Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Old Swinging Bridge at Des Arc

Jim Bohannon

"In your younger days, did you ever cross the old swinging bridge across the White River at Des Arc?" If you did, I bet you would have remembered it!" Because, most likely, your under garments got a little soiled during the crossing. To use the a common term of today, "this bridge was awesome!"

I remember returning from a night football game at Stuttgart, circa 1956. I was part of a group of high school football players as passengers in a school bus. Crossing this bridge scared the "living daylights" out of me. I thought it was all over for us. What with all the shaking and creaking sounds coming from the cross planks/cables/wires/beams or whatever it was that seem to be holding the thing up, caused me to think the bus was headed for the dark abyss of the White River.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the bus meet a big truck while out on the bridge. The truck had to back down to an area where the school bus could squeeze by the truck. I think the bus scraped the side of the truck or vice versa. Anyway, we were all quite relieved when we finally made it across safely.

The bridge was replaced in 1970. And as I recall during those subsequent fourteen years, I never re-crossed it.

Thank goodness! Twice was enough to cross this bridge. My first and last time.


Saturday, April 29, 2006


Ann Shannon Snodgrass

Our lifelong friends, Wayne and Ann, just flew back to New Orleans after a few very short days' visiting in our home. Their home was filled with nine-feet of water during Katrina and is a gutted shell now, waiting for FEMA, the City of New Orleans, the insurance company--somebody to make a decision so some semblance of normalcy might return.

We visited them last year to enjoy Mardi Gras season. The fishing trip they'd planned with us during November became, instead, an R&R trip for them in April.

We cooked their favorite foods, let our dog drag us for long walks through the neighborhood, sat and contemplated the clouds, flowers, trees. "This place is so clean," they said. "No one's putting their belongings out on the street to be hauled away," they said. "You can actually drive to a neighborhood grocery store that's open. People are smiling. It's cool here and dry, not high 80's and muggy. Your microwave works."

They're our age--mid-60's--but had
never seen the Rocky Mountains up close .. a frigid rushing stream swollen with snowmelt, frozen lakes, tiny new leaves dancing on aspen trees. Our day trip into the mountains had a feeling of unreality.

They were so grateful for a church group that visited
New Orleans last year to help with the cleanup. More, much more, remains to be done. "More help is needed." they said. "Don't forget the people of New Orleans."

And, they identified this article "One Dead in Attic" that left me with such a terrible sense of sadness.

Please, share this if you know anyone willing to help.

Thank you.


Saturday, April 22, 2006


Elizabeth Vaughn Capps

Our class of ’55 is getting together at the Rib Crib on East Race in Searcy at 11:00 on Saturday, April 29th. Dutch treat. Can you put this on your blog?

You mean like that? -tlp-

Mary Katherine Van Patten James


So far I have heard from:

Clydell Neal..... NO....she called me on Easter afternoon at home. She will not be coming to the reunion. She said she had a "medical condition." I asked if I could come by and see her some time? She said yes, but call first. She does not answer her door because of some of her neighbors. .....

Betty Jo Taylor Emerson, class of 1955... will NOT be coming, but wishes us all well!

I just got the following in response YES visiting in afternoon, to my invitation from Edith Dodson Gillham to those with email in the 1955 class.... from Elizabeth Capps note to me. (Duhh run on sentence!)

Hi, I would love to see ole classmates, so I will be there. See you there.
Edith (Dodson) Gillham

Marvin Sowell

Mary Kay, Got your invitation. Thanks. Naturally I remember a lot about the class of 56.
We were up there for the '55 reunion last year, and really enjoyed seeing all those "old" people again.

We're going to 'Vegas the last week of June to the Wurzburg Germany H.S.reunion, (my wife taught there in the late 70's & early 80's) so we probably can't make it to Searcy July 1.

Best wishes to all,
Marvin & Jan....

What precipitated all this was a notice from Mary Kay that read, in part:

Hello SHS class of 1955.

I am giving each of you a special invitation to the afternoon session of our SHS 1956 Class Reunion this summer on SATURDAY AFTERNOON, July 1, 2006, at EagleView Catering, 100 Eagle View Drive, Searcy, AR. Please make your arrangements to attend this event! We would love to see you!!!

We will have finger food and cold drinks between 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. and LOTS of visiting.

Let me hear from you.

