Deacon and Wild Bill, good friends move on

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, April 29, 2020


By Ricky Swindle

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Muffler Shop Musings

Howdy, friends!

I trust all y’all are making it well with the pandemic. I remain optimistic that our county is leaning towards the good side of the end of this thing.

When all this started in March it affected The Local Yokel Show for the first time I can remember. March 22 was the 17th anniversary of the show’s start date.

All previous birthdays of the show were celebrated with live performances from our vast supply of local musical talent, but not this year. I failed to write as much in an article that 17 years on air and online have passed.

I recall the first of March when one of our show co-conspirators, Wendy Snyder,  was having to take off on some Saturdays because her granddaughter was playing softball.

I also remember Johnny Pace relating the times he had to be off due to Boy Scout and church obligations.

Ain’t it amazing how things can change in the blink of an eye? I always heard this old saying: “Do you want to make God laugh ? Tell him your plans for the future.”

I never thought I’d see a headcount limit on a business in town, much less some small stores being shuttered completely.

I’ll be ready next time, but praying there will never be a next time.

I will have my own personal stock of cleaning supplies, paper products, disinfectants, masks and sanitizers stored neatly and tucked away just in case.

After this scare has subsided, preachers when talking to engaged couples planning to wed should add one more question to the list. Do either of you know where Brown’s Feed Store is, and do you know how to properly put up peas in a freezer ?

I know where Mr. Brown’s store is and my wife knows about peas so we were definitely going to eat, no matter how hard The Pig was to get inside.

We lost a couple more dandy Local Yokels this past week.

I first met Deacon Curtis McCall in 1983 in Marks. I was working at my Daddy’s shop over there and he was the morning radio man for the AM station .

He was a big man with a smile and laugh that was twice his size in stature. We made friends the first day we met and remained friends until his end.

He had a popular and long running gospel show for many years on the local station here every Sunday night. The past three years he was broadcasting on two big stations out of Helena and West Helena, Ark.

Prayers for his wife Lizzie and their two young children Esther and little Issac.

We also lost Wild Bill Henry. Bill was a jack of all trades who could do most anything.

A lot of folks probably best know him as the musician who entertained at Bilbo’s on Hwy 6. He was a one man band who accurately named his band The Me, Myself and I Band.

Bill was a man of modest means. He came to me one year and gave me a $100 bill for Civitan Radio Day.

With me kind of knowing his situation I told him “Bill, thank you so much for your generosity, but Bill I don’t want to accept this. I figure you need it friend”.

He told me “I’ve listened to Radio Day all these years and I’ve always wanted to help. Will you take it please?”.

Folks, I got on the air that day and I hammered hard without divulging his financial situation, but folks that knew him already were well aware of his struggle.

We started up a Wild Bill Challenge that day. Who wants to match Wild Bill?

Well, let me tell you. Wild Bill’s $100 donation to the Civitans turned into over $4,000 matching him that day.

Bill was so proud of that day. It took six months for him to quit smiling about it.

He gave that money from his heart, not his old empty wallet. That’s powerful. It’s the truth, I was witness to it and I’ll never forget.

Rest in Peace, Wild Bill. Maybe the Good Lord has you a bronc to ride.