A Twist of fate


Thunderhead forming over wheat field

A thunderhead is forming in the distance from this winter wheat field on Arkansas Highway 42, not far from Twist, Arkansas, north of Earle. Fortunately a storm did not materialize.

The sign said Twist with an arrow pointing to the right, a temptation too rich with mystery to avoid. On the way to Twist, the cloud formation was similarly too good to resist. Late afternoon sunlight is the best, particularly this time of year when mother earth is freshly greened. This was just the first stop on the Twist adventure.

blonde bean field angel

Blond bean field angel

The last stop was to shoot a statuesque grave marker, an blond angel no-less, standing alone in a bean field. Before we go too much further, take a look at the bean-field angel on the photo of the week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a cool thing to do and a trip you will enjoy. It’s not often that one encounters a blond bean field angel. But, regarding trips through the Arkansas hinterlands, one can always fall back on an observation by the immortal Fats Waller, to wit: ” … one nevah know do one?” Note: May 31, 2010: I came up with some additional information on the angel which may be of interest. The additional information is now posted on the Photo of the Week page, link above.

Once we shot the cloud formation, it was off again to Twist, Arkansas. Twist is what’s left of theTwist Plantation, an agricultural venture of the past. Twist was a typical company town. The company owned everything. It was well organized with courts, a jail, a water system and a company store.

tree tunnel in Twist, Arkansas

Twist is not a big town, but is has a giant, world-class tree-tunnel. Way, way, cool

Dan Douglas, a resident of Twist and an employee of the current operators was congenial and filled me in with Twist information. As I was shooting, I could hear birds singing a whippoorwill-like chant in the background. Turns out, according to Dan, I was listening to the industrial strength cooing of Ring-Necked Doves, a species he says is unique to the immediate area.

How Lucille got her name

Virtually any blues fan knows blues legend BB King has always named his current Gibson guitar Lucille. I have often wondered why. Although I have not lost any sleep over it, I was glad to know the answer. I found it in Twist.

How BB King named Lucille

Thanks to the good folks of Twist, now we know.

Mind you, this odyssey of the unusual is happening in the waning hours of the trip. I had begun to think there would not be much out of the ordinary that would go home on my camera cards. Wrong again.

ivy covered barn

Moving right along after we left Twist on Highway 42, the next surprise was the barn being eaten by ivy. There’s got to be a building in there somewhere.

Earlier in the day

Earlier in the day, heading north on US 79 from home-base in Pine Bluff, Arkansas,  we stopped in Wabbaseka and long overdue, shot the Wabbaseka United Methodist Church. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wabbaseka United Methodist Church

While just about everything else in Wabbaseka has suffered a fate all to common in small rural agricultural communities in the nation, the Wabbaseka United Methodist Church is a pristine premises. Call it Divine Intervention if you will, but I’m betting sweat equity is more apt.

Further north past Clarendon on the way to Forrest City, we found a substantial flag waving at what appeared to be a farm headquarters. I decided if it was worth flying, it was worth shooting.

Flag on the highway

Camera perspective is fooling your eyes. That flag is about half as long as the truck trailer.

U. S. 79, in these parts is affectionately remembered as “the old road to Memphis.” It was a major thoroughfare until the interstate highway system lured travelers and trucks to its high speed concrete ribbons. Many a thriving business, dependent on highway traffic, went down “… like a one-egg puddin.’ “

old store on US 79

Though disheveled, disrespected and dumpy in appearance, this old service station on US 79 must have some lingering use. The light bulb above the upper right corner of the door was burning when I shot this picture, prima facie evidence that something is worth a “light bill.”

Small railroad bridge

Click the bridge for more and bigger pictures

Each week, we post all of the “keepers” of the shoot or shoots for Corndancer and Grist posts in an on-line picture-only gallery. There is normally not room to publish all we shoot and like. The pictures are high resolution and larger that the posts.

Each week, we post all of the “keepers” of the shoot or shoots for Corndancer and Grist posts in an on-line picture-only gallery. There is normally not room to publish all we shoot and like. The pictures are high resolution and larger that the posts. This week includes a railroad bridge and another view of the ivy barn. Click here to go there.

Thanks for visiting our meandering. It’s a nasty job, but someone’s got to do it.

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

Kirksey Country


Fendley Store, Fendley AR

Fendley Store was opened by Kirksey family members in 1907 and closed in the forties. The Kirkseys have kept it in serviceable condition since its closing. Seemed like the right thing to do.

When you pull into Fendley, Arkansas it’s hard to miss Fendley Store. There’s not much else from an urban development viewpoint and that’s not a drawback if you happen to be a Kirksey. As a matter of fact, it’s close to ideal.

See the old Kirksey house at Corndancer dot com

The family has lived on this real estate since around 1874. Across the road from the store in one direction is the home of one of the original Kirkseys, still in use by a Kirksey.

To see the house (complete with tire swing and a neat little stone bench),  click here and go to the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer dot com where this story started, a very cool thing to do. Also see one of the Spring Creek Nursery greenhouses and three generations of Kirkseys.  Take your time, we’ll wait here while you look around a bit.

Across the road in another direction is Spring Creek Nursery operated by Brian Kirksey and his family. The nursery is just part of what the Kirkseys do. They also raise cattle, build greenhouses and are in the timber business as well.

Spring Creek Nursery Greenhouse

Spring Creek Nursery greenhouses are designed and built by the proprietor, Brian Kirksey. They are good stewards of the environment. Diligent recycling is a part of their business.

