Steve Harvey’s barn

This is the rest of the story about Steve Harvey’s barn started on Corndancer dot com’s photo of the week. If you missed the first part and want to see it (a cool thing to do), click here. Steve’s barn is part and parcel of his grandfather’s home place, across the highway from where Steve lives.

The barn is

Steve's grandfather's home and barn. The shot is from more than a football field away, courtesy of a long Nikon lens.The golden grass in the foreground was too good to resist.

The barn with its typical breezeway construction appears to provide lockable stalls for six mules (or other large livestock one would presume). Barns of this nature were an essential part of any credible farming operation, providing shelter for farm animals and dry storage for their feed.

The barn breezeway and one-room mule apartments.

The barn breezeway and one-room mule apartments.

Mr. Harvey rested the structure on cement blocks designed as foundation pieces. This gets the wooden structure off the ground and away from termites. From the looks of things, it was a good idea and seems to be working so far. While wind, rain and other untoward elements have torn away the the exterior, the interior is reasonably well preserved.

When this barn finally collapses, the world will hardly feel the tremor, but a piece of history will be lost. Like the tree falling in the woods, did it make a sound?

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

All images and content ©2008, Joe Dempsey


Family at the falls

This is a continuation from the photo of the week picture-story. If you arrived here without first going to the photo of the week and want to catch up, (a cool thing to do), click here.

As I was engrossed in shooting a series of bracketed photographs of the falls at Lake Catherine State Park, I heard somewhat of a clamor down the trail leading to the falls. Mostly laughter and the sounds of people having fun. Turns out it was a couple of families and some friends. As they came closer and I overheard their conversations, it became plain that their conversations were not being conducted in south Arkansas English, which pretty well left me out of the loop.

The family, enjoying the environment, approached the falls and sure enough, out comes the ubiquitous digital camera. I offered to shoot them in front of the falls. One of the family members switched to English and handed me the camera. The group went as close to the falls as they could get and remain dry. I shot a few exposures and a straggler or two came up and we started the process again.

Two families and friends enjoy the falls at Lake Catherine State Park near Hot Springs AR.

Two families and friends enjoy the falls at Lake Catherine State Park near Hot Springs AR.

I asked them to stay put after I shot with their camera so I could shoot with mine. There is some blurring in the shot, one wiggling baby and one arm twitch.  I had the camera set up to shoot the waterfall at 1/5 second, not the best speed for human beings.

I asked them if they lived in Arkansas. They told me they were from Dallas. I thanked them for coming to Arkansas and encouraged them to do it often and spend as much money as was possible while in the state. They laughed and so did I. I gave them the address and told them to check the photo of the week and this blog. That was my contribution to international goodwill for the week.

The families explore the top of the falls. One adult introducing the baby to the chilly waters of a mountain stream. He seemed to enjoy the experience

The families explore the top of the falls. One adult is introducing the baby to the chilly waters of a mountain stream. He seemed to enjoy the experience.

It occured to me just how small our world has become. Though currently from Texas, it was patently obvious that the Lone Star state was not where they were born and reared. Yet here were some folks from thousands of miles away and this ol’ boy from south Arkansas − and we had something in common other than the same numbers of eyes and limbs. We all wanted to see a waterfall that Sunday afternoon. Would that other complexities could be that simple.

All content. pictures and verbiage ©2008 Joe Dempsey

Samson becomes KC

The story of KC, the Little Rock Zoo lion, continues here from the Corndancer dot com Photo of the Week. Click here to see the first part of the story if you missed it. KC, first known as Samson, a lion cub, became a part of the Cliff Cheatwood family just in time for Christmas in 1982.

Samson, under the Christmas tree, 1982.

Samson, under the Christmas tree, 1982.

Samson grew up, not knowing that he was a feared predator. He believed he was a part of the Cheatwood family with all pertinent rights and privileges. The small, cuddly cub did not stay small. He became substantially more than a lap full, but still did his best to stay cuddly.

“We learned that when he was in his most playful mode, his greatest delight was to sneakup behind you, then pounce and demand attention,” Cliff Cheatwood said.

Samson and Cliff

Samson and Cliff. The lion is overexposed, but you get the drift of Samson's brand of lion playfulness.

Once Samson started to make his presence known in the Cheatwood’s yard, stray dogs would get one whiff of him, immediately vacate the area and not come back. “Apparently their noses told them they were coming into the presence of the King of Beasts,” Cliff observed. “Even the alleged meanest Pit Bulls would run the other way.”

Samson and Kayla Cheatwood. Good-hearted Samson is a year old here.

Samson and Kayla Cheatwood. Good-hearted Samson, eyeing Kayla's lap is a year old here.

Along the way, Samson was declawed, a defensive move to preserve home furnishings and bodily integrity. Even kitties with the best intentions can give you an occasional scratch. In Samson’s case, this would have probably resulted in a world class laceration requiring a new indoor record of sutures.

After Samson was a bit over a year old and showing some size, one of Cliff’s friends approached him with an unusual request. The friend wanted to borrow the Cheatwood’s lion.

It seems the friend was having some recurring burglary problems in his building supply store. He believed the presence of a live male lion might discourage further foraging by miscreants. Cliff agreed to the request, Proper lion quarters were installed at the store, Samson took up temporary residence and the burglary problems came to a screeching halt. It is indeed a really good friend who will loan you his pet lion.

