Tooling down 28

Creek crossing Arkansas Highway 28

The Fourche La Fave River and many small creeks and tributaries to the river cross Arkansas Highway 28 West of Rover, Arkansas. I caught a peripheral glimpse of this small stream and had to do a turn around to come back and get the picture.

This picture is a clear demonstration that the Almighty is in charge. In a perfect world, the flotsam and jetsam in the center of the picture would not be there and you would see a perfect transition from reflecting trees to reflecting skies. In a photo exhibition the judges would verbally beat the photographer severely about the head, face, and shoulders for foisting this on their sensitive selves. However, it’s us and no judges and the picture reminds us that we live in an imperfect world. Therein is the value.

Arkansas Highway 28 from Rover west to the Cedar Creek community is a long string of scenic beauty and historic sites. I can’t find it showing up in travel literature or a catalog of historic sites, but that only means the mainstream has yet to stumble across it and the traffic is low. Neither of which are bad if you are visiting.

Landmark Missionary Baptist Church Onyx Arkansas

Click on the church to see the church

I approached this stretch from the south on Arkansas Highway 27 and happened across a fine old church at Oynx, Arkansas.

Before we go further, may I suggest that you digress for a moment and see this old church, its historic signs, and the low-water bridge one must cross to get there, on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer do-com. Click here to go there. We’ll be here when you get back.

The next stop was a lunch break at Rover, Arkansas. If you are hungry and in the neighborhood of Rover, stop at the Exxon Station (also a store, deli, cafe, etc., etc.) and grab a sandwich. The country store is a rarity, they actually asked me if I wanted the sandwich on wheat bread. In other country stores, such a statement would be close to a Class D Misdemeanor. The sandwich was a culinary masterpiece. I savored each bite. Smoky ham, turkey, pepper-jack cheese, lettuce, ‘maters, pickles and onions.

Wing Community Church Wing Arkansas

The Wing Community Church, Wing, Arkansas.

Tiny Wing, Arkansas was the next stop. They have a church, a Christian Center, and a big store. From the looks of the church, they also have a good attitude.

Bluffton, Arkansas and Gravelly, Arkansas were next stops. Old buildings are scattered through both. Time was a factor when I was in Gravelly and I did not shoot four, (count ’em, four) old store buildings in good condition. Two of them appeared to house viable businesses.

Old barn at Gravelly Arkansas

Look fast and hard, this old barn at Gravelly Arkansas is on its last legs. Weather and the trees are winning and the barn is coming in second best.

Just on the outskirts of Gravelly, we found a pair of old buildings in the collapsing mode. One is the remnants of a barn and the other a lower utility building of some type. The barn is the building you see above, see the pair in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

Old house at Bluffton AR

The old house at Mad Dog Hill Lane and Highway 28 has some Victorian charm left. Notice the decorations on the roof peaks and eaves.

Not far from Gravelly, you come to Bluffton where there is an old favorite photo target, a house at Highway 28 and Mad Dog Hill Lane. The first time we were there, the Mad Dog Hill Lane sign was in place. This time the sign was gone, probably to a dorm room or a den wall. As my late father, Peyton Dempsey used to say, “The only reason you don’t call some people thieves is because they don’t steal a hot stove.”

With that sage observation, I bid you adieu for this week.


See more pictures

See our Weekly Grist Gallery with more pictures from this foray down good ol’ Highway 28. See an old mule hay rake, more creek pictures, a pasture house, and some other good stuff.

Click here to go there and marvel at the imagery.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind


A place to honor an Ace. And his compatriots.

Jenny Hay and Gentry Hanks

Louisiana State University graduate students Jenny Hay (left) and Gentry Hanks smile in front of the overflow crowd they helped draw for the grand opening and dedication of the Captain Fletcher E. Adams 357th Fighter Group Museum in Ida, Louisiana. The 357th Fighter Group had the most Aces and one of the best aerial combat victory records of World War II, one of which still stands.

“They say,” that the population of Ida, Louisiana a northwest Louisiana village, teeters at around 256 souls. On July 23, 2010, more than 220 folks crowded into the Ida Community Center to devour catfish, hushpuppies and the other gastronomical delights which typically accompany this traditional southern meal. Simple math will tell you that the attendance at the fish fry exceeded adult population of the town. Not too shabby. They came as part of the grand opening and dedication of the Fletcher E. Adams 357th Fighter Group Museum. The impressive attendance was a harbinger of things to come.

The next day, Saturday, July 24, some guestimated that a crowd pushing 1,000 crowded into the city’s park for the museum dedication. See how the whole thing started with pictures and story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, including a picture of Chuck Yeager, a pilot in the 357th. Click here to go there.

catfish dinner in ida louisiana

Fry it and they will come. The catfish supper for the museum dedication set a new record in attendance. Not just for Ida. For the world. How many towns can attract more than the adult population to a public meeting? Not many. Once again, a small town shows the bigguns how its done. The dessert end of serving line was all home-made. Return trips were common.

The museum is named after a fallen local hero, Captain Fletcher E. Adams who was raised in Ida. His story and the story of the 357th Fighter Group have been chronicled in a book, Bleeding Sky,  by Joey Maddox, author and son of Ida mayor Smokie Maddox. Joey had books available and I scarfed up my autographed copy.

The 357th flew out of Leiston Airfield in Suffolk, merry olde England. In recent years, a friends of Leiston group has formed to preserve the history and what parts of the old aerodrome that have not been returned to agrarian pursuits. Pete Sanders, one of the organizers and spiritual leader of the group was in attendance for the dedication.

Pete Sanders pins Aline Adams

Pete Saunders of London, England adorns Aline Adams, widow of Captain Fletcher E. Adams with a "Friends of Leiston" pin with the emblem of the organization. The Friends of Leiston preserve the airfield from which the 357th sallied forth. Pasqaule Buzzeo, a 357th crew chief watches the pinning. He was at Leiston keeping the planes in the air.

The crowd was about as close to Norman Rockwell America as you will see in the 21st century, at least so far. One group, not so Norman Rockwellish, but none-the-less subscribing to principles of that era, the Patriot Guard motorcycle group, was there in force. They roared into town and planted and manned a ring of flags around the town gazebo where the dedication ceremony was held. They stood rock-steady a long time the hot July sun.

When my son, Doug and the USAR unit of which he is a member were bused from Little Rock to Fort Hood prior to their 2009 deployment to Iraq, these good people provided a motorcycle escort the entire way. On their nickel.

Patriot guard stands by flag

A Patriot Guard motorcyclist stands by his flag during the ceremonies.

The townspeople of Ida took to this project like a duck to water. Volunteers came out of the woodwork and nothing was too much to be asked. Some even coughed up good yankee green to support the effort. One of the results of this impressive volunteer undertaking is the amount of artifacts now available for the museum. Double, maybe triple what you see in the museum is in storage. The mayor and his far-sighted fellow residents of Ida are already envisioning a bigger museum.

Larry Maquire

Larry Maquire,a local custom jewelry maker, formerly operated a wood-working shop in the old post office building which now houses the museum. As the museum progressed, Larry was a willing and able volunteer. In the last hours before the opening he fined tuned the bathroom door which was not swinging like it should. A few trips to a saw horse on the porch and a little planing here and there, and the pesky door worked to perfection. A new museum should definitely not have a cranky bathroom door.

Jenny and Gentry curated the museum collection and display. I have learned that curating, in this case, meant cataloging, hanging, tagging, placing, moving stuff when you didn’t like where it was, sweeping, carrying out the trash and … repeat if necessary. Their stellar efforts were voluntary with  the blessing of the LSU faculty to which the two students were beholden.

inside the Captain Fletcher E. Adams museum

The museum displays artifacts from the WW II era. The large framed objects are maps of Europe printed on silk which were issued to pilots and aircrews for escape and evasion land navigation in case they were shot down. The map on the left was actually successfully used to help a P-51 pilot get to a safe haven after crashing.

A lot of people remember Ida for its now unfortunately closed Carroway’s General Store. The store fell victim to the times, a not unusual set of circumstances in rural America. Fortuitously, across the street from Carroway’s is the Cross-Roads Cafe, a prime example of a good ol’ southern eatery. It knows no strangers and the food is good. The menu reflects the culture and meals are cooked on the spot. I ingested a Cross-Roads catfish plate and a fine cheeseburger with just the perfect amount of tasty grill grease. I can say I was not disappointed. My arteries are still complaining.

cross roads cafe ida louisiana

The dining room of the Cross Roads Cafe in Ida LA. This is the quintessential culinary house of worship for southern cookery. Food served. Coffee drunk. Lies told. Nuff sed.

But wait, there’s more.

Each week we publish a high-resolution gallery of the week’s shootings. There are always pictures we thought were cool enough to include, but did not quite make it to Photo of the Week or Weekly Grist. See ’em here.

July 26, 2010 — I found a few more pix, so now there even more, mainly of Chuck Yeager. Click here.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

Meandering through Louisiana and Arkansas (north and south respectively)

It's best days behind it, this old service station in Stephens, Arkansas reminds us that time stands still for no one.

Its best days behind it, this old service station at First and Onyx streets in Stephens, Arkansas reminds us that time stands still for no one.

Regular or ethyl?

If you are long of tooth, you can remember this genre of service station. If you are not long of tooth, this is a part of your forebearers’ culture. The station had only two pumps, one for regular, one for ethyl gasoline. The concrete floors were permanently lubricated with years of ground-in grease and oil. The odor was of oil and anti-freeze. The operators filled your vehicle with gas, checked your oil and coolant and wiped your windshield. The only snacks available were allegedly cold Cokes and nickel sacks of Tom’s peanuts. This old station has apparently seen a few attempts at re-birth only to arrive at this state of affairs. That it has survived this long is a testimonial to its sturdy beginnings. It served well.

This tale of a trip started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com, the subject of which is the town of Athens, Louisiana. While Athens, like a lot of small towns has taken its licks, the people are resilient. See the pictures and read the story, a cool thing to do.

Remembering what’s important

Remembrance and respect knows no geographic limitations. Spring Hill Community Cemetery can be found only after a trip on a gravel road. That does not diminish the sacrifices here represented.

Remembrance and respect know no geographic limitations. Spring Hill Community Cemetery can be found only after a trip on a gravel road. That does not diminish the sacrifices here represented. Only less noticed by the crowds.

Spring Hill Community Cemetery is well cared for and well decked out with flags commemorating Memorial Day. This cemetery in Ouachita County, Arkansas will never make the six o’clock news or the front page above the fold. The families of those here interred could care less. They continue to accept and keep their responsibilities, just as their parents and grandparents before them because it is the right thing to do.

Barn with tartan

This barner is a head-scratcher until you see the sign at the field entrance.

This barn is a head-scratcher until you see the sign at the field entrance.

Somehow, you simply do not expect to see a barn with a tartan designed roof. Even less so in north Louisiana. East of Minden LA, the barn is at the entrance to Scotland Farms of Louisiana, breeders of registered highland cattle according to the entrance sign.

Thanks for dropping by,

PS: As you can see, I don’t make this stuff up. :o))

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