Friday, February 23, 2007


My old friend, the Sprucedweller (aka Cliff Wiggs), has sent an absolute cornucopia of The Best of … music from the latter half of the 20th Century.

If you are over 25, I suspect you’ll find something in here that you like.

Best of all, IT’S FREE! Whoever’s running it is paying BMI and ASCAP their money, so you can have a ball, for nothing nada, upso-la.

I'm putting this on both sites today, because this is just too good to miss.

That’s the link: enjoy!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Arkansas Children's Hospital

My niece, Sandy, has spent most of her life believing that her uncle is, at best, an obnoxious, treacherous idiot.

Despite this mislabeling (????), she occasionally has a bright thought, and she e-mailed this one, which I herewith share with you.

I’ve already cast my vote: your turn.

This is a wonderful way for us to give back to our community that won't cost us any money and will help Children's Hospital. I checked out the website and it is legitimate.

In an effort to bring a much-needed dose of fun to young patients, Colgate-Palmolive and Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation are asking people across the country to log on to: and vote for hospitals currently on a waiting list for "Fun Centers," mobile entertainment units that kids can enjoy at their bedsides, or anywhere in a hospital setting, while they recover. With just a click of the computer mouse, you can show support for Arkansas Childrens Hospital to become one of the five hospitals nationwide to receive a brand new
Fun Center.

Each Fun Center will be equipped with a flat screen monitor, DVD player and Nintendo game system, transforming hospital time into playtime.

The national online vote runs through March 31st. The five hospitals with the most votes will receive a surprise Fun Center delivered to their pediatric facility.

ACH can be found in the "South" region. You may vote as many times as you wish.


Saturday, February 17, 2007


Robert Miller

As I read your blog this morning, I remembered a time when Ernie, Robin Moore, George Payne and I were hauling hay from the airport to a barn on South Booth Road. Robin had gotten the job and it paid by the bale, so he decided to see how many bales we could haul per hour.

On a return trip up Booth Road, Robin was driving faster than he should, especially since he was pulling the four-wheel farm trailer behind the truck. It was connected to the bumper of the truck with a drop pin, and no nut to keep it in place (what did teens know about safety?). The rope used to tie down the hay was tied to the front of the trailer and was loosely resting on the flat bed trailer.

Well, all the bouncing over the ruts of the road jostled the end of the rope off the back and it was snaking along behind. George had the idea that he could walk the tongue of the trailer and get on board from the truck, which he did successfully. He pulled the rope back on board and turned, still standing up, holding the rope like a cowboy out of a wild west movie -- when the pin popped out of the trailer tongue.

Ernie and I watched helplessly as the trailer ran down the road for a short distance until the tongue dropped into a rut. With that, the trailer bucked into the air, with George holding the rope like a wild steer rider. We feared the worst as we got Robin stopped and the dust cleared. The trailer was off in a field beside the road. We found George unhurt, bent over laughing as though he had been on the carnival ride of his life.

Talk to you later,


(Nancy Carver used to call me “Bobert”)


Thursday, February 15, 2007


Tom Pry

In trying to catch up on some stuff from August of 2005 and forward, I found a joint piece by Cliff Wiggs and my late, dear friend (and SY co-founder), Ernie Simpson. It was apparently never run.

Let me correct that right now, because it’s a valuable part of our heritage.

Choppin’ and Pickin’

Ernie Simpson

At an early age, I learned that there are some things I didn’t want to do forever. Choppin’ and pickin’ were two of these.

Since then I have also learned that the classes of ’55-’56 and ’57 were really blessed in many ways. Some of the classmates were blessed to have attained material wealth, some have been very successful as humanitarians, teachers, authors, musicians, and the one thing that I have been blessed with, foremost, was having it instilled in me to be better than I thought I could be. I hung a sign above my bed in Danner Hall early on at ASU that said, “Remember, Simpson, what you have to do to be what you want to be.”

And, incidentally, it was not chopping cotton.

I thank goodness too, for all the kids that I went to school with, who were those years true friends. I really didn’t know I was poor until I went to college. Thank you, my friends, for keeping me in the dark on that. I was blessed by the people who never brought it out. In fact, in high school, I didn’t realize until I was about sixteen that tires on your car were supposed to have tread. You just drove a slick tire until it wouldn’t go any further.

Elois and I had our first date in a ’46 Dodge pickup, and neither she nor her parents made me feel any the less than comfortable with what I had to present as a young fourteen-year-old suitor. I always appreciated and respected them for that.

After some recent discussion on the Internet with my dear friend, Cliff Wiggs, I thought it time we shared some of the things about the cotton patch that everyone should know. How the bolls tore your fingers to shreds, and your back would not cooperate after a day’s work hoeing cotton.

I soon learned to scrounge for other jobs after a couple of summers doing that: waiting tables at the Mayfair, pumping gas at Mr. Troy Hailer’s station at Race and Main, and night clerking at the Rose-Ann Motel. Not to mention doorman and general flunkie at the Rialto, along with hauling hay. I thought it was still better than picking cotton. And better than following a team of mules in the early spring, behind a breaking plow. The mule’s names were Nell and Blue, as I recall. Didn’t every farmer have a team called Nell and Blue? “Gee, Nell; haw, Blue, dammit, haw, Blue”.

(Ours were horses, named Dick and Dan. Same conversation: only the names changed. –tlp-)

We didn’t have much of a farm, so we hired out to Jarrod Rascoe, who farmed a large area east of Rocky Branch. Three dollars a day for chopping, three dollars a hundred for picking. Lord, I was just glad to get a hundred pounds. I posed the question to Cliff, to see if what he had experienced was anything close, and to find out it was quite a bit more.

Cliff Wiggs:

Yes Ernie, I sure did chop and pick cotton. I don't know if everybody made a distinction between chopping and hoeing or not. I have talked to others who were raised from different parts of the state, which did though. For instance, I used to work with a fellow from Bisco, and he said they did too. Chopping cotton is what we did the first time, when we not only hoed out the grass, but also thinned the cotton. You'd always plant more than you'd allow to grow.

At least we did. We'd leave about one hoe width between hills, and leave about 2 stalks in the hill. Daddy always made sure we hoed the cotton 2 more times after chopping. He didn't want any grass. Dad and I took turns plowing the crops. He plowed with the tractor one day, and I'd plow with the team (horses). The next day we'd swap out. That way we didn't get quite so worn out, although, my legs would still get so raw, I could hardly walk.

I remember one year, must have been about 1952, when it rained so much we couldn't get into the fields, and when we finally could, the grass was about as high as the cotton. Both were about 4 in. tall, and we were out there chopping cotton, while all our neighbors were going by on their way to Barbers Lake.

Cotton wasn't our main money crop, but my daddy thought he had to raise a cotton crop.

As you probably remember, farmers were only allotted so many acres of cotton, according to the size of their farms. My dad would even sharecrop somebody else’s allotment, if he could. Our main money crop was corn. It didn't cost as much to raise, and you could raise all you could. And we could always sell all we wanted to. We'd sell by the truckload, and they'd weigh up over at Center Hill at the cotton gin scales. Daddy sold a thousand bushels of corn at one time to a fellow from Augusta. When he tried to drive away from the barn, the truck tires just began to mire up in the dirt. It wasn't wet, just too much weight. Daddy carried them back to Augusta, where they got a 4-wheel drive jeep, and it took that plus our tractor to pull it out of the lot. That jeep was just bouncing all over the place, and had men sitting all over it to try to hold it down.

I hated picking cotton with a passion. Our first pick sack, as kids was a "tow sack" that mom had sewed a strap onto. Then as we got bigger, we got regular cotton sacks. The early ones weighed 5 lbs. by themselves. One of my jobs was to climb up into the wagon, and empty the sacks, and tromp the cotton to pack it down. Dad always wanted at least a 500 lb. bale after it was ginned. Sometimes we'd sell the seed, and sometimes we'd bring it back home with us. It made good feed for the milch cows. (Incidentally, some people still think it's spelled m-i-l-k cow).

We planted cotton in the "bottoms" down by the creek, and the stalks would get head high. You could get lost in the cotton patch, but it would make 2 1/2 bales to the acre down there. In a lot of places, if you got a bale to the acre, you did well. When I was in the 10th grade in high school, I had a cotton crop. I rented (sharecropped) 3 acres from a neighbor. I think I ended up with $200 after all was said and done. I thought I was rich.

Do remember the Hughes fellow who had a little used car lot down there by the band building? He had a 42 Ford Coupe that I wanted sooo bad. But daddy wouldn't let me buy it.

