A Southtown Oral History

The following is part three of a transcript of an oral history interview with Tom L. Scott, Gene Inman (Eugene Benton Inman) and Harold Thames, which took place at Willowbrook retirement community on Feb. 17, 2006, in Fort Smith. Editing and elisions are minimal but were made. For a completely verbatim experience of the interview, please contact Joe Wasson who videotaped it for the Society's archives. All photos below are courtesy of Tom L. Scott and Gene Inman.

Read or refer to part one of the interview.
Read or refer to part two of the interview.

Tom Scott: My dad told me a story about my granddad. Maybe you guys would know about this. Maybe you Gene. My granddad before he started the store was working at the smelter. Dad said he was loaning money to other co-workers. The smelter also was loaning money to workers and they fired him because he was competing with them.

Gene Inman: I don't know about that.

TS: Well, that's the story he told me. You don't know about that?

Harold Thames: No.

Ben Boulden: He worked at the smelter, too?

TS: Yeah, from the time he came down here from Iowa, he worked at the smelter until he got set where he could buy a business. He worked there. Dad told me that story and that finally, they said 'We're not working until you bring him back.' So, they brought him back. They just agreed not to [compete.]

BB: Was there a strike?

TS: I don't think there was a strike but there was a problem. They agreed to take him back. My dad told me the story so I'm going from a memory of when I was a kid. ... I don't know if he was undercutting their interest rates or what.

BB: So he was loaning money from a personal fund he had?

TS: In fact, when I cleaned out my house. I estimate I had three boxes, three cubic feet of loans that my grandfather and father had made that had never been repaid over all those years in business. There were all these little charge tickets and loans.

BB: From the grocery store?

HT: I know that because I was working there when the second world war started and a lot of them moved off. He put that in the ledger and how much each person owed. Some of them sent money back and paid for it. I know a lot of times it was my job if we got a check from California or Texas to go find the ledger and mark it paid, or however much they'd paid on it.

BB: Did he do a lot of that during the Depression?

HT: Oh, yes.

GI: I tell you what they'd do. A fellow named Doc Jones had a grocery store across the street from Mr. Scott. Well, they trade with Doc until he cut them off. Trade on credit. Then, they'd come over to Mr. Scott's and pay ten dollars on their bill and he'd let them buy groceries again. He'd cut them off again, then they'd go back over across the street, pay ten dollars and start trading over there. ... I've got a story to tell. We used to keep one of the drawers in the cash register was for petty cash to pay the bread man and so forth out of. Mr. Scott had cashed a check for a fellow. He had put on there One-Zero-Zero. To me, that meant one dollar, but it was for a hundred dollars. Mr. Scott had cashed that check for him for a hundred dollars, and I gave it to a bread man for dollar. Mr. Scott came in and said, "I had a check her from Bill Ferris for a hundred dollars." I said, "You did not. It was for a dollar." He said, "Oh, no, it was a hundred." I got on the phone trying to catch that bread man. It was Jack, can't remember his last name now.

HT: Jack Nolan?

GI: Jack Nolan! Jack hunted through his stuff and said, "Yeah, I got it." I said, "Well, bring it out and I'll come pick it up at your house." He lived down there on the south side of town and his daddy-in-law, Dudley his name was, had a greyhound. He had that dog down there at his house. Well, I got out of the truck. There was ditch with a plank across it to go into the yard. I didn't make it to the yard. The dog jumped me and I landed flat on my back in that ditch. This dog stood there straddling that ditch and drooling down on me. I was afraid to breathe. I'll never forget that as long as I year. Jack heard the dog and he came out there and got it. He got me out of the ditch and I got my check back.

TS: Sorry, I wasn't paying real close attention. Tell me who Jack Nolan drove a route for.

GI: Oh, for Colonial. Then he became a game warden.

TS: Yeah, I know the story but I didn't know which one it was. They named the lake for him at Greenwood.

GI: Were you aware there was a racetrack where...?

BB: Ramsey?

GI: Yeah.

TS: Gene told me one story which he hasn't recounted today. Tell Ben about the guy who lived in Southtown who said he rode with Jesse James and they had buried treasure down at Ozark.

