Monthly Archives: May 2008

Bradley Justice, 1954

Buck Camp has been kind enough to allow me to pass on his reminiscences of getting a traffic ticket in Bradley when he was only 14 years old.  Incredible as it may seem, at that time it was possible in Arkansas for a 14–year-old to obtain a completely unrestricted driver’s license.

Buck writes:

“[The first ticket] I got, I was fourteen years old.  Dad had started letting me use the Jeep regularly [ …I got my full driver’s license at age fourteen in Arkansas, and the jeep was an Army surplus 1943 Ford], and I had gotten pretty good as I learned to drive that ‘mean machine’ on gravel and in the mud as well as on ‘blacktop’ (asphalt).  I learned that in loose gravel, for instance, that I could, at slow to moderate speeds, downshift, turn the wheels slightly, apply the brakes, correct the steering forward, and go into what I called a ‘four-wheel drift.’ Well, one night right after dark on the gravel road outside Bradley, I approached a stop sign at a ‘tee’ intersection where the old gravel road met the new blacktop highway coming from Bradley.  I could see both ways, and the only car in sight was about a half mile away coming from Bradley on the blacktop towards the intersection.  Applying the cool ‘four wheel drift’ tactics I had just learned, I simply ‘slud’ in the gravel sideways and through the stop sign at probably ten miles per hour, screeched and lurched onto the blacktop, and headed toward Bradley and the oncoming car.  Sure enough, as I got closer to the approaching car, he turned on his red light (they were red, not blue ‘in the old days’) and with my luck it was the only State Trooper in Lafayette County — he stopped me right in the middle of the highway and asked what in the heck I thought I was doing.  I got a stern lecture, my very first traffic ticket, and was told that I had to appear before the local ‘magistrate’ in Bradley.   The magistrate (a part-time job) just happened to be George Bell, who also happened to be my Scoutmaster and the owner of Bell’s General Store at Walnut Hill two miles from Bradley (small towns are small worlds!).  Needless to say, my Dad was not pleased, but, being my Dad (and he was also the Mayor who appointed George Bell to his post as Magistrate!), he went with me to “court,” which was in a room at Tyler’s Gulf gasoline station to appear  before “Magistrate Bell.”  I was shaking like a leaf, afraid I’d have to go to the ‘Bradley jail;’ but no, my fine was five dollars, which was a lot of money in those days for a fourteen year old (hamburgers were a quarter and cokes were a nickel!), and I didn’t have it … my Dad (thank goodness) paid it for me [I didn’t want to go to the infamous Bradley jail] … but he got it out of me later, and a lot more….!!!!

By way of explanation, the ‘Bradley jail’ was a wooden structure built on the east side of the railroad tracks near the water tower.  It was basically a wooden building about 10 by 15 feet square with a concrete floor.  The walls and ceiling were 2×4’s nailed together to make a “wall” four inches thick (lumber was cheap in those days), and it had a tin roof that got really hot in the summer time.  There was no ‘office’ or ‘jailer’ nearby; the constable simply took people there, locked them up with (literally!) a bucket of drinking water and an empty pail for “excretion,” and they just  had to stay there till someone from the Sheriff’s office in Lewisville 23 miles away came to pick them up.  And if they were forgotten at meal time, well … they just shouldn’t have done something bad in the first place.  It was not the kind of place you wanted to go for even a short stay!!!!”

– – – – – – – – – –

The ‘Bradley jail’ of which Buck writes is one and the same as the Bradley ‘Calaboose’ referred to in the 11/7/07 post on this site.  The new blacktop highway to which Buck refers is Highway 29, which underwent some minor rerouting and was paved in 1954.

Many thanks to Buck for his generosity in sharing this piece with the readers of this site.

Lube’s Place, 1970

I received an e-mail from Bryan Whisenhunt, who says that, “One of the things I enjoyed and remember was Mr. Lube Middlebrooks’ place or restaurant….  I remember the old time hamburgers and fries were awesome.”  Everyone who ever ate at Lube’s Place would probably agree.  This is what Lube’s Place looked like in 1970:

050413 Bradley scenes 70 B

This 35mm slide film has begun to deteriorate.  The Coca-Cola sign says “Lube’s Place” and “Coffee Shop Used Furniture.”  It’s not readily visible from this photo, but there was a horseshoe, for good luck, across the top of the entry door facing.  This building was located on the northwest corner of Block 9.

As I recall, Mr. and Mrs. L. G. “Lube” Middlebrooks had this business for about 10 years, perhaps a little more.  Mrs. Ida was in charge of the cooking and Mr. Lube was in charge of the conversation.  Mrs. Ida passed away in 1979, and Mr. Lube died in 1984.