He knew best, as I look back on it now.

I wrote a little story once about some of my childhood days and the cotton patch. It started something like this: My first encounter with death came in 1949. I was 10 years old, and it left me heart-broken and devastated. My best friend and confidante, my constant companion, had been cut down, run over and killed, at a tender young age. I remember it like yesterday, and think that I shall never forget that memorable event. I have wondered what caused it to happen as it did. Maybe it was because we kids were cheering him on and hollering at Ring, as he raced along.

We were on our way to the cotton patch that morning and we kids were riding in the wagon, as we went down that dirt road. My little dog Ring, liked to run alongside the wagon. And for some reason, as the wagon turned into the cotton patch, Ring darted in front of the wheel of the wagon, which already had about half a bale of cotton on it at the time. The wagon ran over him, and we kids watched in shock, as he lay writhing in pain, as there he died. I shed many tears for my little friend Ring, whom I'll never forget.

I remember one year, Charles Hunter and I were registering for school, and Mr. Hardin came by and looked at what classes we were registering for, and said "Boys, aren't you going to take agriculture?” And I said, "I'm gettin' all the agriculture I want, right now," he said "Boys, farming is going to be worth something some day.”

I hated it. Work all the time, and no money. I wanted a job in town, where you got paid at the end of the week, not at the end of the year, when the crops were all gathered and sold, and you paid all your debts, and had little left over.

(When I moved down here from Chicago, the first course I signed up for was Luther Hardin’s Vo-Ag class. I told everyone that it was part of my “Know Your Enemy” program. –tlp-)

These, my friend, are just some of my memories about the cotton patch. I wouldn't take a thousand dollars for the memories, but wouldn't go back for ten thousand.

Take care my friend,


Ernie again

So, you see my friends, some of what we learned from the cotton patch; I do recall the gallon jug with gunny sack sewn around it for insulation, and ice and water to the top; we had a dipper, none of that community jug stuff for us high class hands.

There was no such thing as heat stroke, and heaven was at the end of the row, or sundown, which ever came first. I am like Cliff, I wouldn’t take anything for the memories, but wouldn’t go back for thousands.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one thing; when I first started teaching at dear old Cooter School, they were a split-term school in the early sixties. Go to school in the summer, let out eight weeks in the fall to pick cotton.

I had just started a band boosters club, (Cooter’s first) and I came up with the brainstorm of having a Cooter Band Cotton Picking Day. A farmer furnished the wagon, all the kids picked cotton all day, and we gave prizes to the top pickers. Good way to get a uniform and instrument fund going.

I have not been back in a cotton patch since. That was over forty years ago.

My best,


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Saturday, February 10, 2007


The Backtrac Band

The Backtrac Band is a four piece Jonesboro-based musical group that plays a variety of music to include 50's and 60's, R&B, country, and disco. The Backtrac Band wants to make your next social event, wedding reception, or company party a success. Let our years of experience work for you by taking the guess work out of hiring entertainment. We will work with you to make your event a memorable occasion. So what are you waiting for, call today for a free price quote! We can't wait to entertain you!!

Band Members:

Dewey Hiler-Guitar and vocals

Keith Vivrette-Keyboards

Gene Barnett-Bass guitar and vocals

Mike Rinaldi-Drums and vocals

For Bookings Contact:

Gene Barnett

Cell / 870-897-1358

Email /

Email /

Mike Rinaldi

Cell / 1-870-926-5860

Email /

Keith Vivrette

Home / 1-870-935-3833


Thursday, February 08, 2007


Tom Pry

I’d love to credit this, but our contributor has one of these wholly-made-up email addresses, and I can never remember who “Sprucedweller” is; I can tell you, though, that everytime I think of that e-mail name, I get some wonderfully entertaining mental pictures.

Anyway, the straight version will be going up on my personal site Sunday the 11th, but it hit me that a lot of us now qualify to realize that a lot of these snickers will come from people YOUNGER than are we.

Besides, I just feel like commenting on it.

Those who grew up in small towns will laugh when they read this.

Those who didn't will be in disbelief and won't understand how true it is.

1) You can name everyone you graduated with. Yes, you can, if you try hard enough.

2) You know what 4-H means. Actually, I don’t recall 4-H being that big a thing, but we sure knew what FFA and FHA meant.

