Sunday, February 12, 2006


Tom Pry

The following came through the website anonymously, identified only as “Irishblood,” so I have no idea to whom to attribute it. The school is not identified, either, ‘though at a guess I’d say Kensett.

In any case, it’s another point of view which you might find interesting.

Not sure that I totally agree. I went to a High School Reunion a few years ago ... in fact I was the organizer.

Our high school had closed its doors in 1971 and there had been only one reunion since that time. It was not well advertised, so the attendance was small.

Because the school no longer existed, I decided to round up as many surviving graduates as possible. The school was only open from 1964 to 1971, so there were less than 1500 graduates in all. I managed to find over 300 who did attend, and the fact that we weren't all from the same graduating class had absolutely NO negative effect on the PARTY! In fact, it added so much more. The stories that were shared and the new friends that we made were worth more than gold!

With the average age well into their 50's, I believe that having come from the same school meant more than if you had actually graduated in the same year. Besides, so many of us meet and make friends with students in other classes through sports and other activities while in school, so to hold separate reunions would take away from the fun of meeting EVERYONE once again!

I loved my reunion and look forward to organizing another in a few years for ALL graduates of our great high school.

He/she is right, you know. My closest friends from those days in high school, despite the fact that I was in the Class of '56, are Anita Hart Fuller (’54), Roland King (’54), and Ernie Simpson (’57). Nonetheless, Ann’s point continues to be valid: we had NO contact with the students at the White County Training School, not sports, not band, not teachers, not anything. They would, sadly, be total strangers to us.

But you let us know about your high school doings, would you? In fact, tell us who you are!

Anita Hart Fuller

My mother, Corinne Harrison Hart, began working at the Peoples Bank of Searcy in 1929, a month after her 20th birthday. In 1932 this bank became known as The Security Bank. The building was located on the corner of Arch and Spring, on the east side of the White County Courthouse. The Security Bank in Searcy is still going strong 73 years later, but not in the same location.

Mother’s job description was bookkeeper, assistant teller and stenographer for all bank officers, including president J. Hicks Deener. Mrs. Jo Della Stewart was the main bookkeeper, and mother was her assistant.

When I asked her how many telephones they had, she replied, “One.” Was anyone designated to answer the phone? “No, whoever was closest to the phone when it rang answered it.”

Mother’s first duty each morning was “journalizing” the out-of-city checks, which they called foreign checks, then posting all checks and deposits and making up customer statements, preparing chattel mortgages, deeds of trust, notes, seed and feed loans. All of this was done on an adding machine or by hand. The tellers would put rubber bands around a batch of checks to hold them together. To this day, Mother always has a few rubber bands around her wrists, a habit she got into that she never broke. Often, when she is leaving the house “dressed up,” we’ll check to see if she has removed the rubber bands.

My mother was and still is deathly afraid of snakes. One day a group of boys from Harding College came into the bank and laid a toy snake at mother’s teller window. She promptly fainted and had to be taken to a back room to revive. Mr. Deener called the president of Harding and the boys were not allowed to leave the campus for one month. In those days, this was called being “campused.”

The bank opened at 9 a.m. and closed at 3 p.m. I think that is called “banker’s hours.” The windows were closed, the blinds shut and the door locked. The only exception to opening the doors after closing was to Harding College, whose couriers were habitually late. The tellers had to balance to the penny before they could go home, but mother says it was not often that they did not balance.

In the 1940s mother was “loaned” to the Searcy Bank for a two-week period so that their employee, Helen Acklin, could go to California to be with her husband, Horace, who was in the service. Helen ended up staying two years instead of two months, so mother worked at the Searcy Bank for two years. After that she did not work for a few years until Ed Lightle, a friend and classmate from Searcy High School, asked her to help him settling his late father’s estate. She did that then became Ed’s secretary. (He was an attorney with officers above Lee Biggs Optometrist’s office, across the street from the Security Bank.)

After settling the estate, mother became Ed’s secretary until she left to become director of food service at Harding College. She was recommended for this job by her friend Myrtle (Mrs. E.A.) Roberson, owner of Roberson’s Rendezvous Café. Mother had no formal experience as a dietitian but her business acumen, learned for so many years at the bank and in a lawyer’s office, stood her in good stead.

As you might imagine there are lots of fun stories waiting to be told from her experiences there and at a few other jobs she had “in between,” like the time she was a court reporter, or when she took dictation for Mr. Curtis Hubble, a claim agent for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Mother just turned 97 and is still one of the best storytellers in White County.

The gentleman being served by Corinne is no less than Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, who is legendary in-and-of himself.

Our thanks to the redoubtable Eddie Best, editor of the superb White County Historical Society newsletter in which this article originally appeared. He also is the one who digitalized Anita's pictures, and then shared them with us. -tlp-


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