Little Rock Look Back: Adams Field Dedicated in 1941

adams-field-first-terminalOn November 11, 1941, Adams Field was dedicated in Little Rock.  The ceremony marked the official opening of the airport’s first administration building.  It also marked the official naming of the building in memory of George Geyer Adams.

Adams was captain of the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard. He also served on the Little Rock City Council from 1927 to 1937.  During that time he helped develop what would become Little Rock’s airport from an airfield first planned in 1929 for military planes to what would become Little Rock’s municipal airport.

Adams left the City Council in April 1937.  Five months later, he was killed in a freak accident when a propeller assembly exploded and sent the propeller careening toward him.

Adams’ family was present at the ceremony on November 11, 1941.  The fact that it was on Armistice Day was no accident.  Little did few realize that US would be plunged into a second world war just a few weeks later.

Top executives from American Airlines came to Little Rock to participate in the festivities.  Others coming to town included members of Arkansas’ congressional delegation.  New Mayor Charles Moyer shared credit for the building with former Mayor J. V. Satterfield who had led the project for most of the time.  (Satterfield would later be the first chairman of the Airport Commission in 1951.) Hundreds turned out for the ceremony.  While they were in town, the congressional delegation and American Airlines executives made the most of interest in them and spoke to various civic clubs and banquets.  They extolled the virtues of airflight and the aircraft industry.

On a personal note:  the terminal building was built by E. J. Carter, a great uncle of the Culture Vulture.



RobinsoNovember: President Harry S. Truman

HST in LR2

President Truman in War Memorial Park. A photo of him at Robinson does not seem to exist.

Today is Veterans’ Day, a chance to pause and remember those — both living and deceased — who have served in the Armed Forces of the US.  November 11 was chosen since it was on November 11 in 1918, at 11:11 (Paris time), the Armistice was signed to end the Great War, as World War I was then known.  In 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day since the US had been in two military conflicts since the Great War.

A World War I infantry reunion brought President Harry S. Truman to Little Rock in June 1949, a few months after he won his own term in the Presidency. During his time here, he spoke twice at Robinson Auditorium.

Upon arriving, he made some informal remarks:

I am most happy to be here. I am only here in my capacity as a member of the 35th Division. Tomorrow I will address you as President of the United States, and I am afraid you will have to listen, whether you like it or not.

I hope to have a pleasant time in Little Rock, as I always have when I come here. I have been here a dozen times–one of the most hospitable cities in the United States. They know how to treat you, they know how to make you like it, and want you to come back.

I will see more of you later on in the day.

I appreciate the welcome that everybody has given us here this afternoon.

Thank you very much.


Later that night, he spoke at a Ball at Robinson.  It followed a banquet that had taken place at the Hotel Marion.

Governor McMath, the Mayor of Little Rock, and distinguished guests:

I can’t tell you how very much I appreciate the cordial reception which I have received in Little Rock. It has been like coming back home to come down here. It’s a habit of mine and has been for 25 years. I have been here in town many a time, and attracted no attention at all. But my friends were just as cordial to me then as they are now.

And I want to thank Eberts Post No. r for its cooperation with the 35th Division in putting on this ball and entertainment.

My education, so far as taking part on the floor is concerned, was sadly neglected as I grew up. I am a Baptist–not a light-foot one–so I didn’t learn how to dance. But I did learn a lot of other things in life, maybe, that I shouldn’t have learned.

I hope that the 35th Reunion this year will be the usual success that 35th Reunions are. I have missed only one, I think, in 25 years or more. I didn’t want to miss this one. The fact that you had it on a weekend gave me and the congressional delegation of the great State of Arkansas an opportunity to be present and attend the meeting. Otherwise, we would have had to stay in Washington and work.

It doesn’t make any difference, though, where the President goes, his work follows him up. I told the congregation this afternoon–you see, I am talking as a Baptist talks–that it didn’t make any difference where I went, I have to sign my name some 600 times a day to keep the country running. And it has, up to date, and I think it will continue, at least for 3 1/2 years more.

I am looking forward to a most pleasant time. I am talking to you now as a member of the 35th Division only, but if you want to hear the President of the United States you had better come out to the stadium tomorrow, and I will tell you something that will be good for your souls.

Thank you very much.

The following day he gave a national address on foreign affairs at the dedication of War Memorial Park.  It was carried on coast-to-coast radio.  There was no radio coverage of his remarks at Robinson, but a large press corps of national correspondents captured his words.

The Little Rock Mayor to whom he referred was Sam Wassell.  Mayor Wassell’s wife had christened the USS Little Rock during World War II.  A first cousin, Dr. Corydon Wassell, was a war hero who had been played by Gary Cooper in a movie.

Veterans Day Sculpture Vulture, Kathleen Caricof’s Stars and Stripes sculpture in War Memorial Park

Veterans Day is a good day to visit Kathleen Caricof’s Stars and Stripes in the Sturgis Veterans Plaza at War Memorial Park.  This 36 by 40 feet stainless steel sculpture welcomes visitors to the park and was dedicated in 2008 in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of War Memorial Stadium.

There are five interlocked stars which represent the five branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard – both the active duty and the reserve segments of each branch as well as their affiliated guard units.

The gleaming stainless steel is both light and durable to represent the strength and vitality of the men and women who protect the United States and have done so for centuries.

Caricof, a member of the National Sculptors Guild, was selected for the commission after a national competition by the War Memorial Stadium Commission.  She has several other pieces in Little Rock including several in Riverfront Park and the Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden.

On Veterans Day, visit the Little Rock museum which pays tribute to Arkansas’ veterans

With today being Veterans Day,  it is a good time to remember the museum in Little Rock dedicated to preserving Arkansas’ rich military history.  Though most City of Little Rock offices are closed today for the holiday, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is open.

Located in the historic Arsenal Tower in MacArthur Park, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History honors the Arkansans who have served in the armed forces.  Exhibits feature artifacts, photographs, weapons, documents, uniforms and other military items that vividly portray Arkansas’s military history at home and abroad.

Exhibits include:
  • Undaunted Courage, Proven Loyalty: Japanese American Soldiers in World War II
  • From Turbulence to Tranquility: The Little Rock Arsenal
  • Capital In Crisis and Celebration: Little Rock and the Civil War
  • Alger Cadet Gun
  • Camden Expedition
  • David Owen Dodd
  • Through the Camera’s Eye: The Allison Collection of World War II Photographs
  • By the President in the Name of Congress: Arkansas’ Medal of Honor Recipients
  • Conflict and Crisis: The MacArthur- Truman Controversy
  • Duty, Honor and Country: General Douglas MacArthur
  • The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep: The Jeep During World War II
  • War and Remembrance: The 1911 United Confederate Veterans Reunion
  • First Call – American Posters of World War I

The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is a museum of the City of Little Rock.  It is led by executive director Stephan McAteer who works with the MacArthur Military History Museum Commission.

Hours of Operation
Monday – Saturday; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sunday; 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Special Veterans Day concert at the River Market by Central High School Band and Flagline

centralentranceIn honor of veterans and those currently serving, the Little Rock Central High School Band and Flagline members will host a free, special concert this Veterans Day, November 11, 2015. The performance will take place at 11 a.m. in the east pavilion of the River Market. The first 100 veterans who attend will receive a commemorative token from Central’s band.

Known for their innovative technique and marching style, Central’s band has been invited to perform across the country, most notably during the last inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama. They were also featured at the finishing line of this year’s local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Now, they’ve been extended an invitation to participate in a Pearl Harbor Memorial Concert in Hawaii on November 23, 2016. The concert honors military heroes, survivors and veterans of Pearl Harbor. Next year marks Pearl Harbor’s 75th anniversary.

With financial support, the students will be able to experience a “once in a lifetime” opportunity in Hawaii. If you would like to help support the band’s efforts, you may make a tax deductible donation to LRCH’s Band Program, 1500 S. Park Street, Little Rock, AR 72202; or online at (a small fee is applied to online donations). You will also be able to make donations during the November 11, 2015 performance at the River Market.

Central’s band will also host a Battle of the Bands fundraiser at Quigley Stadium at noon on November 15, 2015, featuring the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Musical Marching Machine of the Mid-South, along with invited bands from the Memphis and Dallas areas. Tickets are $10