By Judy Bishop
Mountain View resident Paul E. Miller, soon to have his 102nd birthday, recently talked about his long and active life. Surrounded by his books and papers, his white beard neatly trimmed, he seems decades younger than his years.
Paul was born in White County, in the Bethlehem community near Judsonia, on July 4, 1916, to cotton and strawberry farmer Joe Henry Miller, whose forebears came to Arkansas from northern Indiana, and Clara Edwards Miller, whose family hailed from middle Tennessee. Paul was the eldest of three sons.
Joe Henry Miller, according to his son Paul, “was a well-educated man, although he only went through the third grade.” Joe was a reader snd a progressive thinker, a skillful and precise builder, the first in the area to terrace his farm.
“My father learned how to use a steel square and build a gambrel roof by reading about them,” Paul said. “He was known for his well-constructed barns.”
As a strawberry farmer, Joe Miller set a production record that stood for many years. A hard worker himself, he expected his son Paul to be the same. By the age of 10, Paul was plowing two acres a day behind a pair of mules. That amounted to 16 miles of walking.
The effects of the Great Depression and a local drought prevented the addition of a 12th grade at the local school, so at 14 Paul left home to finish high school at Beebe, graduating at age 15 in 1932. He attended one semester at the Junior Agricultural College at Beebe before having to withdraw because of a lack of funds. He had borrowed $100 for school expenses from a neighbor, deposited the check in a Searcy bank, and opened an account. The bank closed, forever, that same day, and the money was gone.
Paul went back home and worked on the farm for $15 a month. In two years, he had saved enough money to enter Harding College, then located at Morrilton, for two three-month terms. In the summer of 1934, Harding moved to Searcy. Paul helped with the move and earned enough for two more terms.
After a stint of custom hay baling in Missouri, Paul joined the Civil Conservation Corps, located at Heber Springs. He was paid $30 a month, $5 of which he was allowed to keep. The rest was sent to his parents. He was soon promoted to camp clerk, and his pay rose to $45 a month. Two years later, he returned to Harding College and graduated with majors in English and history in 1939.
See the complete story in the July 4, 2018 issue.