Wednesday, August 31, 2005


(Originally run 3/11/04 on our old site)

Anita Hart Fuller

To set the record straight: the little old white haired lady in the Searcy Public Library (or was it the White County Public Library?) was Miss Blanche Debois. She had no teeth, as I recall, or maybe just a "few".....

Miss Angie Mae Dellinger was the lunch room supervisor, and mother of Dorothy Dellinger Young. Dorothy was 99 yr. old when she died, but "pushing" l00, according to MY mother, 95 yrs. old and pushing 96. Mother says she thinks she drove up until a few years before her death.

Out of here; we're off to K.C. to babysit grandkids so some others can start up something to recall and argue about. Mary Kay, I can't believe you're reading this and keeping quiet!!!

Well, not ENTIRELY quiet – she just prefers to remain anonymous. Perhaps she was the one who sent the following:

Miss Blanche DuBois was the librarian for many years. She lived with her sister Miss Opal DuBois in a frame two story house at the top of that really steep hill just south of the gym. When we couldn't think of any other entertainment, we would go to the library and try to check out The Naked and The Dead. She never would let us have it, but would not tell us WHY we couldn't have it.

Dorothy Dellinger taught English in high school. Her job was taken by Lois Thornton when Dorothy married. Her mother Angie Mae Dellinger (little white haired woman) ran the lunch-room

Susie Hoffman Boyett

I probably didn't communicate as well as I should have. It was Dorothy's mother, Angie Mae Dillinger, who ran the school cafeteria. (I believe Dorothy taught school here in Searcy for a while).Also, I took a minute to go back through old minutes. Miss Blanche retired as both city and county librarian in 1956; Mrs. Bishop was not hired until the early 70's

If I wanted to send you an amusing story about the train from Searcy to Kensett, could I photocopy it and fax it to you for consideration? Our scanner leaves something to be desired.

You were very clear, Susie, but your Faithful Editor is out of practice at taking notes and asking the right questions.

My thanks to all of you for coloring in the outline of some dear experiences. Those of us who used the library facilities during our “growing up years,” not only cherish the experience, but have continued it to this day … which is not a bad legacy at all. –tlp-

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


(Originally run 3/9/04 & 3/10/04 on our old site)

Mary Kay James

Joe Phillips died ... I do not know the date. He was the cousin of Judy Owens. Judy married Darrel Max Palmer, who is also deceased. She lives in Texarkana.

Harold Gene Sullivan

It is interesting to see the references to Joe Phillips. When I was at Searcy last summer for my 50th high school reunion, I drove by his old house. I tried and tried to remember what his name was. I was 3 or 4 years older, it seemed a lot older in those days. I remember helping him learn electronics, as I was an avid ham radio operator. As soon as I saw the picture posted yesterday I said to myself, that’s him!

My ham radio days made lots of use of war surplus equipment. It was really dirt cheap, and had to be for me to afford any of it. One could buy great transmitters for $5 which worked well for the ham bands with only small modifications.

The one I liked the best was the ARC-5/T-19. (Now if I could just remember anything important.) It used a pair of 1625 tubes in the power output. As a ham, I would over-power them until they ran cherry red on the plates. The tubes didn’t last very long at that power lever, but I could go out to Harding College and get all of them I wanted for nothing. I don’t remember why they had crates of them.

Dan’s mentioning of John Davis reminded me of my last year in high school. I worked as stock boy at Federated Store for several years, $0.40/hour. Big money. In the spring of 1953, Wayne Dale approached me as I was washing the windows out front (a daily chore). He asked me how much I was making there and I told him. He said he was shutting down his appliance store out on East Race and needed someone to tend it for the summer and would double my pay if I wanted the job. Since I was going to college in the fall, it didn’t take long for me to decide to take him up on his offer. So I spent the summer selling off his inventory. I remember one time asking him how much of a price cut was he willing to take to sell things. He only said, “Just don’t let a customer get away!” He never complained about what prices I was getting for things and some people got great deals.

Anyway, John Davis, who was also engineer on the DK&S train, had a radio/TV repair shop in Wayne Dale’s appliance store. He worked there afternoons and weekends. I was fairly knowledgeable about radios and TVs in those days. He told me he would pay me for any of them that I fixed when people brought them in. So not only did I make the fantastic salary of $0.80/hr, but made lots of extra money fixing things for John Davis. Some days only one or two customers would come in all day so I had lots of time to fill doing what ever I could find to do. Mr. Bauer at Federated Store kept me very busy and never wanted to find me just sitting around goofing off, so I was really nervous at the appliance store because, many times, I just couldn’t find anything to do and Wayne Dale would come in finding me just sitting there reading. However, he never said anything to me about it.

One day I was working on a TV someone brought in and I got my screwdriver near the horizontal oscillator, which generated the high voltage for the picture tube. The high voltage broke down the insulation of the handle and knocked me across the room. I hit the back of my head on the door jamb and was sitting there trying to get my wits about me when Wayne Dale came in and saw me bleeding. After that, I wasn’t suppose to work on TVs when no one else was around.

I didn’t get too near the SHS library, any more than necessary for study hall. However, I did visit the Spring Park library. It was always so cool there in the summer when every place else was hot. I don’t remember the mold on the books that Ann referred to, guess that was not in my concerns. I remember the little, old white headed lady there, I’m sure others will come up with her name for sure, but I think it was Dorothy Dillinger. To me, she had always been there.

One story I remember about the SHS library was from some years before I was in high school, when some kids, for Halloween, disassembled a farm wagon and reassembled it in the library. There was a big witch hunt to try to find out who did it but I don’t think they ever pinned it on anyone. Maybe someone else remembers more details.

Had a nice long chat with Suzy Hoffman Boyette (who, thanks to Roland King, is a pretty steady visitor to the site), who’s the County person in charge of the White County Library System. She says that Dorothy Dillinger (Young) was never an employee of the Library. Suzy noted, too, that Dorothy recently died, at age 90. Dorothy ran the school cafeteria up till about the 52/53 school year.

Most probably, you are thinking of either Blanche DuBois or, succeeding her, Inez Bishop (whose framed photo hangs in the Arkansas Room at Library Spring Park building).


Joe Phillips and I were pretty close. I remember him as having a super-dry pokerfaced sense of humor. Shortly after I met him, I asked him before History class one day, "Joe, are you nearsighted, farsighted, or have an astigmatism of some sort?" He stared straight at me for a few moments through his Coke-bottle lenses (which, later, were not enough to keep him out of the Navy) before, without a change of expression, he said, "Yes."

Period. -tlp-

Monday, August 29, 2005


(Originally run 3/7/04 on our old site)

Don Thompson

Your call for senior pictures isn't going unheard, even if it is the same old same old responding. Maybe some of the younger set will take the hint and submit some mug shots.

September 19, 2001, a group of us class '54 and some class '53 folks attended a performance of theplay “You Can't Take it With You”, at the Arkansas Rep Theater in Little Rock. This was the senior play the class of '54 presented April 30, 1954.

Anita Fuller spearheaded the get-together, and arranged through her daughter, Karen, to have our mini reunion at the theater presented on Channel 7's “Good Morning Arkansas” the next day.

The senior thespians shown in the group picture taken after the play are:

(Front row, l-r) Mary Ann Johnson Fuller, Dorothy Quattlebaum, Jeanette Coward Weir, Mary Beth Cook Spangler, Judy Rice Yates, Betty Brown, and Paula Windsor Peacock Thompson. (Back row, l-r) William Harold "Cotton" Fuller, Bryant Quattlebaum, Donald Thompson, Anita Hart Fuller, Bobby Fuller, Carolyn Thompson Nicholson, and Tommy Brown.

Earlier in the day

, we had coffee at The Community Bakery, and Daphne Knight Hall joined us, but could not attend the play.

There you have it: some seniors indulging in their favorite pastimes, eating and partying.


Saturday, August 27, 2005


(Run originally 3/6/04 on our old site)

Ernie Simpson

I loved Bobby Scott Fuller’s story about the choir in San Antonio, and I can’t imagine how wonderful it would have been to be there to hear that. I have a little story about a famous choir, but I don’t think even this one would match the glorious sound that came from the Riverwalk that night.

Greg Bennett was a good friend and distributor who worked at Hoj Engineering in Salt Lake City. It was a pleasure to have him come to Jonesboro, and it was good to visit with him on business when I traveled to Utah. He was a fun guy, and his wife could sing wonderfully, and even had made an album or two of religious music. I thought it was top quality work, and hoped she might have some success in professional music.

We often talked about our mutual love for music, and from our conversations, Greg knew of my background before coming to work at Hytrol, and how band directing had been a total way of life for me for over eighteen years. It must have come out in conversation that I had a minor in voice, too. I really hadn’t thought about that very much, but he knew about it. I do remember telling him the story of directing the Manila madrigal singers after Diane passed away, and the group was lucky enough to have won honors at the state choral festival in Hot Springs the year I was conductor with them.

