Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Arwood and Dwaine

(Originally run 1/8/04 on our old site)

Ernie Simpson

It was Arwood Helms and Dwaine Southard who were killed in an accident in a ’51 Ford convertible heading south of Pangburn on highway 16, the summer of 1955. They were both seventeen. Dwaine died instantly, the date was July 30. Arwood lived a few days and passed away on August 7.

The story is, they were coming over the top of the curve towards Searcy at Four Mile Hill each time at a faster and faster speed. They had some kind of record they were trying to break, everyone figures, and this time they lost control, and rolled the car several times. I don’t recall if it was determined who was driving, but the top was down and all three were ejected from the car.

I had been putting up baled hay south of town that day with our hay-hauling crew of high school buddies, and we had just finished a field of almost 1,000 bales. Robin Moore along with Norman Richards, George Payne, Dan Randle and me in the crew finished around 2:00 a.m. Hay can only be put up from around noon until dew settles, in order to keep from putting away damp hay, and I was glad to be heading home.

Driving north on Main towards home, I saw the lights, wrecker, several people and police on the corner of Main and Race Street at Truman Baker Chevrolet. I stopped and went over, the car was there in the lot, and a small crowd was gathered looking at it. The windshield posts were in fragments, and the doors, hood and trunk were battered from end to end. I asked what happened, and a wrecker driver explained what they thought happened and who was killed.

I turned immediately got in my truck and drove home. I woke Dad up, and told him what happened. Arwood was a cousin by marriage and a classmate. We had just finished our sophomore year at Searcy High. Both Dwaine and Arwood Helms are buried at Holly Springs Cemetery in the northern part of White County. Both teen-agers were good guys; Arwood was the quiet one of the two.

Tragedy in our high school days was rare, but somehow it lingers even after close to fifty
years later.

Ernie adds:

Although interesting, I have found this piece to be slightly inaccurate....I called Jerry Huntsman, indeed he was in a wreck with FOUR GUYS in the 60's (or 70's he said, maybe) south of Pangburn, two were killed, two lived. The four were; James Kirk; Don English; Frankie Feltrop; and Jerry Huntsman. Jerry has short term memory loss still, I can tell by talking to him and is still not completely back.

Tom Pry

Highway 16 killed a number of SHS students. For some reason, its hills and turns represented an invitation to Stupid Driving. At one time, in the early 50s, we had a couple of students who were school bus drivers. They got canned from the job when they were reported for side-by-side racing of their loaded buses on that road. This ban stayed in place until my senior year (55-56), when I spent several months driving a split route .. NOT on Highway 16.

Several of my younger sister’s classmates were killed in an accident on that stretch, too, in the latter 50s.

FOOTNOTE: We note, with deep regret, the passing from this life of MAURICE THOMPSON, father of our friend, Frank. In his 90s when he died earlier this week, Maurice was a good businessman and father, and treated his sons’ friends like members of the family when they were around the house.

Incidentally, while I live here in Searcy, news of his death started with Jo Ann Roth in Jonesboro, e-mailing to Elois Bleidt in Hot Springs Village, who forwarded the news to Ernie Simpson in Jonesboro who, finally, sent it to me, here in Searcy.

What did we do before e-mail?


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