I started off in Bull Shoals on Monday, February 8 at 4:00 PM. I went there to interview a woman (Thea Heard) in my church who was born in Cotter, but she was not willing to do the interview. However, she has a friend, Katharine Pitman, who lives in Cotter who she taught would be willing to be interviewed. In fact, she was exactly the type of interviewee for which I was looking. She has lived in the same house since she was seven years old, and she is 90 years old now. So, my original intended interviewee's husband (Charles Heard) showed me the way to Katharine's house. As I was following her to Katharine's house, I was imagining what her house would look like. I had hoped that it would be a really cool, huge house. And, sure enough, that's exactly what it was! Actually, it was a lot better than what I had imagined, but the house was just the beginning.
My leader and I took the normal route to Cotter from Bull Shoals. I was driving my very dependable 1984 Chevrolet pick-up truck and my leader was driving a Subaru Outback. We traveled from Bull Shoals to Flippin (on Highway 178, of course), and then we took Highway 62 to Cotter. We turned off on Highway 62B (the one that goes over the old Cotter bridge) into downtown Cotter, but we stayed on the main road. We drove a short distance until my leader's turn signal indicated we were about to change our course. We made a right-hand turn onto a paved road, and then we swung a left onto a very short dirt road lined with a couple of houses. We went through two stone pillars and instantly a huge grin invaded my face. I was in awe at the structure I saw before me. It was a three-story stone house with a green roof. The house had a covered porch for its perimeter with antique furniture, tricycles, and other objects. This house, located on top of a hill, had one of the most magnificent views in Cotter. This view included a valley through which the White River and the railroad snaked. Over to the left was a bird's eye view of Gassville and Mountain Home. On the right hand side, east Cotter could be seen. The setting sun only enhanced the beauty of the place even more. Down the hill from the house is where two stone chicken houses are located. On the opposing side of the house is a long shed that looks as antique as the items stored in it. Now, I was pumped up and ready to see if the inside of this house was all that I had made it out to be.
Katharine was waiting inside when I got there, so my friend and I were greeted by Katharine from inside the house and invited to enter. We came in through a sliding screen that had come off its track. This door led into the kitchen area of this enormous structure. I guess the first thing I noticed was the floor. It was linoleum, but it was not new. It was discolored and peeling in some places which indicated that it had been there for awhile. Off to the left was the kitchen. It was really not that impressive. It had modern appliances that looked oddly out of place and it was just a simple, small, straight, kitchen. Directly in front of the screen door was the dining area. The table was offset to the right and cluttered with papers and an adding machine. Directly behind that table was a towering cabinet with a variety of dishes in it. Some of the dishes were antiques and some were fakes. The glare from the overhead light made it difficult to see the content of the cabinet. On the right side of the table was an old sewing machine table. To the right of the cabinet and left of the sewing machine table was a doorway that led to the utility room. Katharine did not allow me to explore this room (probably for privacy reasons). There was a doorway with partial walls that had wooden pillars extending to the ceiling aligned with the screen door that led to the living area.
This area had no overhead lighting; all the light was provided by sunlight and lamps. As a result, this room had a gloomy atmosphere to it. There were some modern appliances in this room as well. For example, a television and an adjustable, electric chair that plugged into the wall were located in this room. Directly to the left of the TV was a huge back-silvered mirror. I later found out that this mirror was, not to my surprise, an antique. On the back wall, the wall directly in front when first entering the room, had two bookshelves on it with a couch in between them. In front of the couch was a crooked, old, wooden coffee table. It had magazines, old photos, coasters and other items strewn on it's surface. It also had a lower shelf, which was also crammed with stuff. On the right side of the room, the side opposite the TV and mirror, was another couch and the electric chair was to the right of the couch. It was on this couch where Katharine sat during the interview. I pulled up a chair and sat off to the side of her. As she was answering my questions, I took note of her personal appearance. She was remarkably spirited and mobile for a 90 year old woman! She was short, not relative to me; she was probably about five feet tall. Her oval-shaped head grew thin, white hair that looked naturally groomed. It was short, but it looked as if it had fallen into place by itself. She was wearing a blue women's confederation T-shirt with red pants, I think. Her feet were covered with slippers. She wore glasses on her face that produced a very pretty smile. Her teeth were pearly white. I don't know if she had dentures or not, but her teeth were absolutely gorgeous! She had a meek voice that shook every once in awhile. She took breathes between sentences, so her speech sounds interrupted. After the interview, she took toward the stairs that led up to the second third level. The basement was actually considered the first floor. She didn't take to the basement either.
