Sunday, July 31, 2005


(Originally run 2/10/04 on our old site)

Ann Shannon Snodgrass

Thank you, everyone; I appreciated hearing the real stories about Miss Thornton and Mrs. Moody. I remember my mother saying that Mrs. Moody had had a sad life but, until now, I didn’t know what was behind that statement. The sisters influenced me, too. Like Ernie, I became a teacher, teaching both high school and college-level English for a number of years. I also supervised education majors during their student teaching experiences. Once I heard myself tell a classroom of education majors: “Don’t try to be your students’ friend; you’re an adult, and you have adult friends. Instead, work to be a good example and provide the foundation that your high school students need.” Looking back, I’m grateful for the demands for excellence made on me by both ladies.

Jo Ann Roth

I just read about May Day.

I do not remember anything about May Day at Searcy schools, but I do remember going to Harding to the May Pole wrapping, and it was beautiful. It did look hard.

Janis Cantwell (re the Photo Fest)

I believe this was one of the Kiwanis minstrel shows. I'm curious as to the identity of the young girl in the picture. She's in several pictures I have from Mrs. Knox kindergarten, and from one of Trudy Blaes' dance recitals. Thanks for the info on the Mayday. We did have celebrations in public schools too but I believe it was short-lived.

The suggestion has been made that it might’ve been Sandy Laas, Bill Laas’ daughter. –tlp-

Dan E. Randle

(I told Dan about my father’s high school graduation where, after walking down from the stage, he went to where his mother was sitting, dropped his diploma in his mother’s lap with the cryptic comment, “Here, this is what you wanted.” At that point, he walked home, picked up his already-packed suitcase, walked to the bus station, and caught a Greyhound to Chicago. A couple of years later, of course, he met my mother there and, Ouila!, me. Thought Dan’s response was interesting enough to post here, showing just how far afield some of us have gone in our lives. –tlp-)

Your dad and I must have been a lot alike. I did the same thing: got my diploma, walked over to mother, gave it to her and told her the same thing, "Here's what you wanted," walked away and, within the week, was on a train for Dekalb, IL. Went there because Ernie S. had been there the summer before working for California Packing Co. The plan was for us to be working together. However, when I got there, Ernie had gotten another job out in town, making better money and having more fun.

Came back from Dekalb at the end of the summer, just in time to head for Miss. State. College. From then on, it was only coming back for visits, never living in Arkansas again.

I guess I can be classified as "The Arkansas Traveler!" Since then, I have lived in Mississippi, California, Hawaii, Virginia, Connecticut, New York, Oregon, and a summer in Texas. Of course, the Oregon coast is the best, because of the weather. In the middle of August, when it's so hot in the south, we have fires going at night. Most of the time, the temperature stays below 75 degrees. If it gets to 80, we're having a heat wave. The winters are mild most of the time -- above 40 degrees -- because of the cloud cover we have all winter. Every now and then the clouds go away and the temperature will drop into the 30's: that's a cold wave.

On the other hand, if you WANT snow, it's only a three hour drive. If you want to go fishing in the ocean, it’s a 30 minute drive. If you want to explore the Sand Dunes, it’s a 10 minute drive. If you want to go hunting, it’s a 15 Minute drive.

If ten cars are at a stop light, that’s a traffic jam.

I am in the outback of Oregon. The closest City (Eugene) is a two hour drive. To live in this area, you have to be able to make your own entertainment, otherwise you go crazy. If you see gray as another color of black you will also go crazy. You have to see gray as another color of white to be happy here.

Incidentally, have you ever lived in a state where it snows all winter long? After shoveling two cars out of the snow in New York, rain is a great relief. You don't have to shovel rain, it runs off on its own.

Tom Pry

As long as we’re talking about places we’ve lived, I’ll give you mine, without much in the way of explanation. Carry in mind, I’ve LIVED in these places for at least four months or longer; “just visits” don’t count. (As I told the Searcy Kiwanis in a speech I made to them 7/21/05, “I’ve lived in more places than most people have visited”).

Chicago, IL
Searcy, AR (of course)
Conway, AR
Ft. Polk, LA
New Rochelle/Ft. Slocum, NY
Seoul, Korea
Alexandria, VA
Greenwood, SC
Sumter, SC
Canton, GA
Atlanta, GA, plus suburbs Chamblee and Decatur
Miami, FL
Naples, FL
St. Petersburg, FL
Phoenix, AZ
Southfield, MI
Westland, MI
Canton, MI

And, finally, back here.

Can anybody top this?

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Tom Pry

A couple of things of interest, perhaps.

For one, in going thru my ASTC yearbook looking for something else, I stumbled across a photo of the late Billy Anderson and his then-girlfriend, Bettye West (both class of ’56). The processing date on it is the week of 2/14/55, so one should assume that to be a pretty accurate dating.

Sorry for the quality, but it was a very small picture.

Next, I was told today that Jimmy Lewis is not in the best of shape. As conveyed to me VIA THE RUMOR MILL (in other words, unverified), he was suffering from bleeding on the brain; doctors got that stopped, only to have Jimmy suffer a stroke. More as information is available. (I’d love to get a note from him quoting Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”).

From today’s paper:

Charles A. Lovell Sr., age 90 of Searcy, died Thursday, July 28, 2005. He worked as a general contractor, was a member of the Downtown Church of Christ for more than 60 years, a 33rd degree Mason, member of the Shriners, Order of the Eastern Star, Boy Scout Troop Leader, and a recipient of the Order of the Arrow. He is survived by one son, Charles A. Lovell, Jr. and wife Carol of Bakersfield, California; two daughters, Deanna Stuart of Sherwood, Lanay Northcutt and husband Marcus of Indianapolis, Indiana; four grandsons, Brett Stuart of Sherwood, Jeffery Lovell of San Diego, California, Drew Northcutt of Indianapolis, Alex Northcutt of Indianapolis. Visitation will be Saturday from 6 until 8 p.m. at Roller-Daniel Funeral Home. Funeral services will be Sunday at 2 p.m. at Downtown Church of Christ with interment to follow at Oak Grove Cemetery. To sign the online guestbook visit

The operative name in all this is Deanna Stuart, nee Deanna Lovell. In the screwy way of this world, when I went to work for Alltel, I one day found myself working with her son, Brett (a PC gnome). (The Wilma Morris referenced in the full obit is NOT Wilma Morris Shinley, “our” Wilma; just a coincidence of names).

Anyway, our sympathies go out to Deanna and her family. 90 years ain’t a bad run, though, you’ve got to admit.

And, finally …. Searcy has never had a TV station to call its very own. At one point, Cecil Fuller (if my fragile mind remembers correctly) filed for and received a CP (Construction Permit) for an LPTV (Low Powered Television) station, but that whole program, nationwide, pretty much failed to come to anything: I think there’s one LPTV on the air in the whole state, in Little Rock, surviving only because it’s on the cable and, with the other LR stations, now on both satellite services.

Meanwhile I was slaving in the depths of what, in the cable business, was called LO, for Local Origination on cable, and I’m happy to report that the systems with which I was affiliated did quite well at it, providing local programs in locales that couldn’t get their own broadcast TV stations.

Searcy has had TV3 for awhile, most recently bought by Crain Media. Passable quality and low standards, but they’re working on it. Crain owns KWCK and all but 3 of the on-air stations in the county, so there’s some moxie there, but one gets the impression they’re going through the motions (but it’ll cost you $5,000,000 to buy them out).

Monday, 8/1/05, TV6 will go officially on the cable: My Town TV, and their big winner is LIVE telecasting of Quorum Court, District Court, City Council, Beebe stock car races, sporting events, etc. They’ve got two microwave trucks and some really nice equipment. At any rate, Monday 8/1/05 is Open House from 4-5, followed immediately by the Lions Auction, a 3-day televised event.

Photo copyright 2005 - Tom Pry

If you’re on the cable system here, give TV6 a look: they’re already in business.

And that’s your Letter From Home.

Goober from
Traffic Barrel, AR

Friday, July 29, 2005

May Day Celebrations

(Run originally 2/5/04 on our old site)

Anita Hart Fuller

I think I might be able to answer whoever it is asking about May Day celebrations, but I'd need to check with a few people first, the main one being Paula Windsor Thompson and I think they are currently on a cruise, the lucky bums. I'm thinking we - at Searcy public schools - didn't ever celebrate May by winding the May Pole but Harding did, every year, and it was a big deal. When I was in a social club in my freshman year ther, I was "selected" to wind and, believe you me, it wasn't easy.

Paula Windsor Peacock Thompson

In response to the anonymous inquiry about May Day events, my earliest memories of May Day Celebrations are from the first and second grades at Harding. After that, I remember the 6th grade in Searcy Grammar School, when I was a Herald and the 7th grade girls made up the court. That time was particularly memorable because, the day before, I had cut my right arm trying to stop a closing door in school and missed the frame. My arm went through the glass and two gashes of 6 inches and 2 inches were the result. I remember Dr. Edwards was at a Kiwanis luncheon, and I waited an hour before getting stitches.

My mother, Annie Windsor, made the Herald outfit from pictures. She also made a gold painted horn of cardboard. She even gave me a page boy hair style. I was determined to give my memorized lines, so the show went on. I remember the event was held in the high school auditorium, but can't remember who was queen.

That airplane tail is in Punky Caldwell's back yard. I think his dad did some salvage work.

I can only remember the next year when I was in the court. Others were Carolyn Thompson, Julianne Rand, Peggy Palmer, Marilyn Coward (I think), and one other.

As to why the celebration was discontinued, I'm not sure, but I think it was at the time the grammar school burned. Hmmm, maybe the May Day pagan roots have something to do with that. I found some tidbits on the Internet that might interest you readers.

Roots of May Day celebration in America:

May Day, which children do enjoy with all vibes, was not an overly prominent holiday in America. Yet, it does have a long and notable history as one of the world's principal festivals. The origin of May Day as a day for celebration dates back to the days even before the birth of Christ. And like many ancient festivals it, too, has a Pagan connection.

The Puritans frowned on May Day, so the day has never been celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the United States as in Great Britain. But the tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful streamers or ribbons, survived as a part of the English tradition. The kids celebrating the day by moving back and forth around the pole with the streamers, choosing of a May queen, and hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of folks -- are all the leftovers of the old European traditions.

Face washing in May Dew: Washing the face with May dew was yet another custom. There was a belief among the women in Great Britain and other parts of Europe those days that May Day dew has the power to restore beauty. This why, in the Ozark Mountains, a cradle of American folklore, girls used to nurture a belief that having their faces washed with the early dawn dews on May Day would help to be married to the man of her choice.

When I was attending Harding College in 1955, there was a May Day celebration. Don't know about Searcy Public Schools, so you readers jump in and tell us what you remember.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Please note that this rat, Paula, said not a word about that Mexican cruise. But thanks for the May Day info, anyway. –tlp-

Photo above, right: Paula as a Herald
Photo above, left: 1948 Searcy May Day Group
Below: 1954 Harding May Pole Ceremony

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Mr. Wilbur Mills

(Run originally 2/7/04 on our old site)

Ernest Simpson

Congressman Wilbur D. Mills was from Kensett and, during his time in Washington, was one of the most powerful men in government. Not a dime of the government’s money could be spent without his approval .. that is, until he fell from grace in 1974, by cavorting in the middle of the night in the Tidal Basin at the Washington Monument with an exotic dancer, “Fanne Foxe,” real name: Annibelle Battistella.

Several years prior, I had just graduated from high school, and was in college about my first year, the fall of 1957. Dad was struggling with the phlebitis in his legs. He contracted the problem with poor circulation when he was about forty, and had been to doctors constantly to try to correct the condition. They told him the only thing he could do is not stand on his feet, but that was the only job available at International Shoe Co. in Searcy. He had worked there many years as a shoe inspector. The shoe factory said, ”Sorry, we don’t have any sitting down jobs.”

The doctors, Rogers and Jackson, told dad the best thing to do was apply for total disability. They wrote letters to the board on his behalf, telling how he was unable to work, and that there was no cure for the problem. He went to meet with the board, and they asked questions of him, and asked for more letters and proof of his disability, which he provided. The board was polite but, after each review, they always denied his claim of disability, even with the myriad of documentation.

I came home that weekend from college, and dad said, “Mr. Mills is in town, let’s go see him.” I said sure.

Mr. Mills had an office in the basement of the old post office in town, and when he finished a session in congress, he came home to Searcy to visit his constituents, and do a little politicking. I had never met the man, but knew how powerful he was. He was the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and was respected and feared by many in the political scene. One of his greatest achievements was authoring the legislation for Medicare in 1965.

We walked to the door of the small office as a visitor was just leaving. We went inside, and dad introduced himself and me. Mr. Mills was cordial, shook hands with each of us and said, “Mr. Simpson, how can I help you today?” Dad said how he’d had problems many years with circulation in his legs, and produced the doctors’ letters to the disability board, and the board’s subsequent evaluation. He showed how many years he’d written, going to Little Rock to meet with them and even being evaluated by the board’s doctors.

Mr. Mills listened carefully, and asked to see his leg. Dad pulled up his pants leg, and showed a discolored, swollen and painful leg. Mr. Mills looked at his leg, and studied dad’s face for a moment, without either of them speaking. Then Mr. Mills said, “Mr. Simpson, let me look into this for you, and I assure you someone will be contacting you in a few days.” Dad thanked him; we shook hands, said goodbye and left.

I thought about that visit, it only lasted a few minutes, and I didn’t understand how this would be handled, with so little being spoken, and yet the powerful man was such a down to earth guy in the visit.

A couple of weeks later, I was home for another visit, and Dad said, “I want to show you something.” He produced a copy of a letter written by Mr. Mills to the state board, which went something like this: “Mr. Alvin Simpson, of Searcy, has been ill for several years with a condition with his legs, and has been unable to work. I understand he has applied to this board for total disability. I am personally interested in this claim before you at this time. I await with interest the outcome of the claim, and your decision. Yours truly, Wilbur D. Mills”

At the same time, almost on the same day he received the copy of the letter from Congressman Mills, he got a letter from the disability people, with a check. The letter went something like: “The board has reviewed your case, and is pleased to inform you that you have been placed on our rolls as being completely disabled. We hope the best for you in the future, etc…”

Dad passed away in 1971, but he received a disability check every month till then, dating from the day we visited Wilbur Mills.

The scandal in 1974 ruined Mr. Mills’ career. Now, I don’t personally care if he was drunk in the Tidal Basin, cavorting with the Argentine Firecracker, Fanne Foxe; it matters not to me. What I care about was, that when the bureaucracy failed, the government and all the rules governing right failed, Wilbur Mills didn’t. He saved my father countless days of poverty, worry, and pain with the stroke of a pen.

I have always had a personal disdain for things political, and politicians. However, this was different, and affected us personally. Perhaps this cynical view of bureaucracy in government should be put aside, but remains difficult for me to do so, even to this day.

Mr. Wilbur Daigh Mills passed away in May 1992. I thought of him, and will always remember the powerful man, and have respect for his memory for what he did for my dad.

Wilbur Mills is buried in the Kensett Cemetery.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


(Run originally 1/26/04 on our old site)

Dan E. Randle

I don’t know about you but, for me, the years spent in the English classes taught by the sisters, Mrs. Moody and Miss Thornton, were pure torture. Of the two, I must admit I liked Mrs. Moody the best. Both were harsh task masters, because they expected you to be perfect in all aspects of English and its use. I hated writing book reports, so Mrs. Moody allowed me to give mine verbally. At that age, I could read a book and tell you everything that happened in the correct order. Now, I can read a book then, if I reread it a few months later, I find that I have forgotten almost the entire book. (I need more Ginko!) If she had not allowed me to give verbal reports, I might still be in her class. I do remember her fondly: she had a sweeter disposition than her sister, and was always willing to help you. I finished her class with a B, and was very happy to get it.

Miss Thornton was another story though. I don’t know anyone who went through her English class that can’t recite "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, end me your ears, I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him--etc., etc.” out to infinity. I hated memorizing anything, so it took me a little longer to memorize the speech. After I did, it has stayed with me to this day. (My memory was “Water, water, everywhere, and how the boards did shrink. Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink” -tlp-)

Remember the fun we had diagramming sentences? Has anyone used that process in later life? I doubt it, unless you’re an English teacher. It never appeared to help me get ahead in anything.

