Tarry at Tarry for a while


Thomas Grocery, Tarry, Arkansas

Probably knocking on the door of a hundred years old, give or take a few, Thomas Grocery still stands in tiny Tarry, Arkansas. It has a plethora of nostalgia appeal and is a local favorite for old-store-oglers. More than a few look at it with ideas for gentrification.

Clowers Gin, Tarry Arkansas

Click on the old gin to see more of Tarry

Thomas Grocery was one of four fully operational stores in Tarry, a small but once bustling community between Pine Bluff and Star City, Arkansas. One other of the original stores is still standing, West Grocery, about a quarter mile from Thomas Grocery.

See an earlier Weekly Grist story relating to West Grocery here. While you are in the mood to click around, may we suggest that you go to the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com where this story started and see some additional pictures of the store and other Tarry scenes.

For many years, Thomas Grocery housed the U.S. Post Office for the community. It was also a school bus stop. Few if any general stores of  that era were without a bench of some sort on the front porch. And a couple of dogs under the porch.  Thomas Grocery fits nicely into that genre.

The store was an important part of the social and economic fabric of the community, a nice way of saying that probably millions of juicy tidbits of gossip and rumors floated in and around the premises. Especially in election years.

I featured the store with a couple of winter pictures in our June 17 Weekly Grist post. I shot those pictures in 2009, so the old store is holding up nicely. We have high hopes this is a continuing trend.

Gills Barn, Tarry Arkansas

Looking at the hay barn from the east during midday sunlight. There is a chair in the loft at this end of the barn which I suspect is a deer stand.

An old barn and corn crib, off the beaten track, behind the store a few hundred yards offered some unusual photo ops not available without an invitation. The owner and I are friends and he graciously steered me in the right direction. The old barn was built to store hay, tack, and feed. It was completely floored. The floor stands off ground level more than a foot. It does, however, have large overhangs which could offer shelter to livestock.

The hay barn from the west end

The west end of the hay barn in late afternoon light. The angular device under the overhang is a hay feeder for cattle with the munchies. And they always have the munchies.

interior of old hay barn

The barn is tall and gives one the feeling of a rustic open air cathedral. All we need is a boom-box holding forth with “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” and/or some Purcell trumpet voluntaries.

Just a few yards from the old barn is an old corn crib. It is bigger than a lot of barns I have photographed. The north end is reasonably clear of weeds and trees, but the south end is cluttered with interloping trees and saplings. We have visited the subject of the hardy Bois D, Arc tree before on these pages. And now we have seen another one with a penchant for survival. Another reclining Bois D’ Arc.

Old corn crib at Tarry Arkansas

The north end of the corn crib is intact for the most part.

Bois D' Arc tree under corn crib

The hardy Bois D’ Arc tree, I believe, is genetically programmed with a superior survivability gene. The Bois D’ Arc is the Dick Butkus of trees. This one decided to take root in the moist, fertile soil under the corn crib, then stretch its branches to the sun to turbocharge its photosynthesis. While laying on its back. This is the south end of the corn crib which is in the process of collapsing. The corrugated metal roofing (aka “roofin’ arn”), leaning on the tree was deposited where it is by a tornado which whistled through a few years back.

While age and the elements have beaten away the the Tarry infrastructure, the great spring-fed fishing pond which has been in its back yard for no-tellin’ how long is alive well and producing “slab crappies” in the spring. Looks like the really good part is holding up well.

fishing pond at Tarry Arkansas

The pond is like it was decades ago, except for the cypress elegantly aging. While I was on this shoot, something big broke water in the pond. A good sign.

SEE MORE PICTURES OF TARRY  Visit our Weekly Grist Galley to see more of Thomas Grocery, the tree, the corn crib, and the barn, plus a couple of others. Guaranteed enjoyment.

Thanks for dropping by,

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

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Something new, something old


Old Stewart store at New Edinburg AR

The old Stewart store at New Edinburg AR. In the left background, you can see the recently restored Clement Hotel. The owners of the hotel recently purchased the store with intentions of restoring it, much like they restored the hotel.  That’s good news for New Edinburg.

Next door to this store, which has seen better days, sits the just-restored vintage 1879 frame-built Clement Hotel. The hotel owners, with a vested interest in how the neighborhood looks, recently bought the old store. We are told the new owners, Willie Carroll Livingston and his wife, intend to give it a good restoration working over just like they did the hotel.

restored frame hotel

Click to see the restored Clement Hotel

Before we go further, you can see pictures of the hotel and find out about the restoration by the owner and his wife on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com.

You can also see another picture of the  store on the Corndancer site.Click here to go there and get up to speed on the start of this story, a very cool thing to do. We’ll wait here for your return.

When we went to New Edinburg AR to shoot the old hotel, we were laboring under what turned out to be the delusion that we would be able to shoot the inside as well as the outside of the property. Unfortunately, the keys to the hotel were not available so there was an immediate change of plans.

