We installed officers of the Atkins Lions Club Thursday, and it caused me to review the various organizations that have provided service in Atkins. Lions at one time were the main group that sponsored events. The club goes back to the 1930s, when it was chartered.
The Charter members in 1939 were J.M. Barker, Jr., Earl Burnett, Dr. Walter Cale, Lee Cheek, T. J. Ehemann, Doyle Emmert, Rev. J.C. Feldkamp (catholic priest), Glenn Hickman, W. J. Jones Jr., Dr. E.M. Lambert, Rev. W.A. Linsey, Dewey Martin, J. B. Maus, Rev. Orville M. Odom, Jack M. Lemley, Roy J. Taylor, and Van Tyson, my father.
The Lions Club back then sponsored several events. One was the silent film of Atkins in 1941, which was shown in the Royal Theatre to raise the money to pay for it. I have it copied onto DVD, and it is a good record of life in the town and area at the time. It shows people picking cotton and the cotton being ginned at Mc’s Corner Gin at the big T on Highway 105 South. It shows mules for sale. It also shows people in various businesses, including the Post Office Café, Ehemann Motor Co., the barber shop, Trades Day downtown, people coming out of several churches, including me and my mother coming out of the Presbyterian Church (I was 4), the depot, and other things.
In the 1950s, the Lions Club sponsored the Lake Atkins Fish Fry, after Lake Atkins was built. I recently found that date, 1955, when the Lions Club and others raised the money to put up the Lake Atkins Sign at the corner of Highway 64 at the Highway 105 crossing. The Lions club may have sponsored the Trades Days in the 1940s, which brought many people to down to shop and draw for prizes. In the 1950s and 1960s the Jaycees and Jaycettes were organized and sponsored several events to promote the town. They helped create the summer softball and baseball programs at McLaren Park. The Jaycettes sponsored the Miss Atkins Pageant. I was president of the Jaycees and an officer in the Lions Club, along with my father, when I sold the Chronicle to Tommy Gillespie and moved away in 1961. I remember appointing people I knew wouldn’t follow through in the programs I didn’t care about.
The People for a Better Atkins came along in the early 1990s. I know they started Picklefest in 1992, the year Ginnie and I bought The Chronicle back, when I had been teaching at Arkansas Tech since 1973. I had been working at the Arkansas Democrat since 1969. I got on at Tech Full time in 1974-75, after working half time in 1973-74. Another group has taken over summer baseball and softball and other children’s sports, such as peewee football, replacing the Jaycees. Meanwhile, PBA, has begun to function as a de-facto Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring a Citizen of the Year and Christmas Parade.
The Lions Club, now including women, continues to promote its traditional activities, providing glasses to needy people, sending young people to a Memphis hospital for sight and hearing problems and contributing to other programs for needy people, such as homeless and orphaned. It provides money for training lead dogs.
The Lions Club gives a scholarship to a High School senior each year. Lions International is offering a deal for the next few weeks so new members can join at a discount. The Atkins Lions would like to have more members join them for food and fellowship and interesting programs the first and third Thursday of each month at noon. Call me at 857-3477 for more information.