Greeting, eating, and sweetening the pot

Inside of Selma Methodist Church

Most of the inside trim, pews, room partitions, and balcony were removed from the Selma Methodist Church building when work started to rebuild the foundation. The church was jacked up eight feet in the air to facilitate foundation reconstruction. Fortunately for us, the pulpit appurtenances were spared the ignominy of storage. What you see was hand carved and is in very good condition. The patina of the floor comes from more than 130 years foot traffic. Most people believe it was never painted or shellacked.

The inside of Selma Methodist Church at Selma, Arkansas looks a bit disheveled right now. So would you if you had your innards nearly turned inside out by the back sides blows of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Church picnic serving line

See more Selma pictures at Corndancer dot-com.

The church building, completed and first used in 1874 and narrowly escaping that disaster, has undergone some serious work for stabilization since that fateful March in 2008 when the storms nearly pounded it into the ground. You can get more details on the start of this story at the Corndancer dot-com Photo of the Week page. We’ll wait here while you look.

We were there for the first official fundraiser held by the Selma Methodist Church Preservation Society, a group of dedicated Selma Church fans whose sole purpose is to return the church to its like-new condition. They are in the first phase which is to stabilize the structure and bring further deterioration to a halt. See more Selma event pictures in our Weekly Grist gallery

You  can see pictures of the complete church interior and read a recent article detailing the church history were published in the December 2010 issue of Rural Arkansas, the official magazine of Arkansas Electrical Cooperatives.

Picnic serving line

The fine southern cuisine prepared on the grounds before your very eyes went fast. The cooks were efficient and nary a soul went hungry. Gets one in a generous mood.

 The storm damage to the church was so severe that it was declared unsafe for any events and/or any entry for other than maintenance, and then at extreme risk. This fundraiser was the first event held in the church since the storm damage in 2008. Previously, it was frequently used for weddings, funerals, and other events. Even attendees took turns ringing the church bell, a welcome sound to the community. It is said the bell was cast with 100 silver dollars melted into the metal before the pour to improve the sound. To my ears, it worked.

Selma Methodist Church

Selma Methodist Church, May 21, 2011, the first day it was open to the public since the storm damage in March 2008.

See more pictures of the Church and the fundraiser event in our Weekly Grist Gallery.

 Part of the fund raiser was an auction of donated items. The auction was conducted by guest auctioneer, Mark McElroy, County Judge of neighboring Desha County, Arkansas. For non-Arkansans, the title “County Judge,” in Arkansas is an executive title rather than a jurist title. The position is roughly equivalent to what folks in other states would call a county mayor. Judge McElroy, a man of many talents is one of those individuals who has never met a stranger. He kept the crowd entertained.


Judge Mark McElroy works to pry extra dollars from a bidder, while his "Vanna White, Mr. Riggins (sunglasses), watches the action.

The trip to Selma took me through the Coleman community where you will find the  “Look-See Tree,”  a fine White Oak on the premises of Olin Tucker. The tree is designated as an  Arkansas Historic Tree.

Arkansas Look-See tree

Olin Tucker's Look-see tree with full summer foliage.

Parting shot(s)

Meandering around, we find stuff that makes us smile. We presume this is the right stuff to make you smile as well. Driving north on Hwy. 70 after our junk yard adventure a couple of weeks ago, we saw a home-made sign promoting fig sales. Being curious, we followed the area to discover that not only could one purchase figs, you could also drive away with a new dog house.

figs for sale

If you are looking for figs, this is the place. The sign appears to be a recycled day-glo highway warning sign of some sort. Adaptive re-use, I believe, is the term.

Figs and dog houses

Once you cross the railroad and levee which comprises the 90 feet between the first sign and entrance to the fig emporium, you discover that, as a bonus, you can buy a dog house as well. Diversification is a good thing in business these days.


Click on the dog to see more Selma pictures in our Weekly Grist gallery

See our Weekly Grist Gallery, this week with 55 pictures of the Selma Church Fundraiser event.

See Pepper the Schnauzer in this gallery the one and only Schnauzer to attend the Selma Methodist Church fundraiser. Well socialized, he fit right in. There you will also see more pictures of the church, the auction and the musicians as well as the cooks and attendees.

This collection is a glimpse at a southern on-the-grounds “git-together” as one should see such an event. Even if you are not an anthropologist you will probably see something you like.

