Buttercup attack


The old truck while seemingly under attack by yellow flowers is in good company. The picture is a study in contasts. Something on it's last legs is surrounded by new growth and renewal.

The old truck while seemingly under attack by yellow flowers, is in good company. The picture is a study in contrasts. Something on its last legs is surrounded by new growth and renewal. A reminder from Mother Nature.

The old Ford in Cornerville AR (Lincoln County),  appears to be under attack by a yellow horde of buttercups. In southeast Arkansas, such attacks are common this time of  year. The trip to find this old Ford started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see the giant killer buttercup and a garden under buttercup attack.

This old chicken house near Rowell AR on US Highway 63 appears to be floating on a sea of buttercups. The area around Rowell seems to have more that its share of buttercups this year. It's hard to imagine having too many flowers nearby.

This old chicken house near Rowell AR on US Highway 63 appears to be floating on a sea of buttercups. The area around Rowell seems to have more that its share of buttercups this year. It's hard to imagine having too many flowers nearby.

A single buttercup plant, by itself, is a dinky little pipsqueak. It’s skinny and has an almost thread-like stalk. These plants are smart. You rarely not see just one. It’s more like one million, so to speak. Seeing two or three acres of buttercups in one wad is not unsual.

The building above is an old “broiler house” as it was originally called, now they are simply called what they are, “chicken house.” This chicken house, like many in the area is no longer in use and now serves as a storage building. The houses are used to grow out chicks to market size. You may have munched on a drumstick which originated here.

Okay, it's a rare occasion. One misplaced buttercup is surrounded by purple clover blooms.

Okay, it's a rare occasion. One misplaced buttercup is surrounded by purple clover blooms.

The buttercup above probably feels like a hamburger salesman at a vegetarian’s convention — or vice versa. The red clover surrounding the buttercup was planted by the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. During this season, it is hard to drive anywhere and not see the purple blooms.

The buttercups, on the other hand, are on their own and doing well. It is said by many that plants have survival instincts. If that is so, the buttercups are well programmed.

From the looks of things, the sign was hit with at least one load of number six shot. Some good ol' boy probably did not get the squirrels he was after and decided to alter the sign. Boys will still be boys.

From the looks of things, the sign was hit with at least one load of number six shot. Some good ol' boy probably did not get the squirrels he was after and decided to vent his frustration on the sign. Boys will still be boys.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe

Meandering through south Louisiana


If you are the sort to simply enjoy seeing stuff, you are well advised to occasionally spend a couple of days in south Louisiana. That’s where we caught a glimpse of a disheveled Orange Grove Country Store, where this story started. The sighting is revealed on the Corndancer dot com Photo of the Week page. Click here to see the store.

river crossing

The west bank of the Mississippi River near New Roads LA grows smaller as we ferry eastward toward St. Francisville LA, a delightful town of no small historic significance. The town was our next stop on this Louisiana odyssey, after Orange Grove Store.

St. Francisville LA

The first European settlers arrived in St. Francisville in 1773, some 236 years ahead of us. Somebody’s been there ever since. During the War Between the States nastiness, the town was bombarded by boat-borne cannons. Fortunately, the community survived. If you want to see what life was like in the 1800s, St. Francisville is a sure bet. The town is not large, but more than makes up for its size with a more than respectable concentration of  “stuff to see.”

Grace Episcopal Church in St. Francisville LA. The congregation had its start in 1827. It was invested as a Parish in 1839. The church was shelled in the War Between the States. Final restoration was completed in 1880. The church grounds include a large cemetery. Birthdates in the 1700s are frequently noted on gravestones in the cemetery.

Grace Episcopal Church in St. Francisville LA. The congregation had its start in 1827. It was invested as a Parish in 1839. The church was shelled in the War Between the States. Final restoration was completed in 1880. The church grounds include a large cemetery. Birth dates in the 1700s are frequently noted on gravestones.

New Orleans

No “seeing stuff” trip to south Louisiana is complete without a stop in New Orleans. Of course in NOLA, there is also stuff to eat and stuff to hear. Be assured, we consumed plenty of both. The city’s tourist business is healthy and continues to rebound. After all, there is stuff to see there that is nowhere else.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. A cannon aimed toward the Mississippi River stands guard over Jackson Square in New Orleans' legendary French Quarter. In the background is St. Louis Cathedral, founded as a parish in 1720. It is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the United States.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. A cannon aimed toward the Mississippi River stands guard over Jackson Square in New Orleans' legendary French Quarter. St. Louis Cathedral, in the background was founded as a parish in 1720.

The streetcars in New Orleans are, well, legendary, just about like everything else there. The fares are reasonable, but be sure and bring correct change. The conductor can’t make change. The street car round trip out St. Charles and back is well worth the time and pittance of money required. You observe some NOLA quaintness, weirdness, fine old homes, shops and a plethora of other eye candy well worth seeing.

I'm not certain what the names of these New Orleans street cars are, but I'm willing to bet it's not "Desire." These are disgorging and taking on passengers at the Toulouse Stree stop in the French Quarter.

I'm not certain what the names of these New Orleans street cars are, but I'm willing to bet it's not "Desire." These are disgorging and taking on passengers at the Toulouse Street stop in the French Quarter.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe

Standing tall after 101 years


This really is a two-story 101 year-old barn, still standing tall. By way of explanation, this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see the tall version of the barn and get in on how the story started, click here, a cool thing to do. Trust me on this one.

The barn belongs to the wife of Herman Nutt, master of the domain and my tour guide. He is a good one. A friendly, well-spoken man, he is a retired millwright from a local paper mill. Those guys can fix or build just about anything. Herman told me about the barn and some of its contents. The 66 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon belonged to his late mother-in-law. They elected to hold on to the car and there it is.

You are looking at the livestock side of the barn, above. There were two "rooms." The door to the second "room" is just to the left of the car. The stairs to the second floor are also in that room. It is presumed that one side was for beasts of burdern, horses and mules. And the other side was for cattle.

You are looking at the livestock side of the barn, above. There were two "rooms." The door to the second "room" is just to the left of the car. The stairs to the second floor are also in that room. It is presumed that one side was for beasts of burden horses and mules. And the other side was for cattle.

This is the corn crib and storage side of the barn. It is floored to keep feed, leather tack and other supplies off the ground and as far away from hungry varmints as possible. The hole in the ground on this side attests to that this side still as some attraction to burrowing critters. Herman has, among other things, a hammer mill stored on this side.

This is the corn crib and storage side of the barn. It is floored to keep feed, leather tack and other supplies off the ground and as far away from hungry varmints as possible. The hole in the ground on this side tells us there is still some attraction to critters after 101 years. Herman has, among other things, a hammer mill stored on this side.

Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane. Once the juice was squeezed from the cane, it was cooked over an open fire in a baffled pan.

Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane.

Like many fully employed rural residents, Herman kept busy on his “place.” He raised corn and made meal with his hammer mill. You don’t really have to have a creek and a dam to have a grist mill. If you have a hammer mill and a tractor with a power takeoff, you are in business. Herman was also a syrup maker.

He made sorghum molasses and ribbon cane syrup the old fashioned way. Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane. Once the juice was squeezed from the cane, it was cooked over an open fire in a baffled pan.

The syrup mill to the left is typical. It has two large rollers which squeeze juice from the cane as it passed through the mill. Most of the mills were powered by a mule. Look closely the top of the mill and you will see a connector bar attached to a shaft which goes into the mill and is attached to the drive gears. A stripped sapling or other type of pole is attached to the connector bar and the other end is attached to a mule who walks around a circle to power the mill. Click here and here to see syrup mill simlar to this one. Click  Click here to find out more about syrup mills in general. Thanks Herman for steering us in this direction.

Meandering through the boondocks

Having gathered sufficient pixels to support a story, I headed east, back to my home in the Delta. On the way, I of course, took shortcuts, which in this neck of the woods normally mean gravel roads. That’s not all bad. Most of the gravel roads in Arkansas are pretty good and will support a healthy clip of travel. Plus you make some observations, not available to less adventurous souls.

Gravel roads and wooden bridges are old hat down here. To those in urban areas maybe not. So, take a gander at the wooden bridge on my shortcut.

Gravel roads and wooden bridges are old hat down here. To those in urban areas maybe not. So, take a gander at the wooden bridge on my shortcut.

