Crescent City captures

guitarist in Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville in New Orleans

A guitarist and band leader leans way back and is deep inside his tune at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in New Orleans’ French Quarter during a Saints game weekend in January of 2002. The crowd was appreciative and festive, many of them looking forward to a Saints victory the next day. Their fondest hopes did not materialize. Those were the days when the Saints did not win nearly as often as they do now and in recent history.

Being one of a few good ol’boys in a Suburban heading south to New Orleans a few years back was one of my annual events. The trip initially was built around our attendance at a Saints game in the Superdome. This was in the late nineties and early two-thousands when the Saints were not prone to win. That and other considerations led us to follow the suggestion of one of our protagonists that we serve as volunteers in a cold-drink or beer tent for four hours during the French Quarter Fest in April. After the volunteer stint, we were on our own.

Street guitarist during the 2006 New Orleans French Quarter Fest

Click on the guitarist for more pix and info.

This story is in two parts. The first part is on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where you will find French Quarter street shots including a guitar duo who were talented far beyond the streets —and a sneaky shot inside a French Quarter restaurant. We’ll wait here while you take a look.

Strollin’ thru the “Quarter”

There was enough slack time in the game and festival trip schedules to stroll through the French Quarter and capture local color. What you’ll see in this post is a compendium of images from 2002, 2005, and 2006, the year following Katrina’s untoward visit to the Crescent City.

Jimmy Buffetts Margaritaville in the New Orleans French Quarter

The stage at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in the French Quarter left no question in your mind as to where you were. The festive atmosphere in the establishment was exactly what one would expect: slightly raucous and fun.

Performer at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville in New Orleans

Despite the fact that the date was January 22, 2002 the weather was such that the doors and windows to the Buffett bistro were open which facilitated grabbing this shot of the star performer from the courtyard into the club.

Band performing in front of the Natchez in New Orleans

Earlier in the day just off Woldenberg Park and the River Walk, this band performed admirably with the historic stern wheeler Natchez as their backdrop.

Band performing in New Orleans in front of the Natchez

Where else can you see this? No where.

Zydeco band musician playing concertina

A few blocks away, at another pavilion, Zydeco bands were filling the air with their familiar south Louisiana strains.

Street guitarist in New Orleans

This guitarist has grabbed a favored spot at the corner of Decatur Street and St. Anne just outside the legendary Café Dumonde during the 2006 French Quarter Fest. I had a favored table at the time and was in good position to capture this performer. Somehow, I got the idea that I was enjoying the moment more than she was.

Couple dancing in Jackson Square

Earlier in the day, I captured this couple cutting a rug in Jackson Square at the base of the Andrew Jackson statue. Live music from the nearby Southern Comfort pavilion fueled their movements.

Street guitarist in New Orleans

That afternoon, I happened across a guitar duo set up at a street corner. Their “rode hard and put up wet one-time-too-many” appearance was quickly overwhelmed by the quality of their music. You can see more of this duo on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Band performing with singer with feathered headdress

On a riverside pavilion at Woldenberg Park, I captured this performance during the 2005 French Quarter Fest. The singer’s costume, as I recall, had some sort of cultural significance which I failed to record, so it is left to your imagination. Five months later Hurricane Katrina descended on New Orleans with pent-up vengeance.

Here’s hoping you enjoyed three years worth of shooting in a short read. I first went to New Orleans as a sophomore in college in 1957. Four of us played hooky from classes to be at the Mardis Gras on Fat Tuesday.

Considering that we drove in a ’53 Plymouth to New Orleans on an all-nighter from Arkadelphia, Arkansas, (and back in about 36 hours),  it is a miracle that I am here to write about it. From that moment I was and still am, “hooked on New Orleans.”

