From Then To Now
My life has had many parts--farm, education, military, work, family, church and retirement.
Farm life began for me on June 7, 1941 on a small farm on Ditch 8 about a mile southwest from Tallapoosa. I was the youngest of five children and that was good—youngest is best!
Memories of the early years before beginning school are playing in the dirt by the side of the house, fishing in the ditch, playing with the neighbors that lived across the road or down the dirt road by Ditch 8 to the farm house north of the home place and sitting on the front porch in a swing watching the clouds of dust created by the cars on the gravel road of 153 before the asphalt topping was put on the gravel. I can remember thinking about where the cars were going and why they were going. I would think that someday I am going to travel roads—dusty and muddy dirt and gravel as well as paved roads--in cars and trucks to see places and people that were unknown to me.
Other memories from the early years of my life were the excitement when electricity was installed in our house which really improved the quality of our lives. We could have refrigerators that would make ice continually rather than having to rely on the “ice man” for delivery. Could have cold sodas rather than drinking them warm. For cooking of meals, an electric stove soon replaced the wood burning one and an electric washing machine replaced the gas powered one. The memory flashes through my mind of watching people struggle with trying to start the gas powered washing machine. Of course, the gas powered machine was a step of progress from the wash board in a tub or bucket! An electric radio replaced the battery one which meant that Cardinal baseball games were available without the challenges of a weak battery. Indoor plumbing arrived too which meant that it would not be necessary to make trips to the outside toilet especially on evenings when it was raining or snowing or to remember to “throw the priming” in the outside pump to prevent freezing when the temperature dipped below 32 degrees. Without owning a car we either walked to Tallapoosa to catch the Moose Train to Risco or Parma or “hired a car” for really important trips to the county seat of New Madrid or to Malden or Kennett. It was a big day when our family was able to buy our first vehicle.
Farm work for me consisted of chopping cotton, corn and soybeans in the summer and picking cotton in the fall. Some of the farm jobs never done were driving tractors, combines or corn pickers or working at a cotton gin or grain elevator. The jobs of operating the equipment to remove the cotton from the trailers and the “bagging and typing” operation of the press at the cotton gin were very interesting to me.
Fifty years ago (September 1958) at the beginning of our Senior Year at Gideon, each day of work began with a walk from the home place west on road 153, along the turn row beside the railroad track, down a dirt road to the house where Mr. O. M. and Mrs. Kathleen Fowler lived with their children. I picked cotton for Mr. and Mrs. Fowler during September and October of 1958. Farm work was not something that I enjoyed especially walking to the end of a cotton row that was wet with dew, the burrs that would often stick in my fingers and the pain in the back from bending to pick cotton and the weight of the cotton sack. The blisters from chopping cotton and withstanding the heat would be useful at future times in my life. Farm work was a source of motivation to think about the positive possibilities that education would have for my life!
Probably almost one third of my life has been spent attending school either full time or part time. Attending school was never viewed as being unpleasant. My parents had very limited formal education—it would be my guess that probably they had the equivalent of the third grade. My parents became a source of motivation to achieve as much education as possible plus school was always fun perhaps because of the opportunities to tinker with ideas (personal as well as from others), for socialization but it also was a steppingstone to employment opportunities. Gideon provided an excellent foundation for the years of education that followed our graduation in May 1959--
1947-59—Gideon Public Schools—there were too many favorite teachers to pick one
1959-63—Southeast Missouri State University—Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a major in history and social science and a minor in English
1963-64—part time graduate student while working to complete the requirements for a Master in Education Degree from the University of Missouri
1969-71—full time Graduate student in political science at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a Ford Foundation State and Local Government Intern with the City Manager of Union City, Tennessee
1972-78—part time graduate student in education at Southeast Missouri State University while working to complete employment requirements
Plans to be a soldier were never a part of my thoughts but the opportunity to serve our country came rather unexpectedly via the war in Vietnam. Realizing the draft was coming my way and wishing to attend graduate school, the decision was made to volunteer for the draft for two years of military service. This essentially involved writing a letter to the clerk of the draft board in New Madrid asking to have my name moved to the top of the list rather than to wonder when the notice for induction would be received. Military service--
1967-69—United States Army—a year at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and a year in Vietnam
1976-96—1221st Transportation Company of the Missouri Army National Guard in Dexter. In November 1990, the Company was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield/Storm with duty at Fort Leonard Wood and Saudi Arabia. We were on active duty through July 1991. Retired from the Missouri Army National Guard on May 1, 1996.