Other classes invited, too. I’d like to see a few from the classes of ’54 and ‘57, for instance. Come one, come all! -tlp-

Saturday, April 15, 2006


HCR 33 Box 77A
Compton, AR 72624

Subject: 50-Year Reunion for Searcy High School Graduating Cass of 1956

Dear Classmate,

It is time to make final plans for our July 1, 2006, 50th Reunion. A letter went out in October. I hope you received it. We got responses back from about half of the class. The main two purposes of the first letter were to let everyone know that a Reunion is being planned and to try to firm up as many addresses as possible.

Mary Kay will get some pictures and articles in the Citizen and Tom Pry will get information out on the web, other newspapers, and possibly some radio stations. Of course, we can all help get the word out through “word of mouth.” Thanks.

Brief Recap of Planned Activities

A one-day afternoon and evening event on Saturday, July 1, 2006
At Eagleview Catering, 100 Eagleview Drive, Searcy, AR 72143

1;30 – 4:00 p.m. Reminiscing with cold drinks and finger food
Friends from other classes are invited to the afternoon fun

6:00 p.m. till: A sit down meal and program with door prizes and memorabilia

$25 covers everything.

For those of you with web access, Tom Pry (a member of the Class of '56) operates this site. He will be posting the latest news on here, usually updated on weekends. You can contact him by e-mail at .

Hope to see you July 1st,

Robin Moore

Tom Pry

I have deliberately omitted some phone numbers from the above, for security purposes. If you would like the complete letter, with accompanying form, just e-mail me, along with your name and either mail or e-mail address and I’ll see that you get them.

Come join us July 1st!

Monday, April 10, 2006


... thought you might be interested in this from the Harding University campus:

Harding students to perform original musical production

SEARCY - Step back in time with Harding University's production of "CPR the Musical: Featuring Music of the '50s, '60s and '70s," a student-written musical opening Friday, April 14, in the Administration Auditorium.

The show will run at 7 p.m. April 14, 16 and 17, in addition to a 3 p.m. showing April 15.

It's the 1960s, and all Mandy wants to do is get into medical school. After struggling with exams and having her boyfriend break up with her, two fairy godmothers step in to try and make things right for her. The only problem is they cannot get along with each other.

"What follows is a wacky ride through the music of the '50s, '60s and '70s," says Laurie Padgett, senior co-writer who plays Rita, a guardian angel from the '70s.

Senior Jeremy Painter, co-writer who plays several characters throughout the show, calls the show a "battle of the decades in every sense of the phrase."

Senior Megan Gilbert, who plays Glo, a fairy godmother from the '50s, and senior Susie Loveland, technical director, also helped write the script.

Faculty director and co-writer Robin Miller says this group of students has been most enjoyable to work with."It is always an interesting experience creating a theatrical event from scratch," Miller says. "[The students] learn about areas of theatre that undergraduates rarely have the opportunity to experience."

Padgett says writing a musical is a huge undertaking. "There is so much that goes into the process that you don't even realize."Painter adds, "We spent hours upon hours in the media lab, listening to oldies, developing a story, writing scenes and tightening our plot."

Padgett says audience members of all ages are sure to enjoy this musical review. "It's a show for everyone - tunes we all know and love and problems we've all been through."

General admission tickets are $5 each. They may be purchased in advance at the Benson Auditorium ticket window or at the door. For more information, call (501) 279-4445.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


THE PLEA: If you have the e-mail addresses/snail mail addresses of any of the members of the SHS Class of 1956, would you e-mail them to me, please? You can do it by way of the comments buttons down there.

Please send us these addresses whether you think we already have them or not: we’d rather get each one three times than miss anyone.

THE NEWS: Plans are firming up for the Class of ’56 50th Reunion. It’ll be Saturday, July 1st, at Eagleview, just to the north side of Searcy. 2-5 in the afternoon will be a very casual get-together to which all friends and acquaintances from whatever class are invited, just to visit and chat and swap lies a bit.

Dinner will be that night. Details are not totally nailed down, but looks to be either $20 or $25 a head. If you take $8.00 out of each of your next three Social Security deposits, you’ll be alright.

More as the info firms up.


I was just wondering if you had heard anything else regarding Brenda Daniels. Today is my mother's birthday, so I guess today I'm even more curious.

Also, do you have a way that I could get in touch with Frank Thompson? I would only do so with his permission though. I have a lot of questions that maybe he could answer. If you had an email address for him, that would be great. Again, please let him know that I do not want toinvade his privacy. I only want to see if he can remember anything about when Brenda left Searcy.