And finally, a trip in the boondocks is not complete without observing a road sign, the countenance of which has been altered by gunfire. After all boys will be boys, and in our part of the country, there is no closed season on shooting signs. It just seems to be a tradition.

My friendly local firearms and gunfire expert tells me the smaller holes were punched with nicely placed 30-.06 rounds and the gash was imposed with a 12 guage shotgun, up close and personal.

My friendly local firearms and gunfire expert tells me the smaller holes were punched with nicely placed 30-.06 rounds and the gash was imposed with a 12 gauge shotgun, up close and personal. Boys will be boys.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe

Squires and Spurlocks: Joined at the hip since 1901


Randy Spurlock and his mother, Dorothy smile as they show us the first Spurlocks Store in Squires, Missouri. The store was opened in 1901 by C.M. Spurlock, Randy's grandfather and Dorothy's father-ini-law.

Randy Spurlock and his mother, Dorothy, smile as they show us the first Spurlocks Store in Squires, Missouri. The store was opened in 1901 by C.M. Spurlock, Randy's grandfather and Dorothy's father-in-law. Randy is wearing his volunteer fireman beeper. More about that later.

Maybe it’s something in the water. Perhaps it’s the clean country air. Could be some fine genetic traits chasing each other in an endless loop. Or none of the above.  Whatever it is, it’s working. Squires, Missouri and Spurlocks Store continue to share success after beginning the partnership in 1901. Though the word “general” is not in the name of the store, Spurlocks is a general store in the truest sense of the word.

This story is a continuation of a rousing start on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer.com. To get in on the beginning and see some other pictures, click here.

A house on a hill cannot be hid (den?) Spurlocks commands the top the the hill at Country Road JJ and Highway 5. You simply cannot miss it.

A house on a hill cannot be hid (den?) Spurlocks commands the top the the hill at Country Road JJ and Highway 5 in southern Missouri. You simply cannot miss it. You don't want to miss it. Don't even think about not stopping.

The sprawling store’s shelves are stacked like cord wood with food, hardware, clothing, plumbing supplies and a plethora or other merchandise.  A neophyte to the store could probably spend a couple of hours browsing and still miss some of the good stuff.

Think about it though. The nearest larger town is Ava, population 3,000 plus, nine miles away. So if you are to serve your customers well, you have to bite the bullet and pile in the inventory. It’s apparent that the Spurlocks believe in the old adage, ” … you can’t sell off an empty wagon.”

Fred Spurlock, son of C.M. and father of Randy, assumed the mantle of leadership for the store after his service on the battlefields of Europe in World War II. Fred earned four Bronze Stars and a Silver Star as a scout. The scouts move ahead of the infantry, sniff out the bad guys and radio information back. Fred’s unit was in the thick of things in the Battle of the Bulge. No wonder they call those folks “The Greatest Generation.”

In the fifties, Fred Spurlock decided it was time for Squires to have an operational volunteer fire department, so he took the bit in his teeth and led the charge. He and a few others found a fire truck and made a deal. The deal fell through. Undaunted, Fred and friends found another truck. This time they were successful. As time went on, the community continued to support the volunteer fire department with donations, fundraisers and a lot of volunteer sweat. Because of this diligence and dedication, Squires has a fine community center and fire department building. The community center is dedicated to the memory of Fred Spurlock.

Old Glory snaps in a stiff breeze at the Squires Community Center. Residents of the community raised the money and built the center themselves, a concept too often forgotten in this day and time. (Old military guys remember the term "full value wind," this is it).

Old Glory snaps in a stiff breeze at the Squires Community Center. Residents of the community raised the money and built the center themselves, a concept too often forgotten in this day and time. Old military guys, take note. This is a "full-value" wind.

Squires has an official population of 35. The US Post Office, housed as it has been for the last 100 years or so in Spurlocks Store, serves about 250 give or take a few, in the community area. Every fourth of July, the population of Squires spikes. Around 3,000 or so hardy souls show up for the Squires Independence Day celebration. Many of these are repeat attenders.

This small cadre of good folks are showing the rest of of us “how it’s done.”

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe

PS: The coffee at Spurlocks Store is always hot and free.

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