Long­time res­i­dents gather

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - LYNN ATKINS latkins@nwadg.com

One mys­tery was solved at the Bella Vista His­tory Mu­seum on Sun­day. Long-time res­i­dent Bob­bie French re­vealed how the Hi­wasse Hil­ton got it’s nick­name.

Back when Cooper Com­mu­ni­ties was em­ploy­ing mul­ti­ple sales peo­ple to sell build­ing lots to po­ten­tial new res­i­dents, the sales­men were re­quired to wear suits ev­ery day and drive ei­ther a Cadil­lac or a Lin­coln. In the 1960s and ’70s there weren’t many places to eat in the area, so the sales­men gath­ered at the con­ve­nience store in Hi­wasse at meal time, park­ing their fancy cars in front, mak­ing the con­ve­nience store look like a much dif­fer­ent type of es­tab­lish­ment.

French was one of about 20 res­i­dents who met at the mu­seum to rem­i­nisce about the early days of Bella Vista.

Bill Reece moved to the area in 1968. As the res­i­dent liv­ing in Bella Vista the long­est, mu­seum staff awarded him a Bella Vista hat and a gi­ant cof­fee mug.

“The best thing about Bella Vista is the peo­ple,” Reece said. He re­mem­bers throw­ing rocks out of the gar­den which his black lab re­trieved un­til the day he came back with a snake bite on one paw.

Con­stance Wad­dell — the au­thor of “Sally and Me,” a book about grow­ing up in Bella Vista when it was still a sum­mer re­sort — re­mem­bered hear­ing the snakes drop down from the path into the creek as she climbed the hill to her fa­vorite rock.

“I don’t know what my mother was think­ing let­ting me walk up there,” she said.

Wad­dell was born in Bella Vista, but did not live in town as an adult, so she missed out on the award for liv­ing in Bella Vista the long­est. Jackie Carter, who moved to Bella Vista in 1970, was the woman who has lived con­tin­u­ously in Bella Vista for the long­est time.

Terry Maien­schein moved with his wife, Linda, to Bella Vista in 1969. They were much younger than the other new­com­ers to the re­tire­ment com­mu­nity. Maien­schein took a job at Cooper Com­mu­ni­ties as a sales­man. He re­mem­bers one day in the “sales pit,” the room where vis­i­tors were taken to close a sale on a lot. He looked away from his own cus­tomers to see the sales­man at the next ta­ble kneel­ing on the floor with his cus­tomers.

Later, the other sales­man ex­plained that the cus­tomers were think­ing about buy­ing but wanted to pray on it first. Rather than let them leave the sales pit, the sales­man in­sisted they pray right then and there.

When some­one asked about snakes, Maien­schein said the sales­men told cus­tomers that they were solv­ing the snake prob­lem by im­port­ing mon­gooses. The mon­gooses were ac­tu­ally na­tive ground hogs.

Josephine Keith, the daugh­terin-law of E.L. Keith – the re­sort owner who sold old Bella Vista to John Cooper – re­mem­bered help­ing her fa­ther-in-law as a newlywed. She and her hus­band ran the skat­ing rink some evenings. If it wasn’t busy, they spent the time lis­ten­ing to mu­sic.

Like Wad­dell, Keith moved away and then re­turned to Bella Vista. She lives in the house her fa­therin-law built.

Wayne Cal­houn Jr. hasn’t lived in Bella Vista very long, but he vis­ited his fa­ther, Wayne Cal­houn Sr., for many years be­fore mov­ing here. He said he moved here to help his par­ents, but they didn’t need him un­til much later.

He wanted to or­ga­nize the meet­ing of long-time res­i­dents for his fa­ther, but in March Wayne Cal­houn Sr. died at 101 years old. He had helped de­velop the Re­cy­cling Cen­ter and the am­bu­lance ser­vice, his son said.

Xyta Lu­cas, the pres­i­dent of the Bella Vista His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, said one rea­son for the event was to en­cour­age res­i­dents to visit the mu­seum and that was very suc­cess­ful. Once word got out about the event, there was so much in­ter­est, the or­ga­niz­ers had to turn some res­i­dents away. There just wasn’t space for ev­ery­one, she said.

Most of the par­tic­i­pants stayed to talk long after the cam­era was turned off, Lu­cas said.

Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista

Res­i­dents who moved to Bella Vista in the ’60s and ’70s were in­vited to a re­cep­tion at the mu­seum on Sun­day, Sept. 16.

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