3) You went to parties at a pasture, barn, gravel pit, or in the middle of a dirt road. On Monday you could always tell who was at the party because of the scratches on their legs from running through the woods when the party was busted. (See #6.) Nah, the cops were our friends. As for party locations … the night the Class of 56 partied, there was a break in the schedule, and we ended up out of
Gum Springs Road (aka “Old Highway”), with all our car radios tuned to Randy’s Record Shop … at 1 o’clock in the morning.

4) You used to "drag"
Main. Okay, so we dragged Race. Big difference.

5) You whispered the "F" word and your parents knew within the hour. I’m not sure I heard that word out of the lips of a classmate during 4 years of high school. The penalty would just have been too high.

6) You scheduled parties around the schedules of different police officers, because you knew which ones would bust you and which ones wouldn't.

7) You could never buy cigarettes because all the store clerks knew how old you were (and if you were old enough, they'd tell your parents anyhow.) Besides, where would you get the money? WRONG! Anybody’d sell them to us; sell us cigars, too. Besides, I think ciggies were 30 cents a pack. We thought smoking was an early admission to adulthood.

8) When you did find somebody old enough and brave enough to buy cigarettes, you still had to go out into the country and drive on back roads to smoke them. See #7.

9) You knew which section of the ditch you would find the beer your buyer dropped off. Not only did we not have to go through this nonsense, but we finally got a drive-through way out Race, and they never bothered asking our age. Incidentally, think about that for a moment: selling beer at a drive-through. Is that not bizarre?

10) It was cool to date somebody from the neighboring town. It is with warm memories I recall Opal in Beebe and Cathleen Duncan in Bald Knob. There was Doloris Harris in
Blytheville and Dorothy in England (my date Graduation Night). The local gals were a little miffed at me when I first showed up at Headlee’s with my just-moved-to-town Mom (only 17 years my senior); apparently it was alright to date gals from out of town, but you weren’t supposed to bring them INTO town, and they thought my Mom was imported talent.

11) The whole school went to the same party after graduation. Why not?

12) You didn't give directions by street names but, rather, by references. “Turn by Nelson's house, go 2 blocks to
Anderson's, and it's four houses left of the track field.” When I first moved back here in 1992, and realized our much-beloved Dairy Queen was now a hock shop, I knew I was in trouble, so far as locating things went.

13) The golf course had only 9 holes.

14) You couldn't help but date a friend's ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.

15) Your car stayed filthy because of the dirt roads, and you will never own a dark vehicle for this reason. And our “car” was a pick-up truck (Mom: “It’s our limousine!”), during the rainy season, parked up at the corner of what’s now Collins and North Valley, the keys left in the ignition for the next one of us who needed it.

16) The town next to you was considered "trashy" or "snooty, "but was actually just like your town.

17) You referred to anyone with a house newer then 1955 as the "rich people.” Not true. One of the joys of living in Searcy was that you knew, for instance, that Elmer Dale’s family had a bit more money than ours did, but so what? I guessed wrong a
LOT of times. It never occurred to me that Robert and Ernest were as poor as we were. I didn’t know that Judy D sat home a lot of Saturday nights because all the guys attracted to her, like me, figured she was too far up the social scale to even consider a date with them …. Etc. Etc.

18) The people in the "big city" dressed funny, and then you picked up the trend 2 years later. That’s about right …. And still applies to
Arkansas in general.

19) Anyone you wanted could be found at the local gas station or the dairy bar. Dairy Bar? That was the plank we had across the dairy barn door to keep the cows from getting to their meal early.

20) You saw at least one friend a week driving a tractor through town or one of your friends driving a grain truck to school occasionally. The first date I had at SHS had me driving my grandfather’s 2-ton truck.

21) The gym teacher suggested you haul hay for the summer to get stronger. It was my grandfather who suggested it, on the grounds of “no hay, no meals.”

22) Directions were given using THE stop light as a reference. I was going to say something smartass here, but realized the only light I could remember was at
Main and Race. Did I miss something here?

23) When you decided to walk somewhere for exercise, 5 people would pull over and ask if you wanted a ride. Not when I was working in the fields all day, then walking all the way from our place to the high school for band practice or FFA things. I just walked down 36 and swallowed dust as they went by (this portion of 36 wasn’t paved until 1952), then repeated the process getting home.

24) Your teachers called you by your older siblings' names.

25) Your teachers remembered when they taught your parents.

