Bend - in the beginning
Bill and Dick Pratt purchased this land now called Horseshoe Bend from john
Williams, I am sure they never visualized what it would become. They enjoyed
getting away from the cities and fishing, hunting and just retreating on the
land. One of Dick’s favorite stories is how they were here for a weekend with
their families and needed some groceries. Dick volunteered to make the trip to
back after dark, he got lost and stopped at a home for directions to Horseshoe
Bend. The homeowner said, “Come on in and have a cup of coffee-the Pratt boys
are not here this weekend, so no one is there anyway.” Although he was anxious
to get back, he was embarrassed to admit that he was one of the Pratt boys and
couldn’t find his way home.
fall of 1962, I was happily employed with Pope, Pratt and Shamburger, Attorneys
in Little Rock and had no thoughts of leaving that beautiful office.
The Pratt in that firm was Dick Pratt, and some of my work involved a
place near Hardy, Arkansas. That was just like foreign country to me. One day in
November, Dick asked if my family would like to spend the
weekend in the country and I jumped at the chance-and got my first look
at what is now Horseshoe Bend. We had to open three gates to go down this trail
to the Strawberry River where the only overnight accommodations were. (The cabin
and the trail leading to it were built by the Pratts after they purchased the
land.) That was the cabin on the river which was swept away by the December 3rd
flood. There was no road from Franklin and I can not tell you to this day how we
surveyors and early construction workers would stay in the cabin during the week
and it was equipped with a number of cots and single beds. There was a shower of
sorts, but we had to go to the spring for our drinking water. Needless to say,
we enjoyed a wonderful weekend and the kids loved it. Nese , Jay and Micah
picked up enough rocks, leaves and bugs to have quite a load.
Saturday, Bill Pratt drove up and took us back down the trail. He stopped the
car at a certain spot and pointed to a tall hill. He said, “That is called
Gobbler’s Knob and it’s the highest point on this property. We are going to
build a big restaurant and club house there.” Since all you could see for
miles was trees, I thought the man was a little touched in the head, and
certainly put no faith in that statement.
the law office the next week, Dick Pratt asked about the weekend and of course,
I told him what a great time we had. Then he said, “How would you like to live
immediately replied, “There is no way I would LIVE there.”
May of 1963 I moved to Horseshoe Bend.
had to be built for us to live in since there was nothing here except for the
farm house where the stables were located. The Thornton Walker family lived
there. I never saw the house until it was finished and I moved in. The reason my
house was situated at the angle on the two lots is because the lots had not been
surveyed at the time of construction, so it was set down in the middle of two
stables were supplied at that time with donkeys, the most stubborn animals
alive. There were quite a number of them that the Pratts had bought and they
were around for a few years, then just as slowly disappeared from the area. One
goat always followed them wherever they went.
We had no
phones, no road to Franklin and, the road to Salem was strictly a one-way
street. I have backed up many times when meeting someone to allow us both to go
on our way (on what is now Highway 289).
work had been going on since 1962, it wasn’t until spring of 1963 that there
was a building ready for visitors. That was the clubhouse on top of that big
hill. The clubhouse was originally only one-story and the Blue Room was added on
in later years too. There was a counter where the brick wall is now, and
renovated booths around the walls, and even some card tables made up the
furniture. All operations were from the clubhouse. The White Motel (next to the
current ProShop, later the MRID building, which has now been razed) was the next
building to be constructed to house what we -hopefully-called customers.
girl, Willie Mae Garner, drove from Ash Flat when she heard there might be an
opening for office employment at this new place, and was hired to be the office
manager. She originally set up all the records, etc. for this operation, and
married Dick Pratt many years later. It
was really confusing to many at that time, Willie Mae is an unusual name and
here we had two employees in the same building and both of them named Willie
was surprised after moving to learn I would be temporarily managing the
clubhouse. This consisted of buying all food and that meant a trip to Salem,
since there were no deliveries of any kind. It also meant going to farm houses
to buy eggs and vegetables. Milk was purchased in half gallon containers, and
suppliers just would not believe that there was a restaurant on a hill in these
temporary job lasted for two years until Wilma Mendenall took over.
was only one cook in the beginning at the club-Clarice Montgomery of Morriston.
She was also the dishwasher and whatever else had to be done. Lucille
Billingsley and Ginger Roberts were the first two waitresses. These high school
girls really enjoyed the work and the money they made that first summer.
thought we would have a lot of people to eat our first 4th of July and they
wanted to have a barbeque. Since he is quite a connoisseur and a good cook too,
he did the cooking on my grill (since that was the only one available) and took
pains to see that the food was just right.
crowd did not come, and the employees and the Pratt families were the only ones
to enjoy the delicious barbecue that first 4th.
all operations were from the club house, the sales people were there too.
