The Morning The War Ended

By WALTER WISDOM
White County Historical Society

After the snow and ice all melted off in the spring of 1918 I went back to timber work. A veneer mill had moved to McRae and that made the timber business real good. I built a nice four-room house in the Chumley addition of McRae that year. I also bought the first truck in White County. It was a Maxwell one and ton truck. It didn't have a cab, just a seat and windshield, and of course it was "air conditioned." It had solid tires, which made it very easy to get stuck. It cost me a little more than $800. I had to order a two-wheel neighbors trailer from Mansfield, La., and I had to wait until they made it. It was number 22. They have made thousands since then. It was just a straight axle with two wooden spoke wheels with wooden bunk. A long metal coupling pole, no springs. The truck did have a bed on it, which could be taken off by removing four bolts. Our roads were so bad, the truck didn't prove too successful for hauling logs. After my contract was over with the government, I soon began to use it for other things such as moving people, fishing trips and many other things.
There was a flour mill at Lonoke at that time. I had a neighbor, W.T. Potter, who had several bushels of wheat that he wanted me to haul there to be made into flour. We got everything ready and left early one morning expecting to return that afternoon. The roads were all dirt, no gravel. We were going pretty good about six miles from Lonoke, after we had got on the prairie we came to a large mudhole. No way around. Well, I tried to make it, but I didn't. We were really stuck. We worked all afternoon trying to get out. There was a house not far away where we got some poles and blocks of wood to try to pry the truck up, but no good. There was no one who came by that evening. The man that lived nearby was working away from home, but when he came home late, he let us eat and sleep there. The next morning, we got out early and worked all day with the same results. By the third day, I contacted a man a few miles away who had a large team and he got us out in time to get home that night.
I had several different experiences while I owned the truck. Someone or a bunch was always wanting to go somewhere. I made one trip to Camp Pike with relatives who had servicemen camped there. We had to go by Lonoke to get to Little Rock then. I made several trips to White River bottoms with weekend hunting parties and fishing parties. We would go on camping trips or just go. I could drive downtown late any evening and get a load to go somewhere. If we didn't have something planned we would just drive around and talk and sing and have a good time… I had a friend Bill Booth who bought a truck just like mine only it had a detachable cab with top. Bill didn't use his truck much and I got to borrowing the cab as it fit my truck and was very easily exchanged. I liked it very much, it was a great improvement. I finally bought the cab from Bill. One day I forgot the cab was on my truck and drove into a garage downtown with a low door and left all the pieces outside. Not long after that the fun ended. When I was going home one night the truck stalled on the tracks in front of a fast train. I went out over the windshield seconds before the train struck and demolished the whole thing. It was scattered over a wide area. People all around but no one was hurt, except I got a sprained ankle.

The old truck is gone but there was one more trip I made while I had the truck that I want to tell you about. There were several men living in McRae who loved to hunt ducks and squirrels. They were all good sportsmen. Seven of these men made plans to spend at least one week early in November on White River with their wives. The party was made up as named - Joe Tom Lyons, Ted Lyons, Manleyh Birdsong, W.A. Birdson, Bill Drake Sr., Bill Drake Jr. and Raymond Bond and all their wives along with myself and my wife Clara. The weather was perfect, there was plenty of squirrels, ducks and other game and there was no bag limit on anything (that was living). Most of us men would leave camp before daylight and return as we got ready. There were several team lumber mills and cotton gins all around. One morning all of the men were in the woods. It was a beautiful cool, clear morning and by good daylight there were gunshots in all directions. There were three steam mills at Georgetown, a few miles away. A few minutes before sunup all three mills began to blow their whistles almost at the same time and soon you could hear whistles at Gregory, West Point, Augusta, Judsonia, Searcy and other places and didn't stop. There was just one answer - World War I was over!
The woods were full of hunters and by sunup I think everyone knew what was going on. There were thousands and thousands of gunshots in all directions. I guess every hunter shot every shell he had. We did and that was more than one thousand. I guess that was the greatest thrill of my life. After we had shot all our bullets we were all hollering or trying to make some kind of noise. We were all back in camp soon. The women soon had a good breakfast ready. After breakfast we loaded up and started home. The log was so rough I couldn't drive fast. Most of the men walked along with the truck. On the way out of the woods a squirrel ran across the road. No one had a bullet left to shoot it so the men were all making so much noise and running after it. The poor squirrel was scared so bad it couldn't climb a tree and stopped on a tree just above the ground. Someone caught it with their hands. On our way home every person we met seemed to be happy. After we got to McRae I had three large farm bells. I mounted them on the back of the truck and got three men to ring them and drove to Beebe and all around. Everyone was happy.