Important Places & Buildings – 47-55

It may seem strange to some that when Jerry took his nostalgia trip to El Dorado in 1992 he photographed just buildings which have memories for both of us, but then there were none of the people still there to see (that he knew about) or photograph except that Jerry did knock on the door of the house that James Rogers lived in back then. two doors down to the right and much to his surprise a man our age came to the door and it was James Rogers who had never married and still lived in his parents’ house that he had grown up in. Much to Jerry’s chagrin though, James did not remember him and did not want to talk or reminisce as Jerry did. Everyone’s different! 🙂 James is in a couple of the photographs in the photo & scrapbook galleries. And oh yes, there is an El Dorado Buildings photo gallery, plus they are in the scrapbooks. Here is my overview or summary of each and why important to both me and Jerry and they will be referenced on other pages . . .

Our House

723 Liberty Street, El Dorado, AR (white house) — Jerry made this photo on a nostalgia trip in 1992, but it looked the same back in 40’s & 50’s! The neighbor house to left was also white back then. All houses were! 🙂 Dad parked the car in that carport and the garage was for storage of junk. The tall tree behind the garage was where we built our tree house. And those 3 trees to left of carport were pecan trees and we shared the nuts with the neighbors.

After the first few months or maybe a year of living in a smaller rental at 331 Cook Street, we moved to 723 Liberty Street, the first home address I memorized and will probably never forget. They bought it in 1948 and owned this older house until selling it and moving to Tulsa in the summer of 1955. It helped us to kind of settle down and have a sense of place. And it is mainly here that I have my most memories of growing up and I guess you could say is where I actually grew up through childhood to the beginning of my teen years in Junior High with high school coming later in Tulsa as more of a “coming of age” or “developing independence” period of my life which I will talk about later.

Mom made my favorite pie with the nuts off those 3 pecan trees to the left of the carport. That big tree behind the garage that was used for storage only is where we built our treehouse and as younger kids played in the dirt around the roots of the tree with our little toy cars, cowboys & Indians, and army soldiers. Jerry and I slept in the same bed together in a tiny bedroom until after Bonnie was born when they added on a room that became ours and for the first time we had separate twin beds! We ate breakfast around a little table in the kitchen and dinner at the dining room table in our combination living room/dining room. We got our first TV (black & white of course) around the time Bonnie was born and my favorite show was “I Love Lucy” along with some educational science shows and of course Mom’s favorite was “The Hit Parade” which she had followed earlier on the radio. Before TV, Jerry and I listened to “Big John & Sparky,” “The Lone Ranger,” and some others I don’t remember right now.

Here’s all the photos & scrapbook pages with photos of the house, either inside or outside as a slideshow:

Dad’s Work

For the whole 8 years in El Dorado, Dad was the manager of Duggar Department Store on one of the main streets off the square, while the owner, Mr. Duggar, managed his Duggar Shoe Store on the Square, a better location with more traffic.

This is Jerry’s 1992 photo of the building where Duggar Department Store was located and now a DAV Thrift Store. The doors and plate glass windows were the same and my first paid job was working for Dad as a janitor in the store after school, sweeping the whole store with that red oily sawdust and then cleaning the glass windows with a squeegee. I felt important and had a real job while in Junior High. I later got a paper route.

For the whole 8 years in El Dorado, Dad was the manager of Duggar Department Store on one of the main streets off the square, while the owner, Mr. Duggar, managed his Duggar Shoe Store on the Square, a better location with more traffic.

The doors and plate glass windows were the same and my first paid job was working for Dad as a janitor in the store after school, sweeping the whole store with that red oily sawdust and then cleaning the glass windows with a squeegee. I felt important and had a real job while in Junior High. I later got a paper route as my second job.

Our Church

I think this is another one of Jerry’s 1992 trip photos and this is just exactly what I remember the church looking like back in the 1940’s and 50’s! In little old towns like this, things just don’t change much over the years.

And one of the other buildings that was a part of our lives in El Dorado the whole 8 years was Immanuel Baptist Church, which Mom & Dad joined soon after we moved there. The whole 8 years Jay D. Tolleson was the pastor, a typical old fire & brimstone Baptist Preacher with a son my age and in school with me, Paul Tolleson. They lived next door to the church and one time, maybe midway through our time there, Jerry & I were invited over to their house for a “sleepover” with Paul. It was the only time I ever did that except for sleeping with cousins when we visited them.

This was also the church where I became a Christian and was baptized. Mostly what I remember about it was the Sunday School classes on Sunday morning and part of the time going to Training Union on Sunday night. Our Training Union Group took a big food box to a poor family one year for Thanksgiving. But I don’t remember many other children’s activities there or even youth activities when older. It was just church every Sunday. Oops! Now I remember one activity . . .

This was also the church where I became a Christian and was baptized and received my first Bible at right. Mostly what I remember about it was the Sunday School classes on Sunday morning and part of the time going to Training Union on Sunday night. Our Training Union Group took a big food box to a poor family one year for Thanksgiving. But I don’t remember many other children’s activities there or even youth activities when older. It was just church every Sunday. Oops! Now I remember one activity . . .

I just remembered that when in Junior High our boys Sunday School teacher took us boys possum hunting one night without guns. How could I forget! 🙂 We went in the woods somewhere nearby with flashlights and burlap tow sacks. When we found a possum in the trees with our flashlight, two boys stood under the possum holding a wide-open tow sack while another boy climbed up the tree and a little ways out on the limb to shake it hard until the possum fell into the sack. Our teacher claimed that he had a black friend whose family would cook and eat any possums we caught. Maybe so. Probably this “recreational activity” would only be found in the deep south! 🙂 And my last summer there, 1955, I went with some other kids from church to the youth camp at Beech Springs and I did not like it as well as Boy Scout Camp Logoly! Maybe that helped me to plan better camps when I was a youth minister many years later! 🙂

The Boy’s Club

El Dorado Boy’s Club as Jerry photographed it in 1992. The same in 40’s & 50’s, just newer.

Though not quite as big a part of our lives, the El Dorado Boy’s Club was important for some of our recreational activities and also where Jerry and I both learned to swim in their big long indoor swimming pool (for racing I guess). And the part I remember most about swimming in this boys only pool, was that after you showered you walked your feet through the disinfectant-filled box and straight out to the pool stark naked! And I was very self-conscious the whole time even though in those days it was okay for boys to see boys just never the opposite sex! 🙂 This is also where we had some after school activities and could go for various table games including pool tables when you were old enough.

Our Elementary School (1948-52 for me)

The two front doors to Yocum Elementary School. When we were young, Dad would let us out of the car at these steps on his way to work. By 5th or 6th grade I was riding my old used bicycle I got from Willis.

I was here for second grade through sixth grade, while Jerry was here for first through sixth grades, his only elementary school. Bonnie did not go to school in El Dorado. She was just 3 when we left. In the photo albums and scrapbooks there is a shot of me on my first day of second grade here and another of me and Jerry on our first day of school, his first grade & my third grade year, 1948.

I don’t remember much about the earlier elementary school years except the old Dick and Jane reading books that so many jokes have been made about. By third or fourth grade I was reading “for fun” in a series of books called The Buddy Boy Books, simple stories about Buddy going places or having adventures at home. Grandmother and others would give me a Buddy Boy book for birthday or Christmas. Then by around fifth or sixth grade I switched to reading Hardy Boy Books which were mysteries and for bigger boys. About the same time I also started reading “The Landmark Series” of history stories and biographies for older children. With no TV, that was one entertainment for me. These were in addition to the assigned readings for school, mostly textbooks. I do remember our 6th Grade Teacher reading “Call of the Wild” book to us one chapter a day and that was different as well as having a man teacher for the first time, Mr. Johnson.

I also remember in the fifth grade having a part in a play that we did in the auditorium in front of the whole school and I was so scared or embarrassed to do something like that in front of a lot of people. I also remember that by 5th grade we had bullies among some of the boys and because I was not very big or athletic, I was one who got kidded or bullied sometimes which got worse by 7th grade then tapered off after that. It was on the playground that one of the boys explained sex to me in the 5th or 6th grade as we watched two dogs stuck together. Growing up in any world is somewhat of a challenge along with being a lot of fun and I remember both about older elementary school. I also like that in the 5th and 6th grades I got to walk or ride my bike to school, feeling more responsible and independent and not a “little kid.”

Other than the annual school pictures, the only photo of me made at school was the special photo op the school provided at a cost to have our photo made on a pony. That photo, plus our “first day” photos and Jerry and I and neighbors playing in our back yard are in the photo galleries and scrapbooks.

El Dorado Junior High (1952-55 for me)

Me in front of the Junior High School, not sure when, but looks like 7th or maybe 8th Grade.

I could probably write a lot about Junior High and may come back to write more. I was still very shy and quiet then and very self-conscious of what others thought of me. Like with every such transitions, going from oldest in Elementary School to the youngest in Junior High was a shocker. My lack of athletic skills or strength caused me some problems with other boys, especially during the 7th Grade year. I compensated by trying to excel in art and band where I drew up the designs for our band’s football game halftime shows, using numbers to assign every band member a position in the shape. Outside school, I found my place in Boy Scouts and excelled there maybe more than at school. In some ways it is a shame that at this age you feel pressure to excel at something! And this is just the beginning!

During Junior High I began to love the sciences more and started thinking about medicine as a future career. I studied Latin for my last 2 years there and somehow thought that would help me with future medical studies. I loved band and some classes more than others, but being socially acceptable was such a pressure at that age and I joined an evening Square Dance Club which was fun for a while and had my first date (assigned) to a formal dance and never was real comfortable in those one on one relationships with girls. My favorite extracurricular activity was Boy Scout camping trips and would have gone every weekend if possible! 🙂

“I walked over to the hill where we used to go and sled. There were a lot of little kids there. I watched them flying. Doing jumps and having races. And I thought that all those little kids are going to grow up someday. And all of those little kids are going to do the things that we do. And they will all kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be great if sledding were always enough, but it isn’t.”

― Stephen Chbosky