Tuesday, January 30, 2007


An interesting bunch got together last Sunday at a pleasant little condo over in River Oaks. They were all there to celebrate the 98th birthday of Corinne Hart, mother of the Class of 54’s Anita Hart Fuller, mother-in-law of the Class of 54’s Bobby Scott Fuller, Grandma of the Elkins, AR, band Director, Chris Fuller, and the Kansas City TV5 News Anchor Karen Fuller, and great-grandmaw to Madison Fuller of Highland, AR.

Except for Karen, who couldn’t get away because of TV commitments, (although she listened to a lot of the fun via telephone) the rest of them were all gathered, along with a pile of people who’ve known Miss Corinne for years; this includes a batch from the White County Historical Society.

And this last group deserved to be there. Corinne is a walkin
g repository of stories of growing up around Letona, where she lived most of the first 12 years of her life. “Of course,” she conditions, “if I told everything I know, probably half the people in town would have to leave.

Also on hand … those who were friends of Anita and Bobby Scott. For instance, Mary Kathryn Van Patten James. Did’ja know she studied violin? Did’ja know Anita did, too? I sure didn’t until I started this blog site.

Of course, knowing is not exactly the same as hearing, and the gang assembled
a pick-up band with which to serenade Corinne. Pictured are Anita on violin, son Chris on bass trombone, granddaughter Madison on Clarinet, WCHS Board member Billy Willingham on that sorta-mandolin thing, and Don Mooney, from Corinne’s church.

Corinne has a long and colorful history in this town. She originally worked for what was then just known as Security Bank; later in food service for what was then Harding College (see our early article for a photo of her and the legendary Eddie Rickenbacker) … all-in-all, an interesting life.

To me, the highlight of the afternoon was when Miss Corrine started telling stories of her
childhood, of which the best was about one year at the annual revival and town meeting.

“Everyone came into town in their wagons and long-bed trucks, their wives and kids. There was a stage full of holes, and a pump organ I played. There were lanterns hanging in the trees and it was just a grand party.

“Went on late, too. I remember one year, all the little kids had been filed away to sleep in their families’ wagons and trucks, with the grown-ups down at the platform singing their hearts out. Some of us older kids went out and started re-arranging the kids: you know, the Smith kids in the Jones wagon and like that.

“Nobody noticed till they got home LATE that night that they had the wrong young-uns. It made for a long night, with people heading all over that part of the county trying to track their youngsters down.”

Happy 98th Birthday, Corinne. You’ve earned it!

Monday, January 29, 2007


Note from Elizabeth Vaughn Capps, re the article on Robert's reception:

On there someone says that Dr. J.D. Patterson’s daughter, Nancy, is a dentist in Searcy. Her name is Beth, or that is always what I have known her by. Her mother was Nancy Patterson.

And Nancy is the sister. Right?

Sunday, January 28, 2007


As I’ve just pretty much hung up my newspapering spurs, Dr. Robert Miller, Class of ’56 and ex-tuba player (well, actually, technically, a Sousaphone) has hung up his drill.

Yesterday, Saturday, 1/28/07, “the girls” – his professional staff – threw a Goodbye Reception in his honor. The venue was Ann’s Bridal Boutique, the Rose Room, and a goodly crowd showed up.

Among those of note …. former County Judge Bob Parish (Left) and Judge Bill Mills …

The Class of 59’s Larry Haile, whom I’ve not laid eyes on since 1956 (he’s married to the former Judy Butler, who was there, too).

Mary Kathryn Van Patten James and her husband, Larry, were there. Mary Kay grabbed my camera and got this shot of Larry and me.

Also on hand were Robert’s oldest sister, Martha, who came up from Grand Prarie, TX, just for the event, and Nancy Patterson, one of Robert’s sisters, herself a successful dentist locally.

Robert and Marge’s eldest son, Kenny, made the only speech of the day. With his Dad’s staff lined up behind him, Kenny paid tribute to his Dad as “a great role model” for him and his siblings.

Especially sorry to see Robert go were the members of this staff, past and present. Here’s Ronda Edwards, Katie Latimer, Martha Patton, and Shelley Berg. Only Katie is staying on with Dr. Paul Teeg, the man who bought Robert’s practice.

And, finally … the whole family. From left to right, Richard Miller, here from Tontitown, AR, Kenny Miller, in from St. Louis, Marge and Robert, daughters Patty Allison (San Angelo, TX) and Missy Wolfe (Montgomery, AL).

