News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Decatur native brightens Hot Springs, Ark.

To The Daily: Our city is supremely blessed by a native of Decatur living among us; a rare saint of a big, always-cheerful man who, at age 97, lives alone, never complains though wheelchair-bound, loves Hot Springs and everyone here and, amazingly after an absence of some 70 years, loves Decatur and everyone there as well.

Obviously it’s not provable, but I often believe that Decatur native Conrad Strickland is our most beloved son, even a recent president notwithstanding. I am privileged to be only one among many others here whose life is brightened and load is lightened by an occasional visit with Mr. Strickland. These visits are invariably seasoned with rich Decatur stories. Your senior readers may remember “Miss Cora” Strickland, Conrad’s mother, to whom he talks prayerfully every day. And, one grandfather was a sheriff.

Your dustiest morgues will hold a record of a young Mr. Strickland employed at the paper and intending a newspaper future before a tragic twist of fate thrust him into a successful career in the shoe business and ultimately to Hot Springs.

Conrad is as Crimson as a one-man Tide can be, except on Razorback weekend, when the quintessential Southern Gentleman maintains — or feigns — neutrality.

There is an unspoken balance of trade between Arkansas and Alabama. We’ve sent you Don Hutson, many Mosleys and Dildys, the incomparable Bear Bryant and now Tommy Tuberville. You’ve sent us Conrad Strickland and we’ve gotten the best of the deal. However, you win in the end. I’ve seen Conrad’s final plans and Decatur gets the call.

Ben Burton
Hot Springs, Ark.

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