Sunday, May 14, 2006


Jim Bohannon

The last article in the Searcy Yesteryear column submitted by Anita Hart Fuller was most interesting and informative. She is correct in her recollection of observing very few obese students in the circa 1950’s public school.

I agree with Anita that the kids of today don’t get enough exercise compared to the students of the 1950s, who mostly walked to school and, while there, received generous amounts of fat burning physical education activities, recess, softball, kickball, soccer, etc. Sadly, in most schools today, these programs are no longer part of the curriculum. Also today, walking to and from school is out, because parents can’t afford to place their children at risk for who knows who or what is out there to do them harm.

And we wonder why obesity in today’s kids is so high! Anita is right. There is little or zero physical activity/education at school. And that is definitely a contributing factor to the increasing obesity in kids. Today, if the school kids don’t get any physical activity at home, then the obesity problem is even more compounded..

Anita’s comment about a Coke™ machine located in our old Searcy High School circa 1950’s reminded this Class of 1957 writer of a story that happened to me in 1955. May I share it with the Searcy Yesteryear readers? Thank you.

One day in Vocational Agriculture (FFA) class, my fellow FFA students and I were taking a class break out in the Carpenter Shop. As one may remember, the vocational education carpenter’s shop was located directly behind the FFA classroom. There was a Dr. Pepper™ vending machine located out in the shop area.

As I recall, the Dr. Pepper machine had an open door and the bottle tops were facing the front. Anyway, and I don’t remember who, probably me, made the suggestion. "Hey guys, I bet we can get free Dr. Peppers by force-pulling the bottles out of the frame opening." We tried it and it worked! By pulling on the bottle top with a little force, out comes a free bottle of Dr. Pepper.

Our FFA class of approximately 25 boys were now in soft drink heaven, drinking in excess (depending on how thirsty we were) more than one bottle each of FREE Dr. Pepper. However, our soft drink bonanza was short lived. The late Cecil Morgan, who was the vocational education shop teacher, decided to purchase a Dr. Pepper using the proper procedure of inserting a nickel for the resulting expected drink.

Well, after he placed his nickel in the machine, he observed the machine to be empty. Mr. Morgan, to our lack of knowledge, had filled up that same machine only two hours earlier. When he saw us sitting around drinking generous amounts of Dr. Pepper and the resulting empty bottles scattered about the break area. he put two and two (soft drink bottles) together and knew "something was fishy ." His suspicions were confirmed when he observed that the coin box was near-empty and lacking in nickels commensurate with the many empty Dr. Pepper bottles seen scattered about the shop, and full ones still being consumed.

I recall Mr. Morgan telling us. "It's quite obvious that you boys have been stealing Dr. Peppers and it's only right that I tell Mr. Hardin about this and let him handle it." Mr. Hardin was the late Luther Hardin, our FFA sponsor and vo-ag teacher. Mr. Hardin may have been short in stature, but was very tall when it came to student discipline. He had a "board of education" tucked away in his desk that got our quick attention when needed. We all dreaded being the recipient of Mr. Hardin’s "board of education." and Mr. Morgan knew the pending results on our behinds if Mr. Hardin was told of our misdeeds. Not to mention, another "board of education" session waiting for us at the office with the Mr. Stevens, the school principal. And, of course, the ultimate "board of education" session with our parents when they found out about it.

And, trust me, in our small school town environment, they would have found about it.

I also recall Mr. Morgan saying. "Ok boys, I don’t know why you did this. It’s stealing and you know that’s wrong. If all of you will bring nickels tomorrow to pay for the amount of drinks that you took, I will keep this to myself."

Anyway, as I recall, I went without lunch for a few days because my lunch money nickels went to pay for several unpaid Dr. Peppers. I don’t recall how many nickels the other boys brought to shop class, but I do recall Mr. Morgan saying it was more than enough to repay the Dr. Pepper machine.

I have a feeling Mr. Morgan did later tell Mr. Hardin. However, Mr. Hardin never mentioned it in subsequent classes. I feel Mr. Hardin knew how bad we felt about the soft drink caper. A lesson learned by me, and I’m sure the other boys felt the same way. To this day, I can safely say I have always paid for my Dr. Peppers.

Thank you Mr. Morgan and Mr. Hardin. Thank you both for your kindness.


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