There goes the neighborhood (again)


old house falling down

Click on the old house for our original post.

A couple of years ago about this time I wandered into Lincoln County, Arkansas and plied its gravel roads in search of a story. I found a couple of old houses barely visible from the road — infested with a cubic acre or so of mosquitoes.

Fortunately I had slathered my person liberally with Deep Woods Off, AKA “skeeter-dope” in LA (lower Arkansas), so the pesky winged miscreants got close, but did not taste my blood. I was tipped off to the old houses by a big “home place tree.” See the tree and read the start of this story on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com.

While I was shooting the crumbling ruins, a big storm was brewing to the west, a fact I discovered after I left the mosquitoes and piled back into the truck. The storm was close enough that I got a couple of storm shots. Then the emergency broadcast squealer sounded and announced that certain parts of Jefferson County to the north were under a tornado warning. The description of the subject real estate included my neighborhood so I lit a shuck toward home.

On the outskirts of Pine Bluff, the radio guy said the storm had veered east. I called my spousal unit and discovered that our residence was safe. Thus relieved, I decided to chase the storm. The chase was fruitless as far as seeing a tornado, but I did manage to grab a few storm shots, which you can see on our original Weekly Grist post. When you get there, be sure and click on the Weekly Grist Gallery link at the end of the story for more pictures.

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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A cool country barn redux


Old country barn

The man who built this barn was around 10 years old at the end of the War Between the States.. His descendants agreed for me to photograph it and gave me a few details about the structure. Our story includes some detailed pictures of the barn's innards.

We’ve been here before

But some things bear a second look. There has been recent interest expressed in photographing and documenting old barns. It’s nice to know I am no longer alone in this pursuit. Turns out there is a National Barn Alliance too.

I did this story originally in July, 2010. At that time the structure of the original building was sound for the most part. As you can see, you can’t say as much for the add-ons that are omnipresent in most southern barns I see. Let’s hope not much has changed in a couple of years. See our original Cool Country Barn post here.

Be sure and see the original Corndancer Photo of the Week story as well.

Click here for a gallery of 20 pictures of the old barn including inside the structure plus a couple of old churches and a surprise critter.

Click here for a gallery of 42 color and black and white pictures of the barn, plus a churches and critter. This is a flash gallery which Macintosh computers don’t like.

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

St. Boniface again


St. Boniface Church near Bigelow Arkansas

Click on the church for the original story.

Just now recovering from a bout with an undesirable “upper respiratory infection,” and having absolutely no desire to precipitate a self-destructive relapse, I remained confined to quarters when I would normally venture forth to capture new images and their  accompanying stories.

Fortunately back in February 2010, I was in well enough and visited the Dixie community in central Arkansas, home to the outstanding St. Boniface Catholic Church, a favored target of most discerning Arkansas photographers.

Winter is a good time to shoot the historic structure since there is good light unfettered by a lot of tree foliage. So we are sending you to see that story again.

The original story at Corndancer dot-com reveals a lot of details about the church and some additional pictures. The Weekly Grist story for that week shows you the other stuff we usually grab in the neighborhood of a shoot.

The other stuff

After the church shot, we wandered around the area recording other images including another old church, a leaning building, and a cool moon shot over Lake Maumelle, Arkansas, where I raced sailboats in a former life. See all of the pictures plus more from the trip in our photo-only Weekly Grist Gallery last March.

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

Save the Saenger


Originally posted in September 2011

Saenger Theater Pine Bluff AR

The 87-year-old Saenger Theater in Pine Bluff, Arkansas needs attention and needs it fast. Fortunately, a group of local supporters have organized and are raising money to stabilize and save the structure for eventual renovation to its former glory.

The long suffering Saenger Theater in Pine Bluff, Arkansas is enjoying renewed attention just in the nick of time. Little Rock video producer Chris Cranford got wind of the aging structure’s plight and put a video together detailing the predicament of the ailing edifice. It worked. The video touched more than a few nerves and stirred up substantial interest in rescuing the building from sure and certain disaster in the absence of attention. Now, more than 1,650 people are signed on to the “Save our Saenger” Facebook page and the Pine Bluff area is dotted with billboards soliciting support.

August 3, 2014 update

The city now owns the Saenger and is taking steps to stabilize it to slow down the forces of nature and age.

The Post Office Lunchery

Click on the picture for old building pix.

See the Saenger’s neighbors

Before we go too much further, may we suggest that you take a look at the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started.

You’ll see some of the theaters neighboring structures including the venerable old “Post Office Lunchery.” You’ll also get a few opinions on old buildings versus the newer ones. We’ll wait here until you return.

The theater was more than a venue for movies. Vaudeville acts performed there along with other entertainment. It had a classic theater organ which would rumble the foundation. Thousands of attendees got their first taste of film entertainment in the grand old structure. It was the destination for countless “first dates,” and no-doubt was the site of at least hundreds of first stolen kisses.

See more pictures of the Saenger, the Community Theater, and other historic Pine Bluff buildings in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Exterior decor of Pine Bluff Saenger Theater

This bad boy under the Saenger flag pole has been on the job since November of 1924. Wonder what’s on his mind?

Though the theater has been dark for decades, say the word “Saenger” around Pine Bluff and you’ll probably trigger a recitation of recalled memories. I can remember my jaw dropping and roar of the crowd when Hawkeye and Trapper John dropped the shower curtain on Hot-Lips Houlihan and crew.

Pine Bluff Saenger Theater exterior decor

The arches above the windows on the front of the theater are in good condition and still show the attention to detail that is the hallmark of Saenger Theaters.

 The details you see on the outside of the Saenger give you an idea of the former opulence inside. It was spacious with cathedral class ceilings and well appointed with all of the nooks and crannies reminiscent of an era when tiny little details and ornate decor were the order of the day. If the Saenger supporters have their way, we may yet see this opulence again.

See more pictures of the Saenger, the Community Theater, and other historic Pine Bluff buildings in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

side entrance to Harlow Sanders Cotton Company

You gotta love the “Pointy” doors at the former home of the Harlow Sanders Cotton Company in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

Just a couple of blocks away is the building which last housed the Harlow Sanders Cotton Company. I’m not sure what it was before it was the cotton company, but no doubt will hear from someone and can add that information when it comes in. The building has three “pointy” doors (for lack of a better word), this one is on the side, the other two are on the front.

Back entrance to the Henry Marx Company building

This has to be the fanciest back door in town. The building was last used commercially by the Henry Marx Company of Pine Bluff, the building owner. It now is home to a downtown church.

 You don’t find many windows like the ones you see in the upper floor of the Henry Marx Company building at West 5th Avenue and Main Street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.The designer apparently wanted to achieve a unique look which probably gave a window maker fits as compared to a garden variety window with only two panes. Fits or not, the designer and the window maker were successful. Now there’s that little bit of art in our downtown. Just look up to see it.

Henry Marx Company bulding

The windows have a unique design. Wonder why the one on the right side of the sign is different? What were they thinking? Did the window maker pull a fast one?

art deco doors

Click on the doors for more pictues

SEE MORE pictures including

the Saenger, the Community Theater, and several other historic structures in downtown Pine Bluff, including the old Post Office Lunchery, in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

You’ll see some close up details most folks overlook. There are 31 new pictures of old stuff, some with lingering opportunities. Click and see.

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

110 years old, in the family, the second time around


puppies at old house

These are Angie Ledbetter’s puppies. The pups’ mother moved them from the Chez Ledbetter to the nearby ancestral home of the Garners, her great grandparents and grand parents. There is one more puppy who was bashful and missed the photo-op. They have a severe case of cute.

Note: See more pictures of the pups in our Weekly Grist Gallery

If you blink, you may miss the Garner Place off Arkansas Highway 128 in the Lonsdale community. The original Garners built the first residence on the place as homesteaders sometime in the mid 1800s. The structure below was built and first occupied sometime between the late 1800s and 1901 according to Myrna Garner, widow of the late Robert “Bob” Garner, who was born in the home, a grandson to the original Garners. His final resting place is on the premises.

old farm house

The Garner Place off Arkansas Highway 128 in the Lonsdale community. The Garner family takes a great deal of pride in their ancestral headquarters. So do their puppies.

Old rocking chair under porch roof

See more Garner House pictures at Corndancer dot-com

It’s not every family that has a 110-year-old plus crown jewel of family heritage, where the fifth generation can hang their hat and say, this is where I came from. The late Bob Garner and his wife Myrna had that in mind back in 1974 when they bought the place back.

Seems in the early 50s Garner’s siblings were anxious to sell the old place and divide the spoils. There were 300 acres and the house which they hoped would bring a princely sum.

The property was auctioned off for less than a third of what it was worth. Before we go much further, may I suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com and see some more pictures of the old home and get in on the start of the story. We’ll wait here.

Bob Garner never forgot about the property and always wanted it back. Then in 1974, he got a call from his father who informed him that the people who bought the place were putting it on the market. Garner and Myra lived in Florida at the time, but Garner let no grass grow under his feet. He returned to Arkansas, made an offer and convinced the friendly local bankers to loan him the necessary moo-lah to close the deal. It all came together and the Garner place was THE Garner place again. See more pictures of the house in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

old gnarled tree

The gnarled old tree at the side of the house, surviving against the odds, is symbolic of the Garner resolve to bring the original family place back into the family fold.

