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‘Work hard. Be honest.’
By Teresa Bigham/The Hesperian-Beacon—
FLOYDADA – Louis Bearden never forgets a name, a face or a date.
Born on April 19, 1940, three miles north of Springlake, he was the son of Nathaniel and Estelle Bearden. Growing up with four big sisters, they lived just outside Springlake until they moved to Delwin, Texas, when he was 7 years old.
“The doctors told my daddy that we need to move below the cap, that the gyp water would be good for his kidneys” Bearden recalled. “So that’s what we did. We moved to Delwin, Texas. I went to school in Delwin until I finished the eighth grade.”
During this time, the good Lord had a plan for Bearden, but he said he just did not know it yet. Once he started high school in Paducah, he met Arleen, a young lady who captured his heart.
The daughter of Percy and Lorease Johnson, Arleen was one of eight girls.
It was his freshman year, his first year at Paducah High, when he first laid eyes on her. “He would always chunk paper wads at me every day in class,” Arleen said.
Arleen lived her youth in Buck Creek. “Just a small little community like Cone. It was close to Delwin and Paducah,” said Arleen.
“Our first date was a church function in Childress,” she said. “His daddy arranged it. He told Louis you take her to that church function, so we went together. We were juniors in high school.”
The two graduated school in May 1958 from Paducah and married June 20, 1958 in the church parsonage at Buck Creek.
After high school Bearden was a carpenter in Paducah during the seven-year drought. “Times were hard, but we made the best of everything we had. I do not think we would change a thing about those times. We grew together and made a great life together.” Bearden said.
“One day after my co-workers and I finished a job, they went fishing, and the wife and I went to Lubbock to a family reunion. My sister’s husband worked for Bell Milk and she wanted to introduce me to his boss. The boss man asked me if I was looking for a job, and I told him nope. He said well I sure need someone to work for me. He said he could put me in Lubbock, Littlefield or Floydada.” Bearden recalled. “I said well I might live in Floydada. That was mid-way between all my kin folks.”
Bearden and the boss made a deal. He was going to deliver milk, cheese, butter and eggs cottage cheese and even ice cream for Bell Milk. “We moved to Floydada that Sunday, and I started my route the next day, September 3, 1958. When we married, we did not even have a car. We bought our first car one month after we married. It was a 1951 Ford.” Bearden said.
He started his deliveries at 4 a.m., and for the next four and a half years Bearden made his daily route serving Lockney and Floydada with all kinds of dairy items. “In those days, a lot of the people would leave their doors unlocked. I would just go inside and place the items they needed in the refrigerator and leave. A lot of times the families would ask me to sit and have a bite to eat with them if they were having breakfast or something like that at the time. If my schedule was running on time, I’d sit down and eat a little.” said Bearden. “I’m proud to say that during my time with Bell Milk, I never missed a day of work.”
It was during the time when Bearden worked for Bell Milk that the couple welcomed their first born, Cheryl. She and her mother almost share the same birthday. Cheryl was born on Sept 1, just the day before her mother’s birthday.
In 1963, Lon Davis Jr. purchased the Morckel Farm Chemical Company from its owner, Harry Morckel. This business was soon incorporated and renamed David Farm Supply.
On April 22, 1963, Bearden went to work as manager for Davis Farm Supply. A few years later he bought into the business and continued serving as manager for 47 years.
Customer’s may remember there was a western store upstairs called the Loft. The smell of leather goods, new denim and straw hats are what some may remember or maybe for the ladies it is that pair of Rockies that comes to mind.
“He wouldn’t let me work up there,” Arleen said. “Which was probably for the better I do not know if we could work together. Kay Hicks ran the Loft. I always liked her, she’s such a sweet person.”
In the early years of working for Davis Farm Supply, the couple welcomed son Michael October 7, 1965. After the death of Arleen’s sister, the family opened their loving home to their niece, 5-year-old Judy Ann. They raised her as their own.
“Our kids were the joy of our lives,” said Arleen. “Each one was so different yet such a blessing. We’re grateful we’ve had so much time with them.”
Davis Farm Supply was bought out by Crop Production Services on August 24, 2010. The name was later changed to Nutrien Ag Solutions. Bearden currently still works there as a salesman.
Once the couple’s children were in school, Arleen went to work for Beall’s Department Store in downtown Floydada and worked there until the store closed. She was a salesclerk for many years. She even took over working in the office when her friend, Willie Mae Marricle quit. She soon found another job working for Willy Oil keeping the books. Willy’s was located just across the street from Davis Farm Supply. The business sadly had to close the doors just a few years later. She then worked about 30 years in the county tax office.
The couple’s children now have lives of their own. Cheryl is married to William Couch. She is an RN at Covenant Hospital in Plainview and William is the owner of West Window Tint in Plainview. Michael moved away some years ago but now calls Floydada home, and Judy Ann McHam is married and lives in Gardendale, Ark. The couple also have a life rich with three granddaughters and three great grandsons and three great granddaughters.
“I love living in Floydada. I have some of the best friends. We walk every day, and we’d go out and eat before this COVID virus,” said Arleen.
For the last 20 years or so Bearden has been sharing his famous chocolate fudge at Christmas time. He makes about 120 batches and passes it out. “That is what gives me joy,” he said.
After working all these years and only being sick 11 days during those years, Bearden has a piece of advice for the youth of today. “Work hard and be honest and you will go so far in life.”