A reflection by Glyn Hollabaugh
Leslie had two banks, two drug stores, a bakery, three barber shops, two blacksmith shops, several eating places and a roller mill to crush corn and wheat into flour, meal or chops. Mr. Rhyno was the operator. I rode a horse with a sack of corn to the mill. Mr. Ryno would take out his toll and have me on my way in a few minutes. I visited the blacksmith shops to watch horse and ox shoeing. The ox never would stand still. The smithy would put the ox in a squeeze chute. There was a livery stable. You could rent a horse or wagon and travelers could stay at night. Leslie had a wholesale store to supply local and out of town stores. The mail was delivered out of town by horseback.
It was beautiful land, mountains, valleys and streams. I love Searcy County. I started school at Leslie. It was a two story, red brick building. A new building was built, the old building torn down. I played basketball outside. Grades 1 thru 12 attended. Leslie is now building a new campus with gym for kindergarten thru 12th grade seniors. I also went to Sooter Grove School west of Leslie on Cove Creek. Fount Hollabaugh of Marshall taught the summer school. The girls had a little house. The boys went down in the woods on Cove Creek. Ed Mays bought the building and remodeled it into a dwelling. It is still standing in good condition.
In this period of history, 1910 thru 1935, farming was the chief occupation. There was a family on every tract of land that could be cultivated. The people were almost self-supporting. They had cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, chickens and raised about all their food by canning, preserving and storage.
Searcy County had the best white oak timber in the area, maybe in all the USA. The timber was brought in on the M&NA railroad with a switch in each area that there was a place to load. M&NA had a terminal at Leslie. The M&NA ran from Joplin, MO, to Memphis, TN. The timber and railroad brought in the H.D. Williams Barrel Shop, the largest in the USA. There were others, Pekin Company and Ed Mays Stave and Lumber Mill. There were small stave and lumber mills all over the country. Remember, transportation was by wagon and team away from the railroad. I have ridden the railroad from Leslie to Little Rock and to Oklahoma.
H.D. Williams Barrel Company had a dinky train going up in the hills’ head waters of the Red River for timber. The railroad and all the timber jobs brought in people to Searcy County. Jobs were plentiful. Anyone who wanted to work could get a job.
H.D. Williams Company built some extra houses and furnished a job and a house for Negro families. The railroad and cars, with better roads, caused peaches, apples, grapes and strawberries to be produced and sold in carload lots. Population of the county was heavy. Leslie—5,000. When the timber was gone - railroads were gone, no work—people left.”
1921 Basketball Team
by Glyn Hollabaugh
I guess one reason our 1921 basketball team won state was because each player was in good shape physically. Five of the players lived one to two miles out of town and ran to and from school every day. I lived in town and had to jog one half block to school.
We had dreamed all year of going to Little Rock and winning the State Basketball Tournament but our dreams were nearly shattered because the M & NA railroad was having its first strike and no trains had run in months. I’ve often wondered if it was only luck or a miracle that the first train to come through about 4:00 p.m. was on our last day of grace to get to Little Rock, for Mrs. Irene Jones, head of our school, had said unless a train ran we would not go even though we had put out feelers for a car to take us. The first train through was manned by strike breakers carrying guns.
Mrs. Jones rode herd over us to Little Rock where she got us a couple of big rooms in a hotel and kept us locked in. I guess she knew what she was doing for there was a burlesque show just two blocks away. She showed us how to run the water for a bath, use the commode, etc., but she failed to show us how to use a telephone. So later when she called our room the boy who answered her question, “Who is this?” replied, “I don’t know." Then she told him to turn around and ask someone in the room who he was and then tell
her. O, we learned a lot on that trip. I guess keeping us locked in helped but having some basketball ability and no coach helped also. Defeating the towns of Helena, Crossett, Texarkana and Little Rock was really a big upset then as the bigger towns had always won. In our winning
State Tournament so many small towns entered the next year that the state was forced to break up into athletic districts with playoffs. Little Rock could not handle the deluge of teams that came after our 1921 win. So many small towns said “If Leslie can do it, so can we.”
Today, with so much basketball being played, our winning may not seem much. But to us country boys who had never seen a gym, had funny looking suits, and with no coach—it was a miracle.