Texarkana received an added layer of musical pop culture history during a tribute ceremony at the Arkansas Municipal Auditorium Saturday.
Miller County Road Administrator Carl Teel honored country music songwriter and local radio personality Jewell House by presenting her oldest son David, with a Jewell House Memorial Plaque during a 90-minute tribute event at the auditorium.
"We are looking at making this auditorium a place for tourists to visit for years to come," said Teel, who got involved in AMA's restoration while working for a time as Texarkana, Ark.'s city planner and public works director. "I Got invited to serve on the AMA's restoration commission and that where my interest started."
Teel, a nephew of Jewell House, welcomed a gathering of many other of House's relatives to the auditorium where she served as the director for the Texarkana Hayloft Jamboree for up-and-rising county and rock-a-billy singers on their way to the larger Louisiana Hayride venue every weekend. She arranged and booked concert appearances for these singers in the early-to-mid 1950s at the AMA.
Teel said he while he learned about various singers who performed and the auditorium in the early to mid 1950 he added he always wondered how the rising young singing sensations made it to the AMA.
Teel's interest lead him to making contact with David House, who had been researching his mom's history starting in 2011
"My mom (whose family moved from Boxelder, Texas, to Texarkana in 1938) began writing poetry during World War II while dad was off serving in the U.S. Army in Europe during the Battle of the Bulge," David said. "Dad was able to make it back home, but mom continued to write poetry and songs."
Jewell met Hank Williams in 1947 at the Louisiana Hayride where she gave copies of her songwriting to him. They decided to record one of her songs "My Son Calls Another Man Daddy" in 1949. From there, the song became a hit and by 1952, Jewell House started developing show business ties that lead to her being booked into the Hayloft Jamboree. Hit hard by Hanks Williams' death in 1953, coupled with the loss of her mom in 1958 and later her husband in 1970, lead Jewell to eventually burn most copies of her work before she herself passed away in 1971. However, David did managed to collect what copies of his mom's work he could find.
"Mom found it hard to recover, but may she now rest in peace singing about God's glory forever," he said.