Fayetteville Youth Center

The Youth Center was a great place to hang out when I was in junior high school. After graduating from high school, I spent much time there during my first couple of years in college working part time as a basketball coach for elementary and seventh grade teams.

Fayetteville Public Library, 1960

Before the Fayetteville public library was at its present location and before it was in its previous building on E. Dickson  Street, it was located up a steep flight of stairs in a building on West Mountain Street, just down the block from the Ben Franklin store at the southwest corner Mountain and S. Block Avenue . I think I started to use the library regularly when I was in the 7th grade. I checked out lots of teen books with a plot involving baseball.

The card shown above was issued for use at the new library building on Dickson Street that had replaced the old one on Mountain Street. It was part of the latest in book check-out technology. With the card shown above, you needed only to present the card and the book to the librarian. The card was inserted into a simple machine that stamped the number onto a check-out card, along with a due date, and you were done.

Bowling League Champs, 1962

I joined a Saturday morning bowling league in 1958. To do so, I had to give up piano lessons with Mrs. Delano, a kindly woman who went to the church I attended. Her hobby was painting rustic scenes on rocks. I think took my decision to stop taking lessons with with disappointment. We both understood that I was too lazy to practice the piano regularly and had no special musical talent.

While quitting the piano lessons disappointed my grandmother and my parents (they had bought me a piano), I was quite relieved to be heading to the Ozark Bowling Lanes on Saturday mornings instead of butchering some simple-minded piano tunes because of my lack of practice.

My dad, who worked at the Arkansas Western Gas Co. at the time, had been in a weekly bowling league on the Gas. Co team. He seemed to enjoy it and the group of men had lots of fun. I went with him some nights and mostly hung around the pinball machines. When I had a few extra nickels, I would play a machine with a baseball game. For this game, the player controlled the bat and swung at pitches offered up by the machine. More often than not, I did not get enough runs to win extra games, but it was a sweet feeling when things went well and the I got enough runs to hear the machine giving me free games.

I learned to bowl pretty quickly. An elderly man with thinning white hair ran the league taugh me the basis and was very encouraging. He seemed to always be in a good mood. Among the other bowlers, I recall Ricky Cowen, Carl Gabbard, Larry Bentley and Newt Land.

The second year, my bowling team won the league championship and ranked highly nationally. Somewhere in storage I have a trophy. I used to get it out to look at it when I started feeling bad about quitting piano lessons.

Justin Daniels Hitting .628: Babe Ruth Baseball Stats, 1958

I am not sure who put together these statistics, but I found them in a pile of my parents papers. One page shows the top batting averages for the 1959 Babe Ruth League. The other page has batting and pitching statistics for the Abshier Bryan team.

It seems that these statistics might be for the entire season: the Abshier Bryan statistics show that the team had won 8 games and lost six.

The names on these two sheets include many players that I looked up to.  At the time I was 12 years old, in Little League, and I had been watching these older players for years. Many of them, I knew from neighborhood games at the baseball field at Jefferson School.

Two of the players with the highest averages were my cousins. Justin Daniels led the league with a phenomenal .628 average. He had three home runs. Jerry Durning had a .500 batting average. Other familiar names on the list of top batting averages, Winston Wheeler, who lived on S. Washington Ave, near my cousins Justin and Morris, had a great record collection and was a fan of Ronnie Hawkins; Kenny Terry, who also lived on Washington Ave not far from Justin and Morris; and J.D. McConnell and George Faucette, who teamed up with Justin to make Fayetteville a formidable basketball team during the 1961-62 season; and . Several on the list were only a year or so older than me, and i played baseball, basketball and/or football with them in coming years, including Robert Wilkes and Harold Downum.

8th Grade Report Card: Good Attendance, Otherwise Pretty Sad

I forget how poorly I did in the 8th grade. I even got a B in physical education from Coach Harness. My only excuses for poor grades are that I was much more interested in sports than in studying and, as Mr. Taylor told my parents at a conference with them, I was exceptionally lazy. I had been put into accelerated classes when arriving at Hillcrest Junior High School and had some tough competition from students were more diligent and, in many cases, smarter than I. So, I muddled through the 8th grade and got smarter and a little more diligent as years went by. (I have to hide this grade information from my friend Natalia, who swears she always earned top grades and best-of-class awards when she was attending school in the Soviet Union and from my 12-year-old godson Danielka who is always being pushed to get better grades in his Russian school.)

