Category Archives: People

Retirement Dinner for A. S. P. Sgt. John Bishop, June 25, 2010

This past Friday evening, June 25, 2010, approximately 200 citizens and many of his fellow law enforcement officers gathered in the Bradley Elementary School Cafeteria to honor Bradley’s own Arkansas State Police Sgt. John Bishop.  John is retiring from the A. S. P. effective today (June 30, 2010).

John is a 1969 graduate of Bradley High School.  John joined the Arkansas State Police on May 2, 1974.  Before being stationed with Troop G and thus able to live in the Bradley area, John was stationed at Little Rock, Hot Springs and Camden.  He has worked in the Criminal Investigations Unit since 2000.

At the dinner, John and his wife, Patsy, were provided rocking chairs (below).  Patsy used hers; John didn’t (below).

Among the speakers were A. S. P. Major Cleve Barfield, A. S. P. Lt. Glenn Sligh, Raymond Robertson and outgoing State Senator Barbara Horn. 

One of the more interesting parts of the evening was the presentation to John of a plaque by Officer Jay Perry of the Louisiana State Police, who has worked with John on interstate investigations (below).

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John was also presented with a plaque by outgoing State Representative (of this district) Bruce Maloch, and current State Representative (from another district) and State Senator-elect Steve Harrelson (from this district) (below).

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Two local friends of John who spoke were Kelly Kelner (below) and Vickie Paige (below, with Emcee Richard Estes).

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At the conclusion of the evening, John briefly addressed those present (below).

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Finally, no report of the evening would be complete without mentioning the presence of John’s parents, Mr. Dick and Mrs. Marjorie Bishop (below).

Dedication of Travis S. Gore Park, 3-8-10

This past Monday afternoon, March 8, 2010, approximately a hundred people gathered at the Bradley High School building for a brief ceremony dedicating the school baseball and softball fields as “Travis S. Gore Park.”

For readers who have not been to Bradley in the last few years, the baseball field remains where it has been located since at least 1950.  The softball field is located in the north portion of what was once the football field, with home plate near what would have been the northeast corner of the north end zone of the football field.

Current Bradley Schools Superintendent Gammye Moore, in the purple jacket, below, began the ceremony by announcing its purpose and identifying the honoree, who, notwithstanding the presence of many members of his family, demurred that he was under the impression that he was coming to a ceremony honoring Bradley’s current basketball coach, Bennie Harris.


Those making brief remarks included former Bradley School Board President Andrew Whisenhunt, current basketball coach Bennie Harris, former Bradley Elementary School Principal John K. “Buddy” Black, former (early 1950’s)basketball coach Joe Langdon, Mollye McCalman, and former faculty member Richard Johnson.

Coach Bennie Harris, below, with Travis, told a humorous story of how he once was working as a law enforcement officer and realized that there was a vehicle behind him, following his every move.  Thinking this rather unusual, he stopped his patrol unit and the vehicle behind him also stopped.  It turned out to be Travis Gore, wanting to hire him as Bradley’s basketball coach.


Travis was presented with a plaque, which he is holding in the photo below.

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Below, left to right, are Coach Bennie Harris, John K. “Buddy” Black, and Travis Gore.


Below, left to right, are Coach Joe Langdon, Travis Gore, and Andrew Whisenhunt.  Coach Langdon was Travis’ coach when Travis was in Bradley High School.


Before refreshments were served, the ceremony adjourned to the newly-erected gate on the road going into the baseball and softball fields from Highway 160.  Travis and many members of his family gathered for a picture below the gate.

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For the curious, “S.” is for Sherman.

Bradley School, First Grade, 1955

On a September morning in 1955, Miss Ray Crabtree welcomed her newest first grade class.  Somehow, in a feat which must have been akin to herding cats, the new students were persuaded to pose for a picture.  Mrs. J. W. Camp, Sr., was there with her camera and took the photo below, which her son, Harry, has graciously provided to

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Who are these kids?  Even though I was a member of this class, fifty-four intervening years have drastically reduced my ability to identify them.  Below are two slightly enlarged and cropped versions of the photo.  Most of the identifications on these photos were made not from memory, but by comparing them with the class photos in the 1956 Bradley School yearbook.  Almost certainly, there are one or more errors and, of course, some of the faces have not been labeled at all.  Corrections and additional identifications will be most appreciated and promptly incorporated into the photos.

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O’Neal & Crockett, circa 1930

Gayle Garner has generously supplied with a wonderful photo of a Bradley business from long ago.

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This business was O’Neal & Crockett, a retail mercantile establishment located on the northwest corner of Pilot and 4th Street/Highway 160, roughly where the car wash is now.  The man wearing the necktie on the right side of the photo is Gayle’s father, Merritt Guyraud Garner.  Gayle thinks the boy on the right side of the photo may be his brother, Merritt Gerald Garner.  This type of business photo is rather common, and was apparently taken by a roving photographer who specialized in such photos.

Two excerpts from Glynn McCalman’s Bradley Connections give a glimpse into this business.

“Before the Edwards ‘department’ store was built during the depression, the largest general store at Bradley was owned by Gilbert ‘Gip’ O’Neal and Ernest Crockett.  … Before partnership with O’Neal, G. I. ‘Bob Reynolds was Crockett’s partner.  The store was at the northwest corner of Fourth Street at Pilot, and had been previously been owned by John Hamiter.  The John Deere farm implement store just west of it was also owned by them.”

“Nearly three-fourths of a century after our first childhood visit to O’Neal and Crockett, some of us continue to remember fondly the pleasant mixed aromas of coffee, potatoes, grain, apples, and other produce that greeted customers when they entered.  The business also included a farm implement store immediately west of that building on Fourth Street.  After the dissolution of the business, possibly in part due to the Depression of the 1930’s, the extreme eastern section of the building was modified to house the post office.  Later yet, that portion of the building west of the post office housed Tom Jester’s appliance store and shoe shop.”

An invoice from Reynolds-Crockett Co., the precursor of O’Neal & Crockett, appeared in the article posted on this site on January 14, 2008.

Gayle Garner’s father, Merritt Guyraud Garner, later worked for Edwards Company.  Around 1937, Edwards Company decided to build a store at Canal where a new cotton gin was being built, and Gayle’s father ran that store for a time.  Later, Merritt Guyraud Garner left Edwards Company and built a store of his own, the “M. G. Garner Company,” next door to the Edwards store at Canal.  Near the end of 1944, the Garner family moved to Longview, Texas.

Gayle Garner’s grandfather, John P. Garner, was the first person to sign the petition to incorporate the town of Bradley in 1906.

Gayle is the author of A Childhood in Cotton Country, which was serialized in the Lafayette County Press a few years ago.  He was born in 1930 in a house located just north of Walnut Hill, part of which had once been the doctor’s office of my own great-grandfather, Dr. J. F. McKnight.  He graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1955, and later accepted a commission in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Army.  At one time he was Chief Trial Judge of the U. S. Army. In 1997, after retirement from the U. S. Army, he became General Counsel of Waste Connections, Inc., which at that time was the fourth-largest national solid waste company.  He retired from that position in 2008, and now spends part of his time on hobbies of writing and painting pictures.

Retirement of County Clerk Diane Fletcher, 12-30-08

A month ago today, an event occurred in Lafayette County that cannot allow to pass unremarked upon.  County Clerk Diane Higdon Fletcher, a member of the Bradley High School class of 1963, retired after thirty years of service as Lafayette County Clerk (1979–2008).   A well-attended reception in Diane’s honor was held in the main courtroom of the Lafayette County Courthouse at 4:00 P. M. on December 30, 2008.  All but one of the photos below were taken at that reception.

First, a photo of Diane and her family.  From left to right, daughter Philesha Southern, husband Henry Fletcher, Diane, and son Neal Fletcher:

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Diane was presented with recognition awards by State Senator Barbara Horn and State Representative Bruce Maloch.

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Diane is shown below with retired Lafayette County Treasurer Lanie Sue Ormand.

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Of all the people who transacted business in the County Clerk’s office for those 30 years, there were probably very few who realized that Diane was an All-State player on Bradley’s very first basketball state championship team, the Senior Girls of 1961–1962.  Some may remember that the late Bradley School Superintendent E. V. Powell dubbed Diane as “Heavy” Higdon due to her diminutive stature.  Diane, already married to Henry at the time, was the Bradley High School homecoming queen for the school year of 1962–1963, the first year of the then-“new”, now current, gymnasium.

And, finally, Diane says that the photo below, taken from the 1961 Bradley High School Yearbook, is proof positive that she did not always have gray hair.


Mr. & Mrs. Richard A. Bishop: 65th Anniversary

This past Saturday, September 6, 2008, saw an event that seldom happens in Bradley: the celebration of a 65th wedding anniversary.  The couple is none other than Mr. & Mrs. Richard A. Bishop, affectionately known to members of my generation as Mr. Dick and Mrs. Margie.  This event was held in the Family Life Center of the Bradley Baptist Church from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., and had an excellent turnout of friends and relatives of the Bishop family.  (Of course, if only Bishops and Allens had shown up for the event, there would still have been a large turnout, but there were many, many others there.)

Some pictures of Mr. Dick and Mrs. Margie at the reception:


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They also posed with their children.  Standing, left to right, are Margie, Dickey, Ann, Sally, Jim, Jeanne and John:

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State Representative Bruce Maloch made a presentation on behalf of the Arkansas General Assembly:


One of the attractions was a continuous slide show of the Bishop family:

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A Schenectady, New York (where his parents resided), newspaper announced shortly after the wedding:

“Announcement of the marriage of Miss Marjorie Allen to Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Bishop, son of Col. and Mrs. Leonard A. Bishop, 312 Fifth St., Scotia, has been made by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Josiah G. Allen, Jr., of Bradley, Ark.  The ceremony took place Sept. 12 [1943] at Las Vegas, Nev.  The bride is a graduate of Ouachita College, Ark.  Sgt. Bishop, who also attended Ouachita College, was employed by the New York Telephone Co. here before enlisting in the Signal Corps.  He is stationed at Fresno, Cal.”

J. B. Herndon of “Bradley Station”

In 1890, Goodspeed Publishing Co. of Chicago, Nashville, and St. Louis, published its Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas, which was one of a series of many such books covering various areas of the southern United States.  These books usually relied on information supplied by the subjects of the biographies themselves, and were hardly objective.  Nevertheless, this particular book and similar books for other areas contain some interesting historical and biographical information. 

The name of J. B. Herndon has previously appeared on this site as an incorporator and stockholder of the Walnut Hill Bank (see posts of 1/7/08 and 2/5/08).  He is also profiled in this particular Goodspeed’s, as follows:

“J. B. Herndon, the popular merchant of Bradley Station, was born in the county on February 9, 1860, and here he attained his growth and was schooled, received the best education that common schools afforded.  He was married September 20, 1888, to Miss Lola Velvin, who was born in Georgia in 1867.  Her father, R. C. Velvin, is now living in Texas.  Their marriage has been blessed in the birth of one child, a daughter—Ella W.  In 1885 Mr. Herndon began life’s battles for himself by engaging in the saloon business on Red River, but in 1888 he disposed of these interests, and opened a general store in Walnut Hill, continuing there about one year, and then came to Bradley.  Here he commenced a general merchandise business, which he has successfully conducted ever since, carrying a stock valued at $2,500, and he is conceded to be a very capable young business man.  His wife is a member of the Baptist Church, in which she is one of the most active workers, and is an intelligent and amiable lady.  J. B. Herndon is one of seven children—three boys and four girls—born to the marriage of J. D. and Eliza (Cramtree [sic?] ) Herndon, both of whom were natives of this country and are now deceased.  The father departed this life in March, 1872, and his widow on January 1, 1880.  The paternal grandfather was a native of Kentucky, and emigrated to Arkansas at an early day, being one of the early pioneers of this State, and here he passed the remainder of his life.  He was a farmer by occupation, as was his son also, the father of our subject.  Five of the seven children born to the parents are still living:  “Zurie (deceased), Mattie (deceased), Ida, J. B., R. F., Lola and J. D.”

Glynn McCalman’s book, Bradley Connections, furnishes many more details regarding the Herndon family and the contributions it made to this area.  

One wonders just how many saloons there were on Red River in the late 19th century, and whether Mr. Herndon “disposed” of his saloon because there were too many other saloons in competition with his or whether the river traffic had declined, probably due to the coming of the railroads, to the point where the business was no longer profitable.

The reference to “Bradley Station” is probably how the local stop on the St. Louis Southwestern Railroad was designated before the Town of Bradley was formally incorporated in 1905, some 15 years after the publishing of this book in 1890.

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!!!!”

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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.

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.

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. 

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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.

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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  SARA is now a branch of the Arkansas State History Commission.

When I was last in the offices of the Arkansas State History Commission ( 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.