No better place for the holidays
Willie Faye Veach Dobbs is quick to say there is no better place for the holidays than Lost Cane. She is about to celebrate her 89th Christmas. Most of them were spent in the house she grew up in, the house she raised her sons in, and the house she still calls home today.
Lost Cane is located near Manila and Willie Faye's family was among the early settlers of the area. She is the youngest of seven siblings of Bob and Delue Veach.
Willie Faye said her mother left Ohio with her family traveling by boat down the Tennessee River.
Her parents met in a logging camp at Brinkley. Her mom's family was cooking for the workers and her dad was working in timber. The rest is family history. They married and settled in the Lost Cane area where they helped build what was once a thriving community with houses, stores, school, two churches and more.
Her dad cleared land for farming, had a saw mill, owned a store, and built houses.
“In those days people were only allowed so much land to clear,” she said. “My dad cleared his quota. A lot of people got discouraged with farming and left the area. My dad would buy their land. Some of my nephews and great-nephews have continued to farm the land throughout the years.”
The house Willie Faye lives in was built by her dad in the 1920s.
“He built it for a Blytheville couple to live in and run a store he owned,” she said. “The store was located across the road from the house.”
The couple didn't live in the house very long and later her dad moved his family into the house.
“Water got into the house in the 1937 flood,” she said. “Dad built a basement to prevent it from happening again. The basement has been used for storage space.”
Growing up in Lost Cane, Mrs. Dobbs went to Lost Cane School until she finished the eighth grade and then went to Manila High School. She graduated with the Class of 1946.
“Some of my friends commented about me not coming to town very much,” she said. “I told them we didn't need to come to town we had the best school, two churches, a gym, a cafeteria, two stores and the best looking boys.”
During her high school years when the water would rise, the Lost Cane bus would take students to Floodway and they would walk the trestle and the Manila bus would pick them up.
“I have a lot of good memories of growing up at Lost Cane,” she said. “My dad loved to go and no matter what Mom was doing, when Dad came in and said, 'let's go,' we were off. One day he came in and said let's go on a picnic. We stopped in Jonesboro and bought some dry ice and ice cream for our picnic. It was a fun day. When we finished we had ice cream left so Dad stopped at a house and gave it to a family. As we got down the road, he decided he needed to turn around and go back to make sure they knew not to eat the dry ice. I can remember the first Christmas parade I went to. Dad took me to Caruthersville to watch the parade. At that time no one around here had parades.”
Willie Faye married J.R. Dobbs in 1948. He was from Whistleville. Her dad built them a house next to the homeplace.
When her dad got sick, they moved in with her parents so they could help care for him. After her dad passed away, her mother lived with them for 30 years.
The house has undergone many additions and renovations. The original four room house now has two master bedrooms, three bathrooms, garage, three bedrooms, office, and a second kitchen (where J.R. liked to bake hot rolls).
J.R. and Willie Faye have two sons, Joe and Philip. During their growing up years they would celebrate Christmas at home in Lost Cane and then go to Florida for a beach vacation.
“It always seemed odd to pack shorts and bathing suits in the winter,” she said. “Later we enjoyed spending time at the lake at Robinson Point. It was a lot of fun.”
After the boys grew up, J.R. bought a truck and Willie would travel with him.
“I remember one day we picked up a load in New York just 23 miles from Canada. We took it to an Army base in one of the Carolinas,” she said. “We had to pull up on a ship to unload the truck. We were traveling and were in Fargo, N.D., when J.R. told me he was going to stop by the office of Steiger Tractor Co. to apply for a job. He did apply and got the job. He was a service representative and we traveled everywhere for the company. It was in the day of party lines but they had us a private phone put in so he could be contacted. We would get up every Monday morning and either fly or drive to some very interesting places. We would never be gone over two weeks. In all those years we were safe. When we got home nothing was ever bothered. I always loved going but I was happy to be back home."
The company merged with Case and J.R. and did not continue with the new company.
Other adventures were waiting on the couple as he went to work as a service representative with Eagle Bus Co. out of Brownsville, Texas. The couple traveled a lot with the company all over the United States and Canada.
“Those custom buses were really something to see,” Willie Faye said. “Once the company moved us to New Jersey for four months. They rented a house for us and we enjoyed seeing all of the sights. Driving in New Jersey was an adventure in itself.”
Willie said there is a lot more traffic in New Jersey than Lost Cane.
“J.R. won a trip to Hawaii and we had a wonderful trip,” she said. "Through all of my travels I feel God was right there by my side. I was never frightened. We traveled a lot of miles but always made it home safe. J.R. and I loved going and we loved coming home to Lost Cane. J.R.'s last job was with Cotton Growers, close to home. He passed away in 2010.”
Mrs. Dobbs is looking forward to another Christmas with her family. She has five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She is called G-Mom by her grandchildren.
She has always loved caring for the home she has lived in all of her life. It holds a special place in her heart and is filled with precious memories going back 80+ years.