Greg asked me if I had ever heard the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir in person, I said no, never had a chance to, but I was a great admirer of the group and they were truly legendary. I imagined all those wonderful singers, with voices like angels, that could inspire through music anyone who would listen.

In 1985, I had scheduled a trip to the west to contact distributors, do some training, and market analysis of territories, and one of my stops was Salt Lake City. I had set up the appointment with Greg some time earlier, and he told me we were going to have a nice dinner, and said he was planning for us to go to a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We were lucky the choir was in town, since they had several performances and tours scheduled.

I thought this was great, since the rehearsals were open to the public, and I had always heard about the famed tabernacle, with the acoustics so perfect you could hear a whisper from the front to the back of the auditorium. The benches were the original pine, and the ceilings were a type of curved dome that helped conduct the sound better than most studios. The organ had most of the original parts, and remains quite famous as a world-renowned instrument.

I arrived on Thursday, October 17th. We conducted our business, and headed to dinner. I was staying at the old Salt Lake Hotel, a really old and ornate hotel that I enjoyed whenever I came. Greg said he was glad I was staying there; since it was only a short distance to the rehearsal hall from the hotel. The majority of the buildings centered on the Temple Square, which consisted of the famous Tabernacle, the worship center and the administrative buildings and Museum.

There had been a serious crime in Salt Lake that week, with the murder of a broadcast journalist so, when we arrived at the auditorium, security was strict. I asked Greg why we were going in the back way, and he replied, “I have a surprise for you, I’ve got it set up for you to sing with the choir.” I said, “What?!?”

Well, seems Greg had written to the president of the choir, along with the director, and some of the officers of the choir and asked for special permission for me to sit in with the group. He said he had first asked permission for me to conduct one of the pieces, but they told him the only person outside the choir director who had ever directed the choir was Jimmy Stewart in 1939 in a movie. However, they would allow me to sit in with the group and sing with them during rehearsal.

I was astounded when he told me this. The famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and here comes me, among all those wonderful and talented singers. It was a thought I couldn’t comprehend.

Greg turned me over to a choir spokesperson as we arrived. He was expecting us, and introduced himself, and made me feel welcome. He then led me to the tenor section, where a complete folder of the evening’s music was on the seat. The men around me shook hands with me very politely and said, “Glad to have you here.” I was nervous as a cat.

The president of the choir called things to order, and made announcements about upcoming performances and a tour coming up they were working on, to Japan. They had some brief discussions, and introduced me before turning the choir to the conductor.

The president made the announcement to introduce me to the choir. He said, “We have a guest with us tonight, a good Baptist from Arkansas. Now, we don’t mind good Baptists, as long as they’re good singers. (Chuckle from the choir) His name is Ernie Simpson, and we’re glad to have him with us tonight.” I stood, and there was polite applause from the huge choir. I sat down, and took up the folder, the conductor stood and the rehearsal began.

The folder they gave me for the 2nd Tenor section was made up well, and had all the pieces they were working on. There weren’t really any hard pieces in the folder, technically speaking. We had sung much harder things in college. I guess I was a little surprised that the music was not strongly challenging.

I only remember singing two of the works, something from “The Sound of Music”, and “My Shepherd Shall Supply All My Needs.” I observed that I shouldn’t have been worried about the vocal gymnastics abilities I thought the people of the choir possessed. The men around me were not great technical singers, and I learned later that they don’t look for the finest singers, or soloists, they look more for voices that blend, and people with a strong work ethic and desire to perform with the group. They do not encourage mothers with small children, for example, because the rehearsals, performances and tours would take the mother away from her kids. Membership is limited in the choir, and there’s a waiting list to get in. Auditions are rarely held. There might be an opening .. IF someone dies or moves away.

Most historians date the choir’s beginning to the year 1847. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir first sang on August 22, 1847, twenty-nine days after the pioneers entered Salt Lake Valley. This performance was at the first General Conference to be held in Utah. The conference met in a 28’x40’ bowery with adobe walls, and with brush and earth roof.

At the break, I thanked those around me, shook hands with them, and left the group quietly. When the rehearsal began again, I had seated myself at the other end of the auditorium, so I could hear the group from an audience perspective. It was what I thought it would be, a wonderful sound, rich and beautiful. The organ was awesome, and added power to the group that gave me chill bumps down my spine. The acoustics of the famed tabernacle are renowned, and I found it to be exactly the way I’d heard they would be. Some experts believe one of the secrets of the famed acoustics were the builders’ use of cattle hair in the plaster.

There was an audience of several hundred people who came in to hear the rehearsal; I guessed three hundred or so. I understand that’s the way it is with each rehearsal. The choir’s fame draws many of the public to come hear them sing at the Thursday night rehearsal when the choir is in town.

I have always been a fan of the choir, and more so now. It was a grand experience to have had a chance to sing with this group, if only for a while. It added to the things I will remember, and I will treasure the efforts of Greg, my friend, who went to so much trouble for me to have had an experience like this, with The Choir, in October 1985.

Tom Pry

I’m constantly amazed by the things some of our classmates/friends have been into in their life. I never woulda guessed a good Baptist boy like Ernie in the middle of the MTC.

I’m a little envious. I used to tell people I was a member of the Norman Abersnackle Choir, of Norman, Oklahoma, a group under the direction of George Abersnackle. Now I’ll have to unfairly defame some other group.

Friday, August 26, 2005


(Originally run 3/5/04 on our old site)

Anita Hart Fuller

Had lunch before the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Sunday afternoon with Don and Paula Thompson, Tommy and Betty Brown. We started talking about and trying to remember the library at SHS. I BARELY remember it, but they do: said it was in study hall - the books being all along the walls, not on shelves like in a library today. But here's my question: did we ever check out books? Did we ever use the reference section - or was there a reference section? - in any of our "studies" (I use the term loosely)? Miss Ellen Key was librarian in our day.

Don remembers checking out some kind of magazines.

My ONLY remembrance of any library was in grammar school, and I checked out my very first Nancy Drew. It had a blue cover (no dust jacket). I ate a bag of potato chips while reading it and, when I had to return it, my greasy fingerprints were all over it. I was so embarrassed ... don't remember the librarian saying anything to me, but I was "scared" when turning it in. They didn't have book drops in those days, did they? Come on, classmates, let's "talk library".

Tom Pry

My only memories of books in there … on the north wall was a counter, and it seems to me that the wall behind the counter had the only bookshelves in the room.

That’s also where the National Geographic magazines were stashed and, if you dug deep enough, you could almost always find at least one picture of a bare-breasted Nubian gal which, as long as you only checked it out from the neck down, was interesting.

I seem to remember that all, or at least most, of C.S. Forester’s classic “Horatio Hornblower” series was in that library, too, each of which I devoured (a full set today from is priced at $150, and the Searcy Library only has SOME of the books, all in the “large type” edition). There was also a priceless collection of Bill Mauldin cartoons from World War II.

Sadly, my most lasting memory of that study hall/library has nothing to do with books. It was the first day of school, and a middle-aged redheaded lady whose name is lost to me had study hall duty that hour (remember: most of the teachers had to rotate through that thankless duty).

Anyway, first day of study hall always featured a legal pad making the rounds, with everyone penciling in their name. When the pad finally got back to the teacher, she then read each name out loud to make sure no one had been left out. We were supposed to respond “here!” to our name.

One of our supposed number failed to respond to his name. It was about the fourth or fifth iteration of it, amidst a growing number of barely-suppressed adolescent giggles, before the teacher realized she’d been Had. The name she’d been bellowing at the top of her lungs was “I. P. Wellwater!”

Mark Twain had it right. At birth, boys should be sealed into a wine keg and then fed through the bung hole. When they turn 18, hammer in the bung (“stopper” to you young’uns).

Thursday, August 25, 2005


(Run originally 3/4/04 on our old site)

Dan E. Randle

I fell off my chair laughing when I read your story about the horseradish. Since my chair had arms on it, it was hard to do. I know just how you felt.

My story begins in a Navy chow hall in 1958, during the period I was going through Radio school at Naval Training Center, San Diego. I was so hungry one noon that I could have eaten just about anything. As I was going down the Chow line, I came across a large pan of what looked like sour cream. I asked what it was and was told that it was horseradish. Since mom was reared in the country on a farm in Mississippi, she never served anything out of the ordinary. I don't remember anyone serving horseradish in Searcy during my years there. Naturally I took a good size helping of the horseradish. Everyone was telling me I would really like it. Believing them, I took a spoonful, expecting something that tasted good. My sinuses blew out, steam blew out my ears and the top of my head exploded (at least that’s what it felt like). Like you, it took me a few minutes before I could think, see, hear or speak. At that point I was ready to pound on some swabbies. Knowing that I would get into too much trouble, I just gave them a few verbal blue streaks and got over it. Everyone had a big laugh and I soon forgot about it until I read your piece.

