Tuesday, August 29, 2006

True Story - Good Things Still Happen

Reprint of Story from Searcy Daily Citizen

10-year-old finds long-lost ring, returns it to beloved teacher, 97

By Warren Watkins Sunday, August 27, 2006 12:44 AM CDT The Daily Citizen

When Alec Bourgeois saw the circle of gold sticking up out of the ground ina bare spot of his front yard, like any 10-year-old he was curious and excited. A little bit of digging and he soon held in his hand a small token that held the power of 77 years of history.

"It was like a treasure," Bourgeois said.The red-head, freckled boy took the ring inside to his mother, MichelleBourgeois, who cleaned it up. A 1929 class ring from Pangburn High School, it contained the initials "C. Y." The letters rang a bell, but she couldn't quite put her finger on who the ring could belong to. Soon a friend looked at the ring and had a guess."It's Miss Connie's ring!" he said, and it turned out he was right. Connie Yingling Patterson, affectionately called "Miss Connie" by her beloved students, graduated from Pangburn High School in 1929 and lost the ring, found it, then lost it again.

For years it had laid just under the surface of the earth in the yard that once belonged to her sister, Edith. "She was my sister and I half-raised her eight children, " Miss Connie said. The school's cafeteria is named for "Miss Connie" in honor of 30 years teaching at PHS in a career spanning four decades. Miss Connie's own education wasn't easy. Her father made her repeat the 8th grade rather than begin at PHS, but when the family moved to town she was finally able to enroll and eventually graduate.

Michelle had another mystery to solve - where was Miss Connie now? During a trip to the doctor's office, she ran into two old-timers from Pangburn who lived in Harding Place, an assisted living center in Searcy. They knew the living education legend was their neighbor, and that she was now 97 year sold. Soon the Bourgeois family was knocking on Miss Connie's door and the ring was back in her hands. "It was wonderful," Miss Connie said of receiving the ring again. "I was so happy."

In return, Miss Connie gave Bourgeois a reward he now cherishes, a treasureof his own to keep - a Case knife once owned by her husband, Kie, who died last month. Kie was a retired railroad worker. Bourgeois later wrote of his adventure: "Well, when I found out that the ring belonged to dear Miss Connie and that is actually belonged to somebody that is alive, well, I thought it was amazing because she is 97 years old. I mean, not all people or not even many people live to be 97. I wish all people would live to be 97. This was very special to me because the knife she gave me was one of the few things she had left of her husband's, and if he lived with Miss Connie he was a verynice man. It was really nice that it actually belonged to a woman that inspired many people in Pangburn and the cafeteria was named for her.

I go to the same school in Pangburn. I will always remember Miss Connie and take very good care of her husband's knife. "The ten-year-old said he was telling a friend at school about finding the ring and, as he pointed to her picture on the wall, said, "See, that's whose ring I found."Miss Connie's teaching career began in 1938 in a one-room schoolhouse where she lit the fire every morning and swept the floor every night. A mentor to thousands of children, she taught more than three generations of students. After retirement, she showed her enthusiasm for life when she married for the first time at age 75.

Michelle plans to take Miss Connie to a jeweler to have the ring cleaned, repaired and to have the stone replaced. "It's a great story of someone doing a kindness for someone else," Arthur Churchill, executive director of Harding Place. "It was a moving story to see."

Not everyone who will read this would have had a chance to read this in the Daily Citizen.

Nice things still happen, - even to 97 year olds. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Correction - Mady Armstrong

I made the unpardonable mistake of taking material from another genealogist without checking it out.

Since posting my message on Mady, I've gone more deeply into her parent's and sibling's history and found the following corrections to the few items I took from an internet posting rather than records. (I knew better). Their not of that much of interest, but for accuracy sake, I'll pass them along:

I believe Mady's brother, Forney, did not move back to Alabama, rather it appears he moved to Batesville, Independence County, Arkansas. He died 24 March, 1965, and is buried in Kyler Cemetery, Batesville. He could have moved to Alabama and back to Arkansas, but I doubt it. Arkansas divorce records indicate he and Eula were married in 1921 and divorced in 1924 in White County. I don't know if he ever remarried or not.

