Fred Duke

Fred Duke & Mena, 1958

I arrived in Mena on Sunday afternoon, June 14, 1914, to accept a job as salesman for Lochridge Dry Goods Co.  About half the people of Mena were at the depot to see the train go through, and the rest were in Janssen Park listening to a band concert.

W-6 Lochridge Store 600 blk Mena St

I succeeded Mr. Lochridge as President of the company January 1, 1917, and the name of the company was changed to Duke-Magurder Dry Goods Company.  I lived in Mena 25 years and was in the department store and real estate business during that time.  I was Depression Mayor of Mena, having served in the office during the Depression years of 1931-35.

At that time I was the youngest man to ever serve as mayor.  I think I am now senior ex-mayor.  During my two terms as mayor some progress was made during the Depression years, especially street improvements.  I recall the paving of old Highway 71 from the east side to the west side of town, which includes Janssen and Reeves Avenues and Reine Street.  (Old Highway 71 is now known as Highway 375--and goes out past the radio station and on south.It follows Janssen Ave, out Racetrac Road and back into what is now Hwy. 71 North.)   G.W. Petty, W.S. MacLafferty, and Albert Adkinson were the commissioners in charge of this project and did an excellent job.

In conclusion, I would like to say there is no place like Mena.  During the years I lived there, I saw some of the bright sunshine of life, and I saw the clouds of bereavement and sorrow.  I felt joy and some degree of success and the sting of defeat and failure.  This, I presume, is the way of life.

© Shirley Manning 2004