There are many people who vividly remember what it felt like to come of age during the thirties. My grandfather, Lyle Wood, happens to be one of those people. Born and raised in Flippin, Arkansas, he was seven years old when the Depression hit home. Lyle lived on Main Street in the town of two hundred people.
Lyle was an only child. His dad was gone a lot while selling insurance, and his mother was a beautician. Lyle was educated at Flippin Public School. He started first grade when he was six, and walked home for lunch every day. He remembers carrying water from the well outside the train station to the school, because there was no water on campus. Air conditioning and heating were not available in the classrooms either. There would usually never be more than three or four cars in the parking lot. Many teachers rode the bus or walked. It was a school policy that if you lived within one mile of the school you could not ride the bus home. After classes the teachers would keep a few students to help sweep the classrooms.
Lyle and his friends often played baseball for two hours on Main Street without being disturbed by a vehicle. Basketball was a popular activity in both junior high and high school. The girls' team won the state tournament twice and never lost any games outside of the state tournament. The boys did not fare as well, but Lyle still enjoyed the game. The school buses had seats on both sides and a stradleboard running down the middle aisle. When going to ball games, the senior girls would sit on one side and the senior boys would occupy the other. The Junior teams would balance on the bench in the middle.
Lyle remembers when J.K. Rea ran the only twenty phones in town, and the phone bill only cost about two and a half dollars a month. The first two phones were installed in Rea Valley where you could not call out until J.K. Rea ran a line to Cotter. Then the street lights were installed. In the late twenties, Lyle and his friends numbered them and would meet under a certain number to play at night. Lyle's grandparents, E.B. and Ida Wood had a refrigerator where he made and enjoyed many a popsicle. The refrigerator had a small freezer in the top which held about four ice trays. The ice man from Cotter would come once a week. If you wanted ice, you turned the dial on a hanger to indicate how many pounds of ice you would like.
Lyle entered the navy soon after graduating from high school. When Lyle returned home three years and three months later, he could not wait to be back in Flippin. He then worked on the Bull Shoals Dam for six months. After that, Lyle sold fire insurance, and then moved to Missouri and sold life insurance alongside his Dad.