| Grandma's treasures
in the attic
Grandma Sipes' attic was a treasure cove and a place of pure enjoyment
for an 11 year old. The attic was absolutely forbidden to all
grandchildren, but temptation always overcame me whenever I would see
that Grandma, Mother and the aunts were deep in family small talk.
Casually, I would saunter out of my favorite spot -- a
straight-back cane bottomed chair with short legs, located near the
long, cast iron box heater -- slowly inching my way to the side room
that led to the attic.
Stopping for an instant to listen to make sure I was not being
followed, the faint aroma of peanut butter assaulted my nostrils. Peanut
butter was one of Grandpa's luxuries, safely hidden in the trunk. On
special occasions, grandchildren would receive a sample treat. Each of
us would stand in line to get our share.
Quick and easy, I would be up the wooden ladder fastened to the
wall, push open the scuttle hole fastening and, before anyone could see
would be in the attic.
I would reminisce about stories Grandma had told me. Before she
could to to bed at night during cotton picking time, she would have to
pull cotton from the seed and fill her shoe with seed.
Daddy worked at a cotton gin, and it was hard to imagine such a
task as this must have been.
Searching the attic, other treasures caught my attention: boxes of
old letters, treasured books like the First McGuffey's Reader, song
words only. Grandma used these books upon occasion when she would sing
to us. I especially remember her singing "Barbery Allen."
My stolen time in Grandma's attic would be worth the scolding that
would come later.
Parading down East Locust Street
The main thing I remember was when the Ringling Brothers Circus
would come to town and put up their tents in the Cardwell addition,
which is the east side of South Third Avenue now. It was a big field and
they always had a big three-ring circus.
We lived across from it in one of Mr. Beard's houses, which are all
gone now. I was born and raised there and when I was little, I can
remember when the circus people came to one house and got water for the
animals and everything, and would give us free tickets to go to the
They would have a big parade to start from the gate on East Locust
Street and go up town and back. Us kids would follow it all the way.
Evelyn Tripod Gilliland/Paragould
photo courtesy: Mrs. Alton McGowan
Maudie Thompson Reynolds, 1913
A Red Wagon
The old brick yard on West Court Street was a magnet for kids with
clod battles, sledding in the winter and persimmons to be harvested
after the first heavy frost in autumn. I can still hear the brick yard
mules braying after release from a day's toil of digging and hauling
Popular swimming holes were Peachy and Silver in the
Eight-Mile Creek area northwest of town, and a popular winter sport was
catching rabbits in box traps in the wooded area northwest of town. We
kids cleaned and dressed our catches and sold 'em for a dime a rabbit!
I peddled vegetables from a family garden, hauling the produce in a
small, red wagon. Among other items peddled: hair receivers crocheted by
my mother and homemade hominy made of corn purchased for 50 cents a
bushel at House & Meiser's mill.
Paragould kids in the early years parodied an extra stanza or two
for the ballad classic about Casey Jones.
The lyrics went something like this:
"Casey Jones was a rounder's name, On a six-eight wheeler he won his
fame, Now Casey said before he died, There was two more trains he'd like
to ride, The Cotton Belt and the P.S.E."
Kendall D. White~Elgin, IL
|| I remember:
The Hot Tamale Man
As I think back to my childhood, there are so many good memories
and quite a contrast of changes from the '40s to the '80s.
We lived in the 700 block of North Pruett Street until I entered
the second grade. The ice Cream Man, Mr. Harris, and his horse, Dolly,
lived next door.
Mr. Harris sold ice cream from a screened-in wooden wagon that was
pulled by the horse. He sold three flavors -- vanilla, chocolate and
strawberry -- and ice cream was 5 cents per dip.
We had to wait until late afternoon when he returned to get our ice
cream. Sometimes he sold out before he got home and we were disappointed
if we had our nickels ready.
Dolly in the back yard is another thought. Pruett Street has
changed very little since then and it certainly was just as populated as
it is today.
I don't think there were any laws to prohibit horses from living in the
We occupied a lot of time talking to Dolly across the fence and
fantasizing. There were times when fantasizing was not enough to take
care of the odor and the flies, but when the wind was not out of the
south, the horse was nice. If there had not been a horse, there would
not have been an ice cream man.
My dad would bring us Val-o-milk candy that he bought from Mr.
Dunnavant, who had a candy shop behind his house on Bradburn Street. He
sold the bars, six for 25 cents, and we've been told that he patented
the Val-o-milk candy. He had a route selling the candy. after he quit
making Val-o-milks, Curtiss Candy Company started making them, but they
were much smaller than what we bought from Mr. Dunnavant.
The Hot Tamale Man lived on Second Street right behind us. Mr.
Wofford was the Hot Tamale Man and he sold the tamales, two for five
cents, at the sale barn and on street corners.
One of the Harris boys told me that he and his brother would ride the
train to Gainesville, get off and hunt rabbits on the way back to
Paragould, and they sold them to Mr. Wofford for his hot tamales.
As I share the memories with my boys, they think that I'm old --
for how could anyone live without a refrigerator and television? These
two things alone guarantee that one is old.
They cannot understand why there would be a need for so many
grocery stores, or an Ice Cream Man or a Hot Tamale Man or a Candy Man.
Ann Whitney and a group of friends playing in Eight Mile Creek
Photo Courtesy of: Ann Whitney
Among my favorite
childhood memories are Sunday afternoons at Harmon Playfield. Many
families took a lunch and ate at the playfield. Others just came to sit
under the trees or to wade in the Eight-Mile Creek. The Lily Pond was a
favorite of both young and old.
We went to the playfield almost every Sunday. It was my treat for
the week. A crowd could always be found there.
Another fond memory of mind spans many years. I received a pony for
my sixth birthday and I'm sure many older people will remember my riding
that pony all over town. He was black and white and a very friendly
There were always several of my friends at my house to ride the
pony. There was a rule that the wood had to be chopped after school
before I could ride.
Therefore, I usually had lots of help so we could hurry and finish any
play "Cowboys and Indians" on the 22 acres of land that my parents
owned, which is now the east half of Linwood Cemetery.
I rode that pony in lots of parades and showed him in several area
horse shows. I remember the wonderful horse shows, sponsored by the
Kiwanis Club, which attracted some of the finest horses in the country.
My mare had two colts. I sold one but kept the other. After his
mother died, he was the only horse I owned and my children learned to
ride on him. He died several years ago at the age of 28 and because of
the unavailability of a place to keep horses, we decided not to buy
I still miss being able to saddle up and take a nice ride in the country.
Ann McLerkin Whitney/Paragould