Shown below is how the building appeared 25 years earlier, on January 24, 1945, near the end of World War II.  I’m not entirely sure of the soldier’s name, so I won’t hazard a guess.

Lubes bldg 1-24-45 B

Below is how the building appeared in 2001, shortly before it was demolished:

011027 Lube's #2 B

And below is a photo taken from approximately the same place and angle as the 1970 photo earlier today, May 23, 2008:

IMG_2939 B

The tract is now occupied by the Bradley Fire Department’s building.

Roane Township Justice, 1936

While combing through the records in the Lafayette County Clerk’s office, searching for something else, I stumbled across a 1936 report of Roane Township Justice of the Peace J. E. Christie.  It can be found in County Court Record “L,” at page 139.  Mr. Christie reports who he has fined, what the offense was in each case, and how much the fine was.   All of the fines are noted as being collected by W. E. Rich, Constable. A transcript/abstract of the report follows:

“IN RE:  J. P. REPORT OF J. E. CHRISTIE, J. P. OF ROANE TOWNSHIP

On this day the Clerk laid before the [County] Court the J. P. report of J. E. Christie, J. P. of Roane Township, Lafayette County, Arkansas; said report is by the court examined found to be in due form and it appears from said report that said Justice has assessed fines in his court since his last report as follows to-wit:“

D. C. Knott, Larceny, $10

S. E. Rose, Larceny, $15

Clem Burton, Larceny, $15

Joe Curtis, Gambling, $10

Joe Chaney, Gambling, $10

Jim Still, Disturbing peace, $1

Charley Miller, Gambling, $10

Ben Wilson, Gambling, $10

L. G. Grant, Gambling, $10

Bill Colley, Possessing Liquor, $10

Johnnie Manning, Gambling, $10

Joseph Manning, Gambling, $10

Booker T. Dozier, Gambling, $10

Willie Manning, Gambling, $10

Jessie Parish, Operating Gambling House, $100

James Wyrich [sic?], Carrying pistol, dist peace, $61

Ranson Binnens, Gambling, $10

Willie Manning, Gambling, $10

Ben Wilson, Gambling, $10

Bill Gray, Disturbing the peace, $1

Jessie Orange, Disturbing the peace, $1

Shedrick Williams, Larceny, $25

Jessie Cole, Assault with deadly weapon, $22.50

Joe Mealer, Assault & Battery, $10

Matt Johnson, Assault & Battery, $10

“Said Report is by the Court approved and the clerk of this court is hereby ordered and directed to make the proper charges against the collection officers.”

– – – – – – – – – –

It is quite obvious from this report that that the heinous crime of gambling was frequent, bordering on epidemic, in Roane Township in 1936.  It is interesting to note that the fine for assault with a deadly weapon ($22.50) was less than one-fourth the fine for operating a gambling house ($100).

George Bell, Scoutmaster of Troop 72

I received an e-mail from Don C. Barnett, who had read the 5/12/08 post on George Bell and the Bradley Pioneer.  Don wrote:

“Thanks for your posting about Mr. Bell and the ‘Bradley Pioneer.’  I enjoyed it very much.  It does bring fond memories of George W. Bell.  Mr. Bell was Scoutmaster of Troop 72 for a number of years, when I was a Scout.  One of the places the Scouts would camp was in a wooded area behind his home at Walnut Hill.  I will never forget being around a campfire, before “Taps” and Mr. Bell would recite from memory the poem, ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee,’ by Robert Service.  The hair on the back of your neck would stand up.

I know Mr. Bell helped a number of Scouts to do the right things in life and we all are better persons because of George W. Bell.”

The poem to which Don refers concludes with these lines:

… The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest they ever did see

Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge

I cremated Sam McGee.

                            – – Robert Service.

Roane Township

While the great majority of readers of this site are aware that Bradley is in Roane Township, some may not be aware of precisely where the boundaries of Roane Township are located.  Hence, this map:

IMG_1935 E

Roane Township is outlined by the bold light-colored line, and Bradley is the large light-colored dot within that line.  Canfield, Gin City and Walnut Hill are all located within Roane Township.

Lafayette County is divided into nine townships:  Russell, LaGrange, Baker, Hadley, Steele, Mars Hill, Walker Creek, French, and Roane.  Roane Township is the largest in area of the nine townships.  Roane Township will be a reference point for many future posts on this site.

Whatever happened to … the Bradley Pioneer?

I recently received an e-mail from Buck Camp, who is the son of the late J. W. “Buck” Camp, Sr., longtime Mayor of Bradley about 40–50 years ago.  Buck asks:  “Does anyone know if any issues of the Bradley Pioneer newspaper, edited and published in the 1960s by George Bell … are in a library collection or if any still exist?”  The short answer to Buck’s question is an emphatic “Yes.”  And, like many parts of Bradley’s history, therein lies a tale…

George Bell, shown below in 1971, published the Bradley Pioneer from 1960 to 1976. The only two photographs I could find of George are not very good photos.  One is slightly out-of-focus and the other suffers from badly deteriorated 35mm slide film. 

