Page 1

july 2011



Marcus Coker Catherine Frederick Laura Hobbs Todd Whetstine


Jeromy Price


David Jamell


Read Chair Publishing, LLC



Bryce Albertson Marla Cantrell Marcus Coker Terah Curry Catherine Frederick Laura Hobbs Jim Martin Tonya McCoy Anita Paddock Todd Whetsine


Marla Cantrell

Betting Nurse Julie A Summer to Remember Jumping for Joy Urban Gardener

16 20 22

Born to Sing the Blues Now Hear This @Urban Reader



Catherine Frederick

7 8 12 14

24 28 32

Letters from a Prison Camp Lauren de Miranda Once in a Blue Moon



36 39 40

Market to Table The Italian Nut Peachy Keen



42 45

The Wonder of Woolly Hollow The Cliff That Became a Cabin

Advertising and Distribution Information

Catherine Frederick at 479 / 782 / 1500 Editorial or Artwork Information

Marla Cantrell at 479 / 831 / 9116 Š2011 Read Chair Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. The opinions contained in @Urban are exclusively those of the writers and do not represent those of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. as a whole or its affiliates. Any correspondence to @Urban or Read Chair Publishing, LLC., including photography becomes the property of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. @Urban reserves the right to edit content and images.



ypically, each month we come up with several “one word” possibilities for our cover and then we spend days narrowing it down to just the right one. But not this month. “Pride” was it from the start. Not only do we think it sums up our cover image (red-blooded American down to our boots), it’s the essence of who we are as Americans. My son’s entire elementary school sings, “God Bless the USA” each and every Thursday morning during the school year at their Rise and Shine ceremony. It’s an inspiring sight to see all those children standing tall, facing Old Glory, singing every word. They may not fully understand yet, but they will. America, freedom, pride. It’s all intertwined. Saying I am an American is not an entitlement, it’s a gift, one that comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Some take that responsibility in a far more personal way – they choose to serve our country. They fight for the freedoms we hold so dear, risking their lives to guard and protect us all.

My dad was career military – it was age that forced retirement, nothing else. When I was a kid I had no real appreciation for his service to our country, but I did think he looked real tough in that uniform. I only knew his service took him away from me - sometimes only for a weekend, sometimes for months. I grew to understand that part of his responsibility was sacrifice. With that understanding came great admiration, not just for my dad, but for all men and women in uniform. In the pages that follow, we tell you the story of a World War II POW and the letters he sent home to his worried wife and children. We’ll introduce you to a woman who recounts the days of the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and a day when Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith filled with elephants. As for freedom, we’ll take you up in a 1956 Cessna for a story about learning to skydive. We’ll get you out of the supermarket for a trip to the farmers’ market, and we’ll show you the wonder of Woolly Hollow, a state park named for a Tennessee pioneer who settled there way back in 1851. So sit back, get ready for a great read, and don’t forget to reserve your spot for “Red, White and Bluegrass,” @Urban’s first ever free concert on July 23. (Details on inside cover.)

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Betting Nurse Julie

@lines Bryce Albertson

Dad placed the wager I couldn’t, so much more than two bucks riding on it.

Sixth race: rookie jock, unknown trainer, a longshot at thirty-to-one.

but a gray horse, a blonde cheerleader, and magical thinking sold me.

Record: faded, ridden out, weakened,

I won forty bucks - a hell of a haul for a show bet. I was too timid to bet her to win or talk to that girl. I remember my father’s words as Nurse Julie leapt from the gate, distanced the pack:

Sprinter. All heart and no finish.

He never said like my son.

Never had to. 7

visit, armed with a list of ten questions, a camera and a recorder. She wants to find out more about her family’s history. Before she leaves she’ll hear stories about elephants marching down Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith, and dust clouds as dark as midnight rumbling across the western sky. For now though, the two sit side by side on a plaid sofa. Above them framed photographs line the wall, some from as far back as the early 1900s. Saidee opens her notebook and turns on her recorder. Fern starts. “Saidee and I are a lot alike,” she says. “We’re both curious. We like to read. We love horses. When we lived on Cook Street [in Arkoma], Daddy got me two horses. One was named Bob and one was named Dan.” Saidee jots down the names “Bob” and “Dan” and then asks Fern to talk about her early years. “I had three sisters,” Fern says. “Marie and Reba. Granny’s last name was Sanderson back

a summer to remember

then.” She stops for a second. “LaWanda Sue passed away when she was six years old. She was my little sister. When they were building this school up here, they had classes in a dairy barn, a temporary place, and they heated with an old stove that

helping kids record family history

burned wood. The teacher, she lived right there close, and she had went to lunch and just left them kids there. And Sue just

@story Marla Cantrell @image Courtesy Fern Holmes


backed up against that stove and her clothing caught fire and she lived about a day and a half. She was the sweetest thing.

ern Holmes is ninety-one. On July 24 she’ll be ninety-two. She

Terrible time.”

lives in a house in Arkoma, Oklahoma, that her husband and

father built more than sixty years ago. “They was tearing down old

Saidee shakes her head, taking in the story of the lost sister.

barracks at Camp Chaffee and Daddy went down and bought that

Fern pats Saidee’s knee and continues, “Now Saidee, I want you

old lumber,” Fern says. “We used some of that to frame our house.”

to know I was a happy child. Had a good family, I surely did. Me and my sister Marie had an imaginary friend called Aunt Fay and

This fact is the first of many Fern’s eleven-year-old great-

we’d line up the chairs to make a train and we’d pretend to go

granddaughter will learn today. Saidee Holmes has come to

visit her. At Christmas, I had aunts that would put on little plays.



My Uncle Albert played Santy Claus, and Daddy built us a little

blowed through this part of the country, black dust, and we’d

table and chairs and the sweetest doll bed.”

have to go in the house and shut the doors and put something over the windows to keep the dust out. We done that till it

The volley between hard times and good memories will continue

blowed through and then it come a drought, a real bad drought.

through the next two hours. The exchange mirrors all our lives:

And everybody’s garden burned up. It lasted until World War

there is joy, and then there’s sorrow. And things we can’t control,

II started. When [President] Roosevelt got the WPA [Works

like war, a failing economy, the brutality of an afternoon storm.

Progress Administration] and the CCC [Civilian Conservation

“There was a tornado when I was in the third grade. We lived on

Corps] boys, they cleared ground, built all kinds of parks and

South Eleventh Street [in Fort Smith]. ..The cloud come up about

that gave them work to do.”

one thirty. ..We were headed to Garrison Avenue to see a circus. They used to have circuses that come to Fort Smith and they

Roosevelt’s plan was also instrumental in stopping the Dust

would have elephants parade down the avenue.”

Bowl. Teams fanned out across the land, planting an estimated three billion trees, piecing back the broken land and stopping the horrific erosion.

Fern’s mother, who “knew how to judge clouds” scrambled to find her and get her inside a storm cellar. “All of the women was a crying and taking on. Almost all the men were at work. It was

“Daddy would hear of a job somewhere and he’d go work three

a tornado. It hit Wheeler [Avenue], went up over the hill, and I

or four days and it was terrible times. But we made it through.

think killed two women in Hillcrest. There was one older man in

The Lord was with us is all I can say. Both Daddy and Mama’s

there and he’d raise up that door and holler, ‘Oh, Miss So-and-

brothers worked in the wheat fields up in Kansas and up in

So, it’s got your house.’ It hit a whole row of houses. That was in

Oklahoma, when everything started coming back. They’d be

April, right before we moved to Arkoma on April 29, 1929.”

gone from home maybe a month at a time.”

That was the year she turned ten. The nation was just months

Fern calls her parents practical perfectionists. They taught her

away from the Great Depression. “Every man that could, he

how to cook, plant a garden, can food, sew, milk cows. “We

would work at any kind of job to put food on the table. When

always had jobs. They taught us how to be good citizens, be

you do without, you make do. I tell you one thing that was really

truthful. If we didn’t do something right the first time, we did

scary about the Depression. The farmers in Kansas and Texas,

it again.”

where the flat country is, they didn’t know how to row crop and But not all her time was spent working. She had friends and

they’d plow the ground until it was wore out.

they went to each other’s houses to play. One of Fern’s dearest “Every morning about ten o’clock, it would come dust storms.

friends was a girl named Erma, and she had a brother who was

You could see the clouds back in the west, as black as they could

“bossy, bossy, bossy.”

be, looking like it was about to be a terrible storm. That wind



“I met my husband, Alvis, when he lived down here on State

Fern never stumbles when answering Saidee. She can recall

Line Road, the border between Arkansas and Oklahoma. I played

events from when she was three and from three months ago.

with his sister, Erma. He was eight years older than me and he

Fern credits her love of reading, “Sometimes I’ll stay up till two or

thought he could boss us around. I couldn’t stand that. ..Well,

three in the morning if I’m reading a good book,” and her genetics.

the Holmeses moved to Twilight, Oklahoma, out the other side

“My Grandma Ford remembered what the weather was every day,

of Spiro, in 1933. Lived there until 1938. Alvis joined the Army

what it looked like, everything. Up until the day she died.”

in 1934 and I didn’t see him until the family moved back to Fern suspects she’s now the oldest citizen now in Arkoma. She

Arkoma. Erma said, ‘Fern, why don’t you write to him?’”

tracks her days in journals she’s kept for years. In a nearby And so Fern wrote letters and Alvis wrote back. He told her

dresser, she keeps the official family papers. “My Grandma

about his Army buddies, and she told him about what was going

Ford’s mother’s husband fought in the Civil War,” she says. “I’ve

on in her hometown. They were friendly exchanges. Friendly,

still got his discharge papers.”

but nothing Fern believed could be classified as romantic. The clock chimes twelve times and Saidee starts to gather her But then Alvis came home to visit his family and to ask Fern

things. She hugs her great-grandmother and Fern gathers her

the question that changed her life. “He said, ‘You know what?’

up in her arms. Like any good reporter, Saidee asks if there’s

And I said, ‘What.’ And he said, ‘I’m going to take you back to

anything more Fern wants to tell her.

California with me.’ And I said, ‘I don’t think so. We’re not even married.’ So then he asked me to marry him. And so we did.

Fern thinks for a few seconds and then gives her this sage

Lived together till he passed away. He died in 1997. We got

advice. “Always be truthful, Saidee,” she says. “Study hard,

married in 1943.”

finish school and whatever you decide to be, work hard toward that. Live an upright life and trust in the Lord.”

Alvis was a staff sergeant in World War II and served in the South Pacific. He was injured on the battlefield, and spent a month in

Talk to your child about the person they want to interview.

the hospital, although Fern never learned the specifics of what had happened. “Alvis kept certain traits from the Army, like the

Research the historical milestones in that person’s life.

way he folded his socks. But he never would talk about anything having to do with the fighting. Always kept it to himself.”

Help your child make a list of ten questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no.

As for Fern, she worked in the mill room at Ward Furniture

Pick a quiet place to do the interview, preferably at the interviewee’s residence.

Factory in Fort Smith. “All the men were mostly gone. I worked

Take a recorder, video camera or regular camera, pen and paper.

with girls from Connecticut whose husbands were in with the tanks at Chaffee.”


For those wishing to jump solo, more training is required, and the jump is called a static line, which means that the parachute is pulled for you as you exit the plane. After a series of static line jumps, you can begin working on freefalling before pulling your own chute. Skydive Skyranch also has a program called Accelerated Freefall (AFF) for those wishing to become certified skydivers. One jumper told me he encourages first-time skydivers to buy the pictures or video package. He said the brain considers jumping out of a plane a traumatic event (go figure). Therefore, the mind deletes most of the memories after a person’s first jump. I was given a nylon harness that looped around each of my limbs. Christian, my tandem instructor, tightened the straps, and I wondered if there would be bruising later. When you’re falling through the air at 120 miles per hour, it’s good to have a snug connection to the parachute. I was told that when we exited the plane I was to put both hands on my harness at waist level and make chicken wings with my arms while I pushed my pelvis forward. Try this in the middle of a shopping mall and you’ll get plenty of looks, but no one at the drop zone seemed to notice. Lastly, I was told to lean back and keep my head up as if doing the limbo.

jumping for joy skydiving at skydive skyranch

@story Marcus Coker @images Mitch Church & Todd Griswold

Christian, Mitch the camera man, the pilot, and I climbed into a 1956 Cessna 182A. If there had been any more of us in the plane, we would’ve looked like a bunch of clowns piling into a tiny Volkswagen. The single-prop engine roared, and my body began quivering. As I noticed houses getting smaller and smaller, I realized I was moments away from having a rather intimate experience with gravity.


he process for doing a tandem jump at Skydive Skyranch in Siloam Springs is simple. Pay your money ($195), sign your life away, and go through some basic training. The idea is that you’re strapped to an experienced jumper, and they do most of the work. For first-timers, it’s the way to go. Founder Wolf Grulkey said appointments are handy, but walk-ons are welcome. As long as you’re at least eighteen and under 240 pounds, they’ll take you.

The plane climbed higher, and at 7,000 feet, Christian literally strapped himself to me. If you’re into maintaining personal



space, this tandem business is not for you. The two of us sat there waiting, Christian with a sixty-eight pound parachute pack on his back, and me with, well, Christian on mine. We put on our goggles, Christian told me to breathe through my teeth and not my nose, and we each put our right foot on a small platform outside the plane. Then we jumped. I had no sense of orientation whatsoever. There was a lot of wind and noise, and I felt pressure in my ears. Christian tapped my shoulders, the signal that I could extend my arms like an airplane. It was like floating in water, only louder; it felt like a dream. Mitch hovered in front of us, taking pictures. It took about forty-five seconds to fall 5,000 feet and a solid hour for the adrenaline to stop flowing through my body. The parachute opened at 5,000 feet. By 4,500 feet, we were sailing. I felt suspended, held by the hand of God. Around me, I saw the tops of clouds and Fayetteville in the distance. I can’t remember another time that I felt so connected to everything around me. For the next several minutes, I only smiled. I didn’t think of my cell phone, my checkbook, or my cholesterol. Not once did I think a stressful thought.

As Christian unstrapped our harnesses and began to gather the parachute, my body continued to pulse. I felt my muscles tensing and my neck throbbing, and I knew I’d be sore later. Still, all I could do was laugh. As I prepared to leave Skyranch, I noticed a man wearing a skydiving t-shirt that read, “Most sports only require one ball.” When I mentioned it to Wolf, he chuckled and said, “Well, it’s true.” Having just gone from terror to exhilaration, I knew skydiving took a certain amount of courage. I also knew I’d be back for more.

One jumper said, “People think it’s the adrenaline, but it’s not. It’s the peace.” As we approached the landing area, Christian pulled down on the canopy, a technique called flaring. I felt like an invisible slide brought us back to the ground.

For more information, visit or call 888-456-JUMP.



but I’ve discovered a new way to package your vegetables that saves time and effort when preparing future meals. All you need are clear, plastic freezer containers and a permanent marker (plastic bags may be used but are best for single, meal-sized portions). The trick is to use your excess, or small quantities of leftovers, as basic ingredients for a new dish: think soups, stews, casseroles, and pot pies. Each day, cook everything you harvest, whether you’ll eat it that night or not. After each meal, instead of storing leftovers in the refrigerator, grab a plastic

after the harvest

freezer container and add vegetables in selected layers. This

@story Catherine Frederick

can be done over several days, adding one layer on top of


another. For example, if you have tomatoes and carrots one

ight about now, many of us are looking at our gardens and

night, those can be the layers you add. The next night you might

wondering, What in the world am I going to do with all of this

add green beans or peas. If you have an abundance, you can

food? Your neighbors haven’t finished the vegetables you gave

start several containers at once. Just keep adding layers until

them last week and your family refuses to eat another serving of

the containers are full. Then label them, so you’ll know what’s

squash. There are many things you could do with these goodies

inside, and remember to add the current date. That’s it, the only

but the one thing you can’t do is let them go to waste.

thing left is to pop them back into the freezer.

I remember my Mamaw, apron on, skillfully canning her delicious

You’ll have a stockpile of future meals, just like my Mamaw had.

fruits and vegetables. I used to love walking into her laundry

What a great (and healthy) way to plan ahead.

room to look at the shelves lined top to bottom, row after row of beautifully canned tomatoes, turnip greens, peppers and jams. She also had a deep freezer filled with plastic bags of peas, green

»» If using plastic bags, freeze in thin, flat packages

beans, okra, and corn. It was hard work, but Mamaw knew it would

for better stacking, faster freezing and thawing.

provide for our family long after the growing season had ended.

»» Ensure airtight seals by using a damp cloth to wipe the edges of the container before sealing.

While I don’t have lots of vegetables to can and store, I do have more vegetables than we can eat this summer, and lots of leftovers from nightly meals. Freezing vegetables may not be rocket science


born to sing the blues

He caught the fever in a Sunday morning service when

@story Tonya McCoy @images Courtesy JP Bell & Chris Cameron

Floyd Cameron remembers, “The guy [Raymond] said, ‘You

Raymond Livingston played guitar for the small congregation of God’s Harvest Church in Bond Special, near Rudy. He begged his father for a guitar.

chris cameron

need to buy that boy a guitar so he can learn how to play.’ And I said, ‘I ain’t buying this kid a guitar to throw down in


thirty days and never play again.’” But the pastor intervened,

rowing up in a sports family in the hills between

offering to let Chris borrow one of his acoustic guitars, and

Mountainburg and Alma, Chris Cameron was destined

the deal was done.

to be a football player. That’s what his father thought. He was bigger than two of his brothers who had already played college

From about the age of twelve, Chris and his guitar were

ball. But, born on Eric Clapton’s birthday, Chris was destined

inseparable. Raymond taught him some chords and he

to do something else. His fate was to play the blues.

practiced for hours. And shortly after Raymond began working with Chris, he refused to take any more payments.



Raymond told Chris’s father after practice one day, “’He already

When he was a teen Chris played with some garage bands, but

knows enough that he needs to practice and to get better, and he

he didn’t lose his love for blues. “I was playing with rock bands,

needs to find people that are better than him to play with. And I’m

but I was at home listening to Robert Johnson, and Albert King,

not sure where he’s going to find them. This boy’s got a talent.’”

and Eric Clapton trying to copy that stuff. And I was out playing Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins with my friends. When I was a

This was a talent his parents fostered. Chris asked his father for

sophomore I said to hell with that, I’m just going to play blues

an electric guitar. Floyd bought a red Fender Stratocaster from

music. And when I was eighteen I went to the International

one of his friends, in what he calls “a really good deal.”

Blues Competition and won.”

“I told him I couldn’t pay for it all at once,” Floyd says. “So I

He was up against dozens of blues bands at the Blues

had a chance to sell those beagles of mine- three of ‘em. I got

Foundation’s International Blues Talent Competition in

$100 dollars apiece. They were good dogs, but I didn’t have any

Memphis. Chris didn’t go to the contest with a band; instead

use out of ‘em really because I couldn’t get Chris interested in

he took his acoustic guitar and his God-given talent. This alone

hunting like I did with the other two boys.”

was enough to win the competition securing Chris the title of ‘Best Unsigned Blues Artist in the World’ in 1997. He also won

Chris says, “Dad sold his dogs and then mom and dad paid the rest

the Albert King award for ‘Most Promising International Blues

off in payments. I still have the guitar and play gigs with it today.”

Guitarist.’ At eighteen Chris had already accomplished what some musicians fall short of even after a lifetime of work.

Floyd says, “He’s had the neck redone twice. He’s wore it But his father wanted Chris to accomplish something more.

out twice.”

“I pushed for the education first. And I said, then you can do Chris wore it out playing Eric Clapton. Clapton was one of his

what you want to do, but you got to have that education first.

favorites and he pleaded with his father to buy him a video of the

And of course, me and his mom never had but a tenth-grade

star so he could learn how Clapton played his famous licks. Floyd

education so we knew what we missed out on by not having

bought the tape for Chris and even took him to a concert.

it. So we were determined our kids were going to go as far as we could push ‘em.”

“Jimmie Vaughn opened and played so loud you couldn’t hardly stand it – and I told Chris if this Eric Clapton comes on and plays

The pushing worked. Chris graduated with his master’s degree

like Jimmie Vaughn we’re leaving. But when he came on I was

in business administration and now enjoys a successful career

amazed. I’ve never seen anything like it. He was really good. We

as the Fleet Sales Manager for Goodyear.

already knew he was GOOD, but to play that old music like I knew all my life. And for that to be Chris’s favorite music, that was really

“I think my parents were hedging their bets. I think they figured

something. We went down there, and that lit the fire.”

if they could get me through school then I’d have an epiphany



and know what I wanted. And then I met my wife and that was

Chris says, “All you can hear is the wind whistling through the

my epiphany.”

trees or turkeys gobbling off in the distance, or you’ll hear Stanley [an armadillo named by Audrey that visits the cabin

Chris met Emily while still in college, playing at a private party in

often] rustling in the bushes. You can hear this stream down at

Fayetteville. For years since, the two have been as inseparable

the bottom of the land. It’s just a really nice quiet place.”

as Chris and his guitar—hardly spending a single day apart. And now that he’s a parent, music is a family affair. Jackson, age

From the peace and quiet of the hills of Mountainburg, to the

three, is fascinated by the drums. And Audrey, who’s nine, loves

sultry blues on the Fort Smith riverfront where’s he’s playing on

the guitar. “My Audrey, she’ll come sing with me when I play

this sultry night, he’s found a balance between family and music.

and she’s gotten her own little guitar. We sit and sing and play

Chris turns his head and belts out “talk to me baby.” His guitar

together when we’re at home.”

whines. Cars rumble across the Garrison Avenue bridge, as fans sit by the Arkansas River surrounded by hot soulful tones, on

Chris and his band play many family-friendly venues, just so his

an equally hot summer night. Chris looks out to see his adoring

kids can come to the gigs; he’s the happiest he’s ever been. “Well

family in their lawn chairs in the front row, not missing a beat.

I don’t guess I knew what it was like to have fun till I had these babies. Now that I’m in my thirties these are the best moments.

Chris has gone back to his blues roots playing Ray Charles and

I’m spending time with my wife and kids. I’m spending time with

Elmore James songs and peppering in some of his originals.

my mom and dad.”

And he’s added saxophones, a trumpet and a keyboard, which is rarely done in our area: most blues bands here are three-piece.

Chris bought some land about a year ago, which included

The newly formed Chris Cameron Blues Band will be rocking

a rundown old house. His father convinced him to keep the

local venues in the months to come. His response from a recent

wood from the old building when they tore it down, and now

set in Eureka Springs has Chris stoked about the new sound.

they’re using that recycled wood to construct a family cabin in “For the middle of a set, to get a standing ovation, that’s just

the scenic Mountainburg woods.

the coolest thing. There’s a high level of engagement. I think Chris has no construction experience and his father’s experience

the music we’re doing kind of transcends people’s desire as far

is limited to barns and sheds. But through the advice from

as genre.. . We really have tried hard to make it the best that we

friends and several hours on the internet, the two have taught

can make it.”

themselves to build beam by beam. The band will host a CD Release Party on July 22, at Second Street Live in Fort Smith. Check out for

“I could drive a nail, and he could barely drive one. But now he

more information and upcoming events.

can do a pretty good job,” teases Floyd.



That’s not to say this is a bad album, because it is not. There is just nothing here we haven’t heard a hundred times before. That is frustrating to me, because if anybody on today’s country music scene seems capable of breaking new ground, it is Brad Paisley. He is one of the better vocalists currently in the business, one of the finest guitarists I’ve heard in a long while, and one of the most underrated writers I know of (check out “Letter To Me” from his “5th Gear” album, a remarkable song).

now hear this

Knowing all this, I guess I just expected a little more.

brad paisley — “this is country music”

High points in this collection include “A Man Don’t Have To Die”,

@review Jim Martin

with him asking a preacher for good news stating, “We already

f I could use one word to describe the present state of country

know that hell exists.” Another definite high point is the guitar

music, it would have to be “consistent.” About every decade

work throughout this set. And, of course, his vocals are as


or so, country music recreates itself when executives happen

smooth as ever.

upon what they consider a winning formula, consistently following those same steps over and over again until every

The most noticeable low point is just as I’ve already said, this set

release sounds similar and bland. For an example, just tune

sounds exactly like his previous set, which sounded exactly like

into any local country radio station: the production of almost

the set before that. Another low point is the endless string of guest

every song is the same with the same instrumentation, the same

spots, Carrie Underwood, Don Henley, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart,

choral backing vocals, and the same subject matter.

Sheryl Crow, Carl Jackson, and even actor Clint Eastwood all get a turn at the mic. This seems to take away from the fact that Brad is

Brad Paisley’s appropriately titled “This Is Country Music,” is

absolutely capable of creating hit music all on his own.

a perfect example of what country music has become. First up, the expected tribute to the genre (title track), the all too

As I said, it’s not a bad album—it just could have been so much

common ode to the good old days (“Camouflage”), the spiritual

better. If you are a die-hard Brad Paisley fan, or if you like

track reminding us that country music is really God’s music (“A

country music in its current repetitive state, this set certainly

Man Don’t Have To Die”), and of course, he couldn’t miss the

rates a solid 5 out of 5.

opportunity to get back to his roots with the bluegrass track, “Life’s Railway To Heaven.” Oh, and don’t forget the obligatory

For the rest of us, I’ll give it a 3 and a half.

duet with a current female hit maker (this time it is Carrie Underwood on “Remind Me”). Throughout this set, Brad follows

I Rate It

the formula step by step without missing a single cliché.


