Smackover, Arkansas – Historic Jail

This isn’t a hiking post, but it does involve some exploring in the southern part of our state where my father grew up. A couple of years ago, my dad and I made a visit to his hometown, Smackover, Arkansas. Since my dad died last year, the memory of that short visit to Smackover has increased in importance.

The photos I found most interesting were of the old jail. Daddy remembered the location but never had to make a visit there himself. He said it was conveniently located close to the busy downtown area where men often got into trouble during the oil boom of the 1920s. The concrete jail is on the back ally of South Broadway Street. South Broadway Street has one of the only pedestal traffic lights in our state. It is pictured here with the public library in the background. IMG_9039rr

When my dad said there used to be a jail close by, I was eager to see. We walked to the ally behind the commercial buildings on South Broadway and looked around. I was fascinated when I saw the old concrete structure that looked like a cooler at first glance.

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The lock on the door was the only evidence of anything “new.” My dad said if a guy started misbehaving from consuming too much alcohol back during the oil boom, he could easily be thrown into the jail to sleep it off.

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IMG_9068rrThe windows were reinforced with rebar and expanded metal.

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After our visit to the jail, we drove past the little house where I spent many weekends with my grandparents. Each evening my grandfather and I would stand on the front porch while he cleaned his pipe. We’d watch steam from a sawmill in the distance before going back inside to watch The Lawrence Welk Show followed by James Arness in Gunsmoke. A TV antenna on the side of the house brought the signal from one of two channels back in the 1960s.

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On Sunday morning, we’d load up Grampie’s black ’57 Chevy and head to church. As Grampie was shaking hands after a service, the pastor smiled and said, “Arch, it really hurts my feelings when you doze off during my sermon.”  Grampie said, “Well preacher, it just proves I trust ya.”

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Warnock Arch Sudie Jimmy

In this old photo, my father and grandfather are on the upper right. My grandmother is on the far bottom right.

 

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