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Miss Donkey Congeniality

Donkey sticking her nose in a pickup truck window

I’ve always considered donkeys a worthy Nikon target since one does not frequently find them. When I spotted this herd, I slowed the truck and grabbed the camera hoping to get some good shots out the window. Little did I know that opening the window was an open invitation for one of the critters to make numerous attempts to become better acquainted. Shortly after I stopped the truck “Miss Congeniality” stuck her nose in the truck window. It was after this first visit I knew I had to do a fast lens change.

Link to Corndancer dot-com

Click the pic to see levee pictures at Corndancer dot-com.

If you’ve never come nearly nose-to-nose with a friendly donkey, I can tell you from experience; it is far from harrowing if you keep your wits about you. I was traveling on a levee west of Elaine, Arkansas when I encountered a small herd of friendly donkeys accompanied an equally friendly Palomino horse.

See more pictures

Before we pursue this epistle too much further, I invite you to take a look at the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com, where the tale had its beginnings. This is part of a levee trip that looks at levee cattle and some nice reflections, all of which are available only from the levee. We’ll wait here while you look.

Back to the donkeys

I made a slow approach and came to a gentle stop. The herd immediately closed on the truck and was ready to socialize. One of the friendly beasts stuck her head in the truck and I realized I had to change lenses if I intended to get any decent pictures. Imagine changing lenses with a donkey nose in close proximity to your own schnozzle.

Horse and donkeys at pickup truck window

After the quick lens change, my first visitor retired and let the horse take a gander.

Horses and donkeys

Then they all backed off, so I started talking to the group and stuck my head out the window to see if they would return.

White donkey

The white critter heard my plea and returned.

Donkeys in truck window

She was soon joined by her more inquisitive friend who proceeded to give me the donkey welcome-wagon treatment. She continued to poke her head in the window and decided she wanted to see how the turn-signal handle tasted. Fortunately for me, she did not care for it. Then she made a few more gestures. Finally the white donkey retired from the scene and the palomino replaced her and the inquisitive donkey moved in front of the truck. The next seven pictures show that sequence.

Donkey in truck window

Hey dude, what’s shakin’?

Petting the donkeys nose

She looked like she was good for a nose rub. This is a selfie with a the lens at 10mm.

Donkey mouthing turn signal handle

Ummm … I’ve always heard these things were tasty!

donkey with head in window

Oops … that thing was a bit on the bitter side.

Donkeys in truck window

Boy, you got any other munchies in this ol’ truck ?

Donkeys in truck window

Hey dude, meet my good friend, Ms. Horse

Miss Congeniality decided to park in front of the truck. Remembering the legendary stubbornness of a donkey, I decided to offer a treat she could not resist. I rolled the right door window down, asked her she’d like to come around and she immediately took the bait. Within a few seconds a pair of familiar ears showed in the passenger side window. BTW, the cup contained a giant size Barq’s Root Beer.

Then she was at it again, poking her head in the window. I eased on the accelerator to very slowly pull away lest she repair to the front of the truck again. The prospects of waiting for a stubborn donkey did not bode well with the rest of my plans for the day.

Donkey in front of truck

I’m in my stubborn mode.

Donkey at truck window

Hey! This thing has two windows!

Donkey at truck window

Dude! It’s me again!

By then it was 4:30 p.m. and home was two hours away. If I departed then I would be home after dark, but would arrive in time to see the Arkansas Razorbacks wallop the LSU Tigers 17-0. It was a very good day.

Abandoned farm house

This house was a “been-gone,” meaning that I “been-gone” shoot it. This was the day. The old house is on Arkansas Highway 1, north of DeWitt.

I made one additional stop. I have passed this old farm house on Arkansas Highway 1 north of DeWitt a jillion times. On each occasion I make a resolution to shoot it on the next trip. I pulled up beside it and decided that today was the “next trip.” That made it an even better day.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

New old dog-trot

Renovated dog-trot house

Click on the old house to see our original post.

