Before the Interview
At school, all day long, I had a feeling of excitement and also a feeling of nervousness. It was February 3, 1999 and I had been looking forward to the interview for a couple of days. When I called Gertie Phillips on the telephone a couple days before, she was very nonchalant about the whole interview, but she agreed to do it. I called her two weeks later to set up the interview time. Tuesday was the only day we could to it, because Ned Phillips, her husband, had appointments for the rest of the week. So on the phone, she gave me directions to the house. Living in Flippin was definitely old business for her, because when she gave me directions, this is what she told me. "Go to south-street make a right and I'm the last house there on that road. I have a white house and a black mailbox." So I was ready to go.
But anyway, back at the school I gathered up my supplies. I had a video recorder and tripod, a camera, and a tape and tape recorder. Each arm was full as I walked to the car, looking like a high-tech news reporter. I crammed everything in the back of my already messy 88' white Corsica. It was 11:30 and my interview was at 12:00, so I had enough time to go home and grab a pear and change into a short-sleeve shirt. It was a beautiful day, about 80 degrees. So I took the directions she gave me and headed on my way. Needless to say, I'm terrible with sense of direction, so It was hard for me to find the house. So, I had to go back and call her again. This time she told me it was about the 5th or 6th house down and that it was on the left, with big berry bushes in front, and she reminded me of the mailbox.
Well, I finally made it there, about five minutes late. I pulled up in the driveway, and there was this sweet little lady sitting on the porch. The house was white. It had two entrances, one to the right of the metal porch bench, and one to the left, where the house indented to provide a parking space for their white car. Underneath the porch bench was a strip of plastic green astro-turf. She was dressed in a maroon, white, and black floral print. Her hair was gray and hinted with white. It did not look permed like most women her age, but it had a bit of wave to it, and it was fixed nicely. She also had on black blowsy pants. All in all she was dressed conservatively like most ladies her age. Her shoes were black house slippers, and she had square glasses. Her wrinkled hands were not dressed up with much jewelry, just one wedding ring. If she had any necklaces, they were not visible because of the collar on her shirt. Her weight was moderate, not skinny, and surly not fat.
"Is this the place" I asked?
"This is it." She had a pleasant smile on her face.
"Alright, let me get my stuff."
I pulled out all of my equipment and followed behind. When we walked in, she stated, "This is just the utility room. Don't mind it, its just a mess." It was one of those rooms where you keep stacks of papers and odds and ends. There was an ironing board, and I think a small book shelf. I walked behind her in to the dining room, which was connected to the kitchen. Knic- knacks were dispersed on the shelves. The house was a bit cluttered, but also neat. As I walked behind her she immediately started picking up papers and such, and gathering them into little piles. (A typical reaction to a stranger walking into your house.) Out of the hall, situated between the kitchen and a wall that separated the livingroom, came Ned Phillips.
He was assisted by a walker in his hands. He walked slowly and deliberately, but also with a slight hunch in his back. He had a little bit of white hair on his bald head, but not much. He also was decorated with glasses and a wedding ring. In addition, he also wore a watch on his left hand. His was wearing a red polo shirt, and his half polyester- half cotton shorts came about a quarter of an inch to his knees. He also had white trouser socks that came about a quarter of an inch from his knees. Gertie assisted him the whole way, walking at his pace with one hand on his back and the other on his arm. He headed for his lift recliner. He sat down and pressed the button that moved him into a comfortable position.
I started setting up the video recorder on the tripod, and wasted about ten minutes fooling with it, but when all else failed I decided to do it manually. Gertie placed herself in another recliner away from Ned's, but when we decided that it was too far away, she placed a wooden rocking chair next to it. Both chairs faced their television. It was one of those old wooden ones. It had old movies on top, which all looked like they were black and white. I don't recall titles though. Below Ned's feet, I placed a foot stool and put the tape recorder on it. On the coffee table next to Ned, was a stack of papers, a table lamp, an old book, and a magazine rack which was in front of the table.
So, I began my interview with the tape recorder on and along with that, I also video recorded. I video recorded until my arm was about to fall off, and then I just set it down. After about ten to fifteen minutes, I realized that my tape recorder was not recording. I know that I missed a cool story about how Ned and his buddies would run for about thirty minutes to go to their favorite swimming hole, swim, and run back. I missed a couple of fishing stories, and I missed a good description of his work.
