delta Summer 2014
JONES HOME TOUR
Once Upon A Farm LIVING AND LOVING THE SIMPLE LIFE
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Editor's Letter So powerful are the feelings the Arkansas Delta stirs in me that I often wonder if it’s possible others could feel so strongly about the place they live. I seldom think I am alone in the passion I feel for this area, but don’t we all somehow claim things shared as our own private joy? And somehow, at times, feel they belong to us exclusively? Artist Betsy Brackin of Memphis captures the magic of the Delta in her paintings, and when I ran across her work online I was immediately excited and determined to share it with our readers. Having grown up in West Memphis, she is well traveled and has painted all over the world, but lucky for us, she now is focused on the places of her childhood -- and finding great success. Betsy’s family and friends celebrated with her this month the opening of a solo exhibition of her work, Quintessential Delta, at the Rymer Gallery in downtown Nashville. If you’re over that way, don’t miss it. And if you find her work as compelling as I do, you will want to visit her web page, www.betsybrackin.com, to keep up with other places her paintings will be shown. And you might want to make a purchase! With the coming of summer, one of our favorite activities is seeking out beautiful produce and flowers. It was on a visit last year to the Arkansas State University Regional Farmers’ Market in Jonesboro that I first met Piggott’s George Howard and admired the luscious fruits and vegetables which filled the stand where he and his family sell their products each week during the summer months. George engages his customers with kindness and a warm smile and I have since found his wife Elisabeth and their children to be the same. Visiting with them and shooting photographs at their lovely little farmhouse was such a pleasure, and I hope to return there with my three little granddaughters so they can experience farm life of the past, much as I enjoyed it in my childhood on visits to my uncle’s farm. It is important to treasure things from the past, and Candy Hill’s story about Rector native Cyndi Corkran and the beautiful plants she nurtures in her heritage garden near Eureka Springs should inspire us all to give greater attention to the small things which make life so much more meaningful. As this issue’s home tour family, Kevin and Julia Jones not only opened the doors of their beautiful Piggott home, but also shared family stories of the past and their thoughts on the things most important in life. On a trip with her mom to find great eating places and
rediscover the Ozark Trail of the past, writer Cindy Grisham first explored Trumann, rich in history as a former Singer Company town, and then continued down the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway to historic Birdeye, in Cross County, where they, too, found a piece of the past which has thankfully been preserved. Birdeye Store is now a cafe serving burgers, catfish and, Cindy declares, the most delicious fried pies she has ever eaten. Now it’s definitely worth taking a drive for that! The beautifully developed trails of Village Creek State Park, also in Cross County, offer horse lovers a unique riding experience along Crowley’s Ridge, and in another Candy Hill story, park superintendent Vicki Trimble tells how the trails were created and frequent riders share their thoughts on the pleasures each season brings on the trails. In addition to beautiful crops which sustain us, the Delta produces a remarkable number of tremendously talented people. Count among these professional actor Will Mobley, whose gift on the stage first came to light as a student in Rector. Writer Jane Gatewood shares Will’s thoughts on the importance of acting in his life and the significance of live drama in a world too focused on technology. In a short time since his graduation from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, Will has found great success in a career which makes his family and friends at home very proud. Among other stories in this issue, Trent Fletcher writes about former Razorback football standout Gary Adams, a smalltown boy who says he found success in life by being at the right place at the right time; Christie Zolman chronicles the development of the Delta Gateway Museum in Blytheville, soon to be a must-see destination for those who want to learn about the history of this area, and Nan Snider writes about the upcoming grand opening of the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project and the fourth annual Johnny Cash Music Festival the night before, featuring three of country music’s biggest icons who will share their talents to raise money in continued support of the Cash/Dyess projects. We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we’ve enjoyed working on it. Happy summer!
Editor, Delta Crossroads
Features 32 Delta Food: Ozark Trail Finding the flavor off the beaten path
The Howards of Piggott share healthy foods and a contagious spirit for life
41 Home Tour: Vibrant style Kevin and Julia Jones of Piggott
51 Artist Betsy Brackin of Memphis Delta landscapes deeply influenced by regional culture
68 Dyess Colony restored
The boyhood home of Johnny Cash and the original Dyess Colony soon to open for touring
100 The Heritage Garden
Photo by Nancy Kemp
Cyndi Corkran preserves her love for others by planting it forward
Former Montgomery Ward building next to Hays in Day Shopping Center
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Contents 64 Cash Music Fest
Bringing in the big names for a tribute show unlike any other
72 Football famous
Local legend Gary Adams tells his story of success
82 All for show
Will Mobley brings heart and soul to the national stage
Delta Gateway Museum
More in store of historical context
115 Giddy up!
Village Creek stables offer it all for the horse and rider
In Every Issue 7 Editorâ€™s letter 12 Photo feature: Summer signs 39 Product page: Table talk 80 Everyday Heroes 90 Calendar of Events 120 Milestones 122 Backroads Online Access
Columns 27 The Garden Spot:
59 Movie Review 60 That Bookstore in Blytheville: 111
Bellman & Black
Pet Talk: Feeding Fido
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Piggott - 870-598-2201; Rector - 870-595-3549; Trumann - 870-483-6317; Manila - 870-561-4634 Editorial questions and comments should be sent to the editor of Delta Crossroads. Contact: Nancy Kemp, P.O. Box 366, Rector, AR 72461 870-595-3549, 870-595-3611(f ) email@example.com Delta Crossroads is published quarterly and distributed free in Clay, Craighead, Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett counties in Arkansas and Dunklin County in Missouri. Contact the offices at the above numbers for information on advertising. © 2014, Delta Crossroads
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The Howards take their happily ever after to market.
n a charming little white farmhouse, surrounded by beautiful flowers and acres of land where fruits and vegetables grow in abundance, George and Elisabeth Howard of Piggott share with their children a simpler way of life. Returning to a time past when families worked together to grow and preserve their own food, the Howard family celebrates the joy of living while remaining dedicated to the hard work required to keep a large farm going. Son Brice, 16, and daughter Brianna, 15, share with their parents the many jobs which must be done every day, and while there is little time for idleness, there is a relaxed and happy atmosphere. Under large shade trees, Sunny, a mixed breed farm dog, keeps watch over colorful chickens which roam freely
Text by Nancy Kemp| Photos by Nancy Kemp unless noted
about the property, and Lucy, a loving boxer who thinks she is human, stays close to her family. Peals of laughter fill the air as the Howardsâ€™ young foster children sail through the air on a tire swing. Ryder, 4, and Quinton, 6, have been with the family a while, and Quintonâ€™s sister, Teanna, 7, is on respite while her own foster parents are away. Fiercely independent and in love with the idea of selfsufficiency, George and Elisabeth started growing their own fruits, vegetables and meats as a way to save money rather than make it. But when they began offering their foods at markets and events around the area, the response was so overwhelming that they soon decided to create a business to market them.
Once Upon A Farm was born in 2009, and its popularity just keeps growing. Among the regulars at the Arkansas State University regional farmers market in Jonesboro, the Howards display their beautiful berries, jams, produce and pork products on a trailer continually surrounded by shoppers. The couple recently drove to Alfred, Maine, to purchase a mobile unit which has become the market’s Getaway Cafe, with foods and beverages in such great demand that Elisabeth has added a helper, a faithful smoothie customer who seemed a natural choice. “When George and I were contemplating whom to hire, Emily’s name was the one that came to mind,” Elisabeth said. “Over the winter we continued making deliveries to her family, so I had the chance to ask her and she excitedly consented. She has been a wonderful asset to our cafe.” Farmers market items sold by the Howards include fresh hormone-free and antibiotic-free pork, homemade dog treats with no added preservatives or dyes, jams, jellies, fruit butter, salad greens, berries and vegetables. The cafe features freshly roasted, ground and handpressed coffee drinks, fresh fruit smoothies, Italian cream sodas and flavored southern sweet tea, all made with their own fresh fruit, along with bratwurst and smoked sausages from their own pork, hot dogs, nachos and breakfast sandwiches. They constantly strive to add new items. “Our brains bother us sometimes,” Elisabeth laughed. “We are always thinking of new ideas and items and often try them. Sometimes they work out great and other times they flop — but it is a lot of fun trying them out.”
photo by Nancy Kemp
Opportunities to display and sell their products seem to be quickly multiplying, and the Howards also are a part of the success of downtown Jonesboro’s Alive After Five, an open air street festival held on the third Thursday of each month. They also are often a part of special events all over the area and will take part in a new market at the NEA Hospital parking lot aimed at promoting nutrition and fitness. Elisabeth, who grew up in St. Louis, took an elementary teaching job in Malden, Mo., in 1998, and in 2003, when still single, moved alone to the farmhouse, which had been the home of her late grandparents, Charles and Goldie Walker. She always loved the place and enjoyed the tranquility it gave to her days. But things changed when about four years later, she fell in love with George, as well as his children, whom she considers her own. (Son Michael, 24, resides in Minnesota). The household now teems with activity, but Elisabeth’s warm smile reveals the joy she finds in the chaos. George grew up in Malden, and while he had found success in several earlier business ventures, he had been around farming his whole life and it was in his blood. Elisabeth, too, inherited a love of the land from her father, who grew up on a farm and continued gardening in raised beds while living in the St. Louis suburbs. “We love canning the food we grow and enjoying it all winter,” Elisabeth said. “We also want to teach our children a way of life that we feel is so important. These skills that we are teaching them they may never need to be successful, but they are skills they can always have in their back pocket.”
And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer. God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the ﬁelds, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a mee�ng of the school board." So God made a farmer. "I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch un�l his wife's done feeding visi�ng ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a farmer. God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car �re, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, plan�ng �me and harvest season, will ﬁnish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a farmer.
God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-ﬁeld and race to help when he sees the ﬁrst smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer. God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pinkcombed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and �e the ﬂeece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and ﬁnish a hard week's work with a ﬁve-mile drive to church. "Somebody who'd bale a family together with the so� strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a farmer. Paul Harvey Speech from the 1978 FFA Conven�on
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The Howards’ first love is growing small fruits. “We have strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and a small orchard (30 plus) of various fruit trees,” Elisabeth said. “We also grow vegetables such as lettuce, salad and cooking greens, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, okra, potatoes, corn and green beans.” Animals on the farm include hogs, dairy cows and beef cattle, chickens, geese and horses. While the Howards occasionally have flowers to sell, they primarily grow them to attract insects and birds which are beneficial to their garden. “We also like to incorporate as much compan-
ion planting as we can,” Elisabeth said. “This practice helps keep insect problems down and benefits plants nutritionally. We try to avoid using chemicals to keep down weeds and insect destruction. In order to do that, constant tilling and hoeing needs to be done.” A great deal of planning and a greater amount of time and energy are required to grow on a large scale. “We are already planning for next year,” Elisabeth said. “As we plant and watch things grow, we are constantly seeing ways to improve. We say ‘we’ll follow through with that next year.’”
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Planting usually begins indoors in January and the family continues planting in the greenhouse until March. “By the time the weather warms up enough to transplant outside, we have nice healthy plants to put in the ground,” Elisabeth noted. Harvest times vary according to the weather, but generally, greens, lettuce, onions and new potatoes are ready in early May, strawberries in late May, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cucumbers, squash and green beans in June, corn in July and late greens and turnips in September. “We would love to have fancy equipment, but the most important things we use are tillers, hoes, rakes, mowers, weedeaters, and tractor and disc,” Elisabeth said. Daily care of the plants and animals is imperative. “The chickens are given fresh water and let out to free range each day, eggs need to be collected and the hogs are fed and given fresh water,” Elisabeth related. “The cattle are a little less work — they just get fed daily. Fences are checked periodically, and all of the animals need eyes on them every day to watch for signs or injury, sickness or birthing, etc. “We are constantly changing irrigation on all of our garden patches. Tilling and hoeing is done on a regular basis, and as we harvest, we pull weeds and squash any
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if you plant it, it will grow What is container gardening and why would you be interested in gardening in a container? Most everyone has been gardening in containers for years, especially considering that houseplants are in containers —- pots! Container gardening is defined as the practice of growing plants in containers instead of planting them directly in the ground. Containers include just about anything that will hold soil. Repurposed, or recycled, containers of clay, wood, ceramics, metal (copper, brass, aluminum), leather, fiberglass, plastic, etc., are perfect! Reasons you might want to garden in containers include limited space, poor soil, too much shade, a housing development covenant that prohibits gardens, etc. Container gardening is relatively easy to do and allows tremendous flexibility in growing flowers or producing vegetables. Nearly all flowers and vegetables are adaptable to being grown in containers. Herbs are especially easy to grow in containers. It is likely you already have several containers of flowers or other ornamental plants. Most vegetables may be grown in containers, especially those that have sturdy stems/ stalks or vining plants. The only plants not easily adaptable to containers are those that are top-heavy and susceptible to wind blowing them over. Commercial potting soil is the easiest soil to use in containers, especially those that also include nutrients that will feed your plants for 60 to 90 days. If desired, you can mix your own light potting soil, high in organic matter, by mixing one part peat moss, one part coarse sand/garden soil, one part compost and one part vermiculite/Perlite. Mix in one-half tablespoon of a complete fertilizer (for example, 10-1010 or 13-13-13) for each gallon of your soil mix. One-half tablespoon does not seem like much fertilizer, but it should be sufficient for a “starter” fertilizer, and you must be careful not Column by Ralph Seay to over-fertilize and “burn” your plants.
Photos by Connie Seay Summer 2014|deltacrossroads.com
Consulting Care for Your Health Matters
MICHAEL McFARLIN, Pharmacist
A frequently asked gardening question is: what do the three numbers on fertilizer bags mean? The numbers represent the three main fertilizer nutrients (N or nitrogen, P or phosphorus and K or potassium – always designated in the N-P- K order), and the percentage of pounds of each element per 100 pounds of fertilizer. When transplanting, use a time-release fertilizer in accordance with package directions. I use a product called Osmocote (19-6-12), which is water-activated and provides time-released nutrients when your plants need them. To stimulate bloom and fruiting, use a super-bloom, high phosphorus content fertilizer (for example, 10-50-10 or 19-59-19) every one to two weeks. Container plants dry out very quickly. Regularity in watering and good drainage are keys to successful container gardening. That said, be very careful not to over-water! Most plants will not tolerate too much water. The only way to learn how to water your plants is to check the soil frequently to ensure sufficient moisture is available for plant growth, especially when transplanting and near bloom or fruit-set stage. Planting hints that can enhance your chances for success include: moistening your potting media (soil) before you plant (but don’t overdo it); do not cover container drain holes with gravel or pot shards; leave some space between soil surface and top of pot to aid water absorption, and periodically check plants for insects and/or diseases. Last, but certainly not least, what can you use as containers? As mentioned earlier, you can use just about anything! I have included pictures of several examples of containers being used by others. I hope you will consider container gardening some time in the near future. I am sure you will enjoy the fruits of your labor! If you have any questions about gardening or suggestions for potential Delta Crossroads gardening articles, please send them to me via email at email@example.com or you can send them to me via regular mail to: 513 Magnolia Road, Jonesboro, AR 72401.
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HEALTH Column by State Point
Tips to Eat Right & Enjoy It If eating right is a challenge, it may be because you are trying things you simply don’t like. The key is finding options that satisfy your taste buds, say experts. “Taste is a major influential factor driving what you eat and feed your family, so it’s important to strike a balance between foods you like and those that provide the nutrients you need,” says Glenna McCollum, registered dietitian nutritionist and president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Taste and nutrition are not mutually exclusive.” Every so often, it’s a good idea to take the time to evaluate your diet and make positive changes you can sustain long-term. McClollum encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthful eating by combining taste and nutrition to create meals that follow the recommendations of the “2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” With that in mind, McClollum is providing some expert tips on how to enjoy the taste of eating right:
• Love sandwiches? Swap out white
bread for whole grain to up your fiber intake. Instead of mayo, use avocado as a rich addition to your sandwich. It’s more flavorful, and it’s also full of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, as well as other nutrients. To stay fuller longer, include fiber-rich veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers.
• Balance. While there’s always room to in-
dulge, be sure the majority of your calories are sourced from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, fat-free or low-fat dairy, beans, nuts and seeds. You’ll be filling up on all the nutrients your body needs without all the extra calories. And don’t forget to limit added sugars, salt and saturated fats.
• Don’t skip dessert. Many diet fads
will encourage you to skip dessert, but doing so can seem like a sacrifice, which won’t make for a sustainable change. Instead, seek out treats that provide nutritional benefits. For example, mango blended with low-fat milk and a splash of pineapple juice will satisfy your sweet tooth, while giving you a dose of calcium and vitamin C.
• Spice it up.
A great, low-calorie way to add flavor and nutrition to meals without the fat, sugar or salt, is by incorporating beneficial herbs and spices such as cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, thyme, basil and oregano. Citrus juices are another great addition to recipes.
• Ask for advice. Whether you need to
lose weight, want to reduce your risk for disease or just want to improve your family’s overall health, consider consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. Your RDN can help you plan healthy, delicious meals. Don’t just eat for your health, eat for your happiness. Take steps to find foods that are not only nutritious, but taste great too.
For more tips on healthful, tasty eating and to find a RDN, visit www.EatRight.org 30
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Where the locals eat
exploring an eastern leg of the Ozark Trail
love taking drives through the Delta. I have been a history buff my entire life and enjoy driving the backroads looking for those little pieces of the past that our part of the Delta is losing at an all too rapid pace â€” old stores, churches, schools, cotton gins and houses that are losing the battle with man and nature. Even old roads are being forgotten, the part they played in the growth of the region lost along with them. One of those old roads is the Ozark Trail, which was replaced in the 1950â€™s by U.S. Highway 63. The Ozark Trail was constructed in 10 to 15 mile segments by town leaders around the country in the early part of the 20th century. It was the idea of an Arkansas-based entrepreneur named Coin Harvey, who created the road as a way to get travelers to easily reach his resort community, called Monte Ne. Running from Chicago to the west coast, it had spur routes to other regional cities, constructed in sections by groups of local boosters. One of those spurs ran off the main route in Springfield, Mo., and on to Memphis. Several sections of the roadbed still exist in their original form, a 20-foot wide bed of concrete running alongside the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks. One of those sections runs through the Poinsett County town of Trumann. Trumann is interesting in that it was pretty much a company town until the early 1980s, when the enterprise that built the place, the Singer Sewing Machine Company, pulled up stakes and left. That was a period in history when many manufacturers were leaving small towns all over the country, but Trumannâ€™s town leaders got together and created a plan to pull in more manufacturing, which kept the citizens employed and the population not only stable but growing. Now the old road runs on the eastern side of the railbed from Bay, just to the north in Craighead County all the way to the south end of Trumann, where it crosses under the tracks and continues on south.
Text and Photos by Cindy Grisham
Main Street Cafe in Trumann
The original commercial district of Trumann sat there, as did the St. Francis River, which because of damage received during the great New Madrid earthquakes in the winter of 1811 and 1812, was little more than a swamp. The railroad was built up about 15 feet higher than the surrounding land to allow the trains to continue running even when the river left its banks, which it did on a yearly basis. It is hard to keep a business going when you have to paddle to it all the time, so at some point the businesses began crossing the tracks and a new commercial district sprung up along Main Street, which ran perpendicular to the Ozark Trail. It is here that I recently happened upon another of those lost jewels in the Delta, the local diner. The key to finding the best places to eat is to find where the locals eat. These places are usually not fancy and certainly not haute cuisine, but always worth a try. Now Trumann is an eating town. It not only has its share of national chains, but a good smattering of locally-owned establishments located along the road that replaced the Ozark
Birdeye Store interior Trail. History repeats itself, and that road, once U.S. Highway 63, was replaced a few years ago as well and now carries the designation of Arkansas Highway 463. On Main Street, though, in the old downtown, there is the Main Street CafĂŠ, owned and operated by Cheryl Hall, who is almost a culinary institution in the town. She has owned or cooked at a number of local eateries in Trumann for over 40 years and is in the process of training the next generation in the family with her grandson Michael as her kitchen assistant. Her cousin, Lori Renshaw, is also a part of the restaurant, going with Cheryl everywhere she went for the past 30-plus years. Housed in a building almost directly across the street from Singerâ€™s old main office building, Cheryl and family offer a limited menu for lunch and dinner, mainly burgers and sandwiches, but feature an all-you-can-eat buffet for both meals that includes dessert and a drink for $7.50. Thursday evening features a three-piece fish dinner, and Friday is an all-you-can-eat catfish buffet at a slightly higher price. You are guaranteed to go home stuffed and happy.
The key to finding the best places to eat is to find where the locals eat. These places are usually not fancy and certainly not haute cuisine, but always worth a try.
My favorite meal to eat out is breakfast, and Cheryl offers a great Southern-style one for a ridiculously low price. On a recent road trip accompanied by my mother, we stopped in around 9 a.m. and found a packed house and friendly service. Between us we had biscuits and gravy, two large orders of hash browns, two eggs, two pieces of toast, two slices of sausage, three strips of bacon and a huge glass of orange juice, all for $10.25. I can honestly say that it was delicious! Main Street Café is located at 125 West Main and is open from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 9 p.m. on Friday. It is closed Saturday and Sunday. Once we had our bellies filled with a good, hot breakfast, we proceeded on down Main Street to Highway 463, where we stopped to look at another piece of history. Trumann boasts a pretty little Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of these two roads. Unlike many veterans memorials, it features an Honest John rocket, created by the U.S. Army after World War II when the atomic bomb was new and we were not quite sure what kind of military we needed anymore. The Honest John is a short-range rocket
Main Street breakfast
which traveled about 10 miles. It carried a small nuclear warhead with a destructive range of about 25 miles. I am not a math major, but even I can subtract well enough to figure out that the guy who fired this thing was not getting out alive. I can honestly say that I, for one, am glad the Honest John is now relegated to veterans memorials. It is worth stopping to have a look and contemplate the consequences of actually having to use the things. After taking a couple of photos of the Honest John, we drove on out of town and toward another Delta road that is good for an afternoon drive, Arkansas Highway 163, also known as the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway, a part of the National Scenic Byways program. Running parallel along the top and eastern edge of Crowley’s Ridge, it features a landscape unlike any other in the region. It was along this road that we found another local eatery, the Birdeye Store, at the intersection of Highway 163 and Arkansas Highway 42. The store is the old plantation commissary for the W.M. Smith and Sons Farms and has served food in one form or another for its entire existence.
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While the farm is still in operation, the commissary was one of the items that mechanization did away with when sharecropper families were replaced with tractors. The commissary became a gas station and store, with longtime operator Joe Hall, known by all concerned as Mr. Joe, serving cold sandwiches. My good friend from Parkin, Faye Futch, tells me the Birdeye Store always had the best bologna and salami in the area and she and her friends often made the drive to Birdeye just to buy luncheon meats there. It also was the location of what the African American community called the Birdeye Reunion for families that worked the farm there over the years. With the loss of most of those who worked the land as adults, the reunion ended about 1990. The Birdeye Store now is operated by Dedra Morrow, a lifelong resident of the area who took it over from her daughter-in-law when she decided the long hours of a restaurant were not for her. Dedra admits she was not overly excited about the prospect either, but less than a year after taking charge, she absolutely loved it. Birdeye Store is open from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and features a selection of burgers and sandwiches, as well as plate lunches, Monday through Thursday. Friday’s menu features a catfish plate, and Saturday is a “burgers only” day. The thing that caught my eye, and what Dedra calls the heart of the business, is her mother Kay’s fried pies. The store is billed as the Home of Momma Kay’s Fried Pies, and Dedra offers about a dozen different varieties of what may be the best fried pies I have eaten (other than my mom’s of course). I sampled a coconut, always my favorite, and a pecan, which I had never seen before — and they were heavenly. Chock full of filling, the crust was light and flaky, and not at all oily or soggy as many fried pies are apt to be. Dedra says they have visitors who stop in from out of state whenever they are in the area and buy dozens of the pies to be frozen and reheated at home. Birdeye Store caters mainly to a local crowd, but Dedra is always happy to meet new people. The old building retains its historic interior with the old shelving still in place and the old Birdeye Post Office sign still in its original location to the left of the front door. The post office also served as a sort of branch bank for the farm, and the vault is still in place as well.
To All Mississippi County Citizens: On behalf of my family, our campaign staff and myself, I want to express me sincere “Thank You” for your support and vote of confidence in the primary election on May 20th. Although, I am honored, it is a most humbling experience. I look forward to continue serving you and will do so to the best of my ability. It has been a district privilege to have visited with many citizens of Mississippi County and heard your concerns. I look forward to hearing from all citizens in the future, especially the ones I missed during the campaign. We will work with all local leaders, Mayors, Legislators, Police and Fire Departments, the County Judge and Quorum Court justices to continue a positive impact on Mississippi County, moving forward into the 21st century. We have raised the “Bar of Professionalism” within the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department, and thereby allowing us to accomplish our mission of lowering crime in Mississippi County, especially the destruction of our families and children by illegal drugs and its associated crime.
The next time you are looking for something to do, take a drive along the Ozark Trail or the Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and stop in for a bite to eat at the Main Street Café or the Birdeye Store. Both are definitely worth a visit when you are ready for a good, hearty, satisfying meal without that pushed-out-ofthe-way feeling you often get at one of the chains. You’ll be glad you did.
In summary, by raising the “Bar of Professionalism” we will have a Sheriff’s Department that will better serve the public and we can be proud of. I will draw upon my education, training, and experience to “Protect and Serve” you, Mississippi County, and our most important asset (our children). Again, I “Thank You” so much for your vote of confidence! Sincerely, Dale Cook Mississippi County Sheriff
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aith, family and friends. Those three words define Piggottâ€™s Kevin and Julia Jones. Add to that lots of hard work. The owners of Jones Furniture Company in Piggott, these two manage to run a business which is open six days a week, give much of themselves to their church and still make time for each other, as well as their two grown children and three Text and Photos by Nancy Kemp
grandchildren. Their beautiful split level home has a welcoming entry with a wide front porch and stately white columns. Julia took classes in interior design, and her amazing decorating talents are evident when visitors step through the front door. Bold colors and patterns define many of the homeâ€™s spaces, giving a warm appeal. Summer 2014|deltacrossroads.com
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At home in the 4,000-square foot house for the last three years, Julia laughs that when they sold their previous home in Piggott, they vowed to buy something with only one level. “But when we saw this house, we just loved it,” she said. “It actually has four levels, including a basement which we use for storage.” With four bedrooms and three baths, the spacious home features stunning hardwood floors in the main living area and travertine tile in the kitchen and lower level. Walls and built-ins in the den area are of solid maple, and the lower level also features a snack area with a wall of beautiful inlaid wood, installed by previous owners Don and Patsy McNatt. The scene depicts the early streets of nearby Poplar Bluff, Mo., and an apparel business the McNatts owned there. The Joneses have moved several times over the years, primarily because when they got a home fixed up, someone would want to buy it, Julia said. “The house we are in now is big for just the two of us, but when the kids and grandkids are all here it’s a full house — and that’s when I love it the most,” she exclaimed. “I love living here. It’s a great neighborhood and we have great neighbors.”
Kevin and Julia were in the same grade at school and were always friends but didn’t start dating until around the middle of their junior year in high school. “He was actually a good friend of my brother, James, and was often at the house to see him,” Julia laughed. They graduated from Piggott High School in 1977 and were married on Sept. 16, 1979. The families of both Kevin and Julia have long histories in the Piggott and Rector area. Kevin’s early years were spent in Rector, where his parents, Charlie and Barbara, then made their home. His mother’s parents, the late Forrest and Gladys Turnbo, had a neighborhood grocery store which Kevin loved to visit. “I stayed there a lot when I was a kid,” he said. “My sister and I got all the candy, Mountain Dew and Nugrape we could hold. I wish they still had old stores like that.” His dad’s parents, the late Jim and Cerella Jones, lived near the school in Rector. “I still remember the smell of the old smokehouse they had out back. Poppy made me wooden stilts to walk on — better than any toy you can buy today.” Kevin vaguely remembers his dad having a gas station at the town’s main intersection and a carwash on the highway near another small grocery store. “My dad worked for Crockett Oil Company for as long as I can remember and they opened an office in Piggott,” he said. “That was the reason for our move here.” Perhaps explaining Kevin’s amazing work ethic, his father also farmed, with Kevin by his side helping until they gave it up in 1986. “The first place I can remember my mom working was the Piggott Banner,” he said. She later became the Clay County Health Department nurse and remained in that role until she retired. “My dad opened the furniture store in 1979, “ Kevin said.