I have since developed a taste for horseradish on various food items. In New York, they introduced me to horseradish on beef sandwiches, Virginia horseradish in seafood sauce, just to name a few. I even grew it one time when I was living in Lake Oswego, Oregon. I didn't know it before I planted it, but you can't get rid of the stuff once you have it: I think the roots go down to China. Then, when I ground it up, it was too hot to eat. Next I tried cutting it with parsnip, but it was still too hot, so I gave up: the commercial producers make it so much better than I can. In any case, four years later it was still coming up. I got rid of though: sold the house and moved to Coos Bay.

By the way, I added Judy Deener's picture to the album for Class of 54. I'm getting the impression that people don't want us to see what they look like today. What do you think?

Tom Pry

Reminds me of the story about the little Jewish kid whose mother put horseradish on EVERYTHING. Finally, he went in the Army and, his second day, he reported to sick call. It was the first time in his life he HADN’T had heartburn, and he thought his fire had gone out.

As for YOU and the horseradish, Dan … don’t you think that selling your farm was just a wee tad of overkill?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


(Originally run 3/3/04 on our old site)

Bobby Scott Fuller

I have a follow-up to Ernie's piece about San Antonio.

Several years ago, I attended the national convention of The American Choral Directors Association there in south Texas. Approximately 3,000 of us choral directors met in the city for a four-day convention. There were elementary people, junior high, senior high, college/university, church, community and those who conducted professional choirs. There were four days of intense workshops, concerts and demos.

On Saturday night, following the final concert (conducted by Robert Shaw, of the Robert Shaw Chorale), the entire force of choral directors descended upon the River Walk for a night of revelry and celebration. Somewhere around midnight - I'm not sure where it started - a song began to be sung. Before it was over, the entire River Walk, from one end to the other, reverberated with the singing of most of those 3,000 choral directors. Now, I'm still not sure I have a place on the other side of The Pearly Gates, but I'm sure that the sound of the angels singing will not surpass the sound that I was part of that night. Wish all of you could have been there.

Bob, you just jumped into the fray the right way: you sent it to that Old Gatekeeper, Me.

With the echo chamber effect of the Riverwalk, I’m sure it was an intimation of the Heavenly Choir. –tlp-

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


(Run originally 3/1/04 on our old site)

Ernie Simpson

The last time I was in San Antonio was 1998. It was a great time, but there couldn’t be a hotter place in the world than San Antonio in July. The tourists are wall-to-wall, and the San Antonio River can barely be called that. It’s a narrow canal, with green water and back-to-back barges carrying tons of tourists anxious to see the many sights along the river. There are lots of Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, most good, but you reach a place where the familiar chain of restaurants beckons, those we recognize from home and are comfortable going into.

San Antonio gave me a chance to drive up to New Braunfels, north of the city, to visit with Al English, our high school band director from 1957. He was close to retirement at the time and we talked about old times. It was a great visit with a good friend.

We always stayed at the Marriott Riverwalk, and easy access to the area. We had lunch once at the Tower of the Americas, a really scenic restaurant that rotates during the meal, and makes a revolution about every forty-five minutes. The server said that, a few days before, a guy smuggled a parachute to the observation deck, and jumped off the tower. A friend was waiting for him with a car; he stuffed the parachute into the car and drove away before the police got there. They were still looking for him, according to the server.

I have been to the Alamo several times, and continue to be impressed each time I go into the building. I see different things and think different thoughts each time I’m there. I do understand the truth behind the political and self serving agendas many who were at the Alamo possessed, but those who were not motivated by anything other than patriotism made tremendous sacrifices to defend the Alamo.

Regardless of what might be thought of Col. William Travis and his hidden plans for south Texas, his determination was admirable. For those who were true patriots, the Alamo became a hallowed place, and his cry for reinforcements to keep from losing the Alamo on February 24, 1836 should never be forgotten, and a portion of his last call for help is as follows:

“…if this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country.”

He was twenty-six years old.


Tom Pry

I always felt that San Antonio was a great example of what a little imagination and drive can do to transform a part of a city from an eyesore to something truly attractive. The justly-famous Riverwalk evolved from a winding, trash-laden creek that sluggishly made its way through the center of town. Now, it’s dropped about 12 feet below ground level, surrounded by park walks, and you tend to forget that boulevard’s up there at all .. and it’s known and admired world-wide.

Great convention town, too.

I’m afraid, though, that my lasting memory of the Tower of the Americas is of the night I was attending an HBO dinner party up there. The light was very dim, which contributed to me taking a big mouthful of what I THOUGHT was coleslaw. It wasn’t: it was shredded horseradish. I was in the middle a group of people, semi-strangers, so I couldn’t follow my first impulse, which was to spew widely. Instead, all I could do was carefully chew, and even more carefully swallow, glad that the lights were down, so my companions couldn’t see the 57 shades I turned during the five minutes before I was finally able to talk again.

Better to remember Travis and the Alamo than to Remember The Horseradish!

Monday, August 22, 2005


(Originally run 3/2/04 on our old site)

Dan E. Randle

I was a member of the Class of ’57. The other day, I ran across some quotes from that innocent era. Remember having thoughts like these?


(1) "I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, its going to be impossible to buy a weeks groceries for $20.00."

(2) "Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long when $5,000 will only buy a used one."

(3) "If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a pack is ridiculous."

(4) "Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to mail a letter?"

(5) "If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire outside help at the store."

(6) "When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage,"

(7) "Kids today are impossible. Those ducktail hair cuts make it impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing their hair as long as the girls,"

(8) "I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying ‘damn’ in ‘Gone With The Wind’, it seems every new movie has either hell or damn in it."

(9) "I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century. They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas."

(10) "Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday that they will be making more than the President."

(11) "I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now"

(12) "It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet."

(13) "It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work."

(15) "I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business."

(16) "Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to Congress."

(17) "The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on."

(18) "There is no sense going to Little Rock anymore for a weekend. It costs nearly $15.00 a night to stay in a hotel."

(19) "No one can afford to be sick any more: $35.00 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood."

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Tom Pry

There are days when I feel more like a postman than a writer. Our friend, Ernie, sent a note we published the other day (8/17/05 “A Note from Jonesboro”). Said note generated some confusion in the Thompson household, and they sent me a note asking how to get in touch with Ernie directly.

I have discretion from “Saphead” Simpson (remember that as his nickname back in school?) on that, so I sent his e-mail address to Don and Paula, along with the explanation that Ernie’s waging a full-blown battle against prostate cancer. That triggered off this exchange:

Hi Ernie,

Saw the note about you in the journal today. I asked Tom about you and he gave me your e-mail address. Fortunately, cancer treatments have advanced to be pretty effective. Paula and I hope you are doing well. You probably remember that Paula went through chemo and radiation therapy for breast cancer over a year ago. She lost some hair but not too much.

I firmly believe that a good attitude can help greatly the healing process. Just keep on being positive and this, too, shall pass. Thanks for all the good stories in the journal. I am so thankful to be here in Arkansas near people who remember growing up in Searcy.

We had a very nice visit with Harold and Carolyn Sullivan in Seattle a week ago. Harold just had shoulder surgery to replace the rotator cup. He had it done on the other shoulder about 7 years ago. He just wears out his shoulders lifting himself in and out of seats because of his MS. You probably saw our pic in the journal.

Take care and keep on cranking out those stories.

Don and Paula Thompson

Hi Don and Paula:

Thanks for the good words of encouragement...I will not go quietly into that good night, and intend to keep this cancer at bay as long as I can. It has metastasized to the bone, and the challenge is great, but I will keep working to keep it down.

I didn't explain anything about my shooting hobby...I belong to the United States Practical Shooting Association and the National Range Officers Institute. We use handguns as a form of recreation, and set courses of fire (12-36 rounds) with paper targets behind barrels, barricades, etc. Each is a particular challenging scenario. On an audible signal, draw and engage the targets as you see them, reloading as necessary...and scores are figured by the number of hits, divided by time. Shooting on the move is particularly challenging, so that's why I put, 'shuffle, shuffle, bang'. Anyway, this sport takes stamina, of which I have less and less. Heck.

Remember Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force? His .44 mag. is TOO big for my taste. Ha; I saw that gun once in San Francisco at Planet Hollywood, and it is a monster.

Thanks for the update on Harold Gene...I remember him as a decent baritone player.


Tom Pry

(As opposed to an INdecent baritone player?)