Miss Thornton came off as a grouch to me: I was constantly in trouble with her, probably because I was so hyper at the time. I did make it through her class with either a C+ or B-, and could have made better by just applying myself.

You ask, why I have written this? I’ll tell you why! Have you ever noticed the number of people who use incorrect English? If it wasn’t for The Sisters, I would never pay much attention to the way people use the English language. The use of I and me, her, him, they put me first (i.e., me and her are----). Also, could someone define ir-regardless for me. I understand that when you place "ir" in front of a word changes it to the opposite meaning. My definition puts it at "regard this." (“Regardless” and “Irregardless” mean the same thing, as do “flammable” and “inflammable”). Their misuse of verbs, etc … and every time I hear someone say "the consensus of opinion is," it’s just like dragging nails across a chalk board.

I still can’t believe the number of educated people who never learned to use their native language properly. I stopped taking my hometown newspaper because no one used proper English consistently.

At this point in life, I look back and see that their demand for excellence was the best thing they did for us. I wish I could thank them now for all their help and direction. In another life, I will!

One last observation: after looking at their pictures, it’s amazing how young they look. They sure looked very old when I was going to school.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On my personal site, May 18 of this year, I republished a piece called PUNKSHOOAYESHUN. Part of the problem with school in general is that they spend absolutely too much time on high-falutin’ theory and too little on practical, useful knowledge. Our teachers taught that way because THEIR teachers taught that way. Maybe this piece will give you a little practical help.

But you’re right: people scalp their native language. Foreigners speak it better than do we. I asked my daughter, when she was in high school in south Florida, what she was doing with so many Cubans in her Spanish class. Her reply? “They’re taking Spanish for the same reason I’m taking English: just because you can speak it doesn’t mean you’re speaking it correctly.” -tlp-

Click on the site below and let me know what you think:

I bet you haven't seen these pictures in a long time! Since you were in band under Mr. Laas, I thought you might enjoy seeing the pictures again; also, a Maness at age 15.

If you have pictures you want on the site, go ahead and send them. I'm new at this, so I will have to learn by trial and error. I have also been thinking about setting up a before-and-after page for anyone that wants to post on it. In other words, take your picture from the year you graduated and a picture now and display them side by side. What do you think? Some of us might not want people seeing us and how we have aged, but I think it would be informative and fun. On a more morbid side, how about a roll call for all those that have passed on?

EDITOR’S NOTE AGAIN: I think I’ve got some 20th Reunion pix (class of ’56) that might be perfect for this. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know. Also, note that Dan also sent a picture of Sandy Laas. Check that with the Mystery Girl standing in front of Billy Anderson in the Recital Group photo (middle row, very right hand girl). Could be …. –tlp-

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Life and Times of Larry and Ernest

(Run originally 2/6/04 on our old site)

Ernest Simpson

On the Road with the Band

In the early 50’s, we were old enough, but barely proficient enough on our horns, to be taken into the performing band at Searcy High. We had done some small performances and a few halftime shows, with not much precision marching. We were more about pageantry and showmanship, as the talents of Bill Laas led us into those type shows that enthralled the halftime crowds.

A big trip for the band was coming up in the spring, the annual State Band Festival in Hot Springs. This was our first opportunity to travel with the band, and we were so looking forward to it.

I do recall the Waverly Hotel, on one of our early trips, mainly because it had an elevator, and we loved running the thing up and down with great gusto. The hotel guests did not appreciate our pre-adolescent fun, and we were called down several times for tying up the elevator.

The first night there, we could certainly not go to sleep, with the excitement of being there, and all the fun we were having. However, our performance was the next day and, as I recall, our performance included both marching and playing a concert. Mr. Laas wanted his troupe in top-notch shape, and intended our curfew for rest.

He had allowed us to select our roommates, and there were four of us: Thomas Rongey, Frank Thompson, Larry Maness, and I. We had a great time all day, and the prospect of going to bed early was not in the least appealing.

The first lights out came at around 10:00, and we were dutiful, the lights did go out. The fun kept going, however. Laughter and noise, crashing into furniture, total bedlam, all in the name of having fun. The second warning came with Mr. Laas knocking on the door, along with a couple of senior counselors or band parents, I don’t recall who was with him. I think Marvin Sowell was the Sergeant at Arms, with help from the drum major, Larry Killough.

They left, and things were quiet for a moment. There was too much energy to keep down, though and, soon, we were back at again.

At about 12:30 there was a loud banging on the door. One of the guys opened the door, and I dived under the covers, with my face to the wall.

Mr. Laas came in and gave a stern lecture about our violating the curfew, and stated we would have to be punished. He walked over and took the big white leather Sam Browne belt from my uniform and folded it, and told them each to bend over. Larry asked, “Do you want me to wake Ernest?” Mr. Laas said, “No, that’s O.K., let him sleep”.

He did a great job, for each either grunted or jumped and shouted ‘Ow!’ when the belt hit home. One lick each, and hard enough to make an impression.

When he had finished, there was another lecture, but this time it was heard very well. I was too frightened to move, and did not want to be included in this execution.

Mr. Laas left, and turned out the lights as he left. There were a few whispers from my friends once they realized everyone was gone, but it was soon quiet at last.

I asked them what happened the next morning, and they told me. They did not want to discuss it, and I let the matter drop.

I think Mr. Laas knew he could have had four swats, instead of three, very easily, and I’m pretty sure he wondered how anyone could sleep in that raucous din. It was never mentioned again, but I noticed the leather in the old belt had two large stress breaks in the finish where it had done its work. I used that belt two or three years, and inspected the breaks every time I put it on. The belt took punishment too, on the behinds of three friends, which could have easily included me.

Later in life, as a band director in Arkansas for many years, I took my students to Hot Springs, too. It was very reminiscent of those early days that were so very precious in memory. As a teacher, I now walked those same streets with band kids only, this time, I was the teacher, and they were the students. Funny thing, with many of they stunts they pulled, a surprising number were thwarted ahead of time. They couldn’t understand how I could predict what they might try.

They just would never believe that my friends and I had, in most cases, tried anything they tried twenty years before. What fun.

Monday, July 25, 2005


(Originally run 1/23/04 on our old site)

Everyone once-in-a-while, it’s fun to get a bit of background on old friends who have gone far afield. Here are two of them that, through no intent at all, both ended up in Oregon, of all places.

Ann Shannon Snodgrass

Hello, Ernie. All is well with me and mine. My husband and our three sons and their families (six grandchildren!) are all settled in the Great Northwest. We’re retired university profs, blessed with good health and a happy life. Hope all is good with you and yours. Hello, Tom. Before you run out of aspirin — Mira and Becca’s dads are brothers. Becca, Martha, and my mother were sisters. We’re fortunate that Becca and Mira’s dads and Martha’s mother are still with us, especially as each of them continues to “parent” us. Family is wonderful. Now, would you like to hear about the 22 double-cousins on my dad’s side of the family? No? I didn’t think so.

Tom Pry

“22 double cousins”?!?! Do they all live in Kentucky?

Dan E. Randle

I ran across this picture and thought you might enjoy seeing what I really look like and the big Geoduc (Gooey Duck) clam I dug on Bainbridge Island, across the bay from Seattle. You do believe that this is a true picture of what I look like now, right? OK you got me; it was taken the summer of 1973. The clam is the biggest one some friends of mine that lived in Seattle had ever seen dug by hand.

This family of clams usually are harvested out in the water by scuba divers. This one I found very close to the low tide water line, which explains why it took me about 30 minutes to dig down deep enough to get the monster. Unfortunately we forgot to bring a shovel, so I had to use an old clam shell I found on the beach. As you dig down in the sand, the sides slough off so you are constantly removing sand as you are digging a deeper hole. We did bring along something like a large stove pipe that you place in the hole when it gets large enough. This keeps what sloughs off from falling into the hole. If we had brought the shovel, it wouldn't have taken that much time.

Anyway, as I was digging, the tide started coming in, and was getting close to where I was digging. Then the bigger waves (every 7th wave) started pouring water in the hole. My friends were trying to tell me to give it up, but after digging that long, I wasn't going to let a clam beat me. Finally I was deep enough to get a grip on the top part of its shell.

The battle still wasn't won at this point, because I had to break the vacuum formed by the shell and its little digging foot. My head was partially in the pipe and, as the next large wave washed over my head, I finally was able to extract the clam from its snug bed. After the battle we weighed it and, to our surprise, it weighed 5 pounds. Believe me it really tasted excellent.

I dug other clams that week, steamers, scalloped and cohogs. The cohogs were the largest I had ever dug. Since the Geoducs are more tender, most people don't dig the Cohogs. Since they aren’t disturbed, they get to grow to giant size: six Cohogs fill a 5 gallon bucket. That week, I was eating clams 3 meals a day. If you have ever eaten clams that fresh you would know why. When I finally went home, I had 17-1/2 pounds of clams in the cooler going with me. Between fried clams and clam chowder, they didn't last long.

This experience is just one of the reasons I love living in the Pacific Northwest.

I asked Ann what she felt the draw was of the Pacific Northwest, and she summed it up neatly:

The Pacific NW has space, big sky, clean air, lots of trees, mountains, low population, laid-back attitudes, and a genuine respect for individual privacy. No location is more beautiful than the Oregon coast.

And clams, Ann, don’t forget clams!

Finally, I’d like to impose on you by bringing you a quote from one of my all-time favorite authors, Nevil Shute. (Never heard of him? Gee, he only sold something like 15 million books around the world, including two made into movies: “No Highway,” with Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, and Glynis Johns, plus “On the Beach,” starring Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire, and Ava Gardner).

Anyway, in his book, “Round the Bend,” his narrating character says, “As you go through your life, you undertake so many duties that you haven’t time for making new, close friendships any more; you’ve got too much to do. For the remainder of your life, you have to make do with the friends you gathered in your short youth.”

Something to think about.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


(Originally run on 1/18/04 on our old site)

Bobby Scott Fuller

I may have an ID for a girl in the "Recital Group". It's the girl directly in front of Billy Anderson (very right-hand girl in the middle row). My brother, Bill, suggested that it might be Sandy Laas. Looking at her with that in mind, I think he's right. Bill Laas and his family lived just across the street from us, so we saw his kids often. When Bill was writing his band arrangements, he would come bounding out his front door, rush across the street and ask me to play something he had written. That image is still very strong in my mind. He never walked from his house to mine, he trotted. I have always felt honored that he asked me to play his arrangements for him.

Anyway, Sandy is a possibility.

Anita Hart Fuller

Bob's brother, Bill, hopes to be writing you today or soon. He thinks the final person unidentified in the recital picture is Sandy Laas. I'm not sure but that he is right. What do you think? You should remember the "older" Sandy better than I can. And remember, Bob and Bill lived across the street from Mr. Laas. Wait a minute, I guess they left right after we graduated, so you really wouldn't know the old Sandy after all. Forget I said that.

Tom Pry

My first year in the band was Bill Laas’ last year as its Director (’53-’54). Sandy I remember as an urchin in a twirler’s outfit. Some of you who were more her contemporaries (Billy, where are you?) might do a better I.D. job.

Ernie Simpson

This is so great! I bet these ladies and guys haven't changed a bit over the years! This note for Becky Van Patten: please tell 'cousin' Ann Shannon hello for me. She was a dear friend, and I'd love to hear from her!

Ann Shannon Snodgrass

In respect to identifying folks in the photo, Becca's (Van Patten Smith) my cousin, and Mira Van Patten is her cousin, but not mine, and Martha Davis is a cousin to both Becca and me. Don't you enjoy Southern explanations?

Editor’s Note: I think I just got a headache. I’m taking two cousins … ASPIRIN .. and going to bed. Actually, I dated two of the cousins – not knowing they were cousins; nor that they were violinists, either. See, I was braindead in my teens, too. -tlp-

Saturday, July 23, 2005


(Originally run 1/21/04 on our old site)

EDITOR’S NOTE: When you’re doing Summer Re-runs and/or “The Best of”s, they are not necessarily in the right order. Just read them and shut up. So, I CAN’T read a date. –tlp-

J. William Fuller

Hi's Billy Fuller. Thank you so much to you and to Ernie for the great site. Bob and Anita originally sent it to me and I've been tuning in ever since. Love reading it. How do I get into it as a registered user? Or do you have to do that?? I remember that as the "little guys" that were around then, we all thought you, and Ernie and Frank Thompson and Larry Maness were the heroes! We wanted to be like you and patterned our lives after you somewhat. Some of us, me included, went into the band in the seventh grade under Al English. What a great time. I also remember that Aunt Ruth had a lot of respect for you and the others, and that only served to reinforce my thinking that you were the greatest.

I sent the website address, with particular emphasis on the picture, "Recital Group", on to Marcia Bagarella, Carolyn Latimer, Anne Rodgers, Anna Jones, Junior Jeffrey, Joe Woodson, and Sherry Quattlebaum. Wouldn't be surprised if you didn't start hearing from some of them soon.

Let me know how to get in as a registered user. I do have some comments on the radio shows...and particularly on Mrs. Sullivan....she was my second grade teacher, too. I remember her fondly. Also, Sam Sullivan was my Sunday School teacher for many years. Keep up the good work.....for all of us!

Tom Pry

Garsh! (Blush), said he at the compliments. I’m not sure we deserve them, but we’ll take ‘em, with gratitude. (And I always thought Ruth Fuller thought of me as a walking hemorrhoid …)

Although we never spoke of it, I’m sure that all of us were aware that inquisitive little eyes were upon us. Besides making us strut a little bit, I suspect it also kept us from acting up when it would’ve tarnished our image. Equally, I suspect there are those who thought you and your chums were worth emulating when you reached 11th and 12th grade.

That aside, the closest thing we have to “Registered Users” is a large group on our notification list, getting a brief note when a new episode of this epistle is posted. You’ve been added. (“And, as a SPECIAL bonus, you’re also added to the notifications for my personal Rant & Ruin site. Remember, it comes with a money-back guarantee; if dissatisfied for any reason, simply return the unused portion of the product, and we’ll return the unused portion of your money …”). (7/23/05: I don’t send out these notifications anymore, since changing blog sites. Is this a mistake? Do you WANT notifications when I add an episode? Speak to me, folks).

Good time to repeat this: I worry a great deal about your e-mail privacy. For that reason, the notifications go out as bcc’s, so that the only name that shows up is YOURS. Secondly, I do not post your e-mail address with your submissions, but I’m more than happy to forward on to someone YOUR note and/or e-mail address, if asked.

I’m looking forward to getting some of your stuff.

Ernie Simpson

You bet I remember Mrs. Sullivan, it must have been for me about 1946. After the culture shock of finding out what the world of 'school' was about with Mrs. Wilson, the second grade with Mrs. Sullivan was a smooth and wonderful transition into the next 10-11 years. I remember Harold Gene Sullivan, too! Played baritone with Marvin Sowell! Both were pretty good, as I recall!

Anita Hart Fuller

2 memories of Mrs. Sullivan, who was MY second grade teacher, too. I loved her, as Don did and many others, I'm sure.

On one of my papers I turned in, I wrote at the bottom: "I love you" and, when I got the paper back, she had written underneath, "ditto". I thought getting the word ditto was just about the coolest thing....I'd go around saying "ditto" to myself for a long time after that.

2nd memory may have lost something in the translation but here goes: Bob and I were Methodists, as was Mrs. Sullivan and family. While still in high school, we went on a picnic that lasted until after dark. As we were trying to gather everyone together to leave, Mrs. Sullivan was caught in the dark, standing on some rocks, trying to cross the stream and shouting to anyone who would hear, "Standing in the Need of Light," which was a paraphrase of the hymn, "Standing in the Need of Prayer." To this day whenever I need a light turned on, I say "Standing in the Need of Light,” and always think of Mrs. Sullivan.

Now what I also find very interesting is that I am now 67 yr. old and have had a lot of experiences - as we all have - and yet, those two memories, along with quite a few more of the good old days, are still in my head.

But don't ask me what I had for breakfast this morning

From Ann Whetsell, forwarded by Jo Ann Roth Cooper

Thanks so much for sending this. I've had so much fun reading all these messages and seeing that picture. I tried to email back but I don't think it went thru. I wanted to tell "them" that Lee Ann Conyers is on the top left and Anna Lee, her little sister who was my age, is on the bottom right. They lived in the Methodist parsonage which was on Race Street, one block from my house. Anna Lee and I were inseparable as long as they lived in Searcy.

No, Ann, it didn’t get through. This should answer Anita’s concerns about which Conyers is who .. unless, of course, you’re referring to Conyers, Georgia. -tlp-

Bobby Scott Fuller

I have a photo of an Eighth Grade Class at SHS. It was Gene Sullivan's class. I can identify several people in it, but most of them I can't. It certainly goes to the heart of what we have, so far, on the searcyyesteryear journal. Use it if you want. I don't know how to put it into a small document without losing quality.

Tom Pry

I’ll worry about the sizing, you just send the goodies.

Okay, contestants, four rows of “Oh, God, what was his/her name???”

Be nice to have the year this was taken, too.

Friday, July 22, 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?

Thursday, July 21, 2005


(Run originally 2/3/04 on our old site)

Tom Pry

You just never what’s going to pop up in the mail, even the inter-office. Just yesterday, my wife, Karen, received an envelope and, in it, a batch of photos and negatives. They’d come from Clydell Neal, by way of Mary Kathryn Van Patten James.

With one exception, they come out of the 53-55 timeframe. If you’ll remember how bad the typical camera and 120 film was in those days, you’ll understand why these took a little work. I scanned all but one from the negative. The one exception had been sent to me from a deskjet printer.

But some of you might get a kick in the memory from these. I know I did.

While these are now posted on (or use the link on the left), we’ll give you a bit more identification here than is possible on the picture site.

BAND BUS Getting ready to get off. From left to right, Draxie Jean Horn and Clara Nell Rackley, seated, and Robin “Chirp” Moore, standing. Probably around 1954.

HOT SPRINGS 1953 #1 From left to right: Betty Jo Davis, Rita Jo Dunn, Clara Nell Rackley, Mary Kathryn Van Patten, Clydell Neal. (And apologies here to MKVP: I just realized I’ve been spelling “Kathryn” wrong for, oh, some 50 years or so).

HOT SPRING 1953 #2 From left to right: Clydell Neal, Mary Kathryn Van Patten, Draxie Jean Horn, Rita Jo Dunn, Clara Nell Rackley.

WHAT SHOW WAS THIS? From left to right: an unknown young lady, then Julia Ann Rand, Peggy Killough, Mary Kathryn Van Patten, and Donna Mae Hunt. No one seems to remember what show this was, but Clydell found the original photo envelope. Her mother had dated it 1955 and “Kiwanis Play.” If that’s the case, according to Clydell, that probably would make it the Minstrel Show – but she invokes Anita Hart Fuller’s help in nailing it down – which’ll take awhile, since Anita’s in Chicago this week.

CLYDELL NEAL 1955 and, obviously, getting ready for the same show.

MKVP 1955 Mary Kathryn, ready for the same show (gee, how quickly they forget).


THE TRIO L-R, Patsy Sutherlin, Mary Beth Cook, and Jo Ann Roth.

And, finally, the one exception to which I referred earlier. Taken in the summer of 1997 or 1998 (it doesn’t take 50 years for the memory to start collapsing) at Colton’s Restaurant here in Searcy, L-R: (Sitting) Pat Merritt Barger, Mary K. Van Patten James, and Patsy Sutherlin McRee; (Standing) Draxie Horn Rogers and Clara Nell Rackley Cargile.

It is with more than a little wistfulness that I look at these photos, and all I can think of is a Cornelia Skinner Otis play that was very popular when we were in school. It was called, "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay."

Thanks for the memories, ladies.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


(Run originally 2/2/04 on our old site)

Jo Ann Roth Cooper

To the special people in my life. I am sending this to you to see how many of you actually read your email. Is anyone really out there? Your response will be interesting! Here it goes:

Pay attention to what you read. After you have finished reading it, you will know the reason it was sent to you!

People come into your life for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime. When you know which one it is for a person, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

They may seem like a Godsend, and they are!

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered, and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it: is real! But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons: things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind … but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life.

The three of you are doing so much to enrich the lives of people that grew up in Searcy, and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it.

(Thanks, Jo Ann. –Tom, Ernie, and Dan E.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Sybil Thornton Moody (1923)
On several days around the end of January/beginning of February 2004, we got a flood of entries about sisters Lois Thornton and Sybil Moody. Thought it might be a good idea to sum them all up so that they’re immortalized in one place, the correct and the incorrect.

Becca Van Patten Smith

I had always been told that Mrs. Moody & Miss Thornton were related to us, I think on my mothers side.

Also, that Miss Thornton was so sour because her sister, Mrs. Moody, had taken her boyfriend away from her and married him, then he either died or ran away. I think he left.

Mrs. Moody died just last year, and had been real sharp of mind until the last 9 or so months of her life. I went to visit her at Oak Dale once, while mother was out there.

Mildred Wilbourn

I enjoy reading every entry, but had been out of pocket the last couple of days and was mystified when Anita mailed me to set them straight about Lois (Thornton) and Sybil (Moody). After reading the entries of the 30th and 31st, I do see the necessity.

While we were not related to them, we were close. Lois was maid-of-honor in my mother's wedding, and Sybil told me that Mother and another friend were the first friends they made when they moved from Beebe to Searcy around 1914.

Mother told me that Lois was very much in love with a young man who went East to college. She thought that, when he came home for Christmas, he was bringing her an engagement ring. Instead he brought his new fiancée. Lois was bitter: she thought he jilted her because her parents were recently divorced, and you know how scandalous that was in those days.

Sybil married George Moody and they lived happily in Marianna for several years. Unfortunately, George developed a drinking problem and, in later years, was a mean drunk. The night that he came home and put a loaded gun to her head and said, "I ought to blow a hole in that pretty little head!" she waited until he left and called her father to come get her. The next morning, when she and Mr. D.D. were trying to get her things out of the house before George returned, Sybil fell out the back door and broke her ankle. Because they didn't want to stop, and she needed to have her car, she drove from Marianna to Searcy with a broken ankle. She moved in with Lois and Mr. D.D.

She and Lois lived together, until Lois went to the nursing home. They were very close and their only differences were minor ones, from differences in personality. Lois was very plain spoken, and I can remember Sybil saying, "Now, now Miss Lois, I didn't give you your milk in a saucer this morning." Lois could be infuriating at school but, away from school, she was funny and a lot of fun. I have pictures of both sisters from about the time we are talking about and, when I learn to use my new scanner, I will send them. Thanks for all your good work.
(This was a year-and-a-half ago, Mildred: where are the pictures?)

Like so many of our peers, I’d heard that “Sybil took her boyfriend away” story while I was still in school, so it’s nice to know what REALLY happened. Those two ladies left an indelible mark on the lives of those of us who were lucky enough to pass through their hands and, at the least, they deserve to be remembered correctly, if not always warmly.

They, themselves, would have insisted on that standard of intellectual honesty. -tlp-

Jo Ann Roth (Cooper)

I worked in the office for Mr. Yarbrough my senior year. I was co-editor of the annual, and real close to Miss Thornton, but wouldn't have called her by her first name for any amount of money, out of respect for her.

Elois Bleidt was walking by in the hall, and I said something to her. About that time, Miss Thornton walked into the office.

Mr. Yarbrough thought I had called Miss Thornton “Lois,” which was her first name. He called me on the carpet about it. I had to explain that “Elois” came out “Lois.”

Roland King

I enjoyed Mildred's write-up on Miss Thornton and Mrs. Moody. It answered a mystery for me that had its beginning years ago. In 1955 we had a "This is Your Life" for Miss Thornton. (By the way, I graduated in 1955, rather than '54). Someone had heard something like this, but the way it went was that Miss Thornton and this fellow were deeply in love and that Miss Thornton's parents were against him. As a result, he left Searcy, went east and, at that time (1955) was a General in the Army.

As we were reading letters and telegrams from well-wishers, someone thought it would be a good idea if we made one up from this person. I didn't think it was a good idea, because I thought it might embarrass her and, after reading Mildred's explanation of what did happen, I'm sure glad we didn't.

The show went well and I think she really enjoyed it. However, before the program started (it was held during assembly), I noticed Mac Angel had come in and sat down in the back. Mac was one of my first and dearest friends. He lived on the corner of South Line (now Woodruff) and I lived around the corner on Spring Street next to Gowan's store. Mac had been president of the student body in 52-53 before me in 53-54 and 54-55. So I went back to talk with him. When I got back to the front and we had about two minutes to start, I discovered I had misplaced my note cards, which contained the whole show. You can imagine the panic I was in. However, I found them and away we went.

The show was rolling and people were bringing me letters and telegrams to read and I was reading them as soon as they were handed to me. One was given to me, I opened it up, glanced at the name, saw it was from “the General?” (I don't know if he was or not.) I looked at it, I think I said "thank you" to the person who handed it to me, and stuffed it in my pocket. As I said, I am sure glad we didn't read that, and thanks to Mildred for setting the record straight.

I wonder if anyone else remembers that story about the General and where it came from? At least it was a romantic story.

I always felt that Miss Thornton was one of the best at preparing us for college.

Becca V.P. Smith

I am glad the truth is out, and I wish that I hadn't repeated what I had heard so long ago, knowing that it was just hearsay.

I always liked Mrs. Moody best; she seemed to be nicer. Miss Thornton, when our class came along, mainly just liked the football players, and wasn't fond of the girls or band members.
My first husband was Tommy Quattlebaum, and he was a rebel of sorts, and Miss Thornton really liked him; he was also very smart, and that could have helped too.

Ernest Simpson

One more comment, old friend, if you don't mind:

The last time I saw Mrs. Moody was late in 1962. I was in Searcy one weekend to see mom and dad, and happened to be in downtown Searcy. Mrs. Moody came out of a store on Spring Street. I spoke to her and she asked me what I was doing since leaving Searcy, and where I was living. I told her I was a band director in a little town in southeast Missouri, and was really pleased to be able to tell her that my superintendent had thought well enough of my work to grant a $300 a year raise. She was really glad for me and said, "That is wonderful, Ernest, and you know, that's a lot of why we work as teachers, isn't it?"

I felt her approval of my efforts gave me to know I had achieved a milestone in teaching. Her use of the words "we work as teachers" has been worth a great deal to me over the years.
I wrote a comment in the 40th reunion reflections of '57: "Thanks for: Mrs. Moody and Miss Thornton, true ladies in every sense of the word, who challenged us all beyond our capabilities."
Ann Shannon Snodgrass

I had been told the same story that Becca heard -- that Lois and Sybil were our distant cousins.
I also remember that story about the boy friend.
Do you remember how it felt to encounter a teacher outside of the classroom and discover that she was a real person? In the 1970's, Lois and Sybil were either sharing a place with another cousin of ours (although we called that cousin Aunt Betty) or visiting her, when my mother took my husband and me to visit them. All three of the ladies were outside in the side yard belonging to the old house. Pigeons were flying madly around the yard, and some were scrambling desperately, trying to perch on the curlicues of the porch roof. Sybil was feeding the pigeons; Lois was batting at them with a broom, and Betty was cooing at them, giving encouragement, I suppose. I was speechless, seeing these "rulers of the classroom" acting like that. Then, I looked at my husband, and his face was beet red from holding back laughter. Good memory.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Excellent memory, Ann, thanks.

If you’d care to make a submission, you can send it to me directly at .

One of our readers was afraid this would turn into a “bashing” site: nope, our memories are too precious for that. Were I into that, you’d have seen a few people dished here before now.

C’mon, folks, empty out your brains. Aren’t you getting tired of Summer Reruns? –tlp-

Lois Thornton (1956) Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 18, 2005


(Run originally 2/29/04 on our old site)

Don Thompson

Yes, Judy Deener was an interesting gal. Her handwriting was indeed distinctive and artsy. Here is that sample from my 1954 The Lion.

The reason the salutation is "Dear T D" is she called me Tonald Dompson and I called her Dingbat (Archie Bunker, were you listening?). I'm not sure who first nicknamed her Dingbat. It may have even been me. I do remember looking it up in the dictionary. It means “nitwit” or “kook.” Well, she was not that, but the name seemed to fit. I was not to be outdone by her stylish scroll and green ink, so I came up with my own green ink signature.

I asked Anita if she was planning on submitting a recent pic of Judy which I had copied some time ago, and she said no. Well, I'm not bashful, and what grandmother wouldn't like to have her picture shown holding her grandson?I am hopeful that Judy will make the Class of 1954 50th reunion. It would be fun to see her.

Incidentally, Can't remember if I sent you this pic. It may be a "S" Club initiation. I think the first guy is Marvin Sowell and the second Kenny Rand.


EDITOR’S NOTE: A dingbat is also a small piece of artwork used in the printing trade. How appropriate as a nickname for someone with decorative handwriting. (If you’re in Word, go to Insert>symbol>and then, under “fonts,” take a look at “Webdings” and “Wingdings”). I’d forgotten the green ink. –tlp-

Anita Hart Fuller

Thank you, Roland, for answering about the jackets. I happened to be talking with Bryant Quattlebaum recently on the phone, and asked him. His memory is that the school paid for them; he doesn't remember a booster club buying them. We talked about the basketball team getting sweaters, but didn't mention the track team, which you were on, too. Did you get anything for lettering in track? And, in 1950 I think it was, Searcy launched a girl's basketball team for the first time in many years: did they get jackets? Does anyone out there still have theirs? Bryant thinks Dick Phillips still has one of his football jackets. I hope we can come up with one for our 50th reunion, which is to be held May 2l and 22nd, May 21st being the actual day (night) we graduated 50 yrs. ago. We're having a little social hour on Sat. from 2 -5:00 at Ann's Bridal Salon so, anyone not in our class but in range of this website, do join us for fun conversation and reminiscing.

And Tom, let's get the band kids cranked up over these band letters - that Bob got and I didn't!

I recall getting one, totally sans any ceremony at all. Or maybe I just took it from the pile of stuff that kept accumulating in the fax room, for lack of a better place to put them. 53-54, 54-55, 55-56 I do not recall any formal letter awards in Band. –tlp-

Dan E. Randle

I saved a copy of "The Lions Roar" from May of 1957. I guess if anyone is interested I could scan the whole paper (4 pages) and put it on the site.

The question has been asked about how the jackets were paid for and what the name of the organization was that helped raise money for the football team. "The Lionettes" raised money in various ways to help out. I remember my mother making candies to be sold at the games to help raise money. Mom always made up a batch of divinity, which was one of the first things sold when the plates arrived at the booth. Those of you who remember how light and fluffy her divinity was understand. I have tried without success to find someone that can make divinity that light. It is always heavy and thick. I even tried to make it but, like all the rest, it turned out a little heavy and not so fluffy. A lot of moms baked cookies and made candy to sell at the games. I’ve put a picture of the 1957 Lionettes on the photo site; http://groups.msn/searcymemories in looking back, this seems to be the year the Lionettes started.

There are a lot of stories that can be told about the antics of the 50's. How many of you remember the drag races on the Rosebud highway, or out by the airport? Ernest and I used to line up and drag, Ernest in his 49 flathead Ford V8, and me in a 53 Chevy 6. That little six really had a lot of torque coming off the line. I could usually beat him, unless I missed a shift. The biggest trouble is, I don't remember the other dragsters. I also remember a night that Frank Thompson (riding shotgun) and I went up 4 Mile Hill on two tires. Or at least there was only one line of black tire tracks up the hill and the car sure was leaning over!

I think back over all the stupid macho things we did as kids and wonder why I'm still alive.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


(Originally run 1/25/04 on our old site)

Don and Paula Windsor Thompson

The 8th grade pic is section 1 of 3, and came from Paula's 1949 Cavalier (SHS’ annual name then). Mrs. Hicks was the sponsor. The class roll is interesting in that Harold Gene Sullivan isn't on the list. Were you in the wrong group, Harold? He is second from right on top row. The circled girl is Vesta Baker.

Paula won't spoil the fun for others by naming the rest. At least, you have a name list for a guide.

What we remember as the grammar school was Searcy High School in 1923.

This pic is from the 1923 SHS annual, called The Aroma. The book belongs to Anita's mom and is on loan to me at the present. It was named after a variety of strawberries grown in White County. How about that cover?

Another lady many of us can say many nice things about is Miss Key. She was on the SHS faculty in 1923.

A senior at the time was Sybil Thornton, sister of our senior English teacher, Lois Thornton. Miss Sybil married a Moody, taught us World History and, probably, other subjects.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I never took any classes under Ms. Key. In fact, by the time the Class of ’56 came along, she’d had something like 30 years teaching little monsters like us. Time took its toll and, by the early 50s, (as I remember) she was running the school library and teaching Latin.

Talk about inconsequential things sticking in your mind, I ran across a very battered Latin textbook from one of her classes and, inscribed inside the front cover, was this verse:

Latin is a dead language,
As dead as it can be.
It killed the ancient Romans ..
And now it’s killing me.


Saturday, July 16, 2005


#1 Check this link for a pretty good picture of Susie Hoffman Boyette and the story of her ghost-laden computers.

#2 We note with sadness this entry in the Obituaries: “Mrs. Voree Evans Killough of Searcy passed away on the morning of July 14, 2005, at her home on Meadow Lane. Her son, Dr. Larry R. Killough, was at her side. She would have been 95 years old in December.”

Friday, July 15, 2005


Cliff Wiggs to Ernie Simpson

Recognize this gal? She's Jane Martindill, who married Billy Shands. She's another of our classmates, as you may remember.

Hope this newspaper piece comes through to you O K, as I had my daughter to scan it and send to me, so I could forward it on to you. I don't have the equipment to do that.

Tom Pry

I met Jane late last year while covering a story at the Courthouse. Neither of us recognized the other, and I had no idea of the Martindill name being involved.

Interesting, and thought you’d like to know this.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


(Originally run 1/14/04 on our old site)

Dan E. Randle’s photographs certainly brought in the responses, especially toward identifying people whom we once knew very, very well.

Elois Bleidt Pelton

Wow!! I am so impressed over Anita's ability to remember names and place them with faces... Keep up the great work....Dan's pictures really brought back wonderful memories of the past.

Becca Van Patten Smith

Mira is right in front of Mary Kay and Martha (not Nancy) Davis is in front of Mira. All cousins. Ann Shannon, on the other side, also a cousin.

Aren't we soooooo talented.

Harold Gene Sullivan

I think I can help on a couple of the people in the Recital Group picture. The girl in the middle row to the right of Judy Musick is Patty Gentry. The girl in the middle of the front row to the right of Billy Fuller is Sandra Cranford, my wife's (Carolyn Cranford's) little sister from McRae.

Anita, you did great, I don't know how you remember all those names, like Anna Lee and Lee Ann Conyers. They were our pastor's kids at the Methodist Church.

That brings up an example of how much times have changed. Carolyn and Sandra Cranford lived in McRae. They got out of school for Friday afternoon, went down to the local service station, and caught the Greyhound Bus to Searcy. My wife, Carolyn, remembers that they would bring money and walk to the Black Cat Cafe for a hamburger lunch, and then walk on to Mrs. Ward's for music lessons. After music lessons, they would walk back to the bus station and catch the next bus back to McRae. Who would let their little girls do that today?

So, the consensus thus far is (scroll down for the picture):

(Back Row): Anna Lee Conyers, Dorothy Anderson, Mary K. Van Patten, Mrs. Ward, Carolyn Cranford, Dan Randle, Bob Fuller, Billy Anderson, Ann Shannon.
(Middle Row): Judy Musick, Mira Ann Van Patten, Julia Melton, Laura Beth Thompson, (?).
Front Row): Martha Davis, Anna Morgan Jones, Billy Fuller, Sandra Cranford, Ann Rodgers, Lee Ann Conyers, Betty Stevens (daughter of our then-principal, Omar Stevens).

I gave the nod to Mira Ann instead of Patty Gentry on the grounds that Becca should know her own cousin; (on the other hand, I’ve got cousins who prefer not to let anyone know we’re related, so that one’s admittedly a judgment call).

This leaves only the sweet girl on the right side of the middle row, right in front of Billy Anderson, without a name (or, in Mira’s case, TWO names). Anyone?

And on the subject of the Conyers girls: with names like Anna Lee and Lee Ann, would I be too far afield making a wild guess that their parents’ names were Lee and Ann?

Just asking. After all, inquiring minds …. -tlp-

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


(Originally run 1/12/04 on our old site)

Anita Fuller

In response to our challenge to identify the people in a couple of photos (which, for handy reference, are again linked to this page), we got this from Anita:

O.K. I'll jump in and try and identify as many as I can. Thanks to Dan for sending those; Don Thompson and I don't have them, so that's a real treat for us. (Send more, y'all).

Here goes: first, the DeMolays:

(Back row): Billy Barger, Glen Jones, Marvin Lee Sowell
(Middle Row): Benny Bell, Elmer Dale Yancey, Kenny Rand, (?) , Don Hunt, Billy Max Lewis, Roland King.
(Front Row): Joe Coward, Buddy Sandy, James Daniel, Larry James, Jimmy Don Jackson, Dan E. Randle, Billy Dobbins.

Mrs. Ward's recital, I couldn't i.d. as many:

(Back Row): Anna Lee Conyers, Dorothy Anderson, Mary K. Van Patten, Mrs. Ward, Carolyn Cranford, Dan Randle, Bob Fuller, Bill Anderson, Ann Shannon.
(Middle Row): Judy Musick, (?--but I really know this "girl", just can't pull her name out yet), Julia Melton, Laura Beth Thompson, (?).
Front Row): Nancy Davis, Anna Morgan Jones, Billy Fuller, (?), Ann Rodgers, Lee Ann Conyers, Betty Stevens (daughter of our then-principal, Omar Stevens).

To those I couldn't identify, please forgive me. I think I did pretty good though, considering.

Keep those pics and e-mails coming.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You did a heckuva lot better than Dan and I did, Anita.

Now, how ‘bout you? Can you fill in the blanks?

EDITOR’S NOTE 2, to everyone: If you think your writing skills aren’t up to that of the people who contribute to this column, please disabuse yourself of that right now. As the editor of this little excursion into nostalgia, it’s MY job to worry about spelling, punctuation, neatness, etcetera. It’s YOUR job to dredge up the memories. You can be anonymous (or, better, don’t be anonymous: just ask me to keep your name, etc. to myself) if, for whatever reason, you prefer not to let people know who/where you are.

I went to school here a grand total of 4-1/2 years over a 10 year period: you have a DEFINITE edge on me in the memory department, so let’s hear from you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


(Originally run 1/10/04 on our old site)

Harold Gene Sullivan

Ernie Simpson only partly remembers correctly. Marvin Sowell was very good on the baritone, but I was no good at all. I always dreaded it when Marvin missed band practice, because I was afraid that we would play a piece where the baritone had a significant part and I'd screw up.

However, I did learn a lot of music in band, and still count it as one of my most important classes. Later in life, I did take up the classical guitar, and found Mr. Laas' musical training very valuable. However, I again proved I had little musical talent, but did enjoy just playing for myself. Music has always been important to me from that early training.

Tom Pry

(The following exchange between Ernie and I was triggered by Billy Fuller’s comments about his bunch of “little guys” looking up to some of us “oldsters”).

Anita was the one who pointed out we all affect people at the damndest times with inconsequential things. For instance, I have no "loops" on the "g's" and "y's," etcetera, in my writing and signature. Why? Because (of all people) Judy Deener didn't, and I thought she had the most beautiful and distinctive handwriting I've ever seen.

(And wasn’t a bad-looking lady, either, but rather above my station, plus being a year ahead of me in school).

Nice of Billy to say it in print, though.

Ernie Simpson

One word: wow! That's exactly right. Larry Miles had the coolest cuffs on his Levi's, so mine had to be like that.

Monday, July 11, 2005


(Run originally 4/10/04 on our old site)

Harold Gene Sullivan

I remember Mady Armstrong well. In fact, within the last few days I had been thinking about her. It must have been the same Davenport story that jogged both us. One year, when the county fair was still held on the grounds where the gym was built and Birdseye went in, so it must have been in the late-40’s, I remember her chasing the high school band majorettes all over because she though the skirts were too short. Also, she lived on Vine or Academy just east of Main. It was all grown up around it, looking just like one would expect of such a character. Her house was always a favorite to hit on Halloween night.

