A day across Arkansas


Carl Blackwell with restored gasoline engines

Carl Blackwell of Wynne, Arkansas proudly stands beside some of his stable of restored gasoline engines at the 37th Annual Grand Prairie Rice Festival at Hazen, Arkansas on October 26, 2013. These engines were popular in the first half of the twentieth century in non-electrified rural areas where they were used to power generators, grist mills, pumps, and just about anything else that need rotary power to work. As electric service spread to rural areas, the engines fell from favor. Restoring these engines has become a popular niche avocation and Mr. Blackwell is one of the finest practitioners of the genre.

Carl Blackwell of Wynne, Arkansas is a master tinkerer, machinist, and restorer. I visited with Carl at the Grand Prairie Rice Festival in Hazen, Arkansas where he displayed several of his collection of old gasoline power units he has personally restored to working order.  It comes naturally to Carl. He is a retired machine shop supervisor and has a precision lathe and milling machine at his place in Wynne, Arkansas.

Restored and operating Star gasoline power unit

When Carl Blackwell starts an engine restoration project and can’t find the parts he needs, he goes to work and makes the parts. This restored Star engine is a prime example of Carl’s expertise. After he started the restoration process, he could not find parts for the cylinder head valve mechanism, (the round thing in front of the silver thing, and most of the parts around it), so he went to work and made the parts. As you can see the engine is fully functional.

St. Mary's Church at St. Vincent Arkansas

Click on the church to see how the story started.

We are chronicling a one-day trip through the heart of Arkansas. The story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com at St. Vincent, Arkansas, where we took a look at fine country church. Take a look to get in on the start of the story.

This was our second visit to St. Vincent. On the first visit, we showed you a barn with an ecclesiastical message, which was down the road from LBJ’s Beer and Groceries. There is a nice distribution of cultural icons in St. Vincent where everyone seems to get along just fine, thank you very much,

Back to the trip

Carl Blackwell was toward the end of the trip, but he was so interesting, I decided to start this epistle with him. After we left St. Vincent, we saw barns and other sights and scenes as we headed toward the Grand Prairie Rice Festival at Hazen where we visited with Carl. Here’s what we saw on the way:

entrance to field with overhead flags

Here, we were trying to figure out if we arrived too early or too late. Those, it seems, were the only choices given that sense of abandonment.

Old horse barn

Not far from the flags, we saw this old barn, which we presume was a horse/mule barn due to the height. Normally the big doors on a horse barn were tall enough to accommodate a human on a horse. Note the abandoned disc harrow in the foreground.

Old rural utility building

After turning down a likely-looking gravel road we found this old utility building. It was probably a small barn that had something to do with livestock. We conjecture that due to the fencing on the property.

old rural utility bulding with blue sky background

More of the same with a different look. The still standing night-watcher light is disconnected.

old school bus with curtains

Here in the mid-south, it is not unusual to see old school busses converted to deer camp shelters or other use. This one has been curtained, and not moved for a while. The lettering on the bus says: “Licking Heights Local School District.” I Googled that name and discovered that Licking Heights Local School District is in Ohio. Folks, it’s quite a stretch between Mid-Ohio and Springfield, Arkansas. No telling how the bus arrived here.

dog

As I was shooting the bus, one of the neighbor’s pups dropped by for a look. Looks like he has some greyhound in his background. He was friendly, but suspicious.

restored 1938 C Model Case Tractor

After the bus and dog, we transitioned to Hazen, Arkansas to barely arrive at the 37th Grand Prairie Rice Festival with a little time to spare before the event closed. We’ve been there before and it was fun. There were a lot of antique tractors including this 1938 Case C Model.

back side of case 1938 c model tractor

This is the back side of the Case C model. In the background, you can catch a glimpse of a gigantic 24-ton antique, fully operational 1919 Fairbanks-Morse Type Y Vertical Oil Engine. You can see the engine in operation at Corndancer dot-com.

case combine harvesting rice

Exhibitors were folding their tents as we left the festival. South of Hazen we found a rice harvest underway. There were three combines in this field. They were trying to beat an incoming storm. If you are into four-wheel drive vehicles, this is the ultimate high-horsepower get-in-the-big-middle-of-it-vehicle. Entry level exceeds 800 grand and you need a lot of level muddy ground.

