Christmas at Margland


Margland Bed and Breakfast

Margland Bed and Breakfast is decked out in its Christmas finest. The structure was finished originally in 1903. Ed Thompson and Wanda Bateman restored it in 1985 and started the bed and breakfast. The bed and breakfast now includes four additional similar structures all in the same block on West Second Avenue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Doing things “half-way,” is not an option for Wanda Bateman and Ed Thompson, owners and operators of Margland Bed and Breakfast Inns of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. They started their enterprise in 1985 when they restored the old home above. Now they own the whole block and have converted four additional Victorian era structures to house bed and breakfast guests.

Margland fireplace

Click on the fireplace for more pictures

The faithfully restored exterior seems to make a promise that when you enter the premises, you will continue to see furnishings and decor reminiscent of the early 20th century. When you step inside, particularly during the Christmas Season, you immediately see that Wanda and Ed made good on their promise. The house is full of period furniture, decor and artifacts. And you are looking for Christmas decorations which stick to traditional practices, this one is it. You’ll see plenty of red and green.

Speaking of which, you can see two more pictures of the exterior and one picture of the interior on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. We’ll wait here while you look.

Two room view of Margland Bed and breakfast

This is the big 'front-room." You know this was a highfalutin' house because it has two "front rooms," as opposed to the more pedestrian one "front room" arrangement. The other "front room" is out of the picture to the right. It features the fireplace and huge Christmas tree. In the south, or at least the part where I grew up, the term "living room," was not widely used. That room was commonly referred to as the "front room," which could have been a throwback to the old shotgun houses where the rooms were "house wide." This house has two "front rooms," which puts it high in the pecking order.

See more Margland and Christmas light pictures
in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Margland dining room

The dining room at Margland features a large dining table of the same era as the house. As I was shooting the room, the kitchen staff was filling the table with sweets and Hors d'oeuvres in preparation for a church Christmas party.

Sliver cabinet and side board in Margland

The sideboard and silver cabinet are part and parcel of the period furnishings. The straw-bearded Santa adds a bit of contemporary whimsy in the spirit of the season.

See more Margland and Christmas light pictures
in our Weekly Grist gallery.

Nativity scene at the top of the stairs

This finely crafted nativity scene is at the first-landing in the stairs to the residence of the building, a reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season.

 As we enter the Christmas season and look to the promise of a new year, we pause to give thanks for what we have and take a look at where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or not done. For some of us, we’ll even wonder why we got a bundle of switches for Christmas.

Christmas elf

Click on the elf for more pictures

SEE MORE PICTURES OF MARGLAND

See more pictures of Margland plus some additional Christmas light pictures and a nice nativity scene in our  Weekly Grist Gallery. You see the Weekly Grist and Corndancer pictures plus more not shown any where else in larger better format. Click and go.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

The Eternal Question for Arkies in 2009


“How high’s the water mama?”

Johnny Cash birthplace sign at Kingsland AR

Not far from the birthplace of legendary singer Johnny Cash is this sign with its feet in water. The sign, on US Highway 79 just north of Kingsland, Arkansas, normally high and dry, is being encroached upon by waters from the swollen Saline River, less than a mile north.

The symbolism of the sign with its feet in the water, in 2009,  is all too familiar to Arkansans. No one alive can remember a rainier year. All of which prompts one to hum “How high’s the water mama?” without too much provocation. I had the pleasure of watching the man in black perform that tune at Rison, Arkansas, a short ride up the road, in the seventies. I had no idea then that the tune would take on new meaning in this neck of the woods. Some local bards, tongues firmly ensconced in their cheeks, are musing, ” … makes Noah’s flood look like a mornin’ dew,” along with similar, but more colorful observations which I will eschew. Something about a boot.

Rodgers barn

See it at Corndancer dot com

This story started in Cleveland County, but water was not the subject. A really cool old barn was. I could not help but notice the water while going after the barn.

Click here to take a barn-break on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com, a very cool thing to do.  We’ll be waiting here for you when you get back.

