BELLA VISTA Although the anniversaries have come and gone, an anniversary project by the Bella Vista Historical Museum is continuing. Museum personnel are adding to their collection of oral histories which will be available to anyone who wants to hear the stories of how Bella Vista came to be.
The museum helped the POA celebrate 50 years in 2015 while, at the same time, it remembered Lake Bella Vista’s 100th birthday. The lake was built when Bella Vista was a summer resort.
Among the people interviewed for the project was Norma Clark, who had lived in Bella Vista for more than 80 years when she was interviewed in 2013. Dean Mowan, who once lived at the end of Sunset Drive where construction of a business caused the road to collapse, was also interviewed.
Xyta Lucas, president of the Bella Vista Historical Society explained that many of the interviews were videotaped and have been transferred to DVDs so they are available to the public.
“I don’t ever want to see it,” Rosalie Robinson said, as she finished an oral history at the Museum last week. Lucas interviewed her, and volunteer Dustie Meads videotaped.
Robinson, 96, has lived in Bella Vista for more than 40 years. Robinson is a native of Norman, Okla. She and her husband, Clyde Robinson, spent 27 years in Milwaukee, Wis., while he worked for Kodak. She describes those years as “like living in a foreign country.”
It was friends in Milwaukee who urged them to tour Bella Vista in the late ’70s as the couple was preparing to retire. Although the Cooper salesmen tried to sell them an empty lot, Robinson knew they didn’t want to build. Instead, they found a home they liked but warned the owners that they had a home to sell in Milwaukee. It turned out that their home in Milwaukee sold immediately and they were back in Bella Vista in just a few weeks.
The Robinson children were already independent, but they didn’t like the idea of their parents moving to “the middle of nowhere.” They pointed out that there were no trains and the airport was in Fayetteville or Tulsa. It didn’t stop them.
Robinson said that, as she unpacked from the move, her husband left for the golf course and she didn’t see him again.
Actually both the Robinsons played golf. They both joined golf groups and played separately during the week and together in a couple’s league on the weekends.
Clyde Robinson wrote a golf column for The Weekly Vista. Someone found out he had a degree in journalism, she explained, and recruited him for the paper. It was a popular feature for several years, she said.
Rosalie Robinson organized a women’s league on Tuesdays that is still playing today. It’s the oldest women’s golf group in the POA, she said. She finally gave up golf at age 95, but she still joins “the girls” for lunch on Tuesdays.
They joined Community Church when it was meeting at Riordan Hall because there was no Congregational Church in the area. Robinson still attends the nondenominational church.
Not long after Rosalie and Clyde got settled in Bella Vista, Clyde’s cousin, Lois, and her husband, John Drum, came for a visit. They loved the area and decided to rent a home while they considered a lake lot. Since Drum was still working and often out of town, it was Lois and her friend, Rosalie Robinson, who went looking for a lake lot where the Drums would build a home.
Robinson remembers seeing a sign in the weeds near Lake Windsor and battling through the underbrush to get the phone number. It was before Loch Lomond was built, so lake lots were scarce. The Drums hired a Fayetteville architect to design their retirement home and ended up with the only home in Bella Vista designed by E. Fay Jones. Jones had already designed the Bella Vista Country Club building and would return to the area to design the Mildred B. Cooper Chapel a few years later.
Rosalie Robinson visited the site every day while the house was being built because the Drums were out of town. She asked the contractor to let her know the day before he poured the cement for the garage, but unfortunately it turned out to be a Tuesday and Robinson was playing golf with her group. By the time she got to the building site, the cement was almost dry. She found a stick and managed to draw a drum in one corner along with the date. It’s still in the corner of the garage.
The two couples remained close. Rosalie Robinson nursed her husband through Alzheimer’s for 12 years until he passed away. Lois Drum also passed away, and the two survivors continued their friendship and often eat dinner together and attend events.
“There’s always something going on,” Robinson said. She knows that keeping busy and active is important as people age.
While Robinson may not want to watch her own story, it will eventually become part of the museum’s oral history project, along with those of other residents who have stories to tell about Bella Vista.
Print Headline: Robinson subject of oral history interview