Florine Fisk

Mountain Home, a town full of quick fast food joints, two major grocery stores, a bypass, several deluxe gas stations and convenient stores, multiple inns, hotels and motels, and a new post office, is an extremely busy town with hundreds of cars rolling down the streets daily. But was it always this way? Mrs. Florene Fisk, a resident of Mountain Home for sixty years, tells how it appeared to her way back in 1939.

Mrs. Fisk moved to Mountain Home from Oklahoma in 1939. She was twenty-two. When she moved here there were only about 565 people and only one mile of concrete in all of Baxter County. The one mile paved road was of the one surrounding the square and the two-story courthouse, which was torn down in the forties and later rebuilt towards the end of the forties and the early fifties.

From 1939-1952 Mrs. Fisk worked for her dad by working in his Western Auto Store of Mountain Home keeping books. She later took over the Western Auto Store with her husband, Lloyd Fisk. They sold Western Auto after twelve years, They got back in the auto business again selling Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles in their new store, Fisk Chevrolet. It had a showroom with three cars and a garage in back with six mechanics. After seventeen wonderful years they sold Fisk Chevrolet and now it's called Kent Chevrolet and is on the outer parts of Mountain Home.

Mountain Home had only two doctors from 1939-1945. They were Doctor Gray and Doctor Mooney. Dr. Chambers moved here from Harrison in 1945. Several years later Doctor Saltzman would move to Mountain Home. That was all the medical care Mountain Home had for a long time.

Mrs. Fisk had the second television in Mountain Home. She sold them along with the cars in the auto shop, so they were available to her. She described her earlier experiences with a television. Laughing, she said you had to have two boosters and a great big arrow on the roof to pick up stations, but they still got mostly snow.

Mrs. Fisk's husband, Lloyd Fisk, was the first fire chief in Mountain Home. The fire staff was all volunteer in the 1950s. The fire department had not yet been organized when they first moved there. They were even called during Sunday church to go put out fires. They went in their Sunday clothes. Mrs. Fisk said lots of her husbands clothes were ruined in those days. The fire truck was just a pick up truck that had hoses on the back. They had just enough money to buy gas for the rest of their fire adventures. Mountain home now has one fire station that is not volunteer.

T. E. Robertson, the big grocery store, was on the square. The store not only had groceries but also had a clothing department and then had furniture upstairs. She thought it was especially funny that the butcher would drive around town delivering meat. Though that was in 1939 and 1940, she had thought that meat was only delivered in the old days. The stores were little like our convenient stores. She said Earle Johnson put in a store and the people thought that it was really deluxe. It was clean and the meat was refrigerated. Though there was no bakery in the area, things were shipped in from Harrison and Springfield. Harrison only had a small bakery, so most of the products came from Springfield. She remembered bread being ten cents a loaf, pork chops twenty five cents per pound, a pound of coffee was five cents, and milk was seven cents.

The stores had shades that came out over posts. Benches were along the stores, so people could sit out in front of the stores and visit. This ended in the forties because the townspeople thought it was old fashioned.

Mountain Home got their first movie theater in 1939. It was next door to Western Auto. Mrs. Fisk often liked to go and watch a picture show. She recalls seeing a musical called Naughty Marianna in Mountain Home. Another theater opened in December of 1957. It was located just off the square. Inside there was a room for little children and babies while adults watched the film.

Mountain Home has several banks, but it used to only have one, Peoples Bank. It was located on the Northwest corner of the square. Peoples Bank was the only bank until First National Bank later arrived.

Mountain Home recently built a new post office. But when Mrs. Fisk moved here, she remembers the post office being just a small business office on the square.

Mountain Home built a brand new school at the end of Main Street in 1939. It had all twelve grades in it. That school is now called Guy Berry. They had to build another school because the town was growing rapidly, as there were several jobs available during the building of the darns. It was located on College Street. That high school is now called Pinkston Middle School.

Mountain Home really started booming in the early 1940s. Mrs. Fisk said it started going because everybody was attracted to the jobs which existed while the dams were being built. Norfork was built first and Bull Shoals second. Mrs. Fisk lived here when government people were all there. There wasn't much room. Little towns were being built, Salesville, for workers. A government village was built in Mountain Home for officers and they worked twenty four hours on the dam. There were big lights to work by. Norfork's dam was built during the first years of World War II. The dam was really needed for flood control and electricity, so it was guarded twenty four hours a day. The people thought it might get bombed. During the building of the dam, stores had to be moved from over by where the ferry was. Mrs. Fisk thinks they called that Henderson. Now Henderson is located across the lake where the ferry used to be and where the bridge is now. Several graveyards and stores had to be before the lake was filled.

Mrs. Fisk will never forget that she had to wear a hat and gloves to church. People wore their best to church. In Mountain Home presently one can go to a variety of places to get clothes, such as Wal-Mart, Maurice's, Stage, C&K and many more. But Mrs. Fisk remembers the selection was limited. Robertson, the grocery store on the square, had a department of clothes. A dress shop was later put in, but most people went Springfield to purchase clothes.

Even though Mountain Home didn't start off extremely big, it has grown to be quite a city. The population was 565 when Mrs. Fisk moved here, now it is around 10,000. Mrs.Florine Fisk was lucky and got to experience a remarkable thing, observing growth of a city from a nice little country town into a business community.

Researched and written by Jenny Tilly, 1999.