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 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.
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.
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,