Friday, May 20, 2005


(Originally run 11/15/03 on the old site)

Harold Gene Sullivan has joined our little cyberparty, and contributes these thoughts:

I had a little more contact with "colored" than you. A special memory and a great and important lesson was from D.D. Young's mother. D.D. lived at the corner of College and West Pleasure, which was on the edge of the colored part of town. (Editor’s note: this is one block north of where Ollie Mae’s last surviving daughter, Jenny, lives). Anyway, there was an open lot next to their house which we used to play baseball in. Some of the colored kids would see us playing and would come over to watch. Mrs. Young made us always let them play ball with us. That was unusual and that's why it has always stuck with me. This was my first real experience with colored kids on an equal basis, and I learned they were just people.

I had lots of other contacts, too, since my dad sold Pepsi to colored stores but, then, the interaction wasn't on an equal basis. I do believe that race relations were starting to change even before the federal government got involved. I know that the older generation believed in strict segregation, but our generation was starting to question it. You were right, it was hard to get good answers. I went to Hendrix College in 1953-6, and there was a lot of discussion about the morality of having a Christian (Methodist) segregated college. I'm sure that changes would have happened without federal involvement, just much, much slower.

Your small town bus story reminded me of this: I married a girl from McRae, Julia Carolyn Cranford, a cousin of Gloria Cranford (now, sadly, deceased). For many years, she took off Friday afternoon from school and caught the bus to Searcy from McRae. She took music from Mrs. Ward on Center Street. Then Julia would catch the bus back to McRae.

It is hard to imagine that today one would go to that much trouble, not to mention letting a little girl make those trips by herself. But that really was a different time.

I love your old band stories. The trips were some of the greatest times. Hot Springs was the highlight of the year.

One year, we went up to a band festival at the University of Arkansas. The boys, at least some of us, stayed in a long room filled with bunk beds. The room had a dogleg in the middle.

Near the back of the room, where you couldn’t be seen from the door, we got into a big pillow fight and had feathers spread 6 inches deep all over the floor. About then, Bill Laas came by for the nightly bed check. We turned out the lights in that back area and he stopped, and talked to some of the guys in the front part. Anyway, for some reason, instead of coming back where we were, he just called roll from the front of the room. Lucky we were all there and answered. We just knew we were in a lot of trouble.

If the University ever contacted him about the broken pillows, we never heard about it.

Another memorable trip was to the Texas State Fair in Dallas. Our routine was “Ghost Riders in the Sky”. Mr. Laas had made all the props.

I got my name written on a grain of rice. I kept that in my wallet for many, many years.

I remember the crossing gate where the old Hwy 67 crossed the tracks on what is now S. Elm. The gate was unusual because it rose out of the street with lighted words on it (I don't remember the words). One day, my dad in his Pepsi truck was just crossing and it and the sign came up and Dad couldn't stop. It was a real bump when he went over it, made lots of noise, but no damage.

My source material was not horribly specific about that first automatic crossing gate in the southwestern U.S. Putting it at what is now S. Elm and what is now Beebe-Capps makes more sense than present-day Main Street. It also explains the curved road from the south end of Elm onto Booth Street .. a la old 67.

Consider the crossing gate, dedicated in 1937 by the then-Governor, moved.

Now another newbie, Betty (Taylor) Emerson, is heard from:

I have loved reading and traveling down memory lane. Roland King sent me the e-mail today. I want to be added to your list you notify of updates. Thanks. I will notify Carl and Lucy Ann (McNeese) Wilson.

One more newbie, Dr. Wallace Evans (SHS Class of ’54) popped out of the blue to write:

As I get time, I will send you some stories. I also have some photos on my computer from a mini-meeting with 1954 classmates at Searcy this past April.

I live in Bella Vista, AR, now that I have retired from the U.S. Dept. of Interior (27 yrs.), and now find myself volunteering to advise Bella Vista Village on their 7 lakes (all of them have some pollution problems). Don Thompson, one of my classmates, just made me aware of your website. I have been working on the 1954 SHS class list for about a year and have 57 of the 60 classmates located in preparation of next spring's mailings. Seven of the graduates are deceased.

The Reunion was a success. See the photos at .

Here’s a funny coincidence for you. Part One is this note from Anita Hart Fuller:

Where did you get this latest pic of the band? Don Thompson???? Now that you've written about the coveralls, you MUST get Don's pic of Paula in hers. It's made from the back so as to show "Searcy High School Band" - great picture. I wish someone had a pic of ME marching in the band but, as far as I know, none exists.

Part Two is that, exactly five minutes BEFORE I got Anita’s note, I got one from Don Thompson, containing Anita’s requested picture. You two reading each other’s minds?

Anita also contributed:

One more remembrance about playing the string bass, two actually. I was so short I stood on a Coke case.

For one number in a concert, the string bass started it out, as a solo. To ensure I got my finger in the proper position, Mr. Laas put a piece of tape at the position......and marked it accordingly.

With new people suddenly piling in with us (glad to have you!), it’s worth repeating two points.

I’m the writer ONLY of those sections marked “SEARCY ’46-’56,” except as noted, and other places where it’s obvious. I am ALSO the Editor of the rest. Unlike a teacher, an editor doesn’t grade: just quietly corrects or, sometimes, adjusts to fit his/her own grammatical prejudices. This is the long way ‘round of saying: you send me the story, and I’ll make sure no one knows you were asleep in English or typing class that day.

If you want to get a message to one of our contributors, send it to me here on the site, and I’ll see that they get it. IF they then want to give you their personal e-mail address, that’s their choice. NO ONE’S e-mail address will be indiscriminately posted on the web or in mass mailings. P.S. Be sure you include your own e-mail address.


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