Mary Isabell Whitaker, now Mary Cox, was born in 1937 to Ruby and Lee Whitaker. She was born in Cotter, Arkansas, in a house near the Walnut Hill Cemetery. Mary had two brothers, Johnny, who was three years older than her and Jimmy, who was eleven years younger than her. Mary has many fond memories of her chores, hobbies, the sports she played, getting into trouble, school and many other experiences.
Mary's mother was a housewife and her father worked on the railroad, which during that time was a big employer to many people. Mary helped her mother by washing dishes and clothes, sweeping the floor, and helping cook. Her mother also made some of Mary's clothes. Otherwise she bought her clothes from Sears Roebuck & Company. She says her favorite clothes to wear were blue jeans and T-shirts.
Jump rope was probably Mary's favorite hobby. She said her nickname was the "Jump Rope Queen" because she got to jump all recess and no one else would get a turn because she never messed up. Some of her other hobbies included playing paper dolls, hide and seek, fishing, and swimming. Mary also played many sports while in school, including basketball, volleyball, dodge-ball, and softball. Like today, she said there were some hard feelings in the sports.
Mary said that one of the biggest conflicts she had was when she made the softball team but her brother Johnny's girlfriend didn't. It ended up with a fight breaking out between Johnny and Mary. No one was hurt but Mary did throw a glass of tea at Johnny and broke the glass! Fighting with her brothers was the only other trouble she was involved in.
Getting to school wasn't too hard for Mary even though they didn't have buses. The school was only one block from her house. Most of the classes she took were the same as we take today. They included math, English, science, biology, and typing. She said she was pretty good in most of her classes, but she did very well in English and typing. In her typing class they had one electric typewriter that everyone got to use once in awhile and the rest were manual ones.
One of Mary's funniest memories was when her dad had just bought a green Chevrolet car. She said, "I guess he didn't like the color, so he decided to paint it himself." Laughing very hard as she said, "It looked so awful!" She said he painted it this ugly blue and the paint was all streaky. They finally took it to a town called Crane and had it repainted.
Some of her favorite memories was going to her grandma's house on the weekends when she was about eight and walking to the movies in downtown Cotter on Saturday nights when she was about sixteen. She says the best part about going to her grandma's, who lived at the top of Cotter Hill, was playing hide and seek because there was a huge old barn they could play in. After the movies they couldn't wait until the next Saturday to see the next part of the movie since the whole movie wasn't shown at one time.
Mary also had a few scary times. Unlike today, there were no warnings to people who were on the river that the generators were being turned on. This endangered many people, including Mary. Once she said she and some friends waded out in the river and then the generators had gotten turned on. So they started floating down the river. Mary got out pretty soon but her friends went a ways down the river until someone pulled them out. She also told about when her and seven people got in a boat when all eight generators were on. She said she really doesn't know why they all got in the boat and it was a pretty stupid thing to do since the river was already very high. She said she was surprised they didn't tip and drown.
By the sound of it Mary had a pretty fun childhood and she would probably tell you the same. Her and her friends found plenty of things to do. She says it's strange that with all the things that are around today, kids are still often bored. While when she was a kid, they didn't have half things we have now and they were hardly ever bored.