--photo by Gerald Torrence

Corinne Hart celebrates 93rd years


Searcy Daily Citizen, January 29, 2002



umorous tales from yesteryear were joined with a 93rd birthday celebration as Corinne Hart spoke to the White County Historical Society Monday night [at Harding Place in Searcy].    Hart is the grandmother of KATV Channel 7 anchorwoman Karen Fuller and mother of Anita Hart Fuller.

          The younger Fuller introduced her grandmother to the crowd with some tales from her childhood.  Fuller said that she remembers dressing up in her grandmother’s lace bathrobes and having her grandmother curl her eyelashes.  “She was the most beautiful woman in the world to me, next to my mother,” Fuller said.

          Fuller also reminisced about having chicken and dumplings and fried chicken at her grandmother’s house.  “Her fried chicken is the best I’ve ever eaten,” she said.

          In addition to Hart’s culinary skills, Fuller said that her grandmother taught her the value of Irish linens and “the finer things in life.”

          Her memories of her grandmother also extend to the workplace. Fuller said that one of her first “broadcasts” was helping her grandmother answer the switchboard at Harding University, then Harding College.

          When Hart took the stage, she began by talking to the crowd about grandmothers.  “I love to talk about her and her brother,” she said regarding Fuller.  She began her talk about a little boy who wouldn’t go to church because he had a new teacher.  His mother told him that he needed to go to church to support the new teacher.  After Sunday School class, the mother asked the son who his new teacher was.   According to Hart, the son replied, “I think she must be Jesus’ grandmother because He was all that she talked about.”

          She then launched into a tale about a previous public appearance in Letona when she was younger.  She said that during a special patriotic program, she was to step on stage and say a line.  After she stepped on stage, she started uttering the first word and then tripped over a platform constructed for the event.  “Every part of my body had splinters,” she said.

          Hart then added other stories of her youth to the pot.  She told of her gang of friends switching sleeping children from one truck to another during a gospel meeting in Letona.  As well as a story of her cousin going to church with her and when she asking if he was a Christian saying, “I certainly am not.  I’m a Democrat.”

          Another anecdote involving Hart’s gage of friends told of the six agreeing to watch over the body of their schoolteacher the night before her funeral.  One of the gang went to check the body and told the rest that it was sitting up.   When the remainder of the group went to look, the eerie shadows cast by the small lamp and the moon light coming from the windows led them all to try to run out the door at the same time.  Hart fell and skinned her knee, she said.  She and a friend “felt” their way home in the darkness because there was no electricity.

          Hart also touched on rumbleseats, flappers, dances, taxes, her first hamburger and even had her daughter Anita lead the group in song.  She spoke of going to singing school and playing the pump organ at these schools.

          Playing the pump organ also was part of another story by Hart.  She said that while playing the organ, she left her make-up powder puff in the seat of her car.  When she returned to “fix her face,” “some idiot had put snuff in my powder puff,” she said.  “I thought it was awful.”

          From the later part of her life, she talked about how having a husband, Dick Hart, with the same name as the police chief at the time, helped her out when she hit another car.

          She also shared stories of trips to Israel where she played the organ in the tomb-area where Jesus walked and to London where she mistook two wax “bobbies” in a wax museum for the real thing.

          She closed her talk with a poem.  Following the speech, she was presented with her 93rd birthday cake.

          Allen Hill, who has been selected for the History Channel Great Race, will speak at the February meeting, which will be held on the fourth Monday night in February.