We digress from the trip

After the combine we made it safely to the carport. We will fast forward from this trip of October 26, 2013 to November 1, 2013 when we saw a tree full of shoes at Sardis, Arkansas. While this is out of the purview of our original trip, due to the shock value of a tree full of shoes, we include the picture below. If you want to see more details, see our Sardis Shoe Tree gallery.

Somehow you simply do not expect to find a tree full of shoes. Except if you are in Sardis, Arkansas. Then, it is an everyday occurrence.

Somehow you simply do not expect to find a tree full of shoes. Except if you are in Sardis, Arkansas. Then, it is an everyday occurrence.

Thanks for joining the trip. We have observed scenes seen by few — and seen by many — but probably not in the same day. That’s the beauty of cyber traveling.

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

Dogs, cats, kids, folks


Black kitten with Santa at the Humane Society photo session

This wide-eyed little fur ball’s patience was growing thin as we fired away. This was the lucky shot. His objections prevented further exposures.

Santa holding Schnauzer

Click on Santa and pooch to see more pix and how this story started.

Every year about this time I shoot dogs. Now before you go apoplectic and dial 911, calm down. No firearms are involved and it is all for a good cause.

In fact, cats, kids, parents, grandparents, and perhaps neighbors and friends may also willingly become targets during the annual Humane Society of Jefferson County (Arkansas) Photo Shoot at Margland Bed and Breakfast in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. It gets even better. Said participants pay for prints, the proceeds of which go to support the noble work of the Humane Society volunteers.

This being a two-part story, you can see how it all started on the Corndancer Photo of the Page. We’ll wait here while you look.

Santa with rescue dog

This boy is educated. He is a graduate of the Paws in Prison program of the Arkansas Department of Correction. Next week he is headed to his forever home in New Hampshire courtesy of the Humane Society of Jefferson County,

Think local

The Humane Society of Jefferson County, like similar local Humane Societies across the nation, is dependent on local support to do the good work they  do. These volunteer heroes do the grunt work. They take care of dogs and cats who have been summarily rejected, tossed away, and abandoned. They are often the recipients of litters resulting from the inaction of irresponsible owners. They hunt homes for pets. They take them to their homes as foster pets. They relentlessly seek out “forever” homes for their charges. They feed ‘em. They walk ‘em. The genuinely care for them.

Given the depth of service provided by these local Humane Societies, dropping some currency in their coffers is a good idea this time of year.

Grandmother and cat in Santa's lap

It’s never too late to experience one of life’s simple pleasures. sitting in Santa’s lap. Mamma seems to savor the experience, while the cat is ready to cease and desist with the least dispatch.

This family proudly displays their pet pack of two. One home boy and one rescue, both of whom seem to be grateful for the arrangements.

This family proudly displays their pet pack of two. One home boy and one rescue, both of whom seem to be grateful for the arrangements. One of the attending volunteers proudly announced that the “lump” is her grandchild.

Santa with dog

Santa is into the moment and the dog appears to believe he is sitting for an executive portrait. It takes all kinds.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

Click on Santa and the dog for more pictures

Click on Santa and the dog for more pictures

PS: See more in our Weekly Grist Gallery

 There are more pictures available in our Weekly Grist Gallery if you are inclined to see more dogs and happy people. Click here to see what you have missed.

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I never promised you a rose garden, but you got one anyway


Old chevy truck and roses

The former gas island at Joe Webb's Auto Repair is now an unlikely rose garden, proving that beauty can blunt the edge of ugly and look cool when properly applied. We've shown you this before, but somehow, it just seemed right to feature it again.