The Spring Creek Nursery is a sophisticated operation in a rural setting. Low traffic. Low noise. Low hassle and a zero mileage commute. The family has five dogs, four of which are normally part and parcel of the daily “work-flow.” What is commonplace at Fendley is spectacular to those of us who see far too much asphalt and traffic. Take Moorman Road for example. The road runs through the Kirksey Farm. Not far from one of the greenhouses, the summer foliage of trees lining the road form a verdant tunnel. Not too shabby for less than a block and a half from Main Street.

Moorman Road

Moorman Road running through Spring Creek Nursery forms this living tunnel.

Just a few miles west of Fendley, on Still Creek Road, you will see the perfectly restored Loy Kirksey “dog-trot” house restored by relatives of Brian Kirksey. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a perfect example of this popular style of 19th and early 20th century rural architecture.  Sometimes you hear of these houses being referred to as “shotgun”house, which is a misnomer.

Loy Kirksey house

The Loy Kirksey House, originally built prior to 1874 is on Still Creek Road northwest of Fendley. Dog trot houses got their name from the style of two living spaces separated by a breezeway, through which one's dog could and would trot.

But wait, there’s more

More pictures

More pictures

Each week, we post all of the “keepers” of the shoot or shoots for Corndancer and Grist posts in an on-line picture-only gallery. There is normally not room to publish all we shoot and like. The pictures are high-resolution and larger that the posts.

This week the additional shots include some more green house, dog-trot, tunnel and tire swing shots in color and good ol’ black and white.  Click here and take a good look.

Thanks for dropping by and taking a look at how things are in a completely rural setting. I’m giving it a dozen thumbs up.

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

Church in Houston


Arkansas, that is

Houston Arkansas Methodist Church

This place of worship, formerly Houston Methodist Church, now Jesus Name Community Church of Faith, Hope & Love was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

From the looks of things, when Houston Methodist Church of Houston, Arkansas, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places it was not a minute too soon. The national register listing says the “period of historic significance” was 1900-1924 and the architectural style is listed as “Colonial Revival.” A plaque (the dark square right of the door) says Houston Methodist Church was established in 1890, but does not reveal a construction date for this building.

St. Boniface Catholic Church, New Dixie community Arkansas

St. Boniface Catholic Church

The building date for St. Boniface Catholic Church, just a few miles to the east is not a mystery. This story started with St. Boniface on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there and see pictures of St. Boniface and get in on the start of the story.

While we have better information on St. Boniface than we do on Houston Methodist, what we do know is that both congregations had their beginnings within just a few years of each other. Undoubtedly, members and parishioners knew each other, did business with each other, and their sons and daughters probably had eyes for each other. The latter with callous disregard of parental leanings.

This peaceful coexistence was then and is now an on-the-ground manifestation of the religious freedom which is at the core of our American culture. I believe I can say this with reasonable authority since I find no historical records of the Methodists and Catholics of Perry County attempting to obliterate each other. Would that we could say the same thing for other cultures not so inclined that are now impacting ours.

Houston Arkansas Methodist Church

The church bell seems suspended in time. Corrosion and a few too many coats of paint are the probable culprits for this tonal paralysis. But I suppose, it's the thought that counts.

There’s not much else to say about this fine old structure except “good luck.” It is a fine example of community churches of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in these parts — which has obviously seen better times. The condition of the building, however, does not diminish the spiritual importance of its message to believers who frequent its halls. Pray for paint and labor.

Down the road and into the sun

You can see golden evidence of a setting sun in the last picture of the old church.  This condition prompted me to observe to my friend Joh Phillipi who joined the fray on this trip, ” … we’re burnin’ daylight,” the favorite quote of “The Duke,” hisself, John Wayne in The Cowboys. That being said, we lit a shuck and headed toward Bigelow. Shortly after our arrival, we noticed the crooked house below. We had to stop and shoot.

Crooked house in Bigelow

Should it be, " ... there was a crooked house ... ," or "The leaning store of Bigelow?"

The Bigelow visit was indeed a fortuitous stop. We got a great shot of an old building with the visual panache available only with low- in-the-horizon, late-winter-setting-sun-illumination. Stopping for this target of opportunity caused a delay which enhanced the next shot, albeit unbeknown to us at the time.

Heading south to Arkansas Highway 10, our route would take us past Lake Maumelle, a large impoundment which is the potable water supply for Little Rock. That is not its only claim to fame. Lake Maumelle is also home to the Grande Maumelle Sailing Club, an organization, the members of which for the most part are rabidly dedicated to the sport of racing sailboats. In a former life, I helmed many a race on the face of that lake.

Moonrise on Lake Maumelle

The moon is rising in the east as the sun sets in the west at Lake Maumelle, Arkansas. Shot from the centerboard launch ramp on the Grande Maumelle Sailing Club premises, a racing organization.

Knowing the layout, as I noticed the moon rising in the east, I knew where the would lunar lake look would be just too cool. That place is the centerboard launch ramp on the sailing club premises. We made a beeline to the lake and arrived in the nick of time.

A great ending to a great day.

But wait, there’s more

See more pictures from this trip plus larger versions of the ones we have posted on Corndancer Photo of the Week and Weekly Grist. It’s our Weekly Grist Gallery. Low-carb, low fat, low-sodium, but slightly addictive. Some things we just can’t help.

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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