Ogle this store, and more

Ogles store front

Ogles Store at Collins, Arkansas sold its first piece of merchandise in 1874. Doy Ogle, grandson of the original proprietor, John Ogle, owns and operates the store today. The store's inventory includes more than the average person can imagine. Here we see shovels, a wheelbarrow wheel, a cricket box, fishing poles, extension cord, vacuum cleaner, wheel ring, a chain hoist, and other whatchamacallits and doo-dads which defy description.

 Ogles Store in Collins, Arkansas is the only game in town. The closest other stores are 15 miles west and eight miles east. It wasn’t always that way. Not long after Ogles opened its doors in 1874, there were seven other stores in Collins all vying for the same customers. Now 137 years later, Ogles is still at it which tells us that they’ve been doing something right since the git-go. Collins is south of Seven Devils Swamp, west of Dermott, Arkansas, and east of Monticello, Arkansas, just in case you were curious.

Doy Ogle

Click on Doy Ogle for more Ogle Store pictures

Ogle more at Ogles

This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Go there to get in on the start of this story and see pictures of the inside of the store. Also get  a bit more store information. We’ll wait here while you visit.

To get into the store, you must stroll through merchandise displayed at the approach to the front door. As you look at what’s offered, you know you are not shopping at the average store. Let’s face it. Where else could you find fuel cans, circular saw blades, antique signs, a trailer hitch, a kitchen canister, a couple of old bug sprayers, an extension cord, a child’s stool, and a sledge hammer all conveniently arranged for immediate inspection? Precious few I suspect.

table of merchandise at country store

The east outdoor shopping display at the entrance to Ogles Store. If you are of a curious nature, Ogles is like a candy store for persons of your ilk.

When you reach the front door, the selections continue. Clothing, fireplace tools, extension cords, a drill press next to a floor lamp and more. You also see a plethora of signs and notifications on the front doors. Do not despair, you will not be tested on the content of these.

See more pictures of Ogles store plus more from this trip on our Weekly Grist Gallery

Front door at Ogles

A whole world lies waiting behind door number one.

Cruising through south Arkansas, my main image hunting grounds, I find subjects to which I will return when the light is better or when I have time to make the shot. The old store at Coleman, Arkansas was high on that list and has now been checked off. The old gas pump, home-made window grids, “coal-oil” pump were too much to resist.

Old store front at Coleman Arkansas

The "coal-oil" pump and the gas pump at Coleman Store at Coleman, Arkansas are easy to explain. The potty, I'm not so sure. At least it is a good place to take a seat out of the 100° sun.

 At the junction of Arkansas Highways 277 and 54, you will find Coleman Store, at Coleman Arkansas. Congratulations. You and I can find it, but Google can’t. They don’t know what they are missing, which is a fine old store.

Home made campaign sign

Several miles further south, less than a quarter of a mile from one of our favorite places, Selma Methodist Church, at Selma Arkansas, the 2012 campaign has kicked off — with Krylon and the side of a barn.

Critters do what they can to beat the heat. This nice looking buckskin is standing in the pond, probably pondering the idea of venturing deeper. His cow friends will have no such trepidations. They will go leg-deep into a pond in a heart beat.

buckskin in a pond

Come on in, the water's fine. Honest. Notice the bare ground at the edge of the pond. Where the grass starts is the normal water line. It's been a while since south Arkansas has had a significant rain. My buddies down in Cleveland County tell me it's so dry they're catching catfish out of the Saline River with ticks on 'em.

See more pictures  from this trip on our Weekly Grist Gallery

Tall cotton

Almost everyone has heard the term "standin' in tall cotton." Well friends, this is real-live tall cotton. The outside rows nearly hit me in the chin and I am 6-3" tall. (Formerly 6-6" tall until the onset of multiple birthdays).

On the way home, sunset started happening at McGehee, Arkansas. The sun had dipped behind the fine cypress trees in Wiley McGehee Memorial park on the west side of U.S. Highway 65.

Sun behind cypress at Wiley McGehee Memorial Park

Sunset behind the cypress at Wiley McGehee Memorial Park, McGehee, Arkansas. Nice.