Things you do not expect to see

It’s not often that you observe an old gas station pump island enclosed in a razor-wire-topped chain-link fence and converted to a rose planter. However at Webb’s Auto Service in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, seeing the unusual is well, usual. This bit of horticultural presence came about at the capable hands of Vicki, the bookkeeper, office manager, gardener, and in-house ray of sunshine at Webb’s. This is not our first visit to Webb’s Auto Service, check out our previous post here.

basset hound

Click on the dog to see another picture of her

Among other things you do not expect to see is a gate with a Basset Hound nose hole. However, at Dick Warriner’s domicile, like Joe Webb’s garage, seeing the unusual is, well, also usual.

Dick replaced his old gate which did not have the imaginative orifice you see below. In a moment of brilliance, he modified the new gate to accommodate Lillie, his Basset Hound. She is appreciative of her leader’s thoughtfulness as you can see below.

Lillie is a rescue dog, and like most rescues, has proven to be a loyal and rewarding companion. She came to the Chez Warriner suffering from the ill-effects of protracted neglect. To her credit, despite her less-than-ideal condition, her tail-wagging mechanism worked well as did her built-in Basset mournful look which will melt the heart of all but the most calloused and hopeless people. As you can see, things are going well for her now. See another picture of Lillie and get in on the start of this story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

Bassett Hound looks out a hole in a gate

Lillie, the Basset Basset Hound peers out a hole in a gate. The hole was placed where it is so she can do exactly what she is doing.

 Sometimes, even plants can send a message. Here some vastly different plants seem to enjoy each others presence the same environment. It appears that their joint efforts have choked out the weeds.

clover and butter cups

These wild flowers seem to be sending a message.

Out-of-the-ordinary stuff provides some of the cheapest entertainment available. It’s simply a matter of allowing one’s self to stumble across it. Happy stumbling this week.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey,
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

A drive-thru barn and other eccentricities


Old barn and dogs

This old barn straddles Glenn Squires' driveway just off Cash Mountain Road in Hot Spring County, Arkansas. You can catch a glimpse of his house through the back of the barn. The yellow lab is Glenn's dog. The Boston Terrier relieving himself at the corner of the barn belongs to Linda Hanks, a neighbor from across the road. We think no less of the pooch. When you gotta go, you gotta go. The three of us, plus the dogs made a social event out of the barn shoot.

You  purely and simply do not see a driveway to a residence snaking through an old barn every day. In fact, unless you happen to proceed down Cash Mountain Road in Hot Spring County, Arkansas, the probability of seeing such a phenomenon is slim to none. At least that’s been my experience to date.

Barn with driveway through it

See more of the barn at Corndancer dot-com

The driveway and barn belong to Glenn Squires and his family. He was kind enough to not only allow me to photograph his barn, but accompanied me while I did the deed.

To see more pictures of the barn inside and out — and get in on the story of shoot, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started. We’ll wait on you right here. We also are grateful to photographer Fred Garcia, who first shot the barn, for revealing the location.

driveway through barn

As you are driving through the barn to reach the Squires domicile, this is what you see. It is large enough to pass a full-size pickup, but it is a good idea to hold the wheel steady as you do lest you get into a scrape with history. The Boston Terrier decided the gravel was cooler inside the barn than out. Glenn Squires' yellow lab can barely be seen to the left.

I wound through the countryside toward my destination aided by maps and an iPhone with a really cool map function. Replete with my faith that I always stumble on something you don’t see every day, I took Reynolds Creek Road off U.S. Highway 67 north of Malvern as my jumping off place. Sure enough I ran up on a giant wheel in front of an old tree.

dead tree and wheel

At first blush, I could not figure out what the wheel was or why it was there. Further and cautious investigation led me to believe that this is the entrance to an unmanned country junk-yard.

