Allen Harrell, U.S. Army
Army veteran Allen Harrell was born in Decatur County, Georgia on January 26, 1934. He had two brothers, Dan (Air Force) Rufus (Navy), and a sister named Onjel. All three brothers served in the military during the same period.
“Rufus went into the Navy in California and went in before I did,” said Allen.
“My dad’s name was Junior. He was a farmer who had an older brother in the chicken business. My dad went to work with him and hauled chickens all over Georgia and Florida. My dad also farmed about 50 acres at the time. He drove a refrigerator truck and sold fruits and vegetables to the markets. He also sold peanuts and had a small peach orchard. My mother stayed home,” said Allen.
“I worked a lot around the farm as a young boy. In high school I was the quarterback of the football team and ran track. The football team was mediocre. I was the smallest man on the team and played both offense and safety on defense. I didn’t get a scholarship but I did attend Florida State for one semester. I majored in campusology,” he laughed. “Basket weaving,” I asked, having myself graduated from Florida. “I basically had a good time,” Allen continued. “My major was girls and went there mostly to party,” he again laughed.
“After my first year my roommate, who was from Pensacola, Florida, and I became friends. His name was Ken. He liked to ski and both of us did a lot of water skiing. He was a very good water skier. I lasted about a full year at Florida State.”
VOLUNTEERED FOR THE DRAFT
“A friend of mine from High School and I volunteered for the draft. Back in those days if you volunteered for the military and was going back to college they would give you three months early out. We served one year and nine months and we never did go back to college full time. I guess I wanted to be different from my brothers, instead of the Navy or Air Force I volunteered for the Army.
We went to boot camp in Fort Gordon, Georgia. We both had ROTC in college so that helped us when we got to boot camp. Each line of troops had a leader and we were both selected as squad leaders because of our experience from ROTC. We got out of a lot of KP and other menial tasks due to our experience from the Reserve Officer Training. We had a good time in the military.
A soldier from my home town was sending guys to different bases. There were only three of us he sent to medical school and all the rest went to infantry. I am glad he selected me because I would have much preferred medic over infantry,” laughed Allen
“When I was a medic in the Army we were stationed and lived in a hospital. After boot we went to medical training in San Antonio, Texas for 90 days. As medics, we ate with the officers. The cooks were civilians and we could go in and order anything we wanted. The medics did a lot of trading with the cooks and they baked us a lot of cakes and pies. The cooks needed light duty slips and we had the doctors on our side. We did a lot of wheeling and dealing,” laughed Allen.
FORT CHAFE, ARKANSAS
“From San Antonio I received orders to Ft. Chafe, Arkansas where I took up residency as a medic at the hospital on base. I received more training and also was assigned to the “shot team.” Military personal from around the country came thru our hospital and were given vaccine shots for those leaving the country and those coming into the Army. They were lined up in a long row and we didn’t have one of those automatic shot machines in those days.
They were given needle shots one at a time and sometimes in each arm simultaneously. Sometimes the guys would get the same shots twice,” and he starts laughing. “We told them when you received a shot move out, some didn’t. I stayed there my entire military career. That is a lot of shots.
The base was mainly artillery for the Army and we had to have a unit to go with the troops. The Governor of Arkansas had set up a large dam and we had to have so many medical crews to go along.
We even drove a Cadillac ambulance. Life was fun in the Army for me. If any of the troops got injured we were on hand for medical assistance. I guess I had it pretty easy during my 21 months in the military,” said Allen looking back on his military days. “A bunch of us guys would get together and we liked to go bass fishing and that was a lot of fun,” Allen reminisced.
“I enjoyed the military, I really did. I never did drink or smoke. The good thing was I had a car on base and was the designated driver. They tried to get me to drink including this big LSU guy and he said we are going to take you out and get you drunk. I said, no you are not going to do that. He grabbed me by my arm and I grabbed the 4 x4 post in the barracks. I looked up at him and said, I tell you what, I am going to kick you where it hurts if you don’t turn me loose. He did, and I never had a problem with him after that. My fondest memories of the military was getting out,” he said with a big smile on his face.
AFTER THE MILITARY
Allen got a job in the University of Georgia System in Atlanta after getting his honorable discharge from the Army. He spent one semester at the University of Georgia in Athens and then got the job in Atlanta. He was working in an office job there. He was also living with his brother Dan and his wife. “My parents lived in a small town, called Bainbridge, about 15 minutes from the Florida-Georgia state line. I travelled from North Georgia to South Georgia about every week which was about a 250-mile drive, one way. Those were back roads of Georgia; the Interstate had not been built at this time.”
MEETING HIS WIFE
“My sister, Onjel, was married to a man in the Air Force and lived in Attopuls’s, Georgia. It was just north of where my parents lived. My brother-in-law had a sister my age and she was in a school in middle Georgia about halfway from Atlanta to where they lived. I realized she didn’t have a ride home. I had my own car, a 1954 Mercury Montclair. I called her from Atlanta and told her I was coming home for Thanksgiving and I picked them up and brought them to Bainbridge. I asked her if she knew any girls in Attopuls’s, Georgia and she said, we will check around. She found two girls and they set it up for the Christmas holidays.
Carole McPherson was one of the girls and she was dating this boy from a Bible College in North Georgia. He was 6’6” and was captain of the basketball team. I dated her when he was back at school. I had my first date with her in my Mercury Montclair. The couple we double dated with were engaged to be married. It was kind of awkward. This was the first time I dated this girl and in the back seat were this couple recently engaged. By the time the Christmas break was over we were already making plans and were married before the year was over.
She was a beautiful person.” I asked Allen if it was Carole or was it his 54 Mercury? He laughed, “I accused her of that, too.” Allen and Carole were married for 56 years.