The interview ended kind of abruptly. As I packed up my stuff, they signed their release papers, and we talked about how neat this project was going to be. I thanked them for their time, and I said goodby. I promised them I would bring back their pictures, and that I would be getting in touch with them.
Ned Phillips sits in his recliner while
he awaits the next question.
Gertie Phillips listens to Ned
talk about the old days.
Ned and Gertie sign the release papers.
This is a picture of down-town Flippin, where "Sanders and Son" is, in the year 1926.
This is a picture of the first boys basketball team at Flippin in their "overalls and Stogie shoes."
This is a copy of and article that Ned Phillips wrote about the beginning of Flippin.
This is a recent document that Ned Phillips gave to me about mistakes in history. He found this very interesting.
This is a picture of the first girls basketball team, which were called the Flippin Cardinals. In the picture they are wearing their uniforms, in which they wore skirts and bloomers.
These are the names of the girls basketball teams.
Ned: Well it's a world of difference then- this country now than when it is, last I heard was it was prairie- the Indians- buffalo- and yea railroads there was moving. Actually it was the railroads, Actually, the railroads built this town. Because they still used it in the war- and after the war started- traffic increased, but so did everything else. And eh the airlines what we did was to k the hot shot we needed yesterday that way we could use them tomorrow not only about three days but seven days. It was really nice, but me and Queen Mother here, that's what I call her, We had a lot of fun.
Ned: Our two sons are both bigger than us. Oh, we got one great, no grandchild... great-grandchild.
Gertie: Great...He's about 6'5 and weighs 450....250
Natalie: How old is he?
Ned: He's 30?
Gertie: Is he 30?
Ned: He was born I know.....
Gertie: He's about 28, I would say.
Ned: We was ..was born the year we went out West in the Brown Monte Carlo. We celebrated a trip out to California that woulda been 1970. He was born in 1970. So he's 29.
Gertie: That's about right, close to 30.
Ned Gosh, He's the biggest one in the family.
*everyone laughs, pause-
Natalie: So tell me something else, you said that basketball was the big thing then?
Gertie: Yea their school had eh always gone out for basketball. They use to play on out side courts when the old was down there on Crane Creek. They had outside courts. They didn't have any inside.
Natalie: Oh wow! Did we always have good teams, or did we get beat a lot.
Ned: For the County, District, and every once in a while for the state.
Gertie: Yea they won state several times. But usually the boys did, but not the boys.
Natalie: What are those pictures of?
Ned: That's down town Flippin.
Gertie: That's the main street in Flippin.
Natalie: Oh....Its like....BARE.
Gertie: Bare...It WAS bare.
Natalie: Um, Where Wal-Marts is at and stuff like that was there anything up there?
Natalie: What's this right here.
Gertie: Here let me see, I cant see. Oh that's some of Ned's family history.
Natalie: Did they grow up around here too?
Gertie: No they, um.
Ned: They were born in Kansas City and grew up in Heber Springs.
Gertie: She's talking about James Keeter ...This..
Ned: Oh that's....
Gertie: Oh, she don't want this, Honey.
Ned: No I just pulled it out just in case.
Natalie: About how old were you when you got your first car?
Gertie: Well, gee. We didn't get our first car till we were in Kansas City, and lets uh...
Gertie: 51.... Everybody laughed when they see Ned driving a car. They just couldn't imagine Ned driving a car I believe she's got two of those.
Natalie: What kind was it?
Gertie: What kind of car did we get? It was a four door ...
Ned: Plymouth four door.
Gertie: I learned to drive in it, he was going to teach me and uh..
Ned: That was a mistake!
Gertie: We made -No it wasn't- We made a pact yea know that I wouldn't say anything and he couldn't fuss at me if I didn't do it right. So we were gonna go out to my sisters house night and I was gonna drive.. Coming down from our house in Kansas City he said....Turn right here Well I turned right there but I weren't at and intersection I turned into a ditch I wasn't gonna do just what he told me...Busted a headlight.
*Ned interrupts again but it is unclear
Gertie: I didn't say anything and he didn't either. We just.. I just opened my door and got out and he come around passed me and got in. We didn't say a word.
