Fountain Hill redux


Border Collie, Maggie at Phiilps General Merchandise, Fountain Hill,Arkansas

Maggie, the resident Border Collie at L.M. Phillips General Merchandise in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, takes a long look at the front door of the store. Is she pondering the sign or checking out an approaching human? Regardless, she is on her A-game. Click on the picture to see our original July, 2009 post.

Margaret Phillips, and her dog Border Collie, Maggie, at L.M. Phillips General Merchandise, Fountain Hill Arkansas

Click on the picture for more on Margaret and Maggie.

Back in July of 2009, I discovered L.M. Phillips General Merchandise at Fountain Hill, Arkansas, one of the few real, live, general stores still alive and well. The Saturday afternoon I was there, the  proprietress, Margaret Phillips was doing a brisk business. Part of her business model is Maggie, a precocious Border Collie who believes her job is to look out for Margaret’s personal safety and to be an alarm system who raises the alarm when suspected interlopers show up.

We are sending you back to Fountain Hill this week for a second look at the story of Margaret and Maggie. You will also see John Cruce and his team of mules pulling a wagon, something you don’t bump into every day. You will also want to see our original Corndancer dot-com Photo of the Week page with more pictures and a story.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/
http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Margaret, Maggie, John and some mules


Margaret Phillips holding down the fort in her store, L.M. Phillips General Merchandise in Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

Margaret Phillips in her store, L.M. Phillips General Merchandise in Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

Margaret Phillips of Fountain Hill, Arkansas is the proprietress of L. M. Phillips General Merchandise, a store founded by her late husband and brother-in-law in 1925 in Fountain Hill. Maggie, a precocious Border Collie (a given), is Margaret’s keeper. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. To see more pictures and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Maggie

Click on Maggie for more pix of her and Margaret — and a great story.

When I first set foot in Maggie’s territory she gave me a welcome like I was Attila the Hun with my band of merry barbarians in trail. Fortunately, Maggie and I set a new indoor record settling our differences and I was able to converse with Margaret Phillips and her assistant, Denise Musgrove.

Equally fortuitous, for both of us, Maggie discovered that I was a willing scratchor and pettor and she already knew she was a willing scratchee and petee.

store

L. M. Phillips General Merchandise occupies the former premises of the Bank of Fountain Hill which, like a lot of small banks of its era, gasped its last breath in 1933.

old safe

The old bank safe is still in place at L. M. Phillips. A great place to hang a calendar.

Occupying a former bank premises, the store is typical of a lot of country stores, with the exception fresh foods. What they miss on that, they more than make up for with a variety of hardware, plumbing supplies, and other stuff they’ve discovered folks want. It is said that marketing is: “finding out what folks want, and giving them more of it … and finding out what folks don’t want, and giving them less of it.” Apparently the Phillips store is working that theory better than most.

The store was doing a brisk business on the Saturday afternoon of my visit. The prevailing mentality of customers I observed was one of not merely a trip to “the store,” but  the manifestations of one visiting with a cherished friend. Now ain’t that something in this day and time of fast food and the cattle-herding mentality demonstrated by far too many retailers. Maybe that’s why they’re still in business while others are long gone.

My business concluded in Fountain Hill, I sallied forth on the long way back home, hoping for at least one more photo opportunity. My search did not take long to become fruitful. Near the Prairie Grove community northeast of Fountain Hill I encountered John Cruce, driving two mules and a wagon.

John Cruce, his wagon and team pull up for a visit in the side yard of the Prairie Grove Community Center, northeast of Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

John Cruce, his wagon and team pull up for a visit in the side yard of the Prairie Grove Community Center, northeast of Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

For his day job, John Cruce is the proprietor of a prosperous saw-mill business. For fun, John has nine mules and keeps them because that’s what he wants to do so. The nearby city of Crossett puts on a fine PRCA rodeo the first week of August. John will drive his team and wagon from the Prairie Grove Community to Crossett and participate in the parade and a performance of the rodeo and return home.

John Cruce fixes a twisted bridle, which made for a nervous mule.

John Cruce fixes a twisted bridle, which made for a nervous mule.

The trip to Crossett by vehicle takes 45-minutes to an hour or so depending on the lead in your foot. In a mule drawn wagon, it’s a three-day trip. John loads his wagon with feed for the team and heads out. They overnight at several friend’s deer camps between Prairie Grove and Crossett.

The east view of a west bound mule team. Riding shotgun in a mule wagon.

The east view of a west bound mule team. Riding shotgun in a mule wagon.

While I was visiting with John, the white mule began to act a bit nervous. John didn’t seem to be deeply concerned, but we both agreed that she might be a bit more at ease if I was in the wagon instead of standing beside it. In the process, John noticed that her bridle was twisted. He fixed that and the problem was solved. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to see how it was to ride shotgun on a mule drawn wagon. There’s a first time for everything.

Earlier in the day, I saw Drew Presbyterian Church, just north of the Drew-Lincoln County line. At the time, the sun was not in the right place for a decent shot. The good news is the front of the church faces due west, so the sun angle was predictable later on.

Drew Presbyterian Church, US Hwy 425, north of Monticello, Arkansas.

Drew Presbyterian Church, US Hwy 425, north of Monticello, Arkansas. The church was organized in 1859. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The timing was right. My seven-fold amen for the day was at the church about 1730 (Mickey’s little hand is on the five and his big hand is on the six) or there about. The start of the golden hour this time of year. Actually in July, the golden hour lasts about three hours or so depending on what’s in or out of a shadow. Ain’t life grand!

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.