041606 Kids & friends 71 George Bell B

For almost all of the sixteen years the Pioneer was published, George prepared it on a Linotype machine.  The picture below is of very poor quality, but it shows George at work in 1968 on that cumbersome apparatus.

012104 George Bell 68 B

A Linotype machine is just that.  The operator types in one line of type at a time.  The machine forms a mold for that line of type.  The machine then pours hot lead into the mold, which cools to make the actual print that is struck by the ink of the printing press.  Once done, the lead goes back into the hot lead pot to be melted and reused.

Shortly after George ceased publishing the Pioneer in 1976, the late Dr. John Ferguson, Executive Director of the Arkansas State History Commission, visited him.  Dr. Ferguson asked George if the History Commission could microfilm the issues of the Pioneer that George still had.  George replied that he was willing for the issues to be microfilmed, but that sorting sixteen years of issues would be next to impossible. 

I heard about Dr. Ferguson’s visit and its unsuccessful outcome, and volunteered to help George in the sorting of the back issues of the paper.  Perhaps the word “volunteer” isn’t entirely accurate, because I did demand one form of payment for my efforts.

George kept his back issues of the paper in the back room of his building.  Sixteen years of issues had been stacked haphazardly during that time into daunting piles, many of which were even taller than I am.  Apparently, George would place a few back issues of each week’s edition onto whatever pile was smallest.  This went on for sixteen years.  It was a rather large room, roughly 16 feet by 20 feet, and it was crammed with back issues.

For two very long days, George and I, with an assist from Ricky Kennedy, sorted back issues.  We got some saw horses and sheets of plywood and made makeshift tables for sorting.  We first sorted papers by year of publication and then by issue number.  Of course, most of the issues had many more copies than we needed. 

It turned out that George had saved all but 8 to 10 issues of the Pioneer published during those sixteen years.  Those were boxed up and Dr. Ferguson later picked them up, took them to Little Rock for microfilming, and returned them to George.  My “price” for assisting George in sorting the back issues was that he would give me the second most complete set.  There were about a half-dozen issues for which only one copy had been saved, so my set was missing around 15 issues total.

I later donated my set to the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, known as SARA, in Washington, Arkansas.  To the best of my knowledge, they are still there today and open to inspection by the public.  SARA’s web site is www.southwestarchives.com.  SARA is now a branch of the Arkansas State History Commission.

When I was last in the offices of the Arkansas State History Commission (www.ark-ives.com) in Little Rock about three years ago, an attendant showed me the four microfilm rolls of the Bradley Pioneer.  At that time, copies of each roll could be purchased for $75 each.  Like everything else, though, I suspect that the price has increased since that time.

Eighth Grade Commencement, 1928

For our final look, for this year, at graduations past, here is the program from the eighth grade commencement exercises in 1928, eighty years ago this month.  (Calvin Coolidge was President.)  A transcription follows the image.

Sunday, March 14, 2004 (170) B1

                           Commencement Exercises

                                   EIGHTH GRADE

                           Bradley School Auditorium

                  Wednesday, May 16, 1928, 8:00 P. M.

Onward Christian Soldiers                        All

Invocation                                            Bro. Holland

Commencement Song                              Class

Salutatory                                             Nancy Virginia Stewart

Class History                                          Ray Olive

Class Color                                             Willie Stampley

Class Motto                                            Morgan Hamner

Piano Solo                                              Mildred Christie

Class Poet                                              Ethel Miller

Class Grumbler                                        Dixie Hamiter

Piano Solo                                              Anna Marie Collins

Class Prophecy                                       Gladys Stewart

Class Will                                               Lindsay Brock

Valedictory                                             Mildred Christie

Presentation of Diplomas                           Mr. Lee Measeles   

– – – – – – – – – –

The previous evening in 1928 saw a commencement exercise for the “Department of Primary and Intermediate Grades.”  A transcription again follows the image.

Sunday, March 14, 2004 (170) B2

                      Bradley High School Auditorium

                           Commencement Program

                                 Department of

                    Primary and Intermediate Grades

                    Tuesday Evening, May 15, 1928

                                     8:00 P. M.

Reading                                              Edna Frances Vaughan

Violin Solo                                           Nanette Snead

Reading                                              Dot Cochran

Spring’s Flower Garden                          Primary Pupils

Flower Drill and Dance                           Fourth Grade Girls

Violin Solo                                           Malvin Christie

Mother Goose’s Trouble                          Primary Pupils

Reading                                               Mable Christie

Reading                                               Malvin Christie