138 years and still counting


Civil War reenactment widows

Reenactor Civil War widows place flowers at the base of the new Battle of Marks Mill historical marker at Marks Cemetery prior to the First Arkansas Infantry Reenactors firing a three-volley salute as part of the dedication of the marker. After the war Confederate widows would place flowers on the graves of fallen Confederate soldiers. After a few years, the widows noticed that there were no flowers on Union soldiers graves. It occurred to the widows that the some Union soldiers families might have no idea where their fallen love ones were and even if they did, had no way to memorialize their fallen, so they began to decorate Union soldier graves as well. That same idea is the guiding principle of memorials in and around Marks Cemetery.

One hundred and thirty eight years ago, the Marks family of Cleveland County, Arkansas held their first family reunion. A week ago, they held their 138th. The first reunion consisted mainly of family veterans of the War Between the States. The most recent one included a direct Marks descendant who is a native of Australia. You kind of get the idea that the Marks family has been serious about their reunions since the get-go. You figured right. See more of the 2015 Marks Family Reunion and ceremony on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We will wait here while you look.

First Arkansas Infantry reenacators firing a salute

First Arkansas Infantry Reenactors Group members fire the second of three volleys at the dedication of the new Marks Cemetery Historical Marker.

Child interrupts Civil War reenactment ceremony

Click the pic to see this precocious child stroll into the dedication ceremony

The 2015 edition of the Marks family reunion coincides with the sesquicentennial celebration of the cessation of hostilities of the aforementioned war. Aside from furnishing cannon fodder for the Confederate Army, on April 25, 1864, the Marks family was unplanned host of a significant battle on their family property, the Battle of Marks Mill. The Confederates scored a big victory in the battle but it mattered for naught in the overall scheme of things since the surrender was a few days shy of 12 months away. On a local basis, the results of the battle caused the Union forces to reconsider where they would deploy troops.

Civil war reenactors reload after firing a salute

First Arkansas Infantry reenactors re-load for the third and final volley.

As part of the Civil War sesquicentennial observation, the Arkansas Heritage Commission encouraged and partially funded new historical markers recognizing a Civil War event in each county. In Cleveland County, the Battle of Marks Mill was the choice and the location selected was Marks Cemetery.

It was a good choice since the family has turned the area around the cemetery into a jam-up fine outdoor museum of the battle – and life in the mid 19th century. See our Marks Mill Battle and Cemetery Gallery  for a good look at what they’ve done. The first Arkansas Infantry Reenactment Group of Pine Bluff, Arkansas provided its troops and family members to participate in dedicating the historical marker. You may also want to check out our previous posts on the reunion, cemetery and battle: Our first post was on June 9, 2009; our second post was on June 6, 2011.

Edgar Colvin unveils a historical marker

Edgar Colvin, husband of Sue Colvin, a Marks family descendant unveils one side of the new Battle of Marks Mill Historical marker at Marks Cemetery. One side provides information on the battle. The other side describes the battle impact on and actions of the Marks family and is covered with a Confederate flag. Colvin is the de-facto curator and main worker-bee of the outdoor museum which comprises the Marks Cemetery area.

The memorials and markers in the park honor the memory of fallen soldiers on each side with no preferential treatment.The reunion had an international participant. Thomas Maynard of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, a direct Marks descendant traveled to visit relatives in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and participate in the dedication as a part of the First Arkansas Infantry Reenactors Group. We’re guessing there ain’t many other Aussie reenactors.

Thomas Maynard of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Thomas Maynard of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, a direct Marks family descendant and participant in the dedication ceremony as a First Arkansas Infantry reenactor.

If you really want to learn how to do a family reunion in the right way, contact the Marks family. They know how to do it right. Don’t even think about keeping up with them. You are 138 years behind at the get-go.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

Birds and cows, an unlikely alliance


cow and cattle egret

There’s about a 1,299 pound difference between the average cow and the average cattle egret, but that staggering difference does not seem to dampen their symbiotic relationship. The preferred cattle egret diet leans toward obnoxious invertebrates who prefer cows as a big part of their diet.

Just for grins, let’s say that the average beef cow weighs in at 1,300 pounds. With the same smirk, let’s say that a medium sized cattle egret hits the scales at around a pound. Despite that substantial difference, the two critters make pretty good partners since the bugs which cows attract make what most egrets agree to be a tasty treat.

two cows at a fence

Click the pic to see the curious cows at Corndancer

Speaking of cows, we suggest that you take a look at the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com where we observe cows in their curious mode. We’ve noticed this phenomenon on more than one occasion and provide pictorial documentation of the behavior and make patently unscientific observations. Back to the cattle egrets. Turns out these birds are not native to the North American continent. They are natives of Africa who made their way to South America in the late 19th century and arrived in the lower 48 in the early forties. They began nesting and breeding in the USA in the early fifties. Apparently the American romantic environment was conducive to making more little egrets since they have spread exponentially. In this case, not a bad thing.

cow and egret

This egret is sizing up a bug bugging the cow. The cow apparently considers this to be a routine and beneficial occurrence.

Cattle herds are egrets favorite partners. They pick ticks and other untoward and unwelcome guests from the cattle and glom down the insects that get stirred up as cattle stomp around the pasture.

cattle egret and cow

The new egret probably hopes where there’s one bug, there’s two. With this big ol’ cow I’m betting there’s plenty to go around.

The cow and egret are eyeballing each other. Perhaps this is the egret's favorite cow – or vice versa.

The cow and egret are eyeballing each other. Perhaps this is the egret’s favorite cow – or vice versa.

Cow closeup grazing

There’s no bird with this one but is is a good up close and personal cow munch-out portrait.

cattle egret and cow

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Cattle and cattle egrets are living proof that critters as different as daylight and dark can get along very nicely by concentrating on the mutually beneficial aspects of their relationships. Perhaps we should take us a few busloads of politicians, opposing extremists, and sign-carrying stooges out to few cattle pastures to observe this behavior and see if they get any good ideas. We can dream.

Thanks for looking,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

2015 Blues Music Awards pictures and comments


Sugaray Rayford

Giant Blues musician Sugaray Rayford joins the Sugar Ray Norcia and the Blue Notes for a memorable, toe-tapping, air guitar set at the 2015 Blues Music Awards in Memphis TN, May 7, 2015. The place was rocking!

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Click on Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s hair flare to see more Blues Music Awards pictures

Blues aficionados of every stripe gathered  May 7, 2015 in Memphis,Tennessee for the 36th Blues Music Awards. The event gets underway at 6:30 p.m. and careens headlong with alternating awards and blues music sets until 1:00 a.m. the next day. That’s a bunch of blues for blues hungry fans. It’s like a long supper of solid desserts for die-hard blues fans. I was one of those.

You can also see more pictures of this event on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com including the Kenny Wayne Shepherd hair flare shot. He was at his best with a high-energy performance with vocalist Noah Hunt.

Elvin Bishop

Elvin Bishop, still a tour-de-force in Blues as he pushes 73 performs with his band at the Blues Music Awards. He and his band won a bucket full of awards.

Elvin Bishop fans from the mid-seventies will remember his hit single “Fooled around and fell in love” which soared on the charts.

Eden 'Little Boogaloo' Brent

Eden ‘Little Boogaloo’ Brent from Greenville, Mississippi, lived up to her name with a high energy performance. The big smile on her face said she enjoyed every second of it. So did everyone else.

“Monster” Mike Welch kicks into high gear during the 2015 Blues Music Awards. He’s a member of Sugar Ray Norcia’s Blue Notes.

Archie 'Huby' Turner

Archie ‘Huby’ Turner shows some high-handed animation as he tickles the ivories at the 2015 Blues Music Awards.

Andy T. and Nick Nixon

Andy T. and Nick Nixon serve up traditional blues. Close your eyes and you can believe yourself to be on shotgun house front porch.

Most of the known world were not able to attend this stellar blues event. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, I was internally compelled to visually record this event to the best of my meager abilities. What you have seen here and on the Corndancer page are just part of the pictures from this event. See all of the pictures at these two galleries:

♦ 2015 Blues Music Awards picture gallery one

♦ 2015 Blues Music Awards picture gallery two

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

The folly of early disappointment


Couple at Haw Creek Falls Arkansas

Low water flow across Haw Creek Falls makes it easy for this couple to explore the large rock formation that forms the falls. Under high water conditions, what they’re doing would be life-threatening.

Raptor flying in front of radio tower and cooling tower

Click the picture and see the bird and towers at Corndancer dot-com.

I visited Haw Creek Falls on Arkansas Highway 123 north of Clarksville on May 2, 2015 as part of a grandiose plan of seeing other locations in central Ozarks. The plan involved taking in the sights on the long route between my home in Pine Bluff and Fort Smith, Arkansas, the place of my birth. The occasion precipitating the visit was a church reunion.The plans were doomed from the get-go. I left later than I should have. The visit to Haw Creek Falls and the nearby steel bridge over Big Piney Creek were the only components of the plan that held fast. After the falls and bridge,  I had to terminate the plan and make tracks to Fort Smith for the event.You can find out why despite my early self-directed grumblings, bungling the plans turned out to be a good thing; you’ll also see the pictures to prove it on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. The water flow over Haw Creek Falls was low. Bad news for photographers, but good news for visitors to the falls. Low water means they can walk across the large rock formations that form the foundation of the falls. Our next visit was to the Highway 123 steel bridge across Big Piney Creek.

Arkansas Highway 123 bridge over Big Piney Creek

The steel bridge over Big Piney Creek on Arkansas Hghway 123 north of Haw Creek Falls is a favorite photo target. Also, the creek bed under the bridge is a favorite camping spot. It was occupied.

Low water across Haw Creek Falls makes a moment of affection possible for this couple strolling across the large rock formation that forms the falls. Under other circumstances this is impossible due to swift currents.

As I was leaving the creek bed under the bridge, I noticed a small butterfly convention underway. Air traffic in and out of the area rivaled Chicago O’Hare.

Pink and White flowers

There are abundant colonies of these “pink thingies,” along stretches of Arkansas interstate highways. This is how they look when one is standing still as opposed exceeding the highway speed limit, a popular Arkansas driving habit.

Daisies on Arkansas Interstate

Along with the “pink thingies,” there is a substantial presence of white daisies on the interstate. These long-legged beauties are a typical growth.

Mount Nebo and Lake Dardenelle

Mount Nebo west of Russellville, Arkansas, with Lake Dardenelle in the foreground is a favorite site from I-40. Subtle early evening colors add to the beauty. Free to see. Just go there.

After some initial self-bashing for blowing the plans I laid out, I decided that perhaps, being cool and letting good things happen is a better mindset in less than life-changing circumstances. Which most of our “circumstances” are.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

Signs gone bad, well nearly


Sign that says Things for sale

If they have “things,” check it out, they might have a good supply of “stuff. ” Who knows? You might find a new supplier for your “stuff” needs.

Parking sign

Click the pic and check out the  analysis of the “VIOLATORS” parking sign. Hmm?

We’ve all seen signs that perhaps could have been salted with a few more shakes of forethought. Then, again on a day when you can let your mind wander, you might drill down a bit further. Such as: Things. What things already? Large things? Small things? Double-barreled things? Purple things? Pointy things? Dull things? Used things? Repossessed things? Slightly rusty things? It just boggles the mind.

Then add the possibility that they also have a nice inventory of “stuff.” Does that include Moon Pie and RC Colas. That’s some of the best stuff you could find. You will also find some more signs which should bring about a grin or two on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Take a gander. We’ll wait here

No parking sign at closed business

Methinks one would park here only under extreme duress or realistic threats of serious bodily harm. Perhaps had they been more generous with parking spaces they might still be in business. Perhaps they should put a “For Sale” sign on the tire. Then someone would steal it and save one the trouble of disposing of it.

Pota 2 sign on building

Must have been a short crop on ‘taters this year. Makes one wonder how they did on cor, collar, turn, carro, cabba, and rutaba.

