I grew up in Arkadelphia, Ark., a small town in southern Arkansas. It has two colleges, Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University.
My mother's family, Clyde and Myrtle Key, lived in Arkadelphia too. My grandfather, Clyde, was a one-legged gunsmith. He lost his leg while working as a lineman for Arkansas Power & Light Co. That was back in the days when electricity itself was a miracle. After he lost his leg, he had to figured out a way to support his wife, son and daughter. So he became a gunsmith. I didn't realize - until he was gone - what an amazing man he was.
Here's a picture of Clyde in his workshop. I know - it looks like he has two legs - but one of them was made of wood and plastic. As is true with all the pictures on this page, you can click on the photo to see a larger image.
As a kid I would watch as he created gunstocks using nothing more than a band saw to roughly shape a piece of black walnut and then rasps and handsaws to give it a final form. Then, using just a triangular file, he would create elaborate checking patterns in the stock. I wish I had paid more attention but - at the time - I figured anyone could do stuff like that.
Clyde also created a terrific top water fishing lure with an unlikely name, Glutton Dibbler. At first, he created each lure by hand, using a homemade lathe to turn pieces of broomstick into a lure. Later, he had the lure manufactured by Heddon. The Glutton Dibbler is long out of manufacture and, nowadays, can bring up to $75 when you can find one on eBay.
My parents met, after my dad returned from the Eighth Army Air Force (back when it was the Army Air Force) and World War II. His parents, Gordon Morgan Husted and Lillian, lived in Arkadelphia at the time. My dad saw my mom walking down the street. But, as he told the story, in those days a man didn't just walk up and start talking to a woman he didn't know. So, he discovered that her dad was a gunsmith and fishing tackle repair guy, and hatched a plan. He took his best bamboo fly rod and broke it over his knee. Then he took the rod in for Clyde to fix and, eventually, met my mother, Peggy Jean Key.
I spent my entire childhood in Arkadelphia, first grade through college. My dad held various jobs during that time, starting out as a salesmen for Keds tennis shoes, calling on small shoe stores in Arkansas.
Later, he became a salesman for a small boat company called Ouachita Marine and Industrial in Arkadelphia. He was president of that boat manufacturing company when it closed in 1976.
Here's a picture of one of the boats he built. That's Mike Smalley at the helm. He was nice enough to send a photo of a Ouachita Spirit that he's beautifully rebuilt. You can click on the small picture to see a larger version.
My dad's sister, Maxine, also lived in town. Her second husband, Lloyd Burke, received the Congressional Medal of Honor for amazing heroics during the Korean Conflict. If you click on this link and scroll down to his name, you can read about it here.
If you click on the picture, you can see some of my family. From left to right, in the front row, there's my dad, I'm the baby, then my mom. Sitting next to my mom is Maxine and she's next to her first husband, Red Hardin. They're holding up my cousin, Mike. In the rear are, at left, my dad's mom - Lillian - and at right, her husband Gordon Morgan. Gordon Morgan Husted was known as G.M. Husted and my dad, universally, was H.E. Husted.
Most of my family still lives in Arkansas. My sister, Susan Murch, lives with her family near Hot Springs. My father is dead now and my mother lives with Susan. My brother, Scott Husted, is a physician in Blytheville, Ark. For some photos, click here.
I don't get back to Arkansas as much as I would like but I sometimes think that I'd like to retire in Hot Springs. It's a beautiful little resort town - which was famous as a vacation place for mobsters back in the Capone era (in fact, my grandfather fixed guns for some of the folks who vacationed there).
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