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OLD WILLOW SPRINGS JAIL GONE, BUT BUILDER’S MEMORIES REMAIN
Source: An area newspaper from the early 1970s

Willow Springs–The old jail at this Howell County community has been destroyed–except in memory–to make room for a $20,000 new one. Meanwhile, any city prisoners will be confined in the Howell County jail at West Plains, the nearby county seat. Funds for the new building have been budgeted by the city council, and construction is scheduled to begin soon.
Although the 50-year old jail building is gone, memories remain. Stanley "Hank" Marvin, of Willow Springs, tells how he and Sonny Bottom built the old jail back in the early 1930s.
"Back in the early ‘30s, Sonny and I took the contract to build the jail for $400," he said. "Sonny was an electrician. We used as much secondhand material as we could find. At that time there was a character–I can’t recall his name–who used to come to town every so often, get drunk, lose his shoes, get arrested and put in jail. About 2 one afternoon, a quick summer shower drenched the town and the new jail building. The bare spots on the secondhand wire made no difference when the building was dry," Marvin said, "but when wet you could feel a distinct tingle. ‘Fat’ (L.C.) Clingan and I were drinking coffee at Ora Ray’s restaurant, " Marvin recalled. "The peace and quiet was broken by a scream you could have heard a country mile. Fat and I jumped up and ran down the alley. We found our local drunk acting like a squirrel in a cage. All he could touch was steel and concrete and every time he lit he would squall, ‘Don’t execute me, boys!’"
Note: Milton "Sonny" Bottom, who lived in Willow Springs at that time and who was often called "Sonny," was my dad.

Submitted by: Anna Newel


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