A requiem for the stockyards

stockyards dock house

You are looking inside the "Dock House," of the soon-to-be-no-more stockyards in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The "Dock House" was a gathering place for cattlemen, drivers, and interlopers who always enjoy spinning or hearing a good tale. My source tells me the BS inside the "Dock House," was probably thicker than it was in the cattle pens. Now, one can only imagine.

stock yards building

See more pictures at Corndancer dot-com

There is irony in the language on the wall poster above which says, “You can only borrow what you are worth today,” a corollary to “what have you done for me today?.”  The “Dock House” where the poster hangs is part and parcel of “the stockyards” in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Today’s worth of the stockyards is diminished in the face of “progress.”

The stockyards are being demolished by dis-assembly to make room for a new structure to be erected by the new owners of the property, Central Moloney, Inc., the next-door neighbor to the stockyards. Get in on the start of this interesting story and see more pictures on the Photo of  the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

Pine Bluff stockyards

What formerly transpired at the stockyards now commonly takes place on the internet and closed circuit TV, leaving thousands of local stockyards similar to this one,  in the lurch.

Once a bustling hub of business, this 69-year-old stock yard in Pine Bluff, Arkansas owned by the Glover Livestock Commission Company is no longer active, although the company is. It is not alone in its dilemma, hundreds of other local stockyards have met a similar fate.

Formerly cattle sellers and buyers would congregate at stockyards like this and do business on “sale-days.” Participants in the process forged long-term face-to-face friendships and business relationships. Lounges like the abandoned “Dock House” above vibrated with tall tales and down-home humor. Now the same business transactions are being made over the internet and closed circuit TV. The participants probably don’t know each other from Adam’s Off-Ox.

Office building at stockyards

This building at the Pine Bluff Stock Yards once housed offices, a popular restaurant and "The Rancher," a successful western store. The structure is more than 70 years old.

stock yards loading ramp

The back of the old office building as seen though a loading ramp in the stock yards building.

Every time we scratch our heads and wonder “what else could possibly be invented,” up jumps a radical new idea which grabs our collective imagination and forces a shift in business practice. This is not to castigate the new process, far from it, because this story reaches you with in the same venue that spelled disaster for the stockyards. Our point is to remember and respect what got us where we are. It is the eternal conundrum. We ride the wave of new means, methods, and technology, but decry some, but not all of the results. It’s called reality. Welcome to the global marketplace, have a nice day.


Without stepping in, well … you know. See all-new pictures of the stockyards inside and out in our Weekly Grist Gallery. You’ll see pictures not available anywhere else, plus all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures, bigger and in high resolution. Neat stuff and low-carb, low-calorie, and your mamma will approve of it.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind



Meandering through the Piney Woods

Jonquils on Cross road north of Kingsland Arkansas

My first jonquil sighting of 2011. This is the earliest sighting in several years. The yellow posies are on Cross Road, north of Kingsland, Arkansas.

old service station

See more pictures at Corndancer dot-com

Cross Road north of Kingsland, Arkansas looked promising on the map and lived up to my fondest expectations for Nikon fodder. I had not gone far when I spied my first jonquils of the year. Considering that these flowers were covered with snow not long ago, they are tougher than they look.

Before we go down Cross Road further, you may want to check out how this story started by going to the Photo of the Week page on Corndancer dot-com. You will see a couple of old buildings in Kingsland.

I followed Cross Road and came to Cross Roads Cemetery. It appeared that some patriotic-minded relatives and/or friends had seen fit to decorate a family plot with a short flag pole from which Old Glory was happily flying in the afternoon breeze. The decorators also festooned the plot with weather-proof flowers. The overall cemetery was cared for much like the fairways of a pro-tour golf course. These country folks are serious about their cemeteries.

Grave site with American flag

The Robinson family plot at Cross Roads Cemetery on Cross Road north of Kingsland Arkansas. The flag pole is wrapped in tinsel. This site called for a salute,

old fire tower

Old fire tower on Arkansas Highway 229 north of Fordyce near the Bunn community. The discolored part of the Pine trees is light from the setting sun.

If you resist the temptation to turn off Cross Road and continue, the road eventually swings due west and butts into US Highway 167 just north of Fordyce, Arkansas. Turn south go a quarter mile or so and turn west on Bunn-McGriff Road and the territory looks about the same, but nothing spectacular. The road eventually butts into Arkansas Highway 229 where I found a couple of good shots.

The first find was an old church which would be on the ground were it not for the Divine intervention of the trees surrounding the building. See a picture of this old church on our Weekly Grist Gallery. As I was preparing to shoot the church, back in the woods 25 yards or so from the highway, a truck pulled up behind my truck and a man got out and began to write down my license plate number.

When I saw him pull up, I reverted to a former life and stood still. Movement is usually what gives up your position. I finally hailed him and asked if he knew anything about the church, not mentioning his note taking procedure. He remembered the church and some animated revival services from his childhood, but not the church name.  Not surprising since the last services were probably in the fifties.

As our conversation continued, I noticed that he wearing a side-arm and his truck had blue lights embedded in the grill. Turns out he was a deputy in training, unusual for a guy with possum-blond hair like mine. Seems some miscreants have been raiding old home sites along the road and I suppose when he stopped he figured he would catch one. We parted on friendly terms.

The second find was the old fire tower you see at the right. At one time there was a large network of these towers spanning the forests of Arkansas which were manned by people you probably did not want to mess with since they regularly climbed what appeared to be a ten story building. Satellite imagery made these a thing of the past.

Before the towers there was a network of “Look-see” trees. These were tall trees on high points which afforded rangers a view nearly as good as the towers. And it was probably more fun to climb a tree than a tower. And – not nearly so far to climb.

There is more to discover.


fire tower house

Weekly Grist Gallery - More pictures

See a close-up of the old tower-top “house,” another look at the flowers, and see the old church where the law and I had our friendly conversation. It’s all on our Weekly Grist Gallery. You’ll also see larger versions of the Corndancer pictures and the ones you’ve seen here, plus another old home site,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind



female cardinal at birdfeeder

Mrs. Cardinal flares as she is about to land and join Mr. Cardinal for a bite of lunch during a recent snow storm. Our bird feeder, frequently replenished by Pat Dempsey, my spousal unit and roommate, was the most popular game in town.
cardinal on limb in snow storm

cardinal on limb in snow storm

For the price of a pound or so of bird seed and the kinetic energy to deliver said seed to our bird feeder during a recent snow storm, we were witness to a bird feeding frenzy second to none. Cardinals who like our neighborhood were the main players. These “redbirds” were joined by sparrows and a woodpecker, plus some interloping blackbirds who were uninvited guests. Find out how this story started and see more bird pictures on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com .Click here to go there.

Sparrow and cardinal on bird feeder in snow

After a few anxious moments of awkward glances and body, the cardinal and sparrow finally buried the hatchet and got on with lunch. Survival finally took precedence over ego.

Though the feathery critters joined some territorial spats, these disagreements seemed to be less frequent and intense than we observe under more favorable weather conditions. Perhaps swallowing one’s pride along with one’s food is more acceptable when the latter is scarcer.

Cardinal on bird feeder in snow storm

Mr. Cardinal gives us the eye and quickly returned to the task at hand. Munching out.

See more bird pictures in our Weekly Grist Gallery

Even our friendly local Red Bellied Woodpecker made a showing. He is bigger than everyone else and nobody messes with him. We don’t see much of Mr. Woodpecker in the winter months so his visit was welcome. Despite his size, he was not overly aggressive and grabbed what he could. See him in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

female cardinal on limb during snow storm

Sometimes, a girl just needs a little time to herself. This female cardinal hopped on a limb close to the window for this shot. She is probably as regular at the feeder and has a lower fear threshold.

The feeding frenzy continued until dark when the birds went wherever they go to roost. They returned the next day and started where they left off. The storm was long gone and eastern sun back-lighted the scene which eliminated the shooting opportunity of the day before.  So, a cold, overcast, stormy day was preferable. You take what you get.

cardinal and red bellied woodpecker

See more bird pictures

Birds that is!

See more birds including our friendly local woodpecker. There are 19 high resolution pictures of this feeding frenzy in our Weekly Grist Gallery. These are our “keepers” that we did not publish in Weekly Grist or Corndancer, plus those we did. Click here and see these cool pictures.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


A Plethora of Pooches

Two Great Dane Dogs

Magnum (left), and his partner Great Dane from Walden Kennels of Glenwood, Arkansas pay close attention to "Momma," Marsha Walden, owner of the kennels. The dogs are competing in the Sweetheart Dog Show at the Pine Bluff Convention Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Yorkshire Terrier Show Dog

See more dog show pictures at Corndancer dot-com

There’s precious little as much fun as five hundred or so happy dogs. That’s what I found at the annual Sweetheart Dog Show in the Pine Bluff Convention Center at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, my home town. Under normal circumstances, there would be upwards to a thousand or better dogs competing but widespread road icing kept many competitors at home.

Before we go too much further, we need to tell you that this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Click here to go there and see more dog show pictures and get in on the start of the story. We will wait right here while you look.

Despite diminished attendance, the quality of competition was good. This is the last major dog show before the start of the legendary Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and points earned at this show can help qualify a dog to compete at Westminster. Many competing dogs that were at this show were already qualified so their next stop is Westminster.

Great Dane dog and handler

Marsha Walden, proprietor of Walden Kennels of Glenwood, Arkansas works with one of her charges, Magnum, a Great Dane. Magnum is less than one year old and still growing.

One of the beauties of a good dog show, and this is a good one, is the variety of dogs you see and the people you meet. Many of the owners and handlers are following a passion and have close family relationships with their dogs. Marsha Walden, of Walden Kennels, specializing in Great Danes and Mastiffs is one of those. She says on her web site: “My dogs aren’t just breeders they are my life and  they are part of the family. My house is their house and if you don’t like wet slobbery kisses you might not want to visit.”

Russian Wolf Hound

This is Potsy, a girl Russian Wolf Hound, who competes in the show obedience competition. These dogs are recognizable by long skinny heads. They could dang-near eat a dog biscuit out of a Coke bottle. Potsy's human is Betsy Tolley of Memphis, Tennessee, a cheerful woman.

Dog handler/groomer with Australian Shepherd

Brenda Moore, a dog handler from Texarkana USA works on Memo, an Australian Shepherd. Memo's owner lives in New York. The owner sent Memo to Brenda in July of 2010 for what appears to be an extended visit. Both seem pleased with the arrangement.

Welsh Corgi Cardigan

Casey, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi likes his job according to his owner, groomer, trainer, handler, Lori Kopreski of Sherwood, Arkansas. Kopreski recently moved to Sherwood from East Burne, New York and says she loves it here in the Natural State. She has shown dogs since 1962.

At a dog show like this one, you can see a big variety of dogs from breeds that could come two-to-a-shoebox – to dogs big enough to nearly pull a plow. Though they vary in size, shape, coat, and color, these show dogs from, my viewpoint, share one thing in common, they are friendly outgoing critters and like people. Every dog I saw was ready to touch noses or get a good scratch behind the ears. That speaks well of the owners and trainers. It says the dog has learned by love, patience, and having fun. That’s a solid concept for this life by the way.

This just in, a February 18, 2011 update

My dear friends, William L. (“Bill” or currently “Pat”) Patterson and his lovely bride, “Dangerous” Darlene H. Patterson, suggested that I include their pampered beagle, Bella Donna Star Patterson in this article. Them being who they are, and the dog being the Queen Bitch, I could find no reason not to respect and respond favorably to this request.

beagle on bed

Bella Donna Star Patterson


Samoyed and groomer

See all 36 dog pictures

On Corndancer dot-com and here on Weekly Grist, I have shown you eight dog pictures from the dog show. In this shoot, there were 36 “keepers,” which means there are a bunch of cool dog pictures you have not seen.

Take heart, you can see all of these dogs including a Samoyed, Coon Dog, Bull Dog, another Corgi and a bunch more on our Weekly Grist Gallery. Click here and go there to see these pooches.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


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