I do have carte blanche from Ernie to publish his stuff but, before letting you in on the other half of this e-mail exchange, I DID ask the Thompsons for permission. Don’s response:

Don Thompson

Thanks for asking. Neither Paula or I mind having the e-mails published. Maybe some one else will be inspired to write something for the journal or write someone else who may need cheering up. Harold's phone number in rehab is 425 313-3813. He would welcome a call to help him pass the long days.

Take that as a not-too-subtle hint. –tlp-

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Following my admonition to tell all of us about the significant and/or interesting people in your life, we have the following:

Ernie Simpson

Mama Huggs brought Diane to Arkansas State to look over the college during her senior year in high school. The year was 1960. I was playing in the symphonic band, and we were rehearsing for a concert coming up soon. Ivon, Diane’s mother, Norman, her dad, and Diane wanted to meet Mr. Minx, as he was a really good friend of Diane’s high school band director, R.B. (Scrubby) Watson, a legend in instrumental music in the state at that time. I didn’t know for sure, but it was said that Scrubby played cornet in John Philip Sousa’s band as a young man.

Scrubby was the band director at Pine Bluff High, and Diane was a superb, two year All-State flute player, whom Don Minx had recruited for Arkansas State. Since Scrubby and Don were friends, Scrubby encouraged Diane to come to Jonesboro and talk to Mr. Minx.

During the rehearsal that day, Mama Huggs, Norman, Diane’s brother Chuck and Diane were in Wilson Auditorium listening. As the rehearsal progressed, problems were developing with some places in the piece we were working on, Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave, I think it was. The brass was covering the passage poorly, and Mr. Minx stopped the band to let them know his opinion of how we were playing.

“Goddammit, trumpets, if you can’t get the damned articulation right, I’ll get someone who can!” or words to that effect, in his great booming voice.

Well, Mama Huggs was strait laced, and she stiffened to hear this outburst echo throughout the auditorium from a respected conductor to whom she had been asked to entrust her daughter for four years of musical education. When Mr. Minx came down from the rehearsal stage during a break, she was very cool to him when he greeted her. This was her first time to meet the great Don Minx. He had a winning smile and went on and on, about what a great flute player Diane was, and about how he really wanted her to come to Jonesboro to school. Norman was non-committal, and Diane of course thought Mr. Minx was wonderful.

Don Minx had a charm that would soon win over just about anyone, and soon Mama Huggs was won over too, and in years to come became one of Don Minx’s biggest fans.

Diane entered school in the fall of 1960, and we had our first date sometime before Christmas of that year.

Mr. Minx loved Diane, and she loved him. She was an outstanding musician, and was a top flute player at Arkansas State during her college days. She was only 5’, 1-1/2 “ tall, (she always had a dream that someday she’d wake up and be 5’2”) and since she was short, her feet hardly touched the floor.

One day, Mr. Minx had the folding chair she used in rehearsal sent to the maintenance plant and had 2” cut off each leg, so her feet could touch the floor. With great ceremony, he presented the chair to her in rehearsal, and the band had a big laugh. She was embarrassed, but loved it because he had presented it to her.

She used that one chair all her years in the symphonic band, both in rehearsal and performance. Diane passed away in 1968, and Mr. Minx in 1982. I have thought of how those two had such love and respect for each other and that I was privileged to have had them both in my life. I thought of that incident only recently, a simple little memory that somehow stayed in my mind from long ago.

Tom Pry

“Scrubby” Watson, the legendary Pine Bluff band director, was for some reason simultaneously admired, enjoyed, and feared by those of us who dabbled seriously in music in high school.

One thing was for sure: when you graduated from Scrubby’s hands (and from under the gaze of his one glass eye), you WERE a musician.

If recommended to Don Minx by Scrubby Watson, Diane has to have been one heckuva musician: it’s a double accolade to her skill.

P.S. In case you haven't figured it out, Ernie married Diane, and it is their son, Stuart, who was kind enough to rush the above picture to me for this piece.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Tom Pry

In the past year-or-so, I’ve become a photographic opportunist.


I carry my digital camera (a Sony Mavica, using garden variety floppy discs as the storage media) everywhere I go. The opportunities to get a good picture are never predictable, and rarely will you find them happening again.

Now, originally, we bought the camera because a couple of priceless friends of ours treated us to a week’s trip to Walt Disney World back in 2000. We took over 700 photos on that trip. Think for a moment about what that would’ve cost in terms of film, processing and prints, using a conventional camera. But we already had an unbelievable number of floppy discs so, other than the cost of the camera, we were home free. Quality was excellent, as witness the above shot.

A couple of years ago, we were messing with the camera and discovered a cute little quality setting, which we moved to its highest position, “Fine.” WOW! You could only get 4-6 pictures on a disc but, again, discs are no problem.

This is the setting I used for the photos I put in the Citizen.

And then I discovered other cute little things I could do. For instance, photos from our old yearbooks at the Searcy Library. Trying to get those books away from Susie Hoffman Boyette’s ladies in order to scan them is like trying to take their first-born male child: it ain’t happening.

Thus, I discovered I could get quite adequate photos by laying the yearbook on the floor of the reference room, sitting down, bending over, and catching the picture with my camera. Then I trim it up and goose it up a bit with my Paint Shop Pro program, and use it here on Searcy Yesteryear.

Yesterday, I ran across a bunch of old photos in a most unexpected place: the White House Beauty Shop out on the west end of town. I suddenly realized that there was no reason at all why I couldn’t immortalize them for you, so here we go (and thanks to Reva, for not throwing me out on my ear), and didn’t even have to take them off the wall to do it; good thing, too, because those suckers are REALLY fastened on there.

This shot of the White County Courthouse was taken in either 1914 or 1915. Whichever, it was shortly after the north and south additions were tacked on.

What caught my eye originally was trains, buff that I am. This shot of the Bald Knob Missouri Pacific station in Bald Knob back in 1914 reminded me of the time I spent in there. The central area of the station had the baggage storage and ticket office, and was the domain of the depot manager. On each side of the that central area were waiting rooms: the one on the south (as I recall) for Whites Only, the one on the north for Coloreds. Shameful, but a fact of life in the south in those days.

And the Cream o’ the Crop, so far as I’m concerned, was this shot of ole 3607, a 2-6-0 that was the last steam locomotive used on the Doniphan, Kensett, and Searcy Railroad, shown here parked on one of Searcy’s several sidings.

You can have fun being a sly opportunist. Try it. Don’t just haul your camera out for special occasions. Stick in your pocket or purse and grab pictures you run across unintentionally, even if it’s just a lovely sunset. It’s not going to cost you anything but a little time.

Then, after you’ve taken them, share them with all of us here. After all, like a smile, you can share it and still have it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


(Originally run 2/29/04 on our old site)

NOTE: All photos referenced in this piece can be found at .

Don Thompson

Yes, Judy Deener was an interesting gal. Her handwriting was indeed distinctive and artsy.

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.


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 l950 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.

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 award ceremony 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.

I remember my father talking to one of his old high school buddies and commenting, "You know, if we'd ever catch our kids doing what we did at their age, we'd probably kill them -- if whatever they were doing didn't kill them first."

Some things never change in the human condition. -tlp-

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Ernie Simpson

Dear friends:

Well, the appointment didn't go well on Tuesday...seems I developed a little UT infection last week, and they wouldn't give me chemo till I have clearedit up. Next appointment on the 22nd.

Of course, another week without chemo is a good week. Although the stuff clears out of your system right away, the side affects still hang on. You learn to be real creative in dealing with the side effects. Your cornbread tastes like dry concrete, and your mashed potatoes taste like wet concrete (no fault of the cook, I assure you) ... can't stand the smell of onions or garlic, and when you can't stand the smell of your shower soap, here's what you do: take a cotton ball, tear it in two, stuff half of the cotton ball up each nostril and go ahead and take your shower. Well, you have to do what you can, know what I mean?

I have not attended many of my pistol matches lately; used to, I would run, bang, bang. Now it's shuffle, shuffle, bang. So we'll wait till stamina gets back.

And, too, I may need a lift chair to get in and out of my Corvette. I never thought I'd see the day when it was too low!

But, I feel really good today, in fact I think I'll go shave my head. Can't let that hair get too tall you know. Let me hear from you....

My best,


Tom Pry

Ernie: cornbread is NOT supposed to taste like dry concrete?? Gotta talk to the old lady about the mix she’s using ……

As for getting in and out of low cars, we have an Oldsmobile Alero – and you should hear the noises we make getting out of it. If we can ever afford a new vehicle, it’s a KIA Sportage for us: better to climb up hand-over-hand than to have to crawl out … and then stand up when exiting. At least with the KIA we could just fall out of the front seat.

Glad to see your spirit is still intact, old friend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Retirement Thoughts since September, 2001

(Originally run 2/28/04 on our old site)

Ernie Simpson

I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I wonder if I should not go ahead and do it. To use the words I heard from a friend from Houston not long ago, “I’m going to sign up.” I wondered what ‘sign up’ meant so I asked him. He said, “Sign up for my Social Security.” I said, “Oh.” South Texas term I guess, ‘sign up.’ Could just have easily been a White County term, and maybe it was, he just borrowed it.

Well, I’m conservative as to decisions like this, not as much as some, but still want to make sure I have my ducks in a row before going. I think about people preoccupied with work to the point that they call in every day while on vacation, and are either required to carry or want to carry a cell phone or pager while on vacation. I don’t call in. I used to “check in with the office”, but now it’s more important to get completely away.

I wonder sometime about the recitals missed, the flowers not smelled, and the leisurely pursuits imagined but not enjoyed by some that can’t get away. I was lucky: I wanted to be a part of my boys growing up, but I think that, if I had it to do over again, I would be and do more of that. I had the time to do it, and it worked out pretty well. I do wonder how many more flowers I could smell if I went ahead now, however. I sometimes think too, that there are only so many you’ll have a chance to smell, so don’t lose the opportunity to skip even one, if possible. Like, what are you waiting for?

Sometimes business meetings here seem to be collections of the exhausted, inattentive and preoccupied, for the most part. I wonder too, as we get things called back by customers, if sloppy work has been legitimized in order to attain speed. It’s discouraging to be in the middle of this, and retirement looks richer.

The accepted norms at times ask that we sacrifice family and personal life for the corporate good. I remember years ago, my boss, Sam, who had a distributor guest here in town, and chose to take the distributor to dinner and missed his son’s high school graduation. That was standard for some at that time, and in some cases it has not changed. Sam’s son never forgave him.

I’m thankful to be coming close to the end of my career here, and won’t have to worry much longer about the choices of boarding the plane for travel on Sunday, staying over for a better rate, and doing training on my own time for the corporate good. There are those who are here who will sacrifice all their life, and live to work, instead of work to live. I’m thankful that I know the difference and am blessed that “there, but for the grace of God, go I.”

I’m a fan of Pogo the Possum too, who said, “we has met the enemy and he is us.” We both have met the enemy, Pogo. Fear not, I know who it is.

NOTE: Ole Ern set the Big Day for 10/29/04. And, by George, he kept it! –tlp-

Monday, August 15, 2005


(Run originally 2/26/04 on our old site)

Don Thompson

SHS's newspaper ran many years as The Lion in some form or another. I have a copy of the 1953 version where it's called “The (logo of lion).”

Also, here are some annual pics to pass on for the . The 1948 and 1949 annuals were called The Cavalier. The 1950 and 1951 books were called The Lion's Diary, and then The Lion to the present (I guess).

After looking at those annual pics more carefully, I noticed that the 48 is The Cavalier and the 49 is The Cavelier. Someone didn't proofread 49's cover very well.

EDITOR’S NOTES: I notice that the newspaper was a yearly exercise, probably intended as an update to the Annual, which was, of course, “put to bed” several months previous to graduation.

Of special interest was the closeup of the masthead showing the Editor to be no less than Perrin Jones. After graduation, he hied himself off to the U of A, then came back home to take over the reins of the Searcy Citizen. After the paper was sold, he remained Editor Emeritus, while moving on to the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. He still does a weekly column in The Citizen, though. –tlp-

Roland King

Anita asked about where the money came from to buy the jackets and when did the girl friends get them.

To tell the truth, I don't remember where the money came from or who paid for them. So it must have been from the school? Roger Vaughn, Bill Barger, or Elmer Dale might remember. I know I got six letter jackets in football (three in jr high and 3 in sr high) with the same number of letters in track, and I didn't have to pay anything.

We did have a booster club, but I don't know if they raised money. Anyone earning a letter was initiated into the S Club, which required the ones being initiated to do wise and fun things such as swallowing an oyster tied to a string (after the appropriate sound effects were made) and then having it pulled back up. Of course, the person was blindfolded while this was happening. The other fun thing we did was to carry paddles around and anyone who paid us a dollar could hit us. This was one way we raised money which, as I remember, we used to buy the coaches gifts.

I think most of the time the girl friends got the new jackets.

It was 15 years before I could ever eat an oyster.

Initiations were always exercises in tastelessness and, in some cases, outright meanness. “Belt lines” were one such excess: the upperclassmen in the group (in my case, the FFA) would form two lines in the street in front of the school, and then the hapless initiates were required to run between the lines, while the upperclassmen swung the belts from their pants at the departing fannies.

Sometimes, you were told to walk rapidly, don’t run.

This particular piece of excess came to a screeching halt the day someone decided it would be cute to hold the tail end of the belt, so that the buckle was at the business end – where it tore a gash in the palm of my hand as I went by.

In this day and age, of course, my family would’ve sued the school and each individual FFA member for an aggregate $1,000,000 in damages. In 1952, though, the school just eliminated belt lines from the acceptable list of initiation sadisms, which was fine by me – I didn’t even have to suggest it. –tlp-

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Eddie Best

Hi, Anita & Bob -

I got a nice note from Leah Dewberry Moss about the 1950 band picture in the newsletter this month. Remember her? She said 1950 was her year at Searcy High School. She's a widow now, living in Paris, Texas.

But that's not the reason I am writing today:

I got a phone call from a woman in Corpus Christi whose father was in service with a man from Searcy that he and all others always referred to as "RODNEY" ... and she thinks that was probably his last name because folks in service don't normally call one another by their first name. She guesses he would have graduated from Searcy HS "1950ish". Does that name ring a bell with either of you? The last name could have been Radney or Roddni or something else that sounds like RODNEY. If that sounds familiar, I'd appreciate your help.

I am sending this to the Channel 6 tv tycoon, too, in case he remembers somebody like that.

Murl Beck


Thanks for the pictures of Highway 36. I'm glad to hear the project is finally over. I haven't been to Searcy in about a year and the highway was a mess then, orange barrels everywhere. I know that the people who have to travel it every day are excited that it's finished. I grew up on the farm on the north side of the highway just about where the four lanes now end. The pictures bring back great memories. Keep up the good work with the website.

Tom Pry

The four-lane ends just past that last rise on the 36 west-looking pictures.

According to the story in the Citizen, the four-laning project didn’t begin until February of this year. Somehow, I don’t think that’s right; seems like it was a heckuva lot longer than that, but it IS done now, thank goodness.

Have heard nothing from Bob and Anita lately, and I’m starting to get worried about them. Can anyone shed some light?

As for Eddie’s reference to the “Channel 6 TV tycoon,” I’ve been doing a little work with Searcy’s newest media outlet: My Town TV, TV6, “The Way Community Television Ought To Be.” Got to host the official ribbon cutting on the tube and then, the other day, in a strange throwback to the old days in radio, it was hosting live audio coverage coming from the Little League All-Star game in Alabama, and inserting LIVE, ad-libbed local commercials … with precious little time to get ready for it all.

But, it’s like riding a bicycle ……

As always, the kind words are VERY appreciated.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


(Originally run 2/20/04 on our old site)

Tom Pry

When I first started this stewpot of a site, I thought my contribution to it would be limited, mostly, to editing other people’s recollections, and throwing in the occasional soupbone in the form of one of my thematic “Searcy ’46-‘56” series.

I mean, I already had my other site to get personal, to inject humor, to tell about my family … this spot, then, to stay away from my family personalities and quirks.

In making that decision, I unwittingly violated Pry’s First Rule of Historical Appreciation: “If it ain’t about people, it has no flavor.”

While I can’t speak for you, I found History, as a subject, bbbooorrrrriiiiinnnnggggg. All those dates I could rarely remember, and places that, in many cases, didn’t even exist anymore.

I can still remember my moment of primary epiphany on the subject: an October morning in 1956 when the bulb-nosed Dr. Lewis Dralle, history instructor at what was then ASTC, told our class, “Let’s face it: Nero was a first-class cuckoo-bird.” Until that moment, Nero had been, for me, another of history’s boring clichéd icons, a guy in a bedsheet, standing on a balcony, cheerfully sawing away at his fiddle (“There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” perhaps?), while his domain was being used to fuel the known world’s largest weinie roast.

You just DON’T refer to a Caesar that way! But Dr. Dralle did, and backed it up with more information, most of it just as irreverent as his first observation.

My second, and final, collapse of “I Hate History” came when I stumbled across the writings of Bruce Catton.

I despised references to (depending on where you were raised:) “The Civil War” or “The War Between the States” etc., ad nauseum In moving here from Chicago at age 13, I fell prey to the social attitudes that led to me later telling people, “I was 15 before I found out damnyankee was actually two words” (just as my Spell Checker is trying to tell me now). With my one year and many summers in rural Arkansas punctuating a life otherwise spent on the west side of Chicago – a blonde, freckle-faced kid with a vague southern twang, in a neighborhood filled with immigrants of Italian, Jewish, Mexican and Armenian extraction – I was inevitably called “Rebel” when I was up there.

Then came Bruce.

You can’t find references to Bruce Catton without also stumbling over such phrases as “eminent historian,” “insightful,” “Founder of ‘American Heritage’ Magazine,” etc. What’s buried way the hell down in the footnotes is the information that ole Bruce was academically unqualified (as modern thinking has it) to be an Authority on anything. I’m not sure he ever attended college (except to give speeches and lectures); he damn sure never got an academic doctorate, although he got quite a few honorary ones.

But he wrote books. Man, did he ever write books!

98% of my education has come from books, but NOT books I’ve chosen to further my fund of knowledge. The only selection criteria I’ve ever set on a book was this: will it entertain me?

Bruce did history; more, he did the Civil War (indulge me on that name, would you?), and not just throwaway quickies, either. He did a trilogy on the Army of the Potomac, a thick pair of books on the “Western Union Army” – primarily U.S. Grant – and a flock of single books.

And he was entertaining -- still is, in fact, even though Bruce himself has become history.

Bruce made his mark by going to the source.

Lamentably, most history tomes are based on OTHER history books. As Bruce put it, though, he grew up in a small town in Michigan, far enough back that there were still some Union army veterans alive. On the 4th of July, they’d don their uniforms and ride or stumble through the annual parade. The rest of the time, these veterans would sit on front porches, staring at events on a horizon “.. that only they could see.”

Bruce wanted to see that horizon and those events so, while he used the official history for points of reference, his primary source material were diaries, letters, regimental histories, personal journals, telegraph messages, and other things that gave the flavor of what the big events meant to the poor bastard lugging a rifle and living on hard tack fried in rancid bacon.

For instance, there was the young Union engineer officer who reached a sublime level of frustration after a month of coping with northern Virginia rain and mud so deep …. that finally, in frustration, he telegraphed Army Headquarters to requisition “.. twenty men 18 feet tall to work in mud 12 feet deep.” The record fails to show whether his requisition was ever filled, but we can be reasonably sure that he felt better after he got that off his chest.

Most of Bruce’s stuff is still in print, and still eminently readable. And he generated a couple more generations of like-minded historians. If you have not seen “Gettysburg” (or read the book on which it’s based, “Killer Angels”), DO. It might well be the best film ever made about the Civil War – and please note that the PEOPLE were emphasized, not the mind-boggling battle scenes, which were impressive enough.

(By the same token, AVOID “Gods and Generals,” the movie. While it was written by the son of the Gettysburg author and, as a book, is just as impressively outstanding, Ted Turner took a personal ego trip that made the movie 25% too long, and starting much, much too late in the story. Everybody involved, but the book’s author, missed the point entirely).

Well, I digress (send me more material and I won’t do it near as often). The point is that, for all of the above torturous rationalization, the lives of our parents and grandparents will continue popping up in here, as appropriate.

History is all about PEOPLE … and which ones do we remember best? This site is NOT “searcyhighschoolyesteryear” so, even though we’ll continue having fun with those halcyon (and unbelievably innocent, Bobby Scott) days, we’ll go a bit farther afield as material arrives. What and WHO do YOU remember? It need not have importance, seemingly, to anyone but you – but it’ll give some more flavor to this stew of ours.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Mark this in your datebook: on 8/11/05, 53 years after first being paved from Searcy to Rosebud, State Highway 36 got four-laned for a sizeable chunk out of town.

This photo was taken from North Valley Road, looking east toward town. Honey Hill Road is just over the hill – and Mary Kay and Larry James’ home is just to the left of this view. Honey Hill Road, on the south (right) is now the Searcy City Limit, and there’s a sidewalk that runs all the way there on 36.

These two views are west from the same place. The four-laning ends just a short way past that last rise you see. FYI, the farm of Elmer Dale Yancey’s grandfather cornered right there on the right of these shots. Jim and Carolyn Hill’s place is just off the road to the left between the first and second rise.

When the day started, there were still traffic barrels restricting travel. By five, the barrels were gone, the new highway was striped, with two lanes in each direction, plus a bi-directional turning lane.

Thought you’d like to know.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


(Run originally 2/22/04 on our old site)


Ruth Ann Fuller

I remember practicing winding the May Pole at the side of the old grammar school building when I was in sixth grade. They had recorded music. We loved recess time so we could practice. Then on May 1, we wound the May Poles...there seemed to be a football field full of them. However, I think there were six spread out over the field. They had recorded music from the press box. The girls all wore white dresses. Boys escorted us up to the May Poles and then we wound them to the music. We just thought it was the greatest thing.


Dan E. Randle

If you wondered what was going on with the photo albums, I have been having a problem for the last two weeks downloading new pictures onto the site. I spent over an hour with MSN tech support today and was finally able to solve the problem.

When you are viewing the thumbnails, doubleclick on the picture you want to view and it will expand into a much larger picture. When you are through with that picture you will notice at the top of the page it will state "Back to (the album you are viewing);" click on the wording and it will return you to the thumbnail pictures.

Also you might inform everyone that, to view the next page of an album, look at the top right of the page where Page 1 is listed and click on the arrow pointing to the right to bring up the next page; as long as the arrow is visible, there is another page to be viewed.

In addition, please notice that I have added a new album for the Class of 1954; now, I need their pictures taken this year so I can add the “now” pictures in their album. We need to continue hitting everyone up for current pictures until all have sent them in. Then we will really have a Fantastic site for everyone to enjoy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bow, the Homecoming Queen

(Originally run 4/24/04 on my old personal site)

Ernie Simpson

I have, more than once, referred to our friend, Ernie, as our “gentle philosopher.” This has been done not in jest. Why? Read on. –tlp-

What a wonderful little friend, a beautiful little pet, who thought she was a homecoming queen, with her bows, and painted toenails. Solid black, and didn’t weigh five pounds. She was a miniature poodle, and finally found her self-esteem, after years of abuse.

One afternoon, on Brenda Street, I had come home from work, and heard my wife drive up. Ruth Ann had been by my brother’s pet shop on Matthews, and spotted this little dog. Jim had her from repossession, he had sold her a couple of years before, and the owner never bathed and rarely fed the dog, or cared for her. Jim had to cut all her hair off, down to the skin, in order to clear the tangles. She looked for the world like an emaciated rat. It was evident she had been abused since she was a puppy.

Her AKC papers said her name was Bow, so we kept the name. Bow was afraid of everything; you could see and sense the fear of the little dog. She would hardly eat, and it seems she was even afraid when she was offered the food. Gradually, little by little, with gentleness, and petting, and using a soft, soothing voice, Bow came to lose some of her fear.

Her hair grew out; we kept feeding her nutritious food, and continued to win her confidence. If she heard a noise or a loud voice, she cowered in a corner until one of us picked her up and soothed away her fright. It took almost a year of this for her to trust us, and know she was safe. This was an unusual little dog and her spirit was almost broken by this abuse.

She was already a mature young dog, and had achieved her full growth, so we kept her in the house, and she wanted to sleep with us. We let her, under the cover at the foot of the bed. She would cry to get in bed, and we gave in and let her under the covers. This was against my better judgment, but soon I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything.

The years went by, the little dog was a constant companion. We didn’t take her out of town very much, but kept her at home, with food, water and a newspaper handy. I had her groomed regularly at Jim’s shop, and he did a great job. This is where Bow achieved her greatest self-esteem. Her hair looked shiny and fluffy, and her toenails were always painted red, with a red collar and red bows clipped to her ears. She seemed to know how pretty she was, and strutted mightily for several days after being cleaned and groomed. She and I shared many a conversation about this, and she spoke quite well when I quizzed her on the business of being a homecoming queen. She knew, and didn’t mind telling me her feelings about the situation at all.

With all this, Bow developed into the eternal optimist. She didn’t like to be bathed, however, but accepted it somehow as punishment for something, she knew not what. When she was taken out of the bathtub, and dried off, she shook from top to bottom, ran from room to room, like a streak. Finally she was dry enough to be blow dried, and fluffed up, and of course she showed her thanks for our making her beautiful once again.

Bow always loved to lie by my side when I sat in the recliner and watched TV. She growled when someone approached the two of us. She was jealous, protective or something, I’m not sure. She sure didn’t allow anyone to come close when she was beside me in the recliner.

Arthritis began to take a toll after she aged to about thirteen, and her teeth began to give her problems. I took her to the vet, and he took out several bad teeth, and to keep her comfortable, I fed her wieners, cut up in small pieces. She could no longer chew the hard dog food.

Soon her sight began to fail, and it was easy to tell she couldn’t run without pain, and she moved slower and slower. I had a little doggie bed I put in the closet that I had gotten at K-Mart. She took to it right away, and was always quick to go there when I left for work.

I checked on her always at noon, and made sure her food and water was fresh. She spent the most of the time in the little bed except when I took her to the recliner with me. She no longer could jump into the chair, so I helped her up to her favorite place, which I think was beside me.

One cold February day in 1991 when she was about fourteen, I came home at lunch from work to let her out, and I found her cold and lifeless in her little bed. This sight broke my heart. This wonderful little pet had asked nothing all these years from me except love, and that’s what she gave in return.

I buried her in the woods down by the arched bridge, behind the house. It hurt for days. I have not wanted to have another pet since. Bow was the greatest, best little pet I’ve ever had. I surely will remember that little dog, and how she was a part of the family. Every dog I ever had was the best ever, and Bow was no exception. Whenever I felt like my life was becoming a humdrum affair, I’d come home, and Bow would whiz throughout the house with a clear welcome home that brought me back to happiness and just plain old fun.

I read a piece not long ago about a pet owner’s having fifteen minutes of fame, which was created for a tired and weary traveler, glad to be home from a week on the road, and just off the plane. It was the same for me, too. In those years I had to travel a lot, but when I got home it all changed. Was I one to be cool, distant and a grouch upon arrival home? Heck, no. It was easy for me to turn into a blithering idiot as I got out of the truck, because I knew I would be greeted by a homecoming queen, a black, hairy little princess, mad with love for only me. Whizzing through the house, showing off just for me. She gave an emotional rescue I needed. I would raise my voice an octave or two, and exclaim, “Bow, you been a good girl today? Yeah, you have, you been a goooood, girl!” By then, I was ready to bound into the house, with the stress gone, to greet the rest of the family, because I was restored to my own fifteen minutes of fame, given to me by Bow.

Ann Landers once said, “Don’t take the affection shown by your dog as conclusive evidence that you’re wonderful.” Well, Bow never read Ann Landers; besides, unconditional love is hard to come by, and not given freely. So when Bow gave me joy for the moment, I thought I was great, cause Bow said so.

Dogs are amazing creatures whose loyalty, unabashed love and devotion to family never cease to amaze me. The lives of men and beasts have been intertwined since time immemorial, and some of us, thanks to our four-legged friends and other predecessors, are the fortunate inheritors of thousands of generations of the practice of getting along together. I’ll always be grateful to Bow for her part in sharing this with me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


(Originally run 2/25/04 on our old site)

Tom Pry

The other day, I asked who’d started this stuff about the May Pole. Don Thompson, ever the (censored), replied:

The question has been asked: Who raised the question of May Poles here in the first place and, frankly, I can't remember. Anyone -tlp- That's easy. Just go to the searcyyesteryear easyjournal and select show all entries, scroll down, and select 2.5.2004 // May Day Celebrations. Don

My response, originally, was to remind Don of Cleopatra’s famous last words (“Nobody likes a wise asp!”) but now I have an even better rejoinder: you’re wrong.

It was on 1/27/04, when we ran this bit:

Looking for any memories of Searcy Public Schools Mayday events when they started and when and why they stopped. Any memories out there about this? Not sure where the email addresses are listed so I haven't listed mine. So far have never had a virus or worm, don't want any.


Don't seem to be able to send this with my name and no email

Or with the email address, only under anonymous so, if anyone will just send this query to the readers, I would appreciate it.

In short, we STILL don’t know who raised the question .. but we DO have this memory:

Ruth Ann Fuller

I remember practicing winding the May Pole at the side of the old grammar school building when I was in sixth grade. They had recorded music. We loved recess time so we could practice. Then on May 1, we wound the May Poles...there seemed to be a football field full of them. However, I think there were six spread out over the field. They had recorded music from the press box. The girls all wore white dresses. Boys escorted us up to the May Poles and then we wound them to the music. We just thought it was the greatest thing.

Wilma Morris Shinley

My husband, Roy, said you didn't say in your Searcyyesteryear piece that he is also from Searcy. He graduated from Harding Academy in 1957.

I am thinking of writing a piece on Miss Krueger if I can get all my thoughts together about her. She was a lifesaver for me the last year of high school, maybe other people remember her too. I don't know how to submit an article to the site though; please let me know how.

Do you remember Billy Buckley? Do you know what happened to him?

Do you know anything about "The Lion's Roar", the school newspaper we started my senior year (56-57)? Larry Miles and I were co-editors, although he didn't do very much. I didn't save any copies of it, but wish I had now. Does it still exist?

Tom Pry

Well … to take things in order:

As I explained in my reply, I have this bad habit of considering all Hardingites as having come from Somewhere Else, not from Searcy. I, unfortunately, did that with Roy, too. Mea culpa.

I still remember when Mrs. Krueger came along. While you can’t imagine a high school without a counselor now, she was our first and, fortunately for so many of us, she was good at her work.

There came the day when she called me in, this after observing the student body for awhile, to tell me, “You’re the kind of person who wants everyone to like you. You’re also one of those people, like Eleanor Roosevelt, that people either LIKE very much or DISlike very much, almost instantly. Regardless of whether they like you or not, though, they find it impossible to IGNORE you. I just wanted to forewarn you that you’re going to run across those people who can’t stand you, for no discernible reason, and there won’t be a thing you can do about it. All you can do is be prepared for it, and accept it when it happens.”

These words came in very handy, almost immediately, and often enough thereafter to be some of the most useful advice I’ve ever gotten.

Billy Buckley draws a blank in my mind, as does “The Lion’s Roar.” Anyone?

So far as submissions go … much the simplest way to go is to send it to me via e-mail, either in just an e-mail form, or as a Word attachment. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or those other niceties: that’s my job.

Or, if push comes to shove, leave a message on the website. Below each entry is a comments link. Sign on as “anonymous” but include your name (and, if you’ve never given it to me, your e-mail address) someplace in the comment. I’ll copy it out and delete the comment, unless it’s obvious that you intended it to accompany the entry just as it is.

You can write me at .

Dan E. Randle

On, you might inform the people that I must have been looking into a mirror when I said to look on the right side of the screen for the page number and arrow to go to the next page. Actually I was just checking your editing abilities. You believe that, right?

It’s in the upper left – and, sure, I believe that, Dan … but, then, I always was gullible.

Wilma Morris Shinley (class of ’57) also asked why Dan, on his listing, was showing a school system “up east.” Dan’s reply:

The reason I am listed in those other schools is because Loretta is from New Jersey, and I couldn't see paying for two fees for By the way, somewhere I heard that people are going away from because they are so expensive. I know that I haven't paid the last few years. The cost for what I got just didn't add up to any value.

Finally, a 1955 clipping that was run, at the time, in all seriousness. Hearken back to those innocent, innocent days of our youth.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Don Thompson:


If one is a ARDEMGAZ subscriber, the articles are free.

We just got back from a week in Victoria, BC and also spending a week with Harold and Carolyn Sullivan in Issaquah, WA.

Don and Paula Anne

Tom Pry

Don sent the whole cotton-pickin’ article, but I think posting it here on the site would REALLY violate copyright.

On the other hand, should any of you indicate wanting it, I can’t think of any reason why I can’t forward Don & Paula Anne’s note to you. Let me know.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Tom Pry

The 7/31/05 Three Rivers Edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had an interesting article on Searcy’s first sanctioned Little League baseball team.

This photo shows the “Little Major Leaguers,” and Coach/league organizer “Pinky” Berryhill.

The copyrighted article also contains contemporary photos of Linos Abbott, Gerald Casey, and Elmer Dale Yancey.

Among the many in-town names I recognized on that first team were Roger Wooten, Larry Crain, and the late Dr. Robert Elliott. Among the out-of-towners (now) who were in the league back in 1951 are listed Clifton Carson, Jimmy Riddle, Larry Morgan, John Alex McCoy, and Bill Dobbins.

If you feel like forking out $1.95 to buy the article digitally from the DOG (or Dem-Gaz, as it’s sometimes known), go to .

There is some perversity in my nature that makes me feel free to recommend movies and books to other people, but something makes me resist partaking of other people’s recommendations.

So it was with some reluctance that I accepted a Library copy of a book by an author highly recommended by no less than Suzie Hoffman Boyette. The author has the unlikely name of Ferral Sams. A doctor from a small town in Georgia, his books recount, like this column, long ago days – with unerring accuracy, plus more than a bit of humorous seasoning.

The book Suzie gave me is entitled “Run with the Horsemen,” and I’ve run through about half of it so far. It’s a riot, and rings very, very true.

Pick up a copy: how could you ignore a recommendation from both an inveterate reader AND the Head Librarian for this whole cotton-pickin’ county?

