Greene County, Arkansas - Centennial Edition 5

Greene County Arkansas

Paragould, Arkansas

Centennial Edition Section 5

14- Section 5, Centennial Edition                                                                                                                         Paragould Daily Press, Monday, August 29, 1983

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W. Nelson Gilliland (sixth from right, second row) and his CCC crew at Crowley's Ridge State Park.                                                                                                Photo courtesy: W. Nelson Gilliland

I remember:  Walking from town to the CCC camp in Walcott

 
 I arrived in Paragould about 4 in the morning on Nov. 9, 1933. There were 100 of us from northeast Missouri.
  We were taken to Walcott to the CCC camp. When we arrived at the camp, there were about 20 men there. They were to be our leaders.
  They didn't have the mess hall built when we got there. So we ate outside for some time. We used regular Army mess kits to eat in. It was several days before they finished our bunks so we slept on the floor.
  We worked eight hours a day, five days a week -- unless you got caught doing something that was a no-no. Then you worked seven days with some overtime at night. Pay was $30 a month; you got $5 and they sent $25
home to your folks.
   We got all of the rocks that are in the buildings and bridges up at Big Rock between Stanford and Beech Grove. We cut all of the cyprus logs over on the Cache River bottoms.
 

  The dam for the swimming hole has an 8-foot wide clay core in the middle of it, from one end to the other. We levelled off the hills where the picnic grounds are and local men used their teams and dirt wagons to haul the clay to the dam.
   There weren't many cars in the Walcott area at that time. I remember a Model T and a ton or ton-and-a-half truck.

 

  The camp used one Liberty truck each night. The first 22 to sign up after working hours got to ride to town. Anyone else had to hitch-hike and if you left Para-gould by 11 p.m., it was mostly hike. I remember walking from Paragould to camp seven times. One night,  I was  alone and all of a sudden, it felt like my hair stood straight up. I looked back. The moon was shining. And there at the top of the hill was a black panther crossing the road. I didn't even have a
pocket knife. So I just started picking them up and setting them down. I never looked back. As soon as one foot touched the ground, I picked the other one up. I made pretty good time.  I had become interested in a certain young lady, Evelyn Tripod, and came to town as often as possible.
  They were going to move us to a  new camp, close to

This weeklong-Chautauqua program included a philharmonic orchestra, a bell choir, a play and several lectures including William Jennings Bryan talking on "The World's Greatest Need."
                                                                 courtesy: Bill Thomas

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Mt. Vernon, Mo. We were to leave Paragould on Oct. 1, 1934. The last night of September, I figured, would be the last time I would see her. So I asked her if I could ever be more than a friend. She said if I still felt that way in a year, I could come back and she would marry me.
   I came back Sept. 14, 1935. Evelyn married me that night. I left the  next  night to  go  back to  a CCC camp at Moberly, Mo. I got back AWOL  and  had to put in some
  extra time on the rock pile.
   I wasn't supposed to be married and got caught slipping into camp before daylight a few times. One time, our captain was so close to me I put my cap under my pillow and got in bed with my shoes on. When he came in the door with a flash light, I was snoring like some of the other guys.
   We came back to Paragould to stay in July of 1937.

                      W. Nelson Gilliland

 

 

Greene County's pioneer heritage was celebrated at the dedication of Crowley's Ridge State Park in 1936.                                                                Photo courtesy:  Eula Crowley Hughes

I remember:
Back when Walcott had its first car, player-piano and mechanical goat

    In 1912, my dad, W.T. Crowley, was appointed Walcott postmaster. He and Mom, Cynthia Gramling Crowley, moved their family from our farm two miles south of Walcott -- my dad's inheritance from his father, Samuel Jefferson, a grandson of the original Ben Crowley.
   Walcott was a thriving little town then. There were three doctors, Dr. Thad Cothren, Dr. W. M. Majors and Dr. Hutchens.
   Mr. Alonza Jones owned a grist mill and blacksmith shop just north of the Baptist Church, which was, at first, a Mission of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

 
      Across the road was the two-story building housing Dr. Cothren's office above and the post office, drug store and soda fountain below. My dad tended all  this. This building burned and a new one was built.
   Next was the Walcott Bank, run by Carrol Willcockson and Flora Light Seay. This building still stands. In front of the bank was Dr. Majors' home and office. He owned the first automobile in town or country. Many a horse has been scared into a runaway at the sight or sound of this car.
   Mrs. Majors bought the first self-playing piano anyone had ever seen.
   As Saturday was the gathering time for all the folds around, we young folks would gather on her front porch to see and hear her play.
   Next in line from the bank was a mercantile-general store, owned by J.L. Dacus. Many needy things were exchanged for the farmers' produce. He also owned a cotton gin.
   Sal Steinburg ran the next store, a furniture store, a branch of the Bertig store in Paragould
   Believe it or not, the next store was owned by a man who sold coffins. It was told that he made his rounds each morning to the doctor's offices  to see if anyone had died so he could sell his coffins
   There also was a small jail where the drunks would be put to sober up. It was made of wood and was miraculously burned, presumably by one of its frequent visitors.
   People for a five-mile radius had telephones, the kind that hang on the wall with a crank. The switchboard was run by Lee Speer and his daughters, Edna, Vera and
Velma.
   All this business section was on the west side of the road. The east side was the residential part, with some beautiful homes.
  There was a two-teacher, two-story school house just west of the Baptist Church. The upper floor was the Woodsmen of the World lodge hall. Here they had a mechanical goat
   for initiation purposes. Some teen-aged boys broke in at school and were trying to ride it when the teacher caught them. They didn't try it again.
   Skipping to entertainment for the good people of Walcott: a circus came to town each fall with an elephant, trained dogs, clowns, side shows, maybe a two-headed calf and once a spider woman. We were estatic. A hot air balloon was sent up. Also, there were medicine shows--one medicine cures all ills--spelling bees and school exhibitions.
   We were at the celebration of the formal opening of the Crowley's Ridge State Park. The CCC boys were a group of wonderful young men who contributed a lot to the building of the park. Some of the area girls married these boys who are good citizens of our community and state.
   Acton and I, with my brother, Wiley, and his wife, Winnie, and my dad boarded the crowded special train headed for Gov. Marion Futrell's inauguration at Hot Springs. It was an experience to be remembered. It was our honeymoon.
   Early next morning, all was quiet in the coach. Some were sleeping. Along came two men unraveling a roll of toilet tissue, yelling, "Morning Paper." We had a lot of fun
and were happy to be a part of this occasion.


Eula Crowley Hughes, Walcott

 

   City Plumbing Co.

Transcribed by: PR Massey

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