26) You could charge at any local store or write checks without any ID. Ah, the age of innocence.

27) There were no McDonalds. I think the first McDonald’s opened in
California in 1955.

28) The closest mall was over an hour away. Mall? What’s a mall?

29) It was normal to see an old man riding through town on a riding lawn mower. Not when we were in school. Only the rich folks had a riding lawn mower. The rest of us pushed.

30) You've peed in a cornfield. Hasn’t everyone?

31) Most people went by a nickname. Robin Moore was “Chirp,” Ernest Simpson was “Saphead,” our bus driver was “Birdie” Sparrow and I, of course, was “The Damnyankee.”

32) You laughed your butt off reading this because you know it is true, and you forward it to everyone who may have lived in a small town. Well, in our small town, anyway.

I would not have wanted to have been raised any other way!!!!

Tough times don't last... Tough people do...


Sunday, February 04, 2007


I owe the Class of 54’s Freylon Coffey and his wife, Norrice, a big, fat apology.

See, I was sent a 50th Anniversary announcement ‘bout them. They wanted it in the paper, either paper. Problem was, between Christmas crowding and the fact that the happy couple doesn’t live here anymore, there were no takers.

Your dummy Editor couldn’t comprehend that he had the perfect medium at hand … until now.

So, with sincerest apologies:


The children of Freylon and Norrice Ann Coffey honored their parents with a Golden Anniversary celebration at the Katy, TX Church of Christ Saturday, December 9, 2006.

The Coffeys were married in Seminole, Texas. He continued his education at Texas Tech and graduated with a B.S in Chemical Engineering in 1960.

His work took them to several cities throughout Texas, the Midwest, and the Northeastern USA; as well as Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Japan.

She was an elementary teacher, with a degree in English Literature from the University of Texas, Permian Basin, and is a former teacher at Katy Elementary.

Mr. Coffey is a graduate of Searcy High School (1954) and Little Rock Jr. College (1957), and currently works at the Houston Dow Center.


Thursday, February 01, 2007


For you out-of-towners, here's the view outside as of 7 this morning, just west of Searcy:


Kevin Bacon fans might recall one of his early films about a group of teenagers breaking their town’s “No Dancing” ban. If they do, this copyrighted story by Susanna Smith in today’s Searcy Daily Citizen may bring back memories. HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE AT HARDING.

The story says, in part:

What began as a traditional Harding concert Friday night ended with a bit of controversy when part of the audience of HU students took the stage and danced to song, “Shake your Hips.”

The event at the private Christian school had garnered statewide media attention by Wednesday, including an entry on the Arkansas Times blog.

Robert Randolph & the Family Band, known for its audience participation, was hosted by Harding in the Benson Auditorium with Amsterband as the opening band. As each invited member of the audience climbed on stage, a student member of the Benson House Management Team for the Campus Activities Board escorted the individual off the stage.

Finally, Randolph challenged the audience saying that the Campus Activities Board could not kick everyone off if the whole audience jumped on stage. Several students jumped on stage to dance, against the wishes of the Campus Activities Board and a Harding Security person.

Zach Neal, director of campus life, said he was concerned about the “spirit of rebellion” present Friday night.

“People understood there was not to be dancing; people understood they were not to be on stage,” Neal said.

Neal had instructed the student members of the Management Team to tell the audience, “Don’t touch the stage.”

Neal said another concern was the approximately $100,000 worth of equipment and production materials that Harding was liable for.

“No other venues like ours allow people on stage,” Neal said.

Near the end of “Shake your Hips,” Neal approached
Randolph on stage and bent down to tell him, “If you keep this up, we’re pulling the plug.” Randolph complied and the audience left the stage at the end of the song.

During Jason Crosby’s piano solo, Neal met with the band’s tour manager concerning a possible breach of contract. The tour manager agreed that
Randolph’s actions could possibly be a breach of Harding’s addendum to the performance contract.

Dr. David Burks, HU president, said he was disappointed in the band because they violated the terms of coming to Harding.

“We have a specific rider that spells out expectations,” Burks said. “They expressly violated it when [
Randolph] repeatedly invited people on stage.”

Though the contract says nothing regarding inviting students on stage, the contract does state that “The school permits no dances.”

Videos of the event have been uploaded onto and several facebook groups have been formed discussing the controversy.

The full article may be read for a limited time at .