Redbug Football Program Celebrated Over 100 Years

 A review of our history link on this website, will provide all who read it with a history of the Fordyce Redbug Football program. Our foundation board Vice President, Dr. Chuck Kauffman, interviewed the late Mr. Rogers in 2003, who provided most of the content and history for us. Newspaper articles and Redbug school annuals provide us with important dates that lead us to believe the Redbugs are one of, if not the oldest, continuous football programs alive and well in Arkansas. We hope you read the article and celebrate with us the legacy and anniversary of our Fordyce Redbug Football heritage.

Redbug History Saturday, 21 June 2008 02:08

The Fordyce Redbugs have a long and proud history dating back to the early 1900's. Fordyce's first football field was located behind the high school at the corner of East 4th and Moro Streets. In the mid 1920's, Moro Street was widened to become a part of Highway 167. This highway construction ran through the football field. The football field was relocated to its present location on land obtained from the Fordyce Lumber Company. It is generally believed that the Fordyce Lumber Company donated the land. At that time, Highway 79, going to Pine Bluff, ran beside the new and present field on what is now Cleveland and Atkinson Streets.

The football team and men from the community cleared the land and built the new field, which was named Walton Field after the Fordyce coach of the mid-twenties. While building the field, everyone was eaten up by chiggers or "redbugs." Willard Clary, a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette who covered all of Fordyce's games from the wheel chair he was confined to, decided "Redbugs" would be an excellent nickname for the team. As far as anyone has been able to find out, Fordyce is the only team with this nickname.

The first field house was built in 1948 and was located very close to where the bandstand is now located. Alvin McMurry, Travey Hillman, and Richard Holt helped the football team build the fieldhouse. The three men obtained the material for the fieldhouse by traveling to Little Rock and tearing down an old Army barracks at Camp Robinson. The names of the men and the football players who build the field house can be seen etched in the concrete slab still occupying its original place.

Additional changes have occurred over the years. Public restrooms are located in the present field house which was built in 1987. Displayed over the doors are marble plates taken from the old Fordyce High School building located at the corner of Moro and East 4th Streets which read "Boys" and "Girls." The bandstand was also built in 1987. For years the only concession stand was located under the home stands. This structure was torn down and the present one built in 1983. An upper deck was added to the press box in the early 1990's. The present stands on the visitors' side were built in 1992 just in time for Fordyce's 20-0 victory over Rison in a game involving the two-time defending Class AA and Class A champions. These teams had a tied score the previous year.

The Fordyce Redbugs continue their proud heritage of character, scholarship, and championship in the 21st century.

"I stumbled across your website tonight and thought you might want to see an old Redbug Football photograph. My grandfather was Olin "Nunny" Hardman and he is the fifth from the left kneeling in front, and his friend "Bear" is standing behind him (fifth from left standing in back). 

I have been searching for tidbits of pictures and information about my grandfather's football years in Fordyce, but haven't come up with much. He went to Henderson Brown College after high school and played football for them until graduation in '34. My uncle has the old '29-'30 Fordyce yearbook though and it is a family treasure."

V.L. Cox


Remember when...

 Do you remember when everyone in Fordyce knew who you were coming down the street... by your car... not your face? Now, I would love to hear from you... tell me what your car was we would recognize between the corner and dixie dog on any given night!


(Mildred)  I can't remember what kind of car I have now much less back then.  I do remember that in the early '60's we had a mint green and white '55 Chevy hard top. It was a good car, not like the ones we have today.

(Mildred)  In my first reply I said we had a '55 green and white hard top Chevy in the early 60's, the "we" was after I got married. I was one of four siblings and when I was still in school, like Margaret, we too were "PO". My mom did have a car, a little bitty, tiny, dark green, Nash Rambler, straight shift, but we girls didn't know how to drive, didn't have a license and Mom wouldn't teach us. So if she was at work and couldn't drive us, we had the "privilege" of walking where we needed to go. Once in a while someone's boyfriend would take pity on us and give us a lift, which would be out of the question now days, ha. Those were the days.

(Mary Magee)  I drove our family car, the "Green Bean", a '51 Chevy. Ruthie put a dent in it's back fender learning to drive. Robert converted the Bean's steering post shift to "four in the floor" in '67. Fast-forward to 1970. I spot the Green Bean at Pennington's Drive-In in Tulsa, OK as my daughter, Beth -- age 7, and I are running Saturday morning errands. We whip in, pull up beside her, and sure enough...same dent, same seat covers, same everything. The new owner bought it at a used car lot in Little Rock. It was the BEAN!! At the time, Beth thought it was just an old car, and I was making a silly fuss. At 47, she understands! That car represented great memories. She still has her old '54 Buick even though "Big Bertha" is in storage. The older our kids get, the smarter we become!!

(Jim Drake)  1955 Pontiac Chieftain, two tone green! 

(Margaret Shankles Prewitt)  We were too Po for me to have a ride of my own..5 kids to feed and clothe on a truck drivers salary....I bummed a ride with Lulu and Nancy nearly every where they went or I walked..didn't even have a bicycle. Thank you Lou for putting up with me.

