The old house at Smead


old house at Smead Arkansas

The cedar tree in the foreground may well be older than the house. The house was built in the late 1800s. When the tree was a sapling, we don't know. One thing we do know, it displays the gnarled and scarred characteristics of old cedar trees − the looks of a hardy survivor.

The old house, and not a lot else, is at Smead, Arkansas. It is the childhood home of my friend Bob Abbott who graciously pointed me in the direction of his former domicile. The story of the old house started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see how the story started plus two other pictures, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Almost, bit not quite

From the front, the old home almost appears marginally habitable. Unfortunately, looks, in this case are deceiving. The house faces east, as you see it above. The rub is, the weather, in this neck of the woods, mainly comes to us from the west. So the back of the house, for well over 100 years, has taken the worst hissy-fits Mother Nature can pitch, on the chin. It has collapsed in several places.

Outside looking in and vice-versa

old screen doors

Left, "outside looking IN, with the front door open, you can see down a hall where the back wall of that part of the house has collapsed. Right, looking OUT the same door, it is almost good enough to tell your friends to "come on in and make yourself at home."

Dog trot

The house was originally of the dog-trot style, common in that day and time. Although the domicile was under one roof, there were two distinct areas separated by a breezeway. Usually, one side was for cooking and passing the time of day and the other side was for sleeping. At some time, the breezeway ends were closed and it became a giant hallway.

hall way and rooms

The front door is just out of view to the right hand side of the pictujre. The first room has all the appearances of a living or "front" room. This hall was originally a breezeway. The ceiling material is "beadboard," a popular milled wood stripping of the time. There is a dirt dauber nest by the ceiling light fixture.

Barns

Rural residents of the era of this house almost always had some livestock for food and work. These critters require accommodations, most always manifested as a barn. This location was not exception. There are two barns on the property, a cow barn and a horse barn. The cow barn is below. The left side is for the cows. The right side is a tool shed, hay storage area and general purpose hideout.

old cow barn

The smoke house/tool shed is in better condition than the house.

We’ll have more on this location next week. More looks at the house and nosing around the barns. There always more questions asked than answered on these explorations, but perhaps that’s the appeal.

I am running a bit late this evening. Production was halted while I watched one of my fondest wishes come true during Super Bowl 44. Geaux Saints. Who Dat?

Click here to see a gallery of 21 high resolution pictures from this location, including those you have seen here and on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page. We always shoot more than we have room to publish.

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

A Cross tree


This lone tree stands as a memorial to Frank Cross who was murdered in the mid-eignties.

This lone tree stands as a memorial to Frank Cross who was murdered in the mid-eighties.

This story started on the Photo of the Week Page at  corndancer.com Click on the link to see the first part of the story, a very cool thing to do.

Frank Cross, an invalid confined to his bed,  was murdered in the mid-eighties at his home which formerly stood behind the tree. The family had the house demolished, but left the fine cedar tree standing as a memorial to Frank, who was an admired member of his community in southeast Arkansas.

Close inspection of the tree base reveals some artifacts which were probably part and parcel of the old home.

historical artifacts under old tree

Apparently, some items and materials which were not removed during the house demolition were left under the tree.This also included a wire wreath holder.

old farm artifacts under tree

Items left under the tree appear to include part of an andiron, which, we presume, was almost certainly used in a fireplace in the old Cross home.

Note in the picture above how flat the grass is laying. The wind was whipping across the Delta fields in the 15 knot neighborhood. It was December 21, the alleged first day of winter. As if programmed to be true, the  temperature was below 30 degrees in that afternoon. The wind chill factor was polar.

In the picture to the left, you see items left under the tree. For the uninitiated, the piece with the spring attached appears to be part of  a cultivator, a tractor towed implement. The object to the right of the cultivator part is probably part of an andiron set. There are some bricks in the foreground, probably from the house.

Human nature being what it is, there was other detritus, probably not a part of the household leftovers. It seems that we humans have some sort of genetic bent to deposit trash where we find other (perceived) trash. There was an old hydraulic hose, some water valve parts and other bits and pieces, not endemic to a house which was probably 75 or 80 years old, when it met its demise. Also a few wrappers and bottles. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out how those got there. In the hot summer, this tree provides best shade for miles, a good place for working people to take a break.

Information for our original story on corndancer.com was generously provided by Chuck and Pam Taylor and Chuck’s mother. Like a dummy, I did not write her name down. Family operates Taylors, a store and restaurant west of Dumas AR. While I did not sample the fare, I have now inspected the menu provided to me by Chuck. I’ll be back.

Click here to see nine additional pictures of the tree.

a Yellowjacket nest in the tree.

Mother Nature has assigned tree guard duty to some of her pesky critters, to wit: a Yellowjacket nest in the tree. Interlopers beware.

Thanks for dropping by and Merry Christmas,
Joe

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

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