A farewell to Isaac. Nearly.

fishing dock at saracen lake pine bluff arkansas

The last vestiges (I thought at the time) of tropical depression Isaac are leaving town. The angry clouds on the horizon are his. Shot from the fishing dock of Saracen Lake, our downtown impoundment in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Isaac fooled us. He came back for a curtain call later that night.

We finally got some rain here in LA (lower Arkansas). Seems like we have had domino-sequence dry spells for the last two summers. In 2012, we never quite overcame the rainfall deficit we experienced in 2011, adding insult to injury.

view of storm outside window link to corndancer

Click on the window for more of the story

It was so dry, the state was considering a water pistol buy-back scheme. Before we go too much further, check out the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com where this story started.

Then along comes Isaac inching his way from south Louisiana to the LA homeland. The original tracking put the “eye” just about over us. On the way, Isaac changed his mind and skewed west, a classic case of good news and bad news.

That put us on the east side of the donut, the roughest side of the storm. The counter-clockwise rotation of the storm sucks fresh moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dumps it inland, mainly on the east side of the storm rotation. The good news is, you are finally going to get some rain.

Rural road covered with water

Saturday afternoon, September 1, I headed out looking for aftereffects of Isaac. I did not find much that was notable except perhaps for Clint Henderson Road, north of Humphrey, Arkansas. There were several stretches where water covered the road, all of which I negotiated in the faithful pickup. The road section above was the longest, but not the deepest. This section was six to eight inches deep. The deepest section I’m estimating was right at axle deep.

The bad news is it’s coming to you three ways: hard, fast, and continuous. And in the process you are going to take a drubbing. Fortunately by the time Isaac crossed into LA, he was a tropical depression rather than a tropical storm or a hurricane. That’s little consolation to someone who has three inches of water in his den. On the bright side, he still has a den.

Saturday afternoon, I was laboring under the delusion that Isaac was gone for good. I was driving around looking for Isaac aftereffects and did not find many. I did notice that most of the afternoon was marked with a stiff easterly wind. That should have been a clue.

ripe corn in stiff breeze

There was a stiff breeze from the east most of Saturday afternoon, as evidenced by the horizontal leaves and bending stalks of this harvest-ready corn in a field east of Altheimer, Arkansas. The wind was a harbinger of things to come.

This old Grapette sign adorns the north side of the now unoccupied Leake building in what’s left of downtown Altheimer, Arkansas. The old sign has been on my list for a while and I figured today was the day. Grapette was about the best tasting “cole-drank” ever made in my humble opinion. It originated in Camden, Arkansas. For far too long after the brand fell on hard times, the drink was not available. In recent years, Wal-Mart bought the recipe and rights to the name and now sells it in their stores.

The Leake building in Altheimer, Arkansas

This is the Leake building upon which you will find the Grapette sign. The building dates back to 1917. The last business in the structure was Rusty’s Package Store. “Package Store” is a term widely used in LA and throughout Arkansas to soft peddle the term “liquor store” to the general public, some of which “don’t believe in likker.”  Rusty’s last package left the store a long time ago.

Later that night, Isaac did an encore — with us being on the tail end of a storm line reaching from LA to northern Illinois and Indiana. He dumped hail and rain and hit us with some strong winds. Isaac, one of Mother Nature’s children, had the last laugh. But then, Her family always does.

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

For whom the bell doesn’t toll

No new post this week, but a link to a

neat archive post with critters

swimming bears

Click on the bears and go to "You belong in a zoo."

This week instead of a new post, we are redirecting to an archive post, “You belong in a zoo I.”  The pictures and story are from the Memphis Zoo during the time they had panda exhibit. You will find a link to the panda story when you go to that post, or you may click here and see the pandas.

Bell and steeple at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Lincoln County AR

There's no rope on the lever of this bell at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Lincoln County Arkansas. And it appears that it is frozen in the upswing for a "ring." I wonder why? On the other hand, a storm is brewing, the sun is setting and the king of the skies, a "turkey buzzard," is making a beeline for his home base, all of which are not to bad to observe.

 If “Googling” is any indication, “Macedonia” has to be one of the most popular names for a Missionary Baptist Church in the lower 48. As I was Googling to capture some information on Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Lincoln County, Arkansas — and its bell  — I was presented with hundreds of Macedonia Churches, none of which were the one I was seeking. Maybe thousands if I followed the Google pages to infinity. Thus rebuffed, I decided to wing it. According to the plaque on the church, it was organized by Elders B. Dabney, M. Nelson, and Deacon C. P. Powell in 1886 and rebuilt in 1980. Past that, I’m in the dark.

abandoned 1955 pink ford fairlane

Click on the old Ford to see more about it

Before I got to the church and it’s fine but silent bell, I ran across an abandoned and sadly deteriorating 1955 four-door Ford Fairlane. It is “Elvis Pink,” a popular color option of the day — and is on it’s last legs. The car has been sitting there since 1966 and looks it.

See this rotting relic on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com, where this adventure started. We will wait here for your return. The bell ain’t going anywhere.

Stopped in mid ring

bell frozen in mid swing

As you can see, the lever to ring the bell was cut from what appears to be 3/8 steel plate and was not original equipment which would probably have been bronze. The lever is peppered with a predictable patina of ferrous oxide, AKA rust.

See a great sunset, another picture of the bell and more in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

In the absence of sounds from the bell, we can only but imagine the joy and sorrow accompanied by it’s clarion tone in better days — announcing to church goers that it is time to stop visiting and start worshiping,  ringing in a happy life for newly weds, the last toll for lives fulfilled — and perhaps neighbors rang it to notify the community of a fire, other emergency or a community gathering. It was probably the only mass communication device for miles.

Macedonia MIssionary Baptist Church LIncoln County AR

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, Lincoln County, Arkansas, organized in 1886 has weathered many a storm and in this picture is right before weathering another.

Going, going, gone

Flowers wilting as summer ends

These flowers are folding their tents as summer winds down and fall rolls in. Already, we've started to feel a tad of a chill in the air. In a month or so, we'll be chattering.

Changing seasons are a good time to pause for introspection. To look inward and see what needs to be fixed. Besides the rope on the bell.


Click the picture to see the sunset

SEE A DRAMATIC SUNSET in our Weekly Grist Gallery

A late summer thunderstorm right before sunset created some favorable circumstances. See the sunset here. Also an old truck, three pictures of an forlorn old 55 Ford, the bell and more in our Weekly Grist Gallery. Thirteen pictures in all.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind