Searcy High Class of 1928
By CORINNE HARRISON HART
White County Historical Society
Corinne Harrison Hart wrote the following on the 50th anniversary of her graduation with the Searcy High Class of 1928.
We were innocent in 1928. We married, got jobs, had children, and we were still young.
Then the long, grinding Depression started. Suddenly, there was not even enough money for a picture show. The one theatre in town was closed on Sunday and it was something of a dare to travel 45 miles to Little Rock to see a movie. We even drove 35 miles an hour – wow!
On very special occasions we even experienced the unheard-of adventure of driving all the way to Memphis to hear one of the big name bands at the Hotel Peabody. What a treat! Tennessee is known for country music but at Searcy High we listened to "Yes, We Have No Bananas," "Among My Souvenirs," "It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More," "My Blue Heaven," etc. We danced – sometimes upstairs at Dragoo’s Studio, remember. Even some were brave enough to venture to the forbidden "Cotton Club" by the river if we could slip away from parents...
All around White County were landscapes of rolling hills, farms, cotton gins, country stores, churches and woods and rivers… For generations, small children roamed these woods and fields at will, exploring deserted houses, the old M&NA Railroad tracks, sawmills and swimming holes. The roaming child might have known every person who lived in every house on every block. As long as he was home by supper, not too many questions were asked as to where he had been and why because all were neighborly. There was little that he saw that he couldn’t get his mind around. He developed an individualism and a view of life that would not be likely to change.
Remember the old stately Sanford house? Then on Center Street the Robertson home that looked like the House of Seven Gables … the interesting J.J. Baugh home where Jamie lived and played her violin? Mrs. R.A. Ward’s home where trekked many a hopeful musician with music books in one hand guiding a wobbling bicycle in the other, or balancing an old violin case atop handlebars.
On Race Street stands the old "Black House," a reminder of days gone by. This house was built in 1875 and is like the old woman who lives out her last days knowing she is no longer beautiful but content to know that once she gave comfort and peace to those she loved. Once a day’s concerns could be lulled away with the squeak of a porch swing and the watching of the few automobiles out for an evening’s "joy ride"... Homer Black watching from the porch swing. This old house could tell many tales.
It would seem that Searcy hasn’t changed much [since 1928] … the same old oaks, familiar streets, secluded mansions and stark white clapboards behind deep foliage; the town square in the center of town with its weather-beaten Courthouse with town clock atop. The Confederate soldier high on his pedestal still at parade rest after a century.
But then what do you not see? No Robertson’s Drug Store on the corner or Freylon David’s Bookstore or Charlie’s Barber Shop, where teenage boys used to hang out on the sidewalk. Henry Patterson’s Pressing Shop, or Robbins-Sanford Mercantile Company, an institution itself.
Now, on the edge of town, there is a different picture…new subdivisions, small factories, hamburger "joints," names we never heard of in 1928 – almost like intruders.
Regardless of change, our own Searcy, in so many things and ways, has remained close to the past. Many of the landmarks are gone but many still remain.
Looking back …my being in the bank for a number of years… This was when "going to the bank" was not only for transacting business but more. More than driving up to an impersonal window and sticking papers into a cold steel drawer or a glass tube… Heavens!
I remember how good it was to look a customer in the eye when his money passed from his hand to mine. It was a private matter between you and the person on the other side of the counter. It was personal and reassuring. It was more than business, too. Folks could find out important things at the bank: Who got married, who died, who had a baby, who was feeling better, whose condition was worsening, who had their crops in …
The Class of ’28 at their half-century reunion brought fond memories and thoughts to sustain us in the time left.
Corrine Harrison Hart at 90 is an active member of the White County Historical Society, P.O. Box 537, Searcy, AR 72145