This week we are sending you back to one of our November, 2012 posts, A new place for an old home, an interesting story about moving a more than 100-year-old dogtrot house about forty miles or so and rebuilding it to like-new condition. You will also find a link to a gallery with 19 pictures of the old house

There are also links in the story to show you the old home in its near-disaster condition before moving and re-creation. You will also want to see the original story with more pictures and information on the house in the November 12, 2012 Corndancer Dot-com Photo of the Week page.

New “old barn” at Corndancer dot-com

The new "old barn" at Corndancer

Click on the barn for a story and five more pictures  of it.

We also invite you to take a look at a “new old barn” on this week’s Corndancer Dot-com Photo of the Week  page. You’ll find six pictures of a rather isolated barn that you could miss if you blink your eye. I say that with authority since I had to look twice when I first noticed it lurking behind a growth of trees alongside a country road.

I trust this circus of pictures and links is not confusing and I assure you there is worthwhile content when you click.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Old barn at Elkins Arkansas

Those intrepid souls who travel from south or central Arkansas to the northwest Arkansas corridor on the back roads have driven past this large deteriorating barn near Elkins, just south of Fayetteville. The highway, Arkansas 16, was a bit busy, but fortunately there is a weedy driveway in front of the barn where one may safely park. I shot it going and coming back. This one, on the going trip produced the best results.

Why do people just let the old barns sit there and rot?

I was asked recently on the subject of old barns, “Why do people just let the old barns sit there and rot away?” The question was followed with, “why don’t they just tear them down?” I did not have an immediate answer, but after some ruminating and pondering the question, my answer (later, after the conversation concluded) was, “I don’t know, but let’s don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

My thinking is that these old structures give us a glimpse into our immediate past, a privilege that, since the old structures are falling, will not necessarily be available to succeeding generations. If they are to know, the onus is on us to record them while they are still standing.

Norman Rockwells Rosie the Riveter

Click on “Rosie the Riveter” to see more.

At this point I invite you to see a report on the reason we were in the neighborhood of old barns to begin with. The target of the trip was Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas for a “get-together” of Fort Smith (Arkansas) High School class of 1956 members. Our clever organizers of these yearly, sometimes twice yearly gatherings, do a good job of setting up places of interest for us to gather. This one was a home run.

You’ll see some inside and outside pictures of the museum on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Back to the trip. Our pathway took us through Ozone, Arkansas, a nice little town in the Ozarks. I found an old WPA-built school restored and repurposed to become a community center, the typical abandoned truck and on the north side of town, a totally unexpected hamburger joint and an old barn.

Ozone Arkansas Community Center

Right on Arkansas Highway 21, the Ozone Community Center is neat and nice. It is a well restored old WPA school with a 1942 cornerstone. I wish it had been open. The center speaks well for the small community.

Old mid sixties GMC truck

Things were not going as well for the mid-sixties GMC truck across the street. It looks out on the highway as if to say, “Will someone please restore me too.”

Ozone Burger Barn

Northbound on highway 21 you don’t see the Ozone Burger barn until you come out of a curve. It is definitely a traffic stopper. One would have to take some time to completely peruse the outside décor. The premises also sports a nice, good-sized pavilion. The place garners some great reviews, proving that excellence knows no geographic designation.

Old barn north of Ozone AR

The town of Ozone turned out to be a honey-hole for pictures. Not too far out of town, there was this old barn, right on the highway.

Abandoned home in Boston Arkansas

Next up I cruised into Boston, Arkansas. The only signs of life I could see were electric utility lines which indicates someone, somewhere close by is paying a “light bill.” With respect to the “For Sale” sign on the tree, at the risk of uncaring sarcasm, “Fat Chance.”

Old store in Boston AR

A few yards up the highway is what appears to be the remnants of the Boston business district. The last RC Cola and Moon Pie left these premises a long time ago. Chances are the establishment was the post office, bus stop, gossip center, and supplier of goods to nearby families.

Gravel road at Boston AR

Boston’s “likely” road. The road beside the store meets the criteria for a “likely” road, down which one is likely to find more camera and story fodder.

Old barn at Durham AR

On the return trip to LA (lower Arkansas), at Durham, Arkansas, I found this old barn next to a small pond. I am not certain of the vintage, but, due to the size of the door, it was certainly a “horse-barn.” The door will nicely accommodate an adult on a horse.

Old barn at Durham AR front view

The head on view of the barn gives one a good glance at the substantial hay loft and the opening through which many a bale passed.

Old leaning barn

On one of my forays down a side road (which I failed to write down), I found this old barn close to the right-of-way. Notice the pronounced lean to the right.

Old leaning barn side view

Old leaning barn

Country road in the Ozarks

Back on the highway home, I found this country road. My thoughts rambled to James Taylor’s “Country Road” from his famous album “Sweet Baby James.”

Ozark mountain vista

This is a pull-over vista which was well populated buy bikers (the Harley Davidson variety). It was October 26 and fall was creeping into the Ozarks. The patches of red, yellow, and orange set off by the blue sky are hard to argue with for a pleasant “lookin’” session.

Here’s hoping you have enjoyed a cruise through the Ozarks. It is good for the soul — and on feeding a thirsty full-size pickup to make the trip: “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.” It’s just that good.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind





Likely roads

Silo in pasture near Rockbridge Missouri

I turned off Missouri State highway N on a “likely road” south of Rockbridge. The road climbed a nice hill and eventually gave me this vista of verdant pastures, trees, a hay barn, and silo. I had just completed photographing another silo at the point where the road leaves Highway N. See that silo on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. One would have never guessed this scene would be available. But for the turn down the likely road, we would have surely missed it.

 How to find a likely road

Silo and feeder

Check out this silo and more at Corndancer dot-com.

Since I have been plying the back roads, pig trails, pathways plus other odd and assorted byways in the bowels of rural areas, I have informally amassed information to pass judgment on the probability of finding something cool down a given road. The ones with the best opportunities I call “likely roads.” Likely roads are predominantly gravel or perhaps dirt. Most do not have utility lines running down the sides, although this is not a deal killer. Before we go to much further, we encourage you to check out the Corndancer Photo of the Week page where this story got its start.

Country road off the Arkansas Pig Trail

This is a likely road off the famous “Pig Trail” in north central Arkansas. If it were less traveled, the likeliness index would be higher. If the roadway was less traveled and sunk below the roots of the trees, the probability of finding something cool to shoot is even higher. Its siren call is saying “travel me!”

Likely roads generally have trees butting up to the road bed. Since the current trend of highway and road departments is to make shoulders nude of vegetation, when you find a road with trees abutting the right-of-way, it is a good bet that little has been done to the road, other than occasional grading, since it was first a road. This is a good sign of age. The older the road, the better. Roads into timber dedicated areas are usually non-productive for camera fodder since producers want every square foot growing trees. This means that former buildings or other structures were probably flattened long ago.

1954 GMC Winch Truck and 1953 Chevy pickkup

Before I stumbled across the silo scene, I found these two old trucks, a ’54 GMC winch truck and a ’53 Chevy pickup at an abandoned residence on the same road. Further down the same road, I found the old barn you will find over the caption “Not so Big” on the October 19 Corndancer Photo of the Week page.

1953 GMC winch truck and '53 chevy pickup

Here’s a second look at the old trucks.

A 1954 GMC winch truck

A 1954 GMC winch truck individual portrait.

A 1953 Chevy pickup

A 1953 Chevy pickup individual portrait

Old fence corner

On another likely road, near Romance, Missouri, I found this “down on the corner” scene.

Old building at Romance MO

Still in the Romance MO neighborhood I found this old building.

Old barn on Souder Road

On Souder Road near Rockbridge MO, you will find this old barn. I originally visited the old barn and property owners in October of 2009. See how the barn looked in 2009 in our October 26, 2009 post.

old barn on souder road

Here’s a second look at the old barn — behind a weather grizzled tree.

