Monday, July 23, 2007



Yep, ended up in the hospital again.

More of the Congestive Heart Failure thing. They had to get my body to give up almost 8 pounds of fluids, plus accomplish a few more things.

Nonetheless, I’m okay and back home again.

My sincere and loving thanks to those of you who called and asked, “Alright, where in the hell is he?!?”

More later.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


A few days ago, we had the sad duty of reporting the death of Herman Van Patten. Anita Hart Fuller and Don Thompson brought to my attention a copyrighted article by Jay Grelen at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that ran recently, and we thought you might like to read it, if you missed it in the paper.

1957 duty unsung, but not forgotten

Those who know Herman Wendell Van Patten probably didn’t know this story about him, but they won’t be surprised by it.

One morning in September, 1957, one of the Little Rock Nine dropped a book as she exited the brown Ford station wagon in front of Central High School. Mr. Van Patten, a National Guardsman federalized by President Eisenhower, picked the book up and handed it to her. In those tense times, however, with the whole country watching desegregation in Little Rock, such courtesies weren’t allowed. His superiors in the United States Army told him not to do that again. He had one job: to protect the Little Rock Nine. Even the brief attention to a dropped book could be an opening for trouble.

“Always keep your eyes peeled,” Roger Vaughan recalls the bosses telling Herman. “The colonel who talked to us told us how important it was to protect those kids. ‘If you see a rock coming, stick your head in front of it.’”

Mr. Van Patten was one of six National Guardsmen from Searcy who occupied the Jeeps front and back of the well-photographed station wagon that delivered the students to school every day.

Leo Person, a friend of Mr. Van Patten's and owner of a hardware store in Searcy, was the company clerk and stayed at Camp Robinson while his fellow soldiers made the daily school run. "They took cue sticks and cut them into billy clubs,” he says. “They drilled a hole through the handle, put on a leather strap. They looked good. They shined.”

A soldier from West Memphis was the seventh member of the escort crew. He operated the radios, communicating with the commanders on campus, says Roger Vaughan, who rode in the rear Jeep with Mr. Van Patten, Carthel Mack Angel, and Terrell Jones. A Lt. Cook and Ray Dean Abbott rode in the first Jeep, he says, and a recruiting sergeant drove the station wagon.

Mr. Vaughan says, “One time we pulled over to the side for a bus. The kids had slingshots. They hit us. One time some kids threw some balloons out of a car. Nobody ever got hurt. We practiced and knew what to do in case something happened. They showed us how to avoid an ambush.”

Members of the One-Oh-One Airborne, as Mr. Vaughan refers to the 101st Airborne, stood shoulder to shoulder between the Little Rock Nine and the other students. “We’d get out, walk them up to the sidewalk, walk them to the steps. A captain took them on to the school. We went back to Camp Robinson, ate lunch, returned and waited for them to get out of school.”

Herman Wendell Van Patten was one of three surviving members of the six-soldier crew that escorted the nine students to and from school in September, l957.

Now the number is two.

He was 76.

Until five years ago, Mr. Van Patten’s children didn’t know of their father’s role in Arkansas history. “He didn’t like to brag about himself,” Jeff Van Patten said. “I knew he was in the National Guard. I never knew he had that duty.”

Thursday, July 12, 2007


This is actually three messages in one.

BESS: Send me an e-mail address that works.

ANYONE: This lady is trying to find an address for John Alex (Class of 56). In going through her mother's stuff, she ran across a photo from early 1939 identified as John Alex McCoy. She'd like to get the photo to him, but this blog is the only place she's found his name on a Google search.

CAROLYN & MARY KAY: Yeah, I know, her e-mail bounced back to me, too. Sorry.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Herman Wendell Van Patten, 76, of Searcy, left this world on Saturday, July 7, 2007.