I appreciate your helping me. This is so important to me and my family.

Mandy Moore


There’s a rather poignant back story to Mandy’s request for information about Brenda. If you have any idea where she went, please let us know and we’ll pass it on to her. In the meantime, I’ve put her in touch with Frank. –tlp-

Saturday, April 08, 2006


It is with great sadness that my family learns of Ernie's passing.

His friendship with my father was a blessing to our lives. Sue, my two brothers & I were able to spend a morning with Ernest and his wife during a reunion in Searcy last year and I received a copy of his writings regarding his school days with my Dad. It was an emotional read which I have shared with Larry's grandchildren and will share with his great-granddaughter in time, as she is only 2 years old now.

The music lives on in Larry and Ernie's legacies. My father was my first band director and I played trumpet.
He stated that this was due to my rather large lips, but I do believe it was in homage to his dear buddy, Ernest. Larry's 5 grandchildren from me play instruments ranging from cello to clarinets to trumpet to electric guitars and have vocal talents, as well. In fact, the twin boys are in a band, The Doxies, which has just recorded their 4th CD of original music.

I will make sure that the friendship Ernie and Larry forged will be remembered by my family for generations to come.

Thanks for the memories, Ernie.

Tom Pry

Ernie was kind enough to mail me a copy of the manuscript he presented to Sue and her family. It is, as the young people of today would say, Awesome. It included photos. Wouldst that someone cared enough for me that, in similar circumstances, they would do likewise for my family.

NOTE: Steven sent this via the web site. This means that I do not have a return e-mail address for him, so I send this comment likewise: Steven, thanks for sharing this with us who’ve also lost a dear friend. This is especially true of Frank Thompson and I, who were with your dad and Ernest the night Larry announced that he and your mom were going to get married.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Harold Gene Sullivan

Don’s article on bubble gun brought back memories. I'm sure that everyone remembers when bubble gum became available after WWII. That was a big deal to us kids. I had a special talent having to do with bubble gun, probably the only special talent I ever had. Anyway, I could blow bubbles inside bubbles. It was easy for me to blow one inside another, and occasionally I could get one inside another inside another. My RECORD was four bubbles, one inside the other. Now THAT was talent. I haven’t tried that in over 55 years, wonder if I still can?

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette recently ran a postcard picture of a large gar as part of its Arkansas Postcard Past Series. Don Thompson sent it to me. And, of course, it reminded me of a story.

One time, in the mid-1940s, when I went with my dad on his Pepsi route. we stopped at West Point. This was back when there was a lot of town still left: there were wooden sidewalks all around downtown. There was a house there that had a cannon ball buried in its siding from the Civil War. The story goes that West Point missed being the capital of Arkansas by just a few votes as it was a prominent town back in the mid-1800s. Anyway, there was a fishing dock where commercial fishing boats came in and sold their catch. Dad would often buy some buffalo or drum, since they were the cheapest. They both tasted good, but had lots of little bones that one had to pick out. As I kid, I thought that was too much trouble. Anyway, one day we stopped by the dock and someone had caught a very large gar, about the size of the one in the postcard picture. They had it hanging from a post and everyone was standing around looking at it and taking pictures. If I remember right, a picture of it was in the Citizen. As a young kid, the gar was much bigger than me.

Another time, my dad and I were in a boat fishing in Little Red, having rented a boat at the West Point dock. We were still within sight of the dock when my dad hooked a very large gar, nothing of the size of the one in the postcard, but it was probably 4 foot long, at least that was the size I remember. Anyway, he fought it for a long time and it got tired and dad almost had it to the boat. I had been using a plug, probably a red-head Lucky-13, as that was my favorite, and I had left it sitting in the water just a couple of feet from the boat while I was helping dad. Dad was just ready to grab the gar's tail when it gave a last gasp try and it flipped off his hook. But it flipped right only my plug and was foul hooked in the side. Then it took us a long, long time to finally land it because being foul hooked it had much more leverage. Of course Dad killed it and threw it back into the river. When we got back to the dock, we found out that there were several there who had watched the show. We never did, but I remember others who would go fishing specifically for large gar. They would make a special lure out of just lots of fishing line tied into a bundle, with lots of overhand knots tied in the lines. The gar would get the fish line with knots hung in their teeth.