I arrived just in time to catch the sun behind the trees and sun colors across the deer grass and water in which the cypress stand. The timing was dumb luck and perfect. The Lord continues to take care of fools and drunks.

Selma Methodist Church

Click on the church for more pictures

SEE MORE on our Weekly Grist Gallery.

More store. More of this trip including Selma Methodist Church – 29 pictures in all in a larger format.

See a curious cow, the highway patrol and wreckers at the site of an 18 wheeler breakdown and more in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Joe Dempsey

Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.



Sauntering through the delta

Cotton field ripe for picking.

Cotton field ripe for picking.

After discovering the tire man, there was daylight left to burn so I headed east on Arkansas Hwy 1. In a few miles, I encountered a cotton field, ” … ripe unto harvest. “Recalling that more than a few readers, not privy to southern agriculture, enjoyed seeing soybeans up close and personal a couple of weeks ago, I did some cotton shots. It’s old hat to those of us in these parts.

Cotton in the field, up close and personal

Cotton in the field, up close and personal.

To those not so familiar, take a look at your new sheets or shirt in the rough.

After cotton is picked it goes to a gin which essentially spits seed and trash out one side and bales of cotton out the other, thanks to ol’ Eli Whitney. He first filed his patent for what is now known as the cotton gin in 1794. Time flies when you are having fun. But it was not as much fun for Whitney as one might think, of an inventor who presented the world with what is known as one of the most important developments of “the industrial age.” His machine was relatively simple and easy to pirate. And so it was. He complained to Congress and they more or less ignored him. Life goes on.

Cotton gin fallen to disuse. The rust is slowly winning.

Cotton gin fallen to disuse. The rust is slowly winning.

Years ago, as late as the early and mid sixties, there were a plethora of gins in cotton country. As transportation and gin technology advanced, newer larger, more centrally located gins began to corner the market. Now one sees a lot of older gins no longer in use.  They have become case studies in ferrous oxide (rust to the non-chemically oriented). Before electricity saturated rural areas, many gins operated on power from internal combustion engines. One clever operator in our area was reported to have powered his gin with a WWII war-surplus tank engine.

Historical marker at Watson AR.

Historical marker at Watson AR.

Back on the road, I pulled into a small Delta town with rich historical roots, Watson AR. Prior to 1874, the nearby town of Napoleon was the county seat of Desha (Dee-shay) County. Unfortunately, the rampaging Mississippi River gobbled up Napoleon, and the county was not ready for, nor equipped to operate with an underwater county seat. So the county seat was moved to Watson. But just for a few years. Now the county seat is at Arkansas City to the south of Watson. Arkansas City had it’s brush with the Mississippi River as well. Once a vibrant, bustling, river port town on the Mississippi, it was left 13 miles inland from the river after the infamous 1927 flood. With no commerce, the town dwindled, but is alive and well today.

Bonnie's Cafe on Front Street in Watson AR.

Bonnie's Cafe, Watson AR

What remains of Watson today is a nice, southern town. I found Bonnie’s Cafe in Watson. I took a peek in the window and determined that Bonnie’s Cafe is alive and well, but closed on Sunday afternoon. The “open” sign was laying on one of the tables in readiness for welcoming Monday’s customers. Though I could not enter the cafe, I could see the checkered table cloths on a cluster of tables. The back wall decor is a collection of old tools. Live, not plastic, plants adorn the windows.

Peeking in Bonnie's front window.

Me, peeking in Bonnie's front window.

A couple of recycled van seats on the front porch  provide creature comfort for lingering customers, or more likely, those waiting to be seated inside.

If my guess is right, Bonnie’s does a good business from a phalanx of loyal and grateful customers. I’ll also bet the kitchen has more than one well-seasoned cast iron skillet.

Shopping centers and mega stores may lure retail customers away from small towns, but these corporate giants cannot under any known circumstances stand toe-to-toe with a good down home southern country cafe. I intend to verify my suspicions of Bonnie’s culinary prowess, armed with a well-honed case of the galloping hungritis. I’ll report back.

Thanks for dropping by,


%d bloggers like this: