In the 1967 movie version of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical "Camelot," King Arthur painfully accepts the death of his drams with these words: "Never let it be forgotten there once was a spot for one brief shining moment was known as Camelot." With that same degree of nostalgia, love and admiration, hundreds of men and women across America took to a little spot on earth in the Delta Region of Northeast Arkansas and remember what life was like in the vanished community of Lost Cane, Whistleville, Little River, and Roseland. And, like King Arthur, when they were young they dreamed of riches and a world of peace and eternal progress.
Today, these communities exist only in the memories of their survivors, and on Saturday, Sept. 27, many of these proud citizens will assemble at the Manila Airport Community Center in Manila to share their memories of yesterday and catch up with time in the lives of old friends.
I am only one local organizer of this event and remember many of these people with genuine fondness. I recall Charles Harris as being a very caring person with a tremendous sense of humor, who never met a stranger, and would not withhold assistance from anyone in need. Joe Towles was as a true friend who was killed in an auto racing accident in Memphis in 1975. Elton McCann, Jerry Pate, Jerry Stutts, Wayne Boren, J.R. Whitbey, Harry Parks, Ray Birmingham, Lavelle Tatum, and many others all became very successful and productive graduates of the Lost Cane public school.
I, along with other graduates of Lost Cane, have often expressed appreciation for Lloyd Mathes, principal of Lost Cane Public School, for his wise leadership and loyal support while students under his guidance. Mr. Mathes was one of those educators who believed that teachers do not instill anything in a child, they only encourage the development of what is there.
When counseling his son, Luke, the late Time Russert of the NBC News staff, said: "The world owes you nothing. But you owe the world a good, decent, and honest life." These are the characteristics Mr. Mathes fostered in his students and these are the characteristics that still live today in the graduates of Lost Cane.
In Northeast Arkansas today there is no visible sign of Lost Cane, Whistleville, Little River or Roseland, but for thousands of good men and women that's where dreams were born and a good life had its beginning.
For more information regarding the reunion, contact Boyd Estes, 36 Pleasant Run, Mammoth Spring, AR 72554; phone (870) 966-4012.