Thursday, June 22, 1967
Spotlight On...

Many elder residents of Waldron can recall Main street as it appeared prior to the concrete surface, and that picture brings to mind the period when the horse and wagon unit was utilized for travel and transportation. Ben Johnson, a life-long resident of Waldron, was very active during that period. He had two strong horses and a big wagon; and he did a lot of hauling over the unpaved road from the Arkansas Western Railway box cars to the retail stores uptown. Ben acquired his outfit in 1917 and retired in 1950. His horses, "Bob" and "Vern" weighed about 1600 pounds each. His wagon was a huge carrier with a long bed that was just step-high at the rear and sloped upward and was almost head-high at the rear and sloped upward and was almost head-high to a tall Indian at the front where the driver's seat was mounted. The seat was so high the driver could hardly reach the rumps of the horses with a bull whip. However, Ben never used a whip. One hundred sacks of feed, 10,000 pounds, were considered a load for his wagon. During the rainy season it was not unusual to see the loaded wagon with the wheels buried to a depth that placed the brake hubs in the mud. Ben never got in a hurry in those situations. He permitted "Bob" and "Vern" to get their breath while resting for a few minutes, and then the two big horses would inch the wagon forward until it was smooth sailing again. Ben said he and his partner, and brother-in-law, the late Jim Audas, would empty seven railroad box cars of feed (2,800 sacks) and deliver the feed to storage rooms uptown in 48 hours; and they did it in three days, working about 16 hours a day. They received 2 1/2 cents per sack for hauling. The charge for miscellaneous items delivered was 6 cents per hundred pounds. "It was hard work and long hours," Ben recalled. When model T Fords were popular, Ben recalls, he and "Bob" were called to many mudholes in the area when a horseless carriage became stuck in the mud. On one occasion the driver of a model T walked to Waldron from the "Hon Bottoms" to get help. (No telephones in Hon Bottoms.) Ben fastened the rear end of a long chain to the horseless carriage and the front end of the chain to old "Bob" and things started to move. Out of the mud, the model T continued under its own power. Sometime later when the Fords proved themselves, Ben bought himself a brand new truck and put old "Bob" and "Vern" to pasture and retirement. Ben has lived in Scott County all of his 77 years. When he was younger he enjoyed a fox hunt about twice a week. Old-timers say he'd rather fox hunt than eat when he's hungry. Ben and Mrs. Johnson, the former Grace Audas, have resided at their present home in Waldron for 35 years. They have six children: Mrs. Sybil Hickox, Midland, Texas; R.C. Johnson, San Diego, Calif; Mrs. Gaynell Anderson, Oklahoma City; Mrs. Maurine Birchtold, Chicago; Benjamin "Botchie" Johnson, Fort Smith, Ark; and Mrs. Patricia Hunt, Houston, Texas.

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