Woodrow T. Little Collection of Images and Information Is Now Open
The Woodrow T. Little Collection (BC.MSS.14.83), donated to the CALS Butler Center by Little’s daughter, Janice Smith, is a relatively small collection that contains a wealth of information and images. It tells about Little himself, as well as about his friend, Jesse Garner Reynolds, and about the organization they both worked for, Colonial Baking Company. The information comes mostly from photographs, the majority taken by Reynolds, and from descriptive comments relating to the photos by both Reynolds and Little.
Woodrow Talice Little was born on November 3, 1917, on a houseboat on the White River near Newport, Arkansas, to Thomas Little and Bertha Hudson Little. At the age of fourteen, he began working at Colonial Baking Company in Little Rock. Too young to be an official employee, Little arrived in the early morning hours to help the salesmen, who paid him twenty-five cents each to load their trucks. Little later became a driver and salesman himself, remaining with the company through the mid-1950s. Little served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946 and was stationed at Camp Kohler in California and at Flora, Mississippi.
Garner Reynolds, born on August 22, 1913, to Isaac and Louella Reynolds, also worked for Colonial Baking Company as a young man. In addition, he worked part time at Fausett Photo Shop, where he learned his skills as a photographer. Reynolds served as a photographic technician with the U.S. Army Signal Corps in World War II. He returned to Little Rock after his discharge and continued to work for Colonial, pursuing photography as a sideline.
Colonial Baking Company was established in Little Rock in 1926. A subsidiary of Campbell Taggart Associated Bakeries of Dallas, the company marketed its products under the brands of Colonial and Rainbo directly to grocery stores and restaurants. The facility, located at 210 N. Cross Street just south of the Lincoln Avenue viaduct, grew to fill the block between North and Garland Streets. Ross Anderson, who appears in several photographs in the collection, was president of the company from 1939 to 1958. The Colonial brand was eventually acquired by the Sara Lee Company, and the local bakery was closed.
The images in the collection fall into two categories: general scenes of Little Rock and events in the city, and matters relating to the bakery. The first category includes Baring Cross Railroad Bridge and the railroad yards around Union Station; Cotton Festival parades; Livestock Stock show parades; President Franklin Roosevelt’s visit to Little Rock for the Arkansas Centennial; and cafes, drugstores, and other businesses in downtown Little Rock. The second category includes images of the Colonial Baking Company facilities on Cross Street; the inner workings of the bakery, including baking, slicing, and wrapping machines; birthday parties for Ruth the Elephant at the Little Rock Zoo, with a cake provided by Colonial Baking Company; and Travelers baseball games broadcast by Colonial employee Benny Craig from a booth in front of the building.
The centerpiece of the collection is an album assembled by Reynolds and given to Little in 1990. Reynolds included comments giving background on the locations and events in the photographs. The collection also contains about 150 miscellaneous photographs, many with descriptive comments by Little. It also includes postcards, some with correspondence, that shed light on the time of Little’s service in the army during World War II. The finding aid for the collection is available online here.