(Roseann Phillips) In case no one remembers..."Big Daddy Ray" was so tight he only bought a car every 10 years....and getting one for his daughter was totally Out of The Question! Therefore, I tooled around in the "family" car.....a 2-tone green, 4 door, 1954 FORD!!!! Jim Shivers wrecked it on the way to the Jr.-Sr. Banquet and he was shaking in his boots because he knew he had to face "Big Daddy". Those were the days!!! 

(Leann)  Our "car of choice" was a big, clumsy Nash Rambler. It looked exactly like a big gray bathtub turned upside down and put on wheels. The thing my brother Jim liked mostly about it was that the seats would lie down flat. I'm afraid he might have made really good use of that aspect of the car.

( Larry Smurl)  Rondell,  Those stories about our cars are great!!! I remember that 57 Buick. Do you remember when I used to sneak my parent's car out and go riding after they had gone to bed. I think I was in the 7th grade because I had to sit on a pillow. I used go pick up other people but can't remember who. Jimmy Drake and Tommy Sparks come to mind but not sure. Could you have been one of the passengers? What grade were you in when you moved to Fordyce? I would go out and start the car with the tv on so I wouldn't wake my parents and then run in and turn it off. One time I had it in neutral and forgot to put the emergency brake on and the car rolled across the street into Atwood Florist while I was turning off tv. Nearly scared me to death when I saw it rolling across the street! Does any of this ring a bell?

Yes, I remember that incident. Atwood Florist. I was not there but you told me about it. I remember the Buick before '57 that Henry left at home. We used to sit in it and use the radio. It had one of the first push button automatic search features on the radio. We got a kick out of pushing that bar on the radio.. and the automatic scan would search around for the next station. You would drive it to Charlotte Street and turn around come back home. We never did venture across the street in front of your home as it was a busy street... actually Hwy 167... from Little Rock to El Dorado. I don't believe Henry or Myrtle ever knew this was happening. this was about the seventh grade. I moved to Fordyce, started the sixth grade. You were the first friend to befriend me, introduced me to a little round faced girl one street down.. white frame house in the tall pines... we now know as "D"... aka... Darlene. She was and remains a sweet gal.  ....Lamar

In 1955 I hitchhiked everywhere I went. In 1957 Daddy bought a 1957 Ford Fairlane 6 cylinder. It would not beat anything. Kent didn’t even want to ride in it. 

(Rondell & Jane in NWA) Larry Crowder and I worked with you honing the brake cylinders in your back yard. I remember the '49 Plymouth... and the fact you got a car. I loved that Pontiac.. and we would beg your grandmother to let us take it for a drive... then to Second Street... honking that horn ring... vibrating it to make the intermittent sounds... letting the Garners know who was driving in front of the house. Every Wednesday night on my way home from Camden at Naval Reserve meetings... I would do the same in front of Jane's house.. letting her know I was home safe from the Naval Reserve meeting in Camden. Wow.. memories... and you would think I could forget these stories.. Jane and I rode in the back seat of Gill's '56 Chev... dragging that bridge... even without any competition. I can still hear the whine of that Chevy... as it took a fully loaded car from one end of the bridge to the other in split seconds times. Everyone knew it would outrun anything in Fordyce.. so, they finally gave up. Our graduation night.. Lamar and Meta.. he in his '57 Buick... I in my brother-in-law's '56 Mercury... dragged the bridge twice.. I smoked him twice.. as he wanted a two out of three chance. He didn't like it a bit.. that I beat him in that turquoise/cream Mercury. That thing would scat. I often wondered if the opportunity had arisen.. if Gill could have beaten that car. It was a real good/fast car. Of course, I never told Charles about that.. even to this day. 

(Jim Drake) In 1955 we bought a 1955 Pontiac Chieftian. That was the first year that Pontiac had a V-8 engine. Although it was a four door it was the fastest thing in Fordyce until Jr Gill got a '56 Bel Air Chevrolet. If you will remember, we would go the the second Moro Creek bridge on Hwy 79 and drag race. It was approx 1/4 mile long. The Pontiac would go the length of that bridge in 8.7 seconds. To this day I can't remember how we got the 0.7 seconds, but we knew it was right. Never the less, it was a mute point in '56 when Gill got the Chevrolet. TTHHEENN, Larry Crowder got the '57 Ford with the 500 c.i. Lincoln engine with the Hurst speed shift. In '57 I got a '49 Plymouth four door that had soft seats and my racing days were over. I got more interested in girls than cars. It was just as well, because my Plymouth had a 6 cylinder. This car was my first introduction to auto mechanics. One of the pistons slapped against the cylinder wall and that had to be fixed. Also each of the wheel cylinders would go out, and they would have to be honed out and new cylinder kits installed. I don't remember that car ever having brakes, except for the emergency brake. It worked fine. It was a walking cane handle with a finger trigger on the left kick plate, and I could operate it as well a the foot brake, if it ever worked. After I got rid of the Plymouth I drove the Pontiac, unless I rode with someone else. I made many trips between The Corner and the Dixie Dog in those two cars. I also bought gas $0.15 at a time.