"Kid" Durning, the Armory's Fighting Demon

My dad was a big boxing fan. One of the earliest thing I recall was going on Friday nights to watch the fights on a television in the window of the local power company.  Later, before we finally got our own television, we went some Fridays to watch especially important boxing matches on a television at Wayne Stout's house on South College, a few blocks south of Jefferson Elementary.

With this introduction to boxing, I became a fan and wanted to be a boxer myself. So, the Christmas when I was in the third grade (1955), I got a new pair of boxing gloves. With those gloves, a swim suit, and dirty socks, I was ready for battle (see picture above).

In the third grade -- I had spent the second grade at Robert E Lee Elementary in Springdale --  I started going up the College Avenue hill from Jefferson Elementary to the gym of the National Armory to take part in the sports there, including boxing. I know it was the third grade because I occasionally got Mr. Trahan, my 3rd grade teacher, to give me a ride there.

I am not sure if the Armory gym served as a Boy's Club or whether the after-school program was  city-financed.  I just remember there were lots of boys there every day. One of them, I remember, was an older guy (probably a teenager) who wanted to be a boxer, and he would jog around the edges of the gym holding a stool in one arm that was extended to his front. It did not look like fun and I wondered why they would do that.

One of the activities at the gym for smaller kids like me -- one of its attractions -- was boxing instructions. So, I got a chance to learn the basics of pugilism and, after a while, thought I was pretty good. I was usually beating the boys I fought with ease. Then one day, Coach Joe Holt, who was working there, pulled me over and put me in the ring to fight a scrawny Black kid who was quite a bit smaller than me. I had never seen before (interesting that in 1955 the Armory sports programs were integrated but the grade schools were not).

About 30 seconds into the first round, I realized that I was outmatched. My opponent was must quicker than me and he hit harder than anyone I had ever boxed. When he popped me hard a couple of times, I started wondering when the round would be over.

By the end of the first round, I had had enough of this foolishness, but Coach Holt told me it was a two-round match and that I would continue. I guess he had seen me rough up some lesser opponents and wanted to let me experience such treatment myself. Or maybe it was a lesson in not quitting. I spent a miserable three minutes in the second round backpedaling, trying to minimize the damage to my body. When the fight was over, I was very happy that I still had all of my teeth, even though my dignity was badly bruised.

After that day I put my boxing gloves in the back of the closet and starting spending much more time in the Armory playing ping-pong.  

American Legion Baseball, Season Ticket, 1965

I did not recall that admission was charged to attend American Legion Baseball games. The games were held at the baseball park at the old fairgrounds, and it was fenced off, so it was possible to channel people through an entrance gate and make sure they had a ticket.

Over the years, I watched and played lots of games at the fairgrounds baseball park. My first memory of it was when I, aged 9, tried out for a little league team. I vaguely recall a flock of kids being divided into groups, then going from station to station where we were tested on our ability to field a ground ball, catch a fly, and hit some soft tosses.

I was pleased when I heard at the end of the day that I had been selected to play on McIlroy Bank team and I remained on that team for the next four years. Among my coaches during those four years were Tony Adam's (FHS '65)  dad, Charles Crittenden's (FHS '65) brother, and Steve Halliday (FHS '65) data.

During the last four years I played oranized ball, the home games were at the fairgrounds park. Three of the years were playing American Legion ball; the fourth year was playing on the Razorback's freshman team.

I was sad several years ago to find out that the park had been demolished.

February 15, 1963 Basketball Game: FHS vs. Springfield Central High School

Basketball Statistics, 1964-65 FHS Bulldog Season

These two pages show statistics for the 1964-65 Fayetteville High School basketball team. The pages were complied by Coach Willard Smith. That year, we had a pretty good season and were ranked in the top ten most of the year. That year, FHS traveled for the first time to play teams in El Dorado and Texarkana. We also continued to play teams in Missouri.

The four players who usually started, Robert Wilkes, Kenny Ramey, Bill Crook, and I, had been playing together since the 9th grade at Hillcrest Junior High School, when we lost only one game. Unfortunately, most of us did not grow much after the 9th grade, so the team was not very tall. The fifth starter, who had played in the 9th grade at Woodland, was Louis Bryant. Though we were about the same height, he played as if he were much taller. In addition to the usual starting lineup, Bill Shirley and Johnny McNair played quite a bit every game.

Wilks, our best and most athletic player, was our inside guy and our leading rebounder. Bryant was both an inside and outside guy. I liked to to shoot from the outside and am shocked to see from these statistics that I led the team in shots attempted. No wonder Louis was always calling me "gunner." I really do not remember shooting so much. I just wish we had had a three-point arc in those days. Crook was more of a outside shooter, but since I was shooting so much, he probably did not get to attempt as many shots as he would have liked.

