This August I took the family all the way from
North Carolina to see Pine Bluff, my hometown. Learned all kinds of things Like it is home to an Oscar winning movie cowboy (look up
Broncho Billy. And Freeman Owens) and is on the longest bayou in the world (Bayou Bartolomew). So why I left Pine Bluff to go to Tulane for college I’ll never know .
I have had to defend Pine Bluff in a Letter to the Editor to the Raleigh paper when they wrote that UNC was playing Arkansas in Michael Jordan’s time in a “backwoods” town. And then, on this very Board, I have heard Pine Bluff called dangerous. Often by fellow former residents like myself.
Well, this morning, the local news reported that a murder happened last night on the very street my son lives on in Durham. And a cop was shot at while investigating a crime on the same street my wife grew up on in Enfield, NC,
So what’s the safe place now? So glad I could give my family respite in a safer place this summer .
I rode my bike all over town, walked to the park, etc., as a kid. It was very safe. Statistically it’s hardly as safe now. As someone told me “Hope you enjoy your stop at the Pine Bluff Walmart in the middle of the night. Because it will be your last.” But like most places, I doubt PB was as safe as we thought it was way back then and is as dangerous as some people think it is now.
Btw, worst crime back then? Someone stole my bike. Turns out a kid was stealing bikes right and left. And his Dad was helping him disassemble the bikes in their garage, put parts from different bikes together, and paint them, to produce supposedly unidentifiable new bikes. But my fender, with my serial number, was found painted on one of those bikes, so they were found out anyway.
I remember Ben Pearson. At one time they not only manufactured bows and arrows, they had indoor ranges like bowling alleys where the target came back to you so you could retrieve your arrows.
Helena and Pine Bluff were once thriving. Now Pine Bluff”a downtown is crumbling and Helena’s is too. Although Helena’s downtown was pretty deserted even when I went there years ago, I could see it was a beautiful city, loved the idea of the blues festival although I never made it to that, etc. Sad.
Pine Bluff is my hometown too. Spent the first 32 years of my life there. I also rode my bike everywhere and the city buses to go downtown. I grew up right behind Hestand Stadium where rodeos and the county fair was held. It was a great town growing up in the 60’s. I have seen the danger up close and personal. In the late 70’s I was a manager of Wiengartens in Pine Bluff and was robbed at gunpoint twice. The first robbery happened while I was locking up for the night at midnight. The bad guys shot (3 times) my best stocker and good friend Don Carter. It was touch and go for a couple of weeks but he lived. They also pistol whipped one of my checker. Lilly was a sweet 19 year old mom of an infant. One bad guy kept putting the gun to my temple and saying he was taking me out. I gave him all the money so thankfully he didn’t. The second robbery was on a Sunday morning. The bad guys had hidden in the store Saturday night and got me as i opened the front door. Nothing like opening a safe with a gun to your head. Got in in one try…whew. Years after that me and Suzi went to eat at Catfish City in LR. The lady at the register was Lilly. She did not recognize us at first but when she did she ran around and hugged us and cried. She is a sweetheart.
What’s funny (kinda) like @ncschwartz3650 I left to go to New Orleans. That’s where I got started with Little Debbies. We were only there 5 months until they promoted me and moved me to Little Rock.
I took my daughters to both mine and my wife’s childhood homes about 20 years ago. They asked if they were crack houses. They sure looked like a crack house.
, Jim Beam and Busch Beer…And a Pine Bluff short.
Brings back the memories jacksonreid. I had about a 30 yr. love affair w/Jjim Beam
and my beer of choice for about 10 years was Busch Lite early '80’s.
I’ve mentioned before as I recall 1981?.. My real father which was an electrician by trade and me at the time looking for work came back to L.R. from Tenn. He
needed some help with a project he and an old running working/drinking buddy of his were unfolding to the Pine Bluff Arsenal to restore all the old telephone poles
at the arsenal. He needed a plan and a time table laid out on a graph for presentation and I worked one up. It worked so for the next 3 or 4 months we
exchanged all the poles with new lighting.
I don’t recall P.B. smelling foul back then.
We played a state high school baseball tournament there in 1962 and I think in 1964. Won both times. I went to high school at Greene County Tech in Paragould. I remember the smell. Was it from the paper mills? I believe it was the 1962 trip the coaches brought fast food hamburgers to the hotel rooms and one of the guys got a burger with no meat. Just a bun and a little bun at that. Funny. I have always thought of Pine Bluff as being the home of the meatless burger. Who would have thought that in 2023 that would be a good thing!
There are 2 paper mills in Pine Bluff. That was the smell. Pine Bluff was a a big baseball town for sure. Not these days. We were married in Pine Bluff in 71 the population was about 75,000 the last I looked it’s around 36,000 now. Both paper mills have much less jobs, the railroad jobs are basically gone so job opportunities are much less. It’s sad to see he demise. All my family has moved away.
My Mom did her grocery shopping at Weingarten’s. It was only blocks away from our first house. And left Arkansas to go to New Orleans for college. Going to NOLA in May, go back almost every year, including last year the 50th anniversary of my graduation from Tulane. Where I was seated with the Mannings’ neighbor at our farewell meal at Galatoire’s. Small world.
And we were members of Eden Park. Went back to see it as an adult, thinking the pool looked SO big when I was young only because I was just a kid. Wrong! It was still enormous.
At age 6 I think, did not believe my Mom when she said the pool was closed for the season, snuck out with my dog and my belongings, and went to the bus stop. My Mom rescued me before I took the bus to who knows where, although I had faith it did, it didn’t go to the pool.
Grew up in DeWitt
When the wind was right you would get that smell from Pine Bluff
Then lived in and practiced medicine in Pine Bluff for three years in last ‘80’s. It was a dichotomy of a town. There was terrible poverty and squalor, and there was big, old money. We left before the kids reached school age.
Meatless burger? Saw a comedian last week. He said “Two members of my family are vegan, the other two are healthy. The vegans eat Beyond Burger. Where they start with plants and produce something like a burger. Cows do that too, just a lot better.”
Im from Helena…back then in late 60’sit was a thriving community. With west Helena it was about the size russellville is now. Went off to the service and 4 years later when i got out it had gone down hill and people were moving out. Never lived there again…got on down the road to NLR…been here since…