Mady's sister Emma's husband, Allison Marr's middle initial was "N" not "L". He was born in Lake County, Tennessee, not Alabama. They married between 1920 and 1930 and were living in the Marion District of White County in 1930. It appears that they also moved to Independence County after 1930. They are both buried at Kyler Cemetery so she probably died in that county rather than Searcy.

Mady's parents are also buried at Kyler Cemetery. Her sisters, Genoa/Genoma and Lillian Alta, who obviously never married, are buried there as well.

So it appears that Mady was the only one of the family to stay in Searcy. Most of the rest of the family ended up in Independence County. I don't know what happened to her brother Arthur Lee.

Donald Johnston

p.s. I also made a typo myself. In the fifth paragraph "In 1910 the family ..." should be "In 1920 the family . . . ". My high school typing teacher, Miss Brown, would never forgive me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Piece Of Our Childhood Has Died

Al English, touched MANY of us. From the Class of 57 alone came 3 band directors who left their mark on the profession. I was also blessed by him, as were countless others.

It is with great sadness that I pass on the following obituary. He blazed a trail through many cities, where the people he touched will remember him always. I have always looked up to Al as someone who helped form a portion of my life in school.

Alvin B. English, Jr., 79, passed away quietly at his home on Tuesday morning, June 27, 2006, after a long illness. Al spent 35 years as a teacher, band director and professional trombonist in Refugio, San Antonio and New Braunfels, Texas before retiring to his home on Lake Conroe in 1986. He was born on September 24, 1926, in Burkburnett, Texas to the Rev. Alvin B. English, Sr. and Harrell Kincaid English.He is survived by his wife, Flora Hinson English, his son, Paul English of Houston, his three daughters and sons-in-law, Leah and Dean McDaniel of Katy, Rachael and Henry Barsotti of Philipsburg, Montana and Stella English of San Antonio, his sisters Camilla Irwin and Joyce Satterwhite, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Services will be at St. Mark Lutheran Church at 2100 Tickner in Conroe at 2 pm on Friday, June 30, 2006.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ann Snodgrass wrote:

Hello, Billy and Irvin.

Irvin, do you remember when we were little kids that before our Uncle Ursell and Aunt Pearl built their house north of our grandparents, they lived in a smaller house to the west of our grandparents? And they all lived just a few houses down East Vine Street from Mady Armstrong's house.

I remember my mother telling me not to make fun of Mady, that she was smart and as knowledgeable as a botanist about plants. Don't recall her saying anything about Mady chasing girls in shorts, though!

Maybe our Aunt Pearl could shed some light on Mady and her background? Maybe your daddy would remember.

There was a Nelson family that lived on the corner by Mady. Their daughter, Doris Ella was in high school with me, but I think she's a year or two younger. Is she around? Could she help with the research project?

Take care,


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Donald Johnston wrote:

Anita wrote:
"I realize we discussed Mady some years ago, but one more question for anyone who might know: Who were her relatives, and where were theywhen she was terrorizing all the girls who wore shorts on the streetsof Searcy? Elizabeth Vaughn Capps and I have recently been emailing about Mady and neither of us knows anything about her relatives, etc.The reason I was even remembering her: yesterday I was "browsing" thru the Searcy cemetaries via the White County Historical Society website and came across Mady's name. What struck me so was her age when she died, "just" 70 years old. I was 70 Friday, Aug. 4th. Didn't we all think Mady was close to l00 yrs.?"

Since there were several others who mentioned Mady in their blogs, I thought I'd pass along what I've been able to learn about her (probably more than you care about):

MADY CLEVELAND ARMSTRONG was born 18 October 1892 in Chepultepec, Blount Co., Alabama to ISAAC HARPER ARMSTRONG, born in 1856, and MARY LOU CYNTHIA WHITED, born in 1859. Isaac and Mary were married in 1882 and he went into farming. They had nine children with Mady being the fifth. There were several members of the Armstrong clan who lived in the same vicinity of Chepultepec.