GI: Bill Eubanks was his name and he had a goiter on the side of his throat that you couldn't fit in bucket. Bill was very ... he told lots of stories. One of the stories he told was that he used to ride with Jesse James. He never participated in any of the robberies. He always held the horses. Well, Jesse James was supposed to make an appearance at the theatre that became Plaza down on Texas Corner. The Mystic theater was down there then.

BB: Jesse James was killed by Bob Ford wasn't he?

TS: Yeah, but...

BB: What period are we talking about?

GI: I'm talking about in the early thirties.

TS: You're saying he was dead at that time?

BB: Yeah.

GI: He appeared up on stage. Bill Eubanks went down to listen to him. After the show was over, he went backstage. He said, "Hello, Bill." He said he still wasn't convinced. I said, this is Bill talking, "I said, 'Jesse, pull your shirt up. If you remember, you had that bad knife cut and I sewed you up. I'll know my sewing.'" He pulled his shirt up and Bill said, "Yeah, it was Jesse. That was my sewing. I'd know it anywhere."

Joe Wasson: There were people who believe Jesse faked his death.

BB: Yeah, I've heard that theory.

TS: But this goes on here.

GI: That's not all the story. Bill told about Jesse and his bunch was leaving Joplin on the way to Hot Springs. They had all their loot on an ox cart pulled by two oxen. They got down to Ozark and we're fixing to cross the river when one of their oxen died. Well, they killed the other one and took all their stuff and tied it up in these ox skins and buried it. They buried it on the north bank of the Arkansas River before you go into Ozark.

INTERRUPTION due to end of tape side.

GI: They went down there armed. Most of them was carrying a rifle or a pistol or two pistols. If they'd found anything, they'd have all killed each other.

TS: My dad was wearing a thirty eight. I inherited that thirty eight. I was down at his brother's house shooting it a summer ago with my grandson. It still fires fine.

BB: You keep it oiled an everything?

TS: Oh, yeah.

GI: It would be worth a lot of money today.

TS: It was made before pistols had serial numbers. It has no serial number.

GI: It has a thirty eight calibre on a forty five frame.

BB: Who's gun was this again?

TS: It was my father's. He traded with a policeman down at Hartford for it. He had a snub nose thirty eight. The policeman said, "I really want that snubnose to carry" and they traded thirty eights. That's where he got it from.

JW: Hold right there. I need to change tapes.

Brief Interruption.

GI: Ira Watts was his name, and he bought a little place up in Crawford County. When I was credit manager at Firestone, I sold him a set of tires on credit. At that time, he and his wife were both alive. I saw in the paper some years after that where they had passed away, both of them.

JW: He was a local man?

GI: I don't know where his home was but he wasn't local. They had an adopted son by the name of Jimmy.

HT: Did he ride horses, too?

GI: Oh, I think he rode some, but Jimmy Briarsox and Hazel King were the ...

HT: Trainers.

GI: There was a guy they brought in who had a Shetland pony liberty act, with eight Shetland ponies. You know what a liberty act is don't you?

BB: No.

GI: That's where you have the horses all lined up and they'll pop a whip and they'll go this way. They'll pop a whip and they'll go the other way and so forth. If you're not a circus fan, you wouldn't know.

BB: Mr. Matlock told me that they'd take the elephants out and use them to push train cars. Is that accurate?

GI: That's right.

BB: Would they use them for anything else in terms of chores or work?

GI: I never did seem them except when they needed them to move wagons or something.

HT: I saw them move a trailer truck. Down there where they had car tools. We were getting ready to leave Scott's store and we saw them pushing the truck over there where they could get gas.

GI: On Sunday, they'd charge you a dime to go in there and see the animals. The cages were all lined up and the elephants were all staked out there. They had one camel who would spit on you.

TS: Harold, did you tell me that someone got too close to one of the ...?

HT: Brownie was feeding the lions and tigers.

GI: Oh, they almost tore his arm off.

BB: Who was Brownie?

GI: He tended to the cats. He got that old medicine that they used to doctor the elephants with. Where you'd hook him you know, they'd get sore spots. They had some special stuff concocted.

HT: Miracle medicine wasn't it?

GI: I know. Brownie put that on his arm and it wasn't no time before he was well. He doctored himself. Shoot, it took about 50 stitches to stitch him up.

BB: Was the Rim and Bow there?

GI: No, it wasn't there at that time.

BB: Were they in the Wheelbarrow space?

