Arkansas City and points south


old office

This old building dating back to the nineteenth century in Arkansas City has the appearance of a former law office, at least in my eyes. I have seen similar buildings that were so designated.

This piece of machinery, the use of which remains a mystery, adorns the side yard of the old building above.

This piece of machinery, the use of which remains a mystery, adorns the side yard of the old building above.

The building resides in Arkansas City, Arkansas. Once, one of the crown jewels of Mississippi River commerce, the town fell from grace (well, at least for river commerce), when the great flood of 1927 shifted the mighty Mississippi main channel to the east leaving Arkansas City high and dry by far too many miles.

There’s more to this story than you see here. The good news is the story started on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com which is one click away. To see an old store, formerly a saloon,  with a balcony front, at Arkansas City and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.

The town butts right up to what was the main Mississippi River levee until the flood. Remnants of the former river trade can be found at the Moore Farms entrance to Kate Adams Lake which partially sits where the Mississippi churned by prior to the ’27 flood.

levee

These structures at the Moore Farms access to Kate Adams lake are on what would have been the river side of the levee. They are what's left of a part of the docks for the river boats which plied their trade at Arkansas City. Placid, game fish laden Kate Adams is lake is in the background. The lake is named for one of the boats which made regular stops at Arkansas City. Captain Adams, master of the boat, named the boat after his wife Kate. Reportedly there were three boats named Kate Adams. The last one was destroyed in a explosion and fire.

joe

To give you some idea of the scale of these huge relics, I am 6'-4" tall in shoes.

Checkin’ the levees

Continuing southward on the gravel road which tops the levee, I smirked when I recalled one of the standard goofing off terms, used by southern good ol’boys, to wit: “Checkin’ the levees.” The term could be used to cover a multitude of sins, some nefarious and some just for fun.

One of the better fun ones was to grab a six pack, pick up a buddy and drive around in a pickup truck with the windows down listening to Lynard Skynard.

It was perfectly permissible to substitute Led Zepplin, Jimmy Buffett, or another favorite performer. Or two, Then when a call comes in, your receptionist tells the caller, ” … he’s out checkin’ the levees hon.” My experiences along these lines of course, are from a former life.

On the way to Arkansas City, I saw this barn and gave in to the urge to shoot. This barn is sans the usual  explanation. There was a house close by, perhaps with people who know. After visually reconnoitering the premises, the word “Deliverance” came to mind so I eschewed the visit. One never knows.

Great looking old barn. Not many details available

Great looking old barn. Not many details available.

A thirsty lake

Eventually I arrived at the shores of a thirsty lake. Yes there was a lot of water, just not as much as one normally expects. Of course one generally wants to see lakes at their robust levels. However, when the levels drop, sights not normally available become, well, available. Such as the substructure of cypress trees. We had that opportunity back in March at Enterprise Lake. Also look here. In this case, the tree is not as big as found on the earlier trip, but it is off the chart on the dry scale. Can cypress get psoriasis?

roots

Calling all dogs. Help!

The lake also reveals other artifacts and or junk as the levels drop. I wonder how many Ray Bans have been recovered since the the level has dropped. Will Jimmy Hoffa surface?

bike

You can never tell what will show up when the lake drops. Looks like this one was a victim of a bicycle chop shop, with subsequent evidence disposal.

This doesn’t happen often

The new Mississippi River bridge connecting Lake Village on the Arkansas side and Greenville on the Mississippi side is taking shape. The shot below is from the temporary exit to the Cow Pen steak house on Highway 82 on the Arkansas side. The projected opening date is in “2009,”  but we are in the fourth quarter, so we’ll see. The bridge will be the longest cable stayed bridge on the river. A new bridge over Ol’ Man River ain’t an every day occurrence.

The "soon to be open" new Mississippi River Bridge near Lake Village AR and Greenville MS.

The "soon to be open" new Mississippi River Bridge near Lake Village AR and Greenville MS.

For those who use monkey wrenches

For those who use monkey wrenches

As promised, here’s another sign from Joe Webb’s collection, a work in progress. He’s always on the prowl for new stuff.

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

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

Tiptoe through the tools


Joe Webb at home with the latest addition to his stable of '55 Chevys. This one makes number eight. Add 22 "parts" cars of the same vintage, plus a shop full of 55 parts.

