Life in Possum Holler

Saline County, Arkansas, United States
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24 February 2002

Telephone Interview with Robert S. Earle, 24 February 2002

Telephone Interview with Robert S. Earle, 24 February 2002
Carolyn Earle Billingsley

Daddy used to go fishing in Fourche Creek in Little Rock when he was a little boy. He often went with his cousin James Lee Branch, the son of G. F. (Flynn) Branch and his wife Earl Elrod.[1] They crossed over Roosevelt Boulevard near where the State Police Headquarters are now and down Brown Street to Fourche. Daddy said he caught sunfish (perch) and one time caught a catfish that must’ve been all of seven inches long—but he thought he’d hooked a monster.

G. F. and Earl Branch had another son, G. F. Branch They also had a daughter Margie, who married a Graves and now lives in El Dorado (Dad just talked to her recently and got James Lee’s phone number in Florida but he never did reach him) There was another daughter (name not remembered) who lived with Daddy’s grandparents in Little Rock so she could go to high school there while her parents were living in Pine Bluff. Her father Flynn worked at that time as a janitor at Watson Chapel School. At one time the Branches lived at 2004 Valmar Street, right down the street from where Daddy was born and lived when very young.

James Lee Branch was older than Daddy by about four years. One time, he was flipping Daddy and broke his collarbone. His grandfather took him to the doctor and then brought him home on the trolley with a big board supporting his back and collarbone, but his grandmother took one look at that and said, “He’s never going to keep that on his back for six months!” and sent it back to the doctor.

James Lee Branch flew missions over Germany during WWII and was shot down over Bremen. He spent a couple years as a POW.

Gene Hudson was another friend of Daddy’s (and his aunt was ____ Millican). They went off to some school in Oklahoma together at one point. Gene’s mother owned Eula’s Shoe Shops in Little Rock and had seven or eight stores. Gene was going to set up another shop somewhere and Daddy set up a shoe repair shop in Rose City, but he never really had much business. Mother was working at some job and they had $40 a week to live on. Gene Hudson was a distributor for some food company and could get them all the macaroni they could eat, so they lived on that, plus eggs from Daddy’s grandparents and milk and beef from Mother’s parents.

A few years ago (Daddy estimates about 1998–1999), Gene came up missing and they finally found him dead in his car along the Pine Bluff Highway. He’d had an accident and I guess no one could see the car from the road.

[1] I’m not sure how Earl Branch and Robert S. Earle—or his grandmother Sarah Jane “Janie” Elizabeth (Keesee) Earle—were related, but since Earl Branch’s maiden name was Elrod, I suspect that she is a descendant of one of Sarah Jane Elisabeth (Keesee) Earle’s half-siblings by her mother’s first marriage to an Elrod. Daddy stated that he and James Lee Branch were definitely cousins through his grandmother Janie Earle.