Really, their office was under the trees on the drive coming up the hill. It was
an event when a strange car came up the hill, but before the summer of ‘63 was
over, Sunday afternoons became quite busy as all the local people for miles
around would drive up to see what was happening at that place called the
“Bend” and enjoy a coke in the restaurant. The first three salesmen were
Olen Barnes of Franklin, Harlus Harber of Sale and Willene Langston of Wiseman.
Miller, our State Representative of Melbourne, can tell you about surveying the
first additions in Horseshoe Bend and his little son, David tagged along to help
Brunson of Franklin knew about big machinery, and was instrumental in clearing
an building the roads. Dust clouds were common around Tracts D and E that first
summer with all the road work going on. Keith Batterton, Royce Hill, Garland
Brown, Bryan Blevins, Lex Walker, Edward Bates, Lotus Thomas, Tracy Williams and
Thornton Walker were among those early employees who worked clearing the land
and just about anything else that needed doing.
there were no phones, we had our own form of communication. I would tie a white
cloth on a tree in the front yard and that was a signal for someone to stop and
deliver a message to the club.
phones also hampered communications with the Pratts since they could not stay in
Horseshoe Bend all the time. One day, Dick Pratt told a new employee to call him
at 12 o’clock on Tuesday and give him the number of replies we had received
from a mail-out. The nearest phone was at Jones Store in Agnos. The employee was
new to this area and had to be given specific directions to Agnos via the Day
Road. After receiving directions, she still was puzzled.
was told just exactly how to go, where to turn and every time she was told, the
last part was “when you get to the highway, that is Agnos.” Finally she
asked, “But, Agnos who?”
election was held in the blacksmith or garage building at Day, Arkansas. Dirt
floor, wasps and hot weather were prevalent and I think 18 people voted that
day. Most of them were from surrounding areas.
fond memories of the local people and how wonderful they were to us in those
early years. This was fully demonstrated when my daughter, Nese fell from a tree
in our back yard in September of 1963 and sustained a broken jaw, concussion,
skull fracture, pelvic fracture and many cuts and bruises.
was taken to Little Rock and Bessie Roberts, Bessie’s daughter Pat and many
others kept the boys and took care of everythign for me. There still were no
phones but I knew they were taking care of my children. The whole community
helped out when we came home and I shall never foreget all they did for us.
Troy Mendenall moved here permanently next, and Jim and Mary Hale, along with
Nancy and Pete who soon followed. So our communty began to grow.
Addition had not been started, so the only road to the Club House was what was
known as the “Day Road” (and is now Cardinal Drive and Hwy. 289). It was
really an exciting day when they started clearing out the trees and roughing in
the roads in what was to become Sequoia.
that is now Veterans Park was an orchard. There was a small home where the
picnic pavilion is now and it was known as the Courtwright place. There was a
water well there and since there were no water lines, they ran a line from that
well to my house, and it served for many years before they changed it to the
really did enjoy picking the apples, peaches, pears and black walnuts from the
orchard. All that remains now, I believe, is one pear and one black walnut tree
in the park area.
also an old home where the fire station is now. It was torn down that first
summer and all the heavy equipment was parked there in the evenings, and the
gravel was stock-piled there for the new roads.
next two houses constructed were on Clark Lane. Bill Pratt had the home which is
now owned by Arni Tanttu, built for himself, but he never did get to live in it
- it was purchased by the Mendenalls. Dick Pratt built the home now owned by
Herb Peterson, and it was also sold before they moved in. This house was really
unique in that it had a blue stone floor in part of the house. Herb and Dorothy
had carpet installed over the stone, but Herb says it’s still there.
activities centered in the Clubhouse the first few years. Everything was very
informal and you might find most anyone in the kitchen. We had local talent to
play for square dances and “round” dancing too, in the area where the crafts
are now. Ethrig Floyd, Olen Barnes, Billie and Clay Campbell, Junior Ward, Pete
Phillips and Lloyd Grimmett were some of those who played regularly. People
would come from all over the area for these dances. The young kids in the area
were urged to perform and almost every night Pete Hale and my kids would sing a
song and be rewarded with a candy bar. Bingo was played in the dining area where
the only table sand chairs were located.
never owned a full set of dishes during this time. At meal time, in our
home, you could always hear the children “naming their plate.” One
would say he wanted the one with the blue house on it, another wanted the green
one, etc. One of my favorite memories is the day at the Clubhouse when Micah was
served his usual hamburger and he said, “It is so funny, every time I eat
here, I get the same plate.” (sorry Micah, I couldn’t resist.)