“When we opened it was on Front Street, where the old bowling alley had been located. When we first started, we were also farming, Dad was working at Crockett’s and I also had another job. Rudy Busby, who worked for us more than 20 years, pretty much sold the furniture and Dad and I would deliver between jobs. It kept us very busy!” At that time, Kevin and his dad went to Memphis each week to get a load of furniture. “I remember getting up at daylight and going to the farm at Leonard (near Rector) to get a load of hogs,” Kevin recalled. “We would haul the hogs to Memphis, wash the truck down there and haul a load of furniture back. Wow, how things have changed! Of course everything is shipped to us now.” The furniture store was moved to its current location in 1984. When Charlie became seriously ill in 2003, Kevin and Julia bought the store from his parents. Charlie died in 2006. “We now have three full-time employees — Julia, myself and Brad Montgomery,” Kevin said. “Brad has been with us 13 or 14 years and pretty much runs the show when we are gone. He treats the business like it is his own. We are very lucky to have him.” Now in business for 35 years, Jones Furniture carries Ashley, Justice, Lane, Bassett, Catnapper, La-Z-Boy and several other brands, as well as Whirlpool appliances, which they service themselves. “We have seen a lot of styles come and go,” Kevin laughed. “We appreciate the support of the community and surrounding area over the years.” Julia is a Piggott girl through and through, though her father was born in the Leonard community near Rector and, ironically, lived at one time on a farm owned by Kevin’s grandfather, “Poppy” Jones.
When the kids and grandkids are all here it’s a full house — and that’s when I love it the most... I love living here. - Julia Jones of Piggott
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Born in the Piggott Hospital in 1959, Julia is the daughter of Florence Eason and the late Donald Eason. Donald, the son of Louie “Doc” and Mary Bell Eason, had two sisters and five brothers. Florence was the daughter of William (Bill) and Lilly Jordan. “My Grandma Lilly had some great stories to tell,” Julia said. “She worked as a housekeeper for Paul and Matilda Pfeiffer during the time Ernest Hemingway was here working on his novel, A Farewell to Arms. She said everytime she got a letter in the mail from her boyfriend, Ernest would offer her $5 to let him read it. She said he never got to read even one!” Lilly also proved to be a valuable source for information when Arkansas State University restored the Piggott house which now is the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center. “I’ve lived in Piggott all of my life except about one year when my parents moved to St. Louis when I was three or four,” she said. After graduation from high school, she attended cosmetology school in Kennett, Mo., and worked for short time at a local beauty shop before taking a job at Loveless Department Store. From there she went next door to work four years at the Piggott Times and then joined United Federal Savings and Loan (now Regions Bank), where she remained for 12 years. With the furniture business thriving, Kevin and his dad expanded to Campbell, Mo., in the early ‘90s, and Julia, who was already doing bookwork for the store
on nights and weekends, became a permanent part of the furniture store crew. When the Campbell store burned in 1996, Kevin and Julia rejoined Charlie and Rudy back at the Piggott store. Both of Julia’s parents worked several years at Brown Shoe Company in Piggott, and her dad worked for many years at Cox Lumber Company in Piggott, building church furniture and pews on the side. “He also restored and refinished furniture and was always out working in his shop,” she said. “I often have people tell me they have a piece in their home he refinished for them. “We, as a family, would also refinish and/or upholster church pews and furniture on weekends during my high school years. A lot of the jobs would be far away, so we would take our sleeping bags and spend the night in the church building we were working in. It was such hard work, but we always had the best time just being together. My dad was a prankster and always made our work fun.” He died in a car wreck in August 1993. “My mom worked as a teachers’ aide at Piggott Elementary School for many years and later managed the PALS (Peer Assistance Learning Strategies) preschool for quite some time,” Julia said. “After she ‘retired,’ she worked part-time at Petals and More, but health problems have kept her from working the last several months.” Three years younger than her brother, Julia was born on his birthday and at almost the exact time of day. “He, like my dad, can make amazing things with wood. He works at a cabinet shop in Paragould but does custom work on his own.” Her sister, Jewell, has worked for years at American Railcar Industries (ARI) in Marmaduke. Both Jones children attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Daughter Jade, 32, lives in Fayetteville with her husband, Zach Rundle, and their children, Caden, 6, and Anniston, 2. Jade taught for several years but now is pursuing a career in art. She is the owner of Vintagely New, which specializes in custom frames, but she does all types of painting. A large Razorback she painted in college was signed by the entire Arkansas football team and now holds a prominent spot in the playroom at her parents’ home. Her husband is a sales specialist with Paschal Heat, Air and Geothermal.
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Kevin and Julia’s son, Jake, 28, resides in Conway and works as a Title II claims representative at the Social Security office in Sherwood (Pulaski County). He and his wife, the former Amanda Johnson of Piggott, have a son, Clay. She works as a marketing coordinator with Crews & Associates in Little Rock. Kevin and Julia are members of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Piggott, where they serve as volunteer leaders of the church’s People Helping People auction. The event has raised thousands of dollars to help families in need. In a recent “makeover” of the church, aimed at making it feel more inviting and comfortable, Kevin crafted crosses which were hung and Julia painted a mural, Footprints in the Sand, using oil pastels. “All that we have and all that we are comes from God, and we thank Him daily for His blessings,” Julia said. “We have been blessed with good health, an amazing family, a prosperous business and a beautiful home. “I am very blessed to have a husband who is strong in his faith, is a great provider and friend, a wonderful father to Jade and Jake, and an awesome Pop to Caden, Clay and Anniston. I know I am right where I am supposed to be.”
Painting the Delta landscape
Betsy Brackin of Memphis
he work of Memphis artist Betsy Brackin has been evolving since she was a child. She has studied and painted in some of the world’s most beautiful locations, but with family roots in the Arkansas Delta, she now is finding fresh inspiration in the rural areas which have long surrounded her. “The time I have recently spent in the rural Delta region has been crucial for the new direction my art is taking me,” Bracken said. She captures on canvas the mysterious appeal of the Delta earth, with its neat rows of crops in light and dark shades, an endless attraction to those whose lives have been built around the miles and miles of fields with their tiny gray farmhouses and intersecting rows of towering trees.
Text by Nancy Kemp| Photos provided courtesy
Arkansas; 12”x6”, acrylic
While she lives and often paints in her downtown Memphis apartment, Brackin also has a studio outside of Marion, in Crittenden County, and the views outside her windows recharge her passion. “My main focus is landscape painting,” she said. “I tend to have a very stylized stroke with my acrylics and watercolors. I love painting landscapes from all over the world, but my works on the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta are what I am best known for.” Born in Osceola, where her grandfather farmed, Brackin moved with her family to West Memphis at age six. The following year she began taking art lessons from Sandra Papps. “I took classes during the school year, but I became more serious about art when I began studying in the summers as well,” Brackin said. “As a child, I was not exposed to many of the well-known artists, but I always loved the impressionists. After Ms. Papps retired, I began taking lessons from Sali Ware. I also was influenced by my art teachers in West Memphis public schools, Mary Anne Garey and Elaine Earney.”
Mississippi Cotton; 48”x36”, acrylic
I tend to have a very stylized stroke with my acrylics and watercolors. I love painting landscapes from all over the world, but my works on the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta are what I am best known for. - Betsy Brackin of Memphis
Brackin created this installation piece, a three-dimensional Delta landscape made with cotton, at a “Farm Is Art” event, hosted by Brandon Pugh at his Delta Sol Farm in Proctor. The event gave exposure to organic farming and the concept that eating healthy enhances ones life, as does art. 52
Nauosa, Greece; 12”x20”, acrylic
New Zealand, Bull Kelp; 10”x10”, acrylic
Arkansas Rice; 10”x10”, acrylic
Monster milo; 48”x72”, acrylic
Nightime beans; 30”x18”, mixed media Summer 2014|deltacrossroads.com
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Brackin at work in her studio Family influence also played a part in her art interest. “Both of my grandfathers could draw well and my grandmother dabbled in painting and ceramics when I was a child,” she said. Betsy remains very close to her parents, Bryan and Pam Brackin of West Memphis, and her sister, Lucie, is her next door neighbor. “My brother, Sam, and his son, Eli, also live in West Memphis,” she said. “We all like to spend time together at Horseshoe Lake, where, luckily, my family has lake cabins.” Brackin began her college career at Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Memphis College of Art. She lived in Colorado for two years, working odd jobs and painting the beautiful surrounding landscapes, and has taken specialized art classes in southern Europe, living for a time in Episkopi, Greece, and Naples, Italy. “My Greece paintings are all from visits to that beautiful country,” she said. “I have spent several summers in Greece working odd jobs with the ulterior motive to paint.”
View from My Studio; 6”x12”, acrylic
Serving Farmers for over 130 Years
Brackin’s studio in Marion
While art is her career, she still occasionally takes part-time jobs which allow her to pursue her art interest. “My last part-time job was filling in for my father, who has a rural mail route in eastern Arkansas,” she said. “Most of the odd jobs in my past opened my eyes to new directions in my art.” Brackin’s favorite medium is watercolor, though she frequently works in acrylics or mixed media. Old structures find their way into many of her works.
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Detail of Arkansas Delta; 56”x36”, mixed media
Arkansas Delta map
“Quintessential Delta” June 7-28 Rymer Gallery Nashville, Tenn.
BetsyBrackin.com for more from the artist
“In addition to painting, I also enjoy wood sculpture and metalwork, although I do not find enough time to develop this medium,” she exclaimed. “As any self-employed business person knows, it is sometimes challenging not to have a regular source of income. I have found it challenging to not be able to execute on all of the fresh, new ideas I have for my art. There are never enough hours in the day!” Brackin’s work has become widely recognized, and a solo exhibition of her work titled “Quintessential Delta” opened June 7 and will continue through June 28 at the Rymer Gallery in downtown Nashville. She was the Featured Arkansas DeltaMade Artist at a 2011 Arkansas Governor’s Mansion reception, and her work also has been displayed in multiple gallery locations in the tri-state area, including Greg Thompson Fine Arts in Little Rock, Foxtrot Gallery in Clarksdale, Miss., Bruins Gallery and Plantation Gallery at Horseshoe Lake, and various unique spaces. “One of the most recent was an old fire station in Memphis a friend of mine is renovating to live in,” Brackin said. Her original art pieces are for sale and she paints a limited number of commissioned pieces each year. Those who are interested in her work may contact her through her website: www.betsybrackin.com “I do not sell repeat pieces of any particular painting, but a lot of the landscapes I do are similar in color and composition,” she said. “I will work with clients that specify to me which pieces they are more attracted to of my past work and I keep their feedback in mind while executing the painting.” She loves to travel but seems to be firmly anchored and again allowing her roots to grow deeper in the Delta region. With the Nashville exhibition now up at the Rymer, she is focused on making preparations for her October wedding to Memphis chef Brown Burch.
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MOVIE REVIEW ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ What’s this? A film based on a young-adult novel about a teen romance that doesn’t feature any supernatural elements, a dystopian future, or even a contrived love-triangle? I must say that’s a huge relief, and we can just see these characters grow together through a harsh reality. And what’s the harsh reality? Dealing with cancer… Yeah, it’s kind of hard to believe, isn’t it? It almost welcomes the inappropriate phrase, “the young-adult cancer romance.” But I did read the book, written by John Green. It is a good read — melancholy but with realistic issues, strong characterization and good comedic relief thrown in at just the right times. “The Fault in Our Stars,” the film adaptation directed by Josh Boone and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is effectively moving. It’s just as successful as the novel and features good actors that bring strong characters to life. The main character is Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley), a 16-yearold girl who, because of her cancer, uses a portable oxygen tank to breathe. She attends a cancer patients’ support group (mainly to satisfy her mother, played well by Laura Dern) and finds nothing to raise her spirits until she meets a charming teenage boy named Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort). Augustus attends the group meetings to support his friend Isaac (Nat Wolff ), who is about to be blind due to a tumor in one eye. Augustus, a former athlete, had his leg amputated and is now seemingly cancer-free. Hazel and Augustus start to hang out together and they text and flirt. What starts as a friendship grows into a romance in time. It is refreshing how much time goes by before their first kiss. Hazel forces Augustus (or Gus, as he’s sometimes called) to read her favorite novel, which has become an obsession,
mainly because of its ambiguous ending. Midway through the film, Hazel and Augustus make an excursion to Amsterdam to visit the novel’s reclusive author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe). It’s here the story grows more interesting, especially to those who haven’t read the book beforehand, because it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen, what truths will be revealed and where it will go from there. When something upsetting is revealed, it happens naturally and is well-handled. That brings us to the dramatic final half of the film, which I’ll admit is manipulative — and sometimes overly so. It definitely worked for teenage girls in the large audience I was in; they were bawling their eyes out and hardly stopped throughout the film’s last 30 minutes or so. But it was hard for me not to feel emotions also, because I grew to like Hazel and Augustus and understood just how doomed their romance really was. They actually talk about this. The writers kept most of the dialogue from the original book, and it sounds and feels as one thinks real people would talk if they were in this situation. Even with something as heavy as someone saying they will die probably long before the other, it is handled in a gentle way that works well. The film as a whole is certainly not a downer. There are some good funny moments and light comedy in the screenplay. The lighthearted conversations between Hazel and Augustus are cute, some of their texting conversations (which are shown to us through animated bubbles) are funny, and Nat Wolff, as Isaac, provides very good comic relief and, thankfully, makes some appearances in the dramatic final half after being away for a time until then. I would have liked to see more of this kid. I love that the characters of Hazel and
Tanner Smith Film Critic
RATED: Augustus are just as fully realized here as in the book. They weren’t lost in translation. You see them as real young people with quirks, problems, their own times to be serious, their own times to have fun — and they’re always believable. Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are terrific at bringing their roles to life, and they exhibit convincing chemistry together. Now I’ll admit I wasn’t so sure about the film in its first 10 minutes. I thought the introduction was a little awkward in explaining Hazel’s illness. I felt the meet-cute between Hazel and Augustus was too awkwardly handled, and there’s a brief backstory (shown and told to us) about the therapy group leader, whom we never see again. It’s as if the filmmakers were forced to show diehard fans of the novel that this character was included in the movie. And since we’re talking about problems, I think there could’ve been a little more editing. A few scenes awkwardly drag on a little longer than they should. But when I got past all of that, I got into “The Fault in Our Stars” and found it to be a well-acted, sweet film with enough humor to keep me entertained and enough melancholy effectiveness to keep me invested. And thankfully, it didn’t need anything else we usually find in young-adult novels to bring in more teenagers.
