More years ago than this skeptic cares to count, a country singer by the name of Eddie Arnold sang his popular song TEXARKANA BABY. He belted out the words, “Her pappy came from Texas and her ma from Arkansas.” The song goes on to say, “Just a mile from Louisiana”, which is a stretch. Texarkana is a twin city that spans the state line between Texas and Arkansas.
Eddie Arnold also sang religious songs and he was the best. The world was a better place when he was still alive. You could even understand the words Eddie Arnold sang – which is sometimes difficult these days.
Back in the day, Texarkana had a place called LEE’S DRIVE IN and it might have even been a forerunner to Sonic. LEE’S was the happening place and young folks made an evening out of “dragging” the popular drive-in to see who was there.
The rivalry between Texarkana, Arkansas High School and Texarkana, Texas High School was not to be overshadowed by any other. There WAS a night to remember when the parade downtown for the upcoming match between the schools got out of hand. The Texas high school students paraded a hog’s head through the crowd for all the Arkansas “Razorbacks” to see – blood and all. Surely things like that don’t happen these days. If they did, one could possibly expect more trouble than just a few fist fights.
Texarkana streets don’t run directly north and south, east or west. They angle out from the big mail terminal by the railroad because the mail terminal was one of the first things around with half of it in Texas and half of it in Arkansas. If you want directions when you go to Texarkana (at least in the old days), you might get a response like this: “Just give me a pencil and paper and I will draw it out for you.”
The Fouke Monster was a story to be reckoned with and Fouke is just a stone’s throw from Texarkana. That mystery, to my knowledge, was never solved, and the story of the man with the hook arm kept most high school couples from stopping at Spring Lake Park at night.
There are many churches in Texarkana and the predominant congregations were probably Southern Baptists. The principal at the middle school was allowed to say a prayer over the intercom which always went something like this, “Help us to do, say and think the things you would have us to, Lord.” What a difference it might make if that was still allowed today.
Texarkana has grown and it would be safe to say that problems have multiplied. But whatever happened to the large sign over one of the major roads that read, “Texarkana, the gateway to the south”? And is it still “dubbed” Little Chicago? Probably not.
Most big cities have the homeless walking the streets these days and benevelent people helping them. Church bells still ring in some neighborhoods but mega-churches are becoming more prevalent. The majority of citizens continue to wave Old Glory and believe in the Constitution. As Merle Haggard sings, “They still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse.” That gives us hope.
But the times are changing and maybe the values of Americans are too. The skeptic wonders if we can ever capture the feel of the 1950’s again even though there is an old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It just doesn’t seem to apply anymore.
The benevolent actions of complete strangers, however, shown to those in Joplin, Missouri after the devastating tornado hit those folks, has renewed once again our faith in mankind. And there are examples of goodness all over the country. We haven’t REALLY changed all that much, have we? Perhaps it is just the PROBLEMS that have changed.
The important thing to take away from this article just might be to hold on to the memories, but build new ones along the way. Teach the children and the grandchildren to love one another and to love God and country. If that admonition ever changes, God help us.