Perhaps memory fails but I thought the street sign at this location used to read “Pinkly” Lane. I’d noted the misspelling of the local surname with disapproval for decades. Today while traversing the fair city of Berryville I noticed this replacement sign has corrected spelling.
Four miles down Rockhouse Road off US Highway 62 in Eureka Springs is an old house leaning precariously under the unrelenting force of gravity. Informed it was once the home of Cora Pinkley Call, I drove to take a look. On my first pass, I didn’t see it because I was looking in the woods on the east side of the road. Turning around, I drove north and saw the small dilapidated building in the pasture on the west side of the road.
Cora Pinkley Call was a prolific and well known regional writer. As a child she was often sickly and spent her time writing or observing nature on the George Washington Pinkley farm on Kings River. She died in Eureka Springs two years before I was born, in 1966.
Because Cora Pinkley Call was McKinley Weems’ aunt, I swung by and picked him up. We traced our way down Rockhouse Road and looked at the house some more. McKinley said he couldn’t remember Aunt Cora ever living there, that it used to be the Roy Gaddy place. He said that he always knew of her living with her husband Miles Call on Mill Hollow Road. Miles Call was a postman in Eureka Springs after having farmed and soldiered earlier in life.
McKinley did tell me this old family story. In the early 1940s, he went fishing on Kings River with his Uncle Miles. They were on the old Pinkley place and passed a little house. Uncle Miles said, “Do you know what that is? That’s the weaning house.” It turns out that George Pinkley and his wife Mary Jane Harp had a second house on their farm for their children to live in when they first married. They had four sons and six daughters and when the next child married, they would get their turn to move into the weaning house.
But the weaning house was not the same as the house four miles down Rockhouse Road. I talked to more people and looked through land records but never figured out for sure when Cora Pinkley Call lived in the house, but had a good time trying.
Time to dip into my boxes of old Eureka Springs Times-Echo newspapers and see what the past has to tell us. The news of September 25, 1969 was dominated by preparations for the upcoming Ozark Folk Festival. I’ve always heard that the scale of yesteryear’s Ozark Folk Festivals was much larger than that of those held currently, and the newspaper articles confirm this. For instance, the 140-member Razorback Marching Band was slated to lead the festival parade. Another example is that Louise Berry announced that TV Channel 27 out of Springfield, Missouri was going to broadcast a 30 minute program previewing the 1969 festival. Local Eureka Springs musicians and entertainers were to appear on the show.
This front page article caught my eye. The estate of the late Miss Beulah Edge, formerly of Eureka Springs, was left to the United Nations. The estate consisted of $125,000 in cash and 50 oil wells situated on 4,000 acres of land in Roberts County, Texas. The short item states that Miss Edge had a PhD and that her parents were natives of Eureka Springs.
The classifieds are always interesting in the snapshot of the past that they provide. In 1969, one could purchase Avon products from Judy McClelland or buy a 1954 Ford (with radio) for $250.
Prolific writer Virginia Tyler penned three separate columns for the Times-Echo back then. The first reported that 19 had attended the meeting of the Ukulele Club at the New Orleans Hotel. The second column told how seven car loads of folks hiked the old railway line for the meeting of the Alpine Hiking Club. She mentioned that “devil-may-care individuals such as Janie Reeder and Bob Kappen” had walked across the tall trestle. She was disappointed that the old train tunnel was blocked by fencing that they couldn’t scale. Virginia Tyler’s third column was the long running Around Town and it told about George and Ruth Pinkley’s business, the Wardrobe Cleaning Company. She reported that several Birchfields worked there and that “These Ozark hills are full of Birchfields – they are all related, and are the salt of the earth.”
On a day of heavy rains in the Spring of 1990, new local residents David and Jane Reuter attended a fundraiser at the Winona School and Church on Rockhouse Road. Attendees, including the Reuters, brought pies that an auctioneer sold to the highest bidder to help pay someone’s medical bills. David remembers bluegrass-style music provided by a fiddler, banjo-player and others. At the conclusion of the event, those driving north towards Eureka Springs found the low water bridge impassable. Drivers climbed out of their vehicles and congregated at the water’s edge and decided to give the creek time to fall rather than taking the risk.
Located in the long, narrow Winona Hollow, the historic Winona building has been a place of learning and worship, as well as voting, meetings, homecomings and weddings. There have also been community pie suppers and dinners on the grounds.
If one peruses old maps, it is found that Winona Springs was the name of this community. Besides the school and church, at one time Winona Springs had about 20 houses, a post office, and a mill.
