During his teenage years, my father worked at the Basin Park Hotel as a bellhop. The Eureka Springs’ landmark was then owned by prominent banker and attorney Claude Fuller. My father had many stories about the hotel and the various characters who would hang around, including some about Mr. Fuller.
He told the story of mopping the hotel lobby before school one morning while Claude Fuller sat in a chair reading the newspaper. My father mopped around the chair and waited for Mr. Fuller to lift his feet so he could mop under them, as was their custom. When Claude didn’t lift his feet, my father dropped the mop and said, “If you won’t lift your feet, you can mop the floor yourself. I have to go to school,” and stormed out of the hotel. He said Claude looked up at him with wide eyes, but didn’t say a word. My father returned to work later and neither ever mentioned the incident.
Mr. Fuller must have liked my father, though, because he hired him to be his driver on certain occasions. For instance, my father chauffeured him to the 1960 Arkansas Democratic Convention in Little Rock. I take it for granted that Claude Fuller made an impression on my father. When my dad talked about Mr. Fuller, he could recall their conversations in detail.
I think about that long drive to Little Rock with just the two of them in the car and try to see it through my father’s eyes. He was a teenager at the time, so I can just imagine what it would be like for a kid to spend time with not only the boss, but a former Mayor and Congressman who many considered to be the richest and most powerful man in town.
I sometimes contribute photographs and information to the genealogy website www.findagrave.com. Claude Fuller is the only person that it rates as “famous” in the list of 3,292 internments in the Eureka Springs IOOF Cemetery.