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Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story, I Think
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“I bet I can hit that bird,” boasts tenyear-old William Bellman to his friends as they play with his new slingshot. Pointing to a far-off oak, he takes aim, releases the loaded strap, and in the distance his target, a rook, falls dead. The boys run to inspect the kill. While his friends cavort and congratulate his prowess, William — a child not given to cruel mischief — is quietly and profoundly mortified by his moment’s thoughtlessness. Nonetheless, his eye is caught by the shimmering, shifting iridescence of the dead blackbird’s feathers. As he heads home alone later, William feels compelled to peeer back at the kill site and is horrified to spy scores of rooks settling in the tree — all gazing in his direction. So begins Diane Setterfield’s second novel, Bellman & Black. Black birds provide familiar Gothic imagery, making unwelcome appearances, boding ill and ominous. Bellman & Black is peppered with rooks — one gets caught in a chimney, clouds of them fill skies, another frequents William’s garden — and Setterfield ratchets up the creep factor in her already-creepy novel by interspersing it with snippets of rook-facts, none of them particularly comforting; e.g., rooks “know everything and they do not forget.” William Bellman and his mates grow up and apart; he goes to work in and eventually takes over his uncle’s mill. He learns that true black is the most difficult of dyeing to perfect, yet he and his dyemen succeed. Under his innovative and driving oversight the business thrives and expands, taking over competitors’ factories and specializing in black cloth. Although an obsessive workaholic himself, Bellman is a kind and generous employer, even providing bread and milk for his workers’ breakfast. He sings in church, marries and has four children, and has the respect and admiration of all in his surrounds. Life is good and it is in his nature to try to make it so for others. But one by one, those around him begin to die. And at each funeral William attends he glimpses a dark figure, someone he feels he
should know but cannot place, a man who vanishes before he can approach. Eventually the mysterious person approaches Bellman, coming to him as his one remaining child lies close to death as another victim of a fever that has ravaged the mill town. Bellman’s whole world has become funereal; he is filled with grief and his mind is muddled. The black-clad stranger proposes an opportunity. The following morning Dora Bellman begins to improve, although the sickness has disfigured and weakened her. William Bellman senses he has struck a bargain with the stranger, whose name he never caught, but cannot define the terms no matter how he tries. He only knows now that they are bound in a partnership and that his daughter’s life is in the balance. Victorian society dictated a strict set of rules for funerals and mourning. Grief periods were regulated, one’s attire consisted of shades of black, and funeral and burial arrangements were extravagant. William Bellman founds a second business, becoming England’s leading purveyor of all things funereal. He dubs his new concern Bellman & Black, though his silent, now-absent partner remains unnamed, and the business grows to be wildly successful. All the while, Bellman sets aside vast sums for the man he thinks of as Black, holding in the back of his mind the thought that one day there will come a reckoning. Diane Setterfield is a teller of ghostly tales. Her debut work, The Thirteenth Tale, was an immediate bestseller and dealt with spirits and strangeness. Bellman & Black is subtitled “A Ghost Story,” and a lurking dread pervades the recounting of William Bellman’s rise and fall. Yet we are never certain we’ve encountered a ghost. Bellman & Black is a chilly, atmospheric book and one that held this reader’s attention to the somewhat unsatisfying end, which leaves matters, and in fact the entire story, unexplained. But isn’t that the point of a good ghost story — the telling of the inexplicable?
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If we had any one of these four individuals on the bill for one night, we would have an extremely successful event, but having all four at once is a real coup for the Johnny Cash Music Festival. - Bill Carter, concert founder and producer
n just four years, the annual Johnny Cash Music Festival, held at Arkansas State University’s Convocation Center in Jonesboro, has become a “must” for music lovers from a wide area. This year’s star-studded celebration will take place Friday, Aug. 15, beginning at 7 p.m. Three legends of country music — Reba McEntire, Bobby Bare and Loretta Lynn — will be on hand to make the evening another memorable experience, with singer and comedian Mark Lowry as guest host. “The reputation of this event grows stronger every year,” said concert founder and producer Bill Carter. “People have come to know that this festival not only provides world class entertainment, but goes to support and preserve something that was near and dear to Johnny Cash’s own heart — the home he grew up in at Dyess.” Through the years, many of the entertainers have donated their performances and, in many cases their travel expenses, to support the renovation and revitalization of the Cash home and a scholarship fund established in Johnny Cash’s name. Proceeds from the annual event have raised $1.9 million toward a goal of $3.2 million. An extra bonus this year will be the grand opening of the Cash home the next day, Saturday, Aug. 16, in Dyess, as part of the ongoing Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash Project, spearheaded by ASU. “If we had any one of these four individuals on the bill for one night, we would have an extremely successful event, but having all four at once is a real coup for the Johnny Cash Music Festival,” Carter said. “We always try to get artists who actually knew Johnny and who would have a personal connection to him and understand the goal of the project.
Text by Nan Snider| Photos provided courtesy
OHNNY C • J
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Mark Lowry Summer 2014|deltacrossroads.com
“The entertainment value of the artists is always very important, as we want someone that people will really enjoy seeing. I know personally that these four people really put on a great show, and that is what we want. The festival has become a one-of-a-kind event and something people talk about for years.” Reba McEntire is one of the most successful female recording stars in history, selling more than 56 million albums worldwide, and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. She has won 15 American Music Awards, 13 Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards, nine People’s Choice Awards, seven Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, two Grammy Awards, and ACM Career Achievement Honor and is one of only four entertainers in history to receive the National Artistic Achievement Award from the U. S. Congress. Reba’s list of number one hits spans four decades. The Oklahoma native also is an acclaimed actress, with 11 movie credits to her name. Carter is Reba’s former manager and inspired her to commit to doing the Johnny Cash Music Festival. She coordinated her concert dates this year to make sure she could perform at the event. “I like the college scholarship idea, as getting kids in college is very important to me,” McEntire said. “And refurbishing Johnny’s boyhood home is such a cool idea. I look forward to being back in Jonesboro, as I performed at ASU a few years ago.” Bobby Bare was inducted in October of 2013 into the Country Music Hall of Fame, one of the most prestigious honors a recording artist can receive. Bare has been writing and recording hit songs for more than 50 years. He recorded his first hit, “Shame On Me,” in 1962 and went on to accumulate thirty Top 20 singles. He also won a Grammy for his hit “Detroit City.” Bare did a duet with Rosanne Cash called “No Memories Hangin’ Round.” Loretta Lynn’s career has spanned more than 50 years. The Coal Miner’s Daughter is perhaps the title that people most associate with the artist. It was a hit single, album title, best-selling autobiography and an Oscar-winning film. She recorded many award-winning duets with late country music legend Conway Twitty. In 1972, Lynn won her second Best Female Vocalist award from the Country Music Association and became the first woman to win the CMA’s most prestigious award, Entertainer of the Year. Lynn professes to have always loved Johnny Cash and says she felt he loved her too. They shared the same birth year, born just months apart, and shared the same classic country music generation. Lynn and Cash worked together,
TempsPLUS 102 W. Walnut Blytheville, AR 72315 870-762-2262 Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare along with June Carter, Maybelle Carter and the rest of the Carter family. Lynn has recorded over 90 music tracks with John Carter Cash (son of Johnny and June Carter Cash) at his Cash Cabin Studio. Some were new songs and some were not. Mark Lowry is known and loved around the world as a trusted voice in the realm of gospel music and beyond. He started making music at age 11 and now, more than four decades later, his legacy is forever sealed as an innately entertaining communicator who can, at once, make audiences laugh, cry and think. Lowry is a singer, storyteller, humorist, author and songwriter, whose lyric to “Mary Did You Know?” resulted in one of the most loved modern Christmas songs of this century. He has spent more than 20 collective years as the baritone singer for the Grammy-award-winning Gaither Vocal Band and serves as the comedic sidekick for Bill Gaither through live concert tours and the best-selling Gaither Homecoming video series and television airings. He maintains a full schedule of solo concerts, as well as Gaither Vocal Band tour dates and performances at Women of Faith Conferences across North America. “I am very grateful to the music fans who always come out to enjoy a great night of music and contribute to this great cause,” Carter said. “We are all committed toward preserving Johnny Cash’s legacy. Education was something that was extremely important to him. The fact that some of the proceeds fund scholarships for young people who might not otherwise be able to attend college is extremely important to all of us involved.” Tickets to the Johnny Cash Music Festival went on sale in February and have been known to sell out quickly. They can be purchased at ASU’s Box Office (1-888-278-3267) and online at Tickets.AState.edu. Check out the official website at JohnnyCashMusicFest.com
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Photo by Nan Snider
Photo courtesy A.J. Henson
(above) The boyhood home of Johnny Cash at Dyess Colony, (left) Cashâ€™s bedroom, (below) A dressing table on display in the home.
Photo by Revis Blaylock
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, living in the hopeless, hungry side of town. I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, but is there because he is a victim of the times. -Johnny Cash, “The Man In Black”
Where it all began
Johnny Cash with his custom Gibson guitar
Boyhood home of Johnny Cash, Dyess Colony restored
he fullfillment of a dream, long held by many, draws near with the approaching grand opening of the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash, set Saturday, Aug. 16. “It has been a long time coming, and we are very proud of the work done in Dyess with the restoration of the administration building and the Johnny Cash boyhood home,” said Dr. Ruth Hawkins, Arkansas State University Historic Sites executive director. “We are attempting to develop the heritage of this area to spur new investment in this rural community. This site can be used as a catalyst for bringing people back into Dyess and creating new tourism-related businesses here.” The ongoing enterprise of creating and maintaining the historic Dyess Colony program is a joint effort between ASU and the City of Dyess. Dyess Colony was established in 1934 as the largest of the original resettlement colonies formed during the Great Depression under the leadership of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. There were 487 families relocated to Dyess Colony on 15,144 acres of farmland in southwestern Mississippi County. In 1935, Ray and Carrie Cash, the parents of future music
Text by Nan Snider| Photos provided courtesy unless noted
legend Johnny Cash, moved to Dyess Colony from Kingsland (Cleveland County) in south Arkansas. Johnny and his six siblings Roy, Louise, Jack, Reba, Joanne and Tommy, always called Dyess their hometown. The family lived there until 1954. “For years tourists have had a desire to visit Dyess whenever they learned that this is where Johnny Cash grew up,” said Dyess mayor Larry Sims. “After the Academy Award-winning movie ‘Walk the Line’ came out in 2005, visitors became even more frequent. They all wanted to see the home where Johnny had lived and the school he graduated from -- and even the town where he spent his free time. We knew right then that the potential for tourism was definitely here.” With a generous gift from Dyess resident Gene Williams, another well-known country music television show host, the City of Dyess was able to acquire the Dyess Colony administration building and the remnants of the theatre next door in 2007. The city originally planned to restore the administration building and use one side for municipal offices and the other side as a museum and memorial for Johnny Cash and other outstanding former residents.
Administration building at Dyess Colony
Photo courtesy A.J. Henson
Photo by Nan Snider
Photo by Corey Clairday
Photo courtesy A.J. Henson
(above) John Carter Cash; (top right) Dr. Hawkins, second from right, with Cash family members; (right) J.E. Huff and A.J. Henson.
In 2011, Arkansas State University purchased the Johnny Cash boyhood home, originally Dyess Colony home #266, on West County Road 924. Dr. Hawkins and a team of others have worked diligently to restore the foundation and exterior, along with every surface and every room of the house. “Tommy Cash and Joanne Cash Yates were priceless in helping us refurbish the home as it was when they lived there,” Dr. Hawkins said. “They have excellent memories about colors and furnishings of items in their home. Family members and local residents also have been instrumental in helping us acquire original items for the home.” A.J. Henson of Memphis and J.E. Huff of Dyess, classmates of Johnny Cash at Dyess High School, toured the home during a VIP inspection tour April 25. “I can’t get over how detailed the furnishings are at the home,” Henson said. “It is just like stepping back in time. I spent a lot of time there when Johnny and I were growing up and have a lot of great memories of the homes and people who lived in Dyess during the early years.” “Johnny and his parents would be so happy to see what ASU has done with their home and the administration building uptown,” Huff said. “This is what we have all wanted for so many years, and we would have never been able to raise the money to do it by ourselves.” The City of Dyess donated the administration building and theatre shell to ASU for inclusion in the Historic Dyess Colony: Boyhood Home of Johnny Cash project. “We have been able to obtain $1.5 million in grants for the Dyess project,” Dr. Hawkins said. “We still have more improvements and additions to make in the future. We plan to turn the theatre into a visitor orientation center, add a walking trail connecting the two sites, and add a barn, chicken house, smokehouse, outhouse and caretaker’s home to the Cash home site. This is a great beginning.” The fourth annual Johnny Cash Music Festival will be held Aug. 15 at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro. The event will feature country music artists who donate their performances, and in many cases, their travel expenses as well. Proceeds from the annual musical celebration, first held in 2011, have raised $1.9 million toward a goal of $3.2 million for the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home project. Under the direction of Dr. Hawkins and a team of charter donors, project advisers, the Arkansas Steering Committee, National Advisory Council, Johnny Cash Music Festival and Cash family representatives, the renovated structures now are ready to welcome visitors to Dyess from all around the world. The Aug. 16 open house tour will begin at the administration building in Dyess. Buses then will transport visitors to the Cash home (just outside of town) and back. Tickets are $10 each.
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The right man at the right time
ome might say former Arkansas Razorback great Gary Adams has lived a charmed life. Adams believes it’s more about being in the right place at the right time. Adams grew up in the picturesque little town of Piggott, Arkansas, located in the heart of Clay County, a place where the legendary Ernest Hemmingway once banged out timeless novels on his typewriter. The Piggott native was the youngest of four and the only son of Charlie and Lubie Adams. “I had three older sisters, Fern, June and Florece,” Adams said. “Florece was my youngest sister, but she was 11 years older than me, and a very good basketball player in her own right,” said the three-time All-Southwest Conference defensive back for the Razorbacks, who was named to the University of Arkansas’ 1960s All-Decade team. “My dad was a good baseball player who had come to Arkansas from Illinois in the 1920s,” Adams said. “He had an 80-acre farm in Carryville, which is just outside of Piggott, near the banks of the St. Francis River. My mother was a sales representative for Stanley Home Products and was a very outgoing person.” Sports became a part of Adams’ life at an early age — and it all began in Piggott. “I always liked having a ball in my hands,” Adams said. “Basketball, football, baseball and track, I played them all. It was common back then to go from one sport to another. These days unfortunately you have to specialize. I don’t like that. I think all sports complement each other.”
