, I think, possibly more than me.  I guess it was the eye thing that stared out of the jar that got us.  In light of that, my brothers, never ones to miss an opportunity, discovered that whenever the famous CBS "eye" logo came on the screen, they could shout "Thedy Sue Hill!" and Janet would collapse onto the floor in a fit of fear and anger, much to the amusement of those watching.  Since our only TV channel, Channel 5, showed a lot of CBS programs, a great portion of the year of 1964 was spent making Janet freak out over the CBS eye. 

Another Channel 5 favorite was The Twilight Zone.  I still love watching that show today; I believe that in terms of overall quality, it was possibly the most well-written television show ever.  That was largely due to the chain-smoking host and writer, Rod Serling.  The beauty of The Twilight Zone was that in every episode, there was always a twist at the end that you didn't see coming.  It also featured some social commentary interwoven into the plot.  A great example of this is the episode called The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, in which the invading aliens stand back and watch as a neighborhood destroys itself due to fear and prejudice.  And the episode called The Hitchhiker literally sends chills down my spine every time I watch it.

But, to temper the truly scary stuff, networks also had a little fun with our fear.  The Munsters and The Addams Family both featured mildly scary families who were comically oblivious to their differences with the rest of us.  You could also go down to Parsley's and buy plastic models of monsters to put together just like the model cars that my brothers loved to assemble, which made them seem a little less scary.  After all, if it came from Parsley's, it couldn't be anything bad!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekend Special: Bohnstein Hill

This old postcard from 1951 features a view overlooking Waldron from the top of Bohnstein Hill.  This panoramic view of Waldron greets visitors coming in from the south.  This picture appears to have been taken from the parking lot of Epperson's station. 

Immediately to the south of this spot, veering off of 71, Featherston Street begins.  As kids, we would sometimes ride our bikes to this spot (or push; we never actually made it all the way up the hill) and coast down all the way to the four-way stop at Featherston and 8th. 

This postcard was sent by "The Orrs" to Mr. and Mrs. H.T. Johnson in McPherson, Kansas.  The Orrs reported the following:

Eating breakfast at Crutchfield Cafe at 10:00 a.m.  Stopped at farm a minute.  Be home about 3:00 p.m.  Your place is so pretty, wish you were here with us.  We are just across the street from Dozier's Store.  Try and see you soon.  Love, The Orrs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Remember the Red River Valley

Lack of talent never kept me from singing.  As I once mentioned in a previous post, I can recall standing in my front yard at about age six singing "My Darling Clementine" at the top of my lungs.  The purpose of this impromptu performance was my realization that it would be mildly funny to sing that song loud enough that our neighbor, Clemmie Bobbitt, would hear it.  Clemmie, evidently, did not hear it, or if she did, she failed to make the tenuous connection that it was in fact directed at her. 

Another favorite that we often sang as a public performance was a little ditty that we referred to as "The Comet Song."  It was sung to the tune of the famous "whistling" theme from the movie "Bridge on the River Kwai," or for those not familiar with that great movie, to the tune of something like "da-da, da da da DA DA DA."

Comet, will make your mouth turn green,
Comet, it tastes like gas-o-line,
Comet...will make you vomit,
So get some Comet, and vomit, to-day.

A true classic.  Every kid in my neighborhood knew that song, and couldn't help but join in whenever it was performed.  Another all-time favorite was sung to the tune of "The Old Gray Mare," and went like this...

Great green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts,
Marinated monkey meat,
Thirty dirty birdy feet.
French fried eyeballs rollin' in a bowl of blood,
And I forgot my spoon.

Always a crowd pleaser.  But our performances were not just limited to song; this spoken-word recitation was an important part of our repertoire...

One bright day in the middle of the night
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
Came and shot the two dead boys.
If you don't believe this lie is true,
Ask the blind man; he saw it too.

We loved the incongruity of the words in that little poem. 

In addition to our impromptu neighborhood performances, we also participated in formal music programs at school.  We had two different music teachers during our elementary years; Mildred Laird and Callie Adams.  I can't remember exactly which grades each one taught, but I believe that it was Mrs. Adams who was directing the spring music recital that was to feature me in a rather prominent role.

Unfortunately, this was not a singing role.  As good as I was, I was just not quite up to performance level.  However, one of my classmates, Wilma Jones, was given a solo to sing.  She would be singing "The Red River Valley," that classic of Western song, with a minor lyric change, from "...and remember the Red River Valley, and the cowboy that loved you so true." to "...and the cowgirl that loved you so true."

One afternoon, during rehearsal, I found myself with an assigned part in the performance.  Mrs. Adams had selected me, upon the completion of Wilma's song, to step up to center stage and jab my left elbow out and escort Wilma back to her place in the group.  What an honor!  Mrs. Adams, I assumed, had given consideration to this decision by thinking, "Now, I need to select the most handsome boy in the group for this important task; now let's see, who should it be?  Ah yes! Billy Yates!  Of course!"  Actually, what Mrs. Adams was in reality thinking was more like, "Let's see, Wilma is kind of tall, so which of these boys would be tall enough?  Oh, I guess that Yates kid will do."

Of immediate concern was the fact that, as Wilma's Escort, I would need to wear a sport coat, an article of apparel that I did not possess.  So, Mama made a quick call to the Brigance family, who were her cousins, and I was able to borrow a sport coat from my second cousin Richard.

So, my ensemble complete, I was ready for the performance.  And I guess it went well.  I don't remember a lot about it, but I do specifically recall walking up to Wilma, delicately extending my left elbow, and deftly escorting her back to her spot.  I did receive some ribbing afterward about my "girlfriend," but I'm sure those in attendance that night recall it as the highlight of the performance.

I'm reminded of this quite often...every morning, to be exact.  My wife has a little clock that she bought at a thrift store several years ago, and it sits on our bathroom counter.  Every morning, at 6:00, the alarm goes off, and the alarm is an electronic version of Red River Valley.  Since, in seven years, neither of us has been able to figure out how to turn the alarm off, that song has now been imprinted in my psyche so strongly that I doubt that I could function if I didn't hear it. 

Yes, I guess Waldron was my Red River Valley.  And this little cowboy loved it, so true.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekend Special: Methodist and Baptist Churches

We kept a permanent path cut through the northeast corner of the Methodist Church yard, where we would always cut the corner on our walks to town or school.  It seems I can vaguely remember the dome on top of the Baptist Church, but I don't remember it in later years.   Was it removed at some point before the church was torn down?

These two wonderful churches had a lasting impact on many generations of Waldron families.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Adventures in Physical Education

Looking back, it was possibly one of the worst decisions I ever made.  Our sixth grade year was drawing to a close, and excitement was in the air as representatives from Junior High came to each sixth grade classroom to sign us up for our classes for next year.  Junior High!  Changing classes!  Lockers!  The excitement was palpable, and caught up in the moment, I signed up for football like most of the other guys in Mrs. Smoot's room.  But then, as the long hot summer wore on, my old nemesis, self-doubt, begin to creep in and take hold.  Football?  What was I thinking?  I was a pudgy little guy, and I began to seriously doubt my ability to make it through the practice sessions.  Athletic prowess had never been my strong suit, and although I tried to convince myself otherwise, I was unable to shake the apprehension I felt about football.  So, there was nothing left to do but bail.  So, in a decision that I have forever regretted, I sat down and composed a letter to Mr. Rackley, the Jr. High principal, requesting that he change my schedule from football to PE.  So, when we picked up our schedules at the beginning of school, I was no longer participating in football.

One of the first orders of business for those of us participating in PE was the purchase of our official PE uniform.  The PE uniform was actually a stunning orange and black t-shirt and shorts combo, with "Waldron" emblazoned across the front.  We also were responsible for purchasing a pair of Keds, and we were strongly encouraged to dedicate them exclusively to PE so as to not bring dirt and pebbles onto the gym floor from general purpose wearing.  My first PE teacher was Mr. Porter, who was one of the coaches.  I don't remember him after seventh grade; it is possible that he decided to pursue a less stressful career, like monkey dresser for a traveling circus or something. 

Actually, Mr. Porter was not my first PE teacher.  When I was in sixth grade, in the spring of that year, the Waldron School District, in a move way ahead of its time, hired a PE teacher for upper elementary students.  Carolyn Hill taught PE classes once a week or so to Mrs. Smoot's class and all the other fifth and sixth grade classes.  Carolyn was a great PE teacher who made physical activity fun, which is so very important to creating good lifelong exercise skills.  She also taught us content as well, and I remember taking written tests and writing "Fizz Ed" across the top of the paper.

But, back to seventh grade.  Ah, those uniforms.  We tried to take them home every Friday to have them washed, but occasionally someone would forget and they would be left in our lockers to ferment.  I remember one particular unnamed student who made it a matter of pride to see how long he could go without taking his uniform home to be washed.  He finally had to give in when the paint started peeling from the interior of his locker.

Every morning in PE, we would begin with a series of tortuous exercises designed to break the spirit of even the most ardently dedicated prisoner of war.  My particular favorite was the leg lift, in which we would lie on our back and elevate our feet about 6 inches off the gym floor.  Mr. Porter would give the command, "Up," and we would hold our legs in that elevated position until we heard the command "Down," which would come at some interminable length of time later.  Mr. Porter, prone to occasional flights of fancy, would sometimes become lost in revelry between the two commands, only to be brought back to consciousness by the sound of guttural moans.  Then, on a particularly good day, we would proceed over to two specific physical education devices, the peg board and the climbing rope.  Here is a video of someone climbing a pegboard properly.  Ours was not as big as the one in the video, and a few of the guys could actually climb it, but I was never able to advance past the first peg.  As a matter of fact, I was never able to pull the first peg out while I was still hanging on to it.  Mr. Porter would usually let those of us less able hang there until it was painfully obvious to everyone concerned that there would be no rapid procession up the peg board, and then we would hop down and make way for the next poor slob.  After being sufficiently publicly humiliated on the peg board, we would then step over to one of the two ropes hanging from the gym ceiling.  The ropes had knots tied in them every few feet to theoretically make it easier to climb.  To properly climb the rope, you were to grasp the rope firmly with both hands and then proceed to pull yourself up, hand-over-hand, until you reached the gym ceiling.  There, the astute climber would slap the ceiling joist on which the rope was attached and proceed rapidly back down the rope.  If you were really good, you would extend your legs out perpendicular to your body as you climbed, making no use of the knots tied in the rope.  Again, upon my turn, I would advance to the rope in a confident manner similar to that with which wrestling champion Danny Hodge would advance upon Crazy Chuck Karbo, and then firmly grasp the rope with both hands as I jumped up as high as I could, and then hang there pitifully, unable to pull my body even as much as an inch up the rope.  Amid shouts of encouragement mixed with derision, I would mightily try to pull myself up until, resigned to my fate, I would drop sheepishly back onto the floor, and someone else would get to try.

But it wasn't all bad.  Some days, after our spirit-breaking exercise routine, we would get to play a game we called Bombardo.  The half court stripe on the gym floor would be lined with small rubber utility balls, and two teams would be lined up on opposite sides of the gym floor, facing the half court line.  Upon a signal, each team would run as fast as they could to half court, and grab a utility ball and try to hit someone from the other team.  If you got hit yourself, you were out of the game.  The game would continue until the inevitable scenario where one team had only one player left, and the other team had four or five, and the subsequent slaughter would be great spectacle.  Those little balls left huge bruises, which became a source of pride for weeks thereafter.

Another fun activity was the trampoline.  Backyard trampolines were unheard of back in those days, so the trampoline in the gym was an exotic device to us.  We were taught three basic moves:  The seat drop, the knee drop, and the forward flip.  I was completely adept at two of those moves.  My seat drop and knee drop were things of beauty, but propelling myself into space while contorting my body to land upright was a bit out of my league. 

I guess I took PE most every year.  Later on, when I was in high school, I had a few more skills but was still no great athlete.  But I was tall, and I remember one particular time when we were playing basketball, I was having pretty good luck with my shots.  This resulted in Perry Atchley, who was on the opposing team, uttering a phrase that was never heard before and has never been heard since.  "Watch Yates," Perry said. 

But back to that letter I wrote Mr. Rackley.  What if I'd never sent it?  What could have been?  I can see it now.  Under the proper tutalage of the Waldron coaching staff, I would have excelled as an athlete.  With my size and excellent hand-eye coordination, I would have been quickly moved from linebacker to tight end.  Excelling at that position and being almost singlehandedly responsible for our undefeated season as a senior, I would have been offered a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas.  Impressing the coaches during my freshman redshirt season, I'm given a tryout at quarterback.  Although having never played that position, my impressive throwing distance and dead-on accuracy are quicky brought to the attention of Frank Broyles.  I'm summoned to his office, where I find him along with the assistant coaching staff.  "Boys," Frank intones.  "I wont yall to know that we've just found our new quawt-ah-back.  Somebody go break it to Calcagni." 

Ah, what might have been. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Weekend Special: Crutchfield's

It was a rare treat back in the '60's to get to go to Crutchfield's for a meal.  Usually, we only went when we had some out-of-town company.  

I remember the booths had those little juke boxes at each table, and it was a thrill to put in your dime and get to hear your selection played.  That, plus some really great food, made Crutchfield's Cafe a special place.