I started the season well, but had a terrible slump about midway through it. For a couple on games, including one important one at Springfield Central, my shots barely hit the rim. It got so bad that I when I took a jump shot, my thumb kept hitting my nose.

Kenny Ramey played guard. He rarely shot, but was a good playmaker and excelled at defense. Unlike Kenny, Bill Shirley was a shooting point guard. Johnny Mac was tall enough to help out at center and good enough to play forward.


Lawdy ah swear, it's Mrs. Shepherd, 1960

Mrs. Shepherd (left)

Mrs. Shepherd was a frequent substitute teacher at Hillcrest Jr. High. I walked into many classrooms to find, with surprise, her standing there waiting for the bell to ring. I instantly knew I would spend the next hour listening to the deepest Southern accent of any person I knew. She was a kindly soul with a no nonsense exterior, and she contributed to my life in one big way: After hearing her talk, I swore that I would never, ever have such an accent -- or anything close to it.

One year, Mrs. Shepherd invited students for a picnic or some kind of weekend get together at her house. As I recall, it was a big old white two-story house out in the country, down a dirt road from Highway 71 before it reached Lake Fayetteville. As the afternoon progressed, a few of us explored the woods around her house and end up traipsing through the trees all the way to the shores of the Lake.

The location of her house, in about 1958, was behind the area where a small shopping center (Barnes and Noble) is now located.  If you drive on the road behind the Shopping Center will can turn off onto Shepherd Lane, which is lined with apartments.

Cousins Jerry and Kay Durning, 1953

Cousins Kay and Jerry Durning

I enjoy this old picture of my cousins Kay Durning and Jerry Durning. Kay was quite a bit older than me, and I did not know her well. Jerry was about three years older, and I saw much more of him through various non-school playground activities and the sports that he played.

Their dad, Bill or Willy as my dad called him, owned a garage on East Huntsville Road, not too far out of town. He made his living for decades fixing cars. The garage was decidedly utilitarian. It was heated by an old wood stove, and was pretty dark when the doors were closed. Plus it had strange smells. I determined at a very young age, after spending a few minutes in the garage, that I had no interest in fixing cars. Fortunately, Bill was very good at what he did and we could depend on him to take care of our auto problems.

Jerry is a good soul: I don't remember seeing him without the smile you see in this picture, though with more teeth. In his younger years, he was a very good catcher who hit for a high average in Fayetteville's Babe Ruth and American Legion Leagues. Also, he played football for Hillcrest anf FHS.

He married Shirley Eans, who was a classmate of mine from the third grade through high school. She was one of the smartest students around.

Pitching for Big State Baseball Camp in Monterrey, Mexico, 1963

Stolen from Gran Hotel Ancira,
Downtown Monterrey, Mexico, 1963

In late July, 1963, after the baseball season ended in Fayetteville, Bubba McCord and I went to Dallas to attended the Big State Baseball camp. It was a blast: baseball all day long in the hot Texas sun.

The camp brought together boys of various ages from throughout the United States to learn more about the game. Typically, the mornings were spent on instruction, then the afternoon was devoted to playing games. Both Bubba and I liked the head coach, Ogletree. And it was fun living in University of Dallas dorms and eating in the college's cafeteria.

Both Bubba and I did well at the camp and impressed the coaches. We were invited to join the Camp's All Star team that was going to Monterrey, Mexico to play some games against local teams there. After getting the o.k. and some cash from my parents, I was able to the make the trip, as did Bubba.

We were scheduled to fly out one night, but when we got to the airport, the airplane had engine problems. After a long wait at the airport, the group of 30 or so boys was taken late in the night to a nearby motel, then we were awakened very early to get on the repaired airplane. Because of these circumstances, I slept through most of my first airplane flight.

We stayed in downtown Monterrey, which was an exotic experience for most of us. The hotel was nice: the Gran Hotel Ancira. The most impressive part of the hotel was a large marble stairway from the ground floor to the mezzanine. I thought it was very classy.

I remember three of the games, in three different parks. We played teams whose players were older than us. As a pitcher, I got into only one game: I was the starting pitcher and that afternoon I threw the only no hitter of my "career."

The trip was a rich experience and, I think, it whetted my appetite for travel. I enjoyed walking around the town to see how people in Mexico lived and to experience the things there that differed from my normal life.

In 2003, forty years later, I returned to Monterrey on a business trip for the University of Georgia. The purpose of the trip was to continue efforts to establish a relationship with the University of Monterrey to facilitate student exchanges and other joint projects. I stayed at a hotel in Monterrey that had a large marble stairway, though its name was no longer Gran Hotel Ancira. As we drove around the town, I kept looking for the baseball park where I pitched my no hitter, but never spotted it.

For more about Bubba and baseball, see Bubba's Nemesis: The Battle for the 1962 Championship of the Fayetteville Babe Ruth League at this link:

FHS Basketball, Justin Daniel and J.D. McConnell, 1961-1962

The 1961-1962 Fayetteville High School Bulldogs had an outstanding basketball team led by two superb athletes whose talents were augmented by several other excellent athletes. The best two players are shown in these pictures. J.D. McConnell played guard, putting to use his height, fluidity, and almost magical no-look passing. Justin Daniel was the center, though he was the same height as J.D.; he was a warrior with a hook shot.

I have written a few pages about the season of Justin and, J.D. It is available at this site:

That article tells how the Bulldogs lost narrowly to the North Little Rock team in the Arkansas State Tournament. During that game, the team's main problem was getting the ball up the court: both Justin and J.D. played well against NLR, but the NLR team disrupted the guard play. One of the reasons for this problem was that Troy Steele, a fine player who had been the team's main guard, was missing (see his picture below, front rwo center). When I wrote about the FHS-NLR game, I did not know why Steele was not playing in the tournament. I have been told that he was kicked off of the team (by the principal, not the coach) because he got married during the season.

Young love cost FHS a state championship.

Fayetteville Cub Scouts, 1956-57

Thanks to volunteers such as Eugene Snow, Philip Snow's father, boys at Jefferson Elementary School had their own Cub Scout Pack, No. 40, with eighteen members. The adults who led the Pack 40 were Eugene Snow, Cubmaster; Arlie Silvis, assistant cubmaster; plus committee members Lee R. Ballard, Robert Mhoon and D.R. Yarberry, chairman. William Combs was the Institutional representative and Mrs. Keith Robbins was a den mother.

Cub scouts included Billy Bradley, Jimmy Hawkins, Danny Whitehouse, Michael Wilson, Michael Yarberry, Danny Durning, Philip Snow, Chester Shipman, and Eugene Tucker.

I remember meeting sometimes at Philip Agee's garage on 6th Street, but cannot remember much else about the meetings. Somewhere I still have a cub scout knife.

Fayetteville City Housing, End of First Grade, 1954

Dan D and Candy on the steps of City Housing, 1954

Dan D and Billy Schader at
Fayetteville City Housing, 1954

Sometime during or right after the 1st grade, my family moved into city housing for a few months. Our unit was in a building near the intersection of W. South Street and Block Avenue. Archibald Yale Blvd was in our back yard.

Several kids lived in the neighborhood, including Billy Schader, whose family had a place in the city housing and Becky Thrasher, who lived across the street. There were enough kids to have good games of "kick the can" and "capture the flag" on long summer evenings.

At city housing, I got my second job. My first job had been selling my parent's used paperbacks door to door on College Avenue, where we lived during most of the time I was in the 1st grade. The second job, at city housing, was more substantial. I contracted with Randall Castleman, who delivered the Northwest Arkansas Times in the neighborhood, to take newspapers to the city housing units at which renters had subscribed to the paper. I got one cent for each delivery; Randall earned two cents for each delivery, so we split his pay. It seemed fair.

The other things I remember about the short stay in city housing, besides how hot it was inside the units, are (1) having my tonsils removed, pacified by the promise of ice cream afterwards; (2) coming home hoarse several times after preaching prolonged, loud sermons in the style of the preachers I had been hearing on Sunday.

Another City Housing Picture, Pretending to Play the Guitar
(I seem to be missing some front teeth but at least I had a stylish hat)
We moved from city housing to a new house on Highland Avenue in Springdale in time for me to start the second grade at Robert E. Lee Elementary.

Mr. Hankins, 5th Grade Teacher, Jefferson Elementary School

The picture is taken behind the Jefferson Elementary School. Probably, it was snapped at the end of a recess.  The man in the picture is Mr. Hankins, the sixth grade teacher. Behind him are Judy Schnofner and Melba Henderson. The blur of a boy may be Larry Moore. the girl nearest to the camera on Mr. Hankin's left is, I think, Loretta Lane. I am not sure who the girl with the hula hoop and the most distance girl are.

Hillcrest Jr. High Football Team, 1961

The mighty Hillcrest Indians, 1961.  Here are the names I remember:

Front row, left to right
Philip Combs, ?? , ? Carnes, ??,??,??, Ronnie Keeton, ??, Ricky Cowan
Second row
Coach Mac Harness, ??, Bob White, Kenny Ramey, Steve Halliday, Bill Fairchild, ??, ??, Lonnie McClelland, ??
Back Row
 ??, ??, ??, ??, Danny Durning, Eugene Tucker, ??,??, Jerry Smith

Missing:  Robert Wilkes and xx Fisher.

McIlroy Bank Little League Baseball Team, 1959

Front row
Jackie Smitherman, Tony Adams, Willy Bryant, Charles Crittenden, ??, ??, ??
Back row
Dean Halliday, Steve Halliday, Louie  Bryant, Pete Benton, Danny Durning, Mike Fitzhugh, Larry Parnell

Hillcrest Jr. High Basketball Team, 1960-61

Touch Football on Lower Field of Jefferson Grade School

Jefferson School Lower Field with Larry Stout (carrying ball),
Jimmy Hawkins ("tackling") and Mike Yarboroough (walking toward the camera)

During the time I was in elementary school, the lower field of Jefferson was a busy place place for recess, after school, and weekend recreation. It had a backstop and infield for baseball, wide expanses for touch football, plus ample room for marbles and generally running around. The upper playground had paved areas with playground equipment on south end of the school  (nearest Hanna's Grocery Store) and shortened basketball goals on the other end.

The picture above shows Larry Stout (with the ball), Jimmy Hawkins (with arms stretched for the tackle), and Mike Yarborough in the near background facing the camera.

During baseball season in the late 50's, the lower field was used for pickup baseball games. The Washington Street area had some good athletes who were several years older than me, including Justin Daniel, Winston Wheeler, Jerry Durning, Kenny Terry, and several others. They were the best players for these games, while younger kids like me and my cousin Morris Daniel would be allowed to play but were not to get in the way.

When I knew a game was coming, I tried to escape going to church, or at least to leave after Sunday school, to make it to the game on time. The games were a highlight of the week.

As I recall, the main concern was that some of the big hitter, such as Justin or Winston, would hit a ball that would go through the trees in left and center fields over the fence into the big picture window of the auto repair shop at the corner of 5th and Washington. That would have been expensive.


Mrs. Taylor Biology Class, 1963

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were two of the excellent teachers that we had in Fayetteville. Mr. Taylor taught science at Hillcrest Jr. High. Also, I was in his home room class. He once had a parent-teacher conference with my parents and his observed to them: "Danny is a pretty smart kid but he is really lazy." So, true.

Mrs. Taylor taught biology at Fayetteville High School. She exuded competence and confidence in her teaching.  I was both impressed and a little afraid of her. She told us that our grade would not be based on our absolute scores, but on how well we did compared to our abilities. (Yikes! Had her husband told her I was a lazy bum?)

Here is a pop test that Mrs. Taylor gave us on March 23, 1963. I'm not sure how she or any teacher put up with my atrociously crude handwriting. If I had not been so lazy, I would have improved it.

1963-64 FHS Basketball Schedule

This schedule showed FHS still playing primarily in the Ozark Conference (Central , Glendale, Parkview, and Hillcrest were in Springfield; Fayetteville was the only Arkansas team in the conferene), plus games in an Arkansas conference made up of area schools (Springdale, Ft. Smith, Rogers, Subiaco, Harrison, Van Buren and Valley Springs).  FHS had joined the Ozark Conference several years earlier when many Arkansas schools refused to play against us because the team was integrated. The Springfield teams provided tough competition.

The 1963-64 teams was mediocre. Paul Ramey, though lacking finesse, was probably the best player; Freddie Rice, Bunky Lee, Newt Land,  David Adams, Eddie Guinn, and others were capable players, but the team lacked a star.

Robert Wilks, a junior and the best athlete on the tam, played regularly and Louis Bryant got lots of minutes on the court; Bill Crook, Kenny Ramey, and I also got in several games, especially when it became apparent we were not going to win any championships that year.

The following year, FHS joined a new Arkansas Conference playing against not only Springdale, Rogers, Fort Smith and Harrison, but also going to El Dorado and Texarkana. We also played several games in Springfield and Joplin in 1964-65.

Chicken Dinner at Hillcrest Jr. High, 1961

I don't remember this dinner and am not sure why I have the ticket. I do recall a dinner at the Hillcrest Junior High School lunch room for boys who participated in football and basketball. Each student was to bring his dad. The speaker was one of the University of Arkansas football coaches. I think it was Hayden Fry, but cannot say for sure without further research.