GI: They owned the building but they leased them to the circus.

HT: Western Wheelbarrow.

BB: Do either of you remember a goat farm?

HT: Yeah, right at the end of 31st Streeet. Old Man Maples had it.

GI: He and his wife both worked at the casket factory.

BB: How many goats? Do you have any idea?

GI: Oh, two dozen probably.

HT: Sold Watkins in his latter days.

GI: That was after I left.

BB: Sold what?

HT: Watkins products.

BB: What are Watkins products?

GI: Well, they sold vanilla, udder ointment, just name it.

BB: Someone also told me, I think it was Mr. Matlock, that a plane crashed in South Fort Smith? Near Phoenix?

HT: I know where that was at. You know where Crowe Hill Reservoir is at?

BB: Yeah.

HT: About a hundred yards west of the reservoir.

BB: Do you know what kind of plane?

HT: Some kind of dive bomber. There was three of them and it hit and updraft or something. One of them clipped the other one and it went down. I don't know if it hit the propellor or not, but the other two landed alright.

BB: Was it a fiery crash?

HT: No.

BB: Was everyone killed?

HT: Yeah, everyone in the plane was.

TS: Where Gary Street goes through now, that wasn't there.

HT: Moody's dairy was there.

TS: Jim, his younger brother took me back there and we were looking for pieces back there.

BB: How old were you?

TS: I don't know. I was a little, bitty guy.

HT: It crashed before we moved there. Paul Tankersley lived there. I went over there. It would have been before 1943, probably 1942.

TS: That's not the one I remember then because I would have been too small.

GI: Talking about airplanes. When they first put in that strip out there, we had a big ice storm and that thing was just a sheet of ice. Did we have fun. We'd get on the grass, get a run and hit that, cut the wheels and (whistles). Man, we had a good time.

HT: It might have been a little later than that, Tom.

TS: I don't know. There was a Patterson or someone who lived back in there.

GI: Sam Patterson lived on that old farm over where the Coca Cola plant is.

TS: I know. He lived by himself back there.

HT: That was a Moody, Burt Moody. He lived in a little cabin back in there not farm from where the Crow Hill Reservoir is.

TS: Jim was telling me about it. His younger brother is about two years older than me.

HT: It was a pretty good hole.

BB: Do you remember a baseball field behind the casket company?

GI: Yeah, it was to the south there closer to Zero Street.

HT: I played there.

BB: Was it just a sandlot or did it have dugouts?

GI: Nothing official.

BB: Was there any kind of organized team in Southtown?

GI: Just a bunch who would get together on Sunday afternoon to play ball.

BB: Was there a group called the Scorpions?

GI: Oh, yes.

HT: Anybody from Southtown was a Scorpion.

TS: My dad said Mill Creek were the Sand Lizards and Southtown were the Scorpions.

BB: What was that?

TS: It was the grade school nickname. They were the Scorpions or the Sand Lizards.

GI: On Halloween they turned over every toilet in town.

BB: Toilet? Outhouses?

GI: Oh yeah, there weren't but a half dozen indoor toilets in the whole town.

TS: We were still doing that when I started college.

HT: They put a wagon there on top of the cafe one Halloween night.

BB: On top of the cafe?

HT: Took it apart and put it on top.

BB: What cafe was that?

GI: The only one in town.

BB: Well, there's one there right now called Virginia's. Is that the same one?

GI: No.

TS: Virginia's is across the street from where my grandad's store was.

HT: Across the street in the same block though.

GI: There was one that was north of there on the corner. Be the southwest corner of 31st Street and Vicksburg.

HT: Speaking of baseball, Southtown had a team. Jenny Lind had a team. Cavanaugh would have teams. A lot of them was grown men. Cotton Hill, he was a professional baseball player. He played on the team for several years.

TS: He played for the Yankees.

BB: And he was from Southtown?

TS: Yeah.

HT: What they would do was Jenny Lind would play Greenwood, then the next Sunday Greenwood would play Hackett. It was just a team that was for people who just liked playing baseball. They had a pretty good diamond for something that was just dirt.

BB: Were there grown men from Southtown who played as well?

HT: Oh, yeah.

GI: Jones who had the grocery store. He pitched for them. Bill Robinson played.

JW: Did Grady Secrest had anything to do with that?

GI: No, he was over at Andrews Field and that was a different situation.

JW: I just wondered if he was getting his talent from Southtown.

GI: No, most of his was shipped in.

TS: Cotton Hill though, he played for three or four years in the majors. He was a good pitcher. I think he was.

BB: He played in Southtown before or after he went into the majors?

HT: Before and after.

BB: After he retired and played just for fun?

HT: I played a few games after that. Hightower played after he was grown.

GI: Back to the elephants. We had a dump out behind the store. If it got too big, well, we'd burn it. The cans were empty. They ended up out there in the dump. They'd hit them oil cans and they'd knock 'em. They really had a time with those empty oil cans.

BB: Knocking them around?

GI: Yeah, just hitting them. Knocking them around with their trunks.

TS: I don't know if you've heard the story Harold told earlier about the elephant trainer asking him if he wanted a ride? He said ... go on Harold you tell it.

HT: I thought I'd get on just like he did, step up on the elephants trunk and go on up. He said something to that elephant and he just reached up and grabbed me around my waist and set me on top of his back.

GI: The elephant trainer rode the elephant up to the drug store. He wanted some cigarettes or something. I don't remember now. Anyhow, the lady from the drug store took some cigarettes out there and he had the elephant wrap his trunk around her and turn her upside down right in front of him.


BB: And I imagine she had a skirt on.

TS: Today he'd be convicted of a sex offense.

BB: Where did they dump the manure?

GI: I don't know. If you went down around that circus, you'd wonder if they dumped it anywhere.

HT: There was a pretty good field west of there toward the sorghum mill. I'd imagine that's where they put it.

GI: The sorghum mill has been torn down but the tower is still up there. The water tower.

BB: Right, I think it's only in the last several years that the last building was torn down.

GI: It burned.

BB: Yeah, right.

GI: After it burned, they tore the rest of it down.

TS: I wonder why they left that standing. It is going to come down. Gravity is still in effect.

GI: It could be dangerous to the airport.

TS: It's not that tall, but its corrosion allowance must be used up now.

GI: Give it time.

BB: I think Mr. Matlock told me about a rumble or fight between two groups. Some boys from Southtown and some boys from Fort Smith in the field, in the baseball field.

HT: I don't remember anything about it. I was 21 when I left for the Navy, then I went to Greenwood when I got out. I never did know anything about anything like that.

BB: I just wondered if there was a rivalry between the two.

GI: The worst rivalry was a little static sometime. Those boys out there, they all had cars. These boys during the Depression didn't have a job and didn't own automobiles. We could go to town any time we wanted and get a girl because we had cars. That caused a little dissension. I started out dating an architect's daughter. I dated the sheriff's daughter. I played the field. My dad was dairyman so I married a dairyman's daughter.

BB: Did you ever ride the trolley in Southtown?

GI: Yes, I did.

BB: Do you remember any of the names of the trolley men?

GI: No, I don't. It was too long ago.

BB: Anything you remember about the trolley itself?

GI: There's more in here (issue of The Journal) then I could ever remember myself.

BB: I know I just wondered if you remembered anything descriptive.

TS: I've got a question for you. My dad always said that trolley route came down part of Phoenix then turned down 24th Street around where Reed's is and turned onto Tulsa. Now, Gene you said it turned onto Savannah.

HT: See that Savannah was there when we moved, then it was just a raised place where the track had been.

BB: Do you remember whenthe old street names like Falconer and Fishback changed?

HT: I lived on Fishback.

GI: I would say that is wasn't long after the war.

TS: One of you told me, and I don't remember which one of you, that when people gave up during the Dust Bowl years, my granddad bought properties from them when they left town.

HT: I don't know about the Dust Bowl.

GI: I know he bought several pieces of property around town.

TS: One of you said the going rate was about two hundred bucks.

HT: I don't know about that, but when people started moving to the west coast to work in the shipyards or factories, when they'd leave they'd ask him whether he wanted to buy their vacant lots and stuff. He'd nearly always buy them. He'd nearly always try to get me to buy some too, and that's where I made my mistake.

TS: When I cleared out my father's house, I found all these deeds for property in South Fort Smith.

HT: He bought a whole bunch of them when the war first started.

TS: Ther must have been a dozen different deeds. Ben, I gave a copy of one of them to Leslie down at the museum. They were of no value to me, but he owned a lot of lots.

Discussion of whether trolley went down Savannah or Tulsa without definite conclusion.

BB: The people who lived in Southtown, did they work in the smelter, the coffin company or the sorghum mill?

GI: They didn't work any place else.

TS: The sorghum mill was seasonal.

GI: My dad worked in the sorghum mill on that drag floor in the summer of '25 or '26.

BB: Were you ever inside the sorghum mill?

GI: I was but it was so long ago, I don't remember it. I was in it when Anheuser Busch owned it.

BB: We've talked about baseball and there were some bars there.

GI: Only one at a time. One beer hall at a time.

BB: Yeah, and your talking about in the 1930s after the drink came back?

GI: Thirties, forties, fifties.

BB: What are the other things folks did when they weren't working in the plants on Sundays. What were the leisure activities?

GI: All of them went to church, nearly.

TS: There's a real good description of life in South Fort Smith here. [Showing typescript document].

HT: Lots of people went to ballgames, baseball games at Andrews Field.

BB: So they'd go into town sometimes. I've never heard that there were any movie theatres in Southtown, but did anybody, maybe on a holiday or something, show a film.

GI: No, no movies ever other there.

HT: Well, it cost hardly anything to come to Fort Smith on a bus so we'd go to movies in Fort Smith.

BB: How late did it run?

HT: I think it ran to about ten o'clock or so. I know when we lived on Gary and Greenwood I was out of school in 1949 and I would ride the bus to 31st and Tulsa and get off and walk to Gary and Greenwood.

BB: Besides Scott's Store and the other establishments you've mentioned, were there any other retail businesses? A barber?

GI: There were usually two or three grocery stores and that little cafe. There usually was someone who worked on automobiles, somewhere along the road.

HT: There was a foundry there for a while, Sargent's.

GI: Sargent's Foundry.

HT: I don't think he hired very many but it was a private business there.

GI: Two or three worked there.

BB: When did 31st street start to wither [economically?

TS: I'd say when my granddad went out of business. He sold his store to Pearson Brothers and shortly after that it was gone. The oil field service companies put equipment there.

GI: Old Man Matlock was dead. He had one son, Dave's dad. Joe Gemael married one of them. David Matlock was plant manager. Clint Garner was head of the sale force. While them three was operating, everything was fine. Joe got killed in a car wreck. He was office manager. Dave retired. Garner, I don't know what happened to him, but the younger generation couldn't operate it like the older ones did. It just went down, down and down. I know when my dad died in 1948, we went to this whole great big upper floor at the casket factory. It was a big showroom and we picked out his casket up there. My mother picked out solid walnut. If you would by a casket like that today, there's no telling what it'd cost. It wasn't expensive then. I asked one of the guys with the funeral home then if they didn't buy anything from the casket factory. He said, "Nothing but the cheapest cloth caskets. That's all we ever buy from them anymore."

BB: I heard that they were undersold by a lot bigger coffin companies.

GI: Oh yeah, well, there were some big operations up around Kansas City, bigger than the one here.

BB: What was the school like?

HT: I went to school in South Fort Smith in the second through the sixth grades.

BB: You continued on in school right?

HT: Yeah, I went one year to Carnall for seventh grade. They had seventh and eighth grades. Then it was in a different school district. Later, it became part of Fort Smith. I went to Fort Smith High School because that school would pay for Fort Smith or Cavanaugh or Lavaca. I went to Fort Smith because it was closest.

Discussion of current Southtown locations.

HT: Cavanaugh and it were just about alike. Mill Creek I mean, not Fort Smith.

TS: There's one left over on Albert Pike that they use for storage now that are of that design.

GI: That one on Albert Pike is just like the rest of them.


HT: They all had a central hallway down the middle.

TS: They all were built according to the same drawings.

HT: They had a cafeteria downstairs. I think they might have had one room down there fixed so they had a kindergarten when they started but I'm not sure.

TS: I don't remember them doing that.

GI: I can't remember much about 1924 except that I went to school there for six weeks, the moved out to Prairie and Carnall.

BB: We talked a little about what Mr. Thames did at the store. What did you do for Mr. Scott?

GI: Me? Everything.

HT: We sold shoes. We sold feed.

GI: If we didn't have it, we went to town six days a week. If we didn't have it, we'd buy it for them.

BB: Take on a handling fee or anything?

GI: No, regular charge. We made that trip to town anyhow to deliver groceries. We delivered groceries to all over Fort Smith, especially on the south side. We had to go to town anyhow so we'd go to Griffin grocery to pick up bananas, Cass & Robbins to pick up some drugs, R&B Grocery to pick up produce.

BB: He had his own butcher shop in there, canned goods. You mentioned shoes. Were there any other dry goods?

GI: Overalls, shirts, pants, underwear, baby's underwear. You name it. We had a cabinet full of every kind of colored sewing thread. We had bolt material.

HT: He even sold guns and pistols.

BB: When did he open and when did he close?

GI: We opened at seven mostly and closed at nine. It made for some pretty long days. People stayed late, but sometimes they'd alternate.

TS: My dad would stay seven to seven, but on Saturdays to eight.

GI: But he never closed at eight. He had one customer who never showed up until he was closed.

BB: Your talking about Scott No. 2 now? (nods yes) Was there a place in the store where people gathered to talk?

GI: Yeah, they'd sit on the counter.

BB: The sales counter?

HT: There were groceries behind the counter. If you wanted a can of green beans, they'd get it for you there.

GI: You served them everything you've got.

BB: Were there any crimes you remember occurring in South Fort Smith?

TS: I do. I remember my granddad was sleeping in the store because there were a lot of robberies. Once somebody broke in. They knew it. The police came out and couldn't find 'em so my granddad sat there all night long with his pistol and German shepherd. Finally, someone came crawling out about sunrise. He pulled his pistol on him and held him until they got the police back out there.

BB: I wonder where he hid out.

TS: Somewhere in the warehouse. Dad told me that story.

BB: Were there ever any shootings or murders?

TS: Not that kind of thing.

GI: I stayed there lots of nights just to watch it.

TS: You know times were tough and people would break in to try to steal things. It was the Depression era.

HT: He had a room that he slept in and he had the German shepherd dog. He'd let you know if anybody was there. He'd wake you up if anybody was around.

GI: Rex! That's the first time I've remembered his name in long time.

HT: Nobody was getting into that store as long as he was around.

BB: What was the law enforcement?

GI: For a while we had a, I guess you'd call him a marshal. Bill Neal was his name. I've got a story to tell about that. I was waiting on him one day and he wanted a pound of bologna. So we pulled a big old bologna out and we had an electric slicer. I sliced him of a pound. While I was slicing it off, I sliced that finger off there. (holds up finger and indicates fingertip.) My wife was working there too. I said, "Come finish wrapping this stuff here up for Bill. I've got to wrap my finger up. I've sliced my finger up." He got pale. He said, "I don't believe I want that pound of bologna." My wife had to slice him another pound of it. I knew my finger wasn't in it because things like that dropped into the catch compartment. I knew where it was, but he wouldn't take that bologna.

HT: (laughs) I remember when you did that.

GI: Turn that thing off. I have a story I want to tell off the record.


Taping ceased for a brief period.

TS: I didn't want to talk about the family there on the record.


BB: When you attended South Fort Smith school, how many teachers were there?

HT and TS: Four.

BB: What grades were taught there?

HT: I'm not sure. The year I started there I was in second grade. Miss Schneider was the teacher. I think she taught third grade too. Miss Cox was the fourth grade teacher. (Inaudible) was third grade. I don't know who was first grade. Mr. Williams was the principal and taught both the fifth and sixth grades. They had four teachers for six grades.

BB: Did they live in South Fort Smith, too?

HT: You know I'm not sure if they did.

BB: Basically, reading, writing and arithmetic?

HT: Yeah, and Miss Cox taught some music. I think she only taught fourth grade but I think she talked music to the rest of them. Back then, it was reading, writing and arithmetic, really basic.

BB: Was it an independent school?

HT: No, it was a Fort Smith school.

BB: So the school district was bigger than the city?

HT: Yeah. I'm pretty sure it belonged to Fort Smith because all the kids went on to Fort Smith schools when they got out of grade school; junior high and senior.

BB: Was there a playground or anything?

HT: Oh, yeah, it took a whole block. Our competition, our rival was Mill Creek and we played them in two baseball games every year.

BB: The Sand Lizards and Scorpions?

TS: Yeah.

HT: We never had any problems while I was going to school there.

TS: Oh, yeah, you had more fights on the school ground then you had with Mill Creek. It wasn't like gangs, you know.

HT: We'd have a ballgame over (in Southtown) then we'd have another game and go over there while I was going to school there.

BB: Apparently you had a lot of outhouses because you didn't have a whole lot of sewer service. Did you have city water?

HT: Yeah.

TS: We had outhouses at Mill Creek at one time.

HT: They did all the time while I was in South Fort Smith. The boy's was on the south side of the block in the middle of it. The girl's was on the west side.

BB: Did the community do anything special for the holidays? You mentioned Halloween pranks. Were there other things that went on at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas?

HT: No, they'd programs and things at the school. They'd have some kind of celebration but I think all the grade schools did.

GI: About the only thing I remember about Mill Creek is they had a pie supper.

BB: Pie supper?

GI: All the ladies would back a pie and put it in a box real fancy. They'd take 'em up there and an auctioneer would auction those pies off.

BB: Was it a church fundraising?

TS: I did this at Carnall School off Zero.

GI: They were always having pie suppers.

TS: They made this pie then you got to sit down with the girl who baked it. It was sort of a matchmaking affair.

HT: 4-H Clubs, they had a 4-H Club in Southtown that would do that.

TS: I experienced that.

HT: 4-H Clubs met right after school, usually at the school. That's the way they raised money.

GI: When I was going to Carnall, we had pie suppers just to raise money for the school.

HT: I was fortunate when I was going there because there was enough revenue that they didn't have to worry about money.

TS: That picture I had there of all the students in 1927 or 1928, you told me that the teacher lived with your family and boarded at the house?

GI: Yeah, and I have a story to tell about that, too. We had this little old house and it had one bedroom and the kitchen where we ate and a dining room and a living room. The living room had a big fireplace and you could light a fire in it and bake your back side then turn around and back your front side. When the school teacher lived with us, we just had an attic room. She and my sister slept together and I had a cot that I slept on. One night, I walked in my sleep and crawled in bed with the school teacher. I tell you, I bet if she was still alive she'd be teasing me about sleeping with her.


HT: Talking about the pie suppers. During the Second World War, they had them really regularly at Carnall. If you bid ten dollars for a pie, you'd get ten dollars worth of savings stamps and a pie. They did that all through the war, probably every two or three months.

BB: Did your family live there during the war?

HT: Yeah.

BB: Were you in the service?

HT: No, I was too young.

BB: Do you remember if the war really changed things in South Fort Smith? You mentioned people moving off and your grandfather buying lots. Did it depopulate it?

HT: It didn't really depopulate it. It moved the people. He went off to service in the Second World War, but when Camp Chaffee started up you couldn't find a place to live in South Fort Smith.

TS: My daddy let some people set some trailers up in our yard.

HT: Your daddy let people live in part of that house near your store, too. I remember one woman who was from the Northeast who shared a kitchen with your mama and daddy. They were plenty of people. A lot of people (who lived in Southtown before the war) went to California and Texas to work in defense industry. There was a lot who left and a lot who moved in because of the camp.

BB: You mentioned when bars came up and I said, "You can't get a bunch of blue collar guys together and not have a bar eventually," you mentioned some different ethnic groups that lived in South Fort Smith.

TS: This thing about South Fort Smith mentions a guy who used to come in and take a bunch of aspirin before he went to work. They called him the crazy ... Wherever it was he came from. Down near Jenny Lind and Greenwood, you had a lot of coal mines and a lot of immigrants.

BB: Did any live in South Fort Smith?

GI: Some of them did.

BB: Do you remember what ethnicities though?

GI: Italian, Germans and all kinds.

BB: Was there any part called Germantown or anything like that?

GI: Oh, no, nothing like that. At one time, I knew everybody who lived in every house in Southtown. Now, I don't know a soul that lives in any house in Southtown.

HT: That's not true, Pat Becker.

GI: Oh, that's right, I do know one.

HT: Down in Jenny Lind there were some Polish people. They called it Hunktown.

BB: Why was it called Hunktown?

TS: After Bohunk, huh, which was Yugoslav. I worked for a guy named (inaudible). That's what he said they used to call 'em in Chicago. He was Yugoslavian.