We entered the base of the stairwell through an opening in the far right hand corner of the living area. Immediately on the right side, is an elevator. Katharine explained that this was built in order aid her mother, who had broken a hip, in getting upstairs. The elevator was just big enough for one person and had a phone in it. Directly across from the elevator was the front door. It was solid wood. The door had a small, golden plaque attached to it with the family name, Pitman, inscribed on it. Also, a cabinet was located to the right of the front door. On the wall opposite the doorway had another mirror hanging on it. To the left of the elevator, was the entrance to the stairs. These stair were wooden and painted white. They were essentially two squares put together. The first "flight" of stairs started off by veering to the left and leading onto a platform. This platform had a wall filled with family portraits on the left side of it. Remember, this house has hardly any overhead lighting, so the glare from the wall light made it very hard to see the pictures. To the right of this platform was the stairs that led to the upstairs. When I arrived on the top floor of this magnificent house, I was shocked by what I saw. The hallway, which was to the left of me, was very, very long and had two lights on the wall that could only be turned on by a chain attached to the light. The hallway only had about four doors on it. This made the hallway look very bare and ugly. Straight ahead of me was the entrance to Katharine's bedroom. We went in. It was a pretty normal bedroom. She had a TV on the wall, a dresser, and a bathroom. The bed was quite large and two chairs at its foot were covered with towels to prevent her cat from clawing the upholstery. I remember a lot of red in her room. I think the carpet and the curtains both contained red coloring. Well, we exited her bedroom and walked down the dreary hallway until we came another door on the left hand side. The door led us into another bedroom. The bed frame and matching dressers were both antiques. The dressers were made of mahogany and had marble tops with normal dresser stuff on them: pictures, jewelry, paper, etc. The hallway's floor had no covering on it to conceal its wood floor, but all the rooms, except for one, did. We exited this room and came to another doorway on the left hand side. It was a room that looked pretty much like the first one. It had carpet and was dimly lit with wall lights. Except, the bed frame in this room was not antique, however a jewelry chest in the same room was. I was beautiful! It had dragons carved around the handles of it. From this room, we moved onto a very small bathroom. There wasn't anything special about this room. It was just a normal small bathroom with no bathtub or shower. Now, this was the interesting part. At the end of this long, dank hallway was a door. This door led to what Katharine called a sleeping porch. It could be accessed from bother the outside and the inside, so Katharine kept it locked. We had some difficulty opening the door due to the dimness of the hallway. We finally opened the door, which revealed a musty, ugly room with two beds and some other very unattractive furniture. It reminded me of a military barrack. This was the room whose wooden floor was exposed. The floor was slanted toward the outside door to allow any water that entered the room to drain off. To explain, this sleeping porch was actually a porch. It had rectangular screen windows with canvas flaps covering them around the sides. These windows had no glass in them, so when it rained, and the flaps were not closed, water entered the room. This room was even dimmer than the hallway. However, it was mostly used for sleeping, so a great deal of light was not needed. A system of white, wooden stairs led up to the sleeping porch from outside. After the upstairs tour, I noticed a couple of interesting concepts about the house.
This house had what's called a central vacuum cleaner. A vacuum is permanently located in the bottom level of a house, usually the basement. A series of tubes and holes in the wall allow for the use of the vacuum. A hose is attached to "outlets" in the wall. Whenever the cover on one of these holes was raised, the sucking of the vacuum started. A hose was then attached to these holes and used like a normal vacuum. The other interesting concept was swiveling outlets. The electrical outlets in this house were spring loaded and swivelled around in circles. I am not sure what the purpose of this was.
The smell of the entire was not musty or old smelling; it had its own unique smell that cannot be described with words. She was baking bread during the interview, and the aroma of that was in the air.
All in all, this house was the perfect example of how people lived in the early 1900s. From the surroundings to the inner most portions of the house, the whole environment was one of history. A person must experience something like this first hand in order to fully understand and grasp the concept of the things mentioned herein. As I was driving home in my truck around 8:00 PM, I was thinking how grateful and glad I was to have the opportunity to visit such a historic place.
Key: M=Matthew Brizzi (interviewer) K=Katharine Pitman (interviewee)
Voice Notations: voice volume increases . . . long pause . . short pause
-abrupt change in voice voice pitch increases voice volume decreases
? ambiguous words ?
M: This is an interview with Katharine Hopkins (maiden name) for the South Shore Memory Project. I guess we'll just start from the beginning . . Um . . tell me when you were born.
K: 1908, October the 29th.
M: Okay . . and, you did-you did not live in this house, right?
K: No, it wasn't built yet, but.
M: Okay . . . you, which house did you live in?
K: Well, I could show it to you.
M: Okay [K: laughs]
K: But, I can't from here.
M: Ya, it's a house that's over on the hill.
K: Over this . . way, ya.
K: Over on the top of the hill there.
M: Okay, um . . .
K: As you would go to Mountain Home, uh, come out the edge of town, that's on your left . . on the side of the road there.
M: Um . . . did you have any b-br-brothers or s-s-sisters?
K: I had a sister. She died when she was nineteen . . of, uh, . . childbirth . . complications.
K: She was . . um . . had . . the baby and died in this house in this room right here.
M: Eeu, okay, alright, um . . when was this house built?
K: Uh, it was being built in 1914. When the war was on, they had trouble getting materials and so forth.
M: Which war?
K: The First World War
K: Um huh
K: That's my vintage. [giggles]
M: [giggles] And your, uh, your . . father built this house.
K: Yes. Yes.
K: Located this building site here. He was living with us at the time, my father's father. And, uh, he located this spot over here 'n, it was, uh, part of a forty that the railroad had left when they punched the railroad through. So, he saw the possibilities: the view and so forth. So, he got in contact with the railroad company. It was the Iron Mountain Railroad at that time. And, uh, he wrote the railroad company and told them he was interested in the property, and so, one of the officials told him that he would be down in the summertime that August. He would be down and would make a visit to him. And they would try to come to some deal on it. So, uh, he did come down in August. It was a terribly hot day, and, uh there was a path from over the hill here down to the railroad depot. We used to always walk in those days; we didn't have cars like we do now.
M: Uh, huh
K: So, he walked down and met the . . official and walked him back up here on this hot day through the rocks and the briars and so forth. And, he got up here. I think the man would have been willing to almost give him the property. But, by the time he got up here, he did make a deal. Uh, but, uh, ? the place that was left ? , so uh, um, uh, huh.
M: Okay . . . um, how many acres is this land? Do you know?
K: Well, it's, um, kinda in . . . there's about s-s-sixty-seven acres here, I think. It runs up this east Cotter hill about a third of the way up the hill. You go down [door slams in background] this river road and start up that hill, and it's about a third of the way up that hill.
K: Um, humh
M: Umm . . . how old w-w-were you w-whenever you moved into this house.
K: I was, uh, I was seven when we were living in the barn. It was maybe a year or sumin' (something) like that before it was ready to-enough room to occupy. We lived in the basement and then moved into bedrooms as it was built. So . . .
M: Oh, okay
K: Had four rooms and a barn down there that we fixed up.
M: Um . . where did the house come from that you lived in before this house?
K: Well, the first one I li-the one I was born in, my father built it, too. It was the first house he ever built. He was the . . lumber man here.
K: A har-a lumber man and a hardware store here in Cotter. He came here in 1902, right after he got out of college, and the railroad wasn't built yet at that time. He came over by stage by way of West Plains, . . Arkan-Missouri [little chuckle]
M: Missouri, ya
K: His-my father and mother had lived in Thayer, Missouri. That's where mother graduated from high school. And, they came up on-well, they got married in 1905. My father'd come up 'n . . . and worked for the lumb-a fellow who had the lumber company here and then bought him out. And, uh, mother came in 1905. Right after they were married in January 1905.
M: Okay, is that l-l-lumber store still here?
K: Well, the building's here. It don't have any building materials stored here anymore. We-uh, my father had it, and then my husband and I had it. And, then my grandson had it for awhile.
M: So, is it just an empty building now?
K: Well, I think it has something in it. I think I noticed a, uh, sign on the window that said lots 'n acreage or sumin' like that for sale.
M: So, it's like a r-r-real estate place or something like that.
M: Okay, um, kay, was there -did you-was there a school here in Cotter that you went to-
M: Like a-
M: --One of those one room school houses?
K: Uh, well, I started into a later one. There was a wooden one that my sister started into. She was three years older than I. And, uh, . . . I-we moved into this one that was, uh, a concrete building that burned a few years ago before they did this one at the edge of town. And, uh, I went all the way through the twelve grades of school in that one that . . was concrete.
K: It burnt (burned) just a few years ago.
M: Okay, and, uh, how did they divide up the grades. Did they do it, like, separate classrooms, er?
K: Well, we had separate classrooms, usually two grades to a room. Let's see, the first grade was by itself, I believe. And, then the second 'n third 'n fourth 'n fifth. And, it had an upstairs and a downstairs, and you went upstairs and had high school upstairs.
M: Okay, um . . . what did you do for fun. I mean, like, after school. What did you-
M: -do for entertainment?
K: We-when I was in grade school we jumped rope, and we played jacks out on the sidewalk. And, we played hop scotch, 'n all that sort of thing . . on the school ground. When we were a little bigger, we played basketball. We didn't have any gymnasium at the time. We played out on the ground court later in high school.
M: Okay, um, what was, uh, dating like. You know, like, um, having a r-relationship with somebody of the opposite sex. How was that like, the dates?
K: Well, we, of course, walked everywhere we went. Nobody had any cars then. We walked everywhere. We stayed thin that way. [laughs]
K: Well, we, uh . . . had dances after we got up in high school. We danced at different people's houses. This was one of 'em they danced in. They had-under this carpet is a hardwood floor that they danced on. And, uh, . . . there was a Saturday night picture show we went to. And, uh-
M: Okay, like uh m-
M: -movie, okay
K: And, uh, we-we, in the summertime we played at the river all-we went swimming everyday, 'n we'd get up early in the morning 'n go out 'n cook breakfast by the sprangs (springs). There's lots of sprangs around here. We'd hike up to a sprang and cook our breakfast 'n go swimming 'n all that sort of thing. Lots of things were-evolved around the river.
