By Loyce Patterson Jones
[Editor's note: This largely unedited story is posted as sent to USADEEPSOUTH
by USADS writer Claude Jones, Loyce Patterson Jones's grandson.]
On Wednesday July 13, 1927 just as the sun was rising in the eastern horizon we - my husband Holt Jones and I, two daughters Louise and Stacia Jones and son Billy Jones climbed into our "dinged little Ford" and [started] on our trip [from North Mississippi] to Oklahoma and Texas.
We had risen early, done the morning chores, prepared breakfast, packed our baggage and bedding and packed lunch. After placing and replacing our luggage we finally were off, all eager for our first overland trip.
Our first stop was made at Stacey's filling station where we filled up with gas and oil. Next, we stopped in Pontotoc where we bought aspirin and sunshades. The aspirin, in case anyone had a headache and the sunshades partly to protect our eyes and partly because everyone else was doing it! We talked with Walter Donaldson and with Mary Wood and just as the town clock was striking seven, we left town.
The children saw everything that morning and my husband and I were just as enthusiastic as they. There never was a more perfect morning or a happier family!
About two miles north of Pontotoc, on the road from Pontotoc to New Albany, we stopped to talk politics to Mr. J. C. Warren a few minutes and our next stop was Myrtle, where we got one pint of oil.
Billy was especially interested in the streams and bridges we crossed and started out to count the bridges between Pontotoc and Memphis - but soon became so interested in other things he lost count.
Stacia was interested in the names and wanted to make a list of all streams and rivers that had Indian names - Lapatubby, Okonatee, Mississippi, White, Cash, Arkansas, Washita, Red Canadian and others whose names she has forgotten were on the list.
At Holly Springs, we got one pint of oil and much information. We mailed cards to Mama and Ma Jones, here. The garage man was of the great Jones family too. At Holly Springs we saw the Negro school buildings. They have nice buildings and grounds.
We had been dreading driving thru Memphis, but after consulting our road map and map of the city, we did not have the least bit of trouble. I had driven through the city several times - or rather I had ridden thru - but of course a green country woman couldn't be expected to remember the route, but suddenly, I found we were on Iowa and in a moment recognized a store on the corner of Iowa and Penn., so we turned down Penn. St. to Daisy's. We did not find anyone home, but knowing where she kept the door key, we unlocked the door and went in. Looking in the ice box and having a lunch of our own, we found a nice dinner. We rested awhile and after leaving a note for Daisy, promising to stop over, as we came back. We proceeded on our way.
Memphis is an interesting city and we would have liked to spend several days sight seeing.
After leaving Penn. St., we again drove down Iowa then onto Delaware and onto that wonderful piece of man's work, the bridge on the mighty "Father of Waters." We certainly got a thrill watching the water as it swiftly passes on its way to the sea, also seeing the boats on the river. We crossed the river about 2 Wednesday.
After crossing the bridge, we were on the much talked of Harahan viaduct. Holt had dreaded driving over this viaduct, but soon found it to be safe. Here we had our first experience paying toll. A man at one end of the viaduct collects the toll and gives you a pass or ticket which another man at the other end, takes up. The toll here was 35 cents. The viaduct is said to be five miles long and is built of wood. They have plans now for a steel and concrete viaduct and will begin work in a short time.
Immediately after we crossed the viaduct, we began to see signs of the spring floods. The marks of high water were on all the houses and timber along the highway. In places it was 15 to 20 feet high. We saw many comic sights, but more pitiful ones. I never saw so many good places to fish or so many people fishing. We thought it would have been nice to stop and fish awhile but did not take the time.
At Clark's Service Station, we stopped for gas and oil. We were on Federal Highway 70 from Memphis to Little Rock and found it in fairly good condition. We stopped at Forrest City, Ark. for cold drinks. Also were thirsty at Brinkley. At DeValls Bluff, we stopped for gas and to buy a flashlight - which would not burn. We had thought we would have to ferry at DeValls Bluff but fortunately the road had been opened the day before and we did not have to ferry, tho' that would have been a novelty for all of us, none had been on a ferry. There is a toll bridge on the White River, at DeValls Bluff and here we paid $1.00 toll.
At Hagen, Ark. we got 1 quart of oil and did not stop again til we came to a tourist camp just east of Lonoke. Here we spent the night. We had never been in a tourist camp before but found everything very nice. For $1.00 we got a hut with three windows and one door - all nicely screened and furnished with one iron bed, mattress and springs, a table and two chairs, an oil stove and heater but no electric lights. They furnished us with candles and as we had our own cots, blankets, eats we were very comfortable, but for the singing of many million mosquitoes outside our windows. I wondered how people lived with all those pests. This was in the flooded district, so I think that accounts for the mosquitoes. Next morning, we talked with our fellow tourist, packed our cots filled up with oil and drove to Rose City for breakfast.
Little Rock is a very pretty place. Here we got information and a flashlight bulb and from Little Rock, we began climbing the mountains. We were in the mountains all day from Little Rock to Fort Smith. I never saw such beautiful scenery. I felt inspired and uplifted and drawn closer to the Maker for all beautiful things.
We stopped at Conway for gas and at Morrilton for eats. We made inquiry here for one of Holt's cousins (Mitchell Jones) but did not find him. Our next stop was at a little town called Atkins. We only wanted one quart of oil here but I remembered the place, because the name reminded me of Christine. Our gas was running low so we stopped at Hartman for gas.
We found some bad roads between Ozark and Fort Smith caused by high waters. At one place we made a detour of several miles and then had to ford a broad, shallow stream. We did not like that as the water was too muddy to see the bottom.
We stopped at Fort Smith for gas. It was a very pretty place, but as the sun was going down and we wanted to sleep in Oklahoma that night, we didn't tarry long there.
We drove from Fort Smith to Spiro, Oklahoma, and spent the second night away from home. Here we got a nicely furnished room for $2.00. We ate breakfast here and left in the rain. Our next stop was at Fanshawe for oil and next Wilburton for gas and oil.
We ate dinner at Stuart and stopped for gas at Calvin and at Stratford for oil. Just as the sun was setting the third day, we headed due west from Maysville driving to Alex by 10 that night - not being acquainted with the road, we had to stop for information along the way and were so late, my brother (Dow Patterson and wife Nell) and family had gone to bed - you can imagine how quickly we routed them.
When we got to the town of Alex, we didn't know anything to do but drive to the first service station and enquire for Dow. The man was very nice and pointed out Dow's filling station to us. We drove over to it and ask if that was the Patterson Service Station.
The boys told us it was and ask what he could do and when he found out who we were, he ran to phone and called but did not get Dow, however he directed us to his house and we soon had them up and everybody talking as you will when you have been parted 12 months.
My brother, his wife and son (Jack Patterson) came back to Ada with us where we spent the night with our Uncle and family. He was away but returned early the next morning. We stayed at Ada which is a beautiful little city, noted for its schools. Here is located one of Oklahoma's Normal Colleges. We stayed 'til one PM when we bid Dow and family and Uncle and family goodbye and headed due south for Texas, thinking we would reach Holt's cousins at Euloe that night. A rainstorm caught us between Tishomingo and Pontotoc and here we found some of the slickest roads I ever traveled over. We were first in the road, then out; first headed north, then south, then east and west. All this trouble because the man advised us to cut across country and save 30 or 40 miles. Finally we got headed in the right direction and to get back on the hard surfaced road and were making pretty good time, when without warning, we were on or just ready to run on a bridge when we found it down and nothing to do but back track several miles and go out through a field. Somewhere just before this rain storm hit us, we passed through the largest cattle ranch we had ever seen; in fact it was the largest in that part of the state. This ranch belonged to Mr. Jim P. Donaldson's son and son-in-law. At Tishomingo we had our first flat after stopping there to get the tube patched, drove on to Durant. This was a pretty town and Holt told of spending the night here when he and Dr. Neal were in Oklahoma 20 years ago.
Our next stop was for oil out some distance from Durant. Our luck has begun to change! We had another flat and stopped at Hugo to have it mended and to get something to eat. You surely do get hungry on these trips! While we were waiting for the patch to be put on, we noticed an old Negro man walking around looking at the car and when he noticed the Mississippi tag, he came running around and said, "Say Missus, where is you from?" I thought the old soul would have to hug us all when he found we were from Pontotoc. He said, "Why Honey, I know lots of folks there - Dr. Donaldson and Miss Nett and Mr. Elias Walker and Dr. Jim D. and Miss Hester" etc and sent lots of word to Drs. R. P. D. & J. D. He asked when we were coming back through Hugo and said he would be on the "watch-out" for us - and he was.