Gary Adams, PHS quarterback
Story by Trent Fletcher| Photos provided courtesy
Photo by Trent Fletcher
Gary Adams with his grandchildren Adams’ versatility allowed the fleet youngster to play quarterback in football, guard in basketball and shortstop on the baseball diamond. He led Piggott to back-to-back unbeaten seasons on the gridiron and a state tournament berth in basketball. “I also played Legion baseball because we didn’t have a high school team,” Adams said. “My teammates on the Paragould Legion squad included Gary and Manuel Washington, who went on to star at Mississippi State.” The talented Adams entertained several scholarship offers, including all the Arkansas Intercollegiate Colleges, as well as Arkansas State. “I was also interested in Missouri, but all my sisters had gone to Harding University, so I figured I would end up there,” he said. “My mother just knew I would go to Harding, but she didn’t interfere with my decision. Recruiting in those days was not like it is today. I remember the president of Harding, Cliff Ganus, who was also a preacher, coming to my house on a recruiting visit. My mom cooked him squirrel and dumplings. I later ran into Ganus and he told me he had never had that meal before or since and that he always remembered that visit,” chuckled Adams. “I wasn’t sure I was big enough to play at Arkansas or any of the other Southwest Conference schools,” Adams said. His thinking began to change at the end of his junior year when Razorbacks coach Frank Broyles visited Piggott to speak at the Mohawk athletic banquet. Broyles also was there on a recruiting trip to offer another Piggott standout, Tommy Dixon, a scholarship.
“Tommy was a super athlete who was a year ahead of me in school,” Adams said. “Coach Broyles told me he had seen me on film. We DID have film in those days,” he laughed. “Coach Broyles said if I kept up the good work he would be back the following year with an offer for me. Well, Coach Broyles didn’t make the trip back, but he did send his top assistant coach, Merv Johnson, who offered scholarships to both me and my teammate, Darrell Simpson. “I was going to attend Arkansas State. They were going to let me play both football and basketball, because I really loved basketball. While attending a recruiting function at an Arkansas State football game in the fall of 1964, we heard a commotion in the stands. Nothing was happening on the field and we wanted to know what was going on. “Someone said Ken Hatfield just ran a punt 80 yards for a touchdown against Texas. That play changed a lot of lives in the state of Arkansas. I ended up going to Arkansas because of Tommy Dixon. Tommy would redshirt his first year, so we ended up in the same class. Going to Arkansas with Tommy and Darrell made it a lot easier, even though Darrell didn’t stay. He ended up going back home to marry his sweetheart. But it was a neat thing having three kids from Piggott all at the U of A at the same time. “One of the most enjoyable things about my college career was when Tommy and I both started together in the secondary our senior year. I still stay in touch with Tommy, who now lives in Bentonville.”
Adams arrived on the University of Arkansas campus in the fall of 1965.
Adams arrived on the campus of the University of Arkansas in the fall of 1965. It was the golden era of Razorback football. The Hogs were fresh off a National Championship in 1964 and were riding the nation’s longest winning streak, 22 in a row. Freshmen were not eligible to play on the varsity in those days, so Adams saw action as the quarterback on the frosh team, known as the Shoats. “I wanted to be a quarterback throughout my time at Arkansas, but I knew we had an All-SWC quarterback in Jon Brittenum and a couple of others who were ahead of me,” he said. “I knew my time wouldn’t come until I was at least a senior. Defensive back coach Johnny Majors came to me and said they needed help in the secondary and asked if I would switch. Coach Majors thought I could start there immediately. It turned out to be a good decision for me.” The 1966 season would be bittersweet for Adams. It included one of Adams’ best games, two of his most disappointing losses, plus a team tragedy. The ’66 Hogs boasted two future first-round National Football League draft picks, including Outland Trophy winner Lloyd Phillips and running back Harry Jones, who became the first Razorback to don the cover of Sports Illustrated. Arkansas owned a 16-game conference winning streak entering the Baylor contest in Fayetteville, but the Bears shocked the Razorbacks, 7-0. “Baylor quarterback Terry Southall threw a touchdown pass right between me and Martine Bercher,” Adams said. “We had a touchdown pass by Brittenum called back, and we ended up losing. It was the first time I saw Coach Broyles with tears in his eyes.” Adams and the Hogs bounced back the next game against archrival Texas in what proved to be the sophomore’s shining moment as a Razorback.
“Texas had a quarterback, Bill Bradley, who drove the Longhorns down to our three yard line in the fourth quarter with us clinging to a 12-7 lead,” Adams recalled. “As Bradley went to pass, I was able to read his eyes. I dove for the ball and came up with the interception in the end zone. We were forced to punt, giving Texas one last shot, but one of our linebackers tipped another Bradley pass and I came up with my second interception in a row, which put the game away. It was quite a thrill.” Later that year, Adams’ teammate, Claude Smithee, suffered a head injury. After missing a couple of games, Smithee was cleared to play against Texas A&M. While on the field, the defensive tackle collapsed and never regained consciousness. “Claude just fell,” Adams said. “It wasn’t a hit to the head or anything. Our team was devastated. We had one game left against Texas Tech in Lubbock. If we won the game, we would go to the Cotton Bowl for the third straight year and claim our third consecutive conference championship.” The Hogs, playing with heavy hearts, lost a 21-16 heartbreaker and, with it, a trip to Dallas. “It was the game where it looked as though Brittenum had sneaked in twice for the go-ahead touchdown, but the all-Texas officiating crew saw otherwise,” Adams grimaced. “In those days, the seniors voted on attending a bowl game, and we chose to stay home, turning down offers from several other bowls. We had finished 8-2 and were ranked in the top 10 nationally. The sophomores and juniors were very disappointed with the decision. We should have gone somewhere.”
Adams’ junior year was one he tries to forget. “We got off to a poor start and never settled on a quarterback. It was a lost year,” he said. The Hogs rebounded in 1968, Adams’ senior season, going 10-1 and earning a trip to the Sugar Bowl, opposite undefeated and fourth-ranked Georgia. The Razorbacks’ only blemish was a 39-29 loss at Texas, but Arkansas still earned a share of the conference title. One game Adams recalls vividly in ’68 was the Southern Methodist University contest. “We led 35-0 entering the fourth quarter, but SMU had a great passer in Chuck Hixon,” Adams remembered. “They also had the best receiver and player I ever went up against in Jerry Levias. SMU rallied and pulled to within 35-29, but fortunately we held on to win.” The Hogs were all business when they faced Georgia and AllAmericans Jake Scott and Bill Stanfill in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Arkansas upset the favored Bulldogs 16-2 and finished ranked sixth in the country. “Beating Georgia and starting in the secondary alongside Tommy Dixon in the Sugar Bowl was a special feeling,” Adams said. “I was the team’s defensive captain that year, while Jim Barnes, an All-American guard, was our offensive captain.
Adams in action on the field at the U of A
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“We never saw Bourbon Street,” laughed Adams. “Immediately after the game we flew straight to Tampa for the college All-Star game. We were coached by the legendary Alabama coach Paul Bear Bryant in that contest. We had played for Coach Broyles one day and were playing for Coach Bryant the next. It was quite the thrill.” Adams bragged about his teammates during his Razorback career. “I played on some great teams at Arkansas,” he said. “The ’66 bunch had Phillips, Hartford Hamilton and David Cooper on defense. No one ran my direction because of those three. All I had to do was defend the pass. They were great players. On offense, we had Brittenum and Jones, also great players. Our ’68 team was an influx of super sophomores like Bill Montgomery, Chuck Dicus and Bill Burnett. It was quite a group. “In Piggott, when I was in the seventh grade, a guy named Bud Brooks was our coach. We were called the Papooses. None of us had a clue that Coach Brooks had been the 1954 Outland Trophy winner and an All American at Arkansas. We just knew he was one mean coach. Ironically, I would be on the same team with Arkansas’ second Outland Trophy
winner, Lloyd Phillips, who was the best I ever played with. He was special. When he put on a uniform he was something else.” Adams shined at both kick returner and punt returner at Arkansas, following in the footsteps of Razorback greats Lance Alworth, Jackie Brausell, Ken Hatfield and Martine Bercher. “Coach Broyles emphasized the kicking game,” Adams said. “We practiced it more than any other team. I could catch the ball and make the first man miss me. I knew if I could get to the wall of blockers I could gain some good yardage.” Adams intercepted seven passes his sophomore year and finished his career with a then-school-record 13 thefts. The record stood until another Razorback Hall of Famer, Steve Atwater, broke the mark in 1988. “I was there in Austin when Steve broke my record against Texas,” Adams said. “I went to the dressing room after the game and congratulated him. I was very happy for Steve.” Adams remembers the atmosphere at the Hog games and the enthusiasm of the fans. “I had been to only one Razorback game before I signed to play at Arkansas,” Adams said.
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Jim Barnes, Frank Broyles and Gary Adams visit last year during the 45th reunion of the 1968 Southwest Conference Championship team in Fayetteville. Barnes and Adams were senior co-captains for the championship game and for the Sugar Bowl that year.
“The atmosphere in Little Rock was great. All the players loved playing in War Memorial Stadium. I understand why we play most of our games in Fayetteville now. It’s a money thing. Razorback Stadium is a special place, too. I also enjoyed road games to Texas and Texas A&M. Winning there was very special.” Adams never grows tired of talking about the Razorbacks. “Twenty years after I graduated, I met a fan who asked for my autograph,” the Piggott native said. “My daughter, puzzled, looked at me and asked me why someone wanted my autograph. I laughed and told her I didn’t know.” The superlative play of the former Razorback earned Adams a spot in the University of Arkansas’ Hall of Honor in 2011. “It was a great honor being inducted,” said Adams. “I had my family, all my grandkids and lots of friends from Piggott who attended. It was a thrill for me. It’s very difficult to get in the Hall now because of all the great athletes in all the sports who have played for the Razorbacks. It makes the honor even more special.” The Hog defensive back parlayed his college success into a shot at an NFL career. Adams was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was reunited with former Arkansas teammate Harry Jones. But at 5’10”, 180 pounds, Adams feared he once again might be too small. “I knew I had a decent college career, and as it turned out, my size didn’t hurt me as much as my lack of speed,” he said. “It had been a big step from Piggott to the U of A, but a much bigger step from college to the NFL.” But Adams found himself in the right place at the right time once again, being teamed with his old friend Jones. “It made NFL life a lot easier to adjust to,” Adams added.
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Some of his NFL teammates in Philadelphia included quarterbacks Norm Snead and George Mira, fullback Tom Woodeshick, linebacker Tim Rossovich, wide receiver Harold Jackson, as well as old Longhorn foe Bill Bradley. “I also played with Olympic track star John Carlos,” Adams said. “He could fly but he couldn’t hold the ball. My position coach was Irv Cross, who would later be a commentator on CBS, along with Jimmy the Greek and Brent Musburger.” Adams recalled the time he met both his wife and the man with whom his business career would evolve. “Harry Jones and I were looking for work during the off season,” he said. “Harry knew a big Hog fan named Bill Wilson who worked for Southwestern Bell. As we walked into the office, I noticed all these lovely girls, but there was one who especially caught my eye. Meanwhile, Harry had asked to speak with Bill Wilson, who I didn’t know at the time. Wilson was in a meeting with a client, and when told Harry was there to see him, came out of the meeting in a flash. “I was introduced to Wilson when out walked another gentlemen who gave me his business card. He had started a new business called International Computer Systems. I then asked Wilson the name of the girl in the corner of the office and asked him to introduce us. Her name was Gail Vincent. “To make a long story short, we married 11 months later and soon afterwards I went to work for International Computer Systems — and we’ve all been together for 44 years now. It’s that right place, right time thing again, the fork in the road.” Adams has three daughters, Carey, Sheri and Monica, as well as nine grandchildren and one on the way. “My wife is from Louisiana. Her family are all LSU fans,” he said. “Her brother, Herb Vincent, was the associate athletic director at LSU and is currently in charge of communications for the SEC.” Adams heaped praise on his former coaches, who all had big impacts on his life. “Bud Brooks taught me toughness at an early age. Coach Carl (Zig) Williams, my high school coach, pulled us together and we would have done anything for him. It was the same with Coach Broyles. At the end of the day they taught us to win. Coach Williams and Coach Broyles were two people you would do anything for. Coach Broyles coached coaches. He surrounded himself with great assistants and helped them get head coaching jobs. It was a Who’s Who of coaches at the U of A. I have a tremendous amount of respect for both Coach Williams and Coach Broyles.” Adams cites his parents as his biggest influences. “They were unique people,” he said. “My dad was reserved while my mom was personable. My parents went to all my games in both Fayetteville and Little Rock throughout my career, as well as some of the road games in Texas. Of course all the road games were in Texas back then.
Gary Adams, Philadelphia Eagles “My parents are the reason my family comes to Piggott annually. My mother made my sisters and I promise before she died that we would gather as a family at least once a year. We’ve been doing this reunion for around 30 years now. It gives my grandkids a glimpse of their roots. We go to the old fair park and the cemetery. We have a great time together.” Being a former Hog has opened many doors for Adams. “The first few years, it opened most doors for me,” Adams said. “It gave me the opportunity to at least meet the person I needed to meet. Our company has grown from four employees to 245, so I would say it has opened a lot of doors over the years.” A Piggott and Razorback legend, Adams is proud of all his accomplishments, including his time at Arkansas and the NFL, but he still remembers it all began at Piggott with the Papooses and the Mohawks. “Coach Williams and Piggott, that was the start of it all for me,” he said. “We won a lot of games at Piggott and Arkansas. I’m proud of that. I’m proud of my interception record, of being in the Hall of Honor, and the opportunities I had to touch the ball as a kick returner, all of that.” Most of all, Adams is proud of being at the right place at the right time.
Rector Fire Chief
Huston Bowden 1. How long have you been a firefighter? I have been a firefighter for 26 years and have served as Fire Chief for 13 years. 2. Why did you decide to join the fire department? I wanted to serve the community in a unique way to help others. That is also the reason I joined the volunteer ambulance a year after I joined the fire department. I can remember when I was young and would be at (firefighter) Reuben Seayâ€™s house and the fire phone, and then later the fire pager, would go off and I would ride along to see what it was all about. After watching a few of them, I was hooked. 3. What type of training have you completed? I have attended numerous classes that I cannot even count. I received my Firefighter II and have attended Fire Science classes at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas; numerous firefighting classes; rescue and disaster management classes; ISO (Insurance Services Office) training; adjunct instructor, and others. Being a full-time paramedic, I was able to attend classes that had both an EMS and a fire side and kind of melded the two together. 4. What does the community mean to you? It is my home, my friends, my family. The unity of the people of Rector is beyond words. Regardless of whether it is a disaster or a celebration, they band together. Rector may be a small town, but the people are big at heart.
