Greene County Arkansas

Paragould, Arkansas

Centennial Edition Section 5

   Monday, August 29,1983, Paragould Daily Press                                                                                                                       Section 5, Centennial Edition-3 


I remember: The day the war ended


 I remember:  World War I. I was 12 years old when it was over. I remember where I was standing at the north corner of Belk's Store. It was Joseph's then. My Dad and I had taken a load of cotton to town.
   About 12 o'clock, several boys came down the street selling papers and holler-ing, "The war is over." In a few minutes, people began to holler and clerks came out of the stores. Bells started ringing and whistles blowing. Guns were shooting. The streets were full of people. You never heard such a racket in your life.
   On our way home, no one was in the fields. They were all at their houses, waving at everyone who passed.
   I had a brother, Will, at Camp Pike. Our last letter from him was that he was going to be shipped out to Germany. I thought he would be home the next day after the war was over, but it was several weeks.
   Finally the letter came. He said, "I'll be home about day after tomorrow."
   The train ran from Paragould to Bard at 2:30 p.m. Our house faced the west. We could see for a half mile down the road. At 3:30, we began looking. Mom, Dad
and younger sister stood on the porch and I got on the gate post.
   Finally, I saw someone coming up the road. I said, "I see someone coming on foot with a suitcase!" Then I said, "That's him! I'd know that walk anywhere."
  I ran to the gate and looked back. Mom was holding to that porch post and tears were rolling down her face, tears of joy.
   The closer he got, the faster he walked. He patted me on the back and said, "Hello, Buddy." He reached up and pulled out his discharge papers and said,
"Mom, I'm home for good."
   We went in the house and Mom told him his clothes were on his bed if he wanted to change. He did and came out with his overalls on, and the hat he had left behind. He looked good.
  Mom didn't kill the fat calf, but killed the fat hen, and we had dumplings and dressing for supper. All, I shall never forget.

A crowd gathers at the intersection of Pruett and Court streets Nov. 11,1918, to share and celebrate the news
that "the war to end all wars" has ended. The celebration lasted all day and most of the night.
                                                                                                                                   Photo courtesy: Fran Jones


    In the 1920s, each township had a justice of the peace and a constable. I was 15 years old. We lived in Upper Lake Township from 1917 until 1929. In the early
20s, a man by the name of Charley Stepp was sheriff. He was going to stop whiskey-making. Any man on Panther Island that wanted to be a deputy sheriff could
be, so there were about six or seven men who were deputized.
   In the summers, they would go in the river and shoot up stills. They never did catch the bootleggers, who always found out before the law got there and left. So the bootleggers went to making it in their homes. I you were caught drunk, you had to go before the J.P. He was the judge and jury. If you had any whiskey at all, just a taste, he would fine you $100 for transporting and try to make you tell where you got it.
   The drunk would say, "I got it in Missouri and don't know the name of the man I got it from."
   They would have a trial every week because someone always got drunk.
   In 1921, I saw the first Ku Klux Klan. Just above Milltown, they had built a brush arbor to have church in at night in the summer. I was sitting on a log about 20
  feet from the arbor and a Model T Ford pulled up behind me and three men got out and walked by me, dressed in white robes with hoods over their heads. There were holes cut for them to see. It scared hell out of me.
   They walked right up to the preacher and gave him a sack of money. The preacher took it and said a short prayer. They walked back out and got in the car and left. The preacher held up the money and said, "This feels like an iron wedge in my hand."
   So after the church was built on Panther Island, they built a big tabernacle along about 1922 or 1923 and the KKK did the same thing: came in and gave the preacher money. By this time, the KKK was thick. They were secret and thought they stood for the betterment of the community.
   I always wanted to know who they were. I had a friend and was at his house on Sunday, just him and me. He sus-pected his dad was in the KKK, so he dug down in a trunk and found a hood and gown. I swore to him I'd never tell and to this day, I never told and I'm not going to now. But I did know who one was.
   The KKK broke up after they had a shooting and shot up five boys pretty bad.

Ben Gaskill


The Capitol Theatre


Transcribed by: PR Massey

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