Wednesday, February 01, 2012

TOP STORY >> Cabot history emphasizes schools

Leader staff writer

Mike and Debra Carrington Polston’s book on Cabot history appropriately features a cover photo of children smiling at desks in a classroom and one boy holding a sign that reads “Cabot Elem, Grade 1, Mrs. Nipper.”

One thing that defines the state’s “boomtown” is its world-class school district, the Polstons write.

“Images of America: Cabot” has a whole chapter dedicated to the history of education in the city.

Pictures of a brick building, affectionately called Old Main, that housed the student body in 1915; a graduation ceremony from the ’50s; group photos of organizations like the Future Farmers of America, and sports teams through the decades tell the story well.

Another chapter details football in the town with team and cheerleader photos. Cabot High School has won the state championship twice in its history.

But the book also vividly describes and shows the defining moment in the history of Cabot, when a deadly tornado leveled most of downtown — the main business section — and cost five people their lives on March 29, 1976.

The only still photograph of the storm is menacing and another photo shows four chairs surrounded by flattened buildings sitting in the aftermath unmoved, as if nothing had happened.

The Polstons teach in the Cabot School District and have brought history alive to hundreds of students. He founded the Museum of American History at Cabot High School. She teaches at Cabot Middle School South, which holds an annual Frontier Day.

Cabot was founded as a railroad stop in 1873. Photos of the many prominent businesses in the downtown area and residents lining up loaded wagons in anticipation of the train that transported their goods to the world market support the Polstons’ claim that the farming community was poised for growth in its early years.

Another section shows how proud the city is of veterans with snapshots of smiling soldiers who were brave enough serve or to die for our country.

One photo, sent home from a Cabot soldier, features Viet Cong prisoners. The keepsake is remarkable because it was unusual for something like that to make it through the military’s strict censorship procedures.

The last chapter, “Faces,” is just that. It shows the people who made the city what it is today.

The Polstons’ book offers a detailed glimpse of Cabot that shouldn’t be missed. Descriptions for pictures are short and sweet but they add color to the black and white photographs.

An overview of the city’s history at the beginning of the book and few paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter offers readers the context that can be used to thoroughly enjoy the visual experience it offers.

Arcadia Publishing’s other offerings include “Images of America: Jacksonville, Arkansas,” “Images of America: Searcy” and “Images of America: Historic Pulaski County.”