M: Okay, um, did you . . . let's see . . . you went to college, right after-
K: I went to college.
M: -After high school, okay. W-Where did you go?--
K: I went-went first to a girls school at Searcy. Which was Galloway Women's School. It was a Bap-Methodist place, but it's-the campus is Harding now, Co-Harding College now. It's the same campus that Galloway was at that time. I think Galloway was a Methodist bishop it was named after.
M: Okay, uh, w-w-what did you m-major in while you were there.
K: Over there at Galloway I went to-I majored in home economics, and then I went to Missouri U (University) and took my last two years at Missouri University and majored in journalism.
M: Okay, did you ever use your degrees, like, in a job?
K: When I got out of college, we had the depression-deep depression (the Great Depression), and when the depression got over, I got married.
K: [giggles] So, I never did-I never did really work for anybody, but, uh, our own business down here. I worked some there.
M: Okay, um, w-w-when did you get married?
M: Okay, and how did you m-m-meet your husband?
K: Well, he had come down here to work on the railroad. He came from ? Crain ? , Missouri, down here to work, and he got laid off during the depression. And, we were all here just a makin' our own fun. None of us had any money. We'd go down to the drug store and get a Coke with two straws and things like that. Coke cost a nickel.
M: Uh, huh
K: Usually, we could-if we were out of a nickel we could turn up all the . . seats on our furniture and usually find a nickel or a dime under the seat.
M: Mm, uh
K: [little giggle] So . . . our druggist (pharmacist) was real cooperating. He'd get out a jigsaw puzzle and let us work his jigsaw puzzles. And, he'd put 'em a newspapers cause-set 'em up for us 'til we got back again. [little humming giggle]
M: Wow, okay-
M: Um . . .
K: Were a lot of us around here at that time had ? odds ? you know and no jobs or anything, so.
M: So, your h-h-husband w-worked on the railroad?
M: And, then-
K: We-he was laid off then and for a while. He-we were all just here and markin' time.
M: What did he do after the-after the depression was over?
K: He went back on the railroad when the railroad opened up again. In between times, he s-sold- wood-uh, hauled and sold wood . . for, uh, cook stoves 'n heatin' wood 'n all that. He had a crew that cut wood for him. I think it-during the depression he paid his crew fifty cents a piece, and he got a dollar 'cause he had the truck. There goes muh (my) cat. [giggles] And uh, it was-times were pretty ? lean ? . And, then when we's about got to helpin' out with, uh, things, they hired him as a . . person to deliver their, uh, giveaway food and so forth in the county 'cause he had a truck.
M: Mmm uh. Okay.
K: I think his job paid him 60 dollars a month or somthin' like that-or maybe it was 80; I'm not sure.
M: And he d-d-d, he, uh, delivered food for the-
K: Government, you know, the government giveaways.
M: Okay, the people who couldn't afford food, the government gave them food.
M: And he delivered it, okay. Um, tell me what f-family l-life was like. Uh, did you do chores everyday? I mean, you know, did you-
K: Oh, yes. That was part of it. I, uh, it was my job to feed the chickens. When we were livin' down at the barn, we had a spring down on the hill side, and we kept our milk and butter in the spring house. My sister and I were, uh, delegated to get the milk and butter for mealtime and then take it back afterward.
M: Mmm, uh
K: And look after the chickens and thing like that.
K: We all had our chores [clears throat].
M: During the summer, um, w-what did you do, you know, whenever school was out?
K: Well, it was a little boresome (boring) but, uh, besides the swimming that is.
M: Uh, huh
K: But, uh, I don't really know what to tell ya about that. We just made our own fun.
K: Mmm, uh
M: Nothing really in particular . . . okay, um . . . how big was Cotter when-
K: Well, it was bigger-a lot bigger than it is now. I think we had about 1200 (population) then.
M: Uh, huh
K: It's, uh, kinda dried up now.
M: Oh, really? Okay, um . . .
K: We had the railroad here, and we had a picture show here. My husband and I ran that for awhile, after-married.
M: The . . picture show?
K: Movie, ya
M: Mmm, uh
M: Mm, ya! Um, okay, did you ever have any children?
K: I had two. I have a son and a daughter. My son lives over between Jonesboro and Paragould, and my daughter lives in Commerce, Texas.
K: Mmm, uh. They're in their sixties now, both of 'em. I have about nine grandchildren 'n thirteen great-grandchildren.
K: [giggle] My mother and father, of course, have passed away quite awhile ago. M-my husband died just about . . . six weeks ago.
M: Oh, my . . .
K: He was 91, and I'm 90, so . . .
M: Okay, um . . .