We nearly made it through the year without a moisture laden seven-fold amen to the aquatic symphony which has been 2009, but the two days before Christmas were soakers for most of the state.  Reports of six to 10 inches for the two days were not uncommon. As a result, the Saline has been a river on steroids.

Construction equipment under water

On Christmas day, this equipment, parked at the foot of the US Highway 79 bridge over the Saline was high and dry. Yesterday, Dec. 26, the truck and ‘dozer were still high and dry with a few inches of water over the tracks of the back hoe. This morning, Dec. 27, it was a different story. Blub, blub.

Bridges and other man-made structures are good standards by which Mother Nature’s machinations can be measured. In less than 24 hours December 26 and 27, Saline grew several feet. The signs and the bridge below are prima facie evidence of a misbehaving river.

Sign at Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Saline River access point

This sign is on the east side of the south end of the US 79 bridge over the Saline River between Rison and Kingsland, Arkansas. The left picture was shot at about 4:30 p.m., December 26, 2009. The right picture was shot about 11:30 a.m., December 27, 2009. The water color is the same, the direction of light is different, hence the different appearance.

POOL ACCESS

I was recently made aware of the origins of the name of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission access point, “POOL ACCESS.” It was explained to me by my good friend, Dick Warriner. The Saline, for the most part is not a deep or wide river. Under normal circumstances it is a docile stream and at least at one time, was legendary as a fishing resource. It may still be, but you could not prove it by me.

The river widens and deepens somewhat at POOL, just down river from the bridge, hence the name. There is also a bluff at POOL  which was also the site of the “old bridge,” and more importantly to Dick, a favorite swimming hole frequented by his family during his childhood. Dick’s grandfather, Grover Roberts, a resident of nearby Herbine, built a retractable tire swing there which was well used by his progeny and I’m certain by other youngsters in the area. Thanks for the info Dick.

Saline River Bridge

The US 79 bridge over troubling Saline River waters between Rison and Kingsland, Arkansas

Parting Shot

While crawling over the bridge on the west side, south end, on top of the abutment, I found a pile of nuts and bolts. These were certainly not placed here by four legged critters or birds, or one would certainly think so. And, there have been no plausible rumors of cults the members of which have a thing for galvanized nuts and bolts. Since this is not a pedestrian bridge, and few besides myself have probably ever noticed the hardware collection, the local curiosity coefficient is low, so an explanation is yet to be revealed.  Why pray tell, is there a pile of nuts and bolts on the abutment?

Nuts and bolts

This is nutty. But the nuts and bolts are the same as hold the bridge railings together.

Thanks for dropping by and Happy New Year!!!

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

Family tree


This a live tree, not an attack by alien mutants. The tree is a 139 year old Bois d' arc, one of Mother Natures toughest children.

The ceramic chicken is in no danger. Despite what you may think, this a live tree, not an attack by alien mutants. The tree is a 139 year old Bois d’ arc, one of Mother Nature’s toughest children.

Gerald Ware

Click on the tree’s keeper for more info

This Bois d’ arc tree, with a mind of its own and a genetic urge to survive, decided to grow horizontally instead of vertically.

You can see more pictures of the tree and a picture of its caretaker, Gerald Ware, where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to see the pictures and original story. It is a tale of happenstance where fate played a good hand in both our lives on a fine day in the fall of 2009.

The horizontal tree.

The giant horizontal bois d’ arc tree, a prominent fixture and point of pride in the yard of Gerald and Candi Ware of Greenwood, Arkansas was probably planted by original homesteaders who settled their place around 1870 or so. Bois d’ arc trees produce a tough and hard wood. Indians prized the wood for making the best bows.

The tree has a good place go grow. Its roots are close by the natural spring which provides water for the Ware household. Given those favorable growing conditions, the tree probably outgrew its ability to support itself and given the genetic trait of these trees to survive decided that horizontal growth would be just fine, thank you very much. At least, this is Gerald Ware’s theory. And since he is a retired biology teacher, his thoughts are probably right on target.

