Prairie Road barn and thereabouts


old barn on prairie road

The camera is level, the barn is not. Someday soon, an ill wind, a rotting structural member losing its final strength, a termite banquet, or other untoward circumstances will spell the endgame for this fine old barn. There will probably be no human witnesses. And passers-by may not notice the collapse until weeks later. What was once pride and joy will be a pile of rubble.

large catalpa tree

See the start of the story at Corndancer dot-com

At a sharp bend in Prairie Road in Cleveland County, Arkansas I spied this old barn coming close to losing its extended battle with gravity and age. Had the builders done less of their jobs, we might be looking at a pile of barn boards instead of a precariously surviving structure. There’s still enough left for an impromptu glimpse of rural history in an agricultural community.

Before we pursue this tale further, may I suggest that you take a look at the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where the story started. You’ll see an old home place with some interesting trees less than a mile from this barn.

The old barn was no doubt built in stages. The idea was basic utility first, add on as soon as you have a good year and then expand your capabilities to support a growing family. A family’s barn was the epicenter of subsistence and production for income. There are probably a few remnants of a home nearby that did not grab my attention. At the time of this structure, absentee farm ownership was not yet in vogue.

detail of old barn

This is a horse or mule barn with a door tall enough to accommodate a man on a horse or mule. The loft stored hay for the winter and according to legend, was a place for some friendly encounters. They say.

The rough-hewn looks of the lumber means the owner operated or hired someone to run  a temporary sawmill close by  to produce lumber from trees felled close by. It was a common practice since trips to town for lumber took days not hours.

I was not far from New Edinburg, Arkansas, home of the McClellan’s Country Store, the proprietors of which will build you a fine sandwich. It was early afternoon and my Cheerios and yogurt breakfast was a long time back. Stephen McClellan did the honors. The ham-turkey sandwich laced with home-grown tomatoes plus the other traditional sandwich decorations met my wildest dreams in size and palate-pleasing yumminess. I washed it down with a Barq’s Root Beer in a long-neck bottle. Before I left, I bought a few home-grown tomatoes as well.

See more pictures from Prairie Road and thereabouts at our Weekly Grist Gallery.

sandwich and Barq's Root Beer

A Barq's and a great sandwich with a bite missing are the signs of a great lunch in progress. In the backgound, (left to right) Kristin Skelton and Stephen McClellan are looking at a previous Weekly Grist post while I am munching out.

 One cannot help but snicker occasionally as you travel about. Just south of Pine Bluff, Arkansas on U.S. Highway 63 is a store at which the proprietors display some of the merchandise in the front yard 24/7 /365. If I ever pass it when it is open, I will probably satisfy my curiosity and peruse the innards of the establishment, but for the time being, external observation is my limit.

See more pictures from Prairie Road and thereabouts at our Weekly Grist Gallery.

country junk store

The sign says "Just country junk and more." I can see the junk, but not the more.

The way home from Prairie Road takes me north on U.S. Highway 79. As of this writing, for more than a week, a couch has been sitting on the shoulder of the highway south of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, my home town. I posted a picture of the couch on Facebook and of course it has drawn the wit expected on such a post. Here for your viewing pleasure is the couch on the side of the road. Or should I call it a divan?

couch on the roadside

This old sofa just barely off the shoulder and in the right-of-way on the north-bound side of U.S. Highway 79 south of Pine Bluff, Arkansas has been sitting there now for more than a week. Wonder how the highway department people have missed it? It's not camouflaged.

red barn

See this barn and more in our Weekly Grist gallery

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

See more pictures from Prairie Road and our recent meanderings through the hinterlands in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

See an old store, another view of the big catalpa tree, a big woodpile and more.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind
http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/

http://www.corndancer.com/joephoto/photohome.html

Something new, something old


Old Stewart store at New Edinburg AR

The old Stewart store at New Edinburg AR. In the left background, you can see the recently restored Clement Hotel. The owners of the hotel recently purchased the store with intentions of restoring it, much like they restored the hotel.  That’s good news for New Edinburg.