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


The Look-out tree

the look out tree

The state of Arkansas calls this tree a "Look See" tree. Olin Tucker, owner of the tree, and his neighbors around the Coleman, Arkansas community prefer to call it a "look-out" tree.

When I first made the acquaintance of Olin Tucker of the Coleman, Arkansas, community he had just completed pitching the virtues of a pair of used riding mowers he had for sale to a couple of “ol’ boys,” from nearby Dumas. They left without buying, which did not faze Olin one way or the other. I approached him to ask for some information about a bizarre site I had photographed in the woods not far from his home on Arkansas Highway 83.

Selma Methodist Church Selma Arkansas

Selma Methodist Church Selma, Arkansas

Before we go too much further here, I need to advise you that this story came about as a result of a trip to shoot the 1874 model Selma Methodist Church in Selma, Arkansas not far from Coleman. Having shot it in March of 2009, I was overdue to shoot it again. One cannot overshoot a 136-year-old rural church.

The church suffered some wind damage a year or so back and was in danger of falling. It has been saved and stabilized. The church is being restored to its former glory.

See pictures of the church and read the story on the Photo of the Week page at Corndancer dot com. Click here to go there, a good thing to do.

Back to the “look-out” tree

When I asked Olin about what I had seen in the woods not far from his house, he told me he had not ventured that far and was unaware of what I had seen and shot. However, he immediately said, ” … what you need to shoot is that tree,” as he pointed to a fine old white oak tree on his property.

Look out tree at Coleman Arkansas

Look out tree at Coleman Arkansas. The climbing pegs driven into the tree in the late thirties are still in the tree. There is a remnant of the platform left as well as an insulator for the telephone line used by forest rangers.

It turns out, in the late thirties, the tree was designated by the Arkansas Forestry Department to be a “look-out” tree. A look-out tree was a tall critter, normally strategically located on high ground. Forestry department crews would drive climbing pegs into the tree, similar to what you see in telephone poles.  They also installed a platform and lines for a “hand-crank” telephone. Then during threatening seasons, forest rangers could climb the tree to “look out” for forest fires.

At the time, Olin’s grandfather, owner of the property, farmed it extensively. The land then, unlike today, was cleared for row crops and not covered with trees. So, the location offered a long field of vision, a prime consideration for a look-out tree. Olins uncle was a forest ranger and favorably reported the effectiveness of the look-out tree, ” … my uncle said on a clear day, he could see all the way to Dumas,”

A looming threat

In 2000 after Olin moved to his present home from Pine Bluff,  as he admired his tree, it occurred to him that the tree sits precariously near a state highway and is, in fact, the the state highway right-of-way. That being so, he worried, that should the highway department decide to improve Arkansas Highway 83, the tree would probably be lost in the process.

With the fear of losing his tree as a driving force Olin waded hip-deep into the process of finding a way to save it. After no small amount of legwork, in 2006, Olin’s tree was properly admitted to and registered with the Arkansas Famous and Historic Tree Program. The tree will now be there until if falls of its on accord. Some things just work out well.

Things you don’t expect to see departmment

It never ceases to amaze me what I find with a trip down a country road. Usually the more primitive the better. In this case, Holy Toledo, it looks like a ritual slaughter and display of old truck cabs. Or is it a Southeast Arkansas attempt at Stonehenge? Or Easter Island? Perhaps a ferrous oxide memorial in the making. Or aliens staking out a vacation spot.

old truck cabs in woods

What mysterious force dropped these old truck cabs here. Where is Kirk when you need him?

One of the more nefarious habits we sometimes see are impromptu dumps. Further down the road I encountered one. People drive their junk out into the woods and eject it, knowing it will never be seen by many. It this case, I rounded a curve to see a jettisoned porcelain convenience plopped on the side of the road. In the background was a decimated deer stand, and a pile of detritus including old bed springs and other household goods. Well folks, it ain’t hid no more. The world can see it. So there!

old truck cabs in woods

What some litterbug had hoped would go unseen is now on the world-wide-web.

I suppose you can’t help but snicker a bit when you see a lonely pot in a pile of pine needles. I did. Hope you did too despite the inappropriateness of the whole thing. Laugh while you can.

BUT WAIT, there’s more

Click here to browse through a gallery of 13 high resolution versions of this weeks pictures, including a couple not published.

Thanks for dropping by,

Joe Dempsey

%d bloggers like this: