Hemp and the Saint


Maintenance on St Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

This is early morning and work is already underway on the cathedral. If you look closely you can see the morning hose man, washing away the detritus of the night before in front the Cabildo, the Saint's next door neighbor. The city is coming to life and soon the Chartres Street will be brimming with performers, artists, and onlookers.

Mule in New Orleans French Quarter

Click on the mule for French Quarter mule pictures

Even Saints need maintenance and New Orleans Saint Louis Cathedral is no exception. Folks in New Orleans have worshiped at a church in this location since 1727. The current structure was completed in 1789 after a fire destroyed the original building in 1788.

Since that is two centuries and some change, it is patently obvious that regular, conscientious maintenance for the cathedral is the rule, not the exception. See another view of St. Louis Cathedral in our April 19, 2009 Weekly Grist post.

See more of the French Quarter, namely a couple of French Quarter carriage mules on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer.com.

Maintenance worker on St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans

Later, about 20 till 10, this worker plies his trade slightly below the middle steeple and you can admire the meticulous 18th century architectural details.

man weaving hemp bracelets

This entrepreneur's sign reads "HAND MADE HEMP JEWELRY By donation. Nomad Fiber Arts. Trades Welcome," in April, 2004. To each his own, I'm still thinking the term "HEMP JEWELRY," does not ring the truth and veracity bell. He's in Jackson Square in New Orleans, so no surprise there. The Saint is behind the square.

Sixteen months after I shot these pictures, Katriana struck New Orleans. Fortunately things don’t look much different in this part of New Orleans now.

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

Margaret, Maggie, John and some mules


Margaret Phillips holding down the fort in her store, L.M. Phillips General Merchandise in Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

Margaret Phillips in her store, L.M. Phillips General Merchandise in Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

Margaret Phillips of Fountain Hill, Arkansas is the proprietress of L. M. Phillips General Merchandise, a store founded by her late husband and brother-in-law in 1925 in Fountain Hill. Maggie, a precocious Border Collie (a given), is Margaret’s keeper. This story started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. To see more pictures and get in on the start of the story, click here, a very cool thing to do.

Maggie

Click on Maggie for more pix of her and Margaret — and a great story.

When I first set foot in Maggie’s territory she gave me a welcome like I was Attila the Hun with my band of merry barbarians in trail. Fortunately, Maggie and I set a new indoor record settling our differences and I was able to converse with Margaret Phillips and her assistant, Denise Musgrove.

Equally fortuitous, for both of us, Maggie discovered that I was a willing scratchor and pettor and she already knew she was a willing scratchee and petee.

store

L. M. Phillips General Merchandise occupies the former premises of the Bank of Fountain Hill which, like a lot of small banks of its era, gasped its last breath in 1933.

old safe

The old bank safe is still in place at L. M. Phillips. A great place to hang a calendar.

Occupying a former bank premises, the store is typical of a lot of country stores, with the exception fresh foods. What they miss on that, they more than make up for with a variety of hardware, plumbing supplies, and other stuff they’ve discovered folks want. It is said that marketing is: “finding out what folks want, and giving them more of it … and finding out what folks don’t want, and giving them less of it.” Apparently the Phillips store is working that theory better than most.

The store was doing a brisk business on the Saturday afternoon of my visit. The prevailing mentality of customers I observed was one of not merely a trip to “the store,” but  the manifestations of one visiting with a cherished friend. Now ain’t that something in this day and time of fast food and the cattle-herding mentality demonstrated by far too many retailers. Maybe that’s why they’re still in business while others are long gone.

My business concluded in Fountain Hill, I sallied forth on the long way back home, hoping for at least one more photo opportunity. My search did not take long to become fruitful. Near the Prairie Grove community northeast of Fountain Hill I encountered John Cruce, driving two mules and a wagon.

John Cruce, his wagon and team pull up for a visit in the side yard of the Prairie Grove Community Center, northeast of Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

John Cruce, his wagon and team pull up for a visit in the side yard of the Prairie Grove Community Center, northeast of Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

For his day job, John Cruce is the proprietor of a prosperous saw-mill business. For fun, John has nine mules and keeps them because that’s what he wants to do so. The nearby city of Crossett puts on a fine PRCA rodeo the first week of August. John will drive his team and wagon from the Prairie Grove Community to Crossett and participate in the parade and a performance of the rodeo and return home.

John Cruce fixes a twisted bridle, which made for a nervous mule.

John Cruce fixes a twisted bridle, which made for a nervous mule.

The trip to Crossett by vehicle takes 45-minutes to an hour or so depending on the lead in your foot. In a mule drawn wagon, it’s a three-day trip. John loads his wagon with feed for the team and heads out. They overnight at several friend’s deer camps between Prairie Grove and Crossett.

