BY JACLYN ROSE –
For many years now, every morning, a United States Flag is raised on Proft Circle in Mena by sweet resident, Dolly Hampton. Every evening around five p.m., she goes back outside, removes the flag and stores it until morning, when she proudly raises it all over again.
Hampton was born in Page, Oklahoma in 1917, shortly after, her family moved to Rich Mountain where she was raised along with her seven sisters and one brother. Her daddy worked as a section foreman for KCS and she attended Acorn Public Schools.
In 1933, Hampton met the love of her life, Elwood Hampton, a resident of Louann, Arkansas. “Elwood came over for a local Civilian Conservation Course Camp (CCC Camp) during the Great Depression and I met him through a cousin. We had 60 beautiful years together. I had the best husband in the world,” explained Hampton.
After marrying Elwood, they took in Hampton’s invalid sister, Florence Hart, who they took care of until she passed away 24 years later. “As a young couple during the Great Depression, Hampton worked in cafés and Reynold’s Variety Store for fifty cents a day. “You have no idea what the Depression was like unless you lived in it. But the thing is, nobody was well off, every one was in the same boat as you.” Elwood worked long hours for the W.P.A. that was established under President Franklin Roosevelt, for $19 a month.
The Hampton’s were blessed with two daughters, Sondra and Rebecca, and five grandchildren. All of which, Hampton is extremely proud of, “we had the most wonderful family life,” said Hampton with a smile. “I have the two most beautiful girls and the most wonderful husband.”
Elwood worked as a janitor for the telephone company, as well as for the Mena Star, where he learned to work the press. They then moved to California, where he went to work for the Santa Ana Register and worked the press until he learned the advertising department. He retired years later as the head of advertising for the very large newspaper. During that time, Hampton continued to work in various cafés, including the Dairy Treat where she worked for eight years.
While living in California, they resided near Disneyland. “Every day they would raise the United States Flag and every evening they would come with a group and play music and lower the flag around five p.m. After Elwood retired, he wanted to move back to Mena so we bought our house in 1978. Sometime later a neighbor donated the flagpole and I offered to take care of the flag. I’ve been doing it ever since. I started this before my husband died and he’s been gone 20 years,” explained Hampton. As a tribute, Hampton’s very talented neighbor took a photo of her raising the flag in her housecoat and painted a beautiful painting for her.
“I love living in Polk County. My husband wanted to retire here and I’ve done well here. My kids have wanted me to move to be with them but I wanted to stay here, so I have. Time has gone by so fast,” Hampton said.