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.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Growing Up In Waldron Book Is Now Available!

It's here!  I've been working on this little project for the past several months.  This book is a compilation of 33 stories taken from the Growing Up In Waldron blog, along with about 16 black and white photographs.  It includes favorites like Edgar Floyd and Streeter, Parsley's Store, A Few Folks From Church, Lunch At The Candy Store, The Green Stamps Are Mine, and many more!  The book is soft cover, measures 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches, and is 136 pages long.

For ordering information, please contact me at popboomus@yahoo.com
I hope you have as much fun reading this book as I did putting it together.  Maybe it will bring to mind a few of your own happy memories of Growing Up In Waldron.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Reunion

Okay, it's been a really busy weekend, so for this week's installment, I'm taking the easy way out and importing a post from my other blog, the WHS Class of '74 blog.  These are pictures from our 35th reunion summer before last.  I'll have an original post next week.  I hope.  So, let this post be a celebration of great friends.

By the way, I'll have big news here later in the week, like maybe Thursday or Friday.  Check back then.  Till then, enjoy the pictures...

The whole Hee-Haw gang...

Larry Jo proposes!

Don and Terry Jones, Glenda Black Woodard, Pam and Myrtie Owens, Reggie and Janet Owens

Susan Graves Fisher and her husband, Freddy and Cheryl Ridenhour, Cathy Newberry Keener, Keith Willsey, Bill and Marilyn Yates

Cheryl Zimmer Berkshire, Beverly Wagner ........, Larry Jo Crump and his fiance

Marcus and Susan Richmond, Mike Lee, Eddie and Shara Saucier

Harold Musgrove, Pat Johnson Ward, Darryl Crotts, Pat Ray Biggs, Randy Bottoms

Tuny Puckett Hunt, Argie Franklin Nichols, Bert Wayne Vines, Vickie Rice Head, Jimmy and Patricia Deer

Karen and Steve Williams and Larry and Mary Hargrove

Cathy Newberry Keener, Karen Boren Williams, Janet Woodard Owens

Vicki Rice Head, Karen Boren Williams, Mary Hutchens Hargrove, Janet Woodard Owens

Earon Patrick and Marcus Richmond.  A few months after the reunion, we got word that Earon had passed away.

Kenneth and Susan Hunt

Pat Johnson Ward and Daryl Crotts

Pat Ray Biggs and Gerri House Biggs

Shara Harrison Saucier, Jimmy Deer, Patricia Jones Deer, Reggie Owens, Susan Graves Fisher, Terri Watkins Jones, Tuny Puckett Hunt

Gerri House Biggs and Shara Harrison Saucier

Freddy Ridenhour and Myrtie Owens

Cathy Newberry Keener and Susan Graves Fisher

Joe Stearman and Shirley Gregory Matthews

Tuny Puckett Hunt and Mike Lee

Susan Graves Fisher, Marilyn Ferguson Yates, Janet Woodard Owens, Pam Wadkins Owens, Teri Watkins Jones, Tuny Puckett Hunt, Janet Yates Musgrove, Karen Boren Williams, Cathy Newberry Keener, Pat Johnson Ward

Janet Woodard Owens, Pam Wadkins Owens, Teri Watkins Jones, Janet Yates Musgrove

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekend Special: Easter Sunday

Okay, it's Easter Weekend.  So, do what I, my twin sister Janet, and our neighbors Harold Dean and Kizzie Mae Mills did...get all spruced up and go to church!  Hey, for that matter, you don't even really have to get all spruced up to go to church.  I mean, it's not really about the Easter Bunny, is it?

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'll Be A Hornswaggled Mule

Inez Neal was my ninth grade algebra teacher.  When I had Mrs. Neal's class in 1970, she was already a veteran teacher.  It surely took someone of great inner resolve to teach algebra to reluctant ninth graders, and Mrs. Neal was obviously such a person.  She was demanding but fair, qualities that are essential to any excellent teacher.  She was all business for the most part; although she did allow herself the luxury of a bottle of Dr. Pepper which she kept on her desk for occasional sips, much to the chagrin of her thirsty pupils.

