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


In the neighborhood of 1876

This opld barn

This old barn is at the corner of Arkansas Highway 366 and Elm Road near Roe, Arkansas.

Those who know about this old barn agree that it is at least 133 years old and probably a bit older than that. The barn is on Arkansas Highway 366 near Roe, Arkansas. The story of this barn started on the Photo of the Week Page at Corndancer Dot Com. To see how it started,  with two additional pictures (count ’em, 2), click here to proceed to the photo of the week page, a very cool thing to do.

The barn fell from use when the farm upon which it stands changed hands in 2004. That it remained in use for more than 128 years is probably why it is in the good, but deteriorating condition we find today. Certainly, at that age, the barn was originally built to provide stall space for the farm mule herd. “Adaptive re-use” by subsequent owners required interior modifications, some of which you see below.

These storage rooms in the barn are a post-mule era addition. The area above the rooms provides a home for a nice sized barn owl.

These storage rooms in the barn are a post-mule era addition. The area above the rooms provides a home for a nice sized barn owl.

Finding the barn was on a whim, which was on a route determined by a previous whim. Sometimes I believe our whims are weighted to our experiences, and I believe this was the case on discovering the old barn. Earlier, a bit to the south in Arkansas County, north of Stuttgart AR, I turned on to Arkansas Highway on the aforementioned “previous whim.” As a result, I ran across the crop duster airstrip below.

The curved top structure you see is at the north end of the runway and not far above waist high to me, at 6'-3."

The curved top structure you see is at the north end of the runway and not far above waist high to me, at 6'-3." You just don't see this sort of thing often. Ever?

There may be a far-fetched explanation. The little building looks a bit governmental, perhaps even somewhat 40’s era military, which gives rise to the explanation. At nearby Stuttgart, Arkansas, there was a US Army Air Corps training facility. I’m betting that in an earlier permutation, this was an ancillary strip to that base. The building, under those circumstances would have held a few spare parts, fuel and oil. Maybe some contraband elixirs as well. In the absence of other explanations, that one will have to do.

December 17, 2010 – It was recently revealed to me that there were a number of these small strips with these mystery structures scattered around Arkansas County. They were a part of the Air Corps training base. The small buildings held radio direction finder transmitters to which the fledgling pilots navigated. When the installations were in use there was also an antenna about the size of a baseball backstop that was a part of the facility. My friend Don Martin provided this historical tidbit.

By then, my stomach was telling me it was time to take on nourishment. With any kind of luck, a country store with a talented sandwich maker would soon materialize and sho-nuff, in short-order, I wheeled into Cascoe, Arkansas, home of Cloud’s Grocery.

Clouds Grocery at Cascoe, Arkansas is a fine stop for sandwiches.

Clouds Grocery at Cascoe, Arkansas is a fine stop for sandwiches.

I did not bother to read the sign informing the general public that Clouds Grocery was a indeed a purveyor of sandwiches. That’s probably why I garnered the quizzical look from the proprietor when I made the sandwich inquiry. Like most country stores, asking for wheat bread is an exercise in futility. That aside, the two-fisted ham and turkey sandwich I got was running over with the meats,  plus lettuce, onions, pickles and tomatoes. It was a masterpiece. I wolfed it down and now I was well fortified for the next whim, which resulted in discovering the barn.

After the barn, on another whim, I sallied forth up US Highway 79 to Clarendon, Arkansas. The good folks at Clarendon saw fit to keep the old Merchants and Planters Bank building in good condition. It is now their visitor center. Since it was Sunday afternoon late, the doors were locked. A return trip during business hours is a must. Clarendon was like a lot of other small communities with a strongly weighted agricultural economy. They had a “Merchants and Planters Bank.” There must have been a jillion M&Ps  in the south, many of which of which are now decaying wrecks. Not so in Clarendon.


The nicely preserved and still-in-use Merchants and Planters Bank building in Clarendon AR. Good job folks!

A One-eighty

Less than six weeks ago, we were griping about too much rain.

Less than six weeks ago, we were griping about too much rain.

Those of you who read these epistles on a regular basis will probably remember my laments regarding overkill in our seemingly endless spring rains. Take a look above. The problem has done a 180. The tractor operator is preparing a seed bed for imminent planting. Soybeans are probably what will be planted. The earlier rains prevented many farmers from planting their beans. Now there is a sense of urgency. Not so at the barn.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey
Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

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