The McRae Dipping Vat
By MARY ALICE CHAMBERS
Mary Alice is the daughter of Newbern Chambers, who was born in McRae in 1920. She has been working on her father’s biography for five years and printed a copy for relatives at Christmas 2000. The author has a Master's degree in Music Education from the University of Central Arkansas and a Bachelor's from Ouachita Baptist University. She works and lives at the Arkansas School for Mathematics and Sciences in Hot Springs. She is a member of the White County Historical Society.
In the following story, names have been changed to protect
the guilty. This incident was witnessed by Bubby Chambers sometime during
the late 1920s and was related by Newbern Chambers.
McRae had a “dipping vat” for farm animals. Part of a small creek located on the northeastern end of town was dammed so water would pool, forming the vat to dip the animals. However, the vat was once used for a very different purpose:
“Ike and Jake Pine had the town dray service and the butcher shop,” Newbern recalls. “One of their primary jobs was cleaning out the town’s privies. They used #2 washtubs and each layer of muck was covered with sawdust. Ike was sitting on the wagon bench beside Jake as the wagon approached the Missouri Pacific railroad line in front of the McRae State Bank. The wagon headed east across the railroad track. An approaching train blew its whistle and the horses started running. Immediately, ol’ Jake fell back into the muck-filled tubs. Arms and legs were sticking out, and that was all a person could see of Jake.”
A few local men apprehended the horses and wagon and led them to the town dipping vat. They were followed by a number of children, which included Bubby Chambers.
The men backed the wagon up, got a rope and pulled Jake, tub and all, into the town dipping vat. “You’re on your own now, Jake!” they hollered.