Angus heifer on Souder road

Further down Souder Road, this Angus heifer was a tad curious. Remembering the sixties TV show “Secret Agent” theme song, Secret Agent Man, by Johnnie Rivers, she seems to be saying “They’ve given me a number and taken away my name.”

With these handy instructions in mind you may now sally forth to discover “finds” on likely roads. In the event you become lost, if you happen across electric power lines, you can generally follow those until you find a hard surface highway or someone who can steer you right. If you take a few notes about landmarks as you go, you can refer to those and backtrack. Otherwise careful out there. There are booger-men lurking.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Barns and critters

Old dairy barn in southern Missouri

This old barn in southern Missouri has to be at least three or four stories tall (if that is an acceptable term for barn height). The lower walls are poured concrete which probably have fortress-like strength. The front appears to be “tar-paper” covering. One of my fellow travelers guessed, with that construction, it was probably a dairy barn in its glory days.

Barns and more barns

I recently departed the depths of the LA (lower Arkansas) Delta for the hilly environs of LM  (lower Missouri). I traveled north with a fellow curmudgeon toward Rockbridge Trout and Game Ranch  to meet some mutual friends for a good ol’ boys weekend in the boondocks. Save for a few wi-fi hot spots at the resort, cell phones and tablets become battery-operated paper weights. In all fairness, I must report that not all of the area is so deprived.

Old barn in southern Missouri

Click on the barn for more barn pictures at Corndancer dot-com.

While other members of the party attempted to forcibly remove trout from the pristine mountain stream winding through the premises, I sallied forth to capture images and convert same to pixels. You can see more of these pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com.

I found old barns, silos, an old post office,  a few critters plus miscellaneous and sundry other suitable targets. For this epistle, we will show some of the barns with a critter or two thrown in for good measure

Old barn on Highway N in Missouri

This is old barn shows remnants of its beginning as a log structure. I shot if from the highway. You can see other views the barn shot from the barnyard at Corndancer dot-com.

Hereford bull in barnyard

This big ol’ Hereford bull chills out in front of his barn. He is not showing any signs of work-related stress.

smallred hay barn north of Calico Rock AR

I lied. Not all of the barn pictures are from Missouri. This is a homeward trip capture north of Calico Rock, Arkansas. It is a small structure which holds hay but looks more decorative than utilitarian.

barn north of Calico Rock AR

Here’s another barn north of Calico Rock on Arkansas Highway 5. This one and the one above are nearly in domino sequence.

Parting shot

While tooling around on the maze of country roads in southern MIssouri, IK spied this hen. She gave me a couple of quick looks and departed as seen above. And with that, I depart for the week.

While tooling around on the maze of country roads in southern Missouri, I spied this hen pecking around. She gave me a couple of quick looks and departed as seen above. And with that, I depart for the week.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Rock houses and other recent finds redux

 Hickory Flat rock buildings

Click on the old buildings to see our original October 2012 post — lots of stuff.

Back in October of 2012, while in North Arkansas, I decided to find as many “rock houses” as I could for my photo prosaic pursuits. In polite circles, these domiciles would probably be called “native stone homes.” I doubt that moniker was applied very much in North Arkansas (or LA either).

Disappointment salved

I did not find as many rock houses as I would have liked.  But, my meandering resulted in finding other interesting old home sites,  a barn, and a silo, all of which salved my disappointment with the lower inventory of my preferred target. See all of these fortuitous finds in our original October 2012 post.

dog trot house at cleveland arkansas

Click on the old dogtrot house and see a bunch more pictures.

In our sister article for the week we reported on finding an old dogtrot house at Cleveland, Arkansas. Well “finding” it may be a stretch. One would have to be blindfolded to miss it.

On the other hand, we were fortunate to find a person who had first had knowledge of the house, its former occupants, and the community of Cleveland in general. He is a retired minister with a good sense of humor. Check it the old house and the preacher’s wit on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.


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