K: Back when my mother and father were living, they a little, uh, kind of a theater group. They'd put on plays 'n so forth. I think mother and daddy were both in it, 'n they had a band 'n so forth. Cotter had a lot of things then . . . We had two or three grocery stores at that time 'n, uh-
K: Dress establishment 'n all that other sort of thing. But, we don't have any of it now. We don't even have a good grocery store here now, but . . .
M: Um . . . why did Cotter g-get so much smaller in-
K: Well, the-the railroad stations. They were-used to be a hundred miles between stations, and, uh, they'd go a hundred and then they'd have another st-uh, place where they'd tie up. An', uh, they got the diesel engines and they could go a lot further, and they took away all these in-between stations. And, then, uh, they used ta . . . put ice on the trains here an' put the water and fuel and so forth on here at Cotter. We had a roundhouse here an' changed engines here. An', uh, that got, uh, taken away an' during the time when the dams were built, they had the headquarters for the dams out at Mountain Home, so, uh, that kinda dried Cotter up.
K: Mmm, uh
M: Um, what did they do with the trains? Were they mostly, uh, cargo or, like, for transportation for people-
K: Well, they had passenger trains, too. They had quite a lot of freight 'n. There were two passengers (trains) a day.
M: If you took a train from Cotter, where would you go?
K: Well, you could go to Newport, 'n you change trains there 'n go on the Frisco. 'N, er, down at Ho-let's see-at Hoxie. 'N, we'd change trains there 'n went up to Springfield 'n so forth. But, uh, we had to, uh, wait ? all the whole station ? -When I went to my grandmother's in Thayer, Missouri, we would leave here at noon one day and take a passenger to Hoxie and had to wait there for the train up towards Springfield, 'n we'd, uh, catch a train up there. An', uh, there was a branch . . train that came down from Springfield ta Cotter, and then we'd get back in it. And, we'd leave here at noon and get there at midnight-leave there at midnight-and get back here at noon. [chuckle]
M: Mmm, okay-
K: It was quite a journey!
M: Ya, really! Um . . . you mentioned about World War I. You were young-
M: --When that was going on. Um, so you probably remember some about, uh, the S-second World War. Um-
K: Well, I remember First World War fairly well. I was four-uh, no, I was in the fourth grade at school when it was over.
M: D-did you have any r-relatives or friends that fought in the war (WWI)?
K: Well, I had . . some relatives. I didn't have any friends 'cause I's just a child.--
M: Right, right.
K: Uh, then when I got-some of the ones in high school I can remember. Some of the youngest ones-or, some of the oldest one in high school were in the world war before it was over.
M: Okay, um . . . did your h-husband or your dad or a-an-
K: No, none of my family was in it-
M: Okay, nobody was in it.
K: My husband was in the rail-uh, on the railroad. Oh, this was the Second World War, though, that we're talking about now. My husband was, uh, in-on the railroad and they took the younger members on the-younger railroad men-but, they left the older ones to run the trains. So, he was left to run the trains. They had to work pretty long hours sometimes. They'd be on duty sometimes over sixteen hours at, uh, ? city ? before they had rest.
M: Did your, uh, what did your, um, what did he do on the trains.
K: Well, he was a conductor-
K: Brakeman first, and then a conductor.
M: How much did that pay?
K: Well, nothin' like it does now. I've forgotten just how much. They, uh, had to pay their own expenses. They didn't-weren't, uh, weren't given meals or, uh, board (room and board) down at the other end of the line at all. They had to pay their own. It was a long time before they had any paid vacations, too.
M: Mmm, uh
K: Mmm, uh
M: Okay, um, was this area, um, a good fishing spot?
K: It was, uh, no dam then, uh, the river was buried. And, then every-about every seven years we'd have a big flood in the springs. An', uh, it-water'd come up, way up. I remember one time it got within about a foot of the railroad tracks across the bridge. The railroad-
K: bridge. We saw cattle 'n barns 'n so forth float down the river 'n all that. But, uh, they . . had, uh, all the floods stopped when they put the dam in of course. But, uh, we-in the summertime water'd-the river'd really get low lots of times. Oh, uh, it wasn't cold like it is now, the water, 'cause it warms up between . . . uh, dam 'n on down the stream quite a ways. But, it was-it's real cold now. Did you ever put your foot in it?
M: Ya, it's pretty cold.
K: [giggle] Turn blue and hop out?
M: Ya . . .w-what was community life like? Uh, you know, now they have, like, uh, they have clubs where people, um, get together and do stuff. Um, did they have that sort of thing when you were growing up?
K: Well, not as much, but they had-of course the churches all had their, um, clubs, their women's group and their men's group and so forth. But, they-they had, uh, things like I said with their band, and their little group of theatrical people. And, there was a club that my mother belonged to. It was, uh, still ??? as the Saturday Club, and it still is the Saturday Club and still meets. It was, uh-
M: What's it called?
K: . . The Saturday Club-
M: Oh, ya, that's what it's called!
K: That was the name of it.
M: Oh, okay
K: It was, uh, General, well, General Federation of Women's Clubs
K: It's, uh, well, this is the Arkansas section of it. We had it here in Cotter from 190-oh-I think about 1907. It was-started out as an embroidery club for the women, and they finally federated an', an', uh, it's, uh, still meeting. [giggles]
M: Wow! Okay. Um . . .
K: This last year I took honorary membership, so I wouldn't have to entertain anymore. I just go when I want to.
M: Ya, um . . . whenever you w-went off to college and you graduated, did you just move back here, like, right after you graduated, or did you-
K: Yes. I came back here.
M: You didn't-
K: That was during the depression then, and there weren't any jobs to amount to anything at all. An', uh, when I went to the girl's school down at Searcy, we had to take the train to go to Newpor-, uh, no, to Batesville and stay the night. And, then take a little branch line up to Searcy to school. Comin' home was the same way; we had to stay all night comin' home.
M: W-was the girl's school k-kinda a college
K: It was a college.
M: A college, okay
K: It was a women's college. Called it Galloway Women's College. The-that first one, and it was a Methodist college. Then, my last two years I went to Missouri U, en.
M: Uh, okay, um . . . d-d-did you ever travel to, like, the neighboring c-cities, like Flippin or Yellville, any place like that?
K: Well, it was a pretty big journey back in those days, but we did. In high schoo-after we got out of school and were back here by then, we had a football team in high school and so forth. They didn't have school buses, so some of us would take cars. Loads of kids to the football games or take the team ['n] all that. I drove a car then, so I usually took a load of kids to the games 'n all that. But, uh, back when I was in school, they didn't have a football team then, but, and, of course, we don't have now either. But, we did then.
M: Mm, uh, okay, um . . . did you e-e-ever travel to, uh, like Mountain Home or a-
K: Yes, we had, uh, we had, uh, uh, games with Mountain Home. We'd have these, um, contests: um, races 'n all that sort of thing as a county thing. Cotter and Mountain Home were great rivals.
M: Uh, huh, um, did you ever go for any reason besides, uh, school-related stuff?
K: Well, yes. They had a Mountain Home picnic yearly. We went out to that. We usually camped out there during the Mountain Home picnic. We'd go out to stay the night because we had to go by horse and buggy or whatever. 'N, so we'd go out and camp the night for the Mountain Home picnic.
M: Okay, um . . . I know prices were probably really cheap, um-
K: Um, huh
M: W-what was the price of a new car back then?
K: Well, I can't tell ya that. I don't know.
M: Oh, you didn't, okay.
K: I think the first car we bought was a-the first time my husband bought, he had to pay 8-800 dollars for it and he thought that was terrible. [giggle]
M: [chuckle] Okay w-when was that-that he bought it? What year was it?
K: Well, let's see, it was, um . . . about 1927 or something like that.
M: Okay, how 'bout the price of, like, a new TV?
K: There wasn't any TV then.
M: Whenever you were growing up.
K: That was before TV.
M: Okay, um, you m-m-mentioned the picture show. How much did it cost to-
K: Ten and fifteen cents.
M: Okay, um-
K: When we first ran it, it was ten/fifteen cents.
K: I sold popcorn. We had nickel-a-bag of popcorn.
M: How 'bout, uh, like, the clothes. Like the prices of a new dress or something?
K: I don't really remember that.
M: You don't?
M: Okay, um . . . you mentioned that there was floods, you know, the river flooded. Um, have you ever been in any other kind of natural disaster like a tornado or a fire or somethin' like that?
K: Uh, not that I can remember. Our lumber yard that my daddy owned burned once, but-but I was too small to remember it. But, uh, an', uh, at one time there was a tornado took the roof off of a couple of buildings downtown, but this is pretty well protected down here between these mountains. So, uh, we didn't have that here. Known one that hit across the river. It-goin' up the hill toward Flippin 'n over there blew away some, uh, mobile homes and things like that. But, we've been pretty well protected down in this valley.
M: Okay, um . . . did you ever get sick whenever you were young? Like, uh, you know, how we have cures for a lot of the di-diseases, but-
K: Well, yes, we had, uh, to be vaccinated for Small Pox before we were ever allowed to go to school to begin with. But, I had a sister who was three years older than I was, so she got everything at school. So, I had everything before I started into school. Measles and Mumps and all those childhood things I had before I started school, so there what'n too much left for me to have after I got to school.
M: [chuckles] Okay, um, did you-do you remember, like, uh, any home remedies? Like, for-if you got a cold or a cough, do you remember-
K: Ya, they put a little terpentine on a spoon of sugar that they would give us to break up our . . coughs 'n that sort of thing. My mother had some home remedies. She had summin' was called homeopathic medicine. She had a little chest that had sugar pills in it, 'n they were labeled for different things. All of 'em had a label for what it was for.
K: We had a doctor that went around in his horse and buggy. Make home calls, you know, when you'd be sick. The first, uh, bout of Flu was a terrible thing. Lots of deaths from it. Hit ever-everybody at one time. There was, uh, so many people sick, there weren't enough people to-well to take care of the others, and I think my father and another man had to bury a few people because, uh, there just weren't enough people we-up to take care of things. And, I think we lost about four teachers in our school that year from the Flu. It was-the first bout of it was terrible.
M: W-where was the closest hospital?
K: We didn't have any hospitals up here at all.
K: It's-it's country doctors that went around with their horses and buggies. There was no-no hospital up in this section at all. In fact, when my sister had her child, there wasn't any hospital up here.
M: When you were a child, they didn't have any hospitals?
K: No. None at all.
M: Um . . . w-what was crime like down here?
K: Well, the railroad towns were considered very rough. But, uh, uh, not too awful much. There were a few, uh, ??? number one men that killed a man down here and got sent to the pen for it down at-I think it was down at Buffalo, maybe, Buffalo City, you know, it's down that river here. An', uh, but it wasn't too bad.
M: How did the, uh, how did the news-[end of side A of tape] Um, you had, like, newspapers 'n stuff.
K: Yes, we had newspapers. My dad had a small one here for awhile. 'N, uh-
M: Oh, your dad had-your dad printed a newspaper?
K: Uh, just a small one on a hand press that he printed for awhile, then we had to-
M: Do you remember what it was called?
K: His was called the Cotter Courier. C-O-U-R-I-E-R I believe it was. And, then we had the Cotter Record. That wasn't his that was somebody else's later. 'N, uh, we had the newspaper for a long time.
M: Um . . . did your parents, uh, vote?
K: Oh, yes
M: You know, for the president or whatever
K: Yes, they always voted.
M: They did. Okay, um-
K: Both my parents were college people. My did went to ? Drury ? College in Springfield. But, uh, I don't know how long he went. He went up there before he graduated from high school. They had an academy, and he finished high school there and, then, went to college there at ? Drury ? . My mother, um, I guess she didn't have college education. I think she had the equivalent of and got a teacher's certificate, I believe, is what she did.
M: Did your mom ever teach anywhere?
K: Ya, she taught a couple of years before she married.
M: Where did she teach?
K: Well, she tea-taught in a little country school on Missouri.
K: I guess she taught everything in that country school.
M: Well . . .
M: Were there any m-major events that you remember that happened in this area? Um, like, anything that people talk about now. Uh, stuff that's, you know, tryin' to be remembered, like, that's in a history book or something. Did you ever go through anything that's-
K: I can't think of any big event except the building of the dams 'n so forth. That was a big thing of course. Truman came down and opened the Bull Shoals Dam 'n-
M: Did you see that personally?
K: Yes. I was-I was, uh, standing down on the main street where Truman came from his private car-railroad car-which was here on the track at the depot during the day, and he came up through town, raised his hat to me as he went around the corner down in front of our lumber company. [giggle]
M: Wow. Where was the depot, exactly?
K: It's where, uh, the depot's still down at the bottom of the hill here.
M: Oh, it's the same place.
K: Mm, the same depot, ya. Okay, you smell my bread bakin'?
M: Yes, I do. I smells really good.
K: It's one of those bread machines that I'll just get it out after the bell rings.
M: That's nice. Um . . . what does your sister do now?
K: My what?
M: Your sister, oh, she's-
K: She died when her baby was born. The baby lives in ? Hettiesburg ? , Mississippi. He's past 70 now.
M: Oh, wow
M: Okay, um, tell me about this house. Uh, Charlie (Charles Heard) told me that it has a metal roof that's never been replaced.
K: That's right. It's, uh, copper alloy I believe they said it was.
M: Has the house ever been, uh, had to be repaired or anything at all.
K: Well, we've changed it around some. 'Course there's always repairs to any house, you know.
M: Uh, huh
K: But, uh, my husband and I made this deck out here and ??? it some and took a wall through there 'n changed the kitchen's location. There was a wall through there, 'n we opened it up with the sliding doors. There were three little rooms through there. We--we changed that around. But, uh, every house has to have repairs all the time, or it falls down.
M: Mm huh, okay
M: Um . . .
K: It's been kind of an anchor for all of our family. My dad, 'course, came here in 1902, and all his family came and visited. Then, later, it was always-uh-took-they came and visited in the summer. Daddy's family-it was, uh-they'd lived in this little house next door for awhile. My daddy's sister's husband was a preacher 'n, uh, lived here when he retired then after having a time here as a preacher. 'N, uh, they lived right up there when they were here. We own that as a little rent house, how. That little girl that was here lives there.
M: Oh, okay, they one that's just right out here?
M: Um . . .
K: We used to have, uh, dances here when-when I was in high school. An', they got a black band from down at Batesville. It came up and played. An', uh, they used to play two nights in succession. At t-that time . . the hotels didn't take the blacks, so they had to bring their sleeping bags and slept up in the dance hall. So, the dance hall's still there only it's a church right now. [giggles]
M: Where's that?
K: Downtown-middle uh town. It's, uh, upstairs. There's a sign on it that said, uh, uh, I've forgotten the name of it, living ???. And, they'd come up and have dances for two nights in a row. 'N, they'd plan to dance 'til midnight on Saturday night.
What is the purpose of learning history? I think it is simply to learn and to become educated on past events. History is all about facts, dates, people, and events. But, history also teaches a unique lesson to the individual person studying it. There are many different media through which history can be discovered. I learned some history in a way that I never had before; I interviewed someone who was born in the early 1900s. This is an experience I will never forget. This is the first time that I learned about history in a very active and direct way. I could have never really learned in a text book what I learned from that interview. The tone of my subject's voice, the look in her eyes, the way she struggled to remember information, and even the clothes she wore all aided in my learning of her past.
I noticed a distinct and drastic change in morals since Katharine's (my interviewee) childhood period. She told me that when she or anybody else traveled, he or she would dress up in his or her best clothes. She really couldn't remember why, but she knew it was the right thing to do. In the present, people wear stuff on which they aren't afraid to spill a drink. That brings up another point. The manner in which people traveled has changed A LOT! She told me that sometimes she had to take a train to a different city and then wait until the next day to return due to the train schedule. Now, people just hop in their cars and come and go whenever they please.
Also, family life was very important to people in Katharine's time period. For example, after she achieved a college degree, she moved back to Cotter to live with her parents. Her parents and her family were much more important to her than using her education in a career. As a result, she never used her degree in a job. She was perfectly happy living with her family in the house in which she was raised. She even raised her own kids in this same house! Presently, I don't know of anyone who would show that much devotion to his or her parents.
Dating and relationships with members of the opposite sex were almost entirely different. They walked everywhere they went and never stayed together very late at night. After the girls parted from the guys, they would have their own little "date" with just the members of the same sex present. Now, boyfriends and girlfriends stay out really late, and same-sex parties are hardly ever held. Morals were not the only aspect of human life that has changed since Katharine's childhood. Society as a whole has changed as well.
Katharine told me that crime was not much of a problem when she was growing up. This area is fairly crime free compared to other areas in the country, but it is still worse now than it was in the early 1900s. Cotter used to be a very prominent railroad town, and railroad town were considered to be rough. Katharine told me that a man was murdered and the murderer was arrested and sent to prison. However, this was the ONLY incident that she could remember. Now, we hear about murders everyday. Also, the ways that people made money are a lot different from the ways that people do now. She told me that a black band from Batesville would travel to Cotter to play at parties and other social events. Since they didn't have enough money to stay in a motel, they slept in the place in which they were playing. Traveling seemed to be quite a profitable activity in those days. Theater groups, dance groups, and public speakers would travel around and perform wherever they could. History is composed of all these events and ways of doing things, but this interview has taught me a much more valuable lesson that I will cherish; it has taught me to enjoy life.
As I was sitting there interviewing this 90 year old lady, I was thinking how far away 90 years old seems from 18 years old. I tried to imagine where I would be and what I will go through. I realized that I must enjoy every situation in which I am. I have to just enjoy life as it comes to me. At first, I couldn't believe that this happy, satisfied woman was so content with herself even though she didn't ever use her education or move away from her parents. But, I soon realized that everybody is different and one must learn to be happy with whatever life throws at him or her. If you go through life wanting something different or better than what you have, you will be depressed and unhappy. Goals are good, but ones that are out of reach are not. Katharine is completely satisfied living where and how she does. She is happy with having a "million" grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She doesn't care about modern technology or how it can help her improve her life. She is happy with doing things the "old-fashioned" way and wishes not to learn any other way to do them.
I hope I am as happy and carefree as Katharine when I reach that stage of my life. I hope I don't look back on life and wish it was something other than what it was. I want to enjoy life and take it as it comes. This interview really helped me to realize that life is too short to plan every detail of it. Yes, I must make choices, but I don't want sit down and write a novel about my future and then try to fulfill it. I just want conquer or be defeated by life's challenges as they come to me. And, whatever decision or choice I make will be one out of which I must make something positive.
Individuals Who Deserve Recognition for Their Assistance in Gaining the Information for This Contribution
Ms. Katharine Pitman
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Heard
Companions of Ms. Katharine Pitman
Mrs. Sandie Melton
Senior Honors English Class
Flippin High School
Ms. Petra E. Pershall
Library Media Specialist
Flippin High School
Mr. Allen Benson
Norma E. Wood Library
Arkansas State University Mountain Home
South Shore Memory Project
Mr. Jim Creek
Bull Shoals Historical Society
The South Shore Memory Project