I have ties to Snowball, Arkansas, and didn’t even know it until today. I guess that’s why I was drawn to take this photo the other day…..
Located in northern Arkansas, about twelve miles west of Marshall on Highway 74, Snowball is a fragment of the town it used to be, consisting of only a Masonic Lodge and the Snowball Baptist Church. It began as the settlement of Calf Creek, and as the settlement grew, residents petitioned for a post office, requesting the town be renamed Snow Hall. Well, as we all know, sometimes folks make mistakes; perhaps it was poor penmanship, or a misprint on the approval, because the postal officials approved the petition, granting the name change from Calf Creek to Snowball.
I guess the residents didn’t let that bother them too much, because the community continued to thrive from the late 1800’s to the 1940’s. The business district was bustling with a hotel, stores, and a school. Unfortunately, in 1945, a fire hit the downtown area destroying the post office and most of the businesses, and, unfortunately, Snowball never really recovered.
One of the remaining relics of this community is a portion of the old school building. Constructed by the Works Public Administration in 1938, children were educated in this one room school until the 1970’s. A principal and teacher of the school was Jimmy Driftwood, or Jimmy Morris, a prolific folk singer. It was said that he would write songs to help the children memorize historical facts. One of these songs, “The Battle of New Orleans”, became a popular hit in 1959, and actually won a Grammy for song of the year.
Jimmy Morris and my grandmother, Lockey Morris Baldwin were cousins, both born and raised in the Mountain View area. I met him a time or two, and heard many stories about him. My mom actually taught at Mountain View Elemetary School with his wife, Cleda, when I was very young.
It’s fascinating to imagine what a school day would be like with Jimmy Driftwood at the teacher’s desk. I bet that the town hated to see him leave to pursue his new career. Surely he had an incredible impact on the lives he encountered inside those four walls, just like the many that he touched with his music.