Each table, incidentally, had as its centerpiece a chunk of Robert’s quite artistic wood-turning, like this decanter.

To see more of this marvelously creative work from Robert, go to http://www.artofthelathe.com (a site put together by son, Kenny).

Bye, bye, Bobby (a name I never dared use in high school)!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


In a copyrighted story in the Searcy Daily Citizen, my ole buddy, (Dr.) Warren Watkins reports, in part:

The Sullards Annex at Searcy High School echoed with praise and anecdotes Thursday night as the Searcy Education Foundation held its fourth annual banquet, inducting four SHS alumni into its hall of honor.

Inducted were Searcy Superintendent Tony Wood, Larry Crain, Cal Skaggs and E.D. Yancey.

Foundation Vice President Watson Bell served as master of ceremonies, providing humorous insight into the personalities on the program.

Larry Crain

Larry Crain’s first trip to Searcy from his birthplace in Crosby, eight miles west of town, was in a horse-drawn wagon. Today he lives in Searcy but presides over his businesses from corporate headquarters in Sherwood. From there he oversees car dealerships including eight locations and 12 franchises. Crain Investments, a real estate company, is also run from the Sherwood headquarters, as are other small businesses, including insurance companies.

The building is also the home office for another Crain investment, the Arkansas RimRockers, a minor league professional basketball team which plays in Alltel Arena in Little Rock.

Media holdings include radio stations KSMD (licensed for Pangburn), KAWW (Heber Springs), KWCK AM and FM (Searcy) and KCNY FM (Greenbriar and Conway).

Crain Automotive Parts has its home office in Memphis.

Crain is a 1959 grad of SHS.

E.D. Yancey

Searcy businessman and philanthropist E.D. Yancey graduated from Searcy High School in 1956. Formerly with First Security Bank, Yancey is the developer and general manger of the River Oaks subdivision, and developed The Course at River Oaks.

This note for newcomers: the "E.D." stands for "Elmer Dale." The E.D. thing didn't start until he went off to college at the U of A.

Calvin Skaggs

Cal Skaggs, who graduated from SHS in 1954, is a film producer who was the Director of Arts and Professor of American Literature and Cinema at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey before leaving to produce “The American Short Story” on Public television. As head of Lumiere Productions in New York City, where he resides, Skaggs has produced numerous films.

The full story is available for a limited time at this link:


Friday, January 26, 2007


This, from today’s Searcy Daily Citizen and Editor (Dr.) Warren Watkins:

Jackson leaves UCA

CONWAY — Tommy Jackson, former editor of The Daily Citizen, has stepped down as the vice president of communications at the University of Central Arkansas amid controversy.

According to an article published Wednesday in the Echo, the UCA student newspaper, Jackson resigned after being dismissed from his teaching position with the department of mass communication and theater in December.

Jackson, whose resignation will be effective in June 2007, was accused of plagiarism in his weekly column he wrote for the Log Cabin Democrat.

Jackson told the Echo he had quoted historical facts and biographical information obtained from the Internet for use in the column, which Jackson wrote for free.

In a December interview with the Echo,
Jackson said he planned to sue UCA.

The full article may be found for a limited time at http://www.thedailycitizen.com/articles/2007/01/26/news/local_news/news02.txt .


Thursday, January 25, 2007


One of our team members, Irvin Van Patten, sends out monthly birthday reminders, etc., to everyone he can find. Of late, to this monthly mailing, he’s appended the following, which is worth your consideration:

Please consider the following: If you have a story, a remember-when incident, the Searcy YesterYear Blog would be interested reading about it. Naturally, we are attempting to record some of our classmates’ history before Dementia or Alzheimer kicks in and you don't remember where the bathroom is located. Contact information for Searcyyesteryear is located below my signature block. I said it this way in case you are beginning to notice some symptoms.


Irvin Van Patten
Searcy High Class 1963

Check it out - Searcy High School's YesterYear Blog! It's a diary of Experiences, Photos, Stories & Remember when’s told by you, Searcy Classmates. Have you ever wanted to tell your story? Now is your opportunity. Visit the Blog: click on: www.searcyyesteryear.blogspot.com. This blog is a website that records the memories and histories of Searcy High School classmates. Stories told by classmates who lived them. Your stories are part of our lives too. If you have a story please submit it, with or without a photo you can share your experiences. Email link is: searcyhigh@gmail.com If you have questions please feel free to send me a note.

