I am enjoying a book published from our area by our own Mark Twain. “Drawing Straws,” written by George Gilbert Pogue, (Stephens Press, Las Vegas) published in 2009 gives a glimpse of Noel, from the perspective of one growing up in that interesting little city. Does it make you, like it does me, kind of long for the 1960s?
“The little town of a thousand was nestled in a valley surrounded by bluffs and rolling hills. The year around, residents were nestled in a storybook setting. Townsfolk were like one big family. Everyone knew each other and enjoyed each other. They looked out for and supported each other. Even newcomers were welcome. Many Noel inhabitants were newcomers….Vacationers came to Noel, went home, sold out and moved to Noel to stay. A miniature golf course was on Main Street next to the Dairy-Ette. The Ozark Theater was across the street. Several cafes and gift shops and a tavern and the Shadow Lake Resort were built by the river. During the day, folks could swim, drink, and dance. At night, they could drink and dance. Some went swimming afterwards with the mirrored reflection of hundreds of yellow lights shimmering on the water…Elk River, fed by springs and two creeks, snaked its way through the county. Indian Creek came from a northerly direction. Another, Sugar Creek, came from the southern Arkansas hills which were on a higher elevation…. Water starts in Arkansas, goes through Missouri and then ends up some 30 miles west in the Grand Lake of the Cherokees in Oklahoma.”
Described as “a serious social commentary about the insular lives of rural people,” Mr. Pogue’s book is available at the McDonald County Historical Museum on Harmon Street (closed for the winter). We respond to correspondence sent to P.O. Box 572, Pineville, 64856 and you can learn more if you go to firstname.lastname@example.org or www.mcdonaldcohistory.org.
Some things may have changed since the 1960s in Noel, but personally speaking, it’s still a community where a single woman – should she be so unfortunate as to have an emergency on the highway — will not be left stranded for very long but what someone will stop, especially someone from that special McDonald County will offer assistance.
I don’t consider it an insult when those who think they know call us backward or “behind times.” As George Gilbert Pogue’s Roger tells his 10-year-old buddy, “Take all you can, Newton. For every ounce you take, give back two! That’s the law of my fun and return program! You’ll get the most out of life when you give the most!”
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.