Inside of old Stewart store, New Edinburg AR

Fortunately, in this life, when one door closes, another frequently opens, which was the case on that day. Turns out, relatives of the selling family were to open and empty the old store, which gave us the opportunity to shoot with impunity inside the old store which would never be the same again after today.

wood stove in Stewart Grocery

Old wood stoves similar to this one were the de rigueur heating system for most old country stores. On chilly days, customers who walked into the store would head straight to the stove for a quick warm up and summary of the latest goings on. Notice the old range in the background.

Clutter was the order of the day. We found an old kerosene storage tank and pump, a large wood stove and an old thirties era range. But the store was more than a store, the proprietor of the store, Leslie Stewart, was a Justice of the Peace with judicial authority.

coal-oil tank and pump

Near the wood stove was a kerosene tank. Almost every store at that time had one. The tank has a self-contained pump. Kerosene, known widely as coal-oil, served as fuel for lanterns and as a fire starter for wood stoves. Long before EPA, OSHA and dozens of other pervasive sets of initials,  a wood stove and a nearby kerosene tank were compatible. Now, NADA.

Justice Stewart regularly held court in the store. Some of the more racy cases would draw substantial crowds of onlookers thirsting for spicy details . One of my New Edinburg friends looked in a court docket book and found where his uncle was fined $10 for selling alcoholic beverages to minors. The dockets will make interesting reading.

old Finch McCullough store in New Edinburg AR

The old Finch McCullough store in New Edinburg AR was formerly a Methodist Church. After the store owners bought the building, they moved it to this location, about a block away from the old Stewart store on Arkansas Highway 8.

It was early in the afternoon and my breakfast had long since ceased to effectively fuel my activities. Feeling the need to replenish my system, I ambled down to the only store in town still in business, McClellan’s Country Store. This is not the first time I have visited the store to satisfy my hunger.

Longnecker Barq's Root Beer and huge sandwich

Longnecker Barq’s Root Beer and huge sandwich

At the time of my first visit, the store was known as Spears Country Store. Like before, I ordered a ham and turkey sandwich with all available add-ons. What I got was a huge gastronomical delight. The sandwich should have been measured in pounds or cubic feet, whichever was more appropriate. Huge and yummy good. Accompanied by a Barq’s Root Beer in a traditional longnecker bottle, the meal was perfect for a Saturday afternoon lunch for a good ol’ boy. McClellan’s has their act together.

It is refreshing to be around people who see something good to do and proceed to do it. That’s what I found in New Edinburg.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: Our Weekly Grist Gallery

Stewart store entrance

Every week we shoot more pictures than we have room to show on this page. So, to make sure you are not deprived of the complete story, we put all of our weekly pictures in a gallery of pictures only. This week there are 20 pictures, nine of which you have not seen. These pictures include more shots in the store, a shot of some shelf products left in the store and a bunch of other good stuff you will enjoy. Click here to see these 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

Meandering through the mountains (again)


Roasting Ear Creek Stone County AR

Where Roasting Ear (properly pronounced rohsn'ear and spelled roasn'ear) Creek crosses Mitchell Road in Stone County, Arkansas there is a nice low water bridge downstream from which is this vista of winter-bare-bones-pristine boondocks beauty.

My forays to the mountains are not normally as closely spaced as the one week before last, and this one. However it did lend the opportunity to observe the big difference a couple of weeks can make in the boondocks when winter is closing in. Most of the trees were bare this time. Not a bad thing mind you. Now we can see more of what Mother Nature has to offer. Speaking of which, this adventure started on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot-com. Click here to go there and see a closer upper of the tree on the creek you see above and a couple of other wild territory shots.

Old barn near Woodward Arkansas

The election is history, but not the signs. This old barn stands on Arkansas Highway 263 near Woodward in Stone County, Arkansas. Note to candidates. Come get your signs.

On the way to the mountain snippets of coolness, one always passes the omnipresent old barns and commercial structures which stand as silent witnesses to times which were simpler and less cluttered with “conveniences.” I say that with my tongue firmly ensconced in my bewhiskered cheek because were it not for several of these conveniences, namely digital cameras, butt-kicking computers and software, and high-speed internet, I could not send nor could you receive this dispatch. And we would not want that.

fifty six arkansas

Fifty Six Arkansas, population 163. It is the nearest town to Blanchard Springs Caverns, one of the nations premier underground cavern attractions.

My friend, Frank Girolami, creator of  the fine blog A Frank Angle, asked that in my wandering around my home state if I had the opportunity to post something about the town of Fifty-Six, Arkansas, would I?  Well Frank, I was in the neighborhood so here it is.

old store at almond arkansas

This old store and a cross roads are about the crop at Almond, Arkansas. At one time this was probably the epicenter of what was happening in the community.

On the way back to my weekend temporary headquarters at a friend’s lake house on Greers Ferry Lake, I took a wrong turn (imagine that!). As a net result, I happened across the old store above. Methinks that one more time Providence steered me toward a worthy target I would have missed otherwise. And who is one to question Providence. Certainly not I.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

See our weekly picture only gallery with all of the Corndancer and Weekly Grist pictures plus some that are not published elsewhere. See some big ol’ truck ruts where some poor soul drove a bit to far, a lake cliff and more. Click here go to 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

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