Tarry at Tarry for a while


Thomas Grocery, Tarry, Arkansas

Probably knocking on the door of a hundred years old, give or take a few, Thomas Grocery still stands in tiny Tarry, Arkansas. It has a plethora of nostalgia appeal and is a local favorite for old-store-oglers. More than a few look at it with ideas for gentrification.

Clowers Gin, Tarry Arkansas

Click on the old gin to see more of Tarry

Thomas Grocery was one of four fully operational stores in Tarry, a small but once bustling community between Pine Bluff and Star City, Arkansas. One other of the original stores is still standing, West Grocery, about a quarter mile from Thomas Grocery.

See an earlier Weekly Grist story relating to West Grocery here. While you are in the mood to click around, may we suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started and see some additional pictures of the store and other Tarry scenes.

For many years, Thomas Grocery housed the U.S. Post Office for the community. It was also a school bus stop. Few if any general stores of  that era were without a bench of some sort on the front porch. And a couple of dogs under the porch.  Thomas Grocery fits nicely into that genre.

The store was an important part of the social and economic fabric of the community, a nice way of saying that probably millions of juicy tidbits of gossip and rumors floated in and around the premises. Especially in election years.

I featured the store with a couple of winter pictures in our June 17 Weekly Grist post. I shot those pictures in 2009, so the old store is holding up nicely. We have high hopes this is a continuing trend.

Gills Barn, Tarry Arkansas

Looking at the hay barn from the east during midday sunlight. There is a chair in the loft at this end of the barn which I suspect is a deer stand.

An old barn and corn crib, off the beaten track, behind the store a few hundred yards offered some unusual photo ops not available without an invitation. The owner and I are friends and he graciously steered me in the right direction. The old barn was built to store hay, tack, and feed. It was completely floored. The floor stands off ground level more than a foot. It does, however, have large overhangs which could offer shelter to livestock.

The hay barn from the west end

The west end of the hay barn in late afternoon light. The angular device under the overhang is a hay feeder for cattle with the munchies. And they always have the munchies.

interior of old hay barn

The barn is tall and gives one the feeling of a rustic open air cathedral. All we need is a boom-box holding forth with “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” and/or some Purcell trumpet voluntaries.

Just a few yards from the old barn is an old corn crib. It is bigger than a lot of barns I have photographed. The north end is reasonably clear of weeds and trees, but the south end is cluttered with interloping trees and saplings. We have visited the subject of the hardy Bois D, Arc tree before on these pages. And now we have seen another one with a penchant for survival. Another reclining Bois D’ Arc.

Old corn crib at Tarry Arkansas

The north end of the corn crib is intact for the most part.

Bois D' Arc tree under corn crib

The hardy Bois D’ Arc tree, I believe, is genetically programmed with a superior survivability gene. The Bois D’ Arc is the Dick Butkus of trees. This one decided to take root in the moist, fertile soil under the corn crib, then stretch its branches to the sun to turbocharge its photosynthesis. While laying on its back. This is the south end of the corn crib which is in the process of collapsing. The corrugated metal roofing (aka “roofin’ arn”), leaning on the tree was deposited where it is by a tornado which whistled through a few years back.

While age and the elements have beaten away the the Tarry infrastructure, the great spring-fed fishing pond which has been in its back yard for no-tellin’ how long is alive well and producing “slab crappies” in the spring. Looks like the really good part is holding up well.

fishing pond at Tarry Arkansas

The pond is like it was decades ago, except for the cypress elegantly aging. While I was on this shoot, something big broke water in the pond. A good sign.

SEE MORE PICTURES OF TARRY  Visit our Weekly Grist Galley to see more of Thomas Grocery, the tree, the corn crib, and the barn, plus a couple of others. Guaranteed enjoyment.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

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Old barn, young dog


Cardinal in snow storm

A big male cardinal and a lucky snow flake. This is as shot and adjusted for color. No trickery.

This week, we are sending you back in time

Since the nation is in the grips of the heatwave like few others, this week we are sending you back to a February 2011 snow storm. The storm dumped seven inches or so of the white stuff which set up some good shots.

During the storm we replenished our bird feeder on an accelerated basis much to the delight of a phalanx of neighborhood birds. Probably some non-neighborhood interlopers as well.

Using the house as a blind, the birds paid little attention to us as we fired away. While we are now sweltering, take a gander at a cooler experience.

Click here to see the original  February 13, 2011 Weekly Grist post. Also see the original Corndancer Photo of the Week picture and story. Cool places to click. Here’s the Corndancer link to the story of the barn and dog

Dog on Prarie Road in Cleveland County, Arkansas

This friendly little fellow joined me when I was shooting the barn you see below. The learning curve from his initial and natural caution was shortened when I offered him a few month-old Cheetos I salvaged from the back floorboard of my truck.

old falling barn

Click on the barn to see more pix at Corndancer dot-com

Look now before it’s too late

This epistle is actually about an old barn about to drop, but the young dog who interloped on the shoot seemed to deserve top billing. The cute factor outweighed the rustic and historic value offered by the barn. The old barn tells a familiar story to barn observers.

Find out the details and see another picture of the dog and the barn by going to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. We will wait here while you peruse those details.

Old falling barn

The camera is level. The barn is not. Get a good look while you can.

See more of the barn and dog on our Weekly Grist Gallery

The old barn is southeast of U.S. Highway 79 on Prairie Road in Cleveland County, Arkansas. There is an occupied home on the property, but no one was there when I did the shot, so details are sketchy at best. What’s obvious from the size of the barn is that it was the likely epicenter of a large and prosperous agricultural operation which marketed cash crops and concurrently produced subsistence crops to support family, farm hands and their families, and livestock. You did not commute to work at this farm.

old crumbling barn

You can see the patchwork applied to the barn over the years. Perhaps it delayed the inevitable, but not for long. Wonder if the generous hay loft was ever the site of a "romp in the hay?"

There would have been a number of mules which called the barn home.  A few chickens roosted somewhere inside and there was no doubt a nearby hog pen, corn crib, smoke house and an “out-house.”  Also on the property, cattle probably found shelter in a cow-barn. A trip to the store took a day or more.

At the time, the folks who lived and worked there, I’m thinking, were happy to be there and could not have imagined in their wildest dreams the ultimate fate of their farm and their barn. They worked hard, enjoyed the fruits of their labors, dealt with the underhanded blows delivered by Mother Nature and sometimes their fellow man. And they survived.

Gives one pause to wonder how happiness is defined. Their happy is not our happy. Hmmm. I’m wondering what the next happy will be. And what will be the format of survival?

See more of the barn and dog on our Weekly Grist Gallery

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

A cool country barn


old barn

This is the back side of the old barn. The front side is in substantially better condition.

This old barn in rural Arkansas is well over 100 years old. The man who built it was not yet ten years old when the War Between the States came to an end. See more pictures of the barn and get in on some of the family background where this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot Com, a very cool thing to do. Click here to go there.

To honor the privacy concerns of the barn owners, we are not disclosing their names or the location of the barn past “a barn in rural Arkansas.”

The barn has some unusual characteristics we haven’t encountered on our previous barn adventures. It has a walkway around the outside of the stable side of the barn. Shirley (a pseudonym) whose grandfather built the barn had no explanation of this feature. There had to be a good reason, because in a day when sweat provided power for construction tools instead of electricity, a lot of extra effort was required to build the walkway.

barn walkway

The barn has a walkway around the stable side of the barn. We have yet to figure out what the benefit was to justify this extra effort. Although the room you see is floored, horse and mule stalls are next to it. The barn was still in use in the early fifties.

In one of the rooms on the corn crib side, I spotted some sort of device with a crank and a couple of pulleys connected with a flat belt. Turns out it is a hand-cranked pea-sheller, or as Shirley called it in correct local vernacular, ” … a pea thrasher.”

pea sheller in barn room

The device you see is a hand-cranked pea-sheller more popularly known as a  “pea-thrasher.” Oddly enough, the machine is about the same size as a modern electric version I observed last week at the Purple Hull Pea Festival in Emerson, Arkansas. Some things change slowly.

Under the shed in the back of the barn, near the walkway, there is a feeding trough crafted from a hollowed log, not an easy task. Perhaps it is a reflection Shirley’s of grandfather’s and father’s mindset. Traditional men, they never bought or used a tractor, always depending on mule power to do their farming. She said they quit the farming business in the early fifties when lighting struck and killed their mules. They apparently decided that was a sign to quit. Good thinking.

feeding trough

This feeding trough is built from a hollowed log. Unless the builder got lucky and found a hollow log, this was not a short job. Note the rough-sawed board above the trough. Chances are good that the planks used in this barn were ripped from logs  right on the site.

On Arkansas Highway 9 near the Dallas-Hot Springs county line you will find the pristine Hunter Chapel Methodist Church, built in 1852. The church has regular services and they still accept the deceased in their cemetery. That my friends is what you call staying power.

Hunter Chapel Methodist Church

Hunter Chapel Methodist Church. Members find it ironic that the only liquor store for miles in any direction is directly across the highway from the 158 year old church.

Taking the long way home on Dallas County Road 74 (a long, long, long, and winding gravel road),  a bunch of miles south of Hunters Chapel, you will find Old Cypress Methodist Church, founded in 1886, it is younger than Hunter Chapel by 36 years. The 1800s were good for John Wesley’s folks in these parts it seems.