 It was not until I enlarged the pictures that I finally figured out what the wheel was. The moment was one of those slap your head, stoop your shoulders instants of clarity and revelation when you feel dumb.

large wheel agains dead tree

Upon closer examination when I enlarged the picture, I discovered the wheel is part of a pole gate. The wheel rolls and lo, the gate closes. Pole gates, for the uninitiated, consist of a heavy-pipe or pipe framework on some sort of hinge mechanism designed to limit access to roads and driveways. They don't work well where there is man-portable booty behind the gate, but work fine to limit miscreant vehicular access to large, heavy stuff, or to merely deny entry to vehicles. Deer clubs and forestry companies love 'em.

barn and sky

Click on the barn for our Weekly Grist Gallery

Weekly Grist Gallery

To get to Cash Mountain Road, I had to travel up Gourd Neck Valley Road from Old Military Road. You will not be tested on this. At the junction of Old Military and Gourd Neck, I found a younger cousin to the target barn.

It was badly back lit, so I resorted to post-processing skullduggery to get an acceptable image for your review. See the “doctored” barn and more pictures of the barn with the driveway through it in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Name that affiliation

Since political artillery is exploding all around us, it is appropriate that we take a look at how certain natural elements may reveal political proclivities. The tree below could be one of those.

right leaning tree

Can anyone venture a guess as to the political persuasion of this tree?

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

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 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

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE … DOGS

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

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

Shaggy cattle, firetrucks and a dog


Scottish Highland Cattle

Bambi, a Scottish Highland cow leads Clint, a bull, and Blondie, a cow toward the camera. Clint and Blondie are also of the Scottish Highland ilk. They are residents of Jimmy MIchael's Farm on County Road 77 in Grant County, Arkansas. Despite threatening looks, these are friendly critters.

Scottish Highland Cattle

See more pictures, get more info.

You do not see a lot of commercially raised cattle with horns these days. Except for Scottish Highland cattle. According to Jimmy Michael who raises Scottish Highland cattle on his 127 acre farm on County Road 77 in Grant County, Arkansas, it’s traditional. Breeders don’t mess with their horns.

The hardy breed is noted for its even temperament . In any case, they are shaggy, friendly, and legendary for their endurance. Their following is small but enthusiastic. The story of Jimmy and his cattle started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Click here to go there and get in on more pictures and Jimmy’s story. We’ll wait here while you look.

Upon departing Jimmy Michael’s farm, I headed north on Stage Coach Road which runs through the Grant County boondocks. It is mostly gravel. I saw some smoke ahead and in a few minutes came upon a group of water tanker trucks on the side of the road. Ahead of those a few hundred yards was a real, live fire truck with its red lights blazing. I stopped, but the firefighters waved me through. I stopped again to chat, naturally, and discovered that there had been a serious brush fire, but the intrepid Cane Creek Volunteer Fire Department fire fighters had about whipped it to a standstill.

Fire truck and fire fighers

Members of the Cane Creek Volunteer Fire Department are departing the scene after bringing a serious brush fire under control.

As I continued the conversation, I discovered that I was not talking to a fire fighter but an official of the Arkansas Forestry Commission, James Wagner,  in attendance at the scene. Once the fire conversation died down, since I figured rare trees rang his bell,  I told him about Gerald Ware’s venerable Bois d’ Arc tree on his place near Greenwood, Arkansas. Check the tree out here and here. It is amazing.

James Wagner, Cocoa and James Henry

James Wagner, Cocoa, and James Henry waxing eloquent about dogs, fires, and the weather while the remnants of the fire smolder in the background.

In the middle of the bois d’ arc conversation, a guy drives up in on a four-wheeler with a dog in his lap. He and the dog look like this is not the first four-wheeler ride for either. The rider is James Henry who lives nearby. Fortunately his property escaped the recent blaze. His dog, Cocoa, was abandoned and James was the dog’s rescuer. According to James, the dog has more than reciprocated his kindness. “There’s not a better dog on the face of the earth,” he says.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

donkeys

See more pictures including these critters and more

Take a look at our Weekly Gallery and see more of what we shot on this trip. More cows. More dog and four-wheeler, some donkeys, and another shot of ol’ Jimmy Michael. These pictures are not available anywhere else. Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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

Back to Smead


There’s just too much for one trip

old barn at Smead AR

This old horse barn at Smead, Arkansas, was built in the early 1900s according to Bob Abbott, whose grandfather lived, worked, raised eight children and died on the home place where the barn sits. The shed overhang to the left was not part of the original structure.