The east view of a west bound mule team. Riding shotgun in a mule wagon.

The east view of a west bound mule team. Riding shotgun in a mule wagon.

While I was visiting with John, the white mule began to act a bit nervous. John didn’t seem to be deeply concerned, but we both agreed that she might be a bit more at ease if I was in the wagon instead of standing beside it. In the process, John noticed that her bridle was twisted. He fixed that and the problem was solved. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to see how it was to ride shotgun on a mule drawn wagon. There’s a first time for everything.

Earlier in the day, I saw Drew Presbyterian Church, just north of the Drew-Lincoln County line. At the time, the sun was not in the right place for a decent shot. The good news is the front of the church faces due west, so the sun angle was predictable later on.

Drew Presbyterian Church, US Hwy 425, north of Monticello, Arkansas.

Drew Presbyterian Church, US Hwy 425, north of Monticello, Arkansas. The church was organized in 1859. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The timing was right. My seven-fold amen for the day was at the church about 1730 (Mickey’s little hand is on the five and his big hand is on the six) or there about. The start of the golden hour this time of year. Actually in July, the golden hour lasts about three hours or so depending on what’s in or out of a shadow. Ain’t life grand!

Thanks for dropping by,
Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Gaylon and his team


Gaylon Wilson's mules, (from left, Ruth and Mattie) seem to be sharing a secret. They are half sisters. Gaylon raised and trained Ruth and later trained and bought Mattie,

Gaylon Wilson’s mules, (from left, Ruth and Mattie) seem to be sharing a secret. They are half sisters. Gaylon raised and trained Ruth and later trained and bought Mattie,

It is appropriate that a modern day muleskinner tool about in a modern day covered wagon. At least that’s how it appears with Gaylon Wilson of McCaskill AR. This story had it’s beginnings on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. To see more pictures and read it from the start, click here, a cool and safe thing to do.

Gaylon’s wagon goes far and beyond what one normally expects to find behind mules. Hydraulic brakes, a radio, electrically adjustable bucket seats. He bought the wagon from Junior Griggs in Como TX. Apparently, Junior is well known among mule aficionados as a reliable source of custom wagons, harness items and tack

Gaylon’s wagon goes far and beyond what one normally expects to find behind mules. Hydraulic brakes, a radio, electrically adjustable bucket seats are among the amenities. He bought the wagon from Junior Griggs in Como TX. Apparently, Junior is well known among mule aficionados as a reliable source of custom wagons, harness items and tack.

Gaylon says there is an informal gathering of mules, mule skinners (not his words), wagons and observers annually at Okalona AR in May. One of the events is a parade of mule drawn wagons through the small town.

"We passed five wagons in the parade before I got the team calmed down."

Gaylon Wilson:  ” … we passed five wagons in the parade before I got the team calmed down.”

He recalled some excitement at one of the past events. Seems someone else’s mules spooked at something and those mules spooked Gaylon’s team. “We passed five wagons in the parade before I got the team calmed down,” Gaylon said, adding the the brakes on that wagon malfunctioned about the time the team spooked. The wild ride was reported in the state wide newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Gaylon revealed the story with relish. He is a man who enjoys being himself, a rare commodity in this day and time.

For those who may be interested, Okalona is southwest of Arkadelphia AR. Take the Okalona exit off I-30 and follow AR Highway 162 west. It’s not far from the interstate.

Hats off to Gaylon Wilson and his friends who keep the care, feeding and utilization of these noble beasts of burden alive and well.

Thanks dropping by,

Joe

Happy Trails!

Happy Trails!

Steve Harvey’s barn


This is the rest of the story about Steve Harvey’s barn started on Corndancer dot com’s photo of the week. If you missed the first part and want to see it (a cool thing to do), click here. Steve’s barn is part and parcel of his grandfather’s home place, across the highway from where Steve lives.

The barn is

Steve's grandfather's home and barn. The shot is from more than a football field away, courtesy of a long Nikon lens.The golden grass in the foreground was too good to resist.

The barn with its typical breezeway construction appears to provide lockable stalls for six mules (or other large livestock one would presume). Barns of this nature were an essential part of any credible farming operation, providing shelter for farm animals and dry storage for their feed.

The barn breezeway and one-room mule apartments.

The barn breezeway and one-room mule apartments.

Mr. Harvey rested the structure on cement blocks designed as foundation pieces. This gets the wooden structure off the ground and away from termites. From the looks of things, it was a good idea and seems to be working so far. While wind, rain and other untoward elements have torn away the the exterior, the interior is reasonably well preserved.

When this barn finally collapses, the world will hardly feel the tremor, but a piece of history will be lost. Like the tree falling in the woods, did it make a sound?

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

All images and content ©2008, Joe Dempsey