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

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Church in Houston


Old Methodist Church in Houston Arkansas

This place of worship, formerly Houston Methodist Church, as of February, 2010,  Jesus Name Community Church of Faith, Hope & Love, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Akansas, that is

(Author note: This is an edited and updated version of our February 28, 2010 post. All photos were shot that week).

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 Methodist Church Houston Arkansas

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.

Houston Methodist Church Houston Arkansas 2010

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.

Crooked House at Bigelow 2

A few frames later, here’s a glance at the swayback roof line.

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. I launched my former Thistle a bunch of times from this dock.

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