An appreciation of Judge Dodson
Those of us who remember downtown Conway’s past Christmases featuring a lighted Christmas tree on the court house lawn appreciate your efforts to reinstate that city and county tradition. While the trees of the past could not today measure up to commercially manufactured trees with multitudes of bulbs, they provided decades of enjoyment. There was no money to be made by displaying them and few funds needed to acquire or maintain them. They were there simply to provide us with the anticipation of the coming holy season, regardless of the origin of their symbolism. The nearby, but now outlawed, nativity scene provided the balance needed.
We also remember the years when the Conway Theater handed out bags of candy canes and fruit to children who attended movies on a particular day. We had no idea who provided them, only that we were being gifted with treats many seldom had or would not have had otherwise.
Only a few downtown blocks had Christmas decorations that consisted of simple colored lights that hung across Front and Oak Streets from utility poles, and eventually the city added some tinsel decorations. A parade was held, and we couldn’t have asked for more.
We had a bustling town where citizens would gather on the sidewalks on Christmas eve while taking a break from evening shopping. Former residents or college students from out of town who were home to visit family and friends found many acquaintances to greet. There were two theaters, J.C. Penney, Sterling’s and Ben Franklin stores and several cafes plus grocery, furniture and jewelry stores to name only a few businesses. Practically everything that anyone could want or need for holiday gifts or Christmas dinner was available for purchase.
So, Judge Dodson, you and your helpers are appreciated not only for your personal contributions to the spirit of giving that is so much needed today, but for the recollections that many long-timers will enjoy, as well as those to be created for today’s younger city and county residents.
— Vivian Hogue, Conway