And, while we’re copping copyrighted photos by the talented Greg Benenati of the Searcy Daily Citizen, here’s one run recently of Buddy Phillips. It is worth noting that Suzie and Buddy are of an age that many of the youngsters around think is Over the Hill, Suzie’s picture was to note the opening of a new branch library, this one in Rosebud, and the story about Buddy was about the new livestock exhibition building making its appearance at the Fairgrounds.

Nice going, kids.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


(Originally run 2/19/04 on our old site)

Ernie Simpson

You know, did you ever stop to think of the little things your parents did for you, your whole life and, when you look back, how many of the details are really worth taking note? Little stuff that today is a treasure, because of the way it was given.

Dad and the Ticket

Once, many years ago, my dad and I were sitting on the front porch of the little house on North Main (actually, Rocky Branch Road). Dad had been retired for several years with a medical disability. At that time, he was about fifty, (he passed away at fifty-three, young by my standards) and living in pain with poor circulation, and legs that would no longer move without great effort. Thrombosis phlebitis, I think they called it.

We were relaxing, just having small talk. It occurred to me, that if you measure success by effort and persistence, here was a success, and not by material things alone. I commented my admiration for these efforts: “Dad, you and mom have done well, and with all the hardships you’ve faced, you still have paid for the house, and the car, and are really debt free. Not many can say that as retirement approaches and, even with a limited income, you have accomplished a lot in your life.”

He was quiet for a moment, and then replied, “Well, son, it’s been rough, but I’ve enjoyed it.” He looked at me thoughtfully, and I pondered his response to my statement.

It irritated me to no end once, coming to visit mom and dad, to get a speeding ticket on highway 67 coming through Bald Knob. It must have been around 1962. Not only was money scarce, you had to personally go to court to pay the fine. Diane and I were living and teaching in Cooter, MO, and it would have been a great hardship to come to Searcy to make the court appearance.

On the day of traffic court, dad went to the White County courthouse and sat with the people who were as stupid as I to have gotten a speeding citation. The judge said, “White County vs. Ernest Simpson, is the defendant present?”

Dad said, “Here, your Honor.”

“How do you plead, “ says the judge.

“Guilty, your Honor,” dad said. He paid the fine and left.

I always admired my father for sticking up for me there, and I’m not too sure, but I think he could have gotten in trouble for doing that, and me, too, maybe. They meant for the sorry scofflaw to be present and take his medicine, with no such thing as a substitute. Of course, I reimbursed the fine to dad, but I never forgot that little thing, one of many gestures by him on my behalf in my life.

Friday, August 05, 2005


(Originally run 2/18/04 on our old site)

Anita Hart Fuller

I have found a couple of school pics of "your" Judy Deener AND a school pic of the lovely Margaret McLean, when she was about 11 yrs. old. I'm hoping Bob can copy them and send them today. I've finally found the post card of the Fountain Motel AND the two pics I took a few years ago, and will send them, too. That should make for some dredging up memories from us band kids.

When waiting in the LR airport last week, I recognized Ray Handley - brother of Stephen Handley. They are the guys who print the postcards in the Gazette, and also have several books out of the postcards they've collected. I talked with him about the Fountain Motel, which he remembers, but when I told him the Green Elf is no longer there, he thinks he might have a postcard somewhere. I'm going to email him and remind him one of these days. Wouldn't it be fun it he did, indeed, have it?

This is for Roland and any other of the SHS Lettermen, or their girl friends. Bob and I were trying to remember recently: didn't the teams have a booster club or something like that that raised money to buy all lettermen their football jackets and basketball sweaters? I remember the day they would arrive: naturally, some of the boys would get to go by and pick theirs up before the others but, before the day was over, all were proudly wearing their new jackets and they were the envy of all who didn't have one! I think I remember one year the sleeves would be black satin with the rest of the jacket red wool, the next year red satin sleeves with black wool, etc. The basketball team got black, then red, sweaters with big letters on them. Nowadays, even in the big schools like Central High, the schools don't furnish the jackets anymore....just the letters. I personally think that is a travesty....

Now that should be enough to get someone remembering ... and then we can do a little talking about the protocol of giving the jacket to your girlfriend. Did she get the new one, or the old one and the guy strutted around in his new one? Or did he get to wear it just a little while before having to hand it over to her?

Tom Pry

I don’t know, Anita. There were days when, if one were to judge just by the jacket parade in the school halls, one would think our football team was composed almost entirely of females, which would make for an interesting game, especially if it was “touch” football.

Anita, a question for you: your comment about “..the schools don’t furnish the jackets anymore .. I .. think this is a travesty ..” Why? In band, letters are all we ever got, and we were paying (or working off) band tuition, to boot. Our “booster club” was raising money for our uniforms which, to the best of my knowledge, the school furnished for athletics.

Why the implied double standard? While I in NO way denigrate the contribution to school representation and morale made by our athletes, I’ve never felt it was in any way greater than that produced by the band, or Luther Hardin’s outstanding farm teams, or the public speaking team.

That being the case, why should the school system furnish the athletes with souvenirs for their girlfriends to wear?

Explain yourself, woman!

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Tom Pry

Following my return to television Monday, when I hosted the ribbon-cutting at TV6, My Town TV, I stopped in at Ace Hardware on Beebe-Capps and met an interesting guy named Roger Elliott. Roger did NOT grow up in Searcy; like my father, he was a transplant from Ohio. He IS, however, married to Carolyn Harrison, whose dad built and ran Harrison’s Grocery.

If you’re in town, stop in and say “Hi!” to Roger and, if you’re a member of the Class of ’53 and are wondering whatever happened to Carolyn, there’s your answer.

Now, let me tell you about Eddie Best.

Eddie is a retired staffer who used to be with the Democrat-Gazette. Since his retirement, he’s taken over as editor of the excellent newsletter of the White County Historical Society.

Recently, he sent me a photograph of the SHS Marching Band, wanting to know (a) if I’d sent it to him and (b) what kind of caption should’ve gone with it. He added that Anita Hart Fuller though it was the only picture floating around that showed both her and Bob marching with the band.

My reply was that I thought it was 1952, which would’ve ruled Bobby Scott out as a marching trombone player. Her reply was:

You can tell Tom Pry that Bob is, indeed, marching in that band picture. He didn't get polio until l0th grade and we both are convinced that pic. was 9th grade.

I joined the band in 9th grade and we went to Dallas to the Texas State Fair that year. Bob and I were "sweethearts" and I wore his band coveralls and have pictures to prove it. Tell Tom he wasn't even living in Searcy then! And I hope you know I'm kidding, for I like to catch Tom on memories of our glorious days at SHS.

I was born in l936, so you can do the math! I was l7 yrs. old when I graduated in 1954.

I was born in 1938 and 17 when I graduated from SHS (I’ve always loved older women). The consensus was that this was 1950.

Eddie puts a lot of work into his newsletter and, from it, passes out some really interesting information. For instance, our “new” high school in the early 40s, was projected to cost $100,000. The “new” City Hall/Fire Station was built in 1939 and cost $25,000. If you’d like to subscribe to the 11 issues a year, plus yearbook, it’s only $16 a year. Send your check to WCHS, P. O. Box 537, Searcy 72145 – be sure to also visit their web site, .

FINALLY …. A few of us have been keeping a secret. For some months now, our buddy and site contributor, Ernie Simpson, has been battling prostate cancer. He has not made a big issue of it, and it is only now that he has given in to my requests to let you in on it. His attitude toward this whole thing is pretty much summed in this note from him recently:

Ernie Simpson

I'm feeling somewhat better today...yesterday I actually got on the rider mower and cut the grass.

This week is better, since I didn't have to go for chemo....still nauseated, but they started me on Prilosec yesterday and it seems to help. Also a really good medication called Marinol, a derivative of marijuana (haha) in pill form. Unfortunately I don't get a buzz from it, only a more calm stomach, which is good. I'd tried Zofran and Anzemet, phenergan, Reglan...didn't work.

I'll see Dr. Scroggin for tests on August 15...( I'm off chemo two weeks) I need the break from this, six weeks of it plus two three-week treatments takes all your stuff right out of you. No stamina, and my muscles are like jello. Anyway, we'll see what plan of attack he has...I will listen, ‘cause he is so smart. I've appreciated this doctor taking an interest in this case, I am confident he is focused on what's going on here.

This is a process, and I'm learning to become a student of prostate cancer and its treatment. Nobody has a definitive answer, that's one concrete thing I've found. This is not disrespectful, I think they all are doing the best they know how because each patient and case is so different.

Anyway, I'm going to enjoy the couple of weeks without the stuff, to bolster my attitude for another round of chemo. I am ready to attack this disease as long as God gives me the strength.I hope you're having a good week....cause I am.

(And, yes, Ernie blew his “To the Colors” for his subdivision in the wee small hours of July 4th. –tlp-)