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I notice that many news people like to do a summary of a year's news as a year draws to a close. I was thinking more of a summary of things I have seen change during my years of life.

We will soon have adults who have no memory of times when there were no smart phones, and who probably can hardly imagine how to live without one. So far I have lived nearly 80 years without one. I do have a cell phone which doesn't do Internet. My phone is just a phone, but it does do texting if I push the buttons enough times -- once for a d, twice for an e, three times for an f, four times for an s.

Surprisingly, voice commands seem not to have attracted as much devotion as texting. I wonder why? I talk through my phone, I don't really want to talk to it. Apparently software that enables computers to talk is coming along in development, but if I go by the land line telephone's Caller ID system, they still have a good ways to go. The pronunciations can be really funny. I get frequent calls from AM HEART ASSOC, which the machine pronounces as AM HART ASSOCK.

My wife and I both have birthdays coming up in January. We will have one more year of not being 80 yet. But we have lived quite a few years pre-80. Pea Ridge is pretty much different from the hometown we came to know in the 1940s.

In the mid-1940s, you could stand at the intersection of the streets we today call North Curtis and Pickens, and from there you could see most of Pea Ridge. The one business that you couldn't see from the main intersection was the Pea Ridge Canning Plant, which stood just outside the south city limits. Today, the Ridge Community Church occupies the site and part of the building which once served as the canning plant, and the site, which used to be out of town south, is now in the north part of town. Go figure!

The old south city limits line is today's Patton Street. In those early days we didn't have today's street names. What we now call Pickens, we used to call the main street of town; what we call North Curtis was the main drag south. But there was no South Curtis at first. In fact, the only portion of Curtis we had back then was the portion north of Patton Street.The portion of North Curtis where today's Post Office is located didn't exist at all until 1950. To go to Rogers or Bentonville in those earlier days, you drove from the main intersection south to what is now Patton Street., turned right and drove west to what we now call Carr Street, turned left and drove south to Arkansas Highway 72. Then you turned right on the highway. For Rogers, you immediately turned left from Ark. Hwy. 72 onto Ark. Hwy. 94, which is today's Ryan Road. All our roads were gravel or dirt. To get a feel for the roads of the 1940s, drive Ryan Road to Sugar Creek Road. Both of those roads still give you that 1940s look and feel.

Today, Pea Ridge has a golf course and a really nice football stadium. Those would have been unimaginable in the 1940s. The only golf course we knew of in the 1940s was at Rogers, far out of town west (near Turtle Creek, which is not out of town today). In the 1940s, Big Sugar Creek was north of Pea Ridge, at the Missouri line, and Little Sugar Creek was in the valley south of town. When the golf course was named, they missed their creek by at least four miles, nearly five. I guess the Little Sugar Golf Course wouldn't have been very impressive, and Big Sugar Creek has no areas flat enough for a golf course which don't flood in heavy rain seasons.

The farm where I grew up, beginning in 1940, was located on the road to Jacket, Mo. Today the road is called Hayden Road, or Ark. Hwy. 265, and it is a paved road. That's still astounding to me. In all my days of living on our road to Jacket, it was a gravel road, with all the usual potholes and washboardy stretches. You usually didn't drive faster than 35 mph. That way your head didn't hit the ceiling of your pickup truck when you hit a pothole. Today the 18-wheel semi trucks pass by our farmhouse at 60 miles an hour. When you get onto the road from our farm driveway, you have to gas it to get up to speed to keep from getting run over by traffic booming around the corner. I'm not sure that our old 1949 GMC farm truck could run fast enough to travel Hayden Road today. Today, the whole idea of a pickup truck has changed. In the 1940s, a farm truck was a plain, slow, bouncy hulk, intended for hauling heavy, often messy, stuff. Today's pickup trucks are designed to look impressive, to be as comfortable as your recliner at the house, and have enough power to yank a stump out of the ground, splash through mud puddles, and still come home shiny and bright!

Saturdays, today, are a stark contrast to the Saturdays of the 1940s. Today, Pea Ridge is pretty empty on Saturdays. Most people stay home. In the 1940s, when most Pea Ridge people were farm families, Saturdays were going-to-town days. The town was full with people doing their weekly shopping.

In the 1940s, most of us had no electricity, no TV, no telephone. A few people had party-line phones. We really didn't miss those things. Life went on with its usual happy times and sad times. Entertainment was the radio and an occasional movie at the movie theater. We really didn't realize that we needed to be entertained all the time. The year 1945 brought us electricity at home. The 1950s brought television and dial phones. Dick Tracy had a two-way wrist radio in the comic pages, but nobody took seriously the idea that one day we might be carrying around little radios that could do Internet and compute and let us talk to anybody anywhere.


Editor's note: Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge and an award-winning columnist, is vice president of Pea Ridge Historical Society. He can be contacted by e-mail at, or call 621-1621.

Editorial on 01/02/2019

Print Headline: Changes I have observed over a lifetime

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