Little Rock Culture Vulture

Cultural events, places and people in the Little Rock area


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Little Rock Look Back: On Dec 4, 1939, a dozen LR aldermen held in contempt of court

The Pulaski County Courthouse where the 12 Little Rock aldermen were arraigned.

On Monday, December 4, 1939, a dozen of Little Rock’s aldermen reported to the county jail to serve sentences for contempt of court.  The previous Monday, the twelve council members had voted against an ordinance which had been ordered by the judge in an improvement district matter.  The remaining aldermen (there were 18 total aldermen at the time) had either voted in the affirmative or had been absent.  Because the twelve had refused to change their votes since that meeting, the judge ordered them jailed.

At the hearing, the judge brought each alderman up one by one. This seemed to be in order to further embarrass the aldermen.  The judge also interviewed Mayor J. V. Satterfield and City Clerk H. C. “Sport” Graham to put on the record that they had counseled the aldermen to obey the judge’s order.

Carolyn Conner, the only female alderman, was not jailed but was fined $50. The eleven men were held at the jail, though not in cells.  Newspaper photos showed the men playing cards in a conference room.  In order to get out of jail, the judge gave the aldermen the chance to change their votes.

Mayor J. V. Satterfield pleaded with the judge to let the aldermen leave the jail to attend the meeting at City Hall, which was nearby.  He requested that the city be allowed to maintain “what little dignity remained” by not having the meeting at the jail.  The judge relented, and the aldermen were escorted by deputies to the council chambers.

After the aldermen changed their votes, the judge suspended the remainder of their sentences.  The sentences were not vacated, they were only suspended.  The judge admonished them that should they attempt to reverse their reversal, he would throw them back in jail.

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Little Rock Look Back: 75 Years Ago – the City of Little Rock responds to Pearl Harbor

Little Rock City Hall in the 1940s

Little Rock City Hall in the 1940s

On December 8, 1941, one day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, the Little Rock City Council held a regularly scheduled meeting. While much of the business took place as previously planned, there were two actions that night which were in support of the war effort.

By a motion of Alderman Franklin E. Loy, seconded by Alderman L. L. Stewart, the City Council passed a motion to allow the erection of signage for a new Soldier Service Center which was to be set up in the War Memorial Building (now the Old State House Museum).

The same night, an ordinance was introduced for the City to purchase up to $40,000 in War Bonds. This was referred to the City Attorney to review.

Though the U.S. entry into World War II was only hours old, the City was already responding.

The following week, on December 15, 1941, the City Council discussed a plan to create a Civil Defense Coordinator for the City of Little Rock.  Also, City Clerk H.C. “Sport” Graham reported that City employees had purchased $4,819.50 in Defense Savings Stamps and Bonds. There were also pledges for another approximately $20,000. A payroll deduction plan was being set up.

Over the coming weeks and years, many City employees would enlist or be drafted into the armed services. Victory gardens would be planted by City employees and their families. Rationing would take place. Eventually a USS Little Rock battleship would be commissioned.

There would be much to be done to support the war effort. But in the early days, the City was already taking steps to do its part for the war.


Little Rock Look Back: Twelve Aldermen Jailed

The Pulaski County Courthouse where the 12 Little Rock aldermen were arraigned.

The Pulaski County Courthouse where the 12 Little Rock aldermen were arraigned.

On Monday, December 4, 1939, a dozen of Little Rock’s aldermen reported to the county jail to serve sentences for contempt of court.  The previous Monday, the twelve council members had voted against an ordinance which had been ordered by the judge in an improvement district matter.  The other aldermen had either voted in the affirmative or had been absent.  Because the twelve had refused to change their votes since that meeting, the judge ordered them jailed.

At the hearing, the judge brought each alderman up one by one. This seemed to be in order to further embarrass the aldermen.  The judge also interviewed Mayor J. V. Satterfield and City Clerk H. C. “Sport” Graham to put on the record that they had counseled the aldermen to obey the judge’s order.

Mrs. C. C. Conner, the only female alderman, was not jailed but was fined $50. The eleven men were held at the jail, though not in cells.  Newspaper photos showed the men playing cards in a conference room.  In order to get out of jail, the judge gave the aldermen the chance to change their votes.

Mayor J. V. Satterfield plead with the judge to let the aldermen leave the jail to attend the meeting at City Hall, which was nearby.  He requested that the city be allowed to maintain “what little dignity remained” by not having the meeting at the jail.  The judge relented, and the aldermen were escorted by deputies to the council chambers.

After the aldermen changed their votes, the judge suspended the remainder of their sentences.  The sentences were not vacated, they were only suspended.  The judge admonished them that should they attempt to reverse their reversal, he would throw them back in jail.


Little Rock Look Back: Ark Municipal League 1954 President H. C. “Sport” Graham

H C GrahamToday is the first full day of the 80th Arkansas Municipal League convention here in Little Rock.  It is at the Statehouse Convention Center which stands on the site of the Hotel Marion, which was the site of the first meeting.

Five Little Rock leaders have led the AML as President. On Friday, Mayor Mark Stodola will become the sixth Little Rock city official to be president of the Arkansas Municipal League.

Today’s feature spotlights Henry Clay Graham. Known officially as H. C. Graham, his nickname was “Sport.”  H. C. Graham was the first, and to date, only City Clerk to have served as AML President. He was president in 1954, serving as the 22nd President.

Graham was first appointed City Clerk in August 1934 to fill out the term of John Krumm, who had died that month. Graham ran for election in 1936 and was re-elected every two years through 1954. He was not afraid to challenge the Mayor or City Council members in meetings or in the press if he felt that rules were not being followed. He openly criticized Mayor Overman over spending habits in the late 1930s and sided with Mayor Satterfield when members of the City Council were being held in contempt of court for disobeying a judge’s order.

In October 1954, Little Rock Mayor Pratt Remmel, a Republican, was running for Governor. Graham supported Orval Faubus, who was the Democratic nominee.  On a Friday evening, he appeared on KATV promoting Faubus’ campaign.  He went home that night after the program complaining he did not feel well. On Sunday, he was having dinner at his nephew’s house in Little Rock and collapsed and died. It was a few days before the Municipal League annual meeting at which he was supposed to preside.  The decision was made to continue with the meeting as a tribute to him.

Graham’s 20 years and two months as City Clerk is the second longest in the City’s history and the longest of any elected City Clerk.

Graham’s sister, Pauline Graham Beeson, was appointed to fill out the remainder of his term. She did not seek election. In 1958, however, she was appointed the first City Clerk of Little Rock under the City Manager form of government and served in that capacity until December 1968.