The Eternal Question for Arkies in 2009


“How high’s the water mama?”

Johnny Cash birthplace sign at Kingsland AR

Not far from the birthplace of legendary singer Johnny Cash is this sign with its feet in water. The sign, on US Highway 79 just north of Kingsland, Arkansas, normally high and dry, is being encroached upon by waters from the swollen Saline River, less than a mile north.

The symbolism of the sign with its feet in the water, in 2009,  is all too familiar to Arkansans. No one alive can remember a rainier year. All of which prompts one to hum “How high’s the water mama?” without too much provocation. I had the pleasure of watching the man in black perform that tune at Rison, Arkansas, a short ride up the road, in the seventies. I had no idea then that the tune would take on new meaning in this neck of the woods. Some local bards, tongues firmly ensconced in their cheeks, are musing, ” … makes Noah’s flood look like a mornin’ dew,” along with similar, but more colorful observations which I will eschew. Something about a boot.

Rodgers barn

See it at Corndancer dot com

This story started in Cleveland County, but water was not the subject. A really cool old barn was. I could not help but notice the water while going after the barn.

Click here to take a barn-break on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com, a very cool thing to do.  We’ll be waiting here for you when you get back.

We nearly made it through the year without a moisture laden seven-fold amen to the aquatic symphony which has been 2009, but the two days before Christmas were soakers for most of the state.  Reports of six to 10 inches for the two days were not uncommon. As a result, the Saline has been a river on steroids.

Construction equipment under water

On Christmas day, this equipment, parked at the foot of the US Highway 79 bridge over the Saline was high and dry. Yesterday, Dec. 26, the truck and ‘dozer were still high and dry with a few inches of water over the tracks of the back hoe. This morning, Dec. 27, it was a different story. Blub, blub.

Bridges and other man-made structures are good standards by which Mother Nature’s machinations can be measured. In less than 24 hours December 26 and 27, Saline grew several feet. The signs and the bridge below are prima facie evidence of a misbehaving river.

Sign at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Saline River access point

This sign is on the east side of the south end of the US 79 bridge over the Saline River between Rison and Kingsland, Arkansas. The left picture was shot at about 4:30 p.m., December 26, 2009. The right picture was shot about 11:30 a.m., December 27, 2009. The water color is the same, the direction of light is different, hence the different appearance.

POOL ACCESS

I was recently made aware of the origins of the name of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission access point, “POOL ACCESS.” It was explained to me by my good friend, Dick Warriner. The Saline, for the most part is not a deep or wide river. Under normal circumstances it is a docile stream and at least at one time, was legendary as a fishing resource. It may still be, but you could not prove it by me.

The river widens and deepens somewhat at POOL, just down river from the bridge, hence the name. There is also a bluff at POOL  which was also the site of the “old bridge,” and more importantly to Dick, a favorite swimming hole frequented by his family during his childhood. Dick’s grandfather, Grover Roberts, a resident of nearby Herbine, built a retractable tire swing there which was well used by his progeny and I’m certain by other youngsters in the area. Thanks for the info Dick.

Saline River Bridge

The US 79 bridge over troubling Saline River waters between Rison and Kingsland, Arkansas

Parting Shot

While crawling over the bridge on the west side, south end, on top of the abutment, I found a pile of nuts and bolts. These were certainly not placed here by four legged critters or birds, or one would certainly think so. And, there have been no plausible rumors of cults the members of which have a thing for galvanized nuts and bolts. Since this is not a pedestrian bridge, and few besides myself have probably ever noticed the hardware collection, the local curiosity coefficient is low, so an explanation is yet to be revealed.  Why pray tell, is there a pile of nuts and bolts on the abutment?

Nuts and bolts

This is nutty. But the nuts and bolts are the same as hold the bridge railings together.

Thanks for dropping by and Happy New Year!!!

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

Traveler’s rest


The Traveler, opulence on wheels

Now 104 years old, the Traveler, once the personal rail car of the president of the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad permanently resides on Pumpkin Hill Road south of Rison, Arkansas,

Now 104 years old, the Traveler, once the personal rail car of the president of the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad, now permanently resides on Bob Abbott's place down Pumpkin Hill Road south of Rison, Arkansas,

Though her paint is a bit faded, for her age, the Traveler, formerly the private rail car of the president of the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad is holding up well. She left active service in 1960 and has been here on Pumpkin Hill Road, south of Rison, Arkansas since. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see more pictures of the Traveler, click here, visit the Photo of the Week page and get in on the start of the story.

What you saw as the Traveler pulled away from you. The door is open to the observation parlor. You see reflections in a large oval mirror over the rear facing parlor settee.

What you saw as the Traveler pulled away from you. The door is open to the observation parlor. You see reflections in a large oval mirror over the rear facing parlor settee.

At the back of the car, there is an observation parlor with the door opening to the rear platform. See a picture of the parlor here. If you think you see water in the background of the picture above, you are correct. It’s a toss up  as to whether is a big pond or a small lake, but it is a beautiful impoundment, brimming with large catfish, bass and hand-size bream. Those who wet a hook there are normally not disappointed according to Bob Abbott, the owner.

The mahogany main parlor at the front of the car has a writing desk, a large table with six chairs and very comfortable aisle seating. The windows are large. The carpet, though aged, is lush.

The spacious main parlor served as a dining room, a place for business meetings, and for friendly card games as is evidenced by cards and other necessities in the open drawer,

The spacious main parlor served as a dining room, a place for business meetings, and for friendly card games as is evidenced by cards and other necessities in the open drawer.

Detai of the writing desk. Note the fine joinings and finish of the cabinetry, all in original condition.

Detail of the writing desk. Note the fine joinings and finish of the cabinetry, all in original condition. Notice the charcoal in the pan under the desk. It absorbs moisture and untoward odors.

The hallway would not be a comfortable fit for the average NCAA Division I or NFL defensive tackle. I wear a 46 long suit and when I stood squarely in it, my shoulders scraped the sides of the door.

The parlor pictures above were shot with flash. The picture below was shot from further toward the front of the car and shows more of the mahogany cabinetry in the upper foreground. The color has a different cast brought about by using only available light.

The main parlor from closer to the front of the car. Note the overhead storage and richly upholstered seats.

The main parlor from closer to the front of the car. Note the overhead storage and richly upholstered seats. Also notice my pickup in the left window, a no-no, but I did it anyway.

Though the Traveler is the star of the show on Bob Abbott’s Pumpkin Hill Road place, it is not the only attraction. In 2007, Bob had a small chapel built on the banks of the lake/pond(?). (your guess is as good as mine). Since then it has become popular for weddings and other church related events. Bob, being who he is, does not charge for its use.

The Traveler's new neighbor, the chapel, has proven to be nearly as popular as the Traveler. It could be Divine intervention.

The Traveler's new neighbor, the chapel, has proven to be nearly as popular as the Traveler. It could be Divine intervention. The chapel is particularly impressive in the early spring as Dogwood trees generously bloom.

Signs, signs, Joe Webb’s signs …

A Buick sign from "back in the day."

A Buick sign from "back in the day."

As promised on the Corndancer Photo of the Week page and in last week’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind, I am showing another of Joe’s signs. On this one, the Buick folks tout their valve-in-head engine configuration. In the mid fifties, Buick added a variable pitch impeller in their automatic transmissions which supposedly gave you neck snapping power on the low end and more economy on the high end. Such cerebral appeals have long since given away to more visceral appeals in this day and time. The facts are now, proper cup holder configuration is higher on the pecking order of consumer concern and awareness than valve configuration. And so it goes.

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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