I’ve read that George Washington Pinkley had a hand in the building of the Winona School and Church sometime before 1893. His daughter, Luella, married my great-grandfather Walter Weems there in 1901.
I live in Winona Township and we used to vote at the Winona School and Church, but it was eliminated as a polling location several years ago. If you were handicapped and couldn’t make it into the building, a poll worker would bring a ballot out. Often, voting on a chilly November morning, a roaring fire in the General-Wesco Jumbo woodstove kept things warm. It was a pleasant and friendly place in which to participate in democracy. I miss it. We now vote in town and it just isn’t the same.
Now this historic building is needing a new roof and repairs. An old-fashioned pie supper and silent auction will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, November 20, at the ECHO Clinic. You can also donate at the First National Bank of North Arkansas or mail donations to P.O. Box 367 in Berryville, Arkansas 72616.
McKinley Weems remembers as a boy the first time he saw Lola Wolfinbarger. His family was traveling to a burial at the Rockhouse Cemetery and stopped at the Wolfinbarger house. Lola and her sisters were in the yard.
On June 18, 1939, McKinley Weems and Lola Wolfinbarger of Eureka Springs were married. They both come from families where you count your cousins by the dozen. Mac was the eighth of the nine children of Walter and Luella (Pinkley) Weems. He was born and raised on Magnetic Road, except for when the springs were dry during the Great Depression and they lived next door to Aunt Cora Pinkley-Call in town.
Lola was the seventh of ten children born to Arl and Mary Lula (Cordell) Wolfinbarger. She was born and raised near Keels Creek southeast of Eureka Springs.
With the exception of the war years, they’ve always lived on the outskirts of Eureka Springs. They were away during the war when their first home burned down. When they returned they purchased the house at 1 Magnetic for $75 and lived there for almost 20 years. With a small house and a growing family, they built a new home to accommodate their eight children.
With so many mouths to feed, they’ve sometimes had to scramble to make ends meet. McKinley has been fixing and building things since his first job in 1934 at Mac Hussey’s garage on Main Street. He worked on radios and refrigerators for Ray Freeman and Eagle Thomas, before buying a bulldozer.
A farm girl, Lola has always known work. Besides farm work, she ran traps and sold animal skins before marriage. Since then she has raised children and gardens and owned and operated Country Antiques for nearly 40 years.
They’ve continued the tradition of having cousins by the dozen, with about 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren thus far. They’ve enjoyed the benefits of the large family, but they’ve also endured the loss of three children, two grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
Today, they celebrate the 75th anniversary of their marriage. It is called a “Diamond Anniversary.” I looked it up.
Richard Banks never married and was for several years the only African-American in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Born in 1913, he grew up on Cliff Street, had four years of education and was raised by his mother, Hattie Fancher, and later his Aunt Mattie. Both women were laundry workers. In 1939, Richard Banks worked 36 weeks for an income of $200. That information came from U.S. Census records.
I learned more talking to a handful of the many people who knew him. He bought hamburgers and Camel cigarettes at Vicie Pinkley’s Bus Stop Cafe across from the courthouse on Main Street. Even when invited in, he would extend his arm in through the door, the rest of him staying outside.
Richard Banks worked many years as groundskeeper for the Freemans at the Joy Motel. Tom Hughes said that before Rich had a car, he worked out an arrangement with Norman Tucker, owner of the taxi company, for cab rides up the hill to work. He also mentioned that if a black lady was staying at the Basin Park Hotel, Rich would show up looking sharp.
Several people mentioned he later drove a fine Model A Ford. Thomas Black recalled that Rich would give him rides up Benton Street to school, the car easily climbing the hill. He’d want to ride on the running boards, but Rich always insisted he get in the vehicle.
Others told me of Richard Banks taking aside African-Americans who came to town and giving them advice about what businesses and people to avoid. He did not want trouble for anyone.
I heard of Richard Banks fishing with Tommy Colvin and others. Once hunting out in the Hillspeak area, Duane O’Connor met Richard Banks in the woods. Duane, hunting with a single-shot .22 rifle, noted that Rich was carrying a shotgun. “Some do it for the sport, I do it for the meat,” Banks said.
The remains of Richard Banks’ house are on Barrel Spring Curve west of town. People said he’d stand at the window waving at the passing cars. He died in 1973 and is buried in the Eureka Springs Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Just a fraction of the stories I heard about Richard Banks are included here. If you have a story, comment or correction, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 43, Eureka Springs AR 72632.
I had a very nice message from Genevieve Head Bowman telling me that she, too, attended the film at the movie theater the evening of Pearl Harbor being bombed. The film was Shepherd of the Hills.