After a few years of work, the thought occurred that perhaps it would be a good thing to have a job for more than a year or two because it seemed that changes in employment were always happening for various reasons. It has been a great blessing of my life to always have had a job without any periods of unemployment--
1963-64—taught social studies at Arthur A. Hoech Junior High School in St. Ann, Missouri which was in the Ritenour School District of St. Louis County.
1964-67—Assistant Registrar at Southeast Missouri State University
1971-72—taught National and State Government course at Southeast Missouri State University
1972-77—taught special education, psychology and current issues courses at Bell City High School
1977-2003—worked for the Department of Mental Health of Missouri as a Mental Health Guidance Counselor and Service Coordinator. Retired on August 1, 2003.
My family is Dora, Annie and Joey--wife, daughter and grandson. I do not have any living brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, uncles or aunts. I do have cousins, nieces and nephews scattered around the country. Dora and I were married on December 27, 1969 and Annie Laurie was born on January 22, 1974. Grandson, Joseph Christian Cole Mullins was born on October 2, 2002. He started Kindergarten in August 2008. Annie works as a Social Worker for Lutheran Family and Children’s Services in Springfield, Missouri. Dora will retire March 1, 2009 from the Department of Mental Health of the State of Missouri after almost 30 years. She is really looking forward to that date!
Attended the Tallapoosa Baptist Church from age 5 until graduation from high school. At Southeast Missouri State University in the Fall of 1959, the decision was made to attend a Lutheran Church on Sunday and to attend afternoon chapel services at the Baptist Student Union. My attendance was not really great at either place. But, since 1990, Dora and I have been active members of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Poplar Bluff. There have been opportunities to be a member, President and Secretary of the Bootheel Chapter of Thrivent Financial Services which provides matching funds for community service and congregational projects for ten Lutheran Churches located in the Bootheel. A Wednesday evening book study of St. Andrew has been a lot of fun—am kinda of a coordinator of the book study but really enjoy the desserts that are served by the host.
The focus of my retirement from August 1, 2003 to the present has been church, politics, grandson and Secretary of the 50th Class Reunion Committee of our class with the monthly meetings in Malden.
An effort has been made to make trips to Springfield as often as possible to see Annie and Joey.
Took the plunge shortly after retirement to become involved in politics because there were many restrictions on political involvement for the 26 years of employment with the State of Missouri. My involvement continues at the levels of county (Committeeman of Poplar Bluff 4th Ward and Treasurer of the Butler County Committee), legislative district (Chairman of the 154th Legislative District Committee), senatorial district (Treasurer of the 25th Senatorial District Committee), congressional district (Chairman of the 8th Congressional District) and state (member of the State Party Committee as the Committeeman from the 25th Senatorial District).
The monthly meetings since October of 2004 of our 50th Class Reunion Committee in Malden have been so much fun—a great opportunity to renew friendships from so long ago. Feel so very lucky to be able to once again visit with so many classmates that were always so kind and helpful. The coming year is going to be a lot of fun as we prepare for our celebration at Labor Day 2009.
Fifty years ago as we made our way through our Senior Year at Gideon I can recall feelings of anxiety as well as excitement about the future. But, we always knew and have known (then and now) this for sure—our class has been always been prepared or perhaps equipped with mental toughness or determination or self reliance to always have the ability to change opportunities into accomplishments—we have lived with intent, seized the moments and life generally always blinked first for us. This will not change in the future even as our numbers become fewer and fewer and fewer . . . . . Thank you for the memories and for your friendship—then and now—forever and forever!
Art's Photo Album
Art and wife Dora 1984 Reunion