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Wilson's Delta School A Unique Educational Experience

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The Delta: Much to love


e were camping last fall at the beautiful new Mississippi River State Park near Marianna when I ran across a unique visitor center display inviting folks to pick up pen and sticky note and leave their thoughts on the Delta, whether as residents or visitors. "What is the Delta to YOU?" it asked. I smiled and nodded as I read the delightful responses: • The soul and beauty. • My first RC cola and moon pie. • Catfish and crappie. • The Delta is a place that you can see for miles, hear great music, and eat great food. • Friendly faces are never hard to find. • Good food, good folks, and beautiful woods and plants to look at and smell. • Everywhere you look there is beauty! • The Delta is thinking you have a green thumb — but it’s the Delta! • Lots of trees — mighty oaks! • Friendly folks and lots of good cooking. • Love everyone — forget what color they are. • The Delta is — quite simply —home.

huge tugboats and barges glide by in almost total silence, feeling very much removed from the ordinary chaos of life, and in some ways, feeling like we had been taken back in time. We had, perhaps, disturbed the solitude of a man in a floppy hat who sat down the shore a ways with no sign of a car or any other mode of transportation. He was so still and quiet he almost seemed like an apparition, and after a while, we almost forgot he was there. It was a surprise when we heard another car approaching and we were curious about who would be joining us. Emerging from their pickup truck with wide smiles, Mike Bingley and Marilyn Bremner of Vernon, British Columbia, offered warm handshakes and their own observations about the magnificence of the place stretching out in front of us.

We who live here know that the wonders of this place seep into the soul as few other places can. It was on that same trip that we took a gravel backroad from the state park into Helena for the incredible King Biscuit Blues Festival — our first time to go though I had been burning for years to have that experience. We marveled at the magficient trees along the road — an unusual mix of sizes, colors and textures, and thrilled at the dramatic tree-lined gullies, dropping off sharply from the roadside and heavy with thick vines which, as kids, we found perfect for swinging across the big expanses, never a thought of danger. Around one bend we ran across a sign with directions to the nearby confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi Rivers. We didn't want to miss the opening act at the festival so agreed to find the confluence the next day. It is just a short distance off the road and definitely worth the visit. Wildly beautiful and secluded, it offers vast views of the river at one of its widest points. We watched

Summer 2016|


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As happens with some friendships, we immediately bonded, and when we discovered that they, too, were staying at the campground, we made plans to get together again. True adventurers in every way, they had heard about the internationally-popular King Biscuit Blues Festival and made their way to Helena as part of a trip across America. They had found the first night to be everything they expected, and more. It was a perfect October night when we joined them, and thousands of others gathered in lawn chairs along the levee of the Mississippi in downtown Helena, to take in the festival's final night of unforgettable blues music, fabulous foods and an incredibly relaxed atmophere of fun and camaraderie unlike anything we had ever experienced. Ah, the delta. I don't think I could find more perfect words to describe it than those folks who put their thoughts on paper at the MRSP Visitor Center. This issue brings you more stories on the people, places and history which make our home so special. We hope you enjoy them. Have a great summer!

Editor, Delta Crossroads

8|Summer 2016


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Dont miss a single issue of Delta Crossroads.

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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) Delta Crossroads is published quarterly and distributed free in Clay, Craighead, Greene, Mississippi, Poinsett, Cross, St. Francis and Phillips counties in Arkansas and Dunklin County in Missouri. Contact the offices at the above numbers for information on advertising.

Š 2016, Delta Crossroads

10|Summer 2016




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Every dish is a delectable treat

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28 Mississippi adventure

John Ruskey and Quawpaw Canoe take on the mighty river

36 Bringing life to art

James Hayes creates glass masterpieces which express happiness

44 Hit the trails

Arkansas bicycling kicks it up a notch

56 Forever in memory

A portfolio of memories relived from the 1956 filming of A Face in the Crowd in Piggott

90 Colorful palettes

Watercolorist Diane Ziemski defines line and space with vibrant hues

16|Summer 2016

Narratives 99

10 Tips for a fabulous family reunion


The Bottle Tree:

Dru Duncan of Dell Farms recounts a Delta folk tradition


Cover photo by Nancy Kemp Subscription Information Would you or someone you know like to have Delta Crossroads magazine mailed to you? For an annual subscription fee of $20, quarterly copies are sent first class through the U.S. Post Office to any location in the United States. Online Access A complete flip book of Delta Crossroads is now available online at Use the QR code below to go to the website. Visit us on facebook: Delta Crossroads.


51 67 85 87 115 117

Arkansongs with Stephen Koch Movie Review with Tanner Smith Book Review with Chris Crawley The Garden Spot with Ralph Seay Pet Talk with Dr. Norette Underwood Health Column: blue light dangers


52 Photo feature 110 Community Calendar 113 Product Page 119 Milestones 122 Backroads Summer 2016|


18|Summer 2016


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The Delta School: An Uncommon and Inspired Choice for Delta Education

Headmaster Jenifer Fox

20|Summer 2016


rive around downtown Wilson during lunchtime and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a parking spot. As the town experiences a rebirth of sorts, the very air feels different. For as far back as I can remember, Wilson has been a charming town with Tudor-inspired architecture and towering trees shading the streets and homes. But today? Wilson has become not only a Delta destination, but also a vibrant place folks are choosing to live. That’s a remarkable thing considering rural population numbers have been on the decline for several decades. Before one can truly appreciate the ongoing transformation of Wilson, it’s important to understand how the town came into existence. Wilson was unique from the get-go. In 1880, R.E. Lee Wilson, a fifteen-year-old orphan, crossed the Mississippi River into Northeast Arkansas to claim his modest birthright. After settling near Golden Lake, he began buying swampland in Mississippi County. Even as a young man, Wilson understood the value of hard work and saw a future where no one else dared dream. He took risks and leveraged assets to purchase, drain and clear more and more land. By the time of his death in 1933, Wilson owned every house, building, and business in town. Even more incredibly, he’d built the South’s largest cotton farming empire. In 2010, Nashville businessman Gaylon Lawrence, Jr. and his late father purchased the holdings of Lee Wilson & Company. This transfer of assets marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. Just like their predecessor, the Lawrence men had a clear vision, too. In the past five years, Gaylon Lawrence has committed time, resources and energy to enhance and continue what Lee Wilson began over 130 years ago. The Wilson Café draws diners from around the mid-south with regional farm-to-table cuisine, locally grown vegetables,

Text and photos by Talya Boerner

For additional information about the admissions process or to arrange a tour, visit the school’s website at or call 870-655-0200.

and comfortable ambiance. The Wilson Music Series rivals a much larger city with bimonthly events featuring local, regional and national talent. Planning is underway for an artist residency program encouraging artists to create and share work based on experiences in the local Delta area. “When I first thought about the town of Wilson, I dreamed it would be a place of learning,” Lawrence said in a recent video. “When people are learning, they are moving forward.” Indeed, Wilson is moving forward. And central to Lawrence’s vision for Wilson is education. The Delta School opened for the 2015-16 school year with 45 students attending kindergarten through seventh grade. Each year an additional grade will be added, with Upper School scheduled for the 2017-18 school year. Enrollment is already on pace to more than double next year, based on current accepted applications. From historic location to the innovative learning spaces, nothing about the school is commonplace. And that’s the whole point.

Summer 2016|


Campus The Delta School is located on the original Wilson plantation. Portions of the campus are still under construction, and when complete, the school will accommodate 210 students in ten classroom buildings (two classrooms per building), two stand alone Maker’s buildings, a school farm and garden, greenhouse, a gym, playing fields, tennis courts, and the Wonder Space, a state-of-the-art play area. The best designers from around the country worked on interior design and building construction and preservation. Landscaping feels more residential than institutional. Every window provides a vista of the flat delta fields, huge shade trees, or school gardens. There’s a sense of people coexisting with nature. Administration offices, parents’ lounge, main dining hall and kitchen are contained within the historic mansion built in the 1920s to copy the Tudor homes Wilson saw while traveling in England. Many of the home’s original details remain, including hardwood flooring, thick plastered walls, and original window casings. Just off the chef ’s kitchen, a separate dining area was designed especially for preschoolers with pint-sized tables and chairs and space for washing up. The central dining hall, with original barrel ceiling, is more typical of Hogwarts than anything ever seen in Mississippi County. Students lunch at heavy farm tables matched with colorful chairs. They use cloth napkins and learn table manners. Proper etiquette seems appropriate in a place that looks to have been lifted from the pages of a fairy tale and dropped into the Delta cotton fields.

22|Summer 2016

Mission & Curriculum

The Delta School is rethinking education and giving Mississippi County residents a choice from the standard way of learning. The curriculum is strength-based and centered on the basic idea that every child is unique. The school’s mission is to nourish these individual strengths so each child is able to form healthy relationships, discover meaningful work, and make unique contributions to the world. Headmaster Jenifer Fox was brought on to develop curriculum and lead the school. Fox has an impressive resume that includes a Harvard master’s degree in school administration, an internationally best-selling book on the subject of children and education, and a successful history of turning around failing schools. After only a few minutes with her, her enthusiasm and passion for the school was evident. “This isn’t something new we’re doing here,” she told me, “but it’s new for the Delta. Each child comes into the world with natural talents and gifts. If these talents go undiscovered and unrecognized, the child will never live up to his or her potential. When we tap into that individual child’s creativity and learn what his passions are and what makes him tick, the child soars, his relationships flourish, and his work is passionate. He will contribute great things to society.”

Looking at education through a different lens makes sense. Times have changed. Kids have changed. The way we get information has certainly changed. Yes, The Delta School teaches reading, writing, and arithmetic, and standardized testing is part of the program, but this college preparatory school is interactive. Teachers, hired from the area as well as from across the country, are viewed more as facilitators, creators, and innovators. Students learn to think and solve problems while working together and independently. Social responsibility and courtesy are stressed. There is emphasis on the whole child. Nickie Bell’s seven-year-old twin daughters attend the school. “The Delta School has been the answer to our prayers in so many ways,” she said. “Our girls jump out of bed asking to go to school early every day. There have actually been tears shed over missing school because of snow and sick days.”

Summer 2016|


General Manager - Tony Lucis

Maximize Yields for the Future

24|Summer 2016

JR Haywood

Signature Programs The Delta School has two signature programs in addition to the strength-based curriculum – the garden initiative and Maker’s Space. The garden initiative is fully integrated into the classrooms. Students grow vegetables and flowers, experiment with soil and garden conditions, study nutrition and health, and learn to nurture the planet while appreciating the area’s agriculture origins. The Maker’s Space is aptly named. Within this advanced lab, students create, invent, design and problem solve. Students learn arts and crafts, engineering, science and other disciplines using a variety of materials including carpentry tools, electronics, and even a sewing machine. In her book Your Child’s Strengths: A Guide of Parents and Teachers, Headmaster Fox quotes ancient Greek mathematician-inventor Archimedes with saying “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” The Delta School is equipping children to do just that.

TUITION: One size rarely fits all and having an educational choice is a positive. The Delta School provides that choice for families in Northeast Arkansas. Of course, private schooling is a financial investment. According to the school’s website, the average cost of educating a single student is $20,000 to $25,000 per year. Tuition at The Delta School ranges from $8,500 for children ages four to six and $10,500 for elementary aged students. Currently, 41 percent of the school’s operating budget has been reserved to make financial aid available to all who qualify. During the 2015-16 school year, 90 percent are attending school on scholarship. Scholarships are 100 percent funded by Lawrence or the Wilson Education Foundation.

Summer 2016|


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Where the River is Wide

John Ruskey with river adventurers — from a film at the Mississippi River State Park near Marianna

28|Summer 2016

Conner Howe and twins Caroline and Virgnia Smith paddleboard near Buck Island


his is not just any river, mind you, this Mississippi. Too often, it seems, the Mississippi has become an object of fear, thought of only at flood stage, history class, and the occasional peerage from atop a bridge on our way to shop or catch a game. Yet almost from the day in May, 1541, that De Soto crossed the Mississippi into what is now Arkansas, this widest of rivers was pivotal to the daily lives of our people. The muddy waters of the Mississippi swirled and whirled and eddied together with our nation’s life-blood so much that it is now part of our very DNA. Mark Twain showed us a new American way to write with “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and Robert Johnson a new way to sing with “Crossroads.” The great composer Leonard Bernstein wrote that Jazz and Blues were “the only indigenous forms of music in America.” Elvis and others revolutionized music and culture across the globe. Rome may have left us aqueducts, but today the average subject of Pax Americana is more likely to mention Huck Finn, Rock and Roll, and Delta-Made cotton blue jeans as the symbols of American freedom and culture.

Text by Kevin Smith | Photos by Drew Smith unless noted

Conner Howe on Buck Island

Caroline Smith, Conner Howe pass a barge as they paddleboard the Mississippi

Summer 2016|


Photo courtesy of Kevin Smith

Photo courtesy of Mathieu Despiau

So how could such a mighty river as the Mississippi — the source of all this — today become almost an afterthought to those who live here? One man has been fighting this battle and winning it. Since 1998, John Ruskey has devoted his life to reintroducing us to our legendary river — one river trip at a time. “I started with one Grumman aluminum canoe purchased for $200 in the want-ads of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,” says Ruskey, himself looking very much like he could be an early French explorer, sitting in his downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi headquarters before heading out on yet another tour. “A year later, I had ten canoes and all the business I could handle.” Today, Ruskey’s Quapaw Canoe Company has grown from the main office in Clarksdale to outposts and partners in St. Louis, Memphis, Helena, Vicksburg, and Natchez. He has 27 full and part-time employees, including guides who pass a rigorous guiding course taught by Ruskey himself. Ruskey and his partners have also authored “The Rivergator” — the first journal and paddle guide of each mile of the Lower Mississippi, providing everything from safety tips to seasonal fauna and wildlife.

30|Summer 2016

Great birding near Buck Island

Drew Smith and Gus on Blind Faith, the canoe which took his dad down the Mississippi from Minnesota to New Orleans

A campfire and sky full of stars make overnight camping on Buck Island a special treat

John Ruskey plays with Acoustic House Party & Traveling Road Show during Full Moon Float

“The Mississippi is no different than the Grand Canyon, the Colorado, the Rocky Mountains, all the places John Muir called ‘America’s Cathedrals’ where people go in large numbers to experience the wildness, beauty and power of something bigger than themselves,” says Ruskey. “Like those places, you just have to respect the river and you can enjoy it as much as any national park anywhere.” The editors of “Canoe and Kayak” magazine — “The Bible” of the paddling world — completely agree. The magazine’s editor and photojournalist did a cover story on Ruskey because they were so excited about the vastness and beauty and “national park-like” wilderness of the Mississippi. They called it the best kept secret in the paddling world. No small thing, given that paddling ranks higher than nearly any other outdoor activity in participants, hunting and fishing included.

photo courtesy of Steve Gardner

Ruskey and his partners have also authored

The Rivergator

— the first journal and paddle guide of each mile of the Lower Mississippi.

