Little Rock Memories


My First Job

My niece wanted some Little Rock stories. I have some fond memories of the place as we lived there for a couple years when I was between three and six years of age. We moved to Emmett when I was six as I began school there in the fall of 1951.

We were pretty isolated at Little Rock and I didn’t have anyone to play with so I spent a lot of time with my dog just hiking around the area. I was thrilled when the fruit season arrived because it drew a lot of workers to the packing shed owned by my Uncle Ray which was stones throw away from our house.

I kind of made a nuisance of myself there but the people were too busy to pay me much attention as everyone had to keep busy packing the fruit for shipping. I saw that everyone had a job and they seemed to be having more fun than me so I asked for a job. Someone told me that I could separate the fruit baskets and hand them to the workers as needed and that would help.

So, I started doing that and the workers seemed to appreciate it. I enjoyed the work and it seemed fun compared to doing nothing. I continued doing this until the end of the season.

At this time my Uncle Ray called me into his office and sat me in front of his big desk.

He said, “Joe you have been working hard this season so you deserve a paycheck just like anyone else.”

He then wrote out a check and handed it to me. “Here’s a check for three dollars.”

I never in my wildest dreams expected to get paid for having fun but when I took that check for three dollars my imagination went wild. At that time the most expensive candy bars were five cents and I started thinking of how many I could buy and how many I could eat at one time. I was thrilled.

I then went home and showed the check to my Mom.

She looked at it and said, “You know what? You really need a new pair of pants and this is just enough to buy them for you. I’ll take you shopping tomorrow and we’ll get you a brand new pair.”

“No, no,” I protested. “I want to buy a bunch of candy bars.”

“Too much candy is not good for you,” she said, “but you really need a new pair of pants.”

The next day we went shopping and bought the pants and we left the store with me wearing them. My mom turned to me and said, “Now doesn’t that feel great to know that you bought those pants with your own money?”

“Not really,” I said. “I’d feel a lot better if I had all the candy bars I could eat.”

She then said something to the effect that I would understand more about what is valuable when I got older.

Indeed, she was right. If I had spent the whole thing on candy I would have probably made myself sick and they were short of money at the time so on hindsight I am glad that my three dollars helped out a bit.


That Darned Goat

When we lived at Little Rock around the year 1950 (Between New Plymouth and Emmett, Idaho) when I was five my parents decided to get a goat. At first, I thought it would be like having an additional pet, but was I ever wrong. For some reason the goat decided it didn’t like me, and whenever it saw me it would come running at me and ram me with its head. I found this very annoying and complained regularly to my parents.

Then one day I was out playing and a car drove up. Out of it came my Dad and Uncle Del. Del came over to me and said, “I heard that you don’t like that goat.”

“I hate that goat,” I said.

“Would you like to shoot it?”

“Sure,” I said, figuring he was kidding around.

“All right then” he said, and pulled out a pistol and placed it in my hand. “Go shoot that goat.”

I had never shot a gun before but figured it was just a matter of pulling the trigger so I walked over to the goat who was behaving himself for once and aimed the gun at its head.

The trouble was that the pistol was kind of heavy and I was having a hard time holding it steady. I wasn’t sure if I was going to hit the target or not.

Del must not have been sure either so he stepped forward and held the barrel steady with his fingers and told me to shoot.

And shoot I did and the goat fell over dying on the spot.

Over the next few weeks, we ate that goat and I enjoyed it immensely as there was something very satisfying about consuming an enemy.


My Friend Mike

When I was three, approaching four, my dad acquired a new friend named Mike. Mike took a liking to me and treated me as a person rather than a little kid. He not only told me good stories but he listened to what I had to say. One of the things we talked about was who was the greatest cowboy, We liked a lot of them like Roy Rogers, Audie Murphy, Lash LaRue, and Gene Autry, but between us it came down to Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. I thought Gene Autry was by far the better of the two and made my case.

Then one day when visiting he said to me: “Would you like to see the real Gene Autry?”

I gasped and enthusiastically said yes, but figured that seeing him in person was just a pipe dream.

I’ll tell you what,” said Mike, “he’s going to be at the Snake River Stampede in Nampa in a few days and if you want, I’ll take you to see him.”

Before this I had really liked Mike but this sent him up to almost a godlike status in my mind.

He took me to the Stampede and I did get to see the real Gene Autry and was thrilled.

During this period where Mike was a good family friend my Mom became pregnant and I was informed that I was soon going to have a new brother or sister. I was pretty excited about the news and, as it came time for delivery, I came up with a great idea. We should name the baby Mike, after my new best friend.

When I told my mom my desire, she told me that they would consider that name if it was a boy, but it just wouldn’t work if it was a girl. From that point on I figured that God was going to send us a boy because I felt it just had to be named Mike.

As fate would have it on Feb 23, 1949, just a couple weeks after my birthday, my mom delivered a beautiful baby girl.

When she brought her home and we gathered round to take a look I said, “Let’s name her Mike!”

None of the family thought that was a good idea, especially my mom, who was the main decider on this, who explained to me that Mike was a boy’s name and she needed to have a girl’s name.

I argued that a girl could be named Mike just like a boy can be. Why not? Who says we cannot name her Mike?

Normally I could talk my mom into letting me have my way, but on this she put her foot down and decided to name her Sandra Sue.

Sandra Sue did not sound anything like Mike and I was quite disappointed for a while, but it wasn’t long before she seemed to grow into that name until she did seem to be more of a Sandy than a Mike.

As an adult I am thankful that this was one time I didn’t get my way with my mom, as Sandy would have probably had a lifetime grudge against me had she been named Mike.


Playing With Fire

We lived a rather peaceful, idyllic life at Little Rock for about three years between the ages of three through six for me.

Most of the time I spent alone. The only time I mingled with anyone other than family was when we had friends over or the packing shed was running. On most days I would go on long walks with my dog.

Sometimes I would find wild asparagus and pick it and give it to my Mom. I was a picky eater and didn’t eat many vegetables, but that asparagus seemed to taste great – I think mostly because I provided it.

We heated our house with a coal and wood range and when mamma ironed she heated the iron up on the stove and ironed for a few moments and then heated it again.

We had an old fashion washing machine with a wringer which had two rollers that you ran the clothes through to squeeze the water out of them.

When we took a bath we had to use a big metal tub in the middle of the kitchen that we filled with hot water heated on the stove. I think my parents must have bathed when us kids were out of the house, for I never saw them use it.

We had a number of accidents out there. Bill got ran over with a car but it didn’t do much damage. I just about electrocuted myself on one  occasion and on another got my hand caught in a slamming car door, but I had a real close call one day when we all got together and built a big bonfire and cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmallows.

We spent the afternoon enjoying ourselves and as the evening approached the fire seemed to have gone out and there was nothing left but smoldering embers. Everyone had gone back into the house except me. I stood there looking at the ashes reflecting on a pleasant day and I grabbed a nearby stick we used for roasting and poked it in the ashes that showed no sign of life.

To my surprise this stimulated them and all of a sudden, a flame came right out of the ashes in my direction almost like it was alive and embraced my right pantleg and caught my pants on fire. I was wearing corduroy pants which were very flammable and instantly realized I was in real trouble and shouted out for help as loud as I could.

Thank God, my mother heard my cries, even though she was in the house. She came running and didn’t waste any time when she approached me. She grabbed me and rolled me around in the dirt which put out the blaze. She took me in the house and we assessed the damage. My right knee was badly burned but if she would have not responded immediately it would have been much worse.

It took a while to heal up and I still have a scar from it as a reminder.

A year or two later when we moved to Emmett, I had another close encounter with fire. We moved to a new place in Emmett and I can still remember the address – 619 North Commercial. In fact the house is still there.

It had a partial basement where we stored various supplies. I was down there one day and noticed a paint brush in a jar which I assumed to be water. Instead, it was a flammable paint thinner.

For some reason I had a book of matches with me and as I looked at the jar a crazy question came to my mind. I wondered if the water in the jar would burn if I put a match to it. I lit a match and applied it to satisfy my curiosity. To my surprise it instantly caught fire and the surprise caused me to hit the jar and knock it over. Suddenly the floor was ablaze with fire and I realized I was in real trouble. It looked like the whole house could burn down and me with it.

Again, I cried out for help and again my angel mother came to the rescue. She instantly assessed the situation and grabbed an old mattress that we had stored there and threw it on the fire and managed to smother it before the point of no return.

I did suffer some damage from this, as the fire burned my lips which developed blisters and then turned into scabs. It took about a month to heal up.

During that time I had a number of people approach me and ask, “What happened to your lips, kid?”

I found it very embarrassing to explain what happened and having to respond to that question was more painful than the physical burn. I was really glad when my lips healed and that question ceased to surface.


The account of my sister’s wedding reminded me of something. It says they honeymooned in Canada but what it didn’t say is that we went with them. In the car was Bertie, Lorin, my Mom, Dad, Sandy and me.

It was late at night and Lorin was driving down a two-lane road at around 100 MPH. Fortunately, in the distance he noticed a cow right in the center of the road. He immediately applied the brakes and we came to a screeching halt that seemed to last for an eternity.

We stopped just before the point of no return and got out of the car to assess the situation., The bumper of the car was actually touching the cow who was completely undisturbed, as if nothing had happened.

Just think how different things would be if Lorin’s reflexes hadn’t been top notch and we had all been killed in a 100 MPH crash!

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