Pauline Earnhart Jones, 88, is this year's Christmas Angel from Black Oak. She is well known and respected in and around Black Oak and never hesitates to take the time to get to know newcomers and greet visitors in her hometown.
"My father was a farmer by trade and moved east of the St. Francis River to buy land along the Honey Cypress Ditch near Black Oak," Mrs. Jones said. "We lived through the floods of 1927 and 1937. Floodwaters got within an inch from the top of our porch, but never got in the house. We stacked logs in the barn and put hay on top of them so the animals could get out of the water. We just waited for the water to go down.
"Farm people always found a way to get though things. We had food stored up and warm beds to sleep in. We had enough wood for heat and cooking."
Like all families braving the Great Depression, farmers made do with what they had without complaining.
"Christmas was always fun for us kids, regardless of the hard times," she said. "Treats in our stockings included apples, bananas, oranges, chocolate drops, Brazil nuts, English walnuts, and a stick of peppermint candy. This was just heaven to us. Mother would make us rag dolls and Daddy would make us toys throughout the year. We had a happy childhood, and felt most fortunate.
"One year we got a red wagon. Now that was really a treat. There were the six of us so Daddy made us take turns with him pulling us through the three room house, around the kitchen table and back again. We counted the turns and could hardly wait for our next one. Once he put his knee in the wagon and scooted around the table taking a turn for himself. We all laughed at the sight.
"Daddy was always fun loving. He had younger brothers and sisters himself and they would come and play with us.
"We usually stayed home for Christmas, as going back and forth to Jonesboro in a wagon took a long time. My grandparents lived about a half mile from the Aggie Road train stop on the railroad tracks in Jonesboro. We could ride the Moose train from Black Oak on the JLC&E train and get off at Aggie and walk up the hill to Mother's parents' house to visit in good weather."
"My brothers and sisters and I started to school at Caraway Central, then later to Upper Mangrum," she said. "We either walked to school or rode in a wagon. We had Christmas programs at school and church during the holidays and everyone took part.
"After I graduated, I moved to Jonesboro to work as a beauty operator. I had six friends who lived near me. We all went out skating one night and I met a nice boy named Roy Jones, who spent most of the night helping pick us up when we fell."
Roy lived in the Philadelphia Community, north of town. Before long the couple started dating. A Black Oak pastor married them in 1941, and they made their home in Jonesboro. Mr. Jones worked for Decanaly Distributing Company, driving a truck and delivering produce, and Mrs. Jones continued to work as a beautician.
"That November Pearl Harbor was bombed, and World War II was in full swing," Mrs. Jones said. "That was a hard first Christmas for us. Roy worked on the farm with his father, to help out, as laborers were in short supply due to the absence of men drafted into the service. Roy couldn't stand being home while so many family members and friends were at war so he joined the Air Force in Walnut Ridge. He was sent overseas to Africa and Italy, and returned to Jonesboro in three years and one month.
"We moved to Black Oak to farm, and lived on Allen Street. We would take our daughter Sherry and son Tim with us to eat Christmas dinner at Roy's parents' house in Jonesboro, and return to Black Oak for supper with my mother. It seemed that most of Christmas Day was spent on the road.
"Sherry loved dolls and took very good care of them. She also loved getting Teddy bears for Christmas. Later on records became her collection. Tim always loved tractors and action toys.
"There were always Christmas plays at church and school for us to attend when the kids were growing up. They both graduated from Monette High School and we attended Black Oak First Baptist Church.
"My children always liked turkey and ham, along with dressing, pies and cakes for Christmas. We have always liked the traditional meals, and still do.
"Black Oak was a very busy place in the 50s. I worked for Pop and Pearl Watson's store uptown. We would stay open until after midnight when the Mexican farm workers arrived in town, so we could sell them grocery supplies to set up housekeeping during the cotton season. You could hardly get a parking spot uptown during the fall."
Mrs. Jones went on to work at Basler Electric in Caraway, Singer in Trumann, and later for the Cooperative Extension Service in Jonesboro.
She served as a 4-H Club leader in Black Oak for over 15 years and as church clerk for eight years. She is an active member of the Black Oak Extension Homemakers Club.
"Like all small towns, everyone wears several hats," she said. "Whenever there is a job that needs doing, we just do it. We have a lot of community minded people in Black Oak who are always willing to volunteer their services."
Pauline and Tim Jones will be traveling to Lake Carmarant, Miss., this Christmas to be with Sherry DeFries and her family for the holidays.
"I have two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren now," Mrs. Jones said. "Being with all them is my favorite part of Christmas. I love to see the grandkids laugh and enjoy opening their gifts. We always eat big meals together and lots of leftovers. This is such a happy time of year and I don't want to miss a moment of it."