Winchester, no cathedral


This sign is the last vestige of fomer retail activity at Winchester, Arkansas. Winchester is not by itself. Thousands of other small towns have suffered a similar fate. Others, not yet so afflicted will follow. It is the way of our times.

This sign is the last vestige of fomer retail activity at Winchester, Arkansas. Winchester is not by itself. Thousands of other small towns have suffered a similar fate. Others, not yet so afflicted will follow. It is the way of our times.

If you breeze through the intersection of US Highway 65 and Arkansas Highway 138 and think you’ve just passed through Winchester, guess again. What you’ve passed through is the eastern most suburb of Winchester. Had you made a right turn on 138, in a quarter mile or so, you’d see Winchester.  Winchester has a post office, a fire station and a city hall. And a still standing Sinclair sign. And folks.  And their domiciles.

A good place to click

A lot of folks wind up here as a result of visiting the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer dot com. Now that you know about Winchester, click here to find out about Chester and Lester as well, at the photo of the week page.

The best laid plans …

Winchester was not a part of the plan for this post. Some magnificent cypress trees about another 45 minutes south were the intended target. However, at about Winchester, the pickup engine began some obnoxious behavior and I decided to do a 180. The guages were all happy, so one presumes, it’s a sullen microchip somewhere. So I figured a whirl through Winchester (the western part) would be OK. I was rewarded with the Sinclair sign. Probably, the former station had a social function as well as its utilitarian destiny. Most small town filling stations did.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Blooming Bradford Pear trees frame the Jefferson County Courthouse on Main Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansdas.

Blooming Bradford Pear trees frame the Jefferson County Courthouse on Main Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. These trees line both sides of the street.

Now returned back to minutes from home, there’s a fast-fading opportunity, to wit: blooming Bradford Pear trees. Our home-town downtown is lined with those suckers. They are peaking out now. In 24 to 36 hours, the trees will transform from white to green as the new leaves take hold. The time to shoot is now.

Bradford Pear Blooms at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas on Main Street in Pine Bluff AR.

Bradford Pear blooms at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas on Main Street in Pine Bluff AR. It's late Sunday. The parking lot is usually not empty.


Last, but certainly not least

Old Glory and Bradford Pear blooms greet visitors to this drive-in branch bank just off Main Street in Pine Bluff AR. The tree is not actually as high as the flag. The view is from a service lane looking up. “Forced perspective” makes you think the tree is taller than the flag.

Three cheers for the red white, white, and blue.

Three cheers for the red white, white, and blue.


Update on the pickup

March 4, 2009 — Nothing serious. Some ignition components showing signs of age. Joe Webb, 12th degree master mechanic,  diagnosed the issues and did the fix. Well, after 210,000 miles, what can one expect. It is now hauling booty again!

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

What’s left at Lester


Formerly "the store" at Lester AR. Now it is an eye-popping display of artifacts from the community. Notice symmetry in the arrangement. You see a lot of antlers. This is south Arkansas. Antlers are to be expected.

Formerly "the store" at Lester AR. Now it is an eye-popping display of artifacts from the community. Notice symmetry in the arrangement. You see a lot of antlers. This is south Arkansas. Antlers are to be expected.

What you’re seeing was formerly “the store” at Lester AR. This story started on the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer dot com. To see the first part (a very cool thing to do), click here, (safe to do).

Lester was once a thriving rural community in south Arkansas between Chidester and Camden. All that’s left now at Lester is this old store and two residences. After shooting the store, I found my way to the Chidester General Store and was greeted by Gracie, the proprietor. It was Saturday afternoon and she was open for business. Since my previous source of information was less than substantial, I asked if she knew anything about Lester. She allowed yes, with the caveat that her level of Lester knowledge was limited — but a couple of her friends in the back of the store might be able to help. I joined the conversation at a friendly table.

     The store sign is the only sure clue you are in Lester. Hanging from a salvaged single-tree, the sign is probably a left over from when the railroad ran through Lester.

The store sign is the only sure clue you are in Lester. Hanging from a salvaged single-tree, the sign is probably a left over from when the railroad ran through Lester.

The two gentlemen at the table gave the same caveat, but did provide a couple of nuggets. Turns out that at one time, the railroad went through Lester, plus, they had a post office and a school. Schools, for those uninitiated in the ways of rural America, are very important anchors for these small towns. Schools give people a reason to be there and go there.

This collage on the west wall features, ice block tongs, log tongs, what appear to be bolt cutters, sheaves, a double open-end wrench and a couple of things that escape me. What's impressive is the precise symmetry. There's an art director lurking in there somewhere.

This collage on the west wall features buggy springs, a horseshoe, a barrel hoop, ice block tongs, log tongs, what appear to be bolt cutters, sheaves, a double open-end wrench, a one-man crosscut saw, and a couple of things that escape me. What's impressive is the precise symmetry with a slight touch of imbalance. There's an art director lurking in there somewhere.

One of the men said that he started in school at Chidester in 1943 and that kids from Lester were in his class. That being so, he said, ” … meant that their school, in 1943 had already been consolidated.” My conjecture is that this was the first step in the downward slide. Most all at the table agreed that the store had been closed probably 40-50 years. So, the fate of Lester is all too familiar. The school, the railroad, the store, the people, egress in that order.

Promise made, promise kept. A foundation of advertising. After I noticed this sign, I decided that a visit to the store was required. Thanks to Gracie and her friends, our story had a little more substance. Thanks, y'all.

Deer corn promise made, deer corn promise kept. A foundation of good advertising. After I noticed this sign, I decided that a visit to the Chidester General Store was required. Thanks to Gracie and her friends at the store, our story had more substance. Thanks, y'all.

On the brighter side, the person who decorated the store had an admirable idea to keep the memories of community alive – and an eye for design. Most of the artifacts are symmetrically arranged with more than a modicum of precision. Many were cleaned up and painted. It is obvious that great care and deliberation were taken in placement of the items. It was meant to be appreciated. And we do.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe

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