Next door to this store, which has seen better days, sits the just-restored vintage 1879 frame-built Clement Hotel. The hotel owners, with a vested interest in how the neighborhood looks, recently bought the old store. We are told the new owners, Willie Carroll Livingston and his wife, intend to give it a good restoration working over just like they did the hotel.

restored frame hotel

Click to see the restored Clement Hotel

Before we go further, you can see pictures of the hotel and find out about the restoration by the owner and his wife on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

You can also see another picture of the  store on the Corndancer site.Click here to go there and get up to speed on the start of this story, a very cool thing to do. We’ll wait here for your return.

When we went to New Edinburg AR to shoot the old hotel, we were laboring under what turned out to be the delusion that we would be able to shoot the inside as well as the outside of the property. Unfortunately, the keys to the hotel were not available so there was an immediate change of plans.

Inside of old Stewart store, New Edinburg AR

Fortunately, in this life, when one door closes, another frequently opens, which was the case on that day. Turns out, relatives of the selling family were to open and empty the old store, which gave us the opportunity to shoot with impunity inside the old store which would never be the same again after today.

wood stove in Stewart Grocery

Old wood stoves similar to this one were the de rigueur heating system for most old country stores. On chilly days, customers who walked into the store would head straight to the stove for a quick warm up and summary of the latest goings on. Notice the old range in the background.

Clutter was the order of the day. We found an old kerosene storage tank and pump, a large wood stove and an old thirties era range. But the store was more than a store, the proprietor of the store, Leslie Stewart, was a Justice of the Peace with judicial authority.

coal-oil tank and pump

Near the wood stove was a kerosene tank. Almost every store at that time had one. The tank has a self-contained pump. Kerosene, known widely as coal-oil, served as fuel for lanterns and as a fire starter for wood stoves. Long before EPA, OSHA and dozens of other pervasive sets of initials,  a wood stove and a nearby kerosene tank were compatible. Now, NADA.

Justice Stewart regularly held court in the store. Some of the more racy cases would draw substantial crowds of onlookers thirsting for spicy details . One of my New Edinburg friends looked in a court docket book and found where his uncle was fined $10 for selling alcoholic beverages to minors. The dockets will make interesting reading.

old Finch McCullough store in New Edinburg AR

The old Finch McCullough store in New Edinburg AR was formerly a Methodist Church. After the store owners bought the building, they moved it to this location, about a block away from the old Stewart store on Arkansas Highway 8.

It was early in the afternoon and my breakfast had long since ceased to effectively fuel my activities. Feeling the need to replenish my system, I ambled down to the only store in town still in business, McClellan’s Country Store. This is not the first time I have visited the store to satisfy my hunger.

Longnecker Barq's Root Beer and huge sandwich

Longnecker Barq’s Root Beer and huge sandwich

At the time of my first visit, the store was known as Spears Country Store. Like before, I ordered a ham and turkey sandwich with all available add-ons. What I got was a huge gastronomical delight. The sandwich should have been measured in pounds or cubic feet, whichever was more appropriate. Huge and yummy good. Accompanied by a Barq’s Root Beer in a traditional longnecker bottle, the meal was perfect for a Saturday afternoon lunch for a good ol’ boy. McClellan’s has their act together.

It is refreshing to be around people who see something good to do and proceed to do it. That’s what I found in New Edinburg.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: Our Weekly Grist Gallery

Stewart store entrance

Every week we shoot more pictures than we have room to show on this page. So, to make sure you are not deprived of the complete story, we put all of our weekly pictures in a gallery of pictures only. This week there are 20 pictures, nine of which you have not seen. These pictures include more shots in the store, a shot of some shelf products left in the store and a bunch of other good stuff you will enjoy. Click here to see these pictures.

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

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