* All laugh at the story.
Natalie: What's that a picture of?
Ned: That's Flippin's first basketball team.
Gertie: That's the first basketball team.
Natalie: At Flippin?
Gertie: And that's their suits they played in.
* Gertie laughs
Ned: They played in....coat and overalls....Stogie Shoes.
Gertie: Yea, they didn't have any uniforms. Like I say, they played outside.
Natalie: And did the other teams come over here and play them?
Gertie: Yea..Yea, they traveled to play them.
Ned: Give that one to her.
Gertie: Oh that's a better one- No-No, there about the same Honey.
Natalie: Did they travel by bus or did they..
Gertie: By truck, yea.
Ned: Well, they didn't have far to go in the County.
Natalie: And I suppose you played just....Well, when you had to go to state that was a big trip?
Gertie: I doubt if they went to state that early, Probably when they got the new building up here I mean when they had the first Auditorium.... Basketball court where they could play.
Ned: Here's the girls team.
Natalie: Well, they had uniforms.
Gertie: Yea, their first year, they had uniforms.
Ned: I think they first had those- They had red scarlet skirts, well that's what those two...
Gertie: Well that's what those are.
Ned: Well, I don't have a picture of those red skirts.
Gertie: Yea they had skirts kinda like those eh. eh.. Your cheerleaders, they played in those.
Ned: Yea, and instead of wearing trunks like they later, they wore bloomers.
* Natalie Laughs
Ned: And they used Zena Huddleston's rear as a paddle.
* Natalie and Gertie both laugh
Ned: Back then, mother made a pair of them.
Gertie: The bloomers had elastic in the knees yea know just great big blowsy things.
Ned: Anyway, that was the first year we cleaned house with we won state we won local and district both.
Natalie: Neat bout how long after did you get cheerleaders, I mean when did cheerleaders come about.
* Ned and Gertie talk at the same time
Gertie: Well, they never had em.
Ned: No, they didn't have them.
Gertie: You just hollered- everybody hollered which we all cheered them on No, cheerleader came along later ....QUITE a bit later, Be careful there honey your gonna drop all that stuff.
Ned: Oh you take it... My hands don't work like they should.
Natalie: So did most of the community revolve around church?
Gertie: Yea, that's about the only place we had to go and we'd get into a lot of trouble at church.
Natalie: You got in trouble at church?
Gertie: Oh yea.
Ned: Well every once in a while at school we'd have a picnic supper. Somebody that got their house burnt, well then we'd have a picnic supper.
Gertie: Yea, they'd have picnic suppers and things like that.
Natalie: Did you pray in school?
Gertie: Yea...yea....Yea they'd have, uh, when they'd have, uh. Open school in the morning what'd they call it?
Gertie: Assembly, yea everybody would assemble in the auditorium. They'd have prayer and they'd sing and then they'd go to their classes. Yea, they pretty much cut the prayer out of school now haven't they?
Natalie: Yea, Now they definitely don't anymore.
Gertie: I think that's a shame..Did you wanna give her one of these Flippin Histories? She can run a copy and, eh.
Ned: I wrote this and for a long time people would write the postmaster back and forth asking questions they wanted to know. Particularly a short history asking why it was called Flippin. What she's got there is a synopsis. The people out on the east coast that were moving west would stop and stand in the quarter section and they wore out after two or three years with fertilizer and everything. Then they all moved up north. Well, in doing that they had left another Flippin in Kentucky. And I've tried to find out for sure if it was still there. I never ever found it out.
Gertie: I bet it still is.
Natalie: Uh. Flippin was called Goatsville before it was Flippin. Right?
Natalie: And, that's in there?
Ned: Yea, lots of goats.
Natalie: Is that why it was called Goatsville?
Gertie: I guess it was other places probably named it Goatsville.
Natalie: Well Im sure it was pretty much all farming around here right?
Gertie: Yea, wasn't nothing else going on.
Ned: That's the reason everything got worse as everything went along, got worse and uh poorer if it's possible and eh the big thing that really helped us back in the woods as far as Im concerned is Forest Wood and Ranger Boats. And even Ranger Boats is international, well they've got a plastic place over there going up to summit that the, eh, the first one the first paved road that the railroad chops the top. Brand new area there. The railroad, new trains, new cars and everything I can remember, you could go to ??? I that is relative that wont even go up on the local end and come back on the local at night. To cross it there, it cost seven cents- seven miles. Penny a mile.
