By LEONA STRIPLING BRADLEY
Bro. John Thornton took a truck load of interested people to view Galloway College campus, formerly a Methodist school for girls, which was to become Harding College. The roads weren’t black topped then, and it was rough riding in the back of a truck. We took our lunch and ate in Spring Park. I’ll never forget the first drink of Searcy water I had from a hydrant on campus. I thought it was the best water I ever tasted. Back then, Morrilton city water was terrible. Searcy water was from the Little Red River supported by springs.
We went back to Morrilton that afternoon in 1934 and right away started making plans to move. When I started packing, I filled every drawer, nook and corner full of something. We engaged a truck from Searcy to move us for $35. We had to borrow the money from Aunt Fannie Carlon, [my husband] Charley’s oldest sister, who was next to a mother to him as his parents died when he was young. She assured us if we were never able to pay it back she would have a part in the children having a Christian education. She was a great Christian and was on Harding’s Board of Trustees in its early days. She and her daughter Daisy went to church at Hattiesville many Sunday mornings carrying the communion basket and not another soul showed up, but they never failed to go. Today, there’s a nice congregation and building there. We were never able to pay the $35 back while she was living, but after we got our own shop we sent it to her daughter Daisy (Mrs. Lester Whitworth) who was living in West Helena. Daisy’s health had been failing for years and we knew they could use it. Fannie always seemed to love me as her own.
After we made the decision to move, someone went to Searcy and came back telling about a three-room apartment for rent on East Race for $9 per month. We had been told it was very difficult to find a place to live there. We called to see if it was still available and it was. We asked them to hold it for us. Charley went on two weeks before we moved, staying on Harding campus. When the day came for the movers to come they couldn’t believe how much we had to move. They made all kinds of cracks about it, and especially the canned stuff. One thing for sure, we could never have made it without all that stuff. This house was a large old-timer. Our three rooms were large and we managed to squeeze everything in, even though we were kind of crowded. It wasn’t piped for gas so I managed to get a two-burner oil stove and an oven. I’d have to cook the meal, then set the oven on the two burners and bake the bread. Our old cow was loaded on the truck with Harding’s cows.
Charley was working in Bro. Moss Miller’s barbershop. The first week we were here he made $4.50. It was very hard for a new man to break into Searcy. It was Depression time and business was very slow.
I wanted to be closer to work but places weren’t easy to find. We were about 12 blocks from town. One day we walked up around the Black home on the corner of Race and Locust. One of the Black sisters was working in the yard. We asked if she knew of any houses for rent around there. She said, "If there are you would not have them." I guess she was judging by herself, but we said to ourselves, "You don’t know us." We went on up to the corner of Locust and Vine and turned east on Vine. We went two blocks and there was a vacant house, except for two front rooms. The Allen Fosters, wife and son Lew, said they were moving out next week. They told us that Neal Peebles had the house in charge and it rented for $12.50 per month. We took it and moved in November 1934. The Fosters came back in a few days and wanted to move back because they were unhappy. So they moved back in and lived there with us for some time. They had Acme Cleaners for years.
The old house was very spacious but very cold in winter. The two rooms upstairs were papered with newspapers dating back to 1892. Searcy had lots of old houses when we moved. Harding rented two on East Race for boys’ dorms, one called "Inner Sanctum" and the other "Termite Terminal." These served until better buildings could be provided.
(This is an excerpt from memoirs entitled "The Valentine of 1899," which may be found in the Searcy Public Library and Harding University Library. The writer died December 4, 2001, at age 102.) vvv