“We went to her pastor to talk and he refused to marry us. Her dad was a deacon in that church and he told the pastor, I know this boy and there is nothing wrong with him. The pastor eventually accepted and married us. We moved back to Atlanta where my wife taught first graders at the church.”
“I got a job working in the furniture industry. I had a couple of small retail furniture stores in Atlanta, Georgia. I began to realize I needed to branch out and I went with a larger store chain. My Navy brother, Rufus, worked for them and he helped me get a job. They moved him to manage a store in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I knew the manager and we talked to him about working there. I was hired and worked there for about two years. I eventually went to work with the Levitz Furniture Company, a much larger franchise furniture store. The brothers sold the Levitz furniture company and they couldn’t open another store in the same town under the Levitz name. I moved from Atlanta to Dallas and worked for the Levitz Furniture Company for 20 years and retired. It was a commission job and I was their top salesman.
My wife and I travelled a lot with the company. They sent me out to train sales people and my wife would accompany me. We had over a hundred stores and I was the Head Salesman to train all the people at the company. Selling is an art and I was a good salesperson.
I won trips, Rolex watches and they had contests every month. I am embarrassed, I won a lot of them,” he told me.
“Over the years I have learned the value and the dividends of hard work. The work ethic allowed me to travel a lot with my wife and my family. We have been to Mexico, England, Europe a couple of times and enjoyed that. These were all paid for by the company.
My son Allen, Jr. also works in the furniture business. My son is mentally ill. He is slow, but he is a good boy. He is working and doing ok. I talk with him often. That was a hard thing for Carole and I to understand. But we worked with the people who worked with him. We got thru it. His life I would change if I could,” Allen said looking down at the floor.
MY WIFE WAS A WRITER AND PRODUCER
“My wife, Carole, was a writer and producer of plays. She wrote over fifty plays and produced about twenty-five of them.
When we got married she had finished just one year of college. A couple of kids came along. She came to me one day and asked me what would I say if she wanted to go back to college. I asked her what she wanted to do. She answered, I want to write. She did her research and she definitely was a good writer,” he said nodding his head.
“The Blue Belle Run was a comedy that was played all over Dallas. It was a family-friendly comedy about sweet intentions gone awry. After she wrote the play she sat me down and she read it to me. I said ok, now when are you going to talk to Blue Bell. She kind of wilted. You will have to talk to them and ask the famous ice cream people for their approval. Their headquarters were in Texas and she called their bosses and they sent two people down from their headquarters. They liked it so much they ended up getting involved in the play,” he said grinning.
“The next one was Marcy’s Little Miracles. An original three act play for the Family Dinner Theater at the Park Central Baptist Church in Dallas. Carole graduated from High School with a young lady whose parents were killed. She and her older brothers took over the family and ended up raising them. Carole was impressed with the way she raised them because she was really close to that family. They were considered the “little miracles.”
“The “Tea Rose” was played all over Thomasville, Georgia and was a big hit. We opened it here in Dallas but Thomasville was where it just fit to the story. Carole was a really good writer and had a passion for it.
Thru her writings and plays we raised a lot of money for mentally ill causes. An area that was very dear to our hearts having raised a boy with mental illness.”
BOBBY EWING ( Patrick Duffy ) TV series, “DALLAS”
A segment for the hit TV series “DALLAS” was filmed in Harrell’s home. His daughter was having a yard sale and this lady showed up at their house, opened the door and started looking around. She introduced herself as a producer for the CBS series and Lorimar Productions and was looking for a location house. There were 25 homes being considered and Allen and Carole’s home was selected.
“She pulled up in a big car, she came in without knocking on the door and just came in. She thought the yard sale was going on.” She said, “I am in the wrong house.” “I said ok,” and she said, “I am so and so from Lorimar Studios. She said she was looking for a house to film a segment of the movie.” “I said ok. What all do you need. She said we need a bedroom, front of the house and the living room. It got to be more than that. I had 6 bedrooms. They just needed the master bedroom. My closet was small and my wife had a walk-in closet. We ended up moving my wife’s clothes into my smaller closet.
The lady in the scene was playing a nurse and she was going to be sleeping in our bed. The guy told us he was from England and he said there was going to be a bedroom scene. My wife spoke up and Allen starts laughing and smiles. I think she thought then that he was kidding.
The producers liked the LOOK of our house and that is why it was selected. I didn’t call all my friends until they confirmed it. We told some of our neighbors nearby and everyone showed up. They had over a hundred in their production crew. We had police everywhere to help with traffic. There was also an 18-wheeler outside. My wife asked them about whether she could have drinks ready for the crew and cast. They informed her they had a large truck with all the food and drinks for everyone. It was quite a production. There was even a trailer there for makeup.
Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) was the only major character in this particular scene. J.R. Ewing was not in this segment. Patrick Duffy was a great guy and I enjoyed visiting with him. We talked quite a bit. We joked a lot and one time he told me they were going to blow my house up. I wasn’t too concerned. I was informed the production company had a million-dollar insurance policy,” and Allen laughs out loud.
“They were shooting at my house for two days. I was a big hit in the neighborhood after that, absolutely. I still am,” he laughs.
MOVING TO VAN ZANDT COUNTY
“My wife passed away in Dallas and I eventually moved to Canton,” said Allen. He currently resides at the Country Place Senior Living Center in Canton. His daughter lives in this area. Carole and Allen had five kids, three daughters and two sons.
“Looking back over my life there are no regrets or redo’s,” said Allen. “The Lord has been very good to me.”
Allen, thank you for your service to our country while serving in the United States Army.
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