Texarkana, AR – Hobo Jungle Park, at least as far as anyone seems to remember, was named after the “Hobos” who once frequented the area when it was owned by the railroads. The term Hobo started in the late 1890s and referred to a person who would travel around the country seeking work. Often this group of people would travel by train and stay near train yards or train stops. When the train would prepare to leave, and the Hobo needed to travel to work, he would usually follow the tracks to the next town or he might “hop a train” and ride in an open freight car as far as he could. After the city obtained the land, a park was put in that has eventually become a baseball and softball complex in the city of Texarkana, Arkansas. The park has been named “Hobo Jungle Park” for as long as most citizens can remember, but on Saturday, June 23rd, the City of Texarkana Board met and renamed the park by a unanimous vote to the “Ermer Dansby Pondexter Sports Complex”. As it seems with most change, it did not take long for social media to come alive. The pictures of the Mayor and others holding a certificate of the name change was published on the Texarkana Arkansas Facebook page and comments started flying. While there were many positive comments on the name change, there appeared to be an overwhelming number of negative comments. Comments ranged from “STOP CHANGING OUR LANDMARKS” to “I will still call it Hobo Jungle” and many others. People questioned the meeting and when it was announced. Some noted that the Texarkana Gazette carried a short article about the meeting on Saturday, the same day as the meeting. Someone else stated that they had seen it posted on the Facebook page on Saturday, again the same day as the meeting. A quick look at the Facebook page did not show a note about the meeting and a look at the city calendar showed all stated board meetings on the first and third Mondays, which is normal for the city. On the calendar for Saturday, June 23, 2018, there was no entry for any meeting or event on the city calendar.
The posting on Facebook has continued to extend well beyond the twenty-four-hour mark now. People go on to question facts like the recent poll by the Gazette where the majority did not want to rename the park, the odd timing of the meeting, and the fact that it appeared to be changed without allowing public input from citizens. Most questioned who Mrs. Pondexter is and what she had to do with the park. Theories ranged from she was a lady killed when the trains derailed, to she was an outstanding citizen advocate. While citizens continue to debate whether the name should or should not be changed, whether the city should have given more notice or not, there should be no denying that Mrs. Pondexter is one of Texarkana, Arkansas’ shining stars. Continue Reading →