Old Cypress Methodist Church

Old Cypress Methodist Church, founded in 1886, can be found on Dallas County Road 72. On that road, the church is probably outnumbered by 20 to 1 or better by deer camps.

A few miles from Highway 9 on the aforementioned County Road 74, I ran into a real ass. She had some friends, but they were all camera shy. So look at my beautiful ass.

my beautiful ass

My beautiful Arkansas ass.

Inside of old barn

Click on the picture to see the inside of the barn

But wait, there’s more! More barn pictures, inside and out

Each week, we shoot more than we have room to show, so we post them on our handy high-resolution picture galleries. In these galleries you will see more views of the barn inside and out.

The pictures are bigger and they are better. See everything we shot for this story in color and glorious black and white in gallery one: Click here to go there (This is a flash gallery, so MACs don’t like it). Click here for gallery two which MACs will like. There are 42 pictures in gallery one and 20 in gallery two.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

Standing tall after 101 years


This really is a two-story 101 year-old barn, still standing tall. By way of explanation, this story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see the tall version of the barn and get in on how the story started, click here, a cool thing to do. Trust me on this one.

The barn belongs to the wife of Herman Nutt, master of the domain and my tour guide. He is a good one. A friendly, well-spoken man, he is a retired millwright from a local paper mill. Those guys can fix or build just about anything. Herman told me about the barn and some of its contents. The 66 Ford Fairlane Station Wagon belonged to his late mother-in-law. They elected to hold on to the car and there it is.

You are looking at the livestock side of the barn, above. There were two "rooms." The door to the second "room" is just to the left of the car. The stairs to the second floor are also in that room. It is presumed that one side was for beasts of burdern, horses and mules. And the other side was for cattle.

You are looking at the livestock side of the barn, above. There were two "rooms." The door to the second "room" is just to the left of the car. The stairs to the second floor are also in that room. It is presumed that one side was for beasts of burden horses and mules. And the other side was for cattle.

This is the corn crib and storage side of the barn. It is floored to keep feed, leather tack and other supplies off the ground and as far away from hungry varmints as possible. The hole in the ground on this side attests to that this side still as some attraction to burrowing critters. Herman has, among other things, a hammer mill stored on this side.

This is the corn crib and storage side of the barn. It is floored to keep feed, leather tack and other supplies off the ground and as far away from hungry varmints as possible. The hole in the ground on this side tells us there is still some attraction to critters after 101 years. Herman has, among other things, a hammer mill stored on this side.

Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane. Once the juice was squeezed from the cane, it was cooked over an open fire in a baffled pan.

Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane.

Like many fully employed rural residents, Herman kept busy on his “place.” He raised corn and made meal with his hammer mill. You don’t really have to have a creek and a dam to have a grist mill. If you have a hammer mill and a tractor with a power takeoff, you are in business. Herman was also a syrup maker.

He made sorghum molasses and ribbon cane syrup the old fashioned way. Herman’s syrup mill still stands close to the barn and his home. Although vines seem to have captured the mill, you can still barely see the two large rollers which squeeze the juice from sorghum cane. Once the juice was squeezed from the cane, it was cooked over an open fire in a baffled pan.

The syrup mill to the left is typical. It has two large rollers which squeeze juice from the cane as it passed through the mill. Most of the mills were powered by a mule. Look closely the top of the mill and you will see a connector bar attached to a shaft which goes into the mill and is attached to the drive gears. A stripped sapling or other type of pole is attached to the connector bar and the other end is attached to a mule who walks around a circle to power the mill. Click here and here to see syrup mill simlar to this one. Click  Click here to find out more about syrup mills in general. Thanks Herman for steering us in this direction.

Meandering through the boondocks

Having gathered sufficient pixels to support a story, I headed east, back to my home in the Delta. On the way, I of course, took shortcuts, which in this neck of the woods normally mean gravel roads. That’s not all bad. Most of the gravel roads in Arkansas are pretty good and will support a healthy clip of travel. Plus you make some observations, not available to less adventurous souls.

Gravel roads and wooden bridges are old hat down here. To those in urban areas maybe not. So, take a gander at the wooden bridge on my shortcut.

Gravel roads and wooden bridges are old hat down here. To those in urban areas maybe not. So, take a gander at the wooden bridge on my shortcut.

And finally, a trip in the boondocks is not complete without observing a road sign, the countenance of which has been altered by gunfire. After all boys will be boys, and in our part of the country, there is no closed season on shooting signs. It just seems to be a tradition.

My friendly local firearms and gunfire expert tells me the smaller holes were punched with nicely placed 30-.06 rounds and the gash was imposed with a 12 guage shotgun, up close and personal.

My friendly local firearms and gunfire expert tells me the smaller holes were punched with nicely placed 30-.06 rounds and the gash was imposed with a 12 gauge shotgun, up close and personal. Boys will be boys.

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe