Haco Hijacked, or 50 years ago this month Little Rock’s Mayor made an unscheduled trip to Havana

Less than a week after being selected Little Rock’s 58th mayor, Haco Boyd made an unscheduled stop in Cuba when the Eastern Airlines Boeing on which he was flying was hijacked.

The seventy passengers, including 44 from Arkansas, were hijacked to Cuba on January 9 on a flight that was originally scheduled to go from Miami to Nassau for an insurance convention.

Shortly after takeoff, a passenger, who described himself as a student at Purdue University, sat next to a flight attendant, told her the plane was going to Cuba, and showed her a knife.

After landing in Cuba, the plane, its crew, and two passengers (Mr. and Mrs. Keith Thrash of Little Rock) were allowed to return to Miami. The Thrashes were allowed to stay on the plane due to illness.  Several hours later, another plane picked up the remaining passengers and returned them to Miami.

Eastern Airlines then flew the passengers on to Nassau without further incident. Mayor Boyd’s wife was flying with him on the plane.

Once the media found out that Little Rock’s mayor was on the plane, he became of great interest to reporters.  “They treated us real well in Havana.” Boyd told the press. “They gave us the blue plate special treatment.” Boyd said everything was “just fine, no sweat, it’s just one of those things.” He went on to describe the hijacker (who stayed in Cuba) as “a rather decent looking person, except for his nose and his mouth, which were a little weak.

Mayor Boyd was back at City Hall to preside over the January 20, 1969, City Council meeting. It appears that the reminder of his airline flights went to their appropriate destinations.  During World War II, he had been a decorated pilot for the Army Air Corps.


Little Rock Look Back: Opening of 1868 LR City Hall

The 1868 City Hall as featured on a city report.

On January 22, 1868, a charity ball (including a supper) was the first special event held in the new Little Rock City Hall located at 120 to 122 West Markham.

The two story building featured city offices downstairs, including an engine house for the volunteer fire department. Upstairs was the council chambers and a special event space. The facility was the width of two storefronts. The upstairs was accessed by a central staircase which went from street level through an archway directly up to the second floor. The first floor had a stone exterior and the second floor was a combination of brick and woodwork.

Records do not indicate when the first city council in the new building took place. At the January 21, 1868, meeting, the body formally accepted the building and cancelled any clauses in the contract about penalties should the contractor not meet the construction deadline. But there is no indication whether that meeting took place in the new building or in the previous city hall. (The location of that prior city hall is a mystery.). The minutes from the council meetings just prior to and just after the January 21 meeting give no indication as to which building was the site for the meeting.

It IS known that March 30, 1908, was the date of the final council meeting in the 1868 City Hall. After that meeting, city offices completed their move to the edifice at Markham and Broadway, which still serves as Little Rock City Hall.

As early as November 1867, the City Council was getting requests for special events to be held in the new city hall. In November and December the council refused to take action on any requests because the building was still under construction.

The January 22, 1868, event was created to help the destitute in Little Rock. The ARKANSAS GAZETTE encouraged people to be generous and purchase tickets. Even the day before the event, the weekly version of the GAZETTE (which at the time had added daily editions in addition to its weekly issue) was assuring people there would be plenty of space in the splendid new building so there was still room for additional ticket purchases. Tickets were $5 to admit a lady and a gentleman.  (That would be the equivalent of $83.71 today. While cheap for two people to attend a Little Rock event in 2018, in the post-Civil War era, it was a definite hit to the pocketbook.)

The unnamed organization which put on the charity event was led by W. W. Wilshire (president), George W. Clark (secretary), Joseph Meyer (treasurer) and a standing committee of Dr. C. M. Taylor, Dr. P. O. Hooper, A. Adams, F. H. Moody, and E. Langley.  Donations could be made to any of the officers.  The arrangements for the event were handled by Joseph Meyer, A. Adams, J. P. Jones, Alexander George, Jr., Joseph W. Bossert, and Daniel Ottenheimer.  The reception committee was W. D. Blocher, H. C. Ashley, A. McDonald, P. W. McWhorter, T. Lafferty, and F. H. Moody.   Tickets could be purchased at the stores of J. E. Reardon, G. H. Gibbs, Joseph Meyer, Lafferty & Raleigh, S. L. Griffith, McAlmont & Stillwell, Beideman & Co., and Dodge & Co as well as at the Anthony and Commercial Houses.  (It is interesting to note how so many people at the time were publicly listed by only their first initial.)

The building stood for 56 years after City Hall vacated it.  It housed a variety of businesses over the years.  The building was torn down in 1964 as part of Urban Renewal.  Today it is the site of part of the Statehouse Convention Center.  It is directly across from the One-Eleven restaurant side of the Capital Hotel.

Rock the Oscars 2019: Dick Powell

Oscars nominations are announced today.  In the days leading up to the ceremony, this blog will look at Arkansas to the Academy Awards.

First up is Dick Powell.  Though not born in Little Rock, he grew up here and graduated from Little Rock High School when it was on Scott Street (now the East Side Lofts).  He started earning money as a singer in Little Rock churches and masonic lodges before transitioning to nightspots which eventually led to him touring the country with dance bands.

When Hollywood beckoned, he first appeared in light musicals as a singer and dancer.  One of his first non-musical roles was in the  all-star A Midsummer Night’s Dream which earned four Oscar nominations and won two.  He starred opposite future Oscar winners Jimmy Cagney and Olivia de Havilland.  Eventually, he transitioned into film noir roles including playing Phillip Marlowe in 1945’s Murder, My Sweet.  

In 1948, Powell hosted the Oscars ceremony. Gentlemen’s Agreement won Best Picture and two other Oscars that year.  (He was not the first Arkansan to host the Oscars.  In 1938, Van Buren native Bob Burns hosted the ceremony.)  In 1959, he and his then-wife June Allyson were two of the presenters at the Oscars.  That ceremony came in at one hour and 40 minutes in length. It was under-time so the presenters and winners took to the stage floor with dancing as a way to fill time before NBC cut away and aired a documentary on target-shooting.

Powell was one of the stars of 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful.  The film won five Oscars but was not nominated for Best Picture.  It holds the record for the most wins by a film not nominated for Best Picture.

1925 Phantom of the Opera film haunts Ron Robinson Theater tonight

The Phantom of the Opera PosterBefore it was a musical or a movie with Claude Rains, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was a 1925 silent movie starring Lon Chaney.

Tonight the Ron Robinson Theater will be screening this movie. A silent movie, it was shot largely in black and white, but there are some color sequences where filters were used to add hues to it.

Directed by Rupert Julian, the movie came out fifteen years after Gaston Leroux’s novel first appeared.  In addition to Chaney, the movie features Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John St. Polis, Snitz Edwards ,Mary Fabian, and Virginia Pearson.

When the movie was first released, Universal Pictures would not allow any magazine or newspaper to publish a photo of Chaney as the phantom. They wanted the audience to be surprised by his face.

The showing starts at 6:30pm. The cost is $5.00.

Tonight at 5:30 – Learn more about becoming involved at Arkansas Rep

Interested in becoming more involved with The Rep? They are back in action and ready for a great 2019 season, but they cannot do it without community support!

On January 22 from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, the Arkansas Repertory Theatre will host an information session about volunteer and involvement opportunities.

Join them to learn about the ways you can volunteer at The Rep and impact the community.

Light refreshments will be provided.

The session will be at the Rep’s main building.

Today at noon at Clinton School – Center on Community Philanthropy 2019 Advancing Equity Awards Reception

The Center on Community Philanthropy at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will announce the recipients of the 2019 Advancing Equity Award at a reception celebrating the third annual National Day of Racial Healing.

The program will take place at 12 noon today (January 22) at Sturgis Hall.

The Advancing Equity Award is given to organizations that are using innovative solutions to address racial inequities in their communities and advance progress toward inclusion. Award recipients will be presented with support to continue and enhance their efforts.

The National Day of Racial Healing (NDORH) is an opportunity for people, organizations, and communities across the United States to call for racial healing, bring people together in their common humanity, and take collective action to create a more just and equitable world. NDORH is a part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) effort – a national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism.

Arkansas State Archives, Black History Commission sponsoring MLK program

Image may contain: 1 person, text

“Looking Back, Moving Forward—Together”

The Arkansas State Archives and Black History Commission of Arkansas are joining with Bethel AME Church and the 12th District AME to sponsor an event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It will be today at 3pm at the Bethel AME Church.

At the program, speakers will remember his legacy through worship as well as with the keynote address by former Secretary of Transportation Rodney E. Slater. A Marianna native, he served on the staff of Governor Bill Clinton before having leadership roles during President Clinton’s administration.

Slater is an attorney at Washington, D.C., law firm Squire Patton Boggs. In 1993 Slater became the first  In 1997, he was appointed to be the Secretary of Transportation.

For more information, call 501-374-9948.