There were a number of colorful characters who lived in El Dorado during my formative years, and they added their own flavor to the spice of life in this small South Arkansas town. Some of the ones who come to mind are James Mook, a close friend and high school classmate and Flying Saucer whose real name I never knew. Donald Dollarhide, an acquaintance who worked at P.I. Lipsey’s, a well-known hamburger joint, and there was Tony the hot tamale man who pushed his tamale cart around town for over ten years. Buzzy Sutherland, another friend and class mate was known for his fiery temperament, but who had a spiritual change and became a well-known pastor. Two of the most colorful men about town were Truck and Trailer, whom I never knew but heard stories of some of their exploits.
I don’t know the first names of the Goodwin brothers, but only knew their nicknames of Truck and Trailer. They walked everywhere they went, because they did not own an automobile and probably did not know how to drive. I don’t believe that they were ever employed for any length of time, so doubtless could not afford such a luxury as a car. They received their nicknames because wherever they were seen walking, Truck was always walking ahead of Trailer. Because their living conditions were probably sub-optimal their personal hygiene suffered. I was told by a local merchant nicknamed “Perk” that one could usually smell Truck and Trailer before you saw them. This particular merchant owned a drug store located on the square, and the store had a small soda fountain which served sandwiches and drinks to customers desiring lunch. For a period of time Truck and Trailer came daily to the store for coffee usually around 11 to 11:30 am. As they sat at the counter Perk noted a few of his regular lunch customers would separate themselves as far as they could from the brothers. He said a few of his customers finally told him they would no longer come in for lunch if the brothers did not do something about their body odor. In as gentle and gracious manner as possible he told Truck and Trailer that they needed to bath and use some type of deodorant before coming in for coffee, because their body odor was so offensive it was keeping some from enjoying their food. The brothers said they understood and consented to improve their personal hygiene.
The brothers did not come in for another week or so, but when they finally returned to the store, Perk said he could smell them from ten feet away. He intercepted them before they were seated and told them in a firm but polite voice he was unable to seat them because their odor was still too offensive. They left without argument, but were heard saying as they left, “What we thought about this place is true. They only allow big shots in here!”
Another story I heard about the brothers involved a court case in which they were seeking a judgement against an individual who had accidentally struck and injured Trailer with his automobile. Trailer sustained a broken leg which required several months to heal. The accident occurred in the west side of town on a hill known locally as Goodwin Hill. The hill was not named for the brothers , but for Dr. Don Goodwin who owned the land and had his veterinarian clinic there. The driver of the vehicle was also named Goodwin, but was not related to the two Goodwin brothers. The plaintiff, Trailer Goodwin alleged the driver of the car swerved off the road and side-swiped him causing the injury. The defendant, Mr. Goodwin told the jurors Trailer Goodwin was not paying attention and stepped out onto the road, and he could not avoid striking him. The lawyers for both parties were getting the Goodwin names all confused and especially that the accident occurred on Goodwin Hill. Finally, the judge asked the defendant the following question; ” Mr. Goodwin, it is alleged you have poor eyesight and could not tell when your auto veered into Mr. Goodwin causing him to sustain a broken leg. Tell me Mr. Goodwin, just how far can you see?” Mr. Goodwin thought a moment, scratched his head and slowly said; ” Well Judge, I can see the moon.” The judge said, “I’ve heard enough of this case. Judgement in favor of Mr. Goodwin!” When I heard the story which was told by a relative of the judge, I never got it straight which one won.
I haven’t thought of them in years. Thanks, John Henry, again for the time you spend to bring us stories and memories.