Abandoned gas pumps

Fortunately, this ain’t the only gas station in its town. Given the state of what is considered art in this day and time, the Tourism Commission might promote it as the “Great Leaning Stone Henge Gas Pumps of LA” (lower Arkansas). Stranger things have happened. Remember the “pet rock.”

I would be remiss if I did not include this late 60s tune:


I have high hopes that this investigation has added a grin to your day. Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

One of the roads less traveled and a bit more


On the advice of my iPhone GPS, I decided to drive the “walking” route it recommended for one to make the distance between Pine Bluff, and Arkadelphia, Arkansas for a college reunion event. Some of the route was old hat, but the western end of the trip was new to me. For a bit of fun, I made one shallow ford and had a couple of 4-wheel drive engagements.

Arkansas Hwy 46 dips into the Saline River bottoms
On the way you go south of Sheridan, Arkansas to Leola on Arkansas Highway 46. On that route, you learn the true definition of the term “river-bottoms.” A few miles north of Leola highway 46 takes about a 30 foot-or-so-drop into the Saline River bottoms. The road remains more or less level until it makes a about a 30 foot climb out of the bottoms.

There are several east and west access roads leaving Highway 46 along the way. They are all either timber access roads or access roads to deer camps – or both and are secured by “pole-gates.” When the river is up, they are under water. Since most of our non-LA readers have never seen a pole gate under water, it is incumbent upon us to make that revelation.

Flooded access road

This old access road shows some lingering signs of pavement. The water at the gate is at least two feet deep by my best guess

Flooded road

This well-constructed road leads to another semi-submerged pole gate. The gentle sloping crown of this road tells us that for whom-so-ever built it – it was not his first rodeo.

Flooded pole gate

This nearly submerged pole gate made for an artsy-craftsy scene. A Freudian leaning psychologist might see it as something else.

Fillin' station dog

I made a pit stop in Leola, Arkanss and found a friendly fillin’ station dog who appeared to be a Bassett-Redbone or Redbone-Basset mix. He was curious and friendly. Here he came by to bid me farewell as I departed the premises.

Old house and abandoned pickup

I found another dog several miles down the gravel road section of the trip. He was hanging around this abandoned house accompanied by and abandoned Ford F150 of several years back. You can see more of this old house and the nearby barn on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com along with other pictures from this trip.

Dog in gravel road

Not quite as friendly but with a good streak of curious, this pooch who was babysitting the old house and truck came out to see me off.  He appears to have a .22 head mounted on a .357 magnum frame. Mayhaps his name is bullet?

As a parting shot, I’m showing you a couple of signs that gave me a grin. Hopefully you will react in the same way. Lord knows we need all the grins we can get.

Sign-eating tree

And if you do happen to dump, this tree will eat you. Don’t say we did not warn you.

Road closed sign

Noooooo problemo!

I have high hopes that this diversion into attempted levity has lighted your day.

Thanks for looking.

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

Back to the birds


Click on the Chinese Swan Goose to see more and ready our original  June 2013 story.

Click on the Chinese Swan Goose to see more goose pix and read our original June 2013 story.

Back in June of 2013, our Weekly Grist and Corndancer combo was headlined by a couple of big birds, a big ol’ goose here on Weekly Grist and a big ol’ osprey at Corndancer. We are sending you back to take a second look at our fine feathered friends. In our Corndancer article you’ll see several pictures of the osprey. In our original Weekly Grist article you get several goose glimpses plus a look at a dragon fly, a squirrel, a dog and a small aggregation of curious Black Angus cattle.

Osprey guarding its nest

Click on the osprey to see in-flight pictures and menacing osprey stares.

While all we had to do was show up and aim for our goose pictures, the images of the osprey we show on our Corndancer Photo of the Week page were pure luck. But then I always maintain that I would rather be lucky than good any day of the week.

Though we were in a boat, we wandered a tad closer to the osprey’s nest than the osprey thought was proper which spurred the big bird to action.

The bird’s answer to our unwelcome intrusion was to become airborne and give us nasty stares, a condition we relished. You can relish the same on our June 23, 2013 Corndancer Photo of the Week page.

Thanks for looking.

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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