Pastime: That little blackboard scoreboard at Wayne’s

Just inside the front east door of the double entrance to Wayne’s Confectionary was a small 6 x 8 wooden framed blackboard mounted on the wall.

By Maylon T. Rice

It was perhaps one of the most important scoreboards in Warren’s history.

A community scoreboard if there ever was one.

I know all you children of electronics, computers, cell phones, I-pads, tablets and modern radio and computer live streaming the internet know nothing of what I write about today.

The Warren High School Lumberjacks and many, if not all, the area high schools have a website, Facebook page and even Instagram for their football programs. The games from almost every stadium across Arkansas are live streamed with computers – in full color and sound.  You can hear the band, you can hear the crowd, you can see everything.

And now just wait until after the 10 p.m. news and a show of a full-hour will come on the cable TV channel complete with video football, scores of every game played in Arkansas and more.

But it was not that way back in the day.

If Warren was traveling out of town, say to Lake Village for a 7:30 kickoff. You had to be well on your way by 5:30-6:00 p.m. to get there for a seat in the Lakeside Stadium. 

The game was over a little after 9 p.m. The small unit of personal cars might be back to Warren by 10, 10:30 p.m. if all the traffic on the roads was running ok.

The only way Warren folks knew the score was from usually one of two ways.

The Warren Police Department, who normally sent a car with the grid delegation would use its two-way radio system to send back the halftime score and the final score to the City Hall where the Fire Chief or Assistant Fire Chief was manning the radio transmissions.

Another possible way the score might be transmitted over the State Police radio system to the Warren Branch of the Arkansas State Police, just north of the City Limits (back then) out on Highway 15 – now State Highway 63.

No matter how the half-time and final score was transmitted back to Wayne’s it was immediately posted, usually by Paul Whitaker, or someone else behind the lunch counter.

And then the telephone would ring and ring and ring.

People staying home for one reason or another, wanted to know the Lumberjacks score.

Calling Wayne’s was the only way to get it

There were no live radio broadcasts back then. The only FM stations that stayed on the air past sundown were Country & Western giants down in Baton Rouge, WWL or XER near Del Rio south Texas, which at one time was part owned by Texas Governor and later U.S. Senator W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, a real person, not the fictional name of a character in “O Brother Where Art Thou,” of Hollywood fame.

People not traveling with the ‘Jacks or those staying at home during a home game would simply dial Wayne’s and get the score.

A jokester, Paul Whitaker, loved to answer the phone on a Friday night when the ‘Jacks were out of town.

“Wayne’s,” he would say. “You want to know the Warren score, let me see… (pausing for dramatic effect). Who is this?” Whitaker would ask.

“Well, that’s who I thought it was?  Why didn’t you go down to Lake Village? Well., O.K, I guess the Warren score is 14…. (Again, pausing for dramatic effect) … Do you want to know the Lake Village score too? Of course, you do! Well, they haven’t scored yet, but remember this is just halftime.”

Usually, the conversation was laced with laughter and Whitaker ended the call.

Other times he was matter of face, just giving out the 14-0 halftime score.

You could always tell if the score was final – Paul would underline it about three times with a heavy hand – especially if the ‘Jacks won.

There were no highlights. No action replays.

The tape delay of the action would be on at 8:30 am Saturday on KWRF courtesy of a tape-recorded session from Friday night, interspersed of course with local radio ads on KWRF.

The only “film” of the action was usually some 8-milimeter black and white images shot from high above the top of the home team’s press box or from a deer-stand tyle stand along one of the light poles at the stadium by one brave Jack Scobey.

Those 8-millimeter movies were developed by Ray Criss Productions in Little Rock and shipped back to Warren on the Greyhound Bus Lines on Sunday afternoon.

By then the small black scoreboard at Wayne’s would have been erased by Paul Whitaker’s counter-rag and the broken piece of chalk was there for the next week’s score.

This is a Pastime not to be erased from history when finding out the football score was oh, so important for the residents of those red brick streets of home on a fall Friday night.

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