Summer 2016|


“I have been all over the great natural places of North America, and I rank the wild areas of the Lower Mississippi up there with the best wilderness experiences I have ever had,” said Tim Richardson, a Maryland resident who has worked for years as a conservationist to help the Lower Mississippi River Region conserve its natural beauty. Richardson joined the editors of “Canoe and Kayak” for the journey. “When I go out on the Mississippi River and spend the night on Buck Island, near Helena, or anywhere on the Mississippi River Trail from Helena to Arkansas City, I have the same experience I have on Kodiak Island, Alaska,” says Richardson, who cut his teeth in conservation as a congressional aide after the ExxonValdez disaster in Alaska. A few years ago, Richardson, Ruskey and a group of Arkansas local leaders were instrumental in saving Buck Island, just north of Helena, from being sold at auction and clearcut by timber companies. Today, Buck Island and the smaller surrounding islands are public lands owned by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and open to all for primitive camping. “I think it was the campaign to save Buck Island more than anything else that was the game-changer for me personally,” says Ruskey. “I had never before thought of focusing as a company to help protect public places, but that is one of the main reasons we are in Helena.” In “Life on the Mississippi,” none other than Mark Twain himself wrote that “Helena occupies one of the prettiest situations on the Mississippi,” and it still does. Today, the Helena River Park has perhaps the best boat launch, campground, and river walk on the Lower Mississippi (and the only one in Arkansas). So it is a natural place for the Helena Outpost of Quapaw Canoe Company to be located. His building, containing everything from Sea Kayaks, Long Boards, Paddle Boards, to his hand-carved French Voyageur canoes, is located at the base of the downtown Helena River Park, next to the levee.

32|Summer 2016

Photo courtesy of John Ruskey

His presence in Helena has led to a barrage of publicity that most Chamber directors could only dream about. In addition to Canoe & Kayak, Ruskey has appeared on CNN, the BBC, Irish Public TV, AETN, and many magazines, such as National Geographic, Southern Living, Oxford American, and newspapers all over the world as well. He and his “Mighty Quapaws,” a group of at-risk area students who learn skills and is a success story in itself, can be seen cooking and eating on Buck Island with Anthony Bourdain — yes that Anthony Bourdain — on his well-known CNN show “Parts Unknown,” or cooking steak on the sandbar with the Food Network’s Alton Brown (featured in his book “Eating on Asphalt”), or listening to famous British actor Stephen Fry (“A Fish Called Wanda,” “V for Vendetta”) wax eloquently around a campfire on Buck Island, sitting in a large chair he insisted on strapping into the canoe. Fry was doing a British documentary on America, and he passed up Memphis but stopped in Helena to ride the river with John Ruskey.

Photo courtesy John Ruskey

Walking canoes and kayaks down the levee

Drew Smith - in back holding up paddle — guides KIPP Delta School Canoe Club students

The Smith and Howe families of Helena and Fagan family of Fayetteville enjoy an outing to Buck Island

So how is it that so many from elsewhere seem to beat down our door to experience this incredible river, but we locals are still, well, afraid? Indeed, from the point of view of the river, it looks like the communities that were first established by the river have today all but turned their backs on her. There is, of course, the “Great Flood of ‘27” and the levee system that — while protecting us — also separates us from the river. Former State Representative Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder, of Dumas, Arkansas, still talks of the time during the 1927 flood when her Daddy grabbed her in the middle of the night, put her in a fishing skiff floating in the family living room, and paddled the family to safety. Is there anyone who grew up near the river who does not recall the stern warning of a grandparent not to get caught swimming in it, as if some monster was waiting to pull you down to its murky depths? It was common to hear of drownings in the Mississippi, of children taking their chances on a hot Delta day, or even of fishing accidents or deck hands falling and never seen again. Then there is the occasional body that floats up months later. All of these stories are legend in these parts, so perhaps it makes sense that a healthy fear exists after all. Ruskey says the only way to conquer this native fear is not “civic club presentations” but just to experience it. These are the warnings from people who — after all — feel quite certain they understand that river plenty well enough, thank you very much. Perhaps one time they ventured out in a flat bottomed motorboat and felt the strong pull of the current or nearly capsized when it approached the five-foot swale of a towboat wake. “Once they are out there in the river, and see that there are safe places to swim that are clear and cool and calm, that a canoe can skim over and slice through the boils and whirlpools and wakes with barely a vibration, they take to it immediately,” says Ruskey.

Summer 2016|


Donna Shipley & Reed Riley, Owners



Conservationist Tim Richardson kayaks Buck Island


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Ruskey himself faced the ugly side of the river and lived to tell the tale. A Colorado native, in 1983 he and a college buddy embarked on a Huck Finn-inspired raft journey from Minnesota. South of Memphis, their raft hit a half-submerged TVA tower (since removed) and broke in half. In freezing February waters, they floated south on the debris until reaching Cat Island, Arkansas. A tow captain saw them warming by a fire, and called the Coast Guard. “I still have nightmares from that,” Ruskey says. “But it taught me to respect the river and — several years later when I started my business — it taught me to make sure that anyone who ventures out there either goes through our safety course or goes with a guide. They have to respect the river and know what they are doing, or I will not rent to them. But that is no different than if you were on the Colorado River or another wild and powerful river.” So far, Ruskey has a perfect safety record to show for it. Today, he continues to build his business and is looking for a new partnership in Helena after the sudden loss of long-time associate, John Fewkes, who died of a heart attack. Years after the raft incident, in 1991, Ruskey returned to Mississippi and later met and married Sarah CrislerRuskey, who now runs the Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale and is a local French teacher. They have one child, 8-year-old Emma Lou Ruskey who, yes, has already been on the Mississippi many times. After all, Emma has a pretty good guide. She needs no introduction. To experience the Mississippi River yourself, contact Quapaw Canoe Company at 662-627-4070, or log onto Overnight rates for groups and individuals are available, and for one day paddles there is “The Helena Special” beginning at $100 per person.

Kevin A. Smith is a native of Helena, Arkansas, and in 1984 successfully paddled the Mississippi from its source in Lake Itasca, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana. He operates a business and is a freelance writer, when the spirit moves him.


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2718 E Nettleton Ave | Jonesboro

870-932-7221 800-934-7221

LANCASTER SHOW TRIP & PHILADELPHIA Sept 24-Oct 2 Guided tours of AMISH Country (Lancaster) and fantastic shows “Samson” & the “all-new Crooners Show”, see Philadelphia and cruise aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia. Visit Hershey Chocolate World & see Hershey, PA & much more. TRIP IS A “GO”


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Trip includes 4 meals, 5 fabulous shows including Sight & Sound Theater's “Moses”, The Million Dollar Quartet” “Dublin's Irish Tenors & Celtic Ladies”, Showboat Branson Belle Cruise & Show. Time for a little shopping and more


Guided Tours of the New York City area which includes 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Ferry to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, Central Park & more.


4 Consecutive nights in Nashville, Grand Old Opry, Johnny Cash Museum, Trinity Music City, Country Music Hall of Fame and much more.

Summer 2016|


James Hayes Turquoise and Granny apple green swirl with red transparent spots

A stunning standing sculpture

A recent day of fun creating

Cobalt blue ornament with mini swirl

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Magical Creations




ames Hayes was an artist long before he became a nationally-acclaimed glassblower. “As a young child, I was always drawing and painting,” said the lifelong Pine Bluff resident. Exposure to making things by hand in his parents’ dental lab also piqued his creative interests. “At the age of 18 I really began getting serious about it,” he said. After graduation from Pine Bluff High School, he enrolled as an art major at Hendrix College in Conway, where he studied painting, printmaking, sculpting and ceramics. With art degree in hand in 1988, he searched for a new medium to express his artistic talent. It was on a trip to Jamestown, Va., for a Grateful Dead concert that he discovered an art which captured his imagination in a way other mediums had not. Three months later he began a class in glassblowing at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School. Eager to perfect this new craft, he took the class over and over for five years. “The teacher said if he had known I was that interested he would have taught me more,” he said. Text by Nancy Kemp | Photos courtesy of James Hayes

Created in remembrance of Robin

Opal violet vase with a silver lip wrap and trailing thread


Lamp base, vessel in turquoise with a red crazy trailing thread

Summer 2016|


Hayes’ natural gift was encouraged and guided by instructor Ron Mynatt, now a fellow glassblower who resides in Northwest Arkansas. “I went to the Isle of Murano and sat and watched glassblowers all day long in Italy,” he said. “In Ohio, I took classes at the Glass Axis.” He also attended the noted Pilchuck Glass School in the Cascade Mountains at Stanwood, Wash., an international center for glass art education, founded in 1971 by world-renowned glass sculptor Dale Chilhuly. “I ordered a set of his (Chilhuly’s) flame books and became fascinated,” he said. Pilchuck’s one, two and three-week classes encourage emerging artists but also fire up the imiginations of many of the finest established glassblowers, who continually seek to refine and expand their techniques. After more than 25 years in his craft, Hayes will return to Pilchuck this year for the sixth time. Through both training and experience, Hayes said he discovered that teamwork is the most important skill to learn when it comes to glassblowing. “I also learned to take an idea from concept to conception — to begin with the end in mind,” he said. Hayes’ hot shop and studio are located in Pine Blufff where Ridgway Dairy Farm stood in the 1920s. “The showroom is part of the old milking parlor,” he said. It is in his hot shop that his creations take form.


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President Clinton holds a James Hayes bowl presented to him

“You start with a stainless steel blowpipe,” Hayes said in describing the process. Clear glass is then gathered from the furnace and the molten glass is rolled in roomtemperature colored frit (granular crushed glass). The glass is shaped into a ball with a cherrywood block (resembling a wood ladle), and after it cools down a little, more clear glass is gathered onto the bubble. The glass is again shaped with the cherrywood block, and jacks (which look like long tongs) are used to make a “jack line” on the bubble. “I use a paddle to flatten the bottom of the bubble,” Hayes said. “With another stainless steel pipe I get a smaller gather, called a punty, and attach it to the bottom of the bubble. With large tweezers and two drops of water on the jack line, I transfer the bubble to the punty rod.”

White and sky blue large egg paperweight (left) Red wavy bowl with silver lip and trailing thread

From there, the lip is reheated in a piece of equipment called a “glory hole” (which reheats the glass to soften it so it can be worked further), brought back to the bench and opened with the jacks. “A final reheat and a big spin produces a nice bowl,” Hayes said. “The punty mark is chilled and tapped off. Using Kevlar gloves, the piece is transferred to an annealing oven, where it is left overnight to cool.” Hayes modestly says that glassblowing is not difficult. “It only takes hand-eye coordination and hours and hours of practice,” he said. But the key to Hayes’ incredibly beautiful glasswork is not only his amazing skill with his tools, but inspiration, which he said comes from nature, chance and emotions. “Usually I express happiness,” he said. “I like to be happy. I like to make other people happy, and I like to make happy pieces.” Occasionally, however, other emotions come to play in a piece of his work, such as a stunning vase he created in remembrance of late actor Robin Williams. A wide range of colors and an intricate pattern of swirls perfectly express Williams’ complexity. “That was a perfect example of my using emotions to create a piece,” he said. “I was really saddened by his death, but at the same time I was remembering his colorful career. It’s hard to explain with words, it naturally just flows out of me.” In his first attempts at glassblowing, Hayes made round paperweights. “Then I moved on to vases and bowls,” he said. “Over the years it has evolved into much more, including chandeliers and sculptural pieces.” Bowls and chandeliers are currently his most popular items. “People purchase bowls for their collections and also give them as gifts because they represent sharing and friendship,” he said. His extraordinary chandeliers now hang in a number of residences, as well as several public buildings, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Southwest Power Pool, CJRW, Samantha’s Tap Room and Wood Grill, and Trio’s Restaurant, all in Little Rock, St. Elizabeth Hospital in Kentucky and many others.

“Usually I express happiness. I like to be happy. I like to make other people happy, and I like to make happy pieces.” - Glass Artist James Hayes

The “Never Lost Spirit” glass figurine helps fund treatment for cancer patients His work is in such great demand that 80 percent of orders come from commissions and from shops and galleries which carry his creations. “We have call in orders, emailed orders and we also have people walk into the studio to place an order,” he said. Summer 2016|


Installing a chandelier in a home Hayes’ work is split between making the glass, transporting the glass and installing the glass. He made 1,500 pieces of glasswork last year for a stunning exhibit in Hong Kong called Glassy Avenue at Starlight Garden, located in the New Town Plaza Mall. “Over 3,000 pieces went into this installation,” he said. Installed by the designers, the exhibit features four canopies of glass, LED lights that change colors and a carpet of glass lights. “They designed scaffolding to reach around to the top of a massive tree,” Hayes said. “There was a kinetic engineer that made the moving parts of the exhibit.” From small pieces such as bottles, pendants, bracelets, Christmas ornaments and bottlestoppers to chandeliers which span a huge ceiling, Hayes’ work is ever changing and expanding. “A lot of my ideas come from my customers,” he said. “The latest was a swan that an employee wanted to give her boss.” His favorite thing to do is making freestyle work for new designs. “The ultimate goal is to fill up all the annealing ovens each day,” he said. His four employees help him produce the product and get it to market. “One reason I became an artist is to indulge my love of traveling,” Hayes said. “I also love to golf and go to fundraisers. The best of both pastimes is a golfing fundraiser! HaHa!”

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Glassy Avenue at Starlight Garden

in Hong Kong

Inverted pendant light with a handcrafted light kit

Heart pendant

Tall wavy blue bowl with orange lip and trailing thread


Hayes’ creations are available in Arkansas at his own showroom in Pine Bluff, Shepherds Gifts & Blooms in Pine Bluff, Keepsake’s Jewelry and Gifts in White Hall, The Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie in Stuttgart, Fifth Season in Little Rock, Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas State Capitol Gift Shop in Little Rock, Kenneth Edwards Fine Jewelers in Little Rock, Gallery 26 in Little Rock, Hillcrest Designer Jewelry in Little Rock, Full Moon in Little Rock, Greenhaw’s Fine Men’s Wear in Little Rock, Red Door Gallery in North Little Rock, Gallery Central in Hot Springs, Sara Howell Art Gallery in Jonesboro, Something Special in Helena, Chez Weenie in Forrest City, The Enclave Gallery at White Furniture in Benton, The Red Geranium in Texarkana, Corazon in Fayetteville, and Christopher Allen in Fayetteville. His work also is available in Tennessee at T. Clifton Art in Memphis and the Memphis Brooks Museum, in Alabama at Christine’s Feathered Nest in Montgomery and Harmony Landing in Homewood, in Texas at Robert’s China in Houston and Rutherford’s in Dallas, and in Louisiana at C & C Electric and Lighting Inc. in Shreveport.

Bottle stoppers

Side view of round ball cabinet knob in solid red (left) Dark blue wall cross with multi-colored spots

Summer 2016|



Caring for Women’s Health


About Anthony Daniels, M.D. Dr. Daniels is a graduate from University of Mississippi School of Medicine. He completed his internship in family and community medicine and completed his residency in OB/ GYN all at University of Mississippi Medical Center program. He is board certificated by the American board of obstetrics and gynecology.