December 30, 2009 Update

bois d' arc in snow

Since I missed the snow on the “Ware Bois d’ arc” at Greenwood AR, I am grateful to Gerald Ware’s granddaughter for getting this shot and am equally grateful to Gerald for sending it to me. The tree is toughing out it’s 140th winter or so. A testimonial to staying power.

This barn, a 1947 model, is now 62 years old.

Cochran barn, a 1947 model, is now 62 years old.

A bit further down the road, still close enough to be in the neighborhood, Gary Cochran was chomping on a fine cigar and mowing the large yard of his ancestral home, if a 1947 birth date and construction of the home can be considered ancestral. I asked if I could photograph his old barn on the premises. He quickly and cheerfully granted this boon. Gary said the home had not been occupied in ten years. It did not have that appearance. Gary takes care of the place. “It would make my mother happy,” he said, and happily continued his labors. Gary is one of the good guys.

Cabin with a carport?

Log cabin with a carport?  Hmmmm?

Not far from Booneville, Arkansas, I came across this log cabin, which appears to be the real thing. I’m betting the metal roof was added later in its life. You can see an entrance door in the middle, and a small door to the right. One reader suggested in an earlier post that a similar small door on an older structure might have been to an interior wood shed. The cabin almost looks like it has a carport. Maybe an add on as well. It’s too low and small for horse-drawn carriages. Your guess is as good as mine. If you like log cabins, you’ll love log barns, check these out.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

PS: If you have friends whom you believe will enjoy these weekly adventures, contact me at one of the links above and I will be happy to add them to the links list. Conversely, if you want to be removed from our list, let me know and we will drop you like a hot potato.

TNX,

JPD

A Cross tree


This lone tree stands as a memorial to Frank Cross who was murdered in the mid-eignties.

This lone tree stands as a memorial to Frank Cross who was murdered in the mid-eighties.

This story started on the Photo of the Week Page at  corndancer.com Click on the link to see the first part of the story, a very cool thing to do.

Frank Cross, an invalid confined to his bed,  was murdered in the mid-eighties at his home which formerly stood behind the tree. The family had the house demolished, but left the fine cedar tree standing as a memorial to Frank, who was an admired member of his community in southeast Arkansas.

Close inspection of the tree base reveals some artifacts which were probably part and parcel of the old home.

historical artifacts under old tree

Apparently, some items and materials which were not removed during the house demolition were left under the tree.This also included a wire wreath holder.

old farm artifacts under tree

Items left under the tree appear to include part of an andiron, which, we presume, was almost certainly used in a fireplace in the old Cross home.

Note in the picture above how flat the grass is laying. The wind was whipping across the Delta fields in the 15 knot neighborhood. It was December 21, the alleged first day of winter. As if programmed to be true, the  temperature was below 30 degrees in that afternoon. The wind chill factor was polar.

In the picture to the left, you see items left under the tree. For the uninitiated, the piece with the spring attached appears to be part of  a cultivator, a tractor towed implement. The object to the right of the cultivator part is probably part of an andiron set. There are some bricks in the foreground, probably from the house.

Human nature being what it is, there was other detritus, probably not a part of the household leftovers. It seems that we humans have some sort of genetic bent to deposit trash where we find other (perceived) trash. There was an old hydraulic hose, some water valve parts and other bits and pieces, not endemic to a house which was probably 75 or 80 years old, when it met its demise. Also a few wrappers and bottles. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out how those got there. In the hot summer, this tree provides best shade for miles, a good place for working people to take a break.

Information for our original story on corndancer.com was generously provided by Chuck and Pam Taylor and Chuck’s mother. Like a dummy, I did not write her name down. Family operates Taylors, a store and restaurant west of Dumas AR. I visited the bistro later and was not dissapointed. Since our first visit, they have changed their business model and now feature fine steaks. They are open for dinner only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

Click here to see nine additional pictures of the tree.

a Yellowjacket nest in the tree.

Mother Nature has assigned tree guard duty to some of her pesky critters, to wit: a Yellowjacket nest in the tree. Interlopers beware.

Thanks for dropping by and Merry Christmas,
Joe

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