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Class of 60
    

by Robin Court - Four States Living
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L-R: Sue Young, Nancy Perkins, Carolyn Crabbe, Linda Roberts, Twinkle Welch
Prissy Corzine, Carolyn Goodson, Ellen Barkman

Long before Rebecca Wells even thought about writing The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, there were groups of women all across the country who had friendships that were rooted in grade school and spanned a lifetime. One such group, planted right here in Texarkana, Arkansas, during the late 1940s and '50s, didn't realize that their friendships would last through graduations, and marriages, and childbirth, much less be viable through grandchildren, aging parents, and retirement. But it has. Friendships, over the course of a woman's life, come and go. Work friends, church friends, and acquaintances all have a place, but the true friends, that are made as adolescents, the ones that you cannot hear from for months at a time and then pick up the phone like you've never missed a day, are the people who are there for a lifetime. The Texarkana Ya -Yas, as FSLM has fondly chosen to call the women who grace the cover, began with a few girls at Miss Patty Roberts and Miss Mary Carter's kindergarten at Fairview Elementary but grew over the years to a total of thirteen members of "their group" by the time high school rolled around. Some of these women have moved off with jobs and families, but the core of the seven cover models have all remained close to their roots. 

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Back L-R: Sue Young, Carolyn Crabbe, Linda Roberts, Carolyn Goodson
Front: Nancy Perkins, Twinkle Welch, Prissy Corzine, Ellen Barkman

These women, Linda Roberts Cogbill, Priscilla (Prissy) Corzine Archer, Ellen Barkman Rice, Joy Robinson Acker, Carolyn Crabbe Shoptaw, Mary Shoptaw Schroeder, and Anita Fenton Roberts, gather regularly to catch up on the latest happenings and occasionally reminisce about the past. FSLM caught up with them as they laughed about the times of their youth with their favorite Arkansas High School English teacher, Ms. Lillian Bjork. A bit different from the kids of today, these Texarkana Ya-Yas all lived within a relative walking distance from one another, and their mothers were much too busy sewing, washing, hanging out, and maintaining the girls' petticoats to drive the girls around to suit their pleasures. So, they walked. On Saturdays, the teen-age girls walked from their homes the fourteen or fifteen blocks it took to get to downtown Texarkana. Once there, they would peruse the shops, catch a movie, treat themselves at The City Bakery, and maybe listen to a little music. "We loved to go in the Melody Shop and listen to records," said Prissy Archer, "You could go in there and get in one of those little rooms and listen to the records before you bought them. Of course, we didn't buy them; we just liked listening. "Like most teenagers, music played an integral part in their lives. Through-out the high school years, the Ya-Yas explained that it was their group who actually started the squealing for Elvis Presley when he visited the Municipal Auditorium years ago. Prissy laughed, "I remember Twinkle and I saw Love Me Tender over 21 times at The Paramount. We loved Elvis Presley. We squealed, and squealed. We were the 'beginner squealers.' We started the squealing for Elvis Presley and taught the rest of the world how to do it." And while visits from the king of rock and roll were not a regular occurrence in Texarkana as they grew up, times in Texarkana, they all explained, were just different. Church was not an option, and while most of the girls attended Beech Street Baptist Church, the ones who didn't were involved in churches just down the street. "We were all brought up to know what was right and what was wrong," said Linda Cogbill, who is often described as the 'back-bone' of their group. "We all had good Christian upbringings. "Locking doors was not really thought necessary, and a group of girls sleeping out on the porch to keep cool during the hot summer months was not unusual either. 

Slumber parties were always much anticipated, and like girls of any time period, pulling a few innocent pranks were to be expected; prank calling was always a big hit. "We would sometimes call the Red Light District, the whorehouses. There were three of them where the public library is now, and they were listed in the phonebook under the name of Nell Rayburn. That was the proprietor. And she used to take the girls to the beauty shop where I used to go," said Prissy. "But anyway, we would call down there and I don't know why in the world these girls would talk to us, but they did. And one of us would ask, 'Aren't you afraid that you are going to Hell for this?' and I remember one time a girl answered us with, 'Honey, I'm living in Hell right now.' That, of course, shocked us all. "Other pranks, still harmless, but typical of kids, included sneaking three or four girls into the drive-in theater via the trunk of a buddy's car, eating extra helpings of dessert in the balcony of the church during sermon time, and calling the church secretary who had the very large chest 'BBB,' for, the not-so-original nickname of Big Bust Bonnie. Those were fun times for the Ya-Yas. As they got a little older and began to date and drive and wear Click for larger image make-up, their activities emerged into cheerleading and school activities. Pep rallies were a favorite time for the girls and they relished the opportunity to dress up in flapper outfits or bongo suits with face paint and dance for the school. All of the girls in the group had a gold circle pin that they wore on their blouses as a symbol of their banded friendships. "Everyone knew the group, "said Ms. Bjork, " and if one of the girls got something new, then the others would have to follow suit. They were a great bunch of girls." "Mary (Shoptaw-Schroeder) was the first one to have everything," said Ellen Rice, "she had the first bra, the first air-conditioning in her house, the first car, and the first contact lenses Even the first mouton coat." "We all had to have our mouton coats," chimed Carolyn Shoptaw. "And Mary was even more endowed than the rest of us. Remember her showing us her bra in the junior department, and we were so envious," said Linda Cogbill. Mary replied, laughingly, "Now wait a minute; I may have had the first of several things in our group, but Joy (Robinson Acker) was really much more spoiled than I was because her brothers were so much older. And I wasn't the first to have everything. Remember going to the movies with Carolyn when she had first gotten glasses? I had not realized that I couldn't see until that day, when I tried her glasses on and it was just wonderful! I told my mother and father that I needed glasses and they got mad because they thought I just wanted to have what Carolyn had. When they finally took me to the doctor, they realized that I really was just about blind! "Throughout those high school years, the group experienced many firsts together, but like all good things, high school eventually came to an end. 

After graduation, things subtly changed for the Ya-Yas, a natural progression, of the course of life. Some of the women went off to college, some worked, and some married sweethearts and started families. They remained close and still got together as often as possible. Conversations evolved, too. No longer were the talks of weekend plans and cruising Lee's Drive In, or would they pass a particular subject. The conversation became marriage and sex and "I felt the baby kick; wonder when it's due and what it's going to be; and by the way, how's it going in your college classes? "And then the Ya-Yas might lose touch for a year or two, but then reunite for new talks of toddlers, and then kids in school, and all of the little problems that encompass raising children. Years later, they talked about their own children's weddings, the births of grandchildren, and the loss of parents, and a few divorces along the way. In 2003, all of the Texarkana Ya-Yas will be...............>>> sixty-years-old, and they are still having fun as a group. They have matured over the years as they were supposed to, maintaining respect for each other's differences and lifestyles. Theirs is a friendship that will truly last a lifetime.


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Thirteen Original Members

Priscilla Corzine Archer
Ellen Barkman Rice
Joy Robinson Acker
Linda Roberts Cogbill
Mary Shoptaw Schroeder
Anita Fenton Roberts
Carolyn Crabbe Shoptaw
Diane Elrod Sharpe
Arenna Lee Twinkle Welch Gibbons
Carolyn Goodson Vest
Gail Boyd Cox
Sue Young Crosnoe

Front Row: Mary Shoptaw Schroeder, Linda Roberts Cogbill, Anita Fenton Roberts;
Second Row: Carolyn Goodson Vest, Joy Robinson Acker;
Back Row: Margaret Royal Brown, Gail Boyd Cox, Prissy Corzine Archer, Carolyn Crabbe Allen, 
Ellen Barkman Rice

 

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