Across from my house at 1212 W Race was an old man, Mr. Hall. His house was deep, and I mean deep, into some bushes so that little could be seen of it. Patsy Gail Forrest Fain’s house is on that lot now. We had all sorts of stories about him, mostly very weird. We never saw him as he seldom came out of his lair. We believed that he was real mean and it was always an argument who was going to retrieve the baseball that was hit over in his yard. I don’t remember him ever fussing at us but that didn’t stop the tales. Anyway, he got sick and his daughter, Mrs. Ratcliff, came to help him out. My mother got good friends with her and I started going over there with my mom, the first time with much trepidation. Anyway, it turned out he was a friendly old guy who had lots of stories to tell. I don’t know how our weird stories ever got started.

I too enjoyed the picture of the old gas powered Maytag (I can’t find it. –tlp-). I remember my grandmother, my dad’s mother, had one. She lived out in the country between Monticello and Warren. A long ways from any electricity. I often spent most of the summer down visiting her. She lived by herself and would still climb in the hay loft to pitch hay out to her cows well into her 90’s. Anyway, on Monday morning one of my uncles would come by the place and get the thing started, I remember it being a real chore. Also, he would get the fires started under the wash pots, as described by Dan. Then all the nearby neighbor women, there were 5 or so within a mile, would gather in the barn lot where the wash house was located and would spend the day washing all their clothes. The water was very hard down there, she had one of the few wells that wasn’t so bad. But she kept rain barrels under each of the eves to catch soft water they used for washing, also. There would be laundry hanging on all the fences around the lot.

We had a wringer Maytag washer but it was electric. One time my brother and I were left a tub of peas to shell. We heard about people shelling dried peas (black-eye, field, purple-hull etc.) by putting them through the wringer and the shelled peas would end up in the tub. Well, it didn’t work too well, but I remember for months after finding shelled peas all over the screened-in back porch.

Ramona Palmer Riddle

Do I ever remember Mady Armstrong! She lived on Vine close the Rodgers home, in a house grown over with vines and stuff. It was rumored that she built the house with dimes she had saved. We always ran as fast as we could when we passed her house. She always threatened to cut your shorts off if she saw you. Carried that big ole knife in her boot or whatever. She was a scary one for sure. Her name has come up in conversation several times lately.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


(Originally run 1/24/04 on our old site)

Don Thompson

Tom, you wrote: “The ‘Hawaii Calls’ program may’ve been heard here at 11 p.m. but, in Honolulu, that translated to about 5 or 6 in the afternoon, when the entertainers were up and around and available, but not quite ready to go to their regular club jobs yet. Sound quality for most of the show’s history left a great deal to be desired, since phone lines were used to get the show to the Mainland.”
There is a hint of skepticism about my hearing Hawaii Calls about 11 p.m. in the early 50s in your comment. My memory of the sound quality was that it was as good as any other music on the radio at that time. The wind and surf came through clearly, as did the steel guitar sounds. I definitely remember the host saying that it was being broadcast live. I did a little searching on the Net and found this interesting comment about the show transmission.
The Banyan Lanai - Moana Hotel - Waikiki during "Hawaii Calls"

CBS (at least I heard this from an ancient CBS engineer in San Francisco) carried a live show from Hawaii called "Webley Edward's Hawaii Calls". Since the show was live and this was loooonnnngggg before Arthur C. Clarke came up with the whacky idea of geosyncronous satellites (it was in 1946 that he dreamed that up), the show was sent stateside via short-wave radio. And since short-wave radio was as flaky then as it is now, they used two transmitters so the network engineers could cross fade to whichever signal was better. One transmitter was fed by a microphone on the left side of the stage, while the other was fed by a mic on the right side. The engineers in San Francisco listened to the broadcast in stereo from the late thirties all the way until WWII started (1941).
I have no way of verifying this, but it is conceivable that the broadcasts could have been received via short-wave in San Francisco and networked across the U.S. Also, Hawaii Calls was not a club show. It was a special show intended to be broadcast live to the mainland. So, who would be listening in the wee hours of the morning. I believe in the 70s, it was broadcast on Sunday mornings. The last show was in 1974, I think.

Tom Pry

Given the technical limitations of the medium in the 30s and 40s, it is quite conceivable that it was short-waved. Both AM radio and phone lines (and 78 rpm records) have the same frequency cutoff: at the best, around 7Khz (FM is more like twice that or more, which is why FM sounds so much better).

Further, if the shortwave transmitters were on two different bands, there could be a sizeable difference in the sound quality (static, etc.) between one transmitter and the other. The morning of December 7, 1941, the U.S. Navy’s transmitters couldn’t get through to Hawaii on their transmitters, but RCA wasn’t having any problems.

In any case, NOT skepticism, Don, just an Inquiring Mind with a slightly technical bent, ‘though nowhere close to your league.

For those who wonder what all this is about, a web site is getting ready to do re-broadcasts of the old shows. Find out more at

In any case, lest this get TOO serious, a contribution about two of the most popular performers on radio during the 40s:

Dan Randle

Jack Benny and George Burns became friends when both were young performers working their way up through the vaudeville circuit, and they remained friends until Benny died.

One day, they were lunching at a Hollywood restaurant, and Benny was wrestling with the problem of whether or not to butter his bread. "I like butter on my bread," he said. "But my diet strictly forbids butter. Maybe I should call Mary (Livingstone, his wife) and ask her what to do."

"Jack," Burns said, "don't be ridiculous. You're a grown man. You should be able to decide, without your wife's help, whether or not to butter your own bread."

"You're right," Benny said. "I'll just have the butter, that's all."

When the waiter arrived with the check, Burns pointed to Benny and said, "He's paying."

"What!??!" Benny said. "Why should I have to pay the whole bill?"

"Because if you don't," Burns said, "I'll tell Mary about the butter."

Saturday, July 09, 2005


(Originally run 1/9/04 on our old site)

Dan E. Randle

When you’re talking about pictures, I ran across a couple that will have you guessing. The first one must have been taken in 1955, since Glenn Jones and Billy Barger are in the picture: they should have graduated in 1955.

The other picture is of a recital in 1953, my third year in piano. You will notice a young Bobby Scott in the background with me.

The next year was my last year with the piano. One of the things I always prided myself on was never using sheet music on a recital. I always memorized the music I was to play. At the 1954 recital, Mrs. Ward decided that she and I should play a duet. She was a very accomplished pianist and ad-libbed her part. The night of the recital she put some different runs on her part and totally stumped me. I stopped in the middle of my piece, which I had never done before (I was so embarrassed I didn't know what to do). What I finally did was to skip over three pages and rushed to the end of the music. I got up from the piano, walked out of the church and vowed I would never play in public again.

I remember having a very hard time playing solo parts in the band, always afraid that I would mess up again. I never felt that I was up to par with you guys -- Larry, Frank, Ernest -- since you all had so much more experience than I did. I will have to say that the time I spent in the band and swing band were some of the best memories I have today.

EDITOR’S NOTES: Among the people I saw in the DeMolay photo are Elmer Dale Yancey and Marvin Lee Sowell. Dan is second from the right in the front row.

In the Ward photo, the Usual Suspects: Mary Katharine Van Patten, Dan in the middle with Bobby Scott Fuller, Billy Anderson, and Ann Shannon.

Can you name everyone in one or the other of these photos?

Incidentally, if you want to enlarge the photos for a better look (or to save), just tap on the picture -- or go to . -tlp-

Friday, July 08, 2005


Here’s a followup to yesterday’s news about the death of Jimmy Collins, taken from the Searcy Daily Citizen:

Jim Collins' service was conducted Monday, June 20, 2005, at Powell's Searcy. James Hays officiated.Music included "It Is Well," Amber Martin; "Beulah Land," "No One Knows Me Like Jesus," Gail Nier. Pallbearers: Charles Gann, Buddy Phillips, Kevin Miller, Q Hite, David Martin, Don Cranford, Patrick Miller, Charles Mize. Burial: Gum Springs.