Remember, stories and memories are important! Why not ask if anyone remembers when, before all these memories are lost forever. You may be surprised how many people would be interested, and you may even meet an old friend.

Searcy High March On!


Tuesday, January 23, 2007


For those in-and-around Searcy, there are three events going on later this week to which you might want to invite yourself.

THURSDAY 1/25/07 The Hall of Fame ceremony at Searcy High School Among those being installed are the Class of 54’s Calvin Skaggs, 56’s Elmer Dale Yancey, and 59’s Larry Crain.

SATURDAY 1/27/07 A Reception for Dr. Robert Miller at Ann’s Bridal Rose Room, from 1-4 p.m. Ann’s is on Beebe-Capps, about two blocks east of Main Street. Robert’s hanging up the dental tools after some 40 years of getting down in the mouth … several thousand mouths (including mine), in fact. Everyone who knows or knew him is invited.

SUNDAY 1/28/07 Here’s one you don’t see every day. Corinne Hart, mother of Anita Hart Fuller (and, thus, Grandma of news-hen Karen Fuller, ex-of Little Rock and now in Kansas City) is celebrating her 98th Birthday! There’ll be a special luncheon for those closest to her, and then an informal drop-in reception through the afternoon, say from about 2 or 2:30 on.

This is being held at Corinne’s home, #37 River Oaks Trace. According to Anita, “It’s easy to find. It’s right off Moore, the second condo, and it’s next to one with a white picket fence. Surely, there will be cars all around.” Mine will be one of them … and stop calling me Shirley (sorry, I couldn’t resist that).

Join the party. You don’t get to hit a 98th that often.

Corinne’s had an interesting life. Here’s a shot of her serving Eddie Rickenbacker, when she was running food service at Harding. Rickenbacker (for those of you with memories that don’t go back that far) was a race car driver, automobile manufacturer (first car with four-wheel brakes), WW I flying Ace, and founder of Eastern Air Lines, not necessarily in that order.

Sunday, come hear her stories in the First Person. She’s got 98 years worth of them.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007


The following was sent to me by “Geno” Barnett. I DO hope he and Warren Darden are friends. This is the story as it was just received in my mailbox:

Warren Darden, a furniture dealer from Arkansas, decided to expand the line of furniture in his store, so he decided to go to Paris to see what he could find.

After arriving in
Paris, he met with some manufacturers, and selected a line that he thought would sell well back home in Arkansas.

To celebrate the new acquisition, he decided to visit a small bistro and have a glass of wine. As he sat enjoying his wine, he noticed that the small place was quite crowded, and that the other chair at his table was the only vacant seat in the house.

Before long, a very beautiful young Parisian girl came to his table, asked him something in French (which he did not understand), and motioned toward the chair. He invited her to sit down.

Warren tried to speak to her in English, but she did not speak his language so, after a couple of minutes of trying to communicate with her, he took a napkin and drew a picture of a wine glass and showed it to her.

She nodded, and he ordered a glass of wine for her.

After sitting together at the table for a while, he took another napkin, and drew a picture of a plate with food on it, and she nodded. They left the bistro and found a quiet cafe that featured a small group playing romantic music. They ordered dinner, after which he took another napkin and drew a picture of a couple dancing. She nodded, and they got up to dance. They danced until the cafe closed and the band was packing up.

Back at their table, the young lady took a napkin and drew a picture of a four-poster bed.

To this day,
Warren has no idea how she figured out he was in the furniture business.

Now I hope they’re STILL friends.


Saturday, January 20, 2007


When I first started looking for someone to take over this blog site, Irvin Van Patten and Billy Benz finally, rather reluctantly, agreed. Both guys are from the 60s decade, and it seemed like it was time to expand the readership pool.

Understand, I had never face-to-face met either of them. Such is the wonder of cyberspace that Irvin, down right outside Houston, and Billy, someplace on the shores of exotic (??) Lake Maumelle, could hold three-way conferences via Irvin’s internet phone.

Unfortunately, this didn’t work out, for various reasons, all circumstances rather than lack of dedication, so you’re stuck with me again, although both guys will continue to be team members, free to post items whenever they want.

I mention this because, a few weeks ago, around the Christmas holidays, this pudgy little dude walks up to me and says, “Hi, I’m Irvin.”

Our first – and, to date – only meeting.

Yesterday, I had to take my mother down to Little Rock to a doctor’s appointment over by St. Vincent’s. As we were leaving the doctor’s suite, a gentleman was holding the door for us. I said “Thank you” and he went into the suite.