5. With participation declining for many volunteer departments, how does Rector remain so active? I think the volunteer spirit we have in this community is so much better than in some communities across the nation. We have been so fortunate to add more young people to our rosters and they seem very excited. We have excellent cooperation with our surrounding departments and when we go help them and they help us, that impacts these young firefighters and they learn that helping others is so important. These young people that are coming up through the department, and the other ones that help out in the community, are our backbone. We need to give them as much encouragement as we can, not only for our fire departments to survive, but also all of these small communities across America. 6. Whatâ€™s the most rewarding part of being a firefighter? Being able to give back to the community that I live in. People volunteer in the community in so many different ways and it takes all of us to make it a great place to live. Being there in a time of crisis to help makes me hope that if I have a crisis, someone will be there for me one day. Thatâ€™s what being a firefighter in a small town means to me. 7. Other activities/hobbies: I work full-time for Arkansas Methodist Medical Center Ambulance and enjoy working in the yard, growing tomatoes, being home to slow down and relax, and being with friends.
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Life of Art Rector native Will Mobley: a rising star on the national stage
ell me a story,” the child begs, attempting to prolong the bedtime ritual. Campfire circles, classmates’ reunions and family gatherings prompt the same request, soliciting the same response: “Once upon a time…,” or even, “It was a dark and stormy night.” We listen as the storyteller enthralls us with language and action. “Storytellers broaden our minds: engage, provoke, inspire and ultimately, connect us,” says Robert Redford, president and founder of the Sundance Institute. Storytelling, the root of theatre, is elemental in society and as vital to our existence as breath. “Without acting, I cannot breathe,” said Sir Laurence Olivier. Rector native William Garrett Mobley suggests the same. Thankful for the experiences that contributed to and supported a gregarious youngster, Mobley acknowledges the rural upbringing that cultivated an active imagination and connected him with storytelling. An extrovert, Mobley found his niche in the intimate stage environment at Rector High School. He now bases himself in Chicago’s North Shore area.
Reflecting on Arkansas roots, he quickly gives kudos to his fan club — including mom, Julie Roeder Mobley, and sister, Jenna Mobley, both Little Rock teachers, and sister, Sheila Adams of Jonesboro. Super accolades and appreciation pour from Will to his grandparents, Don and Janet Roeder of Piggott, his biggest fans. Family members rarely miss an opportunity to see Will on stage and gladly trek to wherever he is performing. Will’s father, the late Michael A. Mobley, passed away suddenly in 2005. Through the passion of his teacher, friend and high school mentor, Gail Burns, Mobley’s openness to learning new things was nurtured and he began his journey toward professional acting. A 2006 graduate of RHS and a superlative performer in Rector’s award-winning theatre program, Will launched his career from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre and a minor in vocal performance. His talent earned immediate roles and acclaim — and he has not stopped achieving.
Story by Jane Gatewood| Photos provided courtesy
The theatre presents an avenue to a connected society, a beauty that enriches lives.
A working actor rather than a “starving artist,” Mobley studied in France for a summer and performed at Shakespeare festivals and workshop theatres. During the last two years, his work has taken him through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. His mid-America gigs found him in Indiana, Illinois and Spring Green, Wisc., home of the American Players Theatre and the Up-The-Hill Theatre. Mobley currently is appearing in a world premiere musical entitled “Days Like Today,” an adaptation of a play by Charles Mee and a book by Laura Eason, whose recent work with “House of Cards” has gained national attention. With more challenging roles coming his way, he relishes the opportunity to grow by portraying James, the love
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interest in DLT, and by bringing Trip Wyeth to the stage in “Other Desert Cities,” performed with the Arizona Theatre Company and Indiana Repertory Theatre. Dues in professional theatre are steep. Mobley recently toured rural schools in culturally underprivileged areas of the modern western wilderness, meeting children who, like himself at their age, did not know the vocabulary or the nuances of drama. “Oh, to have had these experiences as a young person,” he remarked. “Our opportunities were better than most, I’ve learned, but to experience a professional troupe would have been tremendous.” As for his months on the road with one-day workshops in town after town, Mobley knows he was earning his keep.
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However he saw the experience as a double gift: for the students, enrichment, and for himself, their appreciation. As Will looks forward, he acknowledges his once starry-eyed quest for Broadway. As he grew into a mature understanding of the industry, he learned the rampant commercialism of Broadway, where dollars make decisions. Regional theatre is the fit for Mobley. Small in scope but huge in impact, regional theatre allows actors to make a difference, involve themselves with worthwhile endeavors, and find the opportunity to be heard. “I’m not interested in wasting time,” he said. “Mindless theatre venues are not for me.” Mobley’s desire to foster connections among actors and with an audience drives his professional choices. He can relate, in part, to Charles Chaplin’s remark, “Movies are a fad; audiences really want to see live actors on a stage.” Never without seeking growth in his profession, Mobley is interested in a new form of television drama: the long-form storytelling format. These stories are dramatic episodes. Viewers form relationships with the characters and recognize there is a beginning of the story and an end. This television form had its initial airings with productions like “Lost.” Dramas such as these give relevance to television as an avenue for stage actors to expand their repertoires. “The Sopranos,” “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” are examples of the renaissance of the “long-form drama.” The Sundance Institute (Sundance, Utah) is conducting writers’ workshops and labs for new television drama script writers. At the core of Will Mobley is the love for heightened language and the concept “when regular words are not enough.” With a special affinity for the masterful words of the bard William Shakespeare, Mobley suggests that Shakespeare was the first to let audiences hear from the stage the language of love, vengeance, greed and other basic human emotions. Shakespeare’s poetic form speaks in all genres and in multiple settings, such as that found in outdoor theatre at Spring Green, Wisc., home to American Players Theatre, located outside Madison. In the wooded groves, Up-the-Hill Theatre offers an experience not only for modern theatre, but for the classical. The art of the picnic contributes to an extraordinary theatrical experience. Mobley has acted in works such as “Hamlet,”
Suffering Sister Jenna Mobley and mother Julie Roeder Mobley with WIll Mobley “Twelfth Night,” “Richard III,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona” and “The Taming of the Shrew” through American Players Theatre and in “Macbeth” (Utah Shakespeare Festival). With constant rehearsal and evening performances before a savvy preview audience, “Days Like Today” is debuting as a musical and runs through mid-July at Chicago’s Writer’s Theatre. As one of the rising stars cast in the production, Mobley finds that the work resonates with his desire for ownership and input into the development of the show. Trained in musical theatre at Savannah College of Art and Design, he finds this bittersweet story a thrill with exhilarating opportunity, script and blocking changes sometimes coming the day of the preview performance. The plot centers on a young girl who was jilted at the altar. “She takes time to heal and search within herself to see if love is worth fighting for,” Mobley summarizes. He believes that it’s all worth fighting for — and that includes arts and theatre in small communities. As Olivier said, “I believe that in a great city, or even in a small city or a village, a great theater is the outward and visible sign of an inward and probable culture.” “It’s about sharing experiences and truths, about getting out of our digital bitmaps within our isolated living room world and into a community conversation,” Mobley claims. “The theatre presents an avenue to a connected society, a beauty that enriches lives.” He is in the early stages of a brilliant future in theatre. He understands Constantin Stanislavski’s statement, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Will Mobley is acting large on his stage where nothing is impossible. He believes it’s a privilege to work within a culture that celebrates one of the oldest forms of human art, promoting connections among individuals. Acting provides the space where there are no limitations on what is possible — no limitations for William Garrett Mobley.
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Anyone Can Make a Difference: Ways You Can Give Back
Column by State Point
In today’s connected world, we are flooded with global news 24/7. As a result, many suffer from what experts refer to as “compassion fatigue.” But simple acts of kindness can make your community and world a better place to live. And research says it could even be beneficial to your health. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Claremont Graduate University, people who felt empathy for a stranger experienced a release of the hormone oxytocin, which is associated with lower blood pressure, lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels, reduced pain and improved psychological well-being. “Reaching out to a stranger benefits both people. It’s a win-win,” says Erin Healy, author of the new novel “Stranger Things,” which she was inspired to write in order to raise awareness of sex trafficking and human slavery. Many people are loathe to forge connections with strangers and help others, due to introversion, fear, or concerns that what they have to offer might not be enough. However, Healy points out that a small change in attitude can help spur you to take meaningful action. She offers some quick tips for surmounting your hurdles and giving back:
• Be you. Harness your talents, abilities and the resources already at your disposal to give back or raise awareness. When it comes to helping others, there’s no cookie-cutter way to do it. “Teach a class, buy supplies, be an advocate — it’s all about pinpointing what you can do to shine a light on
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an issue and help improve it, rather than getting mired in what you can’t accomplish,” says Healy. “At present, I can’t travel to India to infiltrate a brothel and pull girls out. I can’t be a live-in ‘mom’ at an aftercare home. But I can write a book. I can help to raise awareness.”
• Shop smart. With a little
research you can better ensure your consumer dollars are not supporting companies that don’t share your values. Consider shopping from companies that donate a portion of their proceeds to non-profit organizations and foundations that support causes about which you are passionate.
• Think local. “When I started
researching ‘Stranger Things’ I was surprised to learn how many small organizations in my own city are already making efforts to aid victims of human trafficking,” Healy says. “Let your heart lead you to a local cause. You
can empower yourself by helping those already doing the work.”
• Think random. You may not have the time to make a long-term volunteering commitment, but every day presents opportunities, big and small, to show kindness to strangers when you take the time to notice them. • Connect with a stranger.
By looking outward you gain perspective on your own troubles and realize that you have more to offer than you may have thought. Be intentional, and take time to notice those around you. As you get to know them, you’ll find yourself moved to help. More information about Healy and her new novel, “Stranger Things,” can be found at www.ErinHealy.com. Don’t let compassion fatigue or a busy schedule keep you from giving back. There are great ways for everyone to make a difference.
Northeast Arkansas Community Calendar June 28-July 1 Les Miserables
the world’s best-loved musical, presented by the Jonesboro Foundation of Arts, showtimes at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. June 28, 2 p.m. June 29, 7 p.m. June 30 and 7 p.m. July 1, at The Forum, 115 E. Monroe in downtown Jonesboro.
Piggott’s annual Fourth of July Celebration and Homecoming
parade at 9 a.m., activities throughout the day and a fireworks display at 10 p.m.
Leachville’s annual Fourth of July celebration all day events with fireworks at 9:11 p.m.
67th annual Caraway Fourth of July Celebration activities throughout the day.
Professional development workshop with Dr. Robb Lamm Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center in Piggott.
Leachville’s annual Watermelon Festival activities throughout the day.
Civil War Roundtable of the Delta
Beth El Heritage Hall in Helena-West Helena.
Summer 2014 August 15
featuring country music stars Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn and Bobby Bare and guest host Mark Lowry, 7 p.m., Arkansas State University Convocation Center.
7:30 p.m., Riceland Hall at The Fowler Center, on the campus of Arkansas State University.
Fourth annual Johnny Cash Music Festival
Grand opening of the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home at Dyess tours starting at the administration building in Dyess.
Third annual Legendary Blues Festival
downtown Cherry Street Pavilion in HelenaWest Helena.
Second annual Rector Helping Hands Foundation 5K Walk/Run 8 a.m., start at Rector High School campus pavilion area.
73rd annual Labor Day Picnic parade at 9 a.m. and entertainment, food and fun all day, Rector Memorial Park on Highway 49.
23rd annual Pioneer Days William Stone House in Colt.
Annual Clay County Fair fairgrounds in Piggott.
Riceland Distinguished Performance Series presents Quartango - Body and Soul Tango Passion
11th annual Native American Day
Maltilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum and Study Center in Piggott.
Soap making workshop
group lodging area at Crowley’s Ridge State Park near Paragould.
Kayak and dinner cruise
starting at the marina, Village Creek State Park in Wynne.
September 15-17 Art retreat
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum at Educational Center in Piggott.
Beatles at the Ridge
Music Festival, Beatles Park in Walnut Ridge.
35th annual Ding Dong Days Festival Memorial Park in Dumas.
September 20-October 31
22nd annual Pumpkin Hollow Pumpkin Patch near St. Francis with hayrides, horse rides, pig chase and much more.
Travel With Us Tours & Cruises
2718 E. Nettleton Ave. Jonesboro
September 26-October 31 Third annual Frightmare Farmhouse in Piggott at Pumpkin Hollow near St. Francis.
37th annual Cotton Pickin’ Jubilee
870-932-7221 — 800-934-7221
2014 ESCORTED TOURS
Marked Tree, featuring music, food and lots of fun for all.
Autumn on the Square
with over 19 years of family fun, downtown square (Chestnut and Poplar Streets) in Marianna.
2014 Jonesboro Walk to End Alzheimer’s & 5K Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
Annual Lost Cane (and surrounding communities) Reunion starting at 10 a.m. at the Manila Community Center.
Nano Mini Exhibition
Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
32nd annual Wild Duck Festival Sports Complex at Trumann.
84th annual Terrapin Derby Lepanto, featuring family fun all day.
Riceland Distinguished Performance Series presents American Idol Stars Celebrate Motown
MACKINAC ISLAND, WISCONSIN DELLS & TREASURES OF EUROPE, July 5-15
SEVEN-DAY ALASKAN CRUISE, August 22-30
BAVARIAN MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL IN ALPINE HELEN, GA, September 17-20 CAPE COD (Annual Fall Trip Returns), September 23 - October 6
7:30 p.m., Riceland Hall at The Fowler Center, on the campus of Arkansas State University.
BACK BY CANYON COUNTRY TOUR & POPULAR DEMAND 2 NIGHTS IN LAS VEGAS, October 17 - 27
PIGEON FORGE, GATLINBURG & SMOKY MOUNTAINS, November 10-14
38th annual Arkansas Rice Festival Weiner
CALL FOR DETAILS: 870-932-7221 • 800-934-7221 2718 E. Nettleton Ave., Jonesboro • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Delta Gateway Museum
a historical revival
ituated in downtown Blytheville inside the historic Kress building is a little known museum with a big future. The Delta Gateway Museum, located at 210 West Main Street, focuses not only on Blytheville, but also the history of Northeast Arkansas, Southeast Missouri and the Arkansas Delta. The museum is a work in progress which already has come a long way since its humble beginning as the Blytheville Heritage Museum, started by Main Street Blytheville several years ago. With the goal of attracting people to the city from a wide area, the City of Blytheville took over the Heritage Museum in 2007 and came up with a plan to renovate the building and create a state-of-the-art facility. The city-appointed Delta Gateway Museum Commission received non-profit status in 2009 and a board of directors was chosen to direct exhibit planning and development, as well as fundraising efforts. The exterior was freshened with new tuckpointing and window replacement, and inside work got underway on ceilings and walls, with volunteers spending countless hours painting and helping create new spaces. Hired in May 2010 as museum director, Leslie Hester spent the first year and a half just getting the building ready for exhibits. “The Kress building was constructed in 1938, and is huge,” Hester said. “In a building this old, there was, and is,
Story by Christie Zolman|Photos provided courtesy unless noted
The “Gateway to the Delta” stands on the Missouri/Arkansas line near Blyhtheville a lot of work to be done. The wall that separates the gallery from the rest of the building is new, as are my office, the restrooms, the multi-purpose room, the wide hallway, a storage area and two work rooms.” The Kress building’s original retractable awning was in bad shape, but has been repaired and is now usable, though Hester noted it is opened manually and will be used only on special occasions to protect it from wind or other weather damage. The only paid staff member, Hester does a lot of the exhibit work herself, but she does have a few dedicated volunteers. Display cases and entire exhibits have been donated, and many objects in the gallery are on loan from private individuals. Those items combined with the original Heritage Museum collection make the Delta Gateway Museum a must see.