We loved to use roaches as fish bait. This is one way we would get them: we would go down to the garbage area behind the Mayfair Hotel the night before we were going fishing and there were always lots of roaches there. We could pick up all we needed in just a few minutes. I remember the old ladies who ran the Mayfair, I don't remember their names, would see us out there with flashlights and would come out and shoo us off because they didn't want the guests to know about all the roaches there.

My dad and mom were very religious. As much as they loved fishing, they would never, never go on Sunday. Dad would usually work his route a half-day Saturday and we would go after he got home. I don't remember where that belief came from. but I'm sure it was based on some bible verse.

Thanks, Harold: those are just the sort of memories we need here. Those of you reading this, what’s YOUR story? -tlp-

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Don & Paula Windsor Thompson

It's been a while since we wrote you. We just got back from a mini-vacation in Las Vegas. What a zoo!

We enjoyed the parks in the area. Went to Death Valley and the Armagosa Opera House at Death Valley Junction, plus Red Rock Canyon (we were in snow), and Valley of Fire.

Sorry to hear of the passing of Ernie Simpson. We didn't know him but he and I exchanged a few e-mails at the time of his retirement. Paula and I are big contributors to cancer research.

Here is an extract from today's Ardemgaz. Bubble gum was one of the treats I enjoyed during Searcy school days. I still get Double Bubble gum. I think it's made in Canada. I remember how hard it was to get during and just after WWII. I still remember the day Billy Davis was able to get a quantity from a relative who ran a store. He sold it for a quarter a piece. Nice profit!

Paula and I hope you will find some time to keep up the journal. We understand what an effort it is and I would not want to take it on myself.

We enjoy reading and contributing to the memories of Searcy Yesteryear..

Don’s attachment:

Bubble gum's 'Bazooka' hearkens back to Arkie— Ron Wolfe

Arkansas' part in the history of bubble gum is a mouthful. Here's the story to chew on:

One of the 1930s' most beloved entertainers was Bob "Bazooka" Burns from Van Buren. He was famous for playing the odd horn he invented — a gas pipe with a funnel on the end. He called it a "bazooka."

In World War II, the Army developed a portable rocket launcher that sort of resembled Burns' horn. It, too, was called a bazooka.

And then, after the war, the Topps chewing gum company came up with its brand of bubble gum called, what else? — Bazooka! "It was named after the humorous musical instrument which entertainer Bob Burns had fashioned," is Topps' official account.

The brand name also gave rise to the name, Bazooka Joe, the kid star of the little comic strip that came wrapped around the gum.

It still does. Bazooka Joe looks hipper now — he rides a skateboard — but he still sports his mysterious black eye patch. Nothing tells how Joe lost his eye, but it may have been in the bubble-gum war that broke out when Topps challenged the market dominance of the Fleer candy company's Double Bubble gum.

Fleer invented bubble gum in 1928. Or, specifically, a 23-year-old accountant named Walter Diemer did. The company had been in search of a marketable bubble gum for years. It had to stretch way more than regular gum. It had to make a bubble. But it couldn't be too sticky. It had to peel cleanly off a kid's nose.

Diemer's job wasn't bubbleblowing, and his background wasn't chemistry, but he nonetheless found the right formula. It made him a big puffer in the gum business.

People have been chewing bubble gum, blowing it, popping it, and stepping in it ever since.

Tom Pry

I’ve been stepping in it all my life.

Gum, too.

I’m not giving up the Searcy Yesteryear site yet, at least not until after July 1st, when the Class of 56 (my class) holds its 50th Reunion. That’s my plan, anyway, assuming I’m even invited to the reunion. The committee doesn’t speak to me. Must’ve been something I said.

As for Bob Burns … he was the first Arkansas humorist to achieve a national reputation, thanks primarily to radio. One of his favorite subjects was mosquitoes. He told of the night he woke up in bed and heard two mosquitoes arguing. One wanted to eat him where he lay, the other wanted to carry him back to their nest and dine on him. It was finally decided to leave him where he was because “.. if we carry him back to the nest, the BIG mosquitoes will take him away from us.”

He also told the story of the guy who read someplace that honey bees and mosquitoes were natural enemies, so he imported a batch of bees. Unfortunately, something went wrong with his plan and the two species interbred. He said the resultant offspring had a stinger on both the front AND the back “… and the thing could get you coming and going.”

Burns was also the guy who said he saw an Arkansas mosquito prong a Grayhound bus “..and that bus swole up so bad it couldn’t get through the toll booth!”

Have a nice week.