Joe Webb in his shop at home, with the latest addition to his stable of '55 Chevys. This one makes number eight. But wait, there's more. Add 22 "parts" cars of the same vintage, plus a shop full of 55 parts that can be measured by the ton. The Phillips 66 sign will sooner or later enjoy a fitting location on the walls of the shop.

This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com. To see another Chevy picture and a couple of signs and get in on this thing from the start, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Joe Webb’s shop on Poplar Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas should qualify as a museum. There may be a few issues with stepping over and around jacks, brake lathes, grinders, air hoses, and other miscellaneous and sundry tools of the mechanic’s trade. In this case, tip-toeing through the tools is worth the trip. On the walls and hanging from the ceiling you’ll see an extraordinary collection of old automotive oriented signs. From a former life, I recall that proper museum collections should have a focus. This one has that. In spades.

The main shop entrance gives you an idea of what to expect. The DX and Gulf signs are signficant to the history of the business. At one time, the shop was also a service station that carried both brands.

The main shop entrance gives you an idea of what to expect. The DX and Gulf signs are signficant to the history of the business. At one time, the shop was also a service station that through several permutations, carried both brands of gasoline.

Not just a good sign. Good art.

Not just a good sign. Good art.

Joe’s collection does not stop at his shop. His guest bedroom in the Chez Webb is plastered with a similarly deep collection of smaller “point-of-purchase” signs. (That term was probably not yet in use when the signs were originally fabricated).

Art for marketing’s sake

The art on these signs was designed and created when art directors still used brushes, pens and other ancient and honored paraphernalia to create their masterpieces. The Champion Spark Plug sign is a good example. Close inspection shows that it is “flat art.” That means that the look achieved by the artist was made through application of solid colors. Having been a small part of the last vestiges of that school of art production, I can tell you, it will make you scratch your head.

In their day, these signs were an essential and important part of merchandise marketing. We’re talking thirties, fourties and perhaps into the fifties a bit. Television was an idea yet to bloom. Radio was popular,

The Kaiser-Frazer brands marketed by Henry J. Kaiser, the aluminum magnate had some loyal followers, my uncle included. However the number of loyal followers were not enough to save the brands. Styling of the cars was a bit ahead of the times.

The Kaiser-Frazer brands marketed by Henry J. Kaiser, the aluminum magnate had some loyal followers, my uncle included. However the number of loyal followers were not enough to save the brands. Styling of the cars was a bit ahead of the times.

but in the AM days, had it’s limitations. Print advertising was the king of communication, but for the most part was a black and white presentation. These signs performed a colorful and dramatic job of communicating the presence and to some extent, benefits of the products they hawked.

“ When I went crazy buying ’em”

Joe started collecting signs 21 years ago. I asked him when did he begin considering himself a sign collector. He grinned deeply, something he does well, and told me “ … I guess about the time when I went crazy buying ‘em.”

He says he’s not exactly certain just how many signs and other automotive related artifacts he has, but conservatively guesses the total to be in the 400-500 item range. “I have some stuff still in original crates and boxes,” he admitted. Turns out, some friends that had the merchandise, being familiar with his pronounced proclivity to accumulate signs,  decided that Joe would give it a good home. They were right.

Since a fillin' station was a good place to grab a cole-drank,* it seems appropriate to include the doctor's sign. It is emblazoned with a bottle reminiscent of their long abandoned slogan, "Drink Dr. Pepper at 10, 2 and 4. *A term used by southerners to describe a chilled, carbonated drink.

Since a fillin' station was a good place to grab a cole-drank,* it seems appropriate to include the doctor's sign. It is emblazoned with a bottle reminiscent of their long abandoned slogan, "Drink Dr. Pepper at 10, 2 and 4. *A term used by southerners to describe a chilled, carbonated drink.

I have a number of other signs from Joe’s inventory now in my picture inventory. For the next few weeks, I’ll include a one or more on Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind. Thanks for your patience.

And thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

http://www.joedempseycommunications.com/

http://www.joedempseyphoto.com/

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

April 11, 2011 Update

Took the pickup to Joe Webb’s this morning for servicing and lo, and behold, Vicky had turned the long abandoned gas pump island into a rose garden. And the roses seem to love it. Whodathunk? It’s either adaptive reuse or Brighten the Corner Where You Are.

GMC and roses

I never promised you a rose garden but you got one anyway.

GMC and roses 2

Adaptive reuse of former fueling facility.