Between 1910 and 1920, Isaac and family moved to White County, Arkansas where he continued farming. In 1920 the family was living in the Albion District on the Searcy to Letona road. By then, only four of their daughters (Mady's sisters) were living with them. Her older brother ISAAC BUFORD ARMSTRONG had married JOANNA (ANNA) IRENE DEARING (in 1919) and moved into their own residence on River Street. Mady, her older sister EMMA LOU ARMSTRONG, and her older brother FORNEY CLIFTON ARMSTRONG were also living in the Isaac Buford household.
Mady's brother, Isaac Buford and family moved back to Blount County in late 1920. He died in 1976 and is buried there. Mady's brother, Forney, also moved back to Alabama where he married EULA COBB in 1925. Isaac Harper, Mary Lou, and three of their daughters, GENOA RACHEL EVELINE, LILLIAN ALTA, and ELLIE GRACE were still living in White county in 1930. None of these daughters had married by then and were living at home. Living next door to them was Mady's brother, ARTHUR LEE ARMSTRONG, his wife ESTIE V. DUFFEL, and their children. Between 1930 and 1939, Mady's parents evidently moved to Independence County, Arkansas where he died in 1939 and she died in 1947. Ellie Grace later married married THURMON FOUST and died in 1963 in Arkansas. Lillian Alta died in 1973 in Arkansas, and Genoa Rachel died in 1971 in Independence County. Mady and her sister, Emma, remained in White county. Emma married ALLISON L. MARR who was also from Blount County. She died in Searcy on 22 January, 1979. By 1930, Mady was living alone in her own home at 504 E. Vine Street. She indicated she did, or worked in a, laundry for a living. She died 14 June 1962 (some records show 1969) and is buried at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Searcy. I remember her well but have no personal information on her from 1930 until she died.

Donald Johnston

p.s. Genealogy is one of my hobbies, so if I can help anyone in those endeavors, let me know.

And now you know the rest of the story. Thanks for your participation. I know when I was a kid, we use to be afraid of Mady.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

From Jimmy Benbrook

Dear Friends and extended family,

The wonderful news of my September 2nd ordination to the Priesthood came last Saturday. Because of the 'short-time' to Ordination, I cannot immediately send a formal invitation. I hope you will accept the attached electronic 'Invitation' in hopes that you may be able to attend. Even though you may remain far away, I hope you will share this special morning of the 2nd with us. I am requesting your prayers for the church, my Diocese, my family and myself, at this time.
I wish you all God's Peace and safe travels.

Your brother in Christ,

Rev. Jim Benbrook
Deacon in residence

The Episcopal Church of The Good Shepherd
806 Concordia Avenue
Vidalia, La. 71373

Church Tel: 318-336-7405
Home Tel: 318-336-6187
Cell Tel: 601-870-2748
Web Page: www.vidaliaepiscopal.org

I received this email from Jimmy Benbrook and want to share this with everyone. Isn't it good to see someone step out in faith and respond to God's call. This a time to celebrate!!!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Don Russell Wrote:

Hello Tom, I just got connected to the BLOG and really enjoy it, My name is Donald Russell and I am "ARTIE" Russells brother! and just read the letter that Clifton sent back in "97". Sure enjoyed it and I really miss my Brother to this day. We were going to travel together and one of our first stops was MONTANA! I have got a long list of stories that I have written about my childhood including the time we went to school at Honey Hill--1945 thru 1947-- and we rode to school with Mrs Annie Killough in her Modle A also! I graduated in 1955 but started to school with the class of 1954--I had a lapse of learning whil at Honey Hill! HA HA Mrs Moore was my teacher when we came back to Searcy, and she said that I REALLY needed more time in the 5th. but I really enjoyed my time with Her, she was a good and fair teacher, but then I liked Miss Thorton.
Till later. Don

Honey Hill Students:
Gearld Don Willams, Jessie Dee Beck and Sister, Reba Russell, Mary Ella Russell, Donald Max Russell, Lyndal West, Harold and Carol Hartsfield, Wayne Hartsfield, Lethanel Kitts, Arlie Kitts, Bobby Joe West, Inelle Westcrawford, Kittsmarie Kitts and an older sister, Lebert Monchrief, Arthur Paul Russell, Wyane Mortice. This is some but not all, I think we had about 15 kids in summer of 1946. We sure had some good times throwing the green persimmons during the SUMMER school, and smoking in the out house!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

