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...



Anonymous Dick Chapman said...

Tom Pry continues to make this blog a good read. Thanks, Tom. A follow-up comment regarding the first McDonald's restaurant: The McDonald brothers opened a restaurant in 1937 in Arcadia CA and the first "McDonald's" was opened in 1940 in San Bernadino. Franchising started in 1953. Ray Kroc became the director of franchising that same year and later bought the company from the McDonald brothers. The first McDonald's opened by Kroc was in Des Plaines, IL in April of was the ninth franchise of the company but Kroc used that date as the "founding" of his company.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Tom Pry said...

Thank you, sir, both for the kind comments and the supplemental McDonald's info. I used to be kind of "in" with the McDonald's corporate crowd, and once watched three top execs argue for about 45 minutes about at what point in time a Big Mac starts going downhill in the heater.

Concensus was 12 minutes; after that, trash.

Now, if they'd apply that same brain power to the ladies who work the drive-thru pickup window ......

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Freylon Coffey SHS 54 said...

Who was "damnyankee"? If he knew "Birdie Sparrow", he must have ridden the same bus I did. During that period we were the last stop on the bus route, and lived at the foot of Dugout Mountain.


Freylon Coffey

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