Contact Information

It is recommended you see us by appointment. If you have an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

1100 Medical Drive Blytheville, Arkansas 72315 (870) 838-7277

Practice Hours Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ; Friday, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Quality care from an experienced physician

Worship Ministry: Sunday Morning Worship, 11:00 AM (Nursery care and Toddler ministry available) Sunday School, 10:00 AM (All Ages) Sunday Evening Worship, 5:30 PM Sunday Mission Teams, 5:30 PM

Wednesday Evening Bible Study, 7:00 PM Youth Meeting, 7:00 PM Patch Kids Club, 7:00 PM

Food Pantry:

Open to anyone with a need for canned and dry goods by appointment. Contact the church office and leave a message. 870-598-2595




870-598-2595 End of North 4th Street | Piggott, AR Charles Richardson, lead pastor | Summer 2016|


s pa n n i n g c o u n t ry

Tour Da Delta in Helena

World record holder Kurt Searvogel leads the pack in the Little Rock Gran Fondo

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Cane Creek bike trail

Biking across the

Natural State Text by Ron Kemp | Photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

icycling in Arkansas is on the rise, ranging from those who enjoy a leisurely outing with friends on a rural highway or state park trail to the extreme commitment of the world record-holder high mileage rider who calls our state his home. Does 76,076 miles in a year on a bicycle seem incomprehensible? Well, that is the amazing accomplishment of Kurt Searvogel of Sheridan (Grant County) as he broke a record that stood since the 1930s by British cyclist Tommy Godwin. Do the math — it is more than 200 miles a day, every day of the year. With that kind of superhuman commitment and experience on the road, Searvogel clearly qualifies as an expert on the condition of cycling in Arkansas. In an article in “Travel Arkansas,” sponsored by the Arkansas Dept. of Parks and Tourism, Searvogel said routes to the east from the Ozarks and roads in South Arkansas are good safe choices because they are not cutting through mountains and also feature wider shoulders. He said, overall, Arkansas is doing well compared to other southern states in providing safe and enjoyable opportunities for cyclists. Searvogel said the bicycling scene is vibrant in many cities in Arkansas, citing Fayetteville, Little Rock and Jonesboro as examples. In his remarkable year of riding, Searvogel was assisted by his wife Alicia, who also is a cyclist. He combined his rides with vacation times in which he camped at various state parks. He found Cane Creek State Park near Star City (Lincoln County) to be particularly interesting as he was able to ride his mountain bike on trails in the park. While many of the cycling trails in Arkansas are located in the mountainous areas to the west, there are some good opportunities (such as Cane Creek Lake Trail) in the Delta Region. Cane Creek offers 15 miles of mountain bike trails in an area where the timberland meets the delta. The trails traverse rolling hills and span more than 50 bridges, three of them suspension bridges. In addition to the cycling activities, the state park offers camping, RV rentals, fishing and a kayak stream that features eagle roosts and beaver lodges. Summer 2016|


o n e c y c l i s t’s s t o r y

Smith takes to the trails


indy Smith is a well-known champion for all things Arkansas, and bicycling in the state is no exception. Smith, who lives near McGehee, points out that Arkansas, up until recently, was one of the least bicycle-friendly states in the nation. A dramatic turnaround has occurred, according to Smith, who has been on the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Commission since 2009. She points to great new developments such as the Delta Heritage Trail in her area in Southeast Arkansas and the explosion of interest in mountain biking throughout the state. One factor, Smith said, in the development of mountain biking has been the influence of (avid cyclist) Tom Walton of the Walton Foundation. “The foundation has poured a lot of money into mountain bike trails in Arkansas in recent years,” she said. This has been a key factor in the decision by the International Mountain Bicycling Association to hold its World Summit, Nov. 10-12, in Bentonville. Smith said one reason for the popularity of mountain biking in Arkansas is that the activity can take place virtually yearround. In states such as Colorado, where IMBA is headquartered, the season is limited to perhaps five or six months. Smith’s own interest in bicycling experienced a boost about three years ago when she and her daughter were visiting Montreal. They were able to rent bicycles in a well-developed system and greatly enjoyed seeing the city in that manner. “As people get older (she is 57), they tend to forget how much fun it is to ride a bicycle,” Smith said. “For me, walking is not fun, but I love riding a bike.” She has become an enthusiastic cyclist and enjoys participating in such rides as

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the Tour de Hoot in McGehee (Owls are the school’s mascot). Smith has ridden as many as 39 miles in one stretch and regularly goes on 25-mile treks. She is heavily involved in the development of the Delta Heritage Trail in her area of the state. The project promises to become one of the premier rails-to-trails projects in the nation. Currently, 21 miles of the trail have been developed -- ultimately it will span 84.5 miles from Lexa (near Helena-West Helena) to Arkansas City in extreme Southeast Arkansas. Smith is working with many individuals and agencies in promoting the trail, including longtime Arkansas City leader Robert Moore. He has been instrumental in the development of portions of the trail along the Mississippi River levee in his area, as well as a spur to allow an observation point on the mighty river. The Delta Heritage Trail website describes the area traversed in this manner: “The corridor passes through some of the most remote and scenic areas remaining in the Delta region of eastern Arkansas. This region was once covered by a vast bottomland hardwood forest extending from Cairo, Ill., to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Today, only fragments of this great

forest remain, separated and surrounded by agricultural development.” Smith enjoys networking with others who share her visions of tourism and outdoor recreational opportunities. With that in mind, she was part of a group which visited and rode bicycles recently on the famous Katy Trail in Central Missouri. Katy is a highly-successful trail along the Missouri River in a beautiful area of the state. “Our hosts were wonderful as they shared with us the history of the trail and the positive impact it has had on the communities in the area,” Smith said. She equally enjoys the healthful and family-oriented aspects of bicycling and the associated community development opportunities. Smith clearly is committed to doing all she can to support her hometown, region and state (including visiting all 52 state parks over the past several years). “I’m just one who thinks listing all the negative things about your community doesn’t help anybody. I like being positive.” And she clearly is positive about the future of bicycling in Arkansas, not only on a statewide development basis, but for her personally.

VILLAGE CREEK Two other areas in Eastern Arkansas offer mountain biking experiences — Craighead Forest Park near Jonesboro and Village Creek State Park between Wynne and Forrest City. Village Creek is known as one of the state’s premier equestrian-related parks, but cycling also is very popular in this beautiful park located in a dramatic area of Crowley’s Ridge.


There are 30 miles of hiking, equestrian and mountain biking trails in the park. One rider said the trails feature “challenging creek crossings and steep, short hills which will test your skills.” In addition, visitors can enjoy tennis courts, a top-rated golf course, cabins, a public beach and two small lakes which feature outstanding fishing. Craighead Forest Park is conveniently located near Jonesboro and offers four trails of varying levels of difficulty for mountain bikers. The distances range from 1.2 miles for the Yellow Trail to 6.8 for the Black Trail, the latter being the most difficult in the park. The state parks website notes the venue features “rolling hills with steep vertical drops, plus miles of cross country rides around a beautiful lake just minutes from Jonesboro.” Several small bridges also are utilized in the trail system. The popular park also features camping and day-use for family activities, including disc golf, fishing and hiking. There are two major on-the-road experiences available in Eastern Arkansas, one in the Upper Delta and the other in the Lower Delta.

Summer 2016|


The Paragould-to-Piggott loop involves an 89.5 mile trek described as one of the most beautiful bike rides in the nation. It is relatively safe as it traverses many miles of roads with minimal traffic amidst rich and varied delta farmland and the geological wonder that is Crowley’s Ridge. The trip begins on East Lake and Highway 49 in Paragould and moves onto Highways 412, 139 and 119 in the eastern parts of Greene and Clay counties. The northeastern point of the trail reaches Piggott before moving west to McDougal along Highway 62. From there, the loop goes south on Highway 141 and then 135 back into the starting point in Paragould. Explicit directions on the loop can be found on the state parks website and in the on-the-road pamphlet produced by the agency. The other major highway trail in the delta runs 85 miles from West Memphis to Helena and includes parts of Highways 70, 147, 38 and 79. It is part of the Mississippi River Trail, which is a 3,000-mile network of bicycle-friendly roads in 10 states.


Paragould-to-piggott loop The Arkansas section of the trail concludes on historic Cherry Street in Helena, which features the magnificent Delta Cultural Center. An exciting new bicycling opportunity also is being developed in the Helena area. The Delta Heritage Trail State Park, when completed, will extend 84.5 miles from Lexa to Arkansas City. It is being developed following the donation of the rail right-of-way by Union Pacific in 1992. The crushed limestone trail is ideal for both bikers and hikers. The middle portion of the trail meanders through some of the last remaining wetland forest in the region. Eventually, the trail will offer sweeping views from atop bridges spanning the Arkansas and White rivers. Gov. Asa Hutchinson took part in a special ride last October that benefitted the Boys and Girls Clubs of Helena. In one of his weekly columns, the governor commented on the emergence of cycling in Arkansas, noting especially the many mountain bike opportunities. “The trail system for mountain biking in Arkansas is one of our bestkept secrets — although word is getting out fast. A story in one national

publication wrote of our bike trails: ‘How could one area have such a diverse amount of riding? If this system was anywhere in Colorado, it would be packed, constantly. But riding in Arkansas is still a bit of a secret.’” Gov. Hutchinson noted that Arkansas has more miles of mountain biking trails than any state except California. He pointed out that Arkansas had 26 million visitors last year who spent $6.7 billion traveling the Natural State. Of those who stayed overnight, five percent were cycling enthusiasts — and that number is growing. For those who want more detailed information about bicycling in the state, the Arkansas Parks and Tourism website — — features three pamphlets, Arkansas Mountain Biking Guide, On the Road Bicycling in Arkansas and Bicycle Safety. What could be a more natural way of experiencing the Natural State than on a bicycle? The opportunities to see many “off the beaten path” areas of the state are abundant —and the Delta Crossroads region is no exception. It’s an activity all ages can enjoy and, as an added bonus, the favorable implications for one’s health are immense. See you on the trail.

Governor Asa Hutchinson rides at Delta Heritage trail|Summer 2016

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Summer 2016|


Health care: COMMUNITY My parents are glad that an ER is available for us just in case we ever need it.

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Piggott Community Hospital

1206 Gordon Duckworth Drive Piggott, Arkansas 870-598-3881

It’s another song of Arkansas:

Harvey Scales


rkansawyer Harvey Scales was born 1941 in Osceola in Mississippi County and had his greatest musical success as a songwriter rather than performer. Scales grew up in Milwaukee, and is often misidentified as a Wisconsin native. But his adopted Midwestern hometown has embraced Scales as a local hero, where he is still known as “Twistin’ Harvey,” which was his musical moniker in the early 1960s. Around this same time, Scales and his bass-playing friend Al Vance formed the band Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds. The group released several singles on the local Cuca record label, but its biggest hit was on the Magic Touch label – “LoveItis,” which cracked the R&B top 40 in 1967, with the song “Get Down” on the flipside. In 1970, Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds had another danceoriented hit, “The Funky Yolk” on Chess Records of Chicago, Illinois, but soon Harvey Scales dropped the Seven Sounds band name and came into his own as a songwriter and performer. Scales signed with Stax Records of Memphis, Tennessee, which distributed Magic Touch, and was headed by fellow Arkansawyer Al Bell, who was born in Brinkley in Monroe County and grew up in North Little Rock. Scales was soon writing songs for Stax artists such as the Dramatics, as well as appearing on his own Stax singles, such as March 1972’s “What’s Good For You (Don’t Have to be Good To You).” Stax Records folded in the mid1970s, but Harvey Scales landed on his feet, especially as a writer. His “Disco Lady” was one of the biggest hits of

By Stephen Koch

listening: Spend the Night Forever Love-Itis What’s Good For You (Don’t Have to be Good To You) Broadway Freeze

Arkansawyer Stephen Koch is a musician, award-winning reporter and editor, and author of Louis Jordan: Son of Arkansas, Father of R&B (History Press). He’s spoken and performed in places ranging from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to festivals in the UK. Koch’s weekly “Arkansongs” program is syndicated on National Public Radio affiliates across the state.) the mid-1970s and for fellow Arkansawyer Johnnie Taylor of Crawfordsville the biggest song of his career. The 1976 smash was the first song to be certified platinum, indicated by sales of one million or more. The next year, Johnnie Taylor had a follow-up number three hit with another Harvey Scales song, “Love is Better In the A.M.,” and other groups

like the Dells, the O’Jays, the Sonics, Instant Funk and the J. Geils Band were cutting Harvey Scales songs. Harvey Scales was at his hottest, and he got a solo deal with Casablanca Records, an eclectic label that was home to Donna Summer, the Village People, George Clinton’s ParliamentFunkadelic, Cher and KISS. Scales recorded two albums for the label, 1978’s Confidential Affair and 1979’s Hot Foot: A Funky Disco Opera. The Mississippi County native had a minor UK hit in the mid-1980s with “Spend the Night Forever,” but like many American R&B and blues performers in the 1980s and into the 1990s, the marketplace back home was less welcoming. Scales continued recording, albeit more sporadically. Meanwhile, DJs, rappers and hiphop producers were discovering the sounds of Harvey Scales in record shops and sampling them. “Golden age of hip-hop”-era artists including the Beastie Boys, Pete Rock, Soul II Soul and Biz Markee are among the many hip-hop artists and rappers who have sampled beats from Harvey Scales songs. Scales continues to perform in southeast Wisconsin; meanwhile, Scales’s son, Harvey Scales Junior, is a Milwaukee-based rapper who goes by the name of “Scalez” with a Z, continuing on the Scales family musical tradition. Summer 2016|


Photos by Nancy Kemp

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Summer 2016|


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General Baptist Nursing Home of Piggott Rehab to Home Program:

The place to be before you go home

Our facility has experienced therapists that offer Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy. Our therapists can use modalities such as ParaďŹƒn bath, TENS, NMES/FES that they can use based on a patients diagnosis. Speech therapist is certiďŹ ed in Vital Stim. Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy work together on a daily basis to restrain for activities of daily living with appropriate use of adaptive equipment, strengthening, balance, endurance, and functional mobility. Whether a patient is here for rehab to home or staying long term, each patients plan of care is individualized based on their needs and improving them to reach their highest level of functioning.

450 South 9th Avenue Piggott, Arkansas

870 598-2291

William Straw, Administrator


the scenes

of the 1950s blockbuster that put Piggott on the map


ife was idyllic in Piggott in the 1950s. Old men played checkers and whittled blocks of wood on the courthouse lawn. Children roamed freely, riding their bicycles and playing with friends outdoors. The simple joys of rural life in Northeast Arkansas made it the perfect place to live and raise a family, to operate a small business — and to make a movie. A bigtime movie. Elia Kazan was the most sought-after director in Hollywood when he came to Piggott in August of 1956 to film “A Face in the Crowd,” for release by Warner Brothers. Fresh on the heels of win-

56|Summer 2016

ning Academy Awards for “Gentlemen’s Agreement” and “On the Waterfront,” he was accompanied by Academy Awardwinning screenwriter Budd Schulberg, who, after penning the novel “On the Waterfront” and its screenplay, wrote the screenplay for “A Face in the Crowd,” based on his own short story “Your Arkansas Traveler.” Among the other 75 working personnel who came to Piggott with Kazan’s Newtown Productions were noted actress Patricia Neal, who went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1963’s “Hud,” and budding film stars Andy Griffith, Lee Remick and Tony Franciosa, all appearing in their first

movie. Actor Walter Matthau appeared in later scenes filmed in Memphis and New York. When the quiet routines of dayto-day life in Piggott were interrupted by the anticipated arrival of the Hollywood film crew, excitement among local residents reached a fever pitch. It was a chance for the town to shine, to exhibit its southern hospitality, to offer cooperation and show the amazing qualities that led former resident Otto “Toby” Bruce to recommend it to Kazan and Schulberg as the perfect location for Arkansas’ first film. Piggott did not disappoint. And Hollywood responded.

