I grew up in North Little Rock but my father was from Batesville, so we made the long drive up U.S. Highway 67 to the old White River town many times in the 1930s and ‘40s.    We saw the road change every few years.  It was rough at first.  We spent many long hours on the old two-lane before it was improved.
            The little college town of Searcy soon became a favorite highlight of our journey.  Stopping there, even for a short while, seemed to make the trip more enjoyable – shorter and easier to endure. 
            We were so glad when Highway 67 was finally paved to Searcy.  It enabled us to make it to Batesville, have a nice visit and then return later the same day – if we got up early and got home late.  Sometimes we’d stay overnight with our grandparents – especially before the highway was paved.  The highway created a lot of lasting memories for us.  The trip was quite different from the travel to Batesville today.
            A special stretch of the road was right before we got to Searcy, when the highway ran parallel to the railroad tracks for about nine miles.  We called it the Nine Mile Stretch.  This little drive east of Beebe excited us – especially if a train came at that time.  If the train was going our way we would urge Daddy to keep up with it or pass it.  The engineers were friendly – waving along the way, and we had fun waving back.
            The little crossroads community of Morning Sun is hard to find on a map any more, but it was a landmark for us because it meant Searcy was coming soon.   I even gave it my own name – “Sunrise In The Morning.”  We saw the morning sun rising over Morning Sun many times in those days.  We would get up really early and drive to Searcy and eat an impressive breakfast, always at the stately Mayfair Hotel.   The dining room was

so large it had posts.    We felt elegant with white tablecloths.  Daddy would order a big breakfast for all of us – eggs, bacon, biscuits …  He and Mother enjoyed the hot coffee.  When they brought the plates of food, he would immediately ask the waitress to bring another round of the huge biscuits that they served with a really good homemade jelly.  When it was summer we would sit on the front porch while everyone got ready to go.  With tummies full of good food, we were ready to roll on the final leg to our destination.  It was a good time for me to take a nap.
            During the return trip in the evening, if we had time, we would frequently stop at one of the drug stores in Searcy – usually at Headlee’s where we would eat at the fountain.  They had the little “ice cream” tables and chairs.  We looked forward to the really good grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, which we washed down with chocolate milkshakes.  Of course, they were made with another memorable souvenir of the journey – Yarnell’s Ice Cream.  At that time we could not get Yarnell’s in North Little Rock.   That seemed to make the White County treasure twice as sweet!
            Daddy and I made many trips together.  One Sunday we woke up early to leave and were surprised to find snow falling.  My mother and sister would not go but Daddy and I bravely started out.  I was uneasy but Daddy pressed on.   The snow was still falling and the tires were beginning to lose traction on the old highway.  Just before we got to Searcy, the road abruptly turned right.  There was a white house with a black iron fence.   More than half a century later, I can still see that house and fence in my mind’s eye.  When we started to turn right, the car began to slide and did a 180-degree spin!  Daddy didn’t utter a sound.  He just headed that car for home.   No Mayfair biscuits or Yarnell milkshakes on that trip!   Searcy was always a prominent part of our Batesville trips.