Occasionally, Mrs. Neal would demonstrate a problem on the board, carefully explaining the steps as she worked them out.  She would meticulously explain exactly what she was doing and why, going slow enough for us to copy the steps down as she worked them out.  Then, at that penultimate moment when she reached the final step, before she wrote down the answer, she would turn to face the class and ask us to state the final answer to the problem.  This completely reasonable request would most often be met with silence.  A look of shock would fall upon Mrs. Neal's face.  She would then begin to call on individual students to state the answer.  This would also result in blank stares, and more silence.  Mrs. Neal, exasperated, would then lay her piece of chalk on her desk and, nearly in a state of collapse, would remark, "Well...I'll be a hornswaggled mule!"

None of us knew exactly what a hornswaggled mule was, but to a person we knew it was a condition to be avoided.  Mrs. Neal, after her pronouncement, would somehow summon the strength to pick her chalk back up, turn, and would, with the resolve of a heavyweight contender answering the bell and going back for another round against Muhammad Ali, return to the board and work another problem. 

Somehow, against all odds, Mrs. Neal managed to teach us algebra.  And she also managed to build a relationship with each of us.  We knew she meant business, and we knew we couldn't go into her classroom and goof off, because we respected her.  She was fair, and she had high expectations of us, and we did our best to meet those expectations.

Another memorable teacher we had back in junior high was Harlan Hawkins.  Mr. Hawkins was our seventh grade science teacher.  On the first day of class, he told us a very profound thing.  He said that if someone came in and told him he needed to eat a bale of hay, he would do it.  But, he said, no one could  sit down and eat a bale of hay all at once.  However, if you fixed a plate, and put some roast beef, and corn, and mashed potatoes and gravy, and put a couple of strands of the hay in with the mashed potatoes, you could probably eat that with no problem.  Then, if you did that every day, and ate just a few strands of hay at a time, by the end of the year you would have finished off the entire bale of hay.  That, he said, was the approach we were going to take to what we needed to learn in science that year.

I also remember a little science demonstration that we did.  Mr. Hawkins had a little hand crank generator, the kind with the crank attached to a copper coil that spins inside a set of horseshoe magnets when you crank it, generating a weak electrical current.  He had the entire class form a circle, holding hands, with two people touching both contacts on the generator.  As Mr. Hawkins cranked the generator, we felt a tingle as the tiny electrical current passed through our bodies from one person to the next.  We understood electrical circuits because we were one!

Years later, when I myself was a science teacher, I tried the same demonstration.  I had a little generator like Mr. Hawkins', but mine had a light bulb at the end which you could light up by cranking the generator.  As I was showing this to my students, I remembered Mr. Hawkins' demonstration.  So, I had the students get in a circle, had the two at the ends to touch the contact points on the generator, and I slowly cranked.  "Do you feel anything?"  I asked my students.  "No," they replied in unison.  I knew I was generating come current, because the light bulb was lighting up.  So, I cranked a bit more forcefully.  "Now?" I asked.  "No, still nothing."   So, I cranked with all my strength.  "How...about...now?"  I inquired between breaths.  The students, bored and losing interest, again replied in the negative.

Then it occurred to me what might be the problem.  Mr. Hawkins' generator didn't have a light bulb.  Maybe that bulb was using up so much of the juice I was generating, there was nothing left to complete the "human" circuit.  I removed the light bulb and persuaded my bored and no longer interested students to join hands again.  I gave the generator a hearty one-fourth turn crank.

The sound of 25 eleven-year-olds screaming in unison is a rather jarring sound.  It's the kind of sound that gets your attention, that makes your brain stop and say, "Hey, pause, figure this out."  It's the kind of sound that will make a person stop in mid-crank.  Fortunately, that's what I did.  My little generator was working fine now.  Quite effectively, in fact.  My students, trusting little ones that they were, thought the shock was planned and were actually quite impressed.  They didn't know that I was actually hoping for a much less impressive experience.

After about 40 years, I finally googled "hornswaggled."  It means to trick or confuse.  Oh my, I can think of a lot of times in the past 40 years when I must have been in a "hornswaggled" condition.  But those are stories for another day; right now, I'm still working on polishing off my bale of hay.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Great Sixth Grade Home Run

There's just something about recess in the spring.  The freedom of going outside and expending vast amounts of energy in the perfect springtime air, after spending most of the morning in the classroom staring out the window, was a wonderful feeling.  And in the spring, Waldron kids, like kids all over America, started thinking about baseball.

There were three sixth grade classrooms at Waldron.  My teacher was Mrs. Smoot; there was also Mrs. Bethel's class and Miss Chiles' class.  Somehow most of the members of those three classrooms managed to form into two teams for recess baseball.  Never mind that you had an outfield consisting of twelve or thirteen people; that was OK.  It did mean, however, that your times at bat were often few and far between.

My normal position was part of the mass of humanity in the outfield.  Let me state at the outset that I was not a particularly gifted athlete.  At the Weekly Reader Word Comprehension test, I was a champion.  But on the playground, I could often be found chasing after baseballs that had gotten past me, and then hurling them with all my might, often to another outfielder stationed closer to the action.

And, when I did get a chance to bat, the results were unspectacular.  Coupled with my minimal athleticism was the fact that I had just started wearing glasses and had not completely adjusted to my diminished peripheral vision.   So, the occasional hit that I did get lacked power, which resulted in the dreaded spectacle of seeing most of the twelve outfielders move in closer to the infield whenever I came up to bat. 

The games were ongoing, played in 20-30 minute segments from recess to recess.  The batting lineup was fixed in everyone's mind, so even though you might not come up to bat for several days, you always knew when it was getting close to your turn.  The score was inconsequential; I think we kept score mentally but no one really paid that much attention to it.

So it was on that particular spring day, that it was getting closer and closer to another at-bat for me.  I waited patiently in line as batters before me took their turns.  We were co-ed, and many of the girls were excellent players.  One by one, the kids before me in line had their turns, and finally, I was up.

I looked out over the field.  We played in the part of the playground that was just west and south of the Forrester building.  Later, the district built a building there that housed a new cafeteria and fourth grade classrooms, but at this time it was all playground.  And it wasn't very flat; the batter was stationed at the top of a slope near the building, and the outfield was lower and to the southeast.  I watched as the outfielders slowly crept up closer to me; obviously, their expectations of my success were moderate at best.  Of course, I understood, because MY expectations of my success were equally moderate.  A few pitches got by me; there were no called strikes but a foul ball did count as a strike.  But this day, I had no fouls, just a missed swing.  But I waited.  I'm not sure what I was waiting for, but I waited.  Finally, a pitch came that looked good, and I swung mightily.  But this time, instead of the "whish" sound that I was used to, I heard instead a reverberating "CRACK."  I had hit the ball perfectly; it powered off the bat like a rocket.  I immediately tossed the bat and started sprinting to first base.  I watched in amazement as the ball flew over the heads of the incredulous outfielders, and couldn't help but chuckle to myself as they turned and started chasing the ball, like I had done so many times before.

I didn't slow down as I rounded first, keeping my eye on the outfielders and seeing that they were still running.  I rounded second and headed for third.  At this point I made a curious observation.  The outfielders were now running with me.  A look of consternation crossed my face; true, I'd never rounded second and headed for third before, but I was pretty sure it was normally a solo endeavor.  As I approached third, it occurred to me why I had people running with me.  They were actually headed back into the building.  The bell had rung, and recess was over! 

Wait!  Wait!  I'm finishing up!  I'm almost home!  That was the inner conversation I was having with myself.  But it was to no avail; my home run had been circumvented by the recess bell, so nobody was there to see my triumphant crossing of home plate.  But I did it anyway, even if I was the last person in from recess.  And so, in my moment of triumph, there was no one there but me to see it. 

The intervening years have been filled with both home runs and strikeouts, for all of us I'm sure.  And if you're like me, there were probably more people around to see the strikeouts than the home runs.  But at the end of the day, it's not really the strikeouts or the homers that matter.  It's the game.  It's getting outside with your friends and yelling and running and laughing, and making memories.  It's knowing that sometimes you're going to hit the ball and sometimes you're not, but no matter what, you're going to have fun.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.  Dang that recess bell.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Weekend Special: Scob Your Noggin

Gene and me, taken moments after a noggin scobbing.
My brothers were firm believers in the importance of scobbing the noggin of Little Billy.  To be precise, to scob someone's noggin consisted of placing the recipient in a good-natured headlock with the left arm, and then rubbing the aforementioned recipient's head vigorously with the knuckles of the right hand.  This resulted in great mirth and amusement all around. 

It was one of those things that bonded brothers together.  At least that's what they told me...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Weekend Special: Now Showing At The Scott

Continuing my recent theme of being 5 years ahead of my time, let's take a look at our movie options for June, 1951, down at the Scott...

Four different movies to pick from during any given week.  Remember, always cool comfort at The Scott.