Gertie: We use to have two passenger trains through there a day besides all the fruits that went through.
Natalie: When you were younger what kind of jobs did you have around the house, and what were your chores? When you got up in the morning what was your routine every day?
Gertie Well, when I got up, Id have to go milk and carry in wood and help mom cook that's about it work in the garden during the day.
*Natalie looks at Ned.
Natalie: So, it was pretty much the same for you?
Gertie: No, he never did learn to milk.
Ned: I ran errands for everybody, everybody in town. I had the best set of legs in the North Arkansas.
Natalie: Um.. Did you,.. Did you... How many brothers and sisters did you have?
Gertie: I had two brothers and two sisters.
Natalie: Big family?
Gertie: Yea.... He didn't have any.
Ned: Yea, I was seven months old when my father died.
Gertie: His grandparents raised him and eh a cousin of his and some of the other cousins stayed there and went to school because they lived on farms out of town so they stayed with his grandparents.
Natalie: What other schools did go to..Or what other areas went to Flippin you say out of town, but...
Gertie: Uh Number One. Do you know where Number One is? NO.
Gertie: I don't reckon its called Number One anymore.
Ned: No its uh Denton Ferry Road and about halfway down there on the county road its not Number One buts its...
Gertie: Called Antioch.. Isn't it called Antioch.
Ned: The Antioch Baptist Church.
Gertie: Its down there Antioch that where Number one is, Down in there.
Ned: It has The Big Room, The Little Room, and The New Room.
*Ned and Gertie both laugh.
Ned : My cousins stayed there, the house of It Number One had eleven grades, and we had twelve. It was an accredited High School you could go through and get your High School Diploma. Before that the only place to go was Valley Springs, Valley Springs Academy was what it was called then and we and more attend school here I think.
Gertie: I think...And we'd have plays yea know.
Natalie: Were you in any of them?
Gertie: Oh yea, yea, I was in some of them.
Natalie: Uh, did you ..did you have to walk to school?
Natalie: No matter where you lived?
Gertie: Yea, let's see, was it a mile? Well they eventually got to where a mile away from school, the bus would pick you up.
Ned: Yea, eh, the first it was two and a half.
Gertie: Two and a half? Well, yea I walked from our home down here clear over to creek to school and I was just a little tyke I started over there when I was about five.
Ned: If you couldn't walk then....
Gertie: And if your parents couldn't take you.
Natalie: Did everybody go to school then? I mean was it uncommon if you did not go to school?
Gertie: Most every body went I think it was kind of a rule, yea know. Like it is now.
Ned: Truant law.
Gertie: Chance for an education, you better get it.
Ned: Well, they didn't have to push too hard, most of them wanted it.
Natalie: What would you say the percentage of women your age that went to college?
Gertie: Lets see, I have no idea what percentage. What would you say?
Gertie: Percentage of women that went to school.
Ned: That's not a good question. Because the percentage way up down because of the college High School grades that came into the area to work and to retire.
Gertie: Well in my class, I don't think any of the girls went.
Ned: Well in mine there was 28-29 in my class and I graduated in 1931 and, I'd say...
Gertie: Well, out of your class?
Ned: Well, out of the whole class maybe eight percent, 8-10 percent, I guess.
Gertie: Well, how many GIRLS went?
Gertie: Out of your class, how many girls went?
Gertie: I think there was only one, wasn't there? Mable Calison. Wasn't she the only one?
Ned: Well, yea, and she shoulda' just stayed home.
Gertie: Honey, she's recording this.
Ned: I cant think of anyone else. Billie Canor, Mahan twins Margret Fee, Kathy Bernalbert, Twila Hughs, Nellie Woods, she didn't go to college.
Gertie: None of those went to college. They all got married.
Natalie: How old were you when you got married?
Ned: I was 22.
Gertie: I was 18.
Natalie: Did most girls get married around the age 18 then?
Gertie: Yea. Well, I was 18, wasn't I, and I married in November. My Birthday was that October. Was I 18 or 19? I think I was 18.
Ned: Born in ???
Gertie: I was born in 19...
Ned: It ???