 The Garners, led by Angie Ledbetter, daughter of Myrna and Bob have plans to stabilize the parts of the structure not deteriorated and repair what is needed. First on the list is to rebuild the porch which they tore out after a friend had an unseemly crash-through on the original equipment. According to Myrna they are scouting for old lumber to maintain the character of the home. Sounds about right from what I’ve learned about the Garners.

 

As we reported on Corndancer Photo of the Week page, the old home site is the Bob Garner’s final resting place. His mausoleum endured a crashing tree during the recent rash of Arkansas storms. The mausoleum survived. A couple of weeks ago, while traveling south of England, Arkansas, we encountered a similar set of circumstances. Both near misses. Perhaps the Almighty is reminding us who is in charge.

fallen tree beside grave

A near miss at a church cemetery south of England, Arkansas. The Almighty making sure we mere mortals do not forget who is in charge. Very convincing.

old barn

I drove on Cash Mountain Road as I meandered in the direction of the Garner Place and found still yet another old barn. You just can’t see too many.

See more pictures of the barn in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Parting shot

Traveling through the hinterlands of Arkansas and nearby states, one occasionally runs up on some narrow bridges. I found one in Saline County, Arkansas northwest of Glen Rose that takes the record. My truck and a bicycle would not safely nor successfully negotiate the bridge with out grievous personal injury and dings.

pickup truck on narrow bridge

Tight ain’t it?

But wait, there’s more

old barn

See more pictures in the Weekly Grist gallery

See our Weekly Grist gallery with more puppy pictures, another view of the tree on the grave, another barn picture and several more pictures of the Garner house. Click and go to see these pictures. Your momma would want you to do this.

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

Baring it in the winter


Old red bard

This old barn, resplendent in its winter mode is a familiar sight to the legion of kayaking, canoeing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking enthusiasts who frequent the Long Pool Recreation area, my destination for the day, on Big Piney Creek north of Dover, Arkansas. You can't miss it.

From the looks of things you are figuring this is a story about barns. You are partially correct.  Actually we are talking about what you see in the winter, when most people are staying home versus what you see in the warmer months when the folks who will venture out, well, venture out. It is my contention that there is more to see in the winter.

Old Arkansas Barn

Click on the barn for a full size picture.

Before we pursue that argument further, take a look at where this story started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot-com. You will see another old barn and a close up of a remote intermittent water fall. Click here to go there. We’ll be here when you get back.

I had high hopes of catching a couple of waterfalls in a mid-winter display of their might a few miles from this barn east of the Long Pool Recreation Area on Big Piney Creek north of Dover, Arkansas. There had been plenty of rain in the general vicinity, but Mother Nature, in her fickle mode, chose to steer her latest deluge in the wrong direction to satisfy my hopes. Whom am I to question?

Never the less, the trip was worth it. The falls, one about 10-12 feet tall, and one towering to 44 feet, are ensconced in a huge hollow which is nothing short of spectacular. Boulders as big as a pickup truck line the outflow of the falls. The waterfalls are accessible only by a hike of nearly a mile in each direction and are not frequently visited.

waterfall near Long Pool Recreation area on Big Piney Creek

This is the smaller of two falls at this destination. This one is 10-12 feet tall. The larger one, which I did not have time to shoot properly is 44 feet tall. Just a trickle was coming over it.

There are two trails to the falls, one of which is close to treacherous. The trail, only a foot and a half wide in some places,  follows Big Piney Creek on the side of a steep hill which bottoms out in the creek. The other trail is an old road which leads to and from the recreational area. It is benign, but steep in places. I took the scenic route in and the safer route out.

Small falls near Long Pool Recreation Area

You see a great deal of detail in these pictures due to the even light on the falls. In summer months the difference between the bright and dark spots due to foliage makes a detailed shot such as this nearly impossible.

Listening to the trickle of the falls in their diminished intermittent mode was good therapy and I did not want to leave. However, I was covering new ground and believed it prudent to allow plenty of time to return to the trusty pickup. That being so, I did not capture as many images as I would have liked. However, I will have a keen eye out for reports of big rains in the area and then beat a path back.

white trees

These poplar trees south of Russellville AR on U.S. Highway 64 are a dramatic presence in this field. "Golden Hour" sun splashes over the scene.

If you have an opportunity, or conversely you have nothing better to do and want to do something different, make an opportunity and sally forth to see some winter magnificence. It awaits you.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

waterfall closeup

Click here for more waterfall and barn pictures

See our weekly photo-only gallery which has all of the weekly Corndancer and Grist pictures, plus some cool ones which are not displayed on either site.

This week there are nine pictures. See more angles on  the Corndancer barn and views the waterfall you’ve observed on this page. Click to here to go there.

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