More information on the Delta Gateway Museum can be found at the website: www.deltagatewaymuseum.weebly.com/ or on the museum’s Facebook page. Leslie Hester may be contacted at (870) 824-2346. The museum opened to the public in 2011, and with a professional exhibit plan created last year by Design 500, Inc., of Memphis, excitement — and the museum’s collections — are starting to grow. “When we get to the point we can enact our professional exhibit plan, we are going to build walls in the gallery that will divide it into two sections,” Hester said. “One half will be our permanent professional exhibits and the other half temporary exhibits and a gift shop. “We have talked about making the gift shop a replica of the Kress “five and dime” so it is like you are stepping into the original 1940s store. Our modular temporary exhibits will be triangular in shape and on wheels so they are versatile and easy to move around.” Key areas of the permanent exhibits will include Native Americans, early agriculture, modern agriculture, the Blytheville Army Airfield, the steel industry, trade and transport, earthquakes, drainage, levees, timbering and the early cypress swamps. A large number of items already on display tell the significance of each of those areas in the history of this area. “We want our exhibits to reveal the past, but also take visitors into the future of the area,” Hester said. A hands-on area invites children to learn through experimentation. “For the ancient Native American exhibit, we want to build part of a wattle and daub hut right here in our gallery,” Hester said. “We would like to show how they made their pottery, explain the significance of the decorations they used and provide information on ancient farming techniques. “The Native Americans grew what we call ‘the three sisters’ — squash, corn and beans — in the same field. Called Mississippians, they were farmers and lived in houses, not teepees.”
The agricultural exhibit will feature a mural of a farmhouse and equipment used before mechanization. Hester said she is searching for an old wooden cotton wagon, noting she would love to have one in the museum. Hester is especially excited about the display which will represent the all-important steel industry, so key to the economy of Blytheville and the surrounding area. A simulated melt shop will give visitors a look into the control booth, where workers look out into a shop to see a large crane dropping metal into a ladle, with sparks flying. “With that exhibit, we also will talk about recycling,” Hester said. “Many people don’t know that the steel industry is the largest recycler of metals in the world. “Earthquakes is another of our major themes,” she continued. “I would really like to have a real seismograph. “I really think it’s going to be cool when we get everything together. We do take donations of objects specific to the areas we are focusing on. We are trying to be very specific about the types of objects we take because we have these set themes, so things related to prehistory Native Americans, or anything related to timbering in this area, swamp drainage, flooding, flood control or early 20th century agriculture is welcome.” Until funds become available to bring the professional exhibit plan to life, the museum is doing a lot with its temporary exhibits. Hester said the museum’s multi-purpose room already is in great use for meetings, events and classes, and noted there are some “fun exhibits” teachers can borrow for their classrooms.
The floor plan of Delta Gateway Museum is designed to dedicate 2,500 square feet to a permanent exhibit and another 1,800 square feet to rotating exhibits.
Photos by Nancy Kemp
Among the features of the Museum are an array of cultural artifacts and photos as well as popular regional art, like the Norwood Creech piece to the left. Summer 2014|deltacrossroads.com
DELTA GATEWAY MUSEUM 210 West Main — Blytheville, AR Wed - Fri 1:00 to 4:00 Saturdays 9:00 to 3:00
All That Jazz 2013, Blytheville students
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“Our exhibit development fund is provided through private and corporate donations, as well as fundraising events like our March 1 second annual Heritage Party, which focused on the 1950s,” Hester said. “Last year was our first year for the event, which had a 1940s theme. We had people come dressed in 1940s attire and it was a big success. “This year we had ‘50s music, cars from that time period, students from Blytheville High School doing some 1950s dancing and more. It is a fun way we can raise funds for the museum and was again a huge success.” Though the Heritage Party is the only major fundraiser, other events throughout the year also create interest and support. Heirloom Saturdays take place the first Saturday each quarter, with the next scheduled for May. “We also have a year-end appeal letter that brings in some donations,” Hester said. “Since there is no charge for admission or for use of our multipurpose room, donations are important.” The Delta Gateway Museum website and Facebook page allow people to make donations via PayPal or credit card, or donations may be mailed to the museum. “Everything in our gallery right now is temporary,” Hester said. “I feel like we have done some good things with the temporary exhibits. When people come in, I think they are surprised they actually learn a little something. They reminisce or they get to look back at their own history a little bit. “What we need now is support. We need people to visit. I believe once the professional exhibits are done we are going to bring in people from all over. I think we can bring traffic in from I-55, I think we can bring people in from all over the region. We will have a stateof-the-art museum right here, and I don’t think people realize how much of a draw that can be for this area.”
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More than 41,200 people across the nation were injured in 2012 while working in their gardens, reports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Conversely, many common flowers and plants have healing properties that can help gardeners treat their injuries. Made from plants, as well as animals and minerals, homeopathic medicines offer some of the safest options for self-treatable conditions — and can be great for ailments and injuries that befall home gardeners. Because the risk of interaction with other drugs, supplements and herbs is minimal, experts say these natural medicines are a good first choice for early symptoms. Easily found in health food stores and pharmacies, these non-prescription medicines work naturally with the body instead of masking a problem, which is important if a more serious condition should arise. With that in mind, here are some homeopathic treatments for common gardener ailments:
In its homeopathic form, Calendula (Garden marigold) is one of the most versatile aids for skin irritations. Try a Calendula cream or ointment for blisters and calluses, cuts and scrapes, rashes, and chapped skin caused by wind, dry or cold air, or sun. Used for centuries as a natural healing and soothing substance, Calendula’s woundhealing properties are due to essential oils, saponins, flavonoids and alkaloids. These compounds have skin healing properties.
Relieving allergy symptoms provides a good example of the principle behind homeopathic medicines. Chopping a red onion has a “toxic” effect, causing eyes to water and burn until exposed to fresh air. When similar symptoms appear from allergies or a cold, a micro-dose of the red onion helps relieve those same symptoms. The red onion in this homeopathic form takes the Latin name of its source, Allium cepa. Try Ambrosia (Ragweed) for watery nasal discharge with eyes that tear and itch and Sabadilla (Cevadilla) for hypersensitivity to the smell of flowers or itching in the back of the mouth. A good general allergy medicine is Histaminum, which is derived from histamine.
Sore, Stiff Muscles:
For gardeners suffering back and knee injuries, Arnica montana can be an essential gardening tool.
Commonly known as the Mountain daisy, Arnica’s healing properties were first recognized in the 16th century. Legend has it mountain climbers chewed the plant to relieve sore, aching muscles and bruises from falls. Today, this homeopathic medicine is used by professional athletes and surgeons for muscle pain and stiffness, swelling from injuries and bruising. For more information visit www.Arnicare.com.
Sunburn, Blisters and Other Skin Conditions:
To help relieve bee and wasp stings, as well as gnat, black fly or mosquito bites, take five pellets of Apis mellifica (Honey bee) every 30 minutes for up to six doses. And apply Calendula topically.
Take Breaks and Relax:
While many plants help us nurture our health, remember to practice common sense. Prepare properly by stretching and wearing sun block. Don’t overdo it. Take breaks. End your day with a soaking bath. Relieve conditions at the first sign of symptoms before they grow out of control, so you can continue your gardening activities.
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Great SouthernTradition The heritage garden of Cyndi Corkran
outhern gardeners love to share stories and swap plants. When the blooms of plants remind them of special events, places and people, they want to share them. And, what better way to hold onto memories of family, friends and neighbors than with a living, growing “pass-along” plant, as they are called in the south. Pass-along plants are growing gifts from friends, mentors or relatives, reminding recipients of the person giving the gift. As such, they are an important part of the southern gardening heritage. One type of pass-alongs are heirloom plants, or those which have been around for 50 years or more. These plants usually are open-pollinated varieties — flowers pollinated by insects or wind. The seeds produced by these plants result in plants which are just like their parents. These heirloom or heritage plants are passed down through family members, neighbors and friends through the years. Generations ago, rose cuttings were transported in potatoes, and seeds were stored wherever room was found. They then were passed along or moved with family members because, after all, there weren’t always local nurseries around in which to buy seeds and plants. The plants in old-fashioned gardens had purpose — when large, dried poppy-
Story by Candy Hill| Photos courtesy of Cyndi Corkran
seed heads became musical shakers, hollyhocks were fashioned into “Victorian Belle” flower ladies on Sunday afternoons and gourds became school playground spinning tops. Old plants were hardy, useful and stood the test of time — plus they came with stories or memories. It is truly a wonderful feeling to work in a garden and know you are tending some of the same plants as did your grandmother or good friend. Cyndi Corkran, a Rector native currently living in the Eureka Springs area, is an avid gardener with a stunning, natural garden made up of many pass-alongs, with the majority being heirloom or heritage plants collected over the years from family and friends. “I cannot really count back to when, exactly, collecting plants from family and friends began, but I remember as a child, gardening with my grandmother, Lois Winn, ‘Nanaw,’ who was not only an avid gardener, but a nature lover overall. “When my sister, Camellia (Corky) Corkran and I would play in the playhouse our grandfather, Floyd Winn, built for us, ‘landscaping’ the yard was just second nature. Among things we nurtured from our Nanaw’s yard was her lovely ground ivy, which has followed me everywhere I have lived for over 40 years.
Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing
The southern gardener authors describe 117 passalong plants, giving particulars on hardiness, size, uses in the garden and requirements. Presentied in an informal, chatty and sometimes humorous manner, they offer their readers a collection of not only valuable plant details, but also many stories and memories the plants recalled for them.
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(left) Cyndi Corkran in her garden; (middle) Nanaw’s ivy; (bottom) Nanaw’s wild violets. “It not only filled in those places where regular grass shuns, but has a shallow root system which one can always pull away from other plants or areas where it is not wanted. It grows speedily and in any soil type, which is great for the rocky yard where I now reside,” she said. Cyndi cultivates many of her grandmother’s favorite plants, which bring back wonderful memories of times spent with her beloved Nanaw. “One of my grandmother’s yard favorites are the beautiful wild violets which easily proliferate and welcome the spring with their gorgeous, deep purple blooms and hearty, deep green foliage. “Nanaw always had violet morning glories growing up a string lattice which she would employ for their support and were a welcome sight when going out the back door, a sweet and beautiful welcome to the aromatic outdoors in summer as a child. “I also have some beautiful surprise lilies from my grandmother’s yard dating back to the 1940s. If memory serves me, she procured them from her dear neighbor, Mrs. Barkmeyer. In the Ozarks they are referred to as ‘naked ladies.’ They pop up out of the ground, only to surprise you with their lovely pink flowers! They are like naked ladies dancing in the wind to some music of the spheres.”
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Corky’s peony (left), Japanese irises (right), miniature organdy gladiolas (below)
In addition to her grandmother, Cyndi also has a number of plants grown by her sister, Corky — plants which were found as seeds and bulbs in Corky’s garden after she passed away in 2005. “I didn’t know what these seeds or bulbs were at the time, but I’ve planted them and have been happily surprised by their colorful beauty. There is a miniature organdy gladiola, among others. “I also have sister’s beautiful pink peony in my front yard and think of her, especially, when it is in bloom. I have wanted to grow a Camellia in her memory and, hopefully, will one day. “Her dedicated Japanese Iris once grew in her front yard and now graces my little pond in my front yard. If they are not dead-headed and allowed to pod in autumn, when the stalks die back, they make a lovely dry arangement.” Cyndi also has a number of plants passed along to her by friends through the years. “Growing, cultivating and sharing plants has always been naturally fun and rewarding for me, and after our family moved from my grandparents’ home on North Main Street in Rector to West Third Street, our neighbor, Wendell Crow, became my hero for many reasons, not the least of which was his love of gardening and sharing plants. Summer 2014|deltacrossroads.com
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“After his passing, and many years later, his daughter, Cathy Crow Henderson, shared with me a patch of his still-prospering oxalis, which always enjoyed a place in the front planter under the living room windows, with its beautiful pink blossoms. And, Cathy, herself, has also brought me a nandina and some vinca from her yard in Heber Springs. “My lunaria, or ‘money tree plant,’ is a biennial, native to the Balkans and Southeast Asia. The seeds were given to me by a friend from Piggott over 30 years ago. “It is sown in the fall and likes to grow along fence rows or other protected areas and comes up the next spring as a pretty green plant. The following spring it will shoot up tall stalks, bearing rich purple flowerets, which will drop away after a week or so, exposing the growing seed pods. “When left to mature, these plants may be harvested when completely dry and hung upside down in a dry area. Both sides of the seed pod sheaths may be rubbed to expose the shiny, silver septum, which makes a beautiful dry arrangement. The plants will also sow their own seeds while drying in the sun, inevitably falling to the ground for the next harvest in two years.” Other close friends of Cyndi also have shared their plants, including bleeding heart, catnip and “hens and chicks.” “The beautiful bleeding heart was given to me by my friend Sylvia Popejoy in 1991. It has resided in four places over the years and continues to amaze me with its tender beauty, reminding me of my friend far away. “My good friend, Terri Bradt, grows catnip for her cats and she gave me a start about 10 years ago, which I took to Rector in 2007, then took back to Eureka Springs. It can be cut after it blooms, hung upside down to dry, crushed and used to fill little pouches for the kitties in your home. They love it! She and I have exchanged plants down through the years and have enjoyed that association.” Cyndi also has “paid it forward” by passing along many cuttings of her own plants to others. “My dear and longstanding friend Virginia Glasco, who, with her husband, lives in Prescott, Ariz., is an avid gardener. I sent her some yellow Eureka Iris about 20 years ago while they still lived in Phoenix. When they moved to their historical home in Prescott, she took many plants and bulbs with her, to flourish once again at their new home.
