Though this is the age that I’m starting to remember more about my life, I don’t even have all “the facts” down exactly, but do remember living in two towns after the war and leaving Grandmother’s house in Fort Smith, Marianna and Pine Bluff, before moving to El Dorado where things came together a little more and for a longer time.
Marianna is smaller than Warren and the smallest town we lived in that I’m aware of, located a few miles south of Forest City, Arkansas or 90 miles northeast of Pine Bluff. See on Google Map. It is the county seat of Lee County and known today for it’s monument to Robert E. Lee in the city park, though he was not from there. It is just a typical little southern town stuck in the civil war era.
Dad returned from the war in January 1946 and sometime afterwards he went back to work for the little chain of Arkansas clothing stores called West Brothers that he had worked for in both Warren and Camden and this time in Marianna. I have found no starting or leaving times, but it seems to have been through the rest of 1946, with the first record I found of Pine Bluff being in January 1947.
We lived in a small apartment upstairs in one of those old civil war era plantation mansions with the big white columns on the front porch and a little upstairs balcony hanging out over the front porch. I remember it vividly but have no photos. It was at 306 Mulberry Street and looking it up today that is the address for Lee County Auto Salvage & Sales, meaning the house has probably been torn down. I wish I had a photo.
We burned coal for heat and we had an old fashion ice box that required a new block of ice at least every other day, if not every day. And milk was delivered in glass bottles on the front porch. I remember all of that plus one “incident.” There was a bigger boy than me in one of the other apartments with whom I sometimes followed around when Jerry wasn’t with me. He was called a “bad boy.” I remember the day he took an egg out on the upstairs front porch and tried to drop it on the landlady. I think he missed, but Mother would not let me play with him ever again after that.
It is likely that I started first grade in Marianna in the Fall of 1946 and finished the next Spring in Pine Bluff. As strange as it may seem, I don’t remember the first grade and Mom had no photos, but I do know that I finished in Pine Bluff before we moved to El Dorado, maybe in the late summer of 1947.
Possibly at the end of 1946 or certainly by January 1947 we were in Pine Bluff, 90.6 miles southwest of Marianna. See on Google Map. Pine Bluff is not only much larger (10th largest in AR) but the county seat of Jefferson County and where Mother’s Aunt Gyp and Uncle Glenn lived along with their boys, Mom’s cousins, Chuck and Glenn Albert II (called Albert), and my second cousin Glenn Albert Railsback III. I suspect that Mom liked Pine Bluff better than Marianna because of relatives there. 🙂 And her brother Harrold had lived there and married a Pine Bluff girl named Lulu, but I’m not sure if they were there at that time (maybe). Harrold moved around Arkansas with lots of retail jobs just like our Dad. I especially remember him working as a salesman at a John Deere Tractor dealership somewhere (maybe Pine Bluff), whether at this time or later, I’m not sure. But one Christmas Jerry and I each got this John Deere Tractor that Harold had provided “Santa.”
In Pine Bluff Dad was manager of the much bigger Cohen’s Department Store and I would imagine at much better pay than the little store in Marianna. Records show us in January 1947 at 2003 West 27th Street, Pine Bluff and by July Dad had bought a house one block over at 1803 West 26th Street, Pine Bluff which he got for a little more than $2,000 which seems unbelievable today! I also found records that he let his 10k life insurance policy expire because he couldn’t afford to pay the $6.80 a month payments. Hmmm.
Since I can’t find photos from Marianna or Pine Bluff, here’s an earlier one:
The only memory I have right now of living in Pine Bluff was that we had a tornado and I went with Mom out on the front porch, hanging on to her hand or dress as we watched chickens, tin roofs, and other items flying through the air before going back inside. And Dad, who was required to be in the Army Reserve for 2 years after discharge, had to put on his uniform and go help protect one of the damaged neighborhoods from looters. Our house was not hit, but we lived in “Tornado Alley.”