He was born in Pangburn, Ark. on Sept. 22, 1930. He was preceded in death by his parents, I.B. and Linnie Van Patten. Herman graduated from Searcy High School in 1949 and attended the University of Arkansas and UCA (formerly State Teachers college) where he played in the jazz band. He enjoyed playing the oboe, clarinet and saxophone. Herman was retired. Herman was a member of the Arkansas National Guard and one of his duties was driving the jeep which safely escorted the “Little Rock Nine” to school each morning during the Central High crisis in 1957. Herman was extremely patriotic and taught his children to appreciate the price that was paid for freedom.

He was happily married to Hettivee Van Patten for over 51 years who survives him. He is also survived by three children, Jeff Van Patten and wife, Kenny of Maumelle, Ark., Dana Van Patten McKinney and husband, Rick of Jonesboro, and Suzanne Van Patten of Frisco, Texas; three brothers, I.B. Van Patten, Leon Van Patten, and Dale Van Patten all of Searcy, Ark. He also leaves his special grandchildren, Rachel and Cam McKinney of Jonesboro and Will and Katie Van Patten of Maumelle, Ark. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He never seemed to “meet a stranger”, and will be greatly missed by all. He greatly loved his family and friends who will remember him as “a man of joy.” He was witty and found joy in making others laugh. His grandchildren were always amazed that he could fix almost anything.

For over 60 years he was a member of
First United Methodist Church in Searcy, Ark. where he was very active on various committees, including the Good Sam's organization and Shoe Box ministry. Herman had a beautiful tenor voice and sang in the First United Methodist Church choir for over 60 years. On Sunday evenings he often led the church service in singing hymns. He was also a member of the Van Patten handbell choir, which he and his wife funded. Herman enjoyed being a Sunday school teacher in the Murray Sunday school class where he served for several decades.

Herman had many interests, but his main interests were his family, friends, music and golf. He was a member of the Searcy Jaycees where he worked on many projects including the successful creation of the White County Hospital (now White County Medical Center). Herman loved to play golf and had the distinction of recording two holes in one on different golf holes at the River Oaks Golf Club shortly after his 72 birthday.

The family asks that memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church Music Ministry in
Searcy, Ark. Online guestbook or (501) 268-3546.

Funeral was this morning.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Robert Miller

Did I read it right that you had a pacemaker? Hope everything is going better for you now. This aging thing isn't easy, is it?

I was reading some from Searcy Yesteryear and came across the names of Wallace Evans and Morris Brookhart. I haven't seen Morris since the college days in Fayetteville, where he was studying to be an architect. He would catch a ride home to Searcy with my sisters and me on occasion. He was a very sharp young man as I remember.

Though Wallace Evans was a year ahead of me in school, we were friends. On one occasion, I was walking home to Gum Springs and Wallace came along on his motorcycle and offered me a ride. There was no place for a passenger to sit, though. He said just get up on the handle bars. Well, that was when Hwy 267 was gravel. My extra weight on the front made it difficult for him to keep the machine in the road. He made it to the Gum Spring Cemetery and let me off. That was a wild ride.

Take care


Tom Pry

My comment: getting older beats the alternative. As it is, we’ve done well to live as long as we have.

By the way, can I reprint that on SY?


Yes, we are lucky to here on earth when we dodged the bullet on polio, pneumonia, spinal menigitis, just to name a few.

It is OK to run the comments on Morris and Wallace. Did Morris become an architect? I graduated and left for dental school before he finished and never saw him again.


Dummy here, for some reason, thought it was Wallace Evans who was studying architecture, and sent him a note. His reply:

Wallace Evans

I'm afraid I did not become an architect and I don't think a Ph. D. in Fisheries Science gets very close to being an architect.

Please pass this on to Robert Miller. Do you have Robert's email address, phone no., and address?


It was Morris Brookhart that was in architecture. It was good to hear from Wallace though. I have his e-mail in my address book and will drop him a line. If you get a contact for Morris B., please forward to me.


In cases like this, I send the originator’s note to the person being sought; then it’s up to them as to whether to share their personal information or not.

Unfortunately, in the case of Morris Brookhart, I can’t, because I don’t have it. If you do, share, please? People miss him.

Have a nice 4th of July.