HT: There were a lot of Italians that settled there. They kind of stayed grouped together.

TS: Here it is. A Russian who after every shift would stop at Homer and Genevieve's take a box of aspirin and three bottles of three two in about a minute then catch the bus to Fort Smith.

GI: I was trying to think what their last name is and I can't think of it.

TS: There is a Belgian bachelor, an Osage Indian.

GI: I can't think of their last name.

BB: Did they have a store?

GI: It was a beer hall.

BB: Oh, it was a beer hall called Homer and Genevieve's?

GI: Yeah.

BB: You said that there was only one bar at a time and those were the three different locations they were. (Indicates map).

GI: Yeah.


BB: Do you remember any bar fights or anything like that?

GI: There might have been but we never heard of them. Might have been.

BB: Anyone have a backroom with any gambling or anything?

GI: Not unless it was over there at the pool hall.

BB: At the pool hall?

GI: The beer hall.

BB: They had pool tables?

GI: I think they had two of them most of the time.

HT: I know Wilson had more than one at the last place he run. I think he did at the other one.

BB: Do you know what hours they kept?

GI: I don't know.

BB: Were they licensed?

TS: I don't think they were regulated in any way.

GI: There wasn't regulation on anything out there.

TS: It was like South Louisiana. You just started selling beer.

GI: If they had a license, it was a state license.

BB: Do you have any idea what a beer sold for?

HT: I haven't the slightest idea. I'm sure it wasn't very much.

TS: It probably was less than a coke.

BB: Do you have any idea what the capacity of the beer halls was? Ten seats? Twenty? Thirty?

GI: Like I said, I had no business in there.

HT: The only reason I ever went in was to take something from the store. See George had one and I'm sure he lived in the back. George Wilson. The last one he built he built with a room. I been in it several times but I didn't pay any attention.

BB: Did you say it was three two beer?

TS: Yeah.

GI: That's all Roosevelt's bunch would allow.

TS: After prohibition was it?

GI: He was in there when Prohibition ended then we had three-two beer.

JW: Downtown Fort Smith, too?

HT: Yeah, and I remember it was that way for a long time during the Second World War.

BB: I'm about tuckered out. Is there anything you gentlemen want to add that I haven't asked you about?

GI: I've got one more story.

TS: I have something I want to ask you.

GI: This young couple had an apartment down there that they were renting from a lady. She got sick that night so he called out to the hospital. The doctor told him to give her a hot soapy water enema. So he went to the lady who owned the room and he said, "I made her drink that three times and she vomited it up every time."

BB: What was your question?

TS: I meant to look something up and you might know. In J. Fred Patton's book, is there anything in it about a Ku Klux Klan parade in the 1920s?

BB: I doubt it. I can tell you what I know. (Discussion between Boulden and Wasson follows about lynchings and Klan; Klavern on Garrison in 1920s.)

GI: I saw a parade. It was either in the summer of 1925 or 1926. The KKK was four abreast coming down the avenue. There were thousands of hooded members in that parade. Many of them was on horseback and most were on foot. I knew... the reason we came to watch was because we had a lot of relatives who were marching. So did you (gestures toward Tom Scott).

TS: I just wondered. It's a part of history no one wants to talk about.

(Discussion of Klan outside Fort Smith in post World War II era).

BB: So you would have been about seven or eight when that rally was?

GI: Yeah, we came down here from Iowa in 1924, in August of '24. I know it wasn't that year so it probably wsa the next year, 1925. I would have been eight years old.

BB: Was it May Day or President's Day or the Fourth of July?

GI: I don't remember what time of the year it was but I remember I was a kid and I remember all those robes.

BB: Was there any Klan activity in Southtown?

GI: I never heard of any, but there were some members out there I'm sure. Some of them were marching that night.

BB: I never heard of any black families in Southtown.

TS: This talks about some white Tankersleys and the black Tankersleys. They were blondes and brunettes. My mom was a black Tankersleys.


GI: The circus brought in one roustabout who was colored.

BB: Was that Brownie?

GI: Oh, no. They told him not to leave the compound. He was warned. He stayed in there and as long as he was with the circus he never showed up.

TS: We had some visitors down from Iowa, family. They saw some black people along the road from Pine Bluff, and they had never seen a black person. They paid them a quarter a piece to let them take their picture because they had never seen a black person.