As a kid growing up in the 70’s I lived next door to a witch. Let me rephrase that, I believed my family and I lived next door to a witch.
Growing up in Rogers Arkansas during the 70’s probably wasn’t much different then growing up in another small town in America. Walmart was still in its development stage so downtown was full of mom and pop shops, there was four elementary schools, two junior highs, and one high school.
Lake Atlanta housed the town swimming pool. It cost fifty cents to enter, it opened at eleven o’clock everyday and was “the place to be” during the summer. Across the lane from the pool sat Lake Atlanta Skating Rink. It to cost fifty cents to enter, if you needed to rent skates you could for an additional twenty-five cents.
During the summer months the skating rink was usually abandoned so the owner had installed a miniature golf course next door, he would also rent the skating rink out for dances, wedding receptions, etc. during this down time. During the school year the place was filled to capacity every Friday and Saturday night. It was another the place to be”.
Hopping with the latest 70’s fashion the patrons of this fine establishment wore the latest rock-band T’s or flashy disco shirts, along with Levi jeans, and feathered hair doo’s, Oh yeah, fashion was on parade at Lake Atlanta Skating Rink. Of course, the cooler you looked on skates determined your level of popularity, and if you skated or sat out during couples skate.
The place was owned by a guy named Dennis. He was typical seventies. A skinny white guy, permed Afro, bell bottom slacks, satin shirt the was unbuttoned down almost to his mid stomach and shiny half boots that zipped on the side. He was cool! Dennis drove an awesome Stingray Corvette and was the envy of every adolescent male youth that hung around his establishment. I think he use to date my aunt Connie when they were in high school, he always asked about her.
We lived in a dry county so the only drinking night life for adults happened at a privately-owned spot in Rogers called The Anchor Club.
Rogers Arkansas was the typical bible belt town.
Everyone went to church on Sunday morning, if you didn’t you were a heathen. Our town had our share of heathen also, of course, I thought they were cool.
OH, THE HUMANITY
If you were male and between the ages of twelve and eighteen (or the youngest male that fell in between those ages, congratulations, you were that families designated lawn mower.
Lawns were to be mowed once a week, if you were creative enough there was always a couple of lawns on your block that was needing to be mowed, easy pickins for the up-and-coming entrepreneurs, they could rake in an extra three to five bucks per yard to fund his summer time goings-on. ✌
My families next-door neighbor had lived in an old rickety small white house that set on the corner of Nineteenth and Oak Street, her yard was thick with dense bushes, scraggly trees with very little little room left for a lawn, everything was overgrown and the place oozed with creepiness. This was where the neighborhood “witch” lived, her name was Lois Snelling.
She was a witch, we had evidence. She was old, had white wiry hair, she never looked or talked to any of the neighborhood kids, she didn’t have a car, she never went anywhere and no one ever came to see her. Need more proof, she didn’t go to church on Sunday, such Witchcraft.
Lois Snelling wasn’t a witch; she was however a bit of a recluse, or so she seemed, she lived next door to her sister and brother-in-law, (happens more than you think) they had lived on the corner of Oak Street and New Hope Road. This explains a few things, I later learned they would all go to town and do their shopping together and that Lois was active in the community and contributed to the local newspaper.
You see, Lois Snelling was a published author. She had written ten books mostly mystery, a few non-fictions, one of them was a biography of a colorful local founder by the name of William Hope “Coin” Harvey. My school librarian had once told me that her books had been published in at least six different languages.
Oh, the lost opportunity to talk to such a person. The stories she could have told. In 1980 Lois Snelling had donated to the University of Arkansas thirty-six research items she used to write Harvey’s biography.
Not a lot is known about Lois nowadays, but I want to change that.
I’m looking for her books, scouring the internet to learn more about this forgotten character, that has forever, been etched into my mind.
I owe that to her.
To be continued…..