GMC and roses 3

Brighten the corner where you are.

Barns and cows, how can you go wrong?


In advertising 101, they teach you that when all else fails, default to kids and puppies. Fast forward to the internet, when all else fails, default to barns and cows.

The building in the background is a log structure. The real thing

The building in the background is a log structure. The real thing

The barn in the foreground is more than likely the successor to the barn in the background. Or at least, the building in the background is what I strongly suspect to be a log barn. It’s a log something and I’m figuring it’s a barn. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com with an individual, more detailed picture of both structures. Click here to see how the story started along with the other pictures.  The buildings are on Arkansas Highway 310 west of Letona, Arkansas.

An old barn near Lonoke, Arkansas, with a new roof. At long last, someone cares!

An old barn near Lonoke, Arkansas, with a new roof. At long last, someone cares!

This barn odyssey begins in my home town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. I snapped the first image (above) just south of Lonoke, Arkansas on Highway 31. The barn is in good condition, considering the probable age. The owners obviously are wanting to preserve the barn. They replaced the original corrugated roofing with a new aluminum roof. Not exactly traditional, but who cares if it gets the job done and extends the life of this fine barn.

There's a horse in that barn. She apparently likes the shade or is a bashful sort.

There's a horse in that barn. She apparently likes the shade or is a bashful sort.

The next stop was Pangburn, Arkansas. By the time you get to Pangburn, the Delta flatlands are far behind you. You are getting into the mountains. The nice barn above and 654 souls (according to the 2000 census) call Pangburn home. This barn can’t be much more than a block and a half from the epicenter of downtown Pangburn. Is that a cool town or what? The barn was behind a fence which did not appear to present a problem in crossing. Before taking that fateful step over the fence, I noticed a well worn path inside the fence, prima facie evidence that a critter was ensconced there. Not seeing the critter or wishing to find out the hard way, I shot on the street side of the fence. I took a closer look at the barn after the shot. A horse in the barn was taking a closer look at me. He looked friendly enough, but in the words of the immortal Fats Waller, “ … one never know, do one?” The barns at the top of the page were the next stop.

No one was available to reveal the barns provenance. Pity.

No one was available to reveal the barns provenance. Pity.

The next barn is on Good Springs Road off Highway 310 south of Pickens Chapel. There was an occupied residence on the same property, but unfortunately, no one was home to reveal the secrets of the barn.

Cows cooling it. Good work if you can get it.

Cows cooling it. Good work if you can get it.

Wandering off Good Springs Road, I came across these cows. When temperatures soar to the discomfort stage, certain enlightened, but not all cows will repair to the depths of their friendly local stock pond and spend the afternoon taking a dip. Why didn’t I think of that?

Thanks for dropping by,

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

This old, old, house


Notice the front porch on this old farmhouse, no visible means of support.

Notice the front porch on this old farmhouse. It is a miracle of unintended cantilever construction with no visible means of support, since the porch and porch supports, like the last residents, have long since departed the scene.

When I first saw this old house northeast of Parkdale, Arkansas, I recalled an old fifties song , written by Stuart Hamblen, “This Old House.” The song was allegedly inspired during a hunting trip with legendary actor, John Wayne. Believe it or not, the version of the song performed by Rosemary Clooney garnered the number one slot on the Billboard chart. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see a more pictures of the house and get in on the start of the story, click here.

room

The west room: Decorated with a door on the floor and multiple remnant layers of wallpaper.

This old house is typical of farm employee residences furnished by the farm owner. It shows evidence of a number of residents, at least, if the number of wallpaper layers are any indication.

est

The east room: Lots of natural ventilation with native materials and roofing iron decor.

Divided into four rooms, the house is simple with few amenities past basic shelter. One of the chimneys probably vented a kitchen stove and the other a pot bellied wood heater.  One had to tip toe through the tulips, dandelions or whatever was in the yard for personal relief in an outhouse. In that part of the country, depending on the time of the year, slapping “skeeters” all the way was part of the trip.

And at Ladelle, Arkansas, another victim of the times, Deals Grocery. The store stands as a monument to simpler times.

Deals Grocery, Ladelle, Arkansas.

Deals Grocery, Ladelle, Arkansas.

We rejoice that our residences are not comparable with the ole farmhouse. We bemoan the departure of neighborhood stores. And life goes on.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe

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

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