This is the second week we’ve visited the old home place at Smead, Arkansas, a first in the Weekly Grist collection of epistles. So much to shoot and such short days. Last week we shot the house and some out buildings. The barn is typical of the era. Get a good description of the barn and see three more pictures where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a cool thing to do. We’ll wait here while you look.

Small friendly, super cool dog

small dog

When you arrive at the old home place, you are immediately checked out and greeted by this small ambassador for the Dodson family. She appears to be mostly rat terrier.

In the south, no rural home is complete without at least one dog. Really enlightened residents have more than one dog. This place is one of those.

The dog in the picture is the smaller and friendlier of the two. She appears to believe that each different human being is a new two-legged toy. We have a Rottweiler with that mentality.

She appears to be mostly rat terrier with a few neighborhood friends and neighbors tossed in to keep the gene pool well diversified. Most of these smaller terrier dogs I’ve seen are frenetic barkers. Not this one. She followed me around and watched what I did. When I beckoned her, she came forth to lick me and be scratched and petted in return. We then went on our ways, me to shoot, and her to watch until the next affection session. What a concept!

Inside the barn, the patina of age

One can only admire the sturdy construction of this great barn. Now clocking along for 90-plus years, it is wearing well.

stall gate inside barn

Nothing fancy here, but strong and functional. The gate latch was supplemented, no doubt by a small chain. Look at the indentation in the second gate slat from the right and you will see a where the chain wore the wood. The small chain snap-link above the wooden latch competed the chain circuit. Since the wooden latch was reachable by a child, the chain provided the insurance to keep critters and kids in their proper and respective places.

Detailed look

Taking a closer look at the gate latch, you can see the tool marks where the craftsman made the latch by hand.

hand hewn latch

Look closely to see the hand-hewn tool marks on this 90-plus year old latch. DeWalt, Ryobi, and Black and Decker and the like were not even a figment of anyone's imagination when the craftsman carved away everything that was not a gate latch. It still works. End of story.

Never fixed and probably a good thing

ladder repair needed

We conjectured that a cantankerous mule or horse probably dispatched the lower rung and upright of the loft ladder in the barn. "It's been that way since I can remember," says Bob Abbott. His grandfather was the owner of the barn. That broken rung probably kept Bob and his siblings out of that loft while they were still at a tender age, but charged with curiosity which nearly always results in cuts, bruises and breaks. A wise and discerning Grandpa takes advantage of such a barrier.

Smead kids went to Holly Springs School

Holly Springs School

This was Holly Springs School where Smead kids got their first exposure to the three "R's."

A few miles east of Smead is another small community, Holly Springs. Unlike Smead, Holly Springs is alive and well with a church and a well-managed community store. It’s not big, but it is a good community. The old school building above, after a round of school consolidation and a stint as a community center, now belongs to a local church.

According to local sources the school was built in 1930 or 31. Prior to this building, grades one-twelve were taught in an older frame structure. Grades one through eight were taught in this school. Students in grades nine through twelve were bussed to Sparkman, Arkansas. The roads, then, not being what they are not, did not facilitate rapid movement of the buses. Long waits for short rides were de rigueur for the times.

Amazingly, the aggregation of unsupervised young Arkansans charged with pre-pubescent energy, with too much time on their hands (the older ones were just beginning to feel hormonal stirrings), did not perpetrate a wave of juvenile misbehavior. A normal set of circumstances 60 years ago. A bizarre miracle now.

More pictures

Sixteen pictures from eight gigs of shots made the short list for this story. Not all of them made the cut. Click here to see a high-resolution gallery of all 16 shots including the smoke house with moss on the roof, a second shot of the old smoke house, and old broken brick and the old home.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

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