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February 2014

CONTENTS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Catherine Frederick MANAGING EDITOR Marla Cantrell CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jeromy Price CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Marla Cantrell Marcus Coker Catherine Frederick Stacey Little Anita Paddock Stoney Stamper Bunnie Watts-Adams CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Marcus Coker Stacey Little Jeromy Price


PROOFREADER Charity Chambers PUBLISHER Read Chair Publishing, LLC





56 Janet’s Bizarre Bazaar This story about a fun-loving mom and the family she left behind will touch your heart. It will also have you thinking about what you keep and what you set free.






What happens when you take a super creative guy, some of his bearded buddies, and an idea for a photo shoot? A whole lot of fun, and a brand new tradition.

Are you looking for some great homemade gifts to give to those you care about this Valentine’s Day? We gathered some of the best ideas we could find, and fell in love! We think you will too.

Jambalaya Me Oh My Oh! Stacey Little knocked it out of the park with a Jambalaya dish that’s adaptable to any taste.

ADVERTISING INFORMATION Catherine Frederick 479 / 782 / 1500 EDITORIAL INFORMATION Marla Cantrell 479 / 831 / 9116 ©2014 Read Chair Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. The opinions contained in Do South 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 Do South or Read Chair Publishing, LLC., including photography becomes the property of Read Chair Publishing, LLC. Do South reserves the right to edit content and images.

FOLLOW US Subscribe to Do South! 12 issues per year for only $20, within the contiguous United States. Subscribe online at, or mail check to 7030 Taylor Avenue, Suite 5, Fort Smith, AR 72916.

letter from Catherine

As we sat in the kitchen talking, he grabbed his lower back and doubled over in agony. I’d never seen anyone suffering pain that intense - except women on TV writhing in labor. It was bad. I drove him to the ER where they began a series of tests and a barrage of questions – directed to me. I knew his name, where he worked. I knew that he was tall, handsome, and had electric blue eyes. Health history? I knew nothing. Nada. All I could say was, “Sorry, this is our first date!” They finally discovered it was kidney stones and gave him enough morphine to put down a donkey. The nurse actually said, “That’s the most morphine I’ve ever given anyone.” Then, it was time to discharge the groggy patient. Not only was I responsible for driving him home and somehow getting his drugged-up self into the house, I also got a parting gift. A strainer. I was told he was to pee through it for the next few days to catch those stones. That’s love people. True love. Love. It’s all around us this month. It’s showing up in various

You’re likely laughing right now, and that’s fine. Hubby and I

shades of red and pink, drenched in chocolaty sweetness. I’ve

laugh too, and we’re grateful every day that we found each

been enjoying hearing about how many of you fell in love,

other. That’s the thread that runs through this issue: love. From

thanks to our Valentine’s Day Package Contest, sponsored by

the story of a man who lost track of the girl of his dreams, to the

several of our advertisers (find out how to enter on page 6).

story of a woman who found her perfect match far across the

Since so many of you are sharing, I felt it only appropriate to

sea, we have it all.

share my story with you! Then there’s the daughter who tells us what it was like to grow It was a Thursday night in April, 2001. We were both hanging

up with a mother who was bright and funny and full of laughter.

out with friends at a local restaurant. Our eyes locked, and we

We have the story of a couple so in love with Arkansas that they

were introduced by a mutual friend. That’s where it began, and

decided to chronicle what’s best about our state. When you’re

after a bit of small talk, that’s where it ended. Until I called

finished, check out our recipes, and the DIYs you can make for

him at work the following Monday. Yes, I disobeyed the order

your honey.

my dad had given me all those years ago, and I called the boy. Patience is not my strong suit.

So enjoy! And spread a little love to those who need it most.

The adventure began on our first date. Yep, the first one. We had a nice dinner and returned to his house to watch a movie. To reserve this free space for your charitable non-profit organization, email:



R U NN I N G WORDS Catherine Frederick

She sets out at dusk Driving back to a past she’s spent years running from Mile markers sneak up as memories flood in Easier to ignore than to address So she drives Past the white clapboard churches and fields of soybeans Much too soon she’s arrived Pulling slowly in front of the yellow brick house that looks much less grandiose than when she was a child Frozen she waits Still as a rock Shadows move beyond aged curtains The porch light flickers on


Krista Hinton Director Hobson Preschool

First Presbyterian Church 116 North 12th Street Fort Smith, AR 72901 479.783.4552


We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others. — John Wesley

best advice I have ever been given? My parents told me to always place my feet where I know to be right and then stand firm; never allowing anyone to intimidate me into abandoning my convictions. My parents wanted me to be happy with whatever I chose to be in life. Favorite breakfast food? Lucky Charms cereal, it really IS magically delicious. WHY I love Arkansas. All the people I love most in the world are here. It’s home. The most Southern thing I say. “Y’all.” First pet? A Yorkshire Terrier named Peanut. First car? A 1987 Isuzu I-Mark. First job? I was a seasonal photographer at the mall taking pictures of children with the Easter Bunny. (I was 16.) Cowboy boots or work boots? Work boots. Levi’s or Wranglers? Levi’s.

About Hobson Hobson Preschool offers services to children from eighteen months of age through Kindergarten. Beginning in August, Hobson will be expanding services to include 7:30am – 6:00pm hours of operation, and a year-round schedule. Hobson is committed to developing in children critical, independent thinking skills through engaging hands-on activities and positive teacher interaction. It is our desire to welcome children and their families into a loving and positive Christian environment that fosters a love for life-long learning and an appreciation for the world around them.

3 things I can’t do without

Farthest place you’ve ever been? Canada. Favorite dessert? Chocolate pie. Best food your grandma ever made? Dumplings. Favorite TV show you’re currently watching? It’s a tie between Castle and Downton Abbey - I never miss either one! Favorite season? Fall, I love the first cool, crisp breeze of the season after a hot summer, and the amazing range of colors in the trees. Favorite book of all time? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Favorite vacation spot? I love camping and hiking, so anywhere I can do those things is great. Favorite ice cream? Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Comedy or Action movies? Action movies. Best Valentine’s Day ever? In 2005. My son was in Kindergarten and was just learning to write. He made me a Valentine, asking if I would be his first Valentine. It was so sweet! I still have it, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

My Reading Glasses

Chewing gum


Strangest place you’ve called the Hogs? In 2003, my husband and I were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were on the aerial tram going up to Sandia Peak with twenty other people who weren’t from Arkansas, and I called the Hogs. I figured I would never see any of them again so I had fun with it!




WORDS Stoney Stamper IMAGES courtesy Stoney and April Stamper



hey say February is synonymous with love, romance

Eureka Springs, Arkansas to watch the Great Passion Play, and it

and little pink heart candies, so I thought that I could

was frigging freezing. How CONVENIENT. They had a blanket we

tell you about my own fairytale romance. It’s a pretty

could cover up with, but we needed to cuddle. For the warmth.

good story, actually. One of those stories that ALMOST never happened, but by some miraculous twist of fate, everything

Another time, the church had a lock-in for the youth group.

fell right into place.

A lock-in is like a big sleepover in the church, and you play games and watch movies and stuff all night long. April likes to

Our story begins where most enduring love stories begin. In

bring this incident up, OFTEN, although there is still rampant

an Indian casino bar. Well, to be fair, we should back up a little

speculation about where the alleged incident occurred, in the

bit, and say that our story begins like most love stories these

fellowship hall or the sanctuary. We spent time in both. I was

days, on Facebook, where we had reconnected after a dozen

fourteen, almost fifteen. She was thirteen.

years apart, and where we’d made this plan to rendezvous at the Indian casino bar. But then, that still wouldn’t be QUITE accurate. Our story started many years ago. Well before Facebook.

Or laptop computers.

Or even cell

After several hours most of the kids started winding down, around three or four in the morning. The sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and such were spread out on the

phones. Let’s turn back the clocks to 1988.

floor to make pallets for us all to lie on. April and I lay near one another. Very near. Too

I grew up in a little place called Murphy,

near. Near enough that we probably

Oklahoma. It’s between Locust Grove

should’ve been reprimanded because

and Chouteau, off of Highway 412.

of the nearness that we shared in the

Growing up, I lived in only two different

House of the Lord. And we ALMOST

houses, and they were only about 400

kissed. ALMOST. We had a moment.

yards from one another. No matter how

But I didn’t do it. Maybe I pulled a Tony

long I’ve been gone, when I think of

Romo and choked right at the end of

home, Murphy is what I think of.

the game. I don’t know. All I know is, she still bitches about it twenty years later.

When I was ten, this little girl moved in with her family just down the road a ways. She was a few years younger than me. A little cute brunette, with a few freckles. And she was spunky. Her name was April Skinner.

Then she moved away when she was fourteen, and I didn’t see her again until our friend, Jennifer, got married. She was a bridesmaid; I was an usher. She looked more grown up, and very pretty. Except she had this weird, short haircut and it was maroon. But hey, it

We rode Bus #5 to school together, and back home, every day.

was the nineties. We all had funky haircuts back then.

She went to our church at Murphy Church of God, where my grandpa was the preacher. So we saw each other almost every

At the wedding she barely paid attention to me. I tried smiling,

day. We were friends. However, she had a WICKED mad crush

saying hello, but she was undoubtedly doing her best to ignore

on me, and she wasn’t that subtle about it. She flirted with me, A

me. She’ll even admit it now; she was trying to be cool. So, I saw

LOT. She smiled at me, A LOT. We had a close mutual friend who

her for a bit, and then never again for another twelve long years.

was always the go between. Even on into our teenage years, there was always a ploy. They thought I didn’t know what was

Then one day I got a friend request on Facebook. It was from

going on, but I did.

a lady named April Johnston. She looked fairly familiar, but different. But I knew those eyes and smile. I messaged her

When we went on trips with the church, it was always the three

and asked, “Is this April Skinner?” to which she emphatically

of us together, with April in the middle. One time, we went to

replied, “YES!”




We chatted briefly, and then a few months went by with no

out of the house for more than half an hour, Katie bar the door!

contact. Then one day I was drinking beer on a patio in Fort

Daddy’s gonna try and wake the neighbors.

Worth and posted a picture of me giving a thumbs-up. She saw it, thought I looked cute, and “liked” the picture. And then she

Our sneaky tactics paid off. The romance in our lives is almost

“liked” EVERY OTHER picture I had on Facebook. My phone pretty

embarrassingly strong, and thankfully, in the years we’ve

much exploded and melted down from all the notifications.

been together, we’ve only come close to being caught in an embarrassing situation that could possibly cause a need for

So, from a dude’s perspective, you’ve got to weigh your options.

some therapy one time. We now have a new house, and our

From looking at her pictures I knew she was hot. But after

bedroom is on the complete opposite side of the house from

liking on all of my photos, I was a little worried she might have

the girls. That has definitely helped our love life out.

a little Single White Female in her. Or remember the lady on Fatal Attraction who boiled the bunny rabbit? Yeah, scary stuff.

I think one of the cool and unique aspects of our relationship is

Thankfully she turned out to be the most awesome chick that

that we have known each other nearly all of our lives. As small

I’ve ever known. And she was even hotter in person than in the

children, as teenagers, and as adults. Yet, it still took us so long

pictures that I saw on Facebook.

to find each other, and I believe that keeps us from ever taking this thing that we have for granted. We still text all day long

But, there was a catch. She had two daughters, and I just so

like teenagers. She still sits in my lap and kisses me and asks

happened to be terrified of kids. But, I really liked her, so I

me about my day, even to our daughters’ chagrin. And we end

buckled down and decided to give it a go. And so our courtship

every phone call with “I love you.” Yeah, I know. We may be

began. However, we lived three hours apart and only saw each

“that” couple, and I’m sorry if we make you feel a tad queasy.

other on weekends. So, I would make the drive to her house

But we’re happy, so you are just going to have to deal with it.

in northern Oklahoma, from southern Oklahoma, every Friday

We’ll do our best to keep the PDA at a minimum.

night. Back then, romance was easy. Things were simpler. It was just the two of us since the girls were usually elsewhere for the

It’s been twenty-five years since we first met. Thankfully, she

weekend. However, once we married, and we began sharing our

turned out not to be rabbit boilin’ crazy, just crazy enough to live

lives, and home, together as a family, romance became much

with and put up with me. I could’ve never imagined way back

harder to find. Abby and Emma needed their mom, a lot. And

then, the impact she would someday have on my life. Or that all

getting her alone for more than five minutes at a time was

these years later, she’d finally be MY forever Valentine. I couldn’t

a rarity. That was quite an adjustment for me. I was used to

have guessed any of that. But I guess that’s the cool thing about

having her all to myself. And not only was I having to compete

life. It’ll work itself out, if you’ll just relax and let it.

for her attention, I was losing. Eventually, I learned that the girls just needed their mom, and I had better learn how to adapt, or die. So, that’s exactly what

Stoney Stamper is the author of the popular parenting

we did. We adapted. We learned to take advantage of our

blog, The Daddy Diaries. He and his wife April have

moments alone, no matter when they were, and sometimes,

three daughters: Abby, Emma and Gracee. Originally

no matter where we were. For instance, we can’t go back to

from northeast Oklahoma, the Stampers now live

Walmart now. But that’s another story, for another time.

in Tyler, Texas. For your daily dose of The Daddy Diaries, visit Stoney on Facebook or on his website,

If the girls went outside to play and we knew we had a few minutes, we’d lock the bedroom door and have some quick mommy/daddy time. If they took a nap, we’d lock the door and “take a nap,” ourselves. On the rare occasion that they went to a friend’s house, or to a movie, or anywhere that took them


Find the Love of Your Life Adopt a Furry Valentine The shelter is open every Saturday from 9 to noon. Call for an adoption appointment.



Bentley M


Phoebe F


Linus M



Booneville Animal Shelter Donations are always needed and greatly appreciated. Booneville Animal Shelter | Hwy 10 East | Booneville, AR | 479.849.7378 | Find us on |




Harlem Globetrotters February 7, 7 PM // See website for prices Tulsa, OK // The world famous Harlem Globetrotters will be at the BOK Center in Tulsa for one night, as part of their “Fans Rule” World Tour. Last year, the basketball greats let fans vote on some crazy new rules to be used in actual games. This year, the team is doing it again. Log on to to see the wacky rules and vote for your favorite. Then get your tickets for a night you won’t soon forget.


Beginning Beekeeping February 11, 18, 25 // Donation of canned food Fort Smith, AR // 479.208.9949 // Ready to learn about the secret life of bees? The Western Arkansas Eastern Oklahoma Beekeepers Association is sponsoring a free beginners course at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center at 8300 Wells Lake Road in Fort Smith. Organizers ask that you bring one can of food to each class, to be donated to the Salvation Army. You’ll also need to pre-register.


Hikes, Hearts, and Hugs Weekend February 14 - 16 // Free (except for Sweethearts’ Dinner) Morrilton, AR // 501.727.5441 // Enjoy a romantic weekend at the newly renovated historic Mather Lodge on Petit Jean Mountain this Valentine’s weekend. Participants will be treated to guided trail hikes and a romantic Sweethearts’ Candlelight Dinner. Reservations are required, so hurry and book your spot for this fantastic weekend at Petit Jean State Park.


Wildwood’s LANTERNS! Festival February 14 – 16 // $10 adults, $5 kids 6 – 12, Free 5 & under Little Rock, AR // 501.821.7275 // Celebrate the first full moon of the lunar year at Wildwood Park. The LANTERNS! Festival is a magical evening for the whole family. Travel paths illuminated with fire pits and luminaria while enjoying entertainment and refreshments. Patrons will also be treated to eight cultural vistas from around the world.



Daffodil Days at Garvan Gardens February 15 - March 15 // 9:00 – 6:00 daily // See website for prices Hot Springs, AR // 501.262.9300 // Beginning in mid-February, thousands of daffodils begin to bloom. At their peak, there are 200,000 of these spring flowers scattered across the grounds. One of the most concentrated areas is at Three Sisters of Amity Daffodil Hill on Warren’s Woodland Walk, which is in the middle of the gardens. Check Garvan Gardens’ Facebook page for updates on the daffodils.


10th Annual Chocolate Lovers’ Festival February 15 // $12 adults, $6 six & under Eureka Springs, AR // 888.465.4753 // Every chocolate lover’s dream is coming true in Eureka Springs! Just about anything imaginable will be chocolate: cakes, cookies, and beverages. Select from a wide range of gourmet and homemade take-home samples from participating vendors. The event will be held at the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks Convention Center.


Bring It On: The Musical February 17 // 7:30pm // See website for details Fort Smith, AR // 479.788.7000 // Inspired by the Bring It On movie, this acrobatic musical is chock full of incredible dance and aerial stunts, as well as an all-new story of friendship, forgiveness and perseverance through the thrill of extreme competition. The show will be held at the Fort Smith Convention Center.


Roseanne Cash March 7 // See website for details Fayetteville, AR // 479.443.5600 // Roseanne Cash’s newest album, The River and The Thread, is being called the best thing she’s done in her 35-year career. Hear this country superstar, and daughter of Johnny Cash, live at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. But get your tickets fast, because this is sure to be a sold out performance.




phone, and rarely leaves the house. Their cupboards are stocked with tomato soup, and frozen dinners fill the freezer. It seems she misses the joy and comfort of married life more than the man himself. Henry’s father has remarried and has a new baby daughter. He also has a step-son who’s Henry’s age and excels in everything Henry does not. The boys don’t like each other, making it even more uncomfortable for Henry’s weekly visits with his father’s new family. Henry and his mother live on a dead end street in a small town in New Hampshire where everyone knows everyone else. He feels responsible for his mom, which puts him in an awkward situation at a time when he is thinking about girls and all that implies. He’s unable to talk to his mother about these new feelings, and he’s so uncomfortable with his father that he can’t talk with him either. On an infrequent shopping trip for school clothes, Henry bumps into a man named Frank whose leg is bleeding. Frank asks for help, so Henry and Adele take him home with them. They soon find out that he is an escaped convict and the police are searching the area for him. He demands to stay with them while he recuperates, and eventually Frank and Adele fall in love. Frank does odd jobs around the house, plays baseball with Henry, and cooks for the family. His specialty is baking pies, and he teaches Adele and Henry the art of pastry making.

Labor Day

Of course, their idyllic life must come to an end, and the final

review Anita Paddock

I’ll have to see the movie before I make the call on which is

By Joyce Maynard William Morrow Publishers: $1399

chapters of this book are pretty heart-wrenching.


better, the movie or the book. That’s one of the great things

The novel was written by Joyce Maynard and published in 2009.

the Hollywood script differs from the book.

recently saw previews for the movie, Labor Day, starring

about seeing a movie that’s based on a book you love. It’s fun

Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. I can’t wait to see it because

to see a book come to life on the Big Screen, and see how close

I’ve read the book, and I loved it.

the story is to the one you read and loved. It also makes for great

The story is narrated by a man looking back on a week in his life over Labor Day. It is a story of love lost, and love found. Henry is thirteen and lives with his mother, Adele. She is depressed over her recent divorce, sells vitamins over the

conversation after the show, when you can tell your friends how



to you,” and “KOA is A-OK as long as I’m with you.” She offers some sound advice in “Silver Lining.” “If you want to fill your bottle up with lightning, you’re gonna have to stand in the rain.” “Merry Go ‘Round” tells the story of a family struggling with all kinds of obsessions, from the dad who’s sneaking off with a woman named Mary, the son hooked on Mary Jane, to the mom preoccupied with Mary Kay. But it is also about expectations, and how we settle along the way when we should be taking chances. How all of us believe we won’t turn out like our parents, but most of us inevitably do. My favorite track is “I Miss You,” which sounds a little closer to pop than country. The chorus is so catchy, you’ll not soon forget it. And here’s the other thing about this song: It first appears to be a bubbly little melody about a happy couple, but underneath is a mournful tune about a girl who’s hurting for the one she loves. It’s going to be fun to watch what Kacey does next. She seems to have found her stride as a talented songwriter, and her voice is honey-sweet and a little addictive. She says her musical

Same Trailer Different Park Kacey Musgraves : $999 review Marla Cantrell


influences include the great Loretta Lynn, John Prine, The Beach Boys, and Cake, an eclectic mix for sure. It must be a great feeling to be where she is, to look back on 2007 and see how far she’s come. That year she appeared on USA Network’s Nashville Star, a singing competition show. She didn’t win; she

acey Musgraves started singing in public when she was

didn’t even finish in the top three. But the next year she landed

eight years old. At nine she wrote her first song. By the

a record deal with an independent label in Texas. It’s a good

time she graduated from her Texas high school, she was

lesson for anyone trying to make it in any creative field. Today

so good her principal was certain she was destined for fame.

might not be your day, but tomorrow certainly could be. You might be in the same trailer, but there’s no reason you have to

Now in her mid-twenties, it looks like that prediction is coming

stay in the same old park.

true. She was recently nominated for four Grammys, including Best New Artist and Best Country Album, and by the time you read this review we’ll know whether she won. She’s opened for Antebellum, Willie Nelson, and Allison Kraus, and she co-wrote Miranda Lambert’s mega hit, “Mama’s Broken Heart.” But it’s on Same Trailer Different Park that Kacey shines. There are twelve songs on this album. In them, Kacey looks at the complexity of small-town life, the dread of dead end jobs, and love gone wrong. She also sings about the perks of living in a trailer – “If I can’t bring you to my house, I’ll bring my house

I Rate It



A Most Unusual Journey words Bunnie Watts-Adams images courtesy Roselle Scott


It began in February of 2012, on a Wednesday evening in the

I didn’t understand a term or what was going on.

living room of friends. One of our newer members asked prayer for his dad, Barry Adams, who lived in New Zealand and was

On December 10, 2012, we were notified that our forms had

struggling after a 6.3 earthquake had hit his city of ChristChurch

been received by the United States Citizenship and Immigration

on the southern island of New Zealand the previous year. The

Services in the state of Vermont, which was the first step in a

quake left multitudes homeless and destroyed many of the

long process. So began the months of waiting and wondering. It

city’s beautiful landmarks. The hotel, Chateau Blanc Suites,

was a time of stress for both of us. We’d heard horror stories of

where Barry was working at the time, had been hit hard and had

people who had waited for two or three years to immigrate and

to be demolished, which meant he no longer had a job. Later

this added to our frustration. At our age we simply didn’t have

that evening I approached Jeff, his son, and out of curiosity

years to wait.

asked about his dad – what did his dad like to do, how old was he, did he email? I felt compassion for

A lovely interlude came a few days later

this man who also was a widower and

when I stepped on a United Airlines

my age and was going through such

aircraft leaving Tulsa, Oklahoma on

a sad time in the country he loved so

December 27, bound for LAX. Later that

much. A few days later Jeff handed me

day, I boarded Air Pacific, flying all night

his business card. On the back he had

and reaching Nadi, Fiji for a six-hour

written his dad’s email address. I had

stopover. Then on into Auckland, New

been a widow for almost three and a half

Zealand, where I flew Air New Zealand

years and was not looking for someone,

to ChristChurch. Barry met me at the

but I had decided that if the right person

airport with roses in hand. The following

were to come along I would be open

two weeks were like a wonderful dream

to a relationship.

After mulling over

spent meeting the rest of his family

this new development and having this

and his friends and seeing his beautiful

business card at my desk for nearly two

country of New Zealand. A country that

weeks, I sent the first email to Barry in ChristChurch, New Zealand. Thus began a most unusual journey.

he was born in and had lived in his entire life. Even as I write this I am humbled that this man would leave all that he has known to come to Fort Smith to marry me and live

I received an answer back and we continued emailing each

with me for the rest of his life. In April of 2013, Barry surprised

other for about five months. For two people who lived on

me by conspiring with his son and daughter-in-law and flew in

opposite ends of the earth, we found that we had so much in

for a two-week visit.

common. He made plans to make a visit to Fort Smith, Arkansas in late September, seven months after we began emailing. His

After hearing nothing for almost six months from Vermont, we

five-week visit here was beyond what we both expected. Long

received an official letter from the USCIS stating our forms had

walks in the park, coffee at Sweet Bay, visits with my family,

been sent to their center at Mesquite, Texas to be processed.

visits with his family, and baring our souls to each other.

Apparently the Vermont center was overloaded and in order to reach a deadline they were sending a number of applications

Within several weeks of his return to New Zealand, we knew we

to other USCIS locations. On the morning of July 2, 2013, I

wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

received a jubilant phone call at 5:00 A.M. from Barry (it was 10:00 P.M. in New Zealand) telling me that he had checked the

With his son Jeff and I both here in Fort Smith and Barry 15,000

USCIS website. He just happened to have gotten online and

miles away, we began Barry’s immigration process, filling out a

checked his status just before retiring for the night and saw the

number of forms, so that he could come to America. Jeff was the

word “Approved.” It was a day of celebration for us and a day of

one I leaned on most during the process, the one I ran to when

sharing with those who had, along with us, waited for so long.




However, in all of our innocence we assumed that we were nearly

completion of the immigration process and Barry’s arrival in the

at the end. We knew that the next step was for our papers to

U.S. to live as a permanent resident. The theme of our wedding

be sent to the National Visa Center (State Department) in New

and reception was “Bridging two families and two countries.”

Hampshire and from there they would be sent to the consulate

New Zealand and American flags graced our venue and Pavlova,

in Auckland, New Zealand, who in turn would get in touch with

the national dessert of New Zealand, was served as the groom’s

Barry and arrange for him to go for an interview, followed by the

“cake” along with a wedding cake that my daughter made with a

issuing of a Visa so he could come to the U.S. to live. We were

cake topper, which was a replica of a bridge designed and made

naïve in thinking that in a few weeks we would be finished. It

by an architect friend of mine.

was another three months of waiting until we heard that the papers had finally been received at Auckland.

I now realize that immigration has become a big thing. Over a million people from other countries apply for immigration

Barry had his interview on October 17. On November 9, 2013,

into the U.S. each year. We entered into this process knowing

we both flew into LAX - me on American Airlines from Fort

literally nothing about it. In retrospect, ours went very smoothly

Smith and Barry on Air New Zealand from Auckland and met

and came to an end in less than a year. We feel very blessed.

again. It had been six months since our last visit. Our planes landed about forty-five minutes apart. We traveled on together

And even as I write this story, we are filling out a new wave

to Phoenix to spend a few days with my brother and his wife

of forms because Barry’s status here in the U.S. has now

before heading home to Fort Smith.

changed following his marriage to a U.S. citizen. And so the journey, a happy journey filled with so much love and so

On Saturday, November 23, 2013, we gathered with family to say our vows, followed by a reception with those who had been on the “journey” with us. The realization that we had reached our goal was a little surreal for two people from opposite ends of the earth. But we had done it. We had met, married and were so happy and comfortable with each other. Our day was not only a celebration of our marriage but also a celebration of the

many miles, continues.



Janet’s Bizarre Bazaar words & images Marcus Coker

Janet Canada



ennifer Canada is forty years old and lives in Fort Smith in a house that used to belong to her late mother, Janet. The paneled walls inside are covered with everything

from family photos to sticky notes, outdated coupons, and handwritten recipes. Many of the rooms, in addition to the garage and two storage buildings, are stacked high with boxes filled with collectibles, baseball cards, and holiday decorations. Jennifer points to a prescription bottle with her name on it from the mid-1970s and says, “Mom wasn’t really good at getting rid of things. She held on to a lot. And her children have inherited a good bit of that – not wanting to let go. I think we’re all having to learn this lesson in our own way.” For Jennifer, it’s a lesson that’s been almost twenty years in the making. “I grew up all over Arkansas because my father was

Jennifer Canada

a Methodist minister, but my parents were from Fort Smith. They moved back around 1993 when I was in college in North

Bethlehem. But she also admitted that was her therapy because

Carolina,” says Jennifer. “Dad died in February of 1995 of

she didn’t do things like when my father was alive.

cancer, and I graduated in June, then moved back. So I’ve lived in this house off and on ever since.”

“I just think coming back to Fort Smith wasn’t what she expected. Dad died, she wasn’t able to find the job she wanted,

Living in Janet’s house, of course, meant living with Janet, and

and everybody’s lives were different. Her close friends were

life with Janet was never dull. Jennifer says, “I don’t know that

married with kids and grandkids. I just saw her slowly decline.”

she was really weird. She just saw the world differently than other people. Whatever she wanted to do, she was going to do

Janet died in June of 2008 of cancer. Jennifer and her siblings

it whether it made sense to anyone else or not. She’d paint each

wanted the memorial celebration to be something their mother

fingernail a different color and have really big hair when nobody

would have enjoyed attending, so they decorated the tables

else would. She said she wanted it to touch both sides of the

with Janet’s holiday things – one table set up like Christmas,

doorway when she walked in a room. She was just magical.

another like Halloween. They served hamburgers and Sonic vanilla Cokes (Janet’s favorite drink), set up a fingernail painting

“She loved to play cards, and my friends called it the Card Table

station, and played music by Boy George. “Mom loved Boy

of Truth because they’d sit down to play with her and end up

George. And RuPaul. Who knows why? I think she just loved

telling her their whole life stories, things they’d never tell anyone

people that were their own people, people that were different

else. People connected with her because she was authentic and

and living out loud.” Last but not least, they even gave out door

real – with all the flaws. She didn’t try to hide anything.”

prizes because Janet was big about door prizes and people having fun. “People were special to her, and she wanted them

One of Janet’s eccentricities was that she collected Bradford

to know that.”

Exchange collectible plates, Disney items, and minted coins, among other things. “It’s hard to tell what that was all about.

In the five years since Janet died, Jennifer has been living

Occasionally she’d say she envisioned having a store, but that

surrounded by all of Janet’s things. “It’s overwhelming having

never materialized.” In addition to collecting Star Wars, G.I. Joe,

all of this stuff around, and it feels like it’s always pulling

and The Simpsons action figures, Janet also saved trivial items

toward entropy and messiness. But in a strange way, I associate

like Sonic straws and recipes from Velveeta Cheese boxes. “She’d

that feeling with her. A lot of people just go in and get rid of

sit for hours and cut out scenes from Christmas cards, saying she

everything at once – rip the Band-Aid off – but that doesn’t

intended to make Christmas ABC books – A is for angel, B is for

work for my family. I just don’t think we’ve been ready because




letting go of the stuff feels like letting go of her. But I know it’s

ornaments and fashion accessories. “Mom used to tell us, ‘You

time to move on and have something new.”

kids gripe about all the stuff I keep until you need something and find it here.’ And she was right. While digging through

Part of the answer for Jennifer has come in the form of an online

closets, I’ve often found sunglasses or purses to match an outfit

estate sale. She recently started a Facebook page called ‘Janet’s

just at the right time.”

Bizarre Bazaar’ where she will be selling many of Janet’s things, including dolls and antique furniture. She’s hoping the project

And that’s how Jennifer plans to list things for sale – one or two

will not only allow the items to go to people who will enjoy

items at a time, in the order she finds them. Likewise, she hopes

them, but will also allow her to sell the house and be open to

to heal piece by piece. “I miss having all of my family together.

new opportunities. “I’ve realized that holding on to stuff holds

Some of the joy is gone, and I’m hoping it’s on the other side of

you back and slows you down. It’s a way of keeping roadblocks

this journey. Maybe Mom knows that. I think that’s the legacy

in your life. So I’m giving myself a deadline and would like this

she’s leaving, reaching out from beyond saying, ‘Don’t hang on

project to be done in a year.”

to me. Don’t hang on to this stuff. Don’t do like I did. Keep the good things, but learn from my mistakes.’” It’s a lesson any good

The process of sorting through everything has been bittersweet.

mother would teach, a lesson we could all learn – how to let go,

Jennifer cried when she found a letter her mom had written

and trust that there is something better ahead.

to a friend in the 1980s but never mailed. It said that Jennifer’s parents had recently gotten Jennifer glasses but couldn’t afford new prescriptions for themselves, so they were struggling to see, especially at night. Still, for every sad moment, there is a happy

A portion of the proceeds from Janet’s Bizarre

one. “Mom had the bathroom decorated with Elvis ornaments,

Bazaar will be donated to Goddard United Methodist

dozens of them hanging on the wall, their legs swinging. It took me

Church, a place Janet considered home. For more

the longest time to get it – Elvis died in the bathroom. It’s an inside

information, visit or

joke that she never said anything about when she was alive.”


Visitors to ‘Janet’s Bizarre Bazaar’ Facebook page should be prepared to find a little bit of everything, including those Elvis


William-Henry Knife John Mays Jewelers 1401 South Waldron Road, Fort Smith

Links of London Watch John Mays Jewelers 1401 South Waldron Road, Fort Smith

Jewelry gift boxes Inscriptions 4803 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith

Willow Tree Collection Inscriptions 4803 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith


Fringed Boots Unique Boutique 4500 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith

Plaid Top and scarf Unique Boutique 4500 Rogers Avenue, Fort Smith

Melamine bowl and cake testers Creative Kitchen 309 Garrison Avenue, Fort Smith

Burlap DĂŠcor Creative Kitchen 309 Garrison Avenue, Fort Smith




Then There Was Arkansas WORDS Marla Cantrell

image Nevada County Depot Museum



wenty-five years is a long time to teach band in one place. But that’s what Steve Baskin did, in Huntsville, Arkansas, where legions of students now recall the

classes he taught, his careful instruction, the camaraderie of playing music together. But last year Steve retired, and suddenly he found himself looking for something meaningful that would fill his days. His wife, Brenda, felt a shift as well. Until then, her life as a writer had a rhythm of its own. Steve would leave each morning and she would write until he returned. Now, there was little structure to their day, and as much as she loved having him

image Mark Neil

home, she wondered if her work might suffer. hand. “Now Brenda,” he says, “is quite a writer. It’s one of the And then, on a bright day in July, 2013, the two went for a hike.

things that intrigues me about her.”

Steve snapped pictures along the way. Once home, he looked at the photographs. There was his home state in all its glory.

This scene, this glimpse into their lives, is one of the great things

He decided to create a Facebook page called ‘Then There Was

about these two. Each wants to tell the story of the other, of the

Arkansas,’ and post his pictures. “All my life I’d heard comments

great things their partner has done. They seem energized by just

about us being hillbillies, and the Facebook page was kind of an

being together, and by their love of ‘Then There Was Arkansas.’

exclamation point on what Arkansas is,” Steve says, and shakes his head. “I’m an outdoor type, so I’ve seen the mountains

“We bore our friends to death,” Brenda says. “It’s all we talk

and the waterfalls, and I’ve been around the state. I’m a bass

about. We have people from across the world who are reading

player, so I’ve been to Helena and Texarkana and all the way to

about how great Arkansas is. Part of what we like to do is talk

Memphis, and Little Rock, so I’ve seen the area.”

about the food here, the old restaurants. There’s Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna, the oldest black-owned barbeque restaurant

So he began to post, regularly, scenic photos and tidbits

in the state. We’d love to go talk to him. People are sentimental

describing the locations. Soon Brenda was looking over his

about their food. You get into how it got built and its history.”

writing, editing here and there, adding details, and just like that she was hooked.

One of the characters they researched is Big Boy from Hardy, a gentleman who came to the same cafe every Saturday for pie.

At first, only their friends were following the page, but then

“They knew not to talk to him,” Steve says. “He was savoring

momentum built. They started adding historical pieces, posts

that pie, and then he’d take another piece, and before long he’d

about odd characters, hardy pioneers, and Arkansas trailblazers

have the whole pie eaten.”

who’ve garnered attention across the globe. And then there’s The Minute Man, a burger chain restaurant that With the posts came old photos like the one of “Boss” Burnett, a

once was a giant in towns across the state in the sixties and

600 pound man, seven feet tall, who lived in Nevada County in the

seventies. Today there is only one, in El Dorado. “Early on, we

early part of the last century and likely traveled with the circus. The

wrote a piece about The Minute Man, and all of a sudden we had

photo shows him seated, a wide man in a white sailor suit, staring

20,000 people view that,” Steve says. “So we learned that if it

at the camera, a leaded glass window just behind him.

interested us it probably would interest other people.

It’s finds like these that delight the couple. Steve talks about his

“I came up with one yesterday about the Chuggabug, which was

own family history in Huntsville. His mother wrote a book and

a cartoon based partly on an Arkansas character,” Steve says,

painted. As he’s talking, he reaches over and touches his wife’s

and then Brenda takes over, explaining how they find these



people with songs such as “Up On Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” He was also an actor with roles in The Right Stuff and Coal Miner’s Daughter.) “I played with him once. I understand small town life and what goes on there, but he’s made it so big it’s hard to write about him.” No doubt, someday the two will tackle Levon. Until then, they’ll focus on folks like Old Mike, a traveling salesman who walked with crutches. He sat down under a tree during a revival in Prescott in 1911, and died there. His body went unclaimed and the local funeral parlor preserved and kept him, sometimes propping him up in a car during parades, showcasing him in the image Art Meripol

storefront, and later devoting a closet with its own light to him. For years, young men would take their dates to see him, and as the years passed, Old Mike’s wardrobe changed, always clothes

little-known pieces of history. “We nerd out,” she says. “We’ll

from the era when he died.

start out on one story and then we research it, mining through five or ten sources.”

The great thing about the two is that they share the same affection for Big Boy and Old Mike that they do for the big

Steve jumps in. “I was researching a famous headstone carver, a

names from Arkansas, like Johnny Cash or Glen Campbell. All

real famous guy, and a lady was mentioned. I saw who the lady

the characters matter. All of them fit into the puzzle that makes

was, and found she was one of the few women stone carvers in

Arkansas the land they love.

the world, and she was from Arkansas.” And so Steve and Brenda continue to write and research, Brenda smiles. “He laughs at me because I’ll start the day telling

learning something new every day, working long after the

him I’m writing about a cornfield and by the end of the day the

sun sets, disregarding the time. And each morning they wake,

story’s turned into one about a brain surgeon.”

excited to start another day, ready to see what else they can find out about the great state of Arkansas.

The two have begun to keep lists of future ideas, in an effort to stay on course. They post about six times each day and mix it up: something old, something from nature, biography, odd facts. Their fan base has grown to more than 11,000, some from as far away as Italy, Holland, England and Iran. Closer to home, they have a lot of teachers, chambers of commerce, and students following them. What they love is how interactive Facebook is. Oftentimes they’ll post an old photo and their fans will help them flesh out the history behind it. “We did a story on Black Oak Arkansas (a Southern rock group from the seventies) and we had people telling us they grew up with them. We had 40,000 people view that,” Steve says. “I grew up with the Levon Helm family,” Steve says. (Levon, who died in 2012, was the drummer and vocalist for The Band,

Find Then There Was Arkansas on Facebook.



words Marla Cantrell images courtesy Scott Hutcheson



cott Hutcheson sits in a coffee shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas, his MacBook, covered in stickers, open in front of him. He is a big, burly, bearded guy with

big black glasses that he regularly pushes back up on his nose. As he talks, he taps his fingers on the table. He uses his hands to make a point. And he breaks into laughter over and over again, describing this past year and what led him to create First Annual Beard Calendar: Featuring Premium Beards. “If you have a beard, you know five or six other people who also have beards,” Scott says. And bearded guys, according to Scott, are a lot more fun than their cleanshaven counterparts. So he started thinking. There were plenty of calendars with perfect people with perfect bodies. There were plenty with dogs and cats and flowers and old barns. But there wasn’t one that he could find with guys like him. When he told his two close friends what he was planning, they loved the idea and jumped at the chance to be part of his project. They also started



people telling their friends. Soon seventeen other bearded guys were

But this thirty-something graphic designer/web developer/

knocking on Scott’s door, hoping to be part of the calendar.

photographer does seem to have a knack for creating a buzz, beginning when he was eighteen. That’s when he was hired by a

The result is a wild, just-this-side-of-outrageous romp through

major retailer straight out of high school, in their IT department.

the months of 2014 with bearded men in capes, really short

From there he went on to St. Louis, where he worked for an IT

shorts, and covered in day-old donuts. “The first Friday in June

company. And it was while he was there that he started a movie

is National Donut Day, and initially I was just going to get a

review website. “I just like talking about movies,” Scott says.

dozen donuts and have Mr. June eat a whole bunch of them.

“I’m not a great critic; I’m not even a great writer.” None of that

Then I called Old Tyme Donuts, over by my house, and asked

stopped him, and on a whim he filled out an application to attend

what they did with leftover donuts. I told them we were using

the renowned Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, founded

them for props. They told me to come at 11:30 and bring a tub.

by Robert Redford. He was accepted, a little overwhelmed, and

And then they sent me on to their other store to get more. I had

absolutely star struck. “You see about forty movies in nine days

a twenty-gallon container full of donuts of every kind.

at a ski resort. My first time there was in 2009. It’s almost like you’re the celebrity because all the publicists want you to talk

“So we borrowed a kiddie pool, filled it up with donuts and had

about their movie. You go to all these parties. You’re like, ‘Oh

him sit in there. At the end people were throwing donuts on top

hey, Ryan Gosling. Oh hey, George Clooney.’ It was absurd to me

of him. It was madness and a lot of fun.”

because the next week I’d be back at my nine-to-five job, but right then I was hanging out with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”

For March, Scott was the model. “March has March Madness, so I found the shortest shorts I could find, a throwback to seventies

He sold the website in 2010, because it had started to take over

style basketball. September is National Chicken Month, so we

his life. But the next year he started a T-shirt company that he’s

have a bearded guy eating chicken. April has a National Peanut

since sold. He designed T-shirts that read I would cuddle you

Butter and Jelly Day. So we just made these monster peanut

so hard, and others geared toward “bearded, chubby people,”

butter and jelly sandwiches and me and another guy ate them.

in part because he fit the profile, but also because he’d found a

For weeks after, I could still smell peanut butter in my beard.

niche that wasn’t being filled. One of the most popular slogans

And for December my wife and I went around to the thrift stores

was I heart bearded, chubby guys. “The problem with a lot of guys

and bought a bunch of ugly sweaters and we took what looks

like me is they have trouble talking to women,” Scott says, and

like the world’s most awkward family photo.”

touches the bridge of his eyeglasses. “But if they see an attractive girl wearing one of my shirts, I’ve just set up a connection.”

Scott’s favorite beard in the entire project belongs to a man named Merve, who’s been growing his beard for eighteen years.

The beard calendar is also helping make connections. The guys in

The shoots took place all across the area, in a Bentonville bar;

the calendar have become minor celebrities in Northwest Arkansas,

at Scott’s father-in-law’s martial arts studio in Lowell; at Scott’s

and they’re meeting people they might never have known.

house; even in the woods. As soon as he could, Scott posted out-takes on his website. The response was instantaneous. “I’d

As for a profit, that’s not what Scott’s really looking for. At least

get thirty comments on one picture, with people asking us to

not this year, though he has high hopes for the 2015 edition.

come shoot at their place.”

When he started out he wanted to have fun. He wanted to make people laugh. He wanted to do something unlike anything he’d

Even before the calendars came out, bearded guys were signing

ever seen.

up for the 2015 issue, which is already in the development stage. There will be ninety bearded guys in the upcoming

And he thinks he has. It’s a great joy for Scott, who readily admits

calendar, including one model who works as a professional

not all of his ideas take off. That never stops him. He always has

Santa. There are others from as far away as New York and New

the next idea waiting, the next product that meets a need you

Hampshire applying, something Scott never envisioned when

didn’t even know you had. Life, according to Scott, should feel

this idea came to him.

more like a playground and less like a cubicle. He smiles, strokes




people his chin. He’s been seriously working on growing an even bigger beard since September of last year, and his diligence is paying off. He wants to be ready when shooting begins again. He wants a beard his fellow models will be in awe of, and that’s not easy when you’ve made it to the major league of facial hair.

Scott is offering one modeling spot on his 2015 calendar to the overall winner of DoSouth’s Beards and Brew Contest. To enter, go to DoSouthMagazine. com/BeardsAndBrew. To order a First Annual Beard Calendar: Featuring Premium Beards, and read profiles on the models, visit



E.A. Allen

words Anita Paddock images courtesy E.A. Allen



E. A. Allen says his life as a CIA Intelligence Officer, historian,

He transferred to the College of the Ozarks (now University

teacher, and writer began in the shadows of Saint Boniface

of the Ozarks) in Clarksville. In that small college experience

Church and Elementary School in Fort Smith, Arkansas. “It

he found an intimate learning environment in which he could

was there I learned to read, write, and take a vigorous blow to

thrive and graduated with a degree in history. It was there that

the knuckles without showing too much emotion,” E.A., who’s

he met his wife, Betsy.

sixty-six, says, when explaining the way the Benedictine nuns of that time disciplined kids like him. His parents, Kirby and

After obtaining a PhD in Modern European History at Tulane

Catherine, were devout Catholics and insisted their children

University and studying in France, he intended to become a

attend Catholic schools, and they both worked hard while their

university professor, but he found himself unable to find a job

children were watched over by an elderly aunt. “We had the run

because, at that time, there was an excess of college professors

of the town from one side to the other. At that age, I thought Fort

already working. He says he answered a recruitment offer

Smith was a wonderful place, and I really

that he had originally received while

never had any desire to leave it.”

in the Air Force and joined the Central Intelligence Agency.

He also discovered Fort Smith’s Carnegie Library, the mansion that was never

E.A. worked almost exclusively in Europe,

meant to be a library. It was there that

working on issues he knew best, the

he noticed what he likes to call “the

politics of Western Europe. “In the Cold

hypnotic atmosphere of a great library.”

War Era the Soviet focus was everything. That






He enjoyed sitting at the long tables in

energetic period in American intelligence

the various rooms, reading his favorite

work. The Reagan administration really

histories and mysteries, two topics he

put more resources and attention into

says he, “wandered lazily into.”

the business, and I found myself in the middle of the swirl.”

E.A. was drafted during the Vietnam War. “My brother went into the Army

Later in his career, he occupied himself

and Vietnam, while I went to the Air

with the issues of knitting Eastern

Force and the Arctic. He nearly died of

European countries with the West

heat prostration, and I of succumbing

and convincing countries to avoid the

to freezing temperatures.” Although he

bloodbaths that had previously seemed

never thought of leaving Fort Smith, the

inevitable. He also found himself in

military experience showed him that there was another world

“the thick of the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the ethnic-

out there.

cleansing in Bosnia.”

After his stint in the Air Force, he enrolled in Westark Community

He served on the National Intelligence Council during the rise

College (now University of Arkansas Fort Smith). “My academic

of greater freedom in the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, and in

record was so awful that I was lucky they accepted me. It was

President Clinton’s administration, and he often lectured at the

the making of me, and that is why I believe so strongly in

Department of Foreign Services Institute.

community colleges because it gives those the opportunity for a chance. Westark gave me my start in academics, and I ended

He retired early because there were many other things he

up studying at the Sorbonne, (The Paris-Sorbonne is one of the

wanted to do. “I had lots of itches to scratch. I wanted to teach,

oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, dating

raise cattle, be involved in historical preservation, and write,”

back to the twelfth century.) which speaks volumes for where a

E.A. says.

community college can take you,” E.A. says.



After returning to the United States, he taught at several

always lousy. “It took me a while,” he says. “But I finally learned

universities, eventually settling in Northwest Arkansas where

enough to rework my draft and turn it into a manuscript that I

he and his wife both had relatives. Their son, Nathan, now lives

could sell to an agent and then a publisher.”

on a farm that’s been in the family since 1836. He is the eighth generation to live on the land. E.A. and his wife are restoring

Since the Paris he writes about is not the Paris he remembers,

one of the oldest houses in Arkansas, The John Tilley House,

he uses reference books on the Edwardian era and guide books

built in 1853 in Prairie Grove. It is on the National Register of

with maps and descriptions. He keeps a large map of Paris from

Historic Places, and in 1999 E.A. received an award from the

1905 on the wall of his studio, and he often refers to it. “So

Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas.

far, no one has written me that I’ve made a glaring mistake,” he says, so all that research must have paid off.

He considered mystery writing on a whim, one that he didn’t know much about. “I had published scholarly texts, and I knew

When asked what he did during his work for the CIA, he says

those were only read by academics in some obscure journal,”

he’ll write about that when the time comes. “But it hasn’t come

he says. E.A. drew upon his time spent in Paris for his first fiction

yet,” he adds.

book, taking to heart the quote from Hemingway: If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you

Writing mystery fiction has exposed him to many unexpected

go for the rest of your life, it stays with you.

pleasures. “I find that nice people congregate around writing. I have never encountered a group of just plain nice people in any

“I set When Beggars Die, published in 2013 by High Hill Press,

other walk of life.”

in the Victorian/Edwardian era. My main character, Gerard de Montclaire, is a French detective and his partner, the Englishman

It’s a fitting chapter in E.A.’s exceptional life, back home in

Fitz, tackle murder and intrigue.” Because E.A. was weaned on

Arkansas, far from the City of Life, far away from his days in

the mysteries of that era, he set out to spin a yarn that he could

the CIA.

have fun with. He began to study, and he soon discovered there is a craft to writing. The first draft of his Montclaire mystery was awful, but he remembered Hemingway’s quote that first drafts were

For more on E.A. Allen, visit


Say I love you with homemade gifts from the heart,

that are simple and kind to your budget. From your honey, to your kids, to gifts to take to school, we have it all. We’re even sharing the fastest way to your man’s heart! Want a hint? Can you say BACON!

I Love You S’More! WORDS Catherine Frederick image Jeromy Price

All the delicious flavors of a s’more without the mess! Traditional s’mores get a makeover with this perfectly sweet gift!


Mix up a batch of Valentine’s Day snack mix by combining Valentine M&M’s, mini marshmallows, and Teddy Grahams™ in a large bowl. Fill container of choice with mixture. I used a glass container from Hobby Lobby. Decorate with ribbon.


Tug of Love Dog Toy WORDS Catherine Frederick image Jeromy Price

Don’t leave your furry friend out of Valentine’s Day festivities! Dogs love a good game of tug. Give yours a gift you made yourself, braided together with love. Then let the games begin!


Using scissors, cut three colors of fleece (we used red, white, and pink) into three 4” X 36” strips. Arrange the strips vertically and stack strips, one on top of the other. Tie a knot at the top of the three strips. Create a simple, tight braid using the three strips, starting at the knot. Don’t know how to braid? See our tutorial online. Stop braiding a few inches from the bottom of the strips, leaving enough fleece to tie another knot at the end of the braid. Cut the remaining fabric from each end into vertical strips and tie a knot or knots into the braided section for your pooch to sink his or her teeth into. NOTE: This toy is best for dogs who are not destructive when it comes to toys. As with any toy, you should monitor a toy’s condition and discard it when it begins to show signs of wear to ensure no particles are ingested.


Worth a Thousand Words WORDS Catherine Frederick image Jeromy Price

I love a vintage look, especially old photographs. Did you know you can give a current photo a vintage look and even transfer it to canvas? Here’s how.


Using a laser printer, copy your photo onto copy paper. With a paintbrush, apply a heavy coat of Liquitex® matt or gloss gel medium onto a stretched canvas (size of your choice). Press photo copy, image side down, onto canvas. Let dry overnight. Once completely dry, use spray bottle filled with water to wet top of paper. Rub surface gently with fingertips until paper starts to come off and image is revealed. Don’t rub too hard as it can remove image from canvas. Continue until all paper is removed and image is completely visible. Apply a coat of gel medium over canvas while it is still slightly damp to seal and protect image. Expect an imperfect transfer. Images which are not extremely detailed are best to work with.

TIPS: I like the contrast of black and white photos best, but color prints will work. A laser printer is the type of printer you will find at a copy shop, office, or public library. You can enlarge a standard 4X6 photo on these types of copiers and print out a black and white or color image. I recommend printing more than one, just in case. Your image will appear reversed, so if your image has words or letters, you will need to print the image backwards. If there appears to be a white film covering the image, you are not finished rubbing off the paper. Continue spraying water and rubbing paper off with fingertips.


Bourbon, Caramel, Marshmallow, and BACON! RECIPE Adapted from Endless Summer WORDS Catherine Frederick image Jeromy Price

Method { Yield 8X8 pan } Melt 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips over low heat or in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Pour half of chocolate onto parchment-lined pan. Spread chocolate with silicon spatula until smooth. Freeze chocolate until hard, about 15 minutes. Melt 2 cups mini marshmallows, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 tablespoon bourbon, in a microwave-safe bowl on high heat for about 30 seconds. Stir, heat for an additional 30-45 seconds until smooth. Spray spatula with non-stick spray, pour and spread marshmallow mixture over solid chocolate layer. Return to freezer, freeze for 15 minutes. Place unwrapped caramels (approximately 25) into microwave-safe bowl and heat for 45 seconds, stir, and continue to heat in 30 second intervals until melted. Pour over marshmallow layer and spread quickly and evenly. Freeze for 15 minutes. Reheat remaining chocolate until smooth and pour over caramel layer. Spread evenly and while still melted, sprinkle with spicy bacon crumbles. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until completely set.

TIPS: Keep the bark whole until ready to break apart and place in box or tin. Place a layer of parchment between each layer. Store in refrigerator.

Method: Spicy Bacon Crumble

Cook 16oz bacon, set aside to cool then crumble by hand. Heat oven to 300°. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in saucepan, heat until sugar dissolves. Add bacon to sugar mixture, stir to coat. Strain mixture, draining excess sugar syrup. In bowl, beat 1 egg white until fluffy. Add 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, stir. Add bacon, stir to coat. Pour mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool. Crumble bacon mixture again.


Little Jar of Heaven WORDS Catherine Frederick image Jeromy Price

Show your friend some love this Valentine’s Day with these adorable, and delicious, cherry pies served up in Mason jars!


Preheat oven to 350°. Using (2) uncooked pie crusts, tear off pieces and press, lining the inside of (8) 4 oz glass canning jars up to rim (not too thick). Save some dough for heart cut outs. Decrease oven temperature to 325°. Place jars on baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes to brown crust lightly. Remove from oven. Fill jars with pie filling of choice (2, 12oz cans), leaving 1/2” of space at top. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Remove pies. While pies are baking, roll out reserved dough to 1/8” thick. Cut 6-8 hearts with heart shaped cookie cutter. Place hearts on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush hearts with egg wash (1 large egg beaten) and sprinkle with sugar. Place dough hearts on tops of pies. Bake an additional 10 minutes until hearts are golden brown. Remove from oven. Let jars cool completely. Add lid, decorate with label, ribbon or twine.


Melt My Heart WORDS Catherine Frederick image Jeromy Price

Looking for a unique, inexpensive Valentine’s Day gift for your child’s classmates? Upcycled crayons are just the ticket! This is one DIY so simple you can do it with your kids. Under close supervision, of course!


You’ll need a heart-shaped baking mold (I found a silicone mold at Target in the $1 bin), Crayola® crayons, a baking sheet, and an oven. Preheat oven to 150°. Remove paper from crayons and break or cut in to 1/2” pieces. Add crayon pieces to the molds, filling 1/3 of the way up – 4 to 5 pieces. Place mold onto baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until crayon wax is completely melted, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool completely before removing hearts from mold. Once cooled, flip over mold and press to remove each heart. If your hearts stick, place mold in freezer for a bit. Place a few hearts into a clear plastic bag. Decorate the bag with a label of choice.

TIP: If using a metal mold, be sure to spray with non-stick cooking spray before baking so the crayons remove easily. Want your hearts to sparkle? Add some glitter to the bottom of the mold before adding crayon pieces.



RECIPE Burford Distributing image Jeromy Price

1 cup crushed ice 1oz Coney Island Carlo Ultra-Premium Spiced Rum 1oz Coney Island Carlo Ultra-Premium Caribbean Rum 1oz Coney Island Carlo Ultra-Premium Vodka 1oz Coney Island Carlo Ultra-Premium Gin 1oz Triple Sec 1oz Orange Juice 1oz Pineapple Juice 1oz Grenadine For Garnish: 1 Orange Slice 1 Lime Slice 1 Maraschino Cherry

Add all ingredients to a mixing tin and shake to combine. Fill hurricane glass with crushed ice. Pour contents of shaker over ice. Garnish with orange slice, lime slice and cherry.

Sponsored by Burford Distributing,

Fort Smith, Arkansas Please drink responsibly.



Jambalaya Me Oh My Oh

recipe and images Stacey Little


For those of us who celebrate Mardi Gras, we have the advantage of a rather long season this year. While the French term “Mardi Gras” literally translates to “fat Tuesday” and refers to the last day of the season before Lent, many folks celebrate the entire time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday. The season is filled with parties, fancy balls, parades, and lots of good food. Even though New Orleans is most known for the Mardi Gras celebration, the whole thing actually started in Mobile, Alabama. As you might imagine, my favorite part of Mardi Gras is the food. We typically don’t limit our intake of Creole and Cajun food to this time of year specifically, but it certainly is more prevalent during the first few months of the year as a result of the celebration. There’s a lot of debate about the differences between Creole and Cajun. Some say Creole is “city” food while Cajun is “country” food. My blogger friend Jay Ducote says all you really need to know is that Creole cuisine uses tomatoes, and proper Cajun food does not. That’s how you tell a Cajun versus Creole gumbo or jambalaya. Based on his thoughts, I present my Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya. It calls for tomatoes, so you can say it’s Creole. It’s a great, one-pot meal that comes together quickly and is filled with great flavor. You can make this as mild or spicy as you like based on the amount of red pepper flakes you add as well as the type of sausage you choose. If you want no spice at all, simply omit the pepper flakes and substitute a mild sausage like kielbasa for the Cajun variety the recipe calls for. Regardless, this is a favorite at our house during Mardi Gras and all year long. Laissez les bons temps rouler!




Ingredients 1/4 cup vegetable oil 3 cloves of garlic, minced 1 large onion, chopped 1 large bell pepper, seeded and chopped dried red pepper flakes 1 pound Cajun or andouille smoked sausage, sliced into 3/4 inch rounds 1 pound chicken breast meat, cubed 1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce 2 bay leaves 1 cup chicken broth 1 teaspoon creole seasoning 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice

Method 1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and bell pepper and saute until translucent. 2. Add garlic and a pinch of red pepper (or more if you like heat) and saute until garlic is fragrant. 3. Add sausage and chicken and cook until chicken is mostly white. 4. Add tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, bay leaves, broth, creole seasoning and uncooked rice. Cover and reduce heat and cook 45 to 55 minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Stacey Little

is the author and publisher of, an award-winning Southern food blog dedicated to sharing his family’s Southern recipes.



The King

of Mardi Gras RECIPE courtesy Stacey Little, WORDS Catherine Frederick image Jeromy Price

taste I’ve seen King Cakes before at bakeries, but I’ve never bought one, and certainly never attempted to make one. And to be honest, I didn’t really know they were anything more than a cake with a plastic baby baked inside that you eat during Mardi Gras – the cake, not the baby. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake and make a huge mess in the kitchen, but when I found this recipe over at our friend Stacey Little’s website, I had to try it. It was just too simple not to! I did do a little research and found out that this is more than just a cake – it’s tradition. The Southern tradition of the King Cake is heavily associated with Mardi Gras, which some call Carnival. French and Spanish colonists first brought the King Cake to the South, but King Cake parties and celebrations originated in French Louisiana back in the eighteenth century. The traditional King Cake is a ring of twisted cinnamon-roll style dough topped with sugar or icing in purple, yellow, and green, with a hidden trinket in the dough. Then, sometime in 1972, a small bakery in Picayune, Mississippi started adding fillings. Bam! Consider yourself informed. No matter the recipe or the filling, one thing remains the same. The custom of adding the trinket (some use a plastic or porcelain baby, others use a plastic gold coin), is always added. In the South, whoever receives the piece of cake with the trinket must provide the next King Cake or host the next Mardi Gras party. So consider yourself warned – you get that baby, you’re on the hook for the next Mardi Gras throw-down. Now, you could slave over an authentic King Cake recipe that’s way more involved, but for those who want to experience a little Mardi Gras tradition in no time flat, this recipe is for you.

Ingredients (2) 17oz cans of jumbo cinnamon rolls with icing (each can had 5 rolls) 2oz cream cheese sugar sprinkles in purple, yellow, and green plastic baby (I found mine at Walmart in the party section)

Method Preheat oven to 350°. Spray Bundt or tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Open (2) 17.5oz cans of cinnamon rolls and set aside icing for later. Line bottom of pan with rolls. You may have to squeeze them in there. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cinnamon rolls are no longer gooey. Turn out onto platter to cool. Mix icing from roll container with 2oz of softened cream cheese. Once the cake is cool, spread icing on top and decorate with alternating sugar sprinkles in purple, yellow, and green.



southern lit

S truc k fiction Marla Cantrell


y mama has been hit by lightning, so my tore-up leg holds little interest for her. “Go wash,” is all she says when I stumble through the front door, fresh from work, a bandana wrapped around the gash, still shaky from the experience. She’s sitting at the kitchen table, peaches scattered across the countertops. Her intention, she said when I left that morning, was to make jam. It’s 3:00 and still the peaches remain, reminders of my mama’s sloth.

It had been eleven months since the storm ripped through. She was in the tin lean-to where we keep the riding mower. When the lightning struck, Mama was leaning against the shed, and it grabbed her like a miser holds a five dollar bill. Her dog Jester was with her, and he watched as my mama lit up. He watched until he couldn’t stand it and then he backed up and ran straight to her. Jester died when the electricity jumped from her to him. My mama did not.

“So what happened?” she asks, and dips a carrot into a bowl of onion dip.

She wishes she had.

“I was climbing through the barbed wire fence.” I wait but she doesn’t answer. “I slipped,” I say. It had taken six Band-Aids to cover the wound.

The neighbor found her and called the ambulance. We buried Jester under the oak tree by the creek as soon as the rain stopped.

“Not very smart,” she says. “The gate’s not locked. Foolish not to use it.”

“I couldn’t sleep again last night,” she says finally. “Dreams.”

My mama’s right eye is twitching – a residual effect of the strike. She’s still a beautiful woman. Go to town with her and men will knock you down to shake her hand, to have the chance that she’ll smile at them the way she can when she’s feeling it. But the twitching is a problem. The dreams are a problem. The medical bills are a problem.

And I ask, “The lightning?”

“I’m having a stone made for Jester,” she finally says.


The next morning, the cut, four jagged inches straight down my shin, is gaping. I need stitches, I know I do, but there’s no way I’ll

“Still,” I say.

southern lit ask. I wrap up my leg and head to work. I count all the vehicles that drive by on the old quarry road. The county’s doing a study about road use and I’m their newest employee. I wear an orange vest and sit in a tan outbuilding. Sometimes I read when I work, so the count is off. I jack it up before I leave at 2:30. Not much, I don’t want to get caught, but enough so it seems like I pay attention. “How’s your mama?” Theron says to me when he brings me lunch. “She’s having a stone made for Jester,” I say. Theron shakes his head. He looks like a young John Wayne. “John-Wayne-On-A-Brush Hog,” is what my mother calls him, because he clears land for a living. “Granite?” he asks.

counters, piled them on the living room floor next to her chair. I pick one up, wash it off and take a bite. All night long I peel and cube. I open freezer bags and toss in handfuls of peaches. At two in the morning, I’ve had my fill. The floor is sticky, the sink cluttered with peelings, the freezer full. I take the rest and put them in grocery sacks. The next morning, I leave them by the road with a sign that reads “Free.” For weeks Jester’s stone sits on the coffee table. Mama touches it when she walks by. Glides her hand along the smooth gray top. Traces the letters with her fingertip. She starts buying flowers in town, daisies and carnations, and she places them on the stone where neither Jester or Hester lies.

“I guess. Or gold,” I say. “Sure loved that dog.”

“He was a good dog,” Mama says one Sunday afternoon. “Looked at me like he knew things a dog had no business knowing.”

“Gave up his life for her,” Theron says. “No greater love…”

“He was a good dog,” I say. “The best dog.”

“Couldn’t get Daddy to do so much as take out the trash.”

The doctor released Mama to go back to her job at Ace Comb Company on Monday, but she’s resisting and now HR is involved. On the phone, she says, “Well, for one thing I can tell when a phone’s about to ring. I can feel it about to ring. My heart jumps around in my chest, my hearing’s gone all tinny. I can’t sweat, for heaven’s sake.” She is thumping her chest now. She is crying now. “At the Sonic,” she says, “when I press the red button to order, their whole intercom system shuts down.” She waits. “It certainly does. I have been banned from Happy Hour! Go ask the manager!”

Theron rubs my shoulders. He didn’t know my daddy. A truck passes and I watch. “Write it down,” Theron says, so I reach for my notebook and put another X on the paper. Mama is sitting on the porch when I get home. Her left foot is on the railing. She’s painting her toenails pink. “I’m gonna have the stone say, Jester, 2006 – 2013, Hero, Friend, Soul Mate, Defender.” It’s 101 today but Mama’s not sweating. It’s another thing she gave up when the lightning hit. To get cool she has to lie down on the cold bathroom tile, get her skin right up against it, like a dog does. “I got hit by fire and now I can’t perspire,” Mama said, the first time I found her curled up by the commode.

I call in sick the next day. I call Theron, who rumbles down the path to our house in his yellow pickup. His window is rolled down and he has a brown towel laying across the doorframe so that he can hang his arm out and not get burned. “Joetta,” he says when he sees me. “My Joetta.”

“Soul mate sounds like you were in love with Jester,” I say.

“Get me out of here,” I say.

“I wish you’d shut up,” she says and storms off, walking on her heels, her toenails pointing toward heaven.

“One minute,” he says, and heads into the house.

When the stone comes in, Jester is misspelled. It reads: Hester. And my mama cries. I go to the kitchen. More peaches have fallen from the trees. Mama’s picked them up again, scattered them across the

He comes out with Jester’s stone. “We gotta fix it,” he says. “None of this business is gonna stop until we do.” And so we fly down the highway, me and Theron and Hester/ Jester’s stone. We weave through Summitville, we climb the hill to Hiland, and we find a stone carver who agrees to help.



southern lit When we get home, Mama’s in the yard waiting, her arms folded across her chest. “You took my stone,” she says. “And we brought it back, Cissy,” Theron says. “See,” he says, and he unwraps the granite.

“I can tell when phones are about to ring.” “Might come in handy. They might hire you to troubleshoot at the movie house or something. Stop cell phones before they chime in.” “I can’t go to Sonic.”

I have never seen my mama cry like she does now. She is a river turned wrong side out. Theron hands me the stone and helps her inside.

“Not any Sonics in Vermont,” Theron says.

“Only thing I ever did right was Jester. Not Joetta. No sir, not Joetta. I have failed Joetta.”

“I don’t believe so.”

“Mama,” I say. “Stop.” But she keeps going. “Jester, though, now that I did right. Got all his shots. Bought the name brand food. Washed him every Saturday. He’d stand by my door in the morning. Never barked. Just stood there, waiting. “I was low that day. I get low a lot. I was thinking about moving away. I always liked the thought of Vermont. I could see me there, nobody knowing me. I’d wear my hair down more. I’d buy sweaters. I’d eat a lobster the size of a squirrel. “Jester was whining. Dogs know storms. I shooed him away. ‘Go on home,’ I said, and his ears dropped. Nothing sadder than a sad dog. But he wouldn’t leave me. Not Jester.” I pull Mama to me. “It’s okay,” I say. “It’s okay.” Theron got us all to sit down. “There are some things in this world worth crumbling over,” Theron says, his voice as serious as a preacher. “War, kids without clean drinking water, the Razorbacks losing.” Mama blew her nose. “Your best friend dying,” she says. “But Jester wouldn’t want this, Cissy,” Theron says. “He’d want you to go back to work or go to Vermont or throw a Avon party. Anything but what you’re doing now. It’d break his heart to see you like this.” “I can’t sweat anymore,” Mama says. “Not a lot of sweating in Vermont,” Theron says.

“No?” Mama says.

We place the stone on Jester’s grave just as the sun sets. Mama says, “You were a good dog, a fine friend, and I never once deserved you. If I could lie down and you could rise up, I’d do it in a minute.” Theron nudged Mama with his elbow. “Cissy,” he says, “say something with some truck to it.” Mama takes in air. She stands up taller. “I loved the way you slid across the kitchen floor, sideways, when I called you to eat. I loved the way you pushed against me on the couch, like I was a boulder that couldn’t be moved. I loved that you were smarter than people gave you credit for.” Mama hesitates, then takes the clip from her hair and lets it fall. It is a small thing, but it is something to see. Her dark hair rushing down, unleashed, the dappled light beneath the oak, the creek water stumbling along. She takes a step, turns back once, but only for a second, and then we head for home. Soon, in a day or two, in a week or two, Mama will have to make a decision. The Ace Comb Company won’t wait forever. Theron puts his hand on my neck, right where my ponytail meets my shirt collar. I turn into him. I feel a thousand different things all at once, and he seems to know it. He holds me in the open field as Mama walks ahead, and then he bends down, he kisses my bandaged shin. “Let’s go get that looked at,” he says, and I start to cry, though I can’t say why. Maybe it’s because right at that moment I feel like I’m high and lifted up, like my life is just about to begin.

Read Chair Publishing, LLC 7030 Taylor Avenue, Suite 5 Fort Smith, AR 72916

Do South Magazine: Forever – February 2014  

Do South (formerly @Urban magazine) is a free, monthly lifestyle magazine focusing on the great state of Arkansas, primarily the NWA and Riv...

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