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story.lead_photo.caption Charles Crabtree of Pea Ridge moved back to town after a career in Wichita, Kan.

Charles Crabtree, a Pea Ridge native, returned to Pea Ridge during retirement after a career in Wichita, Kan.

He was born in Pea Ridge in 1938, the youngest of five children. In high school he had to sign up for the draft, so he and some friends joined the Army Reserves. He graduated from high school in 1956. He was at Fort Chaffee for six months and then went to Wichita, Kan., to try to get a job.

"There was nothing going on here. There were a few people raising chickens, but nothing like they do today," he said.

He got a job with Boeing Aircraft Company within a few days. Aircraft jobs were seasonal at the time. He worked part time at a service station to provide himself with some stability. He also worked at Cessna Aircraft Company. He said whenever he got laid off at Boeing, he could get a job at Cessna, and then he would get laid off at Cessna and go back to Boeing, back and forth. Eventually the position at Boeing became permanent, and he worked there 27 years.

On Sept. 10, 1966, he married Alice McComb. They had two girls who have given them three grandchildren.

Crabtree retired from Boeing in July 1995. He and his wife moved back to Pea Ridge in August 2003.

"I was back and forth numerous times because I had family here," he said, noting he had older sisters who needed help getting to doctor appointments. That was one of the reasons he decided to move back, he said.

"It's a nice area to retire to. I had a lot of friends. Alice didn't have a lot of friends, but she made a lot of friends. In fact, she plays cards somewhere just about every week," he said.

Crabtree enjoys working on cars and restoring them. He has a 1934 Ford he is working on that needed extensive work that he was not able to do, so it is in the shop. He said his uncle purchased a 1934 Ford in the 1950s, and he was hoping to purchase it from him.

"He knew I didn't have two nickles to rub together," he said.

He would travel from Pea Ridge to Wichita frequently, and he always checked to see if the car was still in his uncle's garage. One weekend it was gone.

"He'd sold it out from underneath me," he said.

About six years ago Crabtree found a 1934 Ford for sale in Montgomery, Ala., but it needed a lot of work, he said. He purchased it and is still working on it.

He belongs to two car clubs -- the Natural State Model A Club and the Foothills of the Ozarks Car Club.

His interests also include fishing.

"I fish with a group of old men at Rogers called the Dirty 20. Some of them are in their 90s," he said.

He also belongs to the Optimist Club and enjoys going to high school football and basketball games.

Crabtree said he has seen a lot of changes in Pea Ridge. For example, his senior class only had 19 people. Now it is close to 200, he said. The entire school was around 310 when he graduated, and now the kindergarten class has that many, he said.

"A lot of people are resistant to change, but if things don't progress they'll regress," he said.

Community on 02/22/2017

Print Headline: Pea Ridge native returns to town during retirement

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