The book begins with the celebration of Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, and the author paints a beautiful picture of the sights and smells of the celebration. The family tries to be in a celebratory mood, but they know that their life is about to change. The fall of Saigon is imminent. Ten-year-old Kim Há will be forced to leave her homeland with her mother and older brothers. Their father, a Navy officer, is missing in action, and even though they know he is probably dead, they still hold out hope that he is alive. The mother is a brave woman, and once she makes the heart wrenching decision to flee, she allows each child to take only a few things with them. What they take, and what they have to leave behind will surprise the readers, and cause us to wonder what we would take if we had to flee to another country, a world away from all we know. The family escapes on a ship destined for Thailand. It is woefully ill prepared for the carrying of so many people. There is not enough food or water, and there are no bathroom facilities. The captain misjudges the safest and quickest route to take, the journey is much longer than expected, and much

inside out and back again by Thanhha Lai / Harper Collins, 260 pages

more dangerous. Finally, an American ship rescues them, and they are towed to a refugee camp in Guam.

@review Anita Paddock


his book of narrative poetry is published as a children’s

At the camp in Guam, they are able to bathe, and there is

book. And it is…but it also should be read by parents and

plenty of canned food, but they only like the fruit. English

grandparents. It’s a beautiful story, and it’s a pleasure to read.

lessons take up the morning hours, and in the evening, movies

Allow yourself three hours to read it, and you’ll remember it

are shown on a white sheet. Há likes Clint Eastwood, but she

for a lifetime.

thinks John Wayne is too old.



Há is a spunky little girl, sometimes even bratty, but she is

southern states whose names began with the letter “A,” and

brave and honorable. She very much dislikes the role of being

they both felt a little out of place in New York City and needed

second best to her brothers, and she is often in hot water with

a friend. And yes, Thanhha Lai was a little spunky, just like the

her mother, whom she adores.

character in the book.

The mother decides that America would be the best place to

I predict this book will be a Newberry Award winner. It’s

move because she thinks her sons can attend college there.

that good.

She applies for sponsors, but soon realizes that because her family is Buddhist, they are likely to be rejected. On the next application, she says that the family is Christian, and they soon receive word that they will be moving to Alabama. I gave a copy of “Inside Out & Back Again” to Anny Teng, Their sponsor is a tall, red-faced man who smokes cigars and

a young woman who was born in a refugee camp in

wears a black cowboy hat. Because of his attire, they call him

Thailand after her parents and siblings had escaped the

“Cowboy.” He puts the family up in his house until he finds a

Communists in Laos.

house for them. When he brings them a tub of fried chicken,

Smith, where Anny and her sister, Vila, graduated from

they taste it, but spit it out. Há’s mother says not to complain,

Southside and later received college degrees. Both girls

but Alabama is so different from Saigon.

worked at the Miller Branch Library while in school, and it

They eventually settled in Fort

was there that they became a part of my library family. Public school is a scary place for Há. She thinks the English language is difficult to learn, that whoever invented it “should

Anny Teng loved the Dr. Seuss books when she was a child,

be bitten by a snake.” Her classmates make fun of her, and she

and she is particularly drawn to mysteries and stories that

feels dumb. In Saigon she was the smartest in her class.

take place in other lands.

She considered medicine as

a career, but before continuing her education, she went This story takes place in the early seventies, and for those of us

to work in the lab at Mars Dog Food Company. She has

in Fort Smith who remember when Fort Chaffee opened its doors

so excelled in her job there that she is traveling as a

to thousands of Vietnamese refugees, we can imagine that Há’s

consultant to other Mars’ plants. On one particularly long

story is much the same as those who came to Arkansas.

trip to Tennessee, her boss asked her if she was feeling okay, understanding that she might be homesick. Anny

The author of this beautiful book of free verse poetry was a

told him that she missed her golden retriever, and the next

classmate of my daughter’s at New York University, where they

day, the dog was on a plane from Fort Smith to Tennessee.

both received their masters in creative writing. They were

Now, that’s an employee the company wants to keep,

friends who had something in common: they both came from

don’t you think?


some of the boys were jumping up, cussing the enemy and then you’d hear bullets slap their chest,” said my father, Gary Curry. “He [my grandfather Reese] said that he crawled out and pulled two or three wounded back in on top of him, but it was too late for them. He told the other boys to get back into the hole. Daddy stayed in the foxhole with the men on top of him until the German foot soldiers began jabbing their bayonets into the foxholes – that’s when he surrendered.” Conditions in Stalag VIIA were poor, mainly due to overcrowding and lack of food and proper clothing against a difficult winter. My grandfather wore the same set of clothes during his confinement. He survived in part by making broth from the produce his captors threw away.

ail ry in v-mTerah Curry to ic v e th es nd imag

His weight dropped below 100 pounds during his imprisonment, which lasted eighteen months.

@story a

A few years ago during a move I opened a shoebox that held


he little seaside town of Anzio, Italy, isn’t a place I would

newspaper clippings and letters from my Grandmother Thelma.

have known about if my grandfather, Reese Curry, hadn’t

Behind those, in a tiny cardboard box labeled Hallmark,

been fighting there, captured and taken as a prisoner of

were letters from my grandfather, written to her during his

war. He crouched in a wet foxhole near a cold beach off the


Mediterranean, until he was discovered and taken to a POW camp in Moosburg, Germany.

Most of the letters are V-MAIL, short for Victory Mail, and according to the U.S. Postal Museum, V-MAIL’s function was to

My family still talks about what my grandfather went through

reduce the massive cargo weight that passed through the postal

while serving in the Army during World War II. “Daddy said

system during wartime. At the bottom of each letter, the logo



appears with the Morse code symbol (…-) for the letter “V”,

for their soldier’s name or serial number – a number issued to

emblematic of victory.

every service member. One woman – a thoughtful stranger– wrote to my grandmother that she listened to a broadcast that

V-MAIL was implemented in 1942, a version of the British Airgraph

read messages from American prisoners. There was too much

system. In 1945, mail sent to the Army reached more than 2.5

static to obtain a serial number, she wrote, but believed the

billion pieces, much higher than the previous year. Mail that went

next of kin was Mrs. Terry in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Mrs. Terry,

through military post offices was carefully censored and anything

of course, was actually Mrs. Curry.

too confidential was blacked out or removed. If too many lipstick kisses were left on mail, the process could be delayed.

Each of my grandfather’s letters is sentimental, and somewhat sad. “Darling, I am praying every

Once before he was captured, my

day and night for this terrible war to end. I’ll

grandfather wrote how he wished how

be the happiest man in the world when

he could tell my grandmother where he

that day comes. To hold you and our sweet

was but that Uncle Sam said “No Soup,”

babies would mean everything to me. Are

meaning they weren’t allowed to give their

my babies growing a lot? Let’s pray that it

location through correspondence. “I can tell

won’t be long till I can be with you all.”

you that I am at sea. Tell Glenn that daddy saw a whale and two sharks and some fish

It wasn’t long before his prayers

that fly. I guess he’ll wonder how fish fly. They

were answered.

really do. Darling, I get good eats, but darling, nothing will compare to the good ole steaks and

On April 27, 1945, the New York Times reported the liberation

hot biscuits that you cook. It’s hell to be away from

of 27,000 POWs. The next day, they ran a correction which

you and the babies.”

increased the number rescued to 110,000 allied prisoners of war, all from Stalag VIIA in Moosburg. One of those men was

His first letter from the prison camp is now fragile and difficult

my grandfather, who was pulled from Germany’s largest POW

to read, but he expressed these thoughts: “I’m okay darling.

camp, by a member of the 14th Armored Division, a group of

Please don’t worry. I was taken prisoner in Italy Oct. 12 by the

soldiers called the Liberators.

Germans. Are you and the sweet babies alright? Darling, I dream about you all, all the time.” He closed that letter by asking her to

During the liberation of the prison camp, my grandfather was

send candy and fruit cake.

so weak he had to be carried out on the back of one of the Liberators, who told him to hide in the woods because a German

During that time, wives and mothers hovered by their radios

foot patrol had been detected ahead. He found a root cellar, hid

waiting for any news about the war. Loved ones carefully listened

there, and a farmer’s wife brought him turnip soup.



nervous for quite some time. He couldn’t tolerate a lot of the treatment he had gotten. He had to get healed over that, and he did. My mama fixed a great big meal for him and he said, ‘Y’all probably won’t believe this but there was a time when I could have probably eaten everything on this table. ‘People don’t know what hungry is.’” Although the war and prison camp took a toll on him, my grandfather returned to his former work in the grocery business, and my grandmother worked as a nurse. The family lived for many years in California, before returning to Oklahoma, making Spiro their home. After my grandfather’s release, it took a long time for him

My grandfather was a tender man who used terms of endearment

to become well enough to greet his family in Broken Bow,

sincerely. He was well-groomed, whether frying bacon in the

Oklahoma. When he arrived, he was skinny and worn out.

kitchen, splitting wood, or going to Sunday school. He loved to eat

“Daddy came home with lice; he was eaten up with lice and

catfish, camp out, and spend time with his sons and daughter.

parasites,” said my father. I knew him years after he was a soldier, long after he’d been The repatriation of soldiers during WWII wasn’t always simple. Many

taken prisoner and sent to Germany. I’ve heard the story of

had to recuperate stateside before returning home. Multitudes

his return to the United States, and how he wept openly when

suffered from what is now known as post-traumatic stress.

he saw the Statue of Liberty. That was the beginning of his homecoming. But when he stepped onto the Oklahoma dirt,

“When he was coming into town, they gathered over at the bus

and embraced his wife and babies, he was finally home.

station by our Uncle Ben’s grocery store to welcome him home. Mama said there were over a hundred people there greeting

Learn more about Victory Mail and the U.S. soldiers during

their native son because they loved him.”

World War II at and

My grandparents are both gone now, but my great-aunt, Louise Gilbert, still remembers that day. “We were notified they were coming home and were going to be coming on a bus from Little Rock,” My sister was so tied up about seeing him that she flagged that bus down. Other than that, I know he was real


singer, dancer, gleek @story Marcus Coker @images Courtesy Tony Li & Lauren de Miranda


ort Smith native Lauren de Miranda was





200-year-old pine tree that fell on top of her Los Angeles home. “The brick was collapsing, the house was caving in,” says Lauren. “I thought bombs were exploding because the noise was so loud.” Her plans for the day quickly turned. She picked up


the phone and called her contact for the hit TV show Glee. She

Growing up in Fort Smith,

would be unable to make it to work that day.

Lauren spent most of her free time at Western

When she finally made it to the set, she was cast as an extra

Arkansas Ballet. She was

during this season’s “Prom Queen” episode that aired May

in their annual production

10. Lauren was the one wearing a leopard-print dress at the

of The Nutcracker Suite for

big dance.

fifteen years. At nineteen, she enrolled in college in

“I got to be there for three days with them [the cast of Glee],

Phoenix, Arizona, as a dance

with everyone,” says Lauren. “I’m low on the totem pole, but I’m

major. After one year, she

there. I wasn’t speaking or singing on the show, but I went on to

dropped out for a semester

meet the director and cast and crew and hand out my CD.”

when she was recruited by Run DMC Productions to join a girl band.

Lauren’s CD, titled “New Life,” features four original songs, all written by her. And although she’s recently been seen acting on Glee, The Young and the Restless, and The Bold and Beautiful,

“That [dancing] was just so hard on my body, and I wanted to eat

music is her primary pursuit.

food and maybe have friends. It was so all-encompassing,” says Lauren. “I started to follow other passions I had that I put on the back burner because of dance.”

“I enjoy acting, but I keep my focus on music first and try to prioritize it that way. It’s really funny. If you’re in L.A. and say you’re an actor, people roll their eyes and say, ‘Okay, she’s a

The girl group wasn’t the best fit for her, so she tried a short

waitress,’ just because everyone in L.A. is an actor. But they don’t

solo career, also with Run DMC. She ended up back in college in

get any jobs and they’re waiting tables. But when you say you’re

Arizona the second semester of her sophomore year. Although

a singer, people get really intrigued and they’re interested. So

she was still focused on a music career, Lauren pursued her

I always bill myself as a singer even when I’m on an acting set

“fall back plan” and obtained a degree in political science

because people respond to it much better.”

international business. Simultaneously, she started writing her own music and performing. Her first live show was at the Hard Rock Café in Phoenix.

Lauren prefers not to discuss her age, but will say that she can be anywhere from seventeen to twenty-four when acting. For the pop music industry, it’s good that she appears younger than

In 2008, after completing her “New Life” CD, Lauren

she is. Put her in the right outfit, and she could be any high

approached KISR 93 in Fort Smith about playing her music.

school or college student. She’s the all-American girl.

“They said, ‘We’re going to start playing it tomorrow.’ It was playing every hour on the hour.” Over the next year, the song



got picked up by Clear Channel Radio and was playing on about

“I am definitely the odd ball in my family. My father is a

fifty stations across the country. It even made it to the top 100.

pediatrician, my mother is pharmacist, and my brother just

“Maybe seventy-three,” says Lauren. “Above me would be like

finished his residency and is now a doctor himself. They don’t

Miley Cyrus, below me would be like Adam Lambert—all major

quite get exactly what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. They

artists. It’s very, very rare to see an independent artist in the top

are [supportive], but I think they’re scared. They’re a little bit

one hundred in radio.”

nervous. It’s not stable, and they just don’t understand. There’s a very defined path if you want to be a doctor; these are the

As an independent artist, Lauren’s not backed by a major label.

steps to take to do it. With music, that’s not the case; there

Or really any label at all. The downside means she has less help

are no steps, there’s no defined path, there’s no test. You can’t

with promotion. The upside is that she has more say in how her

take the boards; there’s nothing with music to say, ‘Yes, you are

music is used or distributed. “I would love to be with a major

qualified to do this.’”

label, [but there are] really cool ways to do it independently. [Now] I own all of my music and have complete creative control.

Lauren knows there’s a lot of competition in the entertainment

It’s a rare situation.”

industry, that things aren’t always reliable. “Most people that make it are the ones that just wait it out, that don’t give up.” It

Since her song’s radio success, Lauren has performed many

doesn’t seem as if Lauren could ever quit doing something that

times at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, as well as the

means so much to her. “Music is that connecting thread that

Amp. She even opened for Gavin DeGraw, Pat Benatar, and the

makes people identify with one another. You see your common

Gin Blossoms. “It was great for them as well because I could

experiences. You feel the same frustrations. I think that’s what

promote in Fort Smith,” says Lauren. “I had people driving up,

makes a really good song. I know what you’re going through,

because it was my one of my first shows in the area.”

and you’re not alone.”

She’s also been seen in several music videos, including “Halfway

Chances are you’ll be seeing and hearing more of Lauren. She

Gone” by Lifehouse and another video by Enrique Iglesias. “I

doesn’t know what the future holds, but is more than content

auditioned for [the parts] because I want to be around these

where she is. “I’ve always felt in my life that I was exactly where

artists that I strive to be like,” says Lauren.

I was supposed to be. I’ve never had that feeling of, I took a wrong turn somewhere and what I’m doing is not really what I’m

“I like constant change, and I’m very impulsive. I’m getting to

supposed to be doing. I still feel that way, I still feel like I’m exactly

live a very blessed life at the moment. I can pick and choose the

where I’m supposed to be. Whether it will go as far as I would like

jobs that I take. My taxes are going to be a mess, [however]. I’m

it to, I don’t know yet, but I’m happy. [This] is what I love.”

on a different payroll every other week. For more on Lauren, visit her at


once in a blue moon S

culptor and professor Bryan Massey walks into his

living the dream

@story Marla Cantrell @images Courtesy Bryan Massey

classroom at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway

wearing a black Pluto T-shirt (the cartoon character, not the former planet). He has a blue bandana tied around his head and a ball cap with a Bulldog logo that dates back to his days playing high school sports in Princeton, North Carolina. He turned fifty last December, but hardly looks it. As he shakes my hand, it disappears beneath his. He is a sturdy man, standing nearly six feet tall. “I weigh 280 pounds,” he says, and then flashes a smile. “Mostly muscle.” In fact, it was his brawn and not his talent that first got him noticed by the professor who taught sculpture at East Carolina



University. “I was on campus one day and I heard a commotion,”

After he graduated, he worked in a mental ward for the criminally

Bryan says. “I peeked around the corner and saw this little, short

insane. “Before then,” Bryan says, and shakes his head, “I never

old man and some students trying to get a big old stone off a

believed in that full moon theory. Now I do. Whenever we had a

truck. They were struggling because the cable had snapped. I

full moon, that’s when we had a world of trouble.”

asked if they needed help and I put my shoulder underneath the stone and nudged it back in the truck. He was so impressed with

One of his tasks was teaching the staff self defense. “I was a first-

my strength he said, ‘We need some strong guys in our sculpture

degree black belt,” he says. It was no place for the faint of heart.

area.’ And he said, ‘Take my class this fall.’”

“One guy was on a campus and he’d killed three coeds. They sent him to us for evaluation.”

Before that day, Bryan’s dream had been to become a designer for But that wasn’t what made Bryan rethink his course. “I watched

Hallmark. It was a plan his father, a former Marine, found hard to buy. But Bryan persevered, majoring in commercial

one of my co-workers retire after thirty-five years.

art, and playing outside linebacker for the Pirates.

He got a big cake, a gold watch, and in an instant I saw myself where he was and I knew I didn’t want to be in his shoes one day.”

And then one day in woodshop he cut off the four fingers on his left hand. A surgeon reattached them but Bryan didn’t exactly follow doctor’s orders. “I

It was the push he needed to move on to graduate

kept working,” he admits, as he raises his hand to

school. He landed in Baton Rouge at Louisiana

show the missing tip of his middle finger. “Lost this

State University to study sculpture. And once again

one,” he says. “Kept the others, though,” he says,

his work ethic paid off. “When I was finishing up

and this statement typifies how he views the life he

I had 1,500 brochures and resumes printed up. I

calls both blessed and remarkable.

sent them out all over the country. After I put my show up I stayed away from campus for two days because I was

The accident was just one in a series of challenges. “I didn’t

exhausted. I’d been working between fourteen and eighteen

have financial aid. I worked three jobs in undergraduate school.

hours a day getting ready for it.

I spent weekends with a team of college buddies, and we’d put together pig pens for farmers. Those were sixteen-hour days.

“My dad showed up for the show. He didn’t really accept my

I’d rake yards, clean gutters, work at the university in their work

being an artist until then. That night though, eight of my twelve

study program.”

pieces had red dots on them. He asked me what they meant. I stuck my chest out a little bit and I said, ‘Dad, it means I sold those pieces.’

For a while, he lived in his car. “It was a 1977 Chevrolet Impala. Had everything I owned in there. I’d shower at my sister’s. She lived forty-five minutes from campus.”



“He counted up the money I was going to make that night and

The recognition he’s getting means a lot to Bryan. But one of his

he said, ‘I guess you can make a living doing this.’ I didn’t have

greatest projects was a sculpture he did for the Arkansas School

the heart to tell him that only happens once in a blue moon.”

for the Blind in Little Rock. “I had a lot of textures in it and I went and watched as those kids came back time and time again to feel the sculpture, to run their hands over. That’s better than money.”

But blue moons don’t seem that rare for Bryan. He’s won a tower of awards, earned commissions that garnered more than $100,000, and has even designed a sculpture for former President Bill

Another joy has been teaching art to non-traditional students. “I

Clinton. Currently, he’s working on a nine-foot sculpture to honor

had an older student, a woman who said she didn’t think she’d ever

Silas Hunt, which will be installed on the University of Arkansas

draw. I told her, ‘I can’t teach you to draw, but I can teach to learn to

campus in Fayetteville. In 1948, Hunt became the first African

draw. She really couldn’t even draw a good stick figure. But I taught

American student to be officially admitted to a white Southern

her how to see, how to use perspective, how to use drawing tools

university since Reconstruction and the first ever admitted for

to measure and mark.” Bryan thrums his fingers on the classroom

graduate or professional studies.

table. “She still draws today. I get Christmas cards from her.”

“I studied Silas Hunt before I gave my presentation. Two of

As for his younger students, he offers this advice. “I tell them they

his daughters and his son were on the committee. I think they

have to work. They’ll fail along the way but they can’t give up.”

picked me because I understood who he was. And then he unrolls the secret to his own success. “I was “Think about the things he did. He served in World War II and

ordained as a minister when I was eighteen. Young guy, right?

volunteered to serve in the Battle of the Bulge when the armed

I have faith and trust in God. And in hard work. You can have

services were segregated. Imagine, taking that chance, going up

all the faith and trust you want and if you don’t work, it won’t

to the U of A campus. This was long before the Little Rock Nine

matter. So I work,” he says.

in 1957. I wanted to be the one to tell the story, to show who “In my classroom, you’re not allowed to curse. I hit my thumb

Silas Hunt was and what he did.”

with a hammer, I say, ‘Oh beans.’ I don’t drink, I don’t smoke and I don’t cuss.”

The memorial will be made from steel, limestone and bronze. It’s an abstract piece, something Bryan prefers over traditional works. “I like movement, void and space, and a lot of contours.

And then Bryan smiles again. “I do cook, though. Cleaned the

Doing persons, well, people are people. You can capture that

house for my wife this morning. And I’ve been blessed beyond

emotion, but with abstracts you have to think about how you

measure. I’m living the dream. Even if I’d had to get another job

want the piece to move and flow.”

I’d be doing this on the side. I’d somehow be making art.” Discover More at


delectable discoveries downtown @story and images Catherine Frederick



hopping your local farmers’ market is not the same as

I didn’t go with a list in hand, just a desire to discover new

shopping your local supermarket. It’s not a chore, but rather

foods. We strolled past booth after booth of the most beautiful

a discovery of new foods and new friends. You won’t be zipping

farm-fresh vegetables. Several vendors had what I would call

up and down the aisles throwing cans into your cart. You’ll spend

traditional farm fare: onions, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, broccoli

your time asking questions and really getting to know both the

and potatoes. I kept searching. I was looking for veggies I was not

farmer and the food.

accustomed to cooking.

My family and I recently paid a visit to our local farmers’ market

Then, there it was, my first find. Beautiful green leaves mixed with

in downtown Fort Smith. We were excited to find an eclectic mix

brilliant shades of with orange, red, and yellow. It was rainbow

of vendors featuring farm fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade

chard. The farmer informed me it was organically grown and

breads, and fresh flowers – even arts and crafts.

she even told me several ways I could prepare it. It all sounded delicious (note to self, next time bring a notepad).



rainbow chard. We are by no means vegetarians, so I threw some grilled pork chops in the mix to balance all the vegetables. The planning was complete. It was time to get down to it. Since the carrots and potatoes were small, I opted not to chop them. I sliced the purple onion and tossed it into the bowl with the potatoes and carrots. After drizzling the medley with EVOO (extra We moved on to another vendor offering samples (many of them

virgin olive oil), I sprinkled in a little salt and pepper, then poured

do) filled with traditional and non-traditional veggies. We tasted

the medley onto a large baking sheet and topped it with chopped,

a Daikon radish, very large and white, crisp but milder than a red

fresh thyme. I baked it at 375 degrees until the vegetables were

radish. This farmer also had beautiful fingerling potatoes and the

tender enough to pierce with a fork.

tiniest red potatoes I had ever seen. She then asked if we wanted to taste the tops of baby bok choy. It had small green leaves with

Next were the snow peas. I cut the stems off each one then,

small cluster that resembled broccoli with tiny yellow edible

tossed the pods with a small amount of EVOO and diced up a few

flowers. She said they could be eaten cooked in stir fry or wilted

shallots. The snow peas and shallots were poured onto another

or could also be eaten raw. We tasted, we liked, we purchased.

baking sheet in a single layer and topped with more chopped thyme. After baking at 450 degrees for 6-8 minutes, they came

We gathered up bright bunches of carrots, snow peas, lettuce,

out tender, yet crisp and delicious. These would make a great

and purple onion clusters from various farmers. Then we made

healthy snack.

our way to the Lytle Farm’s booth, heaping with homemade breads and jams. We selected a strawberry kiwi jam that was far

After scouring one of my favorite websites,, I

beyond my expectations, I could have eaten them all, each one as

located a recipe for rainbow chard with pine nuts, parmesan, and

delicious as the next. Hubby located deliciously homemade local

basil. It was a simple sautĂŠ and the ingredients were similar to

tamales and hot sauce from Shorty’s and we were ready to go.

those in pesto. After watching the video on trimming chard, I got to work. This was a quick dish to prepare with delicious results.

Once home, I sat down and prepared a menu based on what I

My six-year-old even loved it! My disappointment was two-fold.

had purchased (sounds backwards I know). I quickly decided that

One, the vibrant colors of the stems did not remain once wilted,

the tops of the baby bok choy would be saved for a snack in the

but the flavor did make up for the loss of color. Two, I should have

days ahead and the Dikon radish would be an appetizer - soaked

bought more than one bunch, because once it was wilted it was

in salt brine. The variety of lettuce would be a lovely, yet simple

really only enough for two small servings.

side salad. The fingerling and new potatoes, purple onions and carrots would be a roasted vegetable medley. The snow peas

What of the tamales you say? We ate those scrumptious goodies

would be another side dish and then there was that beautiful

the next day, complete with a quick and easy chili recipe,



courtesy of All in all, it was a delicious weekend, thanks to our local farmers’ market. I encourage you to get creative this weekend, buy locally grown, and bring it home, fresh from the market to your table. To find the nearest farmers’ market, just do a Google search, or call your town hall for times and dates. There are many in our area, just waiting to introduce you to the joy of cooking with fresh-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables. Recipes for the dishes I prepared and additional photos can be found online at Are you serving up your own goodness from a local farmers’ market? Why don’t you share it with us? Send your recipes and photos to

As a way to celebrate simple cooking with fresh vegetables, we’re giving away one copy of “Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch,” by Nigel Slater. The 620 page book is part memoir, part cookbook, and filled with beautiful illustrations.

TO ENTER, just comment • It’s important to thoroughly wash your produce, no matter where it’s purchased. A vegetable scrub-brush is inexpensive. • When washing softer produce you can simply spray it with a mixture of vinegar and water (2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to 1 pint of water) and rinse well.

on any of our stories in the July issue of @Urban by going to our website, clicking on “comments.” Tell us what you think and you’ll be automatically entered.

• Research has shown that vinegar helps kill bacteria on fruits and vegetables.

THE WINNER will be selected in a random drawing on August 1 and notified by email, and on our Facebook page.

» » » » »

Provided by Mojo’s Ivory House 479.434.5434

1oz. Malibu Coconut Rum 1oz. Amaretto 1/4oz. Grenadine Orange Juice Cherries & Orange Slices for Garnish

Fill glass with ice. Combine Malibu coconut rum with amaretto.

@image Catherine Frederick @recipe Jeff Price

Add grenadine, then orange juice for a layered effect. Garnish with cherries and orange slices.


alternative: grilled peach and corn salsa. I quartered several peaches, shucked two ears of corn and threw them on the grill, caramelizing the sugars and imparting a deep, smoky flavor. After allowing them to cool and chopping them finely, I added creamy avocado, minced hot pepper, pungent red onion, a handful of cilantro and a simple dressing of lime juice and honey to the mix. If you want to make the salsa extra spicy, add a few liberal pinches of cayenne. While the flavors mingled, I got to work on salsa’s obligatory sidekick: tortilla chips. Want to one-up your Tostitos’-worshiping friend? Try your hand at homemade tortilla chips. When we were in Mexico a couple of years ago, one of the many culinary highlights was the Mexican tortilla chips. Chips south of the border are thicker, crispier, tastier and definitely fresher than the thin, weak,

@recipe & images Laura Hobbs

overly-salted and bland version we serve here in the States. It seemed that their secret lies in simply deep frying white corn


n a recent Thursday afternoon, I was sitting alone at a table

tortillas – sounds like a no-brainer, but try it for yourself and

at a local sandwich joint, tapping my foot impatiently and

you’ll immediately notice the difference between freshly fried

wondering why my husband was fifteen minutes late for our

tortillas and the wimpy things you buy at the store. These chips

lunch date. He eventually breezed in, raving about a fruit and

aren’t merely a method of getting salsa from the bowl to your

vegetable stand he’d stopped at on his way to meet me. “They

face, but a crunchy, toasty, flavorful treat that you won’t be able

had peaches from Clarksville!” he exclaimed, “And sweet corn,

to put down, dip or no dip. Promise.

too!” He’d impulsively bought some of both, along with a few yellow squash, without a clue as to what he’d do with any of it

Delivering a smoky, sweet and tangy flavor, this grilled peach

(he leaves those sorts of details up to me). That night we had

and corn salsa fuses sweet and savory in an unbelievably fresh

some delicious pan-fried squash and onions with dinner, but I

mosaic of flavors. The addition of avocado adds a creamy

was still unsure about what to do with the peaches and corn.

element, while the cilantro and hot pepper add a bold bite. I even got to use my garden’s first Cherry Red Hot pepper of the

I consulted my mental recipe Rolodex for ideas on what to make

season (which, unfortunately, was not nearly as tongue-searingly

– my keywords were summery, fresh and, of course, tasty. I nixed

hot as I was expecting). This salsa is great with chips, crackers

the too-obvious peach pie idea, overthrew the too-conspicuous

or even vegetables, and can also serve as a fresh topping for

corn on the cob idea, and came up with an unconventional

grilled meats, like pork or chicken. Enjoy!



SALSA 3 2 2 1/4 1/2 2 1 » » 1/4 »

medium peaches, pitted and quartered ears of corn, shucked small hot peppers (jalapeño, serrano or anything similar, seeded, ribbed and minced) cup red onion, minced an avocado, chopped Tbs. cilantro, minced tsp. honey juice of one lime salt & pepper to taste tsp. cayenne (optional) olive oil, for grilling

TORTILLA CHIPS 1 3 » Light the grill and allow it to heat up. Drizzle the peach quarters and corn cobs with olive oil so they won’t stick to the grill. Grill the peaches and corn over medium heat, keeping a close eye on them to prevent burning. Once they’re finished, remove them from the grill and allow them to cool to room temperature.

package white corn tortillas (tortillas quartered) cups canola oil kosher salt

enough to prevent overlapping and sticking) and fry, turning once, until lightly browned. Quickly remove the chips from the oil and cool on wire racks. Salt the chips while they’re still hot. Keep the chips in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Once cooled, peel the peaches (the skin comes off very easily) and dice them finely. Cut the corn from the cob and combine the peaches and corn in a medium sized bowl. Halve the avocado, chop it and add it to the bowl. Halve, seed and rib the two hot peppers, mince finely and add to the bowl. Mince the red onion and cilantro and add to the mixture. Combine the lime juice and honey in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour the lime and honey mixture over the peach mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper (and cayenne, if using), place in a tightly sealed container, and allow to sit at room temperature for about an hour. In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat the canola oil to about 350°, using a candy thermometer. Add the tortillas to the hot oil in batches (small


a family getaway @story Todd Whetstine @image Wild Woods Photography



his month I headed out to one of our great state parks,

lake from the ridge tops. It’s not a difficult trail, but with the

tucked into the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, just two

high temperatures take plenty of water and don’t rush. It starts

and a half hours from Fort Smith. Woolly Hollow is named for

near the park’s office, climbs the ridges and crosses the dam

the Woolly family that came from Tennessee to Arkansas for

before entering the campground.

homesteading opportunities in 1851. William Riley Woolly later teamed up with his son Martin and built what is known as the Woolly Cabin. It is a great place to take your family, complete with campsites, RV sites, a sandy beach, and a fishing pier. It’s also filled with the history of Arkansas, the story of the pioneers who laid claim to the Natural State, and a few lessons from a man who improved farming for the entire country. Let’s start with Woolly Cabin, which is made of logs over one foot thick and eighteen feet long. It serves as a focal point at the park. It’s a very primitive, yet sturdy structure with no windows. An overhanging roof protects the front porch, where

This 370-acre park is all about taking it easy. The forty-acre lake

folks once sat and told the stories of their day. I walked away

supplies hours of leisure and recreation for families. As a nature

from the cabin with the utmost of respect for the Woolly family.

photographer I sat around all day waiting for the right light. I spent

They came west into the unknown, picked out a homestead, and

a great deal of time watching five siblings camped next to me as

built a house with hard work and few tools. This cabin is 119

they fished. I got some great shots of kids being kids. I even got

years old. It was moved in 1972 and renovated in 1975.

one shot of a father and young son on their first fishing trip.

Lake Bennett is also at the park. It is named after Dr. Hugh Bennett,

My dog Bo and I woke up each morning about 4:30. We sat

and was a CCC [Civil Conservation Corp] project in the early 1930s.

on a fishing pier, with no breeze and a lake like glass. It was

The lake was actually built to study soil and water erosion, the first

extremely peaceful, except for the occasional fish attacking the

of its kind in our nation. It’s an apt name. Dr. Bennett is known as

bugs hitting the surface of the still water. Bright stars overhead

the father of soil conservation, a man who cultivated techniques

and the frogs croaking along the bank kept us company as we

like terracing, strip cropping and crop rotation.

waited for the right light.

The Huckleberry Trail is another CCC beauty. This three and half

I realized, as the light started breaking, that there was not

mile trail surrounds Lake Bennett, offering great views of the

enough cloud cover for a decent photo of the sunrise. I had



another plan just in case. At campsite thirty-seven, while

Small fishing boats, pedal boats, and kayaks can be rented at

enjoying a shade tree the day before, I’d noticed a few trees

the office. With temperatures topping out around 100 degrees,

framing the fishing pier very well, so while I still had good light

many campers beat the heat peddling and paddling all around

we headed back to camp.

the cool, clear waters of the lake. The sandy beach drew quite a crowd at the swimming area. There are lifeguards on duty to help

I’ve bushwhacked many miles of this beautiful state looking for

keep a watchful eye. You’re not allowed to bring your dogs to the

that next shot that takes my breath away. I’ve shot a few lately,

swimming area, so Bo and I watched from the fences. There’s no

literally from the door of my tent, (also known as my future office).

swimming at the camp area or any place other than the designated

I love grabbing my tent, sleeping bag, camera pack, and Bo, then

swim area. I accidentally threw the ball in the lake a few times and

telling my wife, “I’m headed to work. Be back in a few days.”

Bo took a secret dip or two as she retrieved the ball.

We really enjoyed our stay at the park, and we’ll be back. It’s

The resources in the Natural State are as unique as the folks

a popular spot, especially in the summertime. I’d recommend

who live here. The view of the terrain is breathtaking, and the

calling ahead to reserve a spot. Woolly Hollow has thirty Class

sparkling waters soothe the soul. Enjoy the rivers, lakes and

AAA RV sites with full hook-ups and ten primitive camping

streams we’ve been blessed with. I’d recommend starting with

spots. Most campsites are right next to the lake, and this place

Woolly Hollow. It’s a great spot to spend a little bonding time

can fill in a hurry. There are several day-use picnic areas and

with the family.

there’s a huge covered pavilion available for a fee.


The office sits just above the sandy beach swimming area. In this building you’ll find hot showers and clean restrooms. They

Woolly Hollow is less than two and a half hours east of Fort Smith. Take I-40 to exit 125. Then you’ll travel north on U.S. Highway 65 for twelve miles. At Arkansas Highway 285 head east. Woolly Hollow is six miles away.

even have a snack bar. I couldn’t believe it when my lovely wife brought me an ice cream cone. My camping trips are usually more “Man vs. Wild,” except I bring enough good food along so

For more information log on to

that I never had to eat any bugs. Well, not yet.



ater trickles down the sandstone wall in the living room, and as

you step out the backdoor you see a waterfall cascading into a blue-green pool. All you hear is the sound of spring splashing down into a shimmering pond. This unique cabin in Prim, Arkansas, near Greers Ferry, has drawn travelers from as far away as Scotland and Columbia. But this attention-grabbing marriage of rock and falling water isn’t the work of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This isn’t the work of Arkansas great Fay Jones. This is the creation of a man called Longbow Ben, who was an award-winning archer. Longbow Ben built this majestic cave-

longbow resort @story Tonya McCoy @images A.C. Haralson / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

like cabin for his family in 1967. Today this is part of the Longbow Resort. His son, Ben Pearson, Junior, has added other cabins using the mountainous landscapes and canyons to create fantastic hideaway cabins.


“If you could see some of the things he could do with a bow.

Ben Junior, an industrial engineer by trade, has the eye too.

..I’ve got pictures of him shooting ping pong balls thrown in the

He’s built two more cabins incorporating natural elements.

air by a guy on a boat, while my father is standing and moving

And he’s even working on a third in which he plans to include a

in another boat on Lake Hamilton” Ben Junior says. “He was no

waterfall—right in the living room.

ordinary guy when it comes to archery.” All of the cabins are named after actual types of bows, as tribute to Longbow Ben.

Longbow Ben, who died in 1971, is the only archer to be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. A stuffed Barren Ground Grizzly and a Siberian Polar Bear stand in an exhibit honoring

{ Longbow }

him at the Verizon Center in Little Rock—two of the many

Past the sycamore trees, in a canyon where the only noise is

targets brought down by Longbow Ben’s deadeye accuracy. But

running water, sits Longbow. If you didn’t know where to

his inventions, including machines to mass produce bows and

look, you might not even notice a door that’s wedged right in

archery tackle, put him in business, prompting the opening of

between a bluff wall and a giant boulder. Beside the door lies

Pearson Archery in Pine Bluff in 1932. He was in charge of the

an old stone grinder used by pioneers over a hundred years ago

largest mass producer of archery supplies in the nation for more

to press out flour at a gristmill that once stood on the property.

than thirty years, before retiring to Prim.

Just inside you can smell the wet sandstone as water runs satin smooth down a towering cave-like wall. Above the dining room

He had a good eye. Not only for sighting a bow, but also for

door are a couple of longbows made by Pearson Archery.

creating breathtaking architecture. Just outside the window you can see a thirty-foot waterfall Ben Junior motions to land near the waterfall that is above

tumbling into a private, natural pool. Light dances across the

the site where the cabin is now. “He had a friend that was an

water as it rushes over rounded stones. This sight is more

architect and he hired him to come in and do a design. And the

reminiscent of an island paradise than an Arkansas canyon.

architect designed a beautiful three-bedroom cabin with a lot

{ Bushmaster }

of glass looking over that waterfall.”

The sweet smell of wild hydrangea surrounds this hideaway Longbow Ben, who’d always been an innovator, had a different

named after Longbow Ben’s favorite bow. Just inside, boulders

vision for his cabin. “And at the last minute Dad scrubbed all

surround you, making up much of the wall for the first floor,

those plans and he just sketched it in himself.”

while upstairs offers a cliff-top view. Step onto the patio and you’ll see a winding stream below with bright green frogs

Instead of building a cabin on land near the waterfall, he built his cabin

floating lazily. Sometimes people have even spotted river

INTO the land across from the fall. Longbow Ben put up walls that

otter when the brook is high enough. You can gaze at the

connected right to the cliff-line—chiseling rooms right out of rock.

surrounding beauty of the creek and woodland cliffs, or take



a nap in the hammock on this same private deck, just outside

It was hard work but the end result led to a cabin – shaped like

your bedroom.

a banana on its side – that offers an unbeatable view from a cliff-top hideaway.

“Geologists who’ve stayed here say those rocks,” Ben Junior says pointing to some boulders almost as tall as the cabin, “that

{ Sovereign }

[they were] a rock bridge that collapsed.” The experts believe

This cabin is still in the works, but when finished could be the

the ancient bridge fell long before the time of Longbow Ben,

most impressive of all four. Named after an elite bow series

and even before the gristmill pioneers. Chrinoid fossils, also

from Pearson Archeries, this cabin aims to be a cut above the

called sea lilies or feather stars, fan out on a stepping stone just

rest. Built on the side of a cliff, the view outside may actually

in front of the Bushmaster.

pale in comparison with what Ben Junior plans for the inside.

{ Bois D’Arc }

When you stand on the second floor, the first thing you see is

In French, the name means ‘wood of the bow.’ And like the

the top of a leafy dogwood tree growing straight up through

bending wood of a bow, the cabin curves in a rounded angle

the first floor. And Ben Junior plans on building a waterfall that

inward – atop the edge of a bluff. Head-to-toe windows lend

would flow from the second floor, between two bedrooms, to

an incomparable view from the living room all the way through

the first floor living room. He’s still working the details out, but

the bedroom. You can watch the squirrels and raccoons play as

it’s a vision he’s had for a decade.

you soak in the Jacuzzi in the bedroom, or as you lounge on the sofa in the living room. Spotlights follow the curved wall outside,

“I know that [architect] Frank Lloyd [Wright] sat there for

offering a fantastic view even at night. Nature has never felt closer.

months at the Fallingwater site [the location of his most famous

Step outside and a rock stairway winds downward leading you to

residence, built in Pennsylvania] and didn’t do anything… but he

a hammock where you can lie back and watch the sky through

had to have thought about it.”

the tops of the pines and cypress. More than one bald eagle has When asked if Ben Junior, now fifty-seven, plans on retiring here,

been spotted by visitors during cooler months.

he says “Why sure, where else would you go?” And he poses a When Ben Junior was designing this curvy cabin he had a couple

good question – where else would you want to be – lying in a

of logistical concerns. He was building the cabin on some

hammock watching bald eagles fly overhead. Or wading in your

uneven boulders, right atop a narrow ridge. He called architect

personal blue-green pool under a small waterfall just outside

Tim de Noble, head of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at

your secluded cave-cabin.

the University of Arkansas, for some advice. “He said build it Cabins Range from $175-$200 per night.

over that big rock and make it look like a banana. And I did, but

More information available at

that curved part was not fun.”


Read Chair Publishing, LLC 3811 Rogers Avenue Suite C Fort Smith, Arkansas 72903

Pride - July 2011  

Pride - July 2011

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