I grew up in Van Buren in the 1920s and 30s. I am 93 years old. I remember Van Buren as the ideal small town with a population of 4,000-plus.
I recently saw on Google on my I-pad a picture of the current Blakemore Field and it brought back memories of the first Blakemore Field. It was located on East main, east of the 15th Street. It was, for that time, a very good football field and track.
It had been give by Dr. Blakemore, I don’t remember his given name. He lived in a rather large brick house on the corner of Cedarville and North 13th streets. I understand that the house is still there.
As I remember, he had no children, but he and his wife had raised two nephews: Frank, who became a dentist in Fort Smith, and Loren, who became a Presbyterian minister. I knew some of Loren’s children as a student at the College of the Ozarks in the late 1930s.
There were no dressing rooms during my time in Van Buren. I was in the class of ‘36 at VBHS. I remember seeing boys dressed for a game walking on the grass off the sidewalks in their cleats.
I don’t know the circumstances of Dr. Blakemore’s gift to the school and the city, but I think that naming the present football field is only fitting and carries with it an important time in the history of Van Buren.
Billy Burnett King