I realize we discussed Mady some years ago, but one more question foranyone who might know: Who were her relatives, and where were theywhen she was terrorizing all the girls who wore shorts on the streetsof Searcy? Elizabeth Vaughn Capps and I have recently been emailingabout Mady and neither of us knows anything about her relatives, etc.The reason I was even remembering her: yesterday I was "browsing" thruthe Searcy cemetaries via the White County Historical Society websiteand came across Mady's name. What struck me so was her age when shedied, "just" 70 years old. I was 70 Friday, Aug. 4th. Didn't weall think Mady was close to l00yrs.?I really enjoyed Don Johnson/Johnston's memories. I have a photo, I'mnot sure it wasn't posted on Searcyyesteryear, of a scene taken from"Arsenic and Old Lace" Even though I can't remember what I ate forbreakfast this morning, I clearly remember that play, AND that Don wasthe dead man in the box. Thanks for the memories, Don.
Anita Fuller

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Donald Johnston, class of '53 wrote:

I just recently was made aware of the Searcy High School Blog "Searcy Yesteryear". Kudos to Tom and others who got it up and going.
I'm happy to see that you, Irvin and Bill, are going to continue it's existence.
I was a few years before you guys. My sister, Judith Ann Johnson, was probably there around your time. Acually, she was the one who told me about this site.

I've pretty much gone back over the entire archives with much interest. There are a couple of entries that I want to respond to:

= In October 2005 Harold Gene Sullivan wrote -"Thanks for the rundown on Arsenic and Old Lace being put on by the Center on the Square. It reminded me that we put on that play when I was in high school; it may have been our Junior play. Maybe someone else remembers. I don’t even remember who was in the play or what part I had. My only memory is that the fellow who was murdered and put in the window seat really cracked up the person who went over to open the window seat and look at the body. There was the “body” laying there eating an apple. The “body” may have been Donald Johnson."

I was, in fact the body in the window box. At the time of this production, I was involved in a couple of other drama projects (one being "Mooncalf Mugford" with Carolyn Thompson, I believe), so I didn't have a speaking part in "Arsenic". Haislip, instead, gave me a dual role - that of two dead stiffs, Mr. Spanalzo and Mr. Hoskins, residents of the window box.

As I recall, I used more props than an apple to keep the cast members who looked in the box in suspense as to what they would see when they opened it.

= Harold also mentioned the Minstrel shows that were a yearly event in the early '50s -
"I’m trying to remember what plays we put on. Our Town was one. Another was a Minstrel Show, blackface and all. My part in the show was getting sent out by the Interlocutor to get him a drink of water. I returned, running back in, and the Interlocutor asked me where his water was. I replied “I saw a snake in that water and if I scared that snake half as much as he scared me, you don’t want a drink of that water!”

Someone else responded that they thought those ministrals were put on by one of the civic organizations. Actually, both were done - at least in 1953. We put one on called "The Pocket Size Ministral" in 1953 with a high school cast and the Searcy Kiwanis Club presented "The Original Cottonblossom Minstrel Show on March 3 and 4, 1953. Our cast consisted of Don Christian as Mr. White, the Interlocutor (straight man) and the end men, Randel Reddin as Mr. Imp, Larry Killough, as Mr. Nibble ( I only show the name as Larry, but I think it was Killough), Sam (?), as Mr. Fizzle, and me as Mr. Shinbone. I still have the script.

The Kiwanis Club Minstrel that year featured some of the upstanding citizens of the city as well as several Searcy High School participants. The "Fly By Night Skit" featured a "Ghost Chorus" conposed of Jimmy Chandler, Donald and Ronald Jones, Bobby McInturff, Ray Dean Abbot, Charles Crozier, and HAROLD G. SULLIVAN. Several other skits were performed by high school students. (I have a copy of the program from the Show).

Imagine such a thing today!!

Keep up the good work

Donald Johnson/Johnston
(Another story - when I joined the Air Force, I discovered my birth certificate had a "t" in my last name. The recruiter said if I wanted to go then I'd have to sign it accordingly. Time passed and I never corrected it. After the AF, I continued my career in aviation with the Federal Aviation Administration and had to use the same name as the service showed. I never changed it, so since after college, I've been "Johnston". There's some evidence that that's the correct spelling anyway.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Holding On to what is truly important.

May of us find ourselves so busy, caught up, and set in our ways we forget sometimes what is truly important.

The following link I hope will jog your memory and offer you an opportunity to reflect and consider what you think to be important. Please make sure your sound is turned on, because the music will help set the mood.


The life long friendships many of us developed while attending SHS over a 12 year span seem impossible to imagine for classmates of today's era. We were so fortunate we just didn't realize it at the time.