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Cyndi’s lunaria (top left) came from seeds gifted to her from a friend in Piggott over 30 years ago. “Mr. Wendell’s” oxalis (left) was also a gift from Wendell Crow’s daughter after his death. Cyndi’s bleeding heart flowers (above) were gifted to her in 1991 and have been transplanted four times with great success. “While I was recently visiting them, the Eureka Iris were blooming so beautifully and it made me feel happy to see they had lived in several different places, over time and space, and in all kinds of gardens,” Cyndi noted with joy. “Starla Bates, a dear friend and a sister RN (registered nurse) with whom I have worked for over 25 years, shared with me her mother’s hens and chicks, succulent plants which hail from Oklahoma. She recently came to my house, where I sent her packing with several different varieties of plants, including Nanaw’s ground ivy. “She and her husband recently moved to a new home and are trying to establish a garden, challenging in this rocky soil. Last fall I gave her a shoot of my variegated bamboo, which is doing nicely. She reminded me about the old adage of bamboo and cane: ‘The first year it sleeps; the second year it creeps; the third year it leaps.” Cyndi reflects on what it means to keep a heritage garden going and to “pass along” plants to others. “Over the years I have planted, dug up and replanted many plants, bulbs and seedlings, bringing them to a new home, while always leaving a living patch of a plant or a few bulbs behind to prosper. It’s a way of sharing
family and friendships, no matter where one finds oneself at any given time. “It also makes the little corner of the world we inhabit a little sweeter, a little more filled with beauty, not only while we’re here, but, also, when we leave, for someone else to enjoy. “Sister and I would often say, particularly over the phone, and distance between us, ‘Well, guess it’s time to go out and do a little water therapy! Meaning, of course, taking the hose around to all the plants to give their roots a nice drink and their foliage a refreshing rinse. It’s as therapeutic for the gardener as it is for the garden! “It is with great joy that I tend to plants, whether they come down from the lineage of family and friends or those along the way, but, particularly, the former. For when plants are passed down, they truly are a heritage passed from one generation to another. Like children, they keep life worth living.” One of Cyndi’s favorite quotes concerning gardens comes from the prophet Mohammad: “If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul...”
It makes the little corner of the world we inhabit a little sweeter, a little more filled with beauty... when plants are passed down, they truly are a heritage passed from one generation to another. Like children, they keep life worth living. -Cyndi Corkran
Starlaâ€™s ground succulents Summer 2014|deltacrossroads.com
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Museum and Educational Center Visit the restored home and barn studio where literary giant Ernest Hemingway penned portions of some of his most famous works, including A Farewell to Arms. During his marriage to Pauline Pfeiffer from 1927 to 1940, Hemingway was a frequent visitor to her family home in Piggott, now open to visitors. The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center offers tours, exhibits, educational programs, special events, Hemingway and related books, and unique gifts.
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Arkansas State University Heritage Site
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Myths About Our Pets’ Foods
Myths About Our Pets’ Foods Column by Dr. Norette L. Underwood
Asking someone about their preferences in pet foods can be as polarizing as if you asked about their political affiliation. Many pet owners have very strong opinions and beliefs when it comes to the type of food they choose for their four-legged companions and that is certainly their right. However, there are a few myths about pet foods or pet food ingredients that need some clarification. First, a very common assertion in online discussions, and even in veterinary waiting rooms, is that corn is a bad ingredient and our pets cannot digest it. In fact, some people will outright refuse any pet food that contains any corn in the formulation. This myth comes about because of the human preference for eating whole kernel corn. But looking more closely at ingredient labels, pet owners will see that the “corn” present in many pet foods is actually corn meal or even corn gluten meal. These processed ingredients provide a very high quality
carbohydrate source and, in the case of corn gluten meal, a very digestible and good source of amino acids. The amino acids found in corn protein complement many of the amino acids found in meat, thereby creating a food with all the essential amino acids a pet needs. An important fact to remember is that nutrients are the most important part of a pet’s diet, not the specific ingredients. Despite the numerous myths circulating, corn is no more allergenic that any other protein source and actually has been shown to be less allergenic than beef, soy, wheat and dairy proteins. The next myth has to do with an unfortunate naming convention. Almost everyone has seen pet food commercials showing paid actors pretending to be disgusted by the pet food ingredient called “meat byproducts”. Again, the confusion and misunderstandings happen because of what humans have decided to name particular parts of the meatproducing animals. Skeletal muscle is the most common meat that ends
Deciding which pet food is “best” for your dog or cat is often an exercise fraught with confusion and a fair amount of misinformation. Advocates can be found for “grain-free” diets, homemade foods or even natural, organic and “whole food” formulations. To make matters worse, a host of pet nutrition myths are rampant on the Internet. What’s the truth and what’s not when it comes to pet nutrition? up in our grocery stores and on our dinner plates. But there is a lot of muscle and other protein rich organs that are not consumed by people. Since we don’t use these leftovers for human food, they are termed “byproducts.” In reality, by-products include highly digestible and nutritious organs, such as the liver and lungs, and do NOT include things like hair, horns or hooves, as advertising gimmicks would have you believe. More to the point, if pet food companies did NOT use these organs and other parts, a large portion of the animals we raise for food would go to waste, resulting in the need to raise MORE animals to feed our pets. As the American Animal Hospital Association has said, “Feeding byproducts = green living.”
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Finally, many people believe that veterinarians are not instructed in any sort of nutrition basics during their intense schooling. This is actually a big fallacy as almost all veterinarians will have at least a semester devoted to nutrition and many may have completed undergraduate nutrition courses before applying to veterinary school. Continuing education opportunities that discuss nutrition are also popular lectures for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. What you feed your pet will be a decision you make based on a variety of factors. But don’t fall victim to Internet fads promoted by individuals without scientific training or who will profit when you purchase their brand of food. It’s also important to review a variety of information sources before you reach any conclusion about how good, or bad, a particular ingredient might be. Whether you choose to use a “grain-free” diet, an “organic” pet food or the cheapest food you can find, it’s important to discuss your pet’s nutrition with your veterinarian. He or she can help you understand what the pet food labels really mean and help you make a sound decision based on the needs of your pet. To keep up-to-date with accurate animal health news, visit www.MyVNN.com or www.VetNewsOnline.com
If you have questions about feeding your pet, contact Dr. Underwood of Trumann Animal Clinic and Best Friends Vet Mobile at firstname.lastname@example.org DR. NORETTE UNDERWOOD, DVM
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found at Village Creek State Park
illage Creek State Park, located near Wynne in Cross County, is one of the most striking and scenic state parks in Eastern Arkansas. There one can experience and explore many outdoor activities, such as golf, hiking, boating, fishing, camping and horse riding, among the rolling terrain and seasonal beauty of Crowley’s Ridge. At nearly 7,000 acres, Village Creek is Arkansas’s second largest state park in land area and its 25 miles of multi-use trails traverse some of the most beautiful areas of this region, featuring scenic views of towering hardwood forests, lakes, valleys and streams. Among the activities offered there, horse riding is one of the most popular. The park’s equestrian program for horse-lovers is considered the most outstanding in the state, with the distinction of being the only Arkansas state park with stable facilities, according to park superintendent Vicki Trimble. Village Creek State Park boasts a beautiful horse camp and 25 miles of shared horse trails, most of which are rated as moderately easy. The horse camp features 30 spacious campsites, a modern bathhouse and three stable facilities. “Our horse stables have 10 foot by 10 foot stalls with ceiling fans, water and electricity, and the campsites are very close to the stalls,” Trimble said. “We also have round pens
for working your horses, wash bays and hot showers in the bathhouse. The trails are packed soil, not rocky, and easy on your horse with incredibly beautiful, scenic trails.” The history of the park’s equestrian program is interesting. “Horse trails and stables on state park property were never a priority before — not because state parks didn’t want them, but funding was tight and the system already had a lot of facilities to keep up,” Trimble said. “The employees and local horse lovers are the reason we have our facilities here at Village Creek. The first 15 miles of trails were constructed by myself, the park ranger, the Parkin State Park superintendent and 10 volunteers who met twice a week for about a year. The trails were opened in 2001 and the barns built in 2003. “By using volunteer labor, we kept costs to a minimum and the state only had to pay for chainsaw gas, oil and repair parts since we cleared the trails by hand and mapped them following old roadbeds through the forests. “These old roads were used by the landowners before the state bought the land in the early seventies and had been overgrown for over 30 years,” Trimble added. One of the volunteers who helped build the trails was Vicki Timmons of Wynne, who rides them once or twice a week, depending on the weather.
Story by Candy Hill| Photos courtesy of Village Creek State Park unless noted
Photo courtesy Ron and Carolyn Gruby
Timmons looks back with pleasure on those days of building the trails. “Working on those first 15 miles of trails was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet new friends who enjoy riding horses,” she said. “There were about a dozen of us who worked closely together and many of us became great friends. It was such a thrill for all of us to ride for the first time on the newly-cut sections of the trails, and I can still remember the exact spot where we connected the first loop on the trails. “It really brings a lot of joy in my life to know I helped to make the beautiful horse trails that many people will enjoy now and in the future,” she added. “The 25 miles of trails we have at Village Creek are some of the nicest trails in our state. The campsites and horse barns are especially nice and are reasonably priced. “I am truly blessed to live in Cross County, and whenever I want to ride, I have beautiful trails to ride right here at home.” On a historic note, a section of Bell’s route of the Trail of Tears, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, runs through the park. This segment of the old Memphis-to-Little Rock road is cut deep into the Crowley’s Ridge soil and has been touted as the most dramatic remaining section of the Indian removal route. Trimble explained the relationship between the route and the horse trails.
“When building the trails, we had to stay off the route in order to preserve it,” she said. “However, a section of the trail between intersections 10 and 11 does run right alongside it.” After construction of the the horse trails, which are shared with bicyclists and hikers, other horse facilities followed. “We then hosted some horse camps using pens and highlines for picketing horses — and the response was overwhelming,” Trimble said. “I sent out a survey to nearly 300 equestrians to see if a horse camp would be used, how often and how many miles of trails were needed for a quality experience. “Armed with this knowledge, I put together a proposal asking approval from the state parks director to construct stables in an existing campground for equestrian use. Much to our relief, the director approved the plan and we received approximately $33,000 for barn materials and built them in-house. “This was a totally self-serving project (we needed a place to ride!),” she confessed. “And, in a nutshell, it was a labor of love.” Carolyn and Ron Gruby of Marianna have been riding at Village Creek since the trails opened and before the barns were completed. “We have nine equine and all have been ridden at Village Creek, as well as others we have sold,” Carolyn said. “We have ridden and camped in a number of states, and the Village Creek facilities, overall, are the best we have visited.
A daily trailer parking fee of $6 covers all horses in the same trailer. Trails are open year-round and are closed only due to wet soil conditions. Riders are advised to call to make sure trails are open. For additional information on park reservations and regulations, contact Village Creek State Park, 201 CR 754, Wynne, AR 72396. 870-238-9406.
A horse gets a bath in one of the wash bays
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Owners lead their horses from the stables “The camp spots are all shaded with easy access, and they have nice, paved pads. All facilities stay in good repair, the horse barns are fantastic and there are between 60 and 70 stalls available. There is also an enormous day-ride parking lot where even I can turn around — no backing necessary! “The trails are absolutely beautiful, shaded and meandering which fully utilize the beauty of Crowley’s Ridge, and horseshoes are not necessary, as the only gravel is the day parking lot. “There are steep trails and low creek rides, including numerous water crossings, with something for all riders to enjoy. Each turn is marked with a self-explanatory map labeled to point to the horse camp. It is very easy to stay ‘found’ rather than lost,” she added. Each season brings its own special pleasures for the riders, Carolyn noted. “In the spring, the park is abundant with dogwood, Sweet William and buckeye blooms and carpeted with May apples and fresh ferns. The summer months bring shaded trails with deer hiding in the dappled woods,” she said. “It is no small aside that even on a hot, summer day, the shaded trails are 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the park. “Fall is gorgeous and the gum trees are outstanding! The beech tree groves are beautiful shades of gold and yellow, with the sumac and dogwoods a splendid red. “Winter brings beautiful views of the ridges and many, many deer sightings, plus, a rider can see as
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far as five ridges over, which is such a wonderful contrast to the other seasons. “Also, one is not far from civilization and within 15 minutes, campers can enjoy a night of dinner or pick up supplies in Wynne. “The only downside is that the trails sometimes close if there is heavy rain,” she said. In addition to its outstanding trail system and facilities for horses and their riders, the Village Creek State Park staff also is well known for being especially helpful and accommodating to park visitors. Carolyn recalled a harrowing experience she and her husband went through at the park. “My husband was thrown (from his horse) and broke three ribs on the trail,” she said. “I called the office and help quickly arrived. They worked efficiently to get him off the trails. One was even a paramedic with helpful tips, and they told us not to worry about our equine or trailer while I took him to the hospital. “The staff will also let riders know if the flies are bad or if there are any problems on the trails and everyone from the janitorial staff to the park interpreter are happy to assist or inform visitors in any way possible,” she exclaimed. With such outstanding horse facilities, helpful staff and beautiful trails traversing through the incredible beauty of Crowley’s Ridge, it’s no wonder that Village Creek State Park has become a favorite of horse riders from Arkansas and beyond.
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Alma Nance Dulaney and Zelma Nance Ashabranner, twin daughters of the late John Luther (J.L.) and Martha Ellen Nance, celebrated their 84th birthdays on June 9. They were honored with a reception June 14. They grew up on a farm near Leachville. Their birthday celebration has been part of the Nance family reunion for many years.
More than 75 family members and friends were on hand Saturday, March 19, as Clyde Jones of Piggott marked his 99th birthday. A party was held at his home at 387 South Garfield Avenue in Piggott.
Joe Lucas of Tyronza recently celebrated his 80th birthday.
Jack Brewer of Lepanto celebrated his 83rd birthday on Friday, June 13.
J.C. Lewis of Lepanto will turn 88 on July 18.
Georgia Carson of Lepanto will celebrate her 93rd birthday on July 11.
Eddie J. Crockett of Marked Tree will celebrate her 84th birthday on June 21.
Willie and Charles Williams of Lepanto will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary June 29.
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Lloyd and Glenda Long of Leachville were guests of honor as they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. They shared the honors with their grandson and his wife, Hunter and Sara Long, who were celebrating their fifth anniversary. Both couples were married on May 16 â€” but 50 years apart. Family and friends gathered Friday, May 16, at LaCascada Restaurant in Manila to wish them all well.
Photo by Nancy Kemp
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