*Ned and Gertie snicker back and forth.
Gertie: Don't tell me a thing.
Gertie: We married in 38.
Ned: Been married 60 years, still going strong.
*Natalie and Gertie laugh.
Natalie: When did you get your first TV set?
Gertie: Well, let's see, we lived in Kansas City and we got one when they first came out, cause all the neighbor kids came over. Well, it only came on about four or five in the afternoon and the neighbor kids would come over and sit and watch who was it?
Gertie: Kukla.....?? What was the name? And Ollie? They were puppets.
Ned: Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.
Gertie: They were puppets and the gal, I don't know if you've ever seen her, on television, she has a little lamb.
Gertie: Lambchop, yea, that's it. She would be on sometimes.
Gertie: Its been a long time. It was back in the 50's, I guess.
Natalie: So, It was a pretty big thing?
Gertie: Oh, it was a big thing. Oh yea, we thought we was living right up there among em!
Ned: We kinda had a schedule to work with the little kids there were three or four kids right next door on the back side of the house and they'd come over and watch the cartoons, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. There was another one, Then they'd get through at six o'clock, and we's send them home and their parents would come over and watch the news ???. But, it wasn't fair not to share. At least we didn't feel it so.
Natalie: Besides basketball, what other games did you play, amongst yourselves. Was there any games you made up?
Gertie: Oh, we'd have parties at each others houses and we'd play flying Dutchman, tag, and all that stuff.
Ned: Well, we'd have a pretty good basketball game. I mean, baseball.
Natalie: Did a lot of girls play baseball back then?
*Ned and Gertie talk at the same time.
Ned: And most of them, it takes a certain amount of early training, physical training, for a girl to play basketball. She gotta learn to use muscles that most girls don't use.
Gertie: Well, we would play softball. We played softball at school, that's when Ima Jean hit the ball and she got so excited, and I was suppose to be catchin' behind her and she hit the ball and threw the bat and hit me in the nose, and I had a nose bleed- First one I ever had.
Natalie: Tell me about vacations, did you go on family vacations and where did you go?
Gertie: Well, we were away from here when we was on vacation, so we'd come home. Yea- that was our family vacation the only thing round here to do on vacation was go hiking and swimming and fishing - stuff like that.
Ned: In later years we made several trips out west we had relatives to visit out in California and Uh. She and I spent four years in Ethiopia. We were CWA employees undercover contract and well, we visited a lot of places and saw a lot of things While we were their. It was nice, but four years was enough. ??? How we got across the Pacific and the Atlantic- People across the sea call this country the land over here the land of the round door knobs. Yea know we'd have round door knobs on almost every door. Yea know, in Europe, Asia, and Africa everything has a handle. Maybe two or three handles so were the land of the round door knobs.
Natalie: Did you ever fly- airplane?
Ned: We spent four years at ??? Which I saw more than she did. My work required me, but she got to make some trips that I Didn't get to make she went to England and Scotland. No, I never did get to make that one.
Natalie: Did you like it over there?
Natalie: I suppose it was really pretty right.
Gertie: Oh yea. If anybody ever told me thought that I would be going to live in Africa, I woulda told them they didn't know what they were talking about- yea, we had a lot of fun over there. We played tennis and golf.
Natalie: Did you just go to travel or????
Gertie: No- He was on loan for EWA to the Ethiopian Airlines as an instructor.
Natalie: Well, that's about it. Thanks so much.
Reading between the lines has always been a difficult task for me. It almost seems as I am trying to make something out of nothing. So please forgive me if I do not portray Ned and Gertie in a light that they do not deserve. There are many things that I can assume from my interview with them. One, that their High School years had a huge impression on them. Another, that they are traditional. And the last that their marriage is one that will last a lifetime.
One of the things that amazed me the most about Ned and Gertie was that after 60 some years, they remember every student in their graduating class. Anymore, you hear of people going back to their 10 or 20 year reunion, and they don't remember a lot of faces or names. Both Ned and Gertie could name the first and last name of every girl in their class. To me, this means that their high school years had a huge impression on them. I'm sure they didn't have many new students, because travel would have been harder without cars. So they probably saw the same faces for 18 years straight, and also they had smaller classes than we do.
Ned and Gertie came across as the traditional type. One thing that clued me in on this was when Gertie talked about getting their first car. She said "everybody laughed when they see Ned driving a car. They just couldn't imagine Ned driving a car." He must have waited as long as he cold to get one. Just in their appearance, Ned and Gertie looked traditional. Their dress was gaudy or out of the ordinary. Gertie didn't wear much make-up, if any. And their home was nice, but traditional. One of the things I remember when looking around were the movies on top of the television. There were about four of them, and I don't recall their names, but they were all black and white. Another thing that supported Gertie being traditional, was that she didn't go to college. Even though, she did state that most didn't go her age.
Ned's and Gertie's love for each other was very impressive. When they first walked out of the hall, Gertie was attached, helping him the whole way to his chair, like it was an old routine. She took some pride in taking care of her husband. One thing I noticed was their jewelry. They both wore their wedding rings, with no other jewelry. Ned stated, "We've been married for 60 years and still going strong." One thing I noticed that is important for every good relationship is the little bit of bickering among each other. I especially noticed when Gertie talked about the first time she drove their car. Ned's comment was "Well that was a mistake." Gertie retaliated with the comment " well no it wasn't either, and she kept talking." I just laughed, because I thought it was so cute. Another thing is that they were always friends. Gertie stated in the interview "I use to carry notes to his girlfriend and he use to do the same for me." We all know that love cannot be strong without being friends from the beginning.
There are many other things that I am sure that I did not catch, about the personal lives of Ned and Gertie. But all together, they are just an alright couple. I enjoyed my interview, and hope that I have fully given a good insight to their history.
Where do I find this stuff?
You can find all of these documents under "The Final Project" under my disk titled "Natalie Perrigo. The title page is under "naliess" on my disk. And the table of contents is titled "tofc" on my disk. All of the pictues are saved to the hard drive under the Perrigo folder.
What I Have Learned
Throughout the Ozark history project, I have learned much. I never knew how fascinating it would be to learn about the past. One thing I learned is how much things change over time, especially how much things grow. I learned how different things can be when they talked about the things they valued. I also learned how much fun a little bit of history can be.
One of the things Ned Phillips had waiting for me was a stack of pictures and papers. One of them showed down town Flippin. It reminded me of a picture that you would see on the old movies showing the old west. Its amazing to see the difference now. The roads went from gravel and dirt to paved. There were about four main buildings, and beyond, there was nothing but trees. When asking Ned and Gertie about what our Flippin that we know was like, where Wal-Mart, Sonic, and all the other buildings are, their response was simply "nothing" It was just woods back then. Its amazing what one lifetime can do to a town. It makes you wonder what out town will be like in another 80 years.
It was really neat, talking about schools and sports with them. Its kind of funny, although everything was so different, at the same time it kinda sounds the same. When they talked about their ball teams, one of the things they told me about was the uniforms. The guys wore overalls and boots, while the girls wore skirts and bloomers. Well, we obviously don't see our teams wearing overalls and skirts, but the importance of the game has stayed the same. If there is one thing our community puts a lot of emphasis on, it is our basketball teams. My conclusion, it's healthy clean fun. Its still as exciting to see one of our teams win, go to state, or just play a good game. The school seems as though it is much the same also, besides taking out prayer. It was amazing to me to see how many of the people in Ned's class he remembered. I think I asked them
What I Have Learned
how many girls went to college. From there on, he started spouting off all the girls in his class that he could remember. When I compared his list to the picture in gym, they were pretty close.
Its really neat that his high school still holds a place in his memory.
Talking to Ned and Gertie about their high school days and family was so much fun. By doing this project, it made me realize how important the little things are. When I started this project, I don't know what I expected to learn, but Ned's pet name for Gertie, Queen Mother, was not one of them. I also didn't expect to learn about Gertie's first driving experience. I think those are the stories that I like the most. It made me realize that no matter who you are the little stories that make up who you are so neat. And though we think that no one cares, about our hidden stories they can be entertainment for everyone.
I am so glad that I got to be part of this project. It was so neat and so fascinating. The changes in a life time and the individual stories, in part, make up all of us. They make up what our community was and what it is now. I wonder if in years ahead, the project we are doing now will be as interesting to another student my age as it was for me. But that will probably never change. History will never be boring. Especially when we are so directly a part of it.