As time went on, the looming, inevitable decision had to be made. The obvious solution was the nearby Little Rock Zoo. When zoo officials learned that Samson was declawed, they politely turned down the Cheatwoods largess with their beloved lion. It seems the other big cats would figure out Samson had no claws and it would be impossible for him to eat in a crowd. Then, the zoo conditions changed. The zoo would accept Samson and he would be the sole lion of the zoo. He became KC, short for Kitty Cat.

He was a resident of a zoo “cat house cage,” for 14 years. Then for his final two years, Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock underwrote construction of an outdoor natural enclosure just for KC. It was a fitting tribute to an uncommon beast who delighted thousands of people during his life. Photos courtesy of the Cheatwood family archives and may not be copied or reproduced without express, written permission of the family.

Samson at about six months old, with his favorite (deflated) toy.

Samson at about six months old, with his favorite, well- masticated and deflated basketball toy.

Swan song for the Queen

Foreground, the Delta Queen; background, the American Queen.

Foreground, the Delta Queen; background, the American Queen, moored at Helena AR.

All pictures and content © 2008 Joe Dempsey

A pair of Queens

If you’ve arrived here from the Corndancer Photo of the Week, the story continues here. If you’ve arrived here independently, get the first part of the story here.

The Delta Queen’s exception to the federal 1966 Safety at Sea Act ended October 31, 2008, the day she docked in Memphis TN, on what could be her last river cruise. At Memphis, Delta Queen passengers were transferred to a sister river boat, the American Queen. The cruise continued with the American Queen in the lead to the next scheduled stop at Helena AR. The pair will continue the cruise to the Delta Queen’s possibly final destination, New Orleans, with intermediate stops at Greenville and Natchez MS; and Baton Rouge LA.

The Delta Queen's mighty sternwheel. The American Queen is in the background. Both boats are preparing to depart Helena.

The Delta Queen's mighty stern wheel. The American Queen is in the background.

The Delta Queen underway, inching past the American Queen.

The Delta Queen underway, inching past the American Queen.

The Delta Queen

The Delta Queen, now past the American Queen. The pilot is starting his delicate maneuvers to put the 285 foot vessel safely into the main channel of the Mississippi.

The Delta Queen up close and personal as she begins her final maneuvers to enter the river.

The Delta Queen up close and personal as she begins her final maneuvers to enter the Mississippi river. The Helena Bridge is in the background,

The Delta Queen, heading downriver, south of Helena.

The Delta Queen, heading downriver, south of Helena.This does not have to be her last trip, but the threat that it is − is real. Contact your congressman. Send a message loud and clear: "Save the Delta Queen."

Keep the " ... big wheel churning!"

Help the " ... big wheel keep on churnin ... ."

As of now, the Delta Queen is functionally out of business as a commercial passenger vessel. This does not have to be a permanant condition. Congress returns to session November 15, 2008. In a matter of minutes, the needed exception to the Safety at Sea Act provisions could be approved for a full congressional vote. There are numerous sources of information available. Check out a collection of news stories here. See our coverage of the story here. See larger Delta Queen pictures here. Visit the “Save the Delta Queen” page here.

If you believe the Delta Queen is worth saving, forward this information to your friends. Contact your congressman. If enough people raise enough cane, perhaps this treasure of American Heritage will be saved and will continue to be an available resource.

Thanks for dropping by,


A reprieve of sorts

This article from the Commercial Appeal offers a glimmer of hope.

By Bartholomew Sullivan

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The historic Delta Queen paddle boat, decommissioned as a passenger carrier in October at Memphis, is going to Chattanooga for use as a waterfront boutique hotel.
Maura Phillips, a spokesman for the Chattanooga Water Taxi and Fat Cat Ferry, the new leasee, said the Delta Queen will leave New Orleans in early February and be moored at Coolidge Park Landing across from the city’s huge aquarium. The boat has 87 cabins.
Company owner Harry Phillips, a licensed boat captain and former banker, said he is committed to historic preservation and that the Delta Queen will be cared for accordingly until she can be returned to open water. He said the boat’s safety equipment, including fire-suppression sprinkler system, exceeds that in many hotels.
“We’re going to take good care of her,” he added.
The National Historic Landmark lost its longtime U.S. Coast Guard exemption to carry overnight guests on Nov. 1 because of its wooden superstructure. Ambassadors International Inc., its California-based owner, and a group of enthusiasts organized as “Save the Delta Queen” are continuing to pursue the exemption so that it can return to cruising the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.
The Delta Queen’s last port of call as a passenger ship was at the north end of Mud Island in Memphis. It then went down river with only its crew and is currently tied up in New Orleans.
Vicki Webster, a spokesman for the Save the Delta Queen group, said “the only good thing” about turning the 82-year-old vessel into a hotel is that it gets out of what she called a “bad neighborhood” in New Orleans where it is subject to vandalism and ramming by industrial ships.
The Save the Delta Queen effort asked former President Bush to extend the boat’s exemption by executive order in the last weeks of his presidency, to no avail. A Kentucky preservationist is seeking to have it placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “11 Most Endangered” list that comes out in April.
A coalition of congressmen with riverboat interests, including U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and John Tanner and Steve Cohen, both D-Tenn., supported extending the exemption legislatively last year, but with no success.

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