A minute later, he was back out the door, looking at me quizzically and asking, “Tom??”

It was Billy Benz: this is how we had our first face-to-face. What are the odds?

Billy’s got a lot to put on here. His mom was a pack-rat so far as he and his brother’s school years were concerned: photos, programs, etc. He just needs time to scan and such. I hope he gets it done while I’m alive (that’s a joke, folks).

It does bring up a point, though. As Editor of this exercise in self-flagellation, part of my job is taking stuff you submit and make it socially presentable: commas where they belong, extraneous material excised, etc. Very little of what you’ve read on this blog from others has been presented untouched. This is the long way ‘round of saying that, if you have a story, tell it: I’ll straighten it out, if it needs it.


Chances of me running across you in a doctor’s office are very, very slim.

Friday, January 19, 2007


From the Searcy Daily Citizen:

Searcy businessman E.D. Yancey has always called Searcy home, and the city has been greater because of his business and philanthropic interests.

“Having known E.D. Yancey as a business associate and a friend since we first moved to Searcy in 1977, I believe he has been and will continue to be a great asset to our community. All of us at First Security are pleased to see him recognized for his efforts to improve the educational experience for Searcy students.” Chairman of the Board and CEO of First Security Bancorp Reynie Rutledge said.

Yancey graduated from
Searcy High School in 1956 and was co-valedictorian of his class. While there, he lettered in football and basketball. He then went on to the University of Arkansas and was a 1961 graduate with a degree in business.

The full piece may be found, for a limited time, at http://www.thedailycitizen.com/articles/2007/01/16/news/local_news/news02.txt .

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This appeared in today’s Daily Citizen:

The Searcy High School Class of 1954 knew that Calvin Skaggs would do great things because he was one of the most outstanding students to graduate that year. What they may not have known was that he would go on to become a highly respected film producer recognized around the world.

Because of his notoriety, the Searcy Public Schools Education Foundation has chosen to honor him and his accomplishments as an inductee into the Fourth Annual Hall of Honor. The event will be Jan. 25 in the Sullards Annex cafeteria at Searcy High School at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are only on sale until Jan. 19 and may be purchased at the Searcy Superintendent’s Office or by calling (501) 268-8315.

Skaggs was born in Perryville, Mo., and began his schooling in a one-room schoolhouse — literally a little red one.

His family moved to Searcy in 1947 where he entered sixth grade. He was valedictorian of the Class of 1954 at
Searcy High School.

You can see the complete article, for a limited time, at http://www.thedailycitizen.com .

Friday, January 05, 2007


From Mary Kay James, in answer to my question about what her relationship (and thus that of cousin Ann Shannon and half the county) is to Arkansas’ newest State Supreme Court Justice, and first woman elected to the post, Annabell Clinton Imber (see photo a couple of stories down):

Annabell's grandmother, Edith Van Patten Marsh, and my granddaddy, I.B. Van Patten, were brother and sister. So we knew each other growing up. I am about 6 years older than she is. She and my sister, Becca, are about the same age.

I will sleep better knowing that. I HATE a mystery.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Tom Pry

Robert Miller yesterday retired from dentistry.

If there’s anyone in this county who’s been practicing here longer, I have no idea who it could be. If there’s anyone better to have inside your mouth, I’ve never met him or her. He’s been unbelievably good with me – and dentists, as a class, terrify the holy hell out of me, for good and proper reasons.

Robert says he’s been having a little trouble with his eyes under certain circumstances lately, and just doesn’t want to take any chances inside someone’s mouth, so he’s simultaneously gotten broadband internet service AND retired from being professionally down in the mouth.

Though you’d like to know. Robert, me and my big mouth will certainly miss you standing over your chair.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


For those who weren't around for it yesterday at 9 a.m., White County held the Oath of Office swearing-in ceremony for its various elected officials.

The ceremony started with a surprise. State Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hannah was there to administer the oath of Pangburn's Annabelle Clinton Imber, the first female to be elected to the state's high court.

(Judge Hannah noted that she was related "to the Van Pattens." Annabelle left before I could find out if, like half of White County, that's the Mary Kathryn Van Patten James side of the family or not).

And here's the new County Judge, Michael Lincoln, with his wife, Shelley:

Shelley later got up with their six children (four girls and two boys) and surprised the living daylights out of the audience by unleashing what I've labeled the "Lincoln Family Singers," impressive multi-part harmony and strong voices that were right on pitch.