Kazan and his family, Schulberg and stars of the film all attended a huge getacquainted party hosted by the Piggott Chamber of Commerce the weekend before filming was to begin. Unaccustomed to such sincere kindness, they were deeply touched by the capacity crowd which filled the school gymnasium, warm remarks and certificates of welcome from local and state officials (including the lieutenant governor), down-to-earth entertainment provided by local residents and the gift of beautiful locally-grown orchids for all of the ladies. By the time the evening ended, all had fallen in love with Piggott and its people. In a brief talk at the event, Kazan as-

Text by Nancy Kemp | Photos provided courtesy

1956 was a big year for Piggott with the filming of “A Face in the Crowd,” featuring Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal and Lee Remick. sured the community, “the picture we are making in part here will be one you will be proud to point to as having had a part in its production.” Bruce, who became acquainted with Kazan and Schulberg in Key West, Fla. (after moving there as the right-hand man of writer Ernest Hemingway), modestly told the crowd that Piggott sold itself to the two men when they visited to consider it for a film to be made on location. “If I am responsible, I am very happy,

because Piggott is my hometown and will always be home to me,” he said. Throughout the next week, as work on the movie got underway, the film crew continually expressed great appreciation for the many gestures of welcome and friendship extended by the people of Piggott. Kazan promised to gather them all for a photo beneath a large banner over Main Street reading, “Piggott Welcomes A Face in the Crowd and Newtown Productions.”

Summer 2016|


Piggott men appear in the opening scene with actor Jeff Bess

Piggott’s Mark Forest became the constant sidekick of director Kazan

Lee Remick joins relaxing fun with a ball and bat Great food provided by locals

Beautiful Patricia Neal

A shirtless Elia Kazan relaxes with the crew (Piggott’s old score board is in the background)

Kazan, Schulberg and the movie’s tion at the local baseball park. It was a ing of the film started, but nobody minded stars quickly became comfortable mov- huge undertaking which resulted in the much,” a Memphis newspaper reported. ing among the people of Piggott and participation of school bands from Ken- “Kazan stripped to the waist, lit a cigar and frequently were seen walking around nett, Poplar Bluff and Malden (in nearby gave his orders from a platform on the top the town square or shopping in local Missouri), Paragould and of course Pig- of a ladder. “Here we go...Let’s shoot...Ready now, businesses. A Memphis newspaper re- gott. National Baton Twirling Champion ported, “The spectacle of Kazan, wear- Sandra Wirth, Miss Florida, was among roll it - action!...Come on, let’s do it again... ing ill-fitting slacks and a farmer’s straw about 60 of the South’s most beautiful Roll it, action!...Come on now, I want hat, wandering into the notions store on and talented twirlers (including several more Elvis Presley kind of squeals from the square or into Ellen’s Westside Cafe from Piggott and other nearby schools) you people in the grandstand...Come on now, let’s have a real squeal... or into the office of the Piggott Fine. That’s better, that’s it... Banner is one the people of this Cut now — we’ll do it again. county won’t soon forget.” “Another flourish of his The town rallied to provide cigar and he is giving Andy food for the movie folks, serving Griffith a slap on the shoulder homecooked meals in the school and Patricia Neal a kiss on the cafeteria, the school home ecocheek,” the article continued. nomics room and at the War “And he has words of encourMemorial Building. agement for the rest of his cast, The Memphis newspaper including cute Lee Remick.” quoted the townspeople as sayWith two more days needing, “If our town has been picked ed to finish filming of the to make a movie in, nothing is scene, people in the crowd too good for those who made it faithfully returned. possible.” Hundreds of locals apPiggott became the fictional peared in minor roles or as town of “Pickett” for the film’s extras in the filming of other story of Larry “Lonesome” scenes at the courthouse and Rhodes (Griffith), a guitarthe train depot. strumming Arkansas folk singer The needed crowd was on discovered by Marcia Jeffries hand for two nights of filming (Neal). Rhodes’ fame grew, at the Cotton Belt depot. The making him the most popular Piggott Banner reported that, television personality in the naLarry “Lonesome” Rhodes, played by Andy Griffith on both nights, the cameras tion before power led to his correcruited to take part alongside Remick, rolled until the early morning hours. For ruption and ultimate fall. In many ways ahead of its time, A Face cast as a beautiful majorette who caught another scene in the movie, about 180 in the Crowd was described by some as “a the eye of Rhodes and later became his youngsters were paid $5 each for swimming all day in a beautiful private swimsearing indictment of the television and wife. To assure the presence of the needed ming pool at the home of Karl Pfeiffer. advertising industries with the beloved Wilma Jinks, the wife of Piggott postLonesome Rhodes being transformed crowd, the Piggott Chamber of Commerce gave away $200 in cash in drawings master Harold Jinks, was with Patricia into a ruthless and cruel machine.” Griffith’s previous work had always throughout the day and enlisted Griffith Neal for the shooting of a scene at a cattle been comedic, and Kazan said the young and other musicians in the film to provide pen. The two were negotiating a catwalk actor was “terribly excited” at the pros- entertainment. And of course there was over the cattle pen with something gave also the promise to see the film’s stars and way and Neal fell, with Mrs. Jenks piling pect of appearing in a drama. Piggott was challenged by Kazan and either watch or be a part of the making of on top of her. It was reported that while Schulberg to provide a crowd of 5,000 to the movie. The crowd stayed all day de- Neal suffered only a few bruises and 6,000 for a scene in which Rhodes, riding spite temperatures which soared into the scratches, the real hurt was to her pride since she “fell smack into what you usually high on a wave of popularity, returned upper 90’s. “The temperature was 96 when shoot- find in a cattle pen.” to Pickett to judge a twirling competi-

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In one humorous twist, Kazan requested 100 dogs for a scene on the lawn of the town jail. Gary Ferguson, with the publication Pictures, wrote that when only 40 dogs were brought in, an investigation revealed that many young Piggott dog owners had the impression the dogs — not the scene — would be shot at the jail. Left with few options, Kazan contacted a West Plains (Mo.) breeder who brought a truckload of dogs for the scene. Kazan and Schulberg had promised a gift of $6,000 toward a filtration system for the local swimming pool if the city was successful in getting together the needed crowds, but in gratitude for the town’s efforts and amazing success, the men presented a check for $8,502, the full amount needed to allow the pool to reopen after having been closed for several months. “It will be in appreciation of the great cooperation we’ve had from Piggott,” said Kazan as he ate a T-bone steak at Ellen’s Cafe. “I love this town and hope to get back often.” Ordinary life in Piggott was, to some degree, put on hold for a few days while the magic of movie-making captured the attention of nearly everyone. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience for a little city the size of ours, and the folks here are loving it,” wrote newspaper editor Laud Payne in the Aug. 10, 1956, issue of the Piggott Banner. Neal is said to have worked on her “Southern drawl” with Griffith, who grew up in the small town of Mount Airy, N.C. — supposedly the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry in his wildly popular 1960’s television series “The Andy Griffith Show.” Though Griffith had never acted in a movie, he came to Piggott after achieving great success in 340 performances of the Broadway hit “No Time for Sergeants.”

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Remick arrived early and lived with Piggott’s L.D. Robinson family while she learned baton twirling, as well as how to “speak Southern,” from Amanda Robinson, Piggott High School drum majorette and one of the film’s twirlers. Remick reportedly also learned how to shell peas and quickly picked up the warmth and friendliness of the Piggott people. A few others in the film crew also stayed in Piggott homes, while most of the others stayed in Kennett and other nearby towns. To say that the movie makers became rather attached to the people of Piggott would be an understatement. When 85-year-old Mary Agnes Spence died just days before the movie’s release on June 1, 1957, Kazan wrote a heartfelt letter addressed “To Everyone in Piggott.” The letter read: “There’s an old Hollywood legend that a director always falls in love with his leading ladies. I’ve directed quite a few beautiful and magnetic women in my time. But I never fell for anyone

more quickly than I did for Grandma Spence. As soon as I met her I knew she had to be in the film somewhere and Budd felt exactly the same way. She did everything we asked better than we had a right to expect, even when it came down to getting up in the middle of the night and going down to the depot to play a scene for us. When Rosalie (her granddaughter) and Ayleene (her daughter) brought her down to where we were photographing, everybody felt, excuse the corn, as if royalty was paying us a visit. When the picture was put together for the first time it turned out to be considerably too long, but never once did we even consider cutting out any of Grandma Spence’s footage. There wasn’t enough of her. I know Budd would join me in saying that we share the sense of loss that all of you in Piggott must feel. We’re both better off for having known her.” While it was thought for a time that the movie’s premiere might be in Piggott, Kazan eventually wrote that arrangements would be too complex. National premieres were held simultaneously in New York, Hollywood and Chicago.

After the movie crew packed up and left town and the people of Piggott returned to normal routines, the staff and cast members would be remembered for their down-to-earth friendliness and long hours of hard work. “They treated us swell and in return they got old-fashioned ‘home folks’ treatment,” Piggott Banner editor Laud Payne wrote. “Things may swing back into normal routine in a few days, but it has given us something to talk about and think over for a long time to come.”

Lee Remick tastes one of Mrs. Robinson’s delicious dishes

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A Face In The Crowd


iggott residents who witnessed or took part in the 1956 filming of director Elia Kazan’s movie “A Face in the Crowd” in the streets of their town probably never considered that 60 years later people would still be talking about it. But the entire experience, which took place in just over a week in the intense heat of August, left such an indelible impression that it has become a permanent part of the fabric of this small Clay County town. That Piggott was chosen for one of Hollywood’s earliest films made on location was in itself a huge honor. But the fact that its citizens won the hearts and gratitude of some of the movie industry’s most highly regarded filmmakers and actors continues to be a source of great pride. So it’s time to celebrate! And just as they did in 1956, the people of Piggott

Text by Nancy Kemp | Photos provided courtesy

Local kids hired to jump in the pool at the Karl Pfeiffer home are ready to go “all out” for a Face in the Crowd reunion, set for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9 and 10. With Piggott attorney Clifford M. “Joe” Cole at the helm, plans have been made for a re-enactment of one of the movie’s biggest Piggott scenes, a baton

twirling competition, during halftime of the Piggott vs. Portageville football game Sept. 9. Talented majorettes who came from four states to appear in the movie will be honored guests for the occasion and, according to Cole, may actually twirl again.

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Since the 1956 Piggott band and twirlers played a big role in the movie, Cole has encouraged the current Piggott Mohawk Marching Band to use the occasion to launch a fundraiser in celebration of the 70th anniversary of formation of the school band. Alumni of the PHS band, including some who were a part of the actual making of the movie, have been invited to a tailgate party at the location of the original film scene. Cole has asked that the city hang a large banner across Main Street just as it did in 1956 to welcome the movie team. “This time, in addtion to the words ‘Piggott Welcomes A Face in the Crowd,’ there will be something reflecting the 60th anniversary reunion and the dates of the event,” he said. Cole hopes to fill the entire day Saturday, Sept. 10, with activities relevant to the theme of the celebration. The day will begin with a pancake breakfast at the Piggott Community Center hosted by the Piggott Lions Club. An open house will be held that afternoon at the Karl and Matilda Pfeiffer Museum (formerly the private home of the late couple), who allowed the movie crew to film scenes there, including scores of children swimming in their private pool. “The museum will finance a permanent art/photograph display of pictures taken at that location during the filming of the movie,” Cole said. “Hopefully we can set a specific hour to highlight the dedication of the photos that will remain on permanent display.” While the adjacent Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center was not a part of the movie, Cole hopes to schedule an open house there, as well, since it draws thousands of visitors each year as the place where famed writer Ernest Hemingway frequently wrote on visits with his in-laws, Paul and Mary Pfeiffer, parents of his second wife, Pauline. “Hemingway did play a role in helping Piggott become a film site for the movie,” Cole said, noting that Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg chose Piggott after it was recommended as the perfect location by former Piggott resident Otto “Toby” Bruce.

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Lee Remick as Betty Lou Fleckum Bruce went to work for Hemingway during one of Hemingway’s Piggott visits and later moved with him to Key West, Fla., serving as his “right hand man.” It was there that Bruce befriended Kazan and Schulberg. The Piggott Chamber of Commerce will host an open house at the city’s retired train depot (now the home of the Chamber of Commerce and city museum), where other important scenes in the movie were filmed. Cole hopes to also dedicate a permanent display of photos from those scenes and collect other photos for permanent display inside the museum. “I also hope to find a way to permanently display photos from the movie on or near the town square,” Cole said. While details are not yet firm, the Piggott High School band will host a special evening of fun Sept. 10 at the Community Center. Cole hopes the event will include a concert, informal dinner, guest speakers and an opportunity to reminisce. Tickets for these events will benefit the PHS band program, which Cole said has “grown to become a very valuable asset to the Piggott community.” “My goal is to raise $20,000 dedicated to that program,” he said. This event, too, will include a collection of photographs from filming of the movie and original movie posters for A Face in the Crowd, which Cole hopes will be made into a permanent display at the Community Center. More details will be released as the reunion dates near.

movie review


Beyond the trama


ot many films that are centered on a traumatic experience tend to focus on the aftermath. What do the characters who went through this go through when they return to the real world? How easy can it be just to get back to a normal life? Who’s welcoming them back and who breaks away? Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room,” adapted from the novel of the same name by its author, Emma Donoghue, would be a powerful film if it focused only on the experience. But that’s only the first hour. The film nearly elevates itself to “masterpiece” levels by focusing the remaining hour of running time on the after-effects. (This isn’t necessarily a spoiler. Those who have seen the trailer know that the imprisoned characters in “Room” are free by the halfway point.) “Room” is what five-year-old Jack (played by Jacob Tremblay) calls his world — the world he and his “Ma” (Brie Larson) have lived in his entire life; a world of one room, with a few pieces of furniture, electricity, plumbing, a TV, and a skylight in the ceiling; a world outside of which Jack has never set foot. You see, Jack’s mother was abducted at a young age and kept in the garden shed in the backyard of her captor (Sean Bridger). He raped her repeatedly and kept her locked up. She gave birth to a son and he allowed her to keep the boy and raise him by herself. She has told Jack many lies about their “world,” shielding him from the truth, like an elaborate fairy tale. But now that Jack is five, she can’t keep hiding

things from him anymore and sees that there’s a world out there that he needs to know about. Eventually, Ma does convince Jack that there’s something more to what he’s been taught, and she gets him to help put her escape plan to action. It involves him playing dead so he can be removed from the “Room” and run for help. The plan ends up working. Ma is rescued, and she and Jack are free at last. End of movie? No. It was just the first act of “Room,” the film, and it leads to a brilliant second act, in which Ma and Jack have to deal with normality. And it’s not quite as optimistic as one may think. Yes, they’re free from their captor, but what happens next? Everything now feels strange and kind of unnerving. The first hour of “Room” is excellent. It’s kept entirely in one room. The sense of claustrophobia can’t be ignored, as it makes for a really tense atmosphere. You get a good feel of how these people have lived for so long in a world they didn’t make (literally and figuratively), and it really helps that the whole long sequence is seen through Jack’s perspective — you hear his narrations (which sound like whimsical Dr. Seuss phrasings), see the world practically through his eyes, and only leave “Room” (the actual room) when he’s brought out. The scene in which he has to escape is the most suspenseful in the entire film. Even when you know he’s going to break free, the movie takes its time getting to that point, stretching out the anxiety.

Tanner Smith Film Critic

RATED: The second hour of this two-hour film is surprisingly even more fascinating, as we’re brought into “the real world” with these two people. Ma (whose legal name is Joy) is reunited with her parents (Joan Allen and William H. Macy), who have divorced since her capture, and Jack is brought in to live with his grandmother and her new boyfriend. But as it turns out, Jack is slowly but surely learning independence and what it truly means to be a kid, while Ma hasn’t gotten over the experience she’s had to deal with in the last seven years.

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She’s haunted by memories, unsure of her “second chance at life,” and isn’t sure what to do next. See the film in its entirety, with context, and this is all the more compelling. Credit for that goes to director Abrahamson, who is able to balance out the blatant and the subtle, which helps make the complex material come alive even more. If not for the outstanding acting throughout the film, “Room” wouldn’t have been as successful. In order for us to feel the characters’ plight, the actors have to sell it. Coming into the film, I already had a good feeling about Brie Larson, one of my favorite actresses working today, and boy was I right. This is not only her strongest performance since “Short Term 12” two years ago;, but undoubtedly the best work of her career by far. And not only that, but, as Ma/Joy, she also is able to portray two different versions of the same character — Jack’s image of his “Ma,” as well as a mentally tortured and broken woman who tries to deal with life after seven years of captivity. It’s to Larson’s credit that we can fully understand this character even if characteristics of her are not fully seen by Jack or the audience. She’s marvelous in this film. And then there’s little Jacob Tremblay. With a child this age, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew with a solid director guiding him, he could provide work strong enough for the material. (Actors have to put a lot of trust in their directors, and child actors are no exception.) Thankfully, Tremblay is able to portray Jack as a real, disillusioned little boy who also is bright, articulate and able to adjust (though with some difficulty, of course). It’s a performance more natural and credible than most child acting of recent memory. Another strong performance I want to mention is from Joan Allen, as Joy’s mother. She just wants her daughter back in her life and is willing to help her through anything in the post-kidnapping phase. It’s her best work in years. And the less I say about William H. Macy’s smaller but heartbreaking role, the better. (I’m already on the edge of giving away more spoilers.) “Room” can be seen as either an uplifting drama about survival after misfortune, a partial thriller for the first act, or also as a psychological study about adjustment, transition and effects. Either way, “Room” is a frank, challenging, and powerful film — one of the very best I’ve seen in recent months.

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Wilson Café Exceptional dining in a relaxed and historic setting I have a habit of looking for restaurants with an interesting story. For me, the story is as important as the food, and since I am a storyteller as well as someone who enjoys eating, I look for both. Wilson Café has a story — and it is a good one. That story keeps getting told, even by such folks as The New York Times. It has to be a good story if they are interested in us, right? This story may be a bit different because I have so much to say about the food that there may not be much room left for anything else. I have eaten at Wilson Café a number of times since chef and owner Joe Cartwright cleaned up the historic building on the Wilson town square and opened for business back in December of 2013. It was good from the

Text and photos by Cindy Grisham

The recently updated main room at the Wilson Cafe features white subway tile and mirrors.

start and each time I visited I thought it was getting better. Was I right about that! It has been a couple of years since I had a chance to stop in, so on a recent sunny Friday, I loaded Bea the Road Dog in the car to head for Wilson. The last road trip we made we were accompanied by Bea’s human dad, Tim, and he apparently had such a good time then that he was eager to tag along.  So Bea got in the backseat and let Tim ride in the front and off we went. It was certainly worth the drive! The trip was in many ways bittersweet since many of my old haunts are quickly disappearing, but not so in this little part of Mississippi County. The whole Wilson experience is one you don’t want to miss.

Summer 2016|


The first time I ever wandered into Wilson I was amazed at what was in front of me, and much like the café, the whole place is getting better every time I stop in. The café itself has been completely transformed since I last saw it. The outside has a great new neon sign set in a lovely garden of perennials. There is a large new parking lot out front that allows much easier access to the restaurant without looking like a big old parking lot. The inside is where the real changes have been made. The front door currently is on the highway side of the building and opens into the main dining room. Once painted a soft grey, the room now is a clean, crisp white with subway tiles from floor to ceiling behind a newly-installed counter. The trim is a gorgeous light grey and gives the place a classy feel, a major change from the cypress wood and chalkboard previously there. The café was packed, which was to be expected at 12:30 on a Friday. Lucky for us, three busloads from a Jonesboro church were pulling out of the parking lot as we arrived, freeing up a number of tables. We were instantly seated by the hostess — and that was only the beginning of the excellent service we received from start to finish. Members of the wait staff were attired in black slacks and black and white check button-down blouses with black aprons. The overall effect was not only sharp and professional, but cute without being cutesy. No ragged jeans and brightly colored t-shirts here. That clean, professional presentation was carried through from start to finish with heavy white dinnerware, heavy flatware, real glassware and cloth napkins. The attention to detail was phenomenal and made the entire meal an experience worth remembering. Since it was Friday, it was, by Delta tradition, catfish day. I love catfish, but we decided to order from the menu to get a better feel for the regular offerings. (I did see the catfish plates coming out and they looked

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fantastic.) Gaylon Lawrence, Jr., now owner of the Lee Wilson & Company holdings and the man behind the transformation of Wilson from sleepy farm town to a real destination, was seated at the table next to us with his crew. I have shared more than one catfish lunch with Gaylon at various Delta eateries and I know he is a man who loves his catfish. He seemed quite happy with his meal, and, in hindsight, I wish I had ordered a plate. But that gives me a reason to go back, doesn’t it? We started with a cup of the soup-of-theday, broccoli cheddar. I like broccoli cheddar soup, though it usually isn’t anything special. But this cup was special. The presentation was topped by a few flecks of parsley (that attention to detail I mentioned earlier) and it not only looked scrumptious, it tasted scrumptious, too. Cream soups often are blended to a perfect smoothness, but this one not quite, which gave it a bit of bite which we both really liked. The taste was amazing! Tim said the broccoli and cheddar were both stars in this and shared the limelight. Usually you get broccoli soup with cheese or cheese soup with broccoli, but this featured both in equal measures. It was delicious — and my only complaint is that I didn’t order some to take home.

broccoli cheddar soup

We decided to order a Cuban sandwich, one of our favorites, and were not disappointed. The roll seemed to have been toasted before pressing, which kept it from becoming soggy. It was topped by a generous portion of shaved roast pork and smoked ham, with stone ground mustard, wonderfully gooey Swiss cheese and delicious crisp pickles that had to have been house made. It was accompanied by a massive pile of hand-cut French fries which may have been the best I have ever eaten. They were wonderfully crisp and flavorful on the outside and almost creamy on the inside. Tim observed that most fries are just a vehicle for salt and ketchup, but these didn’t need either. The serving was generous, and we were glad since we didn’t want to stop eating them. Realizing we wanted to sample several dishes, we stopped ourselves at half — but not because that’s what we wanted to do. The decision to hold up on the Cuban was helped by the arrival of our entrees. Tim ordered the grilled cheese, which features ingredients that change daily. This day it featured pulled smoked pork shoulder with a thick slab of melted cheddar, topped with that famous Mississippi County dry slaw and thin, hot, red vinegar sauce. Delicious! The sandwich was toasted and pressed, like the Cuban, and incredibly tasty. And it came with another

roast pork loin

mound of those wonderful fries. I went with the roast pork loin, which featured two thick slices of pork topped with a luscious mushroom gravy. All entrees come with a homemade roll (which was delicious) and two sides. I ordered cheddar grits and green beans, which disappointed Tim tremendously. He thought I should be more adventurous than green beans, but he changed his mind when he tasted them. They were heavenly — fresh and cooked through (but not to mush) with the most wonderful savory flavor accenting the taste of the beans. I couldn’t figure out what it was that made them so good, but after we got home several hours later, I opened the box and ate one at room temperature. If possible, the taste was even more incredible then, with the heat of pepper coming through. Wonderful — and just simple green beans. The pork was moist, flavorful and tasty, and the gravy was incredible. Gravy often is just a covering for less-thanperfect something else, but not here. And then the grits — obviously coarsely-ground real grits, cooked and stirred the required length of time to achieve perfection. They were creamy, buttery and cheesy and stood up on the fork. I gave Tim a taste and his eyes closed with delight as soon as they touched his tongue. The next time, I may order just a bowl of grits and be done with it.

Cuban sandwich

of the pork loin: It was moist, flavorful and tasty, and the gravy was incredible. Gravy often is just a covering for less-than-perfect something else, but not here. Summer 2016|


coconut pie

We again stopped well before we wanted to because we needed to check out the dessert offerings. Wilson Café’s signature dessert is bread pudding made with day-old Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I have had it and it is very good — but I have had it, so I wanted something else. Tim went with the chocolate chess pie, which came topped with ice cream and was like a rich, gooey brownie in a crust that may well be the best you will ever put in your mouth. I think I could have eaten only a crust and been happy. There was a slight saltiness that kept the pie from being cloyingly sweet. It was sturdy and firm so it held up under the weight of the fillings and remained crispy, even on the bottom. A lover of coconut, I went with the coconut pie, which was unlike what I was expecting but now sets the bar pretty high for any future coconut pies. The filling was toasted and crunchy on top with a sweet gooey inside that reminded me of a homemade coconut macaroon. It was topped by a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and also sat in that amazing crust, which I broke off at the rim and ate between bites of the sweet filling. Although we planned to take part of the pie home as well, we ate every last bite. I mentioned that I ate a green bean when we got home that night, but we didn’t stop there. We ate all of the leftovers straight out of the takeout containers without reheating, and I think they were as good as they were hot out of the kitchen a few hours before. The grits were still something to make the eyes roll in ecstasy and the pork still moist and tasty. But the winner in the leftover department might have been the Cuban, which still held up after all of those hours in the back of the car. The pulled pork grilled cheese also was wonderful at room

74|Summer 2016

chocolate chess pie

temperature. Something about the cooling down brought out the complexity of flavors. Who would have thought that about a cold grilled cheese? The only thing lacking was a piece of pie, and we kicked ourselves for not taking some home. By the way, if you are having company over and need a dessert to serve, you can have a whole pie or cake if you give the café a day’s notice. People will think you are something else if you serve them a piece of that pie. Just don’t let on that your only contribution was calling pastry chef Sheri Haley, who is chef Joe Cartwright’s partner in business and in life. Just let them think you are a baking genius.

If you are having company over and need a dessert to serve,

you can have a whole pie or cake if you give the café a day’s notice.

The bar at the Wilson Cafe has a warm, cozy feel. (below) An open air patio was enclosed but retains the feeling of the outdoors.

Summer 2016|




205 S. Main St., Black Oak, AR | 870-486-5675



The Wilson Café is open for lunch from 11 to 2 Tuesday through Sunday and for dinner from 5 to 8:30 Wednesday through Saturday. The former entrance on the square side of the building is now the bar, which is tastefully decorated in dark wood and dark grey paint. The old brick patio between the café and the rest of the downtown buildings has been enclosed in glass to create another room which easily will seat a large number of people. There were fans running, giving the room the feeling of being outdoors. There also are two small dining rooms for private parties. The next time you want a nice road trip and a dining experience you won’t forget, or if you are looking for a great place for a special dinner, look no further than the Wilson Café. The food is amazing, the staff is second to none, and the attention to detail just puts it over the top. If you dropped this restaurant into downtown Little Rock, people would be lined up out the door and down the street all day. Stop in and see for yourself. The Wilson Café is located on the historic and lovely Wilson Town Square at 2 North Jefferson Street. Reservations can be made (but are not required) by calling (870) 655-0222. If you want to study a menu before you go, check out the café website at

Check out the full menu at:

76|Summer 2016

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The Delta at its freshest

from garden to table


t is hard to believe now, with cropdusters flying overhead, but the land around Wilson, Arkansas, was farmed organically in the past. It is hard to believe now, with cropdusters flying overhead, but the land around Wilson, Arkansas, was farmed organically in the past. The late Lee Wilson, then owner of the town, kept large flocks of geese in his cotton fields to pull out the weeds. The cotton was left behind by the birds. In the evening, he paid local children to round up the geese and herd them into overturned cotton trailers so they would be safe from predators at night. While there are no geese roaming the fields at Wilson Gardens, there are a large number of chickens now calling the place home. I had heard that Gaylon Lawrence, Jr., now owner of the Lee Wilson & Company holdings and City of Wilson visionary, had been looking for someone to establish an organic garden in the community a couple of years ago. I also knew he had found someone Text and photos by Cindy Grisham

and that Wilson Gardens was in business, but was I ever surprised when I finally got to see it in person. It was better than I ever imagined. Located on the river side of U.S. 61 in downtown Wilson, there is a sign for the gardens directly across Highway 61 (or as it is known locally, Cortez Kennedy Boulevard) from the Wilson CafÊ, which you also should visit. The Wilson CafÊ menu features vegetables every day that, until just a few hours before, were still in the field across the highway. Lawrence found the person he was looking for in Oxford, Mississippi, native Leslie Wolverton. Wolverton studied agronomy at Lawrence’s alma mater, Mississippi State University, and has several acres in cultivation right now with plans to add more. Summer 2016|


The gardens feature not only fresh produce, but also flowers and herbs. Being a soil scientist, Wolverton says her main crop is producing perfect soil — and it appears she has done just that. The gardens are centered around a fabulous structure called The Grange, which looks a good deal like a small cotton gin on the outside. But the inside is another thing entirely. The structure features an open plan on the main floor and a second floor balcony area adequate for seating a large party for dinner. The lower level is designed to house not only the weekly Farm Market, which sells produce, flowers and herbs, but fresh breads and eggs from the free range chickens mentioned earlier. Fruit has been added to the mix, as well, and while it may be a year or two before there is much to purchase, we were treated to the site of fig trees, blueberry bushes, grapes, and even a lovely row of orange blooming pomegranate, which lined the front walk straight to the front door. There is a full commercialgrade kitchen with a state-of-the-art video production facility which allows Wolverton, or one of the many chefs who visit, to prepare meals from the garden for visitors and large groups, all while watching them on one of the large video screens mounted on the walls.

Leslie Wolverton, Wilson Gardens director and chief gardener


Greenhouses at Wilson Gardens|Summer 2016

The test kitchen inside The Grange allows chefs to demonstrate various techniques while being filmed so the guests can watch from their seats.

Interior processing facility at The Grange at Wilson Gardens Summer 2016|


Rose, the Wilson Gardens dog greets visitors

Fresh greens on ice ready to be shipped to Memphis restaurants for the evening meal.

The processing facility behind The Grange While I only got to meet Wolverton in passing, her staff was wonderful, particularly Lana, who took us on the full tour of the facility and the gardens. Wolverton designed the facility to be not only a fully-functioning organic garden, but also an outdoor classroom for visitors of all ages. A large church group was expected when we were there, and school groups have added the garden to their rotation of must-see places to visit. You don’t have to be part of a large group to stop in, however. Everyone is welcome, but if you want the full experience, I would urge you to call ahead and schedule an appointment with Wolverton. Those who live nearby may want to look into the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which provides a box of fresh

produce, herbs and flowers each week for a nominal annual charge. More information on the CSA can be found at the Wilson Gardens website, The gardens are located at 15 South Jefferson Street in Wilson. Stop by and have a look around.

Herbs surround a row of pomegranate trees in front of The Grange.

Wilson Gardens is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Grange may be rented for events of all kinds by calling Leslie or one of her staff members at (870) 655-8422. 82|Summer 2016

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Book review Review by Chris Crawley, That Bookstore In Blytheville

The Wright Brothers:

Ingenuity and genius depicted in a bestseller


wo-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, David McCullough tells the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the courageous brothers who taught the world how to fly: Wilbur and Orville Wright. These men generally are credited with inventing, building and flying the world’s first successful airplane. On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Kitty Hawk, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot. Just who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did? McCullough, writer of many historical and research-based books like 1776, Truman and John Adams, has been writing historical genre books since 1968. His latest work, The Wright Brothers, earned him two very valuable rewards which only confirm the quality of his work — the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The Wright Brothers is a very detailed biography of the two famous brothers, Wilbur and Orville, with detailed descriptions of their achievements

in the early world of aviation. The story is surprising, inspiring and profoundly American. Far more than a couple of unschooled Dayton bicycle mechanics who happened to hit on success, they were men of exceptional courage and determination, and of far-ranging intellectual interests and ceaseless curiosity — much of which they attributed to their upbringing through their parents. The house they lived in had no electricity or indoor plumbing, but there were books aplenty, supplied mainly by their preacher father — and they never stopped reading. When they worked together, no problem seemed to be insurmountable. Wilbur was unquestionably a genius. Orville had mechanical ingenuity such as few had ever seen. That they had no more than a public high school education, little money and no contacts in high places never stopped them in their “mission” to take to the air. Nothing did — not even the self-evident reality that every time they took off in one of their contrivances they risked being killed. In this thrilling book, master historian David McCullough draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including private diaries,

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notebooks, scrapbooks and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence, to tell the human side of the Wright Brothers’ story, including the little-known contributions of Katharine (sister), Bishop Milton Wright (father) and Susan Catharine Wright (mother), without whom things might well have gone differently for them. Both Orville and Wilbur had a natural love for learning new things from a young age. Their knowledge about aviation came from numerous books and literature which they read and also their mutual inspiration, which was led by many past innovators. Both shared a love of learning for the sake of learning. Their family home had two libraries, the first consisting of books on theology and the second a large, varied collection. Looking back on his childhood, Orville once commented that he and his brother had “special advantages...,” adding, “We were lucky enough to grow up in a home environment where there was always much encouragement to children to pursue intellectual interests, to investigate whatever aroused their curiosity.” The Wright Brothers is more than a novel about two men and their strong will of never giving up their dream to fly through the sky as many species of birds do. By reading this novel, readers will have the opportunity to look inside an aviation revolution which Wilbur and Orville started and which changed the way we live and travel. McCullough is in his element writing about seemingly ordinary folks steeped in the cardinal American virtues — self-reliance and can-do resourcefulness. The Wright Brothers is a story of timeless importance. Magical, moving and well-documented, the story shows as never before how two Ohio boys from a remarkable family taught the world to fly. Now available in paperback!!! But order the hardcover version at That Bookstore In Blytheville. You will want this book to last a lifetime!

the garden spot




o you ever find yourself thinking, “I sure would like to have a garden and grow my own vegetables… but I just don’t have the space to have a garden!” If so, then “square foot gardening,” , SFG, might be a good option for you! Of course you are thinking, what is a square foot garden? Can I really grow my own fresh vegetables? How do I do it? What can I grow? First things first. The term “square foot gardening,” or SFG, was first used extensively by retired engineer Mel Bartholomew in his 1981 book, Square Foot Gardening, Rodal Press Inc., Emmaus, Pa. Bartholomew’s SFG concept is that a person can grow 100 percent of their vegetable harvest production in just 20 percent of the space with only 2 percent of the work! SFG is fundamentally the practice of dividing the garden growing area into small square foot-sized sections to assist you in the planning of a small, intensively planted vegetable garden. Bartholomew also suggests there will be no weeding, heavy digging, or tilling! To me this sounded like a gardening heaven! I had to try SFG. Basically, SFG is a simple way to

create easy-to-manage raised beds that require very little maintenance time. A square foot garden can be built with just about anything and can be pretty much any length, but it should not have a width greater than four feet. One needs to be able to reach across the entire bed to allow easy planting and to keep from walking on and compacting the soil mixture. I chose to buy a ready-made, easy-to-put together box in which to create my SFG. Actually, I bought two raised beds that were 42” wide x 84” long x 8” deep, and made of recycled material. You don’t even have to remove the grass! I began my project by laying landscape cloth over the grass and building my raised beds on top of the material, and then filling the boxes with an amended soil. One of the key elements of SFG is the soil used to grow your vegetables. Bartholomew’s SFG concept uses a “perfect soil cocktail,” which consists of 1/3-compost + 1/3-coarse vermiculite + 1/3-peat moss (by volume). Many SFG builders discovered they had trouble finding coarse vermiculite, so they substituted with a much finer grade

Column and photos by Ralph Seay

vermiculite that was readily available. I did not use the suggested perfect soil cocktail since I had an ample supply of compost, peat moss, and potting soil available. Unknown to me before I chose to use it, one of my ingredients had some grass seed in it and I have been fighting grass all spring. The next step is to install the foot square grid system onto the raised beds. I repurposed some old wooden lattice strips and spaced

Summer 2016|


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them out in such a way as to establish my approximately square foot grid over my soil-filled boxes. Once the grid was in place, I selected the vegetables I wanted to grow and proceeded to plant seeds or transplants in my square foot garden. The picture shows I planted tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, squash, snap beans, and purple hull peas. Of course you can plant almost any vegetable in a SFG. However, some plants are better suited than others. Bartholomew concentrated on careful spacing of seeds rather than planting the entire seed packet so that fewer but stronger plants would grow. The foot square grid comes in handy when you decide to plant. For example, in one square foot, you can plant one each of tomato, squash, eggplant, zucchini, or pepper. You can plant two each of cucumbers or sweet potatoes, and four each of lettuce, strawberries, thyme, or corn. You can plant nine each of bush beans, beets, turnips, scallions, or onions, and sixteen each of carrots or radishes. If planting something that has vines, like watermelons, cantaloupes, or cucumbers, you should consider planting them in one of the outside squares to allow the vines to cascade over the side onto the ground. You could also try vertical gardening for your plants with vines, especially pole beans and cucumbers. You can train the vines to climb a trellis or wire frame so the vines do not cover your entire SFG. Before ending this article, I should share there is one major criticism of SFG. Aesthetically, a square foot garden is beautiful and will reap many compliments from your friends and neighbors! However, some feel the concept of intensive planting packs the plants too close together, thus suppressing root development. A poor root system will hinder water and nutritional uptake resulting in stunted plants and very likely smaller vegetables. If interested in planting other vegetables and to obtain planting diagrams, you should “Google” square foot gardening to find more information on SFG than you will ever need.

Happy gardening!


If you have any questions about gardening or suggestions for potential Delta Crossroads gardening articles, please send them to Ralph Seay via email: Or send them by regular mail to: 513 Magnolia Road Jonesboro, AR 72401

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i n d e ta i l

true depth of

color with Diane Ziemski


hen award-winning Little Rock watercolorist Diane Ziemski decides to take on a new challenge, she is enthusiastic and fully committed from the start. So success follows. Always. She excelled for years as a school teacher in Dumas and finished her sterling education career as technology coordinator for the Arkansas Department of Adult Education in Little Rock, retiring in 2002. But with a passion for creating, she was ready for a new project. Having mastered knitting, sewing and cooking over the years, she began to dabble in watercolor, something she had thought about at several times in her life. With the encouragement of her husband, Larry, she was off and running. “Anyone who knows me knows that when I get interested in something, I will get immersed in it until I get proficient. I research, read, practice — whatever it takes.” She began by going to the store and buying cheap paint, paper and brushes, along with watercolor instruction books. “I was having so much fun that when I saw there was a watercolor exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center, I went,” she said. “It was a regional group which met locally, and they had a brochure — Mid-Southern Watercolorists.” When she attended a second meeting of the group, she discovered they needed a treasurer — and volunteered. “When I came home and told Larry, he laughed at me,” she said. “I hate working with numbers, but I am a joiner and the best way to get involved is to really get involved.” She took advantage of the organization’s twice yearly workshops with highly-regarded artists and soon became workshop chair, giving her the opportunity to not only book future workshops, but to meet and get to know the artists personally. Serving in that role for five years, she tapped into the creative minds of some of the nation’s finest. “I still am in contact with many, especially Birgit O’Connor with florals, Cindy Agan with portraits and Soon Warren with still life,” she said. “These are the ones I learned the most from. I was extremely honored to later have a painting hang right beside Soon’s painting in a show in Texas.”

90|Summer 2016

She also began going to a weekly painting group with noted Little Rock artist Amy Hill-Imler. “There were some fantastic artists in that group,” Ziemski said. “I learned by watching and by their critiques.” As with everything else she’s done, she soon was racking up honors. Her watercolor painting “Helena Blues” was chosen as the 2007 Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival poster, a special thrill for her since she grew up in Helena, the daughter of Lee Jr. and Pat (Gladin) Williams. The painting now is in the permanent collection of Helena’s impressive Delta Cultural Center. She was juried into the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 MidSouthern Watercolorists annual exhibitions, qualifying her for signature status. One of her paintings was part of an exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Library in the summer of 2007, and her painting “Tulips” was one of only 22 watercolors included in the juried 2007 Small Works North America in Fairfield, Ct. The 2008 Arkansas Artists Calendar, sponsored by the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion Association, included one of her works, and five of her paintings were accepted into the 2008 Winthrop Rockefeller Institute’s Art in the Air juried exhibit. Her work also is a part of the permanent collection of the Winthrop Paul Rockefeller Cancer Research Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). And the list of honors goes on.

Text by Nancy Kemp | Photos provided by Diane Ziemski

Summer 2016|


“I consider watercolor to be the ultimate art form. The colors are so dynamic.” - Watercolorist Diane Ziemski

92|Summer 2016

Ziemski’s work has been shown in venues all over Arkansas, and her originals now are in collections in Great Britain, Mexico, Baltimore, New York City, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Texas, Pennsylvania, Alaska and her home state, as well as other locations worldwide. She was featured in the October 2005 and March 2009 issues of Little Rock’s AY magazine. “It took several years before I felt accomplished enough to enter exhibits and competitions,” she said. Yet she has found great success over the last 10 years, the most prestigious being accepted into “Splash 11, The Best of Watercolor,” an international publication produced every other year by North Light Art. Her “Primary Jiggles” won acceptance into the international Watercolor USA competition. “Since, in the beginning, I was pretty much selftaught, no one showed me how to make washes,” she said. “So I used a lot of pigment, which gives stronger, bolder color. I learned later how to do the layers of washes and use that technique with portraits. Some of my portraits might have as many as 20 layers of color on the faces, whereas my florals are usually done in one strong layer, where the paints can mingle.” She will paint on paper, canvas or yupo, but only with watercolor. “I consider watercolor to be the ultimate art form,” she said. “The colors are so dynamic.” Ziemski describes her art as “realistic, colorful, happy, colorful, varied, colorful.” “Even my monochromatic paintings seem to be colorful because of the values,” she said. Laughing, she said she began watercolor with the goal of being able to paint portraits of her grandchildren — though she didn’t have any at the time. “I now have five — Anna is 7, Madeline 6, Hayes 5, Jackson 4 and Aiden 2 1/2,” she said. “They all love to paint with me or do any kind of craft.” When Ziemski became serious about her art, she quickly learned the difference in student-quality and professional-quality materials. “Now, when I teach workshops, even with beginners, I have them use the good stuff,” she said. “It does make a difference. Better to get fewer colors and fewer brushes and better quality — one flat brush, one round brush and the three primary colors paints can get you started. I encourage students to get the warm primaries as well as the cool primaries, so that is six tubes of paint.”

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Pastor: Bock White When the grandchildren come over, they know they can use her good paints, but not the good brushes. “And, yes, they use watercolor paper, but not the good paper — not yet. They each have an upper cabinet door that is their gallery to hang paintings.” Aside from the children, Ziemski said she is inspired by “anything with color.” “I love bright color, jewel tones especially,” she said. “I think flowers are my second passion to paint, but peppers have become my warmup exercises. They are such passionate colors. Early on I used too much pigment and it kind of became my style.” Not surprisingly, Ziemski also excels in other arts as well. She makes stunning fused glass jewelry which was a part of her solo exhibit at the Delta Cultural Center, and has conducted watercolor and jewelry classes in her home. She and Larry are passionate RVers, so she has two studios, one at home and the other in a designated area of the RV. “My home studio is in a 20’x20’ upstairs bonus room,” she said. “I have wonderful big windows, so I am painting in the treetops. Each of my hobbies has a separate area — a drafting table for watercolor, a lampwork bead area, a kiln and pottery wheel, a jewelry area, and an area to cut mats and frame. Larry has customized it so that I have special watercolor paper size drawers and a pull out to store mat board.” In her “spare time,” she also enjoys machine embroidery (husband Larry digitizes designs for her), smocking (she made 20 smocked dresses for her first grandchild before she was even born), pulled thread embroidery, sewing, machine knitting and crochet. Her newest hobbies are Japanese kumihimo (braid-making) with paracord and making dream-catchers, a skill she learned in Arizona from an RV friend who is part Cherokee. Larry, too, has a wide array of talents and has transformed the garage at their home into a workshop where he builds furniture, creates stained glass and makes slumped glass bowls. “He has entered only one show with his stained glass and I was entered too,” Diane said. “He got the Best in Show award and I got nothing. He has made four gorgeous stained glass doors for our home, as well as some windows.” Ziemski sells her paintings through her website,, and by appointment in her home. She also sells prints through Fine Art America online, which allows the customer to decide the size and base. “You can get prints on canvas bags, etc., and I like giving customers that freedom to choose.” She also frequently donates art “so people can enjoy it.”

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While she does do commissioned pieces, including portraits of homes, as well as people, she admits that traveling with Larry is her first love. The two have been on four cruises on their own, and she also taught watercolor as part of the entertainment staff on a 14-day Panama Canal cruise and a 30-day Mediterranean cruise. “We have been married 14 years and in that time we have been through 39 states, including Alaska, and 22 countries,” she said. “We sometimes stay out in the RV for two months at a time.” She is always anxious to get home to family, however. Ziemski is extremely proud of her two sons and their families. Dr. Bryan Yarnell graduated from Dumas High School and attended Tulane University in New Orleans on a full scholarship, graduating with a degree in biomedical engineering. Dr. David Yarnell, also a DHS graduate, attended Mississippi State University at Starkville on a full scholarship and earned a degree in biological engineering. Both attended UAMS. Bryan is an anesthesiologist and his wife, Christie, is a pediatric anesthesiologist. David is a general surgeon in Batesville and his wife, Katie, is a pediatric psychiatrist. And, of course, there are the five grandchildren. The Ziemski family also includes two West Highland terriers, both females, who travel with Larry and Diane in the RV. “I guess I have a little bit of adventure in my blood,” Ziemski said. “It has never bothered me to go and do new things. I am a research addict, which I think is my teacher training, and I am a people person.” Look out world! Who knows where life will next take Diane Ziemski!

Diane Ziemski Summer 2016|


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Column by Talya Tate Boerner

Ten Tips for a Successful Family Reunion


ere in the South we are all about “the reunion.” Family reunion, church reunion, class reunion... If you belong to a group of some sort — and of course you do! — there’s a good chance you’ll receive an invitation to a reunion before the end of summer. You may even be asked to plan it. Try these ten tips to help make your family reunion a roaring success from planning to execution.

1. Planners Gotta Plan. You’ll need a primary planning committee. Thankfully in my family, there are a few people who always step up and take charge. These folks suggest two or three dates and a couple of locations and everyone votes. It’s the democratic way.

2. Spread the Word.

Once the date and location have been decided, it doesn’t take long to spread the word in my family. We are a group of talkers, and we have a family Facebook page. The thing to

remember within a large family is that people receive news different ways. It’s important to cover all the bases via email invitations, phone calls, Facebook, and paper invitations. American Greetings(dot)com has a great online site for printing free invitations.

Recruit everyone to help. Put the Pinterest/crafty group in charge of decorating. Recruit older teens to organize a craft table for the little ones. Recruit setup and cleanup committees. The primary organizing committee should delegate as much as possible.

3. Involve the Masses. Don’t fall victim to the 80-20 know, 20% of the people do 80% of the work?

Summer 2016|


4. Food and Beverages. There are various ways to handle this depending upon your location and travel distance. Before families became so spread out, reunions were potluck — easy and fun with P*L*E*N*T*Y of home cooking. Now that many folks travel from out of state, an easier way is to cater the meal. Barbecue, fried chicken, sides, bread, sweet tea. In my family, those who live nearby provide potluck dessert because those old family recipes can’t be beat.

5. Cost.

Charge for attendance to cover the caterer and extras like paper goods and soft drinks. Even though we’re family, we aren’t a bunch of freeloaders. Someone has to pay. Everyone has to pay. It’s that simple. Another fun way to offset cost is with a silent auction. Encourage people to donate items – all sorts of items. Family knickknacks, photos, books, whatever, but nothing too valuable. You’ll be amazed at what suddenly becomes a priceless family heirloom.

6. Create Excitement. Create excitement leading up to the event by posting pictures on your family Facebook page. Create an event hashtag (i.e. #JohnsonNation) because your family is cooler than you realize. The social media savvy will tweet and instagram about it, maybe even morphing your family into a trending topic! (In a good way, of course.) Consider ordering family reunion t-shirts. (These will need to be pre-ordered and prepaid so no one gets stuck with a bill.)

Try these ten tips to help make your family reunion a roaring success

100|Summer 2016

Gifts and Gift Baskets for every occasion also available

606 Southwest Dr. • Jonesboro, AR Store: 870.972.8480 • Fax: 870.972.5836

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Want to play one of the most beautiful golf courses around? The Ridges at Village Creek is a 27-hole, PGA-caliber championship course designed by Andy Dye that stretches through the hardwood forest and rolling terrain of Village Creek State Park. Yes, a public course. Call or book a tee time at

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7. Plan for the

Unexpected. Like what? Things like inclement weather. Have sunscreen and bug spray on hand. Borrow folding chairs and scatter hay bales for extra seating. Have adhesive bandages and batteries available because it makes good sense. Got extra toilet paper? You may need it. To-go containers for leftovers are a great idea, too.

9. Music/

Entertainment. Anytime our family gathers, there’s always music. Usually old church hymns. It’s how we are. Someone brings a guitar, we sit under the pavilion, and everyone sings. There may even be preaching before it’s all said and done. If that’s not your thing, you might consider a karaoke contest or simply play your favorite music in the background.

8. Decorations. This isn’t meant to be difficult or fussy, but add a few touches to make your reunion festive. Daisies in mason jars. String lights underneath a pavilion if your event goes into the evening. Arrange old family photo

albums and memorabilia on a table for people to enjoy. Using clothespins, string black and white pictures to make family reunion bunting.

10. Don’t Stress.

Remember, the main thing is to keep it casual and fun and don’t try to be perfect. After all, we’re all just family.

Summer 2016|


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Rhonda Harlan 870-324-0360

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The Inn at Piggott 870-598-8888

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221 West Main | Piggott, AR

Owners: Joe & Tracy Cole



Donnaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Country Kitchen

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1108 E. Main, Piggott, AR 870-598-1006 SUN-THURS: 5AM-11PM FRI & SAT: 5AM-12AM

Summer 2016|


Gosnell Therapy & Living 700 Moody St. â&#x20AC;˘ Gosnell, AR 72315 â&#x20AC;˘ 870-532-5550 Residents Sue Reynolds and Wilma Elder with Carol Roemen, Hair Stylist.

Resident Wilma Elder enjoys visiting with Don Murrell from Kennett, Mo and Doris & Tom Castillo from Wappapello, Mo.

Resident Margaret Chrise and Tasha Trapp, LPN talk about the recipes.

Providing Short & Long Term Care, Skilled Rehab, Hospice and Respite Care

Something Sweet

221 S. Pruett Street | Paragould, AR. 72450 * 870-565-5169

Custom cakes, cupcakes, coffee and more Owner: Tracy Mothershed

Bakery Case

Visit our bakery case, stocked full of an array of sweet treats each morning, including cupcakes, scones, muffins & brownies.

Frozen Treats

We have 8 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream served with a bowl or cone, or enjoy our milkshakes, coffee-shakes or sundaes.

Specialty Drinks

We serve lattes, cappucinos, ice coffee, ice tea, & Italian sodas.


Need a gift? We carry t-shirts, coffee mugs, & plenty more.

Text Sweets to 5STAR (57827)* for Deals, Promos, & Info

Shop Hours Tue-Fri: 7am - 6pm Sat: 9am - 4pm


Follow US Online: 221. S. Pruett Street Downtown Paragould


For good measure Have you joined the BOTTLE TREE craze? With summer nearing, it’s time to think about GARDENS and OUTDOOR DECOR. It’s so nice to be outside. A bottle tree is one choice I plan to add to OUR yard. My husband John and I spent several days early this year at the early 20th century HOPSON PLANTATION in Mississippi. We ‘lived’ in a SHARECROPPER’S HOUSE for three days... Nothing frilly or fancy... but ‘MAKE-DO’ and COMFORTABLE... It was warm enough that we often sat on our porch and looked out over the entire plantation. Right smack dab in our line of view was this lovely BOTTLE TREE... reminding me of my intention each year to add one to our farmstead... Never seems to happen... but I have hope for this year... It’s a long established SOUTHERN TRADITION... and one I would like to continue. The LEGEND goes that empty GLASS BOTTLES were placed outside the home, close to the entryway, to capture spirits (usually evil ones) that roam the night... These NIGHT SPIRITS are lured into the bottles and trapped until the early morning SUNLIGHT destroys them.

Narrative text and photos by Dru Duncan, Duncan Farmstead, Dell, Arkansas

Summer 2016|


It’s a legend that was deeply-rooted in the beliefs of the African American slaves who worked on the plantations... but one that many workers adopted. Often the first thing SHARECROPPERS did upon arrival to their shack was to scavenge the area for DEAD TREES or large LIMBS to securely ‘plant’ close to the door... Garbage piles were rummaged for COLORED BOTTLES, the BLUE ones being considered the best... According to Folk Lore, BLUE is the most powerful of any color. Since that time, BOTTLE TREES have come to be a symbol of the RURAL SOUTH... Thanks to Pinterest and the internet, the interest has spread literally around the world. I like this DELTA TRADITION not only for its deep-seated history... but because they are FUN, ECONOMICAL and colorful works of FOLK ART. After spending several days in our little SHARECROPPER’S HOUSE, John and I came to the conclusion that whether the bottle trees are for one’s ENJOYMENT...

108|Summer 2016

or to ward off those IMPISH LITTLE CREATURES... the legend must be TRUE... We never saw a single NIGHT SPIRIT the entire time we spent at Hopson.

SMART CLOTHING. EVERYDAY LIVING. Day’s Clothing 322 West Main St Blytheville, AR 72316 870-762-2721 Mon-Fri 9am – 5:30pm Sat 9am - 5pm Greg & Beverly Rogers, Owners —


A division of National Health Care


you back where you...


1120 Falcon Drive

(573) 888-1150 Kennett, MO 63857

Physical Therapy • Occupational Therapy • Speech Therapy

May 27-July 4

Faces of the Delta, featuring the works of Little Rock artist Aj Smith, Delta Cultural Center, Cherry Street, downtown Helena-West Helena.

Cherry Street Fair, 5 to 8 p.m., downtown HelenaWest Helena; a fun time for the family with live music, food, art, kid zone, beer garden and more; different theme for each second Saturday event through September.

June 18-21, 24-26

July 11-13

Jesus Christ Superstar, The Forum Theatre, downtown Jonesboro; curtain times are 7:30 p.m. June 18, 20, 21, 24 and 25 and 2 p.m. June 19 and 26.

June 10-11

Annual Stars and Stripes Jubilee, all day, downtown Tyronza; featuring food, games, rides, music and more.

June 18

Bake sale to benefit senior citizens, starting at 8 a.m., Main Street in Manila.

July 4

Caraway’s annual Fourth of July Celebration; parade at 9 a.m. and activities at the park throughout the day; fireworks at 9 p.m. Piggott’s annual Fourth of July Picnic; parade at 9 a.m., entertainment all day long; music, pageants, food, carnival rides, raffle for cash; fireworks at 10 p.m.; benefits the Piggott Cemetery. Colt Fire Department Fireworks On the 4th, an afternoon and evening of entertainment and fun for all with a wildlife program, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission mobile aquarium, silent auction, cakewalk, bounce house and music; firemen will sell food and refreshments, including famous BBQ smoked ribs, 3 to 9 p.m., City Park. Fireworks display presented by the Leachville Cave Dwellers, 9:11 p.m., Leachville City Park.

July 6-8

Youth Day Camp for ages 13-16, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, Parkin Archeological State Park.

July 7

Stroll the Square, a fun family event with free food and music; 6 to 8 p.m., historic downtown square in Pocahontas; downtown businesses open with specials, events and demonstrations.

July 9 Annual Pollard Picnic, all day, Pollard picnic

grounds; pageants, political speakers, rides, games, food; benefits New Hope Cemetery.

Outdoor Adventure Day Camp for children ages 7-9, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Village Creek State Park near Wynne; includes a variety of educational and recreational programs designed to get your child outside to discover the wonders of the natural world; $70 cost includes food, crafts, and all activities; space is limited and registration closes June 29.

July 16

April Showers Soap Making and Crocheting Workshop, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Crowley’s Ridge State Park near Paragould.

July 19-August 27

Small Works on Paper: Arkansas Arts Council, a juried visual art exhibition that showcases artwork no larger than 18 x 24 inches by Arkansas artists who are members of the Arkansas Artist Registry, Visitors Center, Helena-West Helena (the exhibition travels to 10 venues in Arkansas through the year).

July 25-27

Outdoor Adventure Day Camp for children ages 10-12; includes a variety of educational and recreational programs designed to get your child outside to discover the wonders of the natural world; $70 cost includes food, crafts, and all activities; space is limited and registration closes July 13.

August 2

14th Annual Taste of The Town, 6 to 9 p.m., Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis; varied flavors from local chefs, caterers and bakers; music and dancing; benefits Main Street West Memphis ongoing projects.

August 13

Cherry Street Fair, 5 to 8 p.m., downtown HelenaWest Helena; a fun time for the family with live music, food, art, kid zone, beer garden and more; different theme for each second Saturday event through September.

August 20

The 31st annual Wild Duck Golf Tournament sponsored by the Trumann Chamber of Commerce; Trumann Country Club; this event is a three-person team scramble with three flights; lunch provided; for more information contact Jason Stewart, tournament chairman, at (870) 219-0782.

August 22

Civil War Roundtable of the Delta; Thomas Kennedy, author of “A History of Southland College,” will talk about the school which was established in Phillips County after the Civil War and became the first institution of higher learning for blacks west of the Mississippi, 6 to 7 p.m., Beth El Heritage Hall, 406 Perry Street, Helena-West Helena.

August 31 to September 1-5

59 Years of Service: Davidsonville Legacy Week; Davidsonville Historic State Park near Pocahontas; activities and talks will be held throughout the week and weekend to celebrate the history of the park and the people who have contributed to its creation and preservation; contact the park closer to time for more details.

September 1 to October 8

August 6

September 1

Stroll the Square, a fun family event with free food and music; 6 to 8 p.m., historic downtown square in Pocahontas; downtown businesses open with specials, events and demonstrations.

Annual Greenway Picnic, starting at 9 a.m., Greenway picnic grounds; pageants, food, entertainment, games, rides, auction; benefits the upkeep of Mitchell Cemetery.

Summer 2016|Summer 2016

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Writing Retreat for Military Veterans, all expenses paid, HemingwayPfeiffer Museum and Educational Center, 1021 West Cherry, Piggott; offers military veterans from, or living in, Arkansas the opportunity to work on personal creative writing, share their work, receive feedback, and interact with others interested in writing; Dr. Rob Lamm of Jonesboro will serve as mentor; contact Adam Long, (870) 598-3487 or

August 4

Eastern Arkansas Community Calendar


August 12-14

Trumann Chamber of Commerce Wild Duck Scavenger Hunt; clues will be available from Chamber businesses all month long; prize will be Duck Bucks redeemable at area businesses.

Stroll the Square, a fun family event with free food and music; 6 to 8 p.m., historic downtown square in Pocahontas; downtown businesses open with specials, events and demonstrations.

September 3

5th Annual Legendary Blues Festival, Cherry Street Pavilion, downtown Helena-West Helena; enjoy the history and soul-stirring legendary blues formed and rooted right on the Mississippi River; motorcycle rally, Ms Bluz Swimsuit Competition, the Big Dog BBQ Cook-Off and the new free Community Health Fair.

1207 Willow Run Road | Lake City, AR 72437

September 5-10


Tri-County Fair, the Delta’s version of the State Fair; animals, agricultural products, competitions, home-craft displays, talent contest, beauty pageants, skills contests, candied apples, cotton candy, demolition derby and a midway complete with rides, food and games. It is held in Marvel, Ark., 1794 Hwy 49. Call 870-829-1001 for more information.


September 9-11

School of the Soldier: Artillery, Powhatan State Park; a two-day event which school focuses on artillery in mid19th century America; participants can immerse themselves in the Victorian era and learn the skills needed for living and fighting during this tumultuous period in our nation’s history; classes will include period and modern artillery drills on full-scale cannon and mountain howitzer, artillery tools and implements, and uniform options; rations included; $75 admission.

870.237.8151 We provide safe and secure settings for those with memory loss.

Marmaduke GREYHOUNDS Tim Gardner Superintendent 870-597-4693

September 10

Bill Muse

High School Principal 870-597-2723

Andrea King

Elementary Principal 870-597-2711

Keith Richey

Assistant Superintendent 870-597-2723

Cherry Street Fair, 5 to 8 p.m., downtown Helena-West Helena; a fun time for the family with live music, food, art, kid zone, beer garden and more; different theme for each second Saturday event through September.

September 16-17

Beatles at the Ridge, two days of fun with Beatles authors and artists symposium live music, British car show, Rockin’ Wings at the ridge cook-off, The Argenta Collection.; games, inflatables in Octopus Garden; more than 100 vendors, arts and crafts; The Liverpool Legends on stage, 2 to 10 p.m., downtown Walnut Ridge.

September 24

Newport Depot Days, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., a showcase of local, regional and nation fall talent paying tribute to the early history of rock ‘n’ roll; food vendors, crafts, children’s activities, a BBQ cooking contest and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hwy. 67 Museum; coolers are welcome.

September 26

GO Hounds Childress Gin & Elevator Co.

Phone: 870-486-5476 Fax: 870-486-5613

Marked Tree’s annual Delta Cotton Pickin’ Jubilee, Cypress Park; live music, food, and games.

Clay Stewart, Manager

DELTA GATEWAY MUSEUM 210 West Main — Blytheville, AR Tues - Fri 1:00 to 5:00 pm | Saturdays 10:00 am to 4:00 pm 870-824-2346 Summer 2016|


Quality Care RIGHT HERE


807 E. 9th Rector, AR 72461 (870) 595-3527 Hours: M-F, 8am to 5pm Judy Leach, A.P.R.N.

4000 Linwood Drive, Suite A Paragould, AR 72450 (870) 239-8503 Hours: M-F, 7am to 8pm Sat, 9am to 4 pm Sun, 1pm to 5pm

Teresa Gonzalez, A.P.R.N. Cecil Massey, A.P.R.N.

Mack Shotts, M.D.

Justin Kemp, A.P.R.N.

Dwight Williams, M.D.

Lauren Willmer, A.P.R.N.

Lance Monroe, M.D.

ST. BERNARDS MEDICAL GROUP The Heart Of Great Medicine

Mayor of Monette Jerry “Chub” Qualls City Hall 486-2000 Water Department 486-5521 Police 486-2121 Fire Department 486-5782 Fire Dept 486-5800 (emergency only)

Monette CITY OF

A Place Called Home For Everyone

City Employees

Call or come by City Hall for more information regarding names for Veterans Park

City Council

Brandon Decker Vickki Carroll _ Recorder/Treasurer Mark Rolland Dana McKuin _ Water Clerk Richard Pace Brian Carmichael _ Police Chief Tom Carroll Anthony Pey _Police Lieutenant Larry Bibb Kevin Bond _ Police Officer Bob Hurst, Sr David Moore _ Water Superintendent Jerry Lamar _ Sewer Superintendent Bill Benham _ Street Superintendent Delbert Clayton _ Sanitation Superintendent

POP GOES SUMMER! Wherever you find yourself this summer, we hope itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entertaining! Here is an assortment of items to make your table truly unforgettable. Ready for a barbeque The Treasure Chest 239 W. Main St., Piggott, Ark.; 870-598-2385

Colorful melamine dishes are both practical and beautiful for summer entertaining â&#x20AC;&#x201D; indoors or outdoors.

Elegant unbreakables Honeysuckle & Home 300 S. Main St., Rector, Ark.; 870-595-2135

These display plates are handcrafted by Crossroads of Mississippi. Perfect pottery

Checkerboard Fine Gifts 421 AR-463, Trumann, Ark.; 870-483-6818 Summer 2016|


IN YOUR HOME OR OUR OFFICE Veterinary care in the comfort of your own home


870.570.0400 OFFICE 870.570.0402 FAX

870-897-5886 Compassionate, high-quality veterinary care in a loving environment

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Column and photos by Dr. Norette L. Underwood

Why Does My Dog Eat Grass? supanee2550 |

pet talk

Dietary imbalance. Some dogs may eat grass for fiber in their diet or to supply missing nutrients from their current diet. If your dog eats large quantities of grass, you need to consider what food you are feeding your furry friend. Your pet could be missing key nutrients and vitamins. You may need to change your pet’s diet to a higher quality food, especially one with more fiber. One client had a beagle that ate grass and vomited daily for seven years. After switching to a high quality diet with increased fiber, the dog stopped. If your pet continues to eat lots of grass, you need to consult your veterinarian to make sure there is no underlying problem.



hy does my dog eat grass? This is a question I get asked almost every day. The best answer I have found dates back to a dog’s canine ancestors. When dogs were in the wild, not only did they eat the meat from the animals they captured for food, but also the stomach contents. Many of these animals were herbivores and had all kinds of grass and plant material in their stomachs. In the wild, coyotes and foxes eat wild berries, fruit and other vegetation.

Fido may just be bored and find eating

Here are other theories on why dogs may eat grass:

Stomach issues. When dogs eat grass, especially if they gulp it down, it tickles the back of the throat and the stomach lining. This can trigger vomiting. Over the years, dogs may have realized if their tummy is a little rumbly that eating grass may cause them to vomit. One study showed that only 25 percent of dogs vomit after ingesting grass.

Enjoyment. Some dogs just like the taste and feel of grass. These dogs usually nibble and eat in small quantities. They just like to chew it up.

the grass something to do.

Sniffing a dog’s scent. Dogs love to smell. This is one way they find out information about other animals that have been in the area. If some animal has urinated on grass, they may nibble on it to wet that scent and make it more readily identifiable.

If dogs could talk we might truly know why they love grass, but since they can’t, we just assume. If your pet likes to eat grass, then I recommend giving them some cooked vegetables with their food. Some dogs will eat raw veggies, but most like them cooked. I favor using canned green beans. They can easily be put in your pet’s food.

If you have questions about grass eating and your dog, please contact Dr. Underwood of Best Friends Vet Mobile and Trumann Animal Clinic at or 870-483-6275.

Summer 2016|


1316 Industrial Park Access Rd. Trumann, AR 72472

Office 870-483-6621 Fax 870-483-1522

Giving fine attention to:

Your Health & Security Your Personal Services Your Residential Living Comforts Your Recreational Facilities

A Place to Call Home Licensed by the State Office of Long Term Care

Plantation Homes assisted living facility is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to our residents by offering the best in service and amenities Owner/Administrator Lorrie DeVries

You work hard for our community. Your bank should work hard for you. Farm Credit Midsouth has worked to make banking a convenience with our online banking system. Enroll today to view account balances, loan due dates, payment history, and more. Plus, you can download our safe and secure app to use on your smartphone to bank from anywhereâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;even your farm. Enroll in online banking today at


Barton | Corning | Jonesboro | Marion | Osceola | Paragould | Wynne

Column by State Point

Blue Light and Your Eyes: What You Need To Know y the time average American children reach age 17, their eyes will have spent the equivalent of nearly six years looking at digital devices, according to findings from a new survey by VSP Vision Care. While the survey shows that parents are concerned with increasing screen time, it found that nearly 60 percent have little to no awareness of blue light -- the high-energy light emitted from digital devices -- and its impact on vision. As blue light enters the eye, it causes visual strain because it is defocused in front of the retina and scatters, creating an effect visually perceived as glare. The eyes are then forced to work overtime to focus and process the wavelengths of light. From smartphones, to tablets, laptops, televisions, and even CFL and LED lighting, today’s family is surrounded by devices that produce blue light. As we spend increasing amounts of time staring at screens, blue light exposure is reaching unprecedented levels. This has led to an alarming increase in reports of digital eye strain, especially amongst children who are experiencing tired, sore eyes, headaches and trouble focusing. “At home, in classrooms and at work, our eyes are exposed to blue light,” says VSP optometrist, Dr. Gary Morgan. “Technology continues to change the way we live and allows us to be more efficient and connected, but despite its benefits, we must be mindful of the impact of increased blue light exposure on our eyes.” Dr. Morgan offers the following tips to reduce blue light exposure and maintain good eye health.

pixdeluxe |



Get an Eye Exam: An annual trip to the eye doctor is critical for the entire family. Ask your eye doctor about the best options to help reduce eye strain, including eyeglass lenses with coatings that reflect and absorb blue light, like Sharper Image TechShield.

Observe the 20/20/20 Rule: n

Give eyes a break every 20 minutes and spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away.

Maintain Digital Distance: n

Find a comfortable working distance from your screen. This is especially important for children, since the intensity of light increases exponentially the closer our eyes are to light sources. Children have shorter arms and therefore receive a more intense dose of blue light from devices. They should hold devices as far away from their eyes as is comfortable.

Lower Screen Brightness: n

Turn down the brightness level of device screens to reduce blue light exposure, especially during evening hours.

Limit Screen Time Before Bed: Blue light can slow melatonin n

production, which helps us sleep. Reducing exposure to blue light a couple of hours before bed may make it easier to go to sleep.

More information about the effects of blue light and protection options can be found at “While medical research continues to study possible long-term health impacts of blue light, we can take practical steps to reduce exposure, ease digital eye strain and maintain good vision,” says Dr. Morgan.

Summer 2016|


City of

Mayor Barry Riley 870-482-3716


Building On Success One Business At A Time

List of Local businesses Adcock & Son Plumbing................. 243-7932

Dewally's Auto Sales ...................... 135 South

Lonnie Repair Service .................... CR 865

Austin Auto Sales & Salvage........... 842-3097

Don Crews Auto Body Shop............ 482-3863

Penderosa Pecan Farm ................... 898 CR 864

Bunch Diesel Repair, LLC ................ 5053 CR 387

Emery RV Repair ............................ 482-3715

Poor Boy Gardens .......................... CR 855

Campbell Heat & Air ...................... 761-3553

Ervin Enterprises ............................ 482-3441

Ronnie's Tire Repair ....................... 215-3927

Caraway Equine Arena.................... 930-8067

Faulkner's Tax, Inc .......................... 482-3794

Shortnacy Auto Repair................... 243-9534

Caraway General Store ................... 482-1964

Gary's Tire Repair ........................... 219-9843

Senior Citizen Center ..................... 482-3348

Central KWIK Shop......................... 482-3915

K&K Auto Sales .............................. 482-0041

St. Francis Levee District.................

City Body Shop............................... 483-3769

K&L Automotive............................. 206-5614

Stone Heat & Air ............................ Bowen Ave

Crop Production Service ................. 482-3969

K. Jaclyn's Hair Salon ..................... 482-3773

Woods, Sky & Waters ..................... Dallas Street

We accept Medicaid, Medicare, private pay, private insurance and most HMOs.

Private television lobby with dining area for our Rehab residents We provide PT, OT & ST

Private Medicare Suites available for Short Term Rehab Stays

For a tour or more information, stop by

287 S. Country Club Rd in Osceola or call us at 870.563.3201


Private suite accommodations include a flat screen tv for convenience, private restroom, and sitting area for family and visitors 118|Summer 2016


Bo and Josie Brandon of Piggott celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary June 4 with a party in the fellowship hall of the First Baptist Church of Piggott. The two were married June 3, 1946.

Longtime UofA Division of Agriculture Extension Agent Andy Vangilder of Rector retired May 1 after 35 years on the job. He had served the local area since 1995.

Don and Janet Roeder of Piggott celebrated 57 years of marriage on Feb. 17.

Bill and Barbara Martin of Rector celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Dec. 24 surrounded by family members. Summer 2016|


Phyllis Gipson of Rector celebrated her 90th birthday with family on May 3.

Faye Causey of Piggott marked her 80th birthday April 2 with a special celebration at the South Thornton Street Church of Christ in Piggott.

Ardell Hancock of Manila celebrated his 80th birthday May 11. He was the guest of honor at a birthday party held Saturday, May 7, at the home of his daughter and son-in-law, Cheryl and Billy Scroggins.

Tom and Tina Frazier of Leachville welcomed triplets on April 12. Their names are Thomas Anthony, Carlin Christine and Hannah Renee.

Mrs. Atlas (Pace) Harding of Lake City turned 101 on March 7. She moved from Tennessee to Lake City with her parents, Odie and Bessie (Caton) Pace, when she was two years old. Lake City has been her home ever since. She was married in 1951 to Jimmie Harding and has two children, four grandchildren and seven greatgrandchildren.

120|Summer 2016

Annette Davis of Rector celebrated her 89th birthday in April.

Walter Marvel of Trumann celebrated his 90th birthday with family at a surprise party April 9.

2016 Scholarship Recipients MEGAN LEIGH JOHNSON $2,000 — CCAC Scholarship and $500 — Joey Pruett Music Scholarship Megan Leigh Johnson, an excellent student, has been a regular participant and winner in the Clay County Talent competitions since early childhood. Her plans include entering the mainstream music industry after preparation and graduation from Visible Music College in Memphs, TN. She was awarded a Clay County Arts Council Scholarship and because of her involvement with the music industry she was also awarded the Joey Pruett Music Scholarship. Her involvement in performance music and her continuous work and talent made the selection a natural choice.

Cody Crittenden, participated in the Clay County Arts Council art shows and his work receives awards and high praise. He is an excellent student as well as a wonderful artist. He plans to pursue a degree in graphic design from Arkansas State University. He has chosen a career choice to make his life more enjoyable. Awarded a Clay County Arts Council Scholarship, he plans to use the scholarship to make a positive impact on expanding his skills by improving his opportunities through college.

When The Storm Hits


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2016-2017 Season Announcement Late Summer!

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- Seek shelter and stay away from doors and windows

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Beyond the Clearing|Summer 2016

HOMETOWN BANKING, HOMETOWN LIFE A Bond That Lasts for Generations

O ur

! 0 3 9 Home Office is in Clay Count y, since 1

Piggott State Bank

Local Leadership You Can Bank On.

Investing in You Today and Tomorrow

Cody Knight President/CEO


Summer 2016|


Discover more about our Five-Star rating: Ranked One of the Best in 2014 by US News and World Report


NURSING CENTER 814 N. Davis | Manila, Arkansas | 870.561.3342

Extending the Gift of Friendship Pictured from left, front- Rebecca Graddy, ADON; Shawn Russell, BOM; Christie Ruhter, Admin; Sandra Cavazos, Dietary Manager; Latina Thomas, CNA. Back â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Catnna Pope, DON; Dorothy Sammons, LPN; Toby Callihan, LPN; and Amanda Carpenter, RN.

Delta Crossroads Summer 2016  

A perfect summer experience

Delta Crossroads Summer 2016  

A perfect summer experience