Wednesday morning socials were begun early to give the ladies something to do.
The women took turns bringing good things to eat on Wednesdays and playing games
and cards. Sometimes there would not be enough to do anything ut sit and visit,
but they were enjoyable times. This
Wednesday morning practice continued for many years.
One of my
favorite stories is when a resident brought a cake and said it was in
celebration of her husband’s birthday. We sang happy birthday to him and
enjoyed the cake. He was in Salem shopping at the time.
Mosier was the original wrangler at the stables and he was kept busy those first
few years. Since this was a major part of the recreation we had to offer, the
trail rides were scheduled every hour and were popular with everyone. My son,
Jay, spent all his time there and I am sure was a pest for a long time, but
eventually became adept with the horses and helped break the new ones in.
afternoon when he was 11 years old, he was going with Mr. Mosier to the rodeo at
Ash Flat. He seemed much too excited to me, and I felt something was going on.
When Mr. Mosier came to pick him up, I said, “don’t you dare let Jay ride a
horse in that rodeo.” He assured me over and over that he definitely would not
let him ride a horse. When they got back that night, Jay hit the ground yelling
for me to see his silver buckle. Seems he won first place for bull riding - but
the y had kept their promise and he didn’t ride a horse! I eventually
Lake, Bass Lake and Strawberry River provided many hours of fishing and fun.
They were used a lot more then because that is all the water we had and bank
fishing as well as from the boats was popular. The young especially enjoyed the
spring area by the Strawberry River. The development cleaned up the spring,
built the enclosure around it, built rough tables and seats out of logs and put
sand around the area. Many, many picnics were enjoyed and kids found their own
amusement just playing in the water and sand.
grew in profusion in the low spring and it is too bad it has disappeared. Sue
Pratt - it was max Humphires and Harlus Harber who stole your watermelon you had
cooling in the spring. Now you know.
came the day they were to install the phones in Horseshoe Bend surrounding area.
We could hardly believe it, and were glad to have them even though they had
several people on the line. Since so many were on the lines, you were given a
limited amount of time to talk, then you received a warning beep, then you were
cut off. Of course, all you had to do was redial, but it helped. It was great to
have a phone, but we had no phone books at first. You knew your own number and
that was all. The first night my phone rang and a voice said “who have I
got?” it was Alvah Billingsly from Franklin and he was just dialing at random
and talking to whoever answered.
in the area told this one on herself after her new phone was installed. Her
phone rang, she answered and a lady said “this is the telephone company, we
are going to blow the dust out of these new phones, so you need to put your
phone in a sack.” She looked frantically around for a sack and the only one
she had was full of okra on the kitchen counter. She dumped out the okra and
quickly put the phone in the sack. A time or two during the day the phone would
ring and she would take the phone out of the sack and tell the caller she could
her teenage daughters could not contain themselves and had to confess that the
trick had been played on her.
had to go each day to Franklin to take the deposit and also to pick up the mail.
The post office was located directly across the street from the bank. Glenn
Roberts was the postmaster and Tommie Billingsley and Lige Godwin worked in the
boasted three grocery stores at that time and several other businesses which are
no longer there. The little community building atop the hill was being used
quite a bit, too. We went to one movie in the community building on Saturday
night. The building was equipped with benches and they stretched a white sheet
in the back, and that was what the movie was shown on.
home made boxes at the front desk in the Clubhouse for the resident’s mail to
be place into. The few residents were just as anxious then to receive the mail
on time as they are now and of course, since all activities centered around the
Clubhouse, you got to see everyone just about every day.
of you remember those mouth-watering fried peach and apple pies that Glenda
Ramsey made at the Clubhouse? And - the most popular items on the menu had to be
fried chicken and the Turkey Mountain Special. That special was barbecued pork
cooked outside and the one who taught us all was Bill Pratt. Many pounds of that
were served over the years!
many stories to be told, and so very much happened, and the above account is
only of the beginning - 47 years ago.
the Beginning was originally written and published on June 22, 1983.
Willie Nemec was Vice President in charge of Public Relations for Horseshoe
Development Corporation, and a former editor of the Horseshoe Progress for many
years. She currently resides in Fayetteville, Arkansas.)