We had planned to get to Euloe (Wed.) night, but as it was raining and we had lost so much time, we decided to spend the night in Paris, so after eating supper, we drove out to the tourist camp and spent the night. This was such a nice place. The huts were furnished with iron bed springs and mattress, electric lights and gas stove, table and chairs. This was a large park with plenty of shade and running water, a wading pool for the kiddies and a laundry where you might wash and iron your clothes. We paid $1.25 for our hut here.
Thursday, (next morning), we drove back to town, got breakfast and drove over the city awhile before going to Euloe which is twenty miles south of Paris. We drove over the cemetery in Paris which was beautifully kept.
The road was fine to Lake Creek, but here we left the highway and turned west over what looked very much like bees-wax, only it was black. Holt said when we turned off the hard-surfaced road he hoped it didn't rain before we got back to it.
Judd and Clara were visiting at Euloe at that time, so we enjoyed visiting with them too. Back to Jim's at 10 o'clock and spent the night, starting for home early Saturday morn.
Began raining just as we left, but we made it to Lake Creek before the roads got very sticky. Saw some fine crops around Lake Creek. We got into Paris about 8 or 9 A M. and had the car looked over, got grease, oil and gas - put up the curtains as it was raining hard by this time. We made no stop from Paris to Hugo. Here we found the Miss. Negro watching for us. He seemed very glad to see us and repeated his messages to Pontotoc and Okolona people and stood waving his cap 'til we were out of sight.
Our next stop was DeQueen, Ark. where we got oil. We were disappointed in DeQueen - had heard so much about the town, maybe we expected too much.
Had to stop at New Hope for oil. A girl sold us the oil and told us we could not get accommodations for the night in this little town so we drove on to Glenwood and spent the night in a nice little hotel at the foot of a lovely mountain. We waked just at day break and as we had paid our bill the night before and told our landlady we wouldn't want breakfast, we stepped down the back stairway, got "Henry" from the garage and drove 35 miles to Hot Springs for breakfast. I believe Hot Springs is the prettiest place I ever saw. We drove around awhile and wanted to spend the day, but as our time was nearly up and we wanted to make Memphis that night, we reluctantly drove on.
At Little Rock, we stopped for gas and oil. We saw the finest bridge, across the Arkansas (River), at Little Rock, that we saw anywhere.
Our next stop was as DeValls Bluff, where we ate dinner and rested awhile. I believe the White River is prettier from the west side. Between Biscoe and Brinkley we crossed the Cache River. It was in this section we saw so much sign of high waters.
Between DeValls Bluff and Brinkley we saw so many snowy white birds, cranes I suppose, but I had never seen any with such long legs and necks.
At Brinkley we had to have another inner tube patched.
After we passed Wheatley we had another flat, so Holt changed to his spare and drove on to a little town named Palestine, where he had the tube patched and a plug in the casing. The garage man here was a one-armed man. We were so tired we got out and walked around and talked with the inhabitants. As it was Sunday, everybody was dressed up and gone visiting, but we found two women and a young man to talk to. Holt said after we left, I would talk to anyone that could speak English. I didn't deny it!
At Forrest City, we stopped for gas and a little farther on we got oil at a service station, but of all the long lonesome, God forsaken looking roads and country I ever saw, that section between Widener and West Memphis takes the palm.
After we passed through town and turned east toward home, I asked Holt if he thinks this looks like "God's Country" and the idiot said he thought it looked like "darn pore country" to him.
Have found everything all right and am in the midst of unpacking when Papa and Monard came in. They were in town and saw us pass thru, so they had to come out and hear all about the trip. Everybody wants to know if we have been sick - we look so tired, sleepy and sun-burned.
Let me tell you, we are glad to sleep on our own beds tonight, but after we have rested a few days, I think every one of us would like to start back on the same trip. I hope, as we can't go back now, that we may be physically and financially able to make the same trip in July, 1929.
Claude Jones writes to us about his grandmother, the author of this story:
"Grandmother Jones was a remarkable women. I love her phrasing. If she stumped her toe she would say she 'struck' her toe on the chair leg. She repeatedly said they had a 'puncture' instead of a flat. She began teaching school at 16 in a small one-room school (8 grades in the school). She stayed with a prominent family in the community, and when Yocona River Bottom wasn't flooded Papa Cal (her father) would come in the wagon to allow her to come home on holidays. She gave up teaching when she married, but she loved to read and could talk the arm off a chair. She held in her memory the entire Jones and Patterson family tree."
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