A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.





Monday, December 2, 2013

The Bow Wow

A rerun from 2011...

In the world of High School Journalism, Waldron High School surely had the student newspaper with the coolest name.  In honor of our beloved mascot, The Bulldog, our newspaper, the Voice of the Bulldogs, was of course The Bow Wow.  I have no idea who thought up that name, or even what year the Bow Wow first started.  But every month, a group of dedicated students churned out another edition of The Bow Wow.  And I do mean churned out; The Bow Wow was printed on a mimeograph machine. 

The Bow Wow was sponsored by Suella Ross (later Bratton), who taught typing at Waldron High.  The Bow Wow staff consisted of an editor, an assistant editor, an exchange editor, a business manager, two artists, two sports editors, and three groups of workers:  reporters, typists, and production.  The three groups were somewhat interchangeable; I was technically a typist but I got to do some reporting as well. 

Each month, we would meet together as a staff and make decisions about what we wanted to include in that month's edition.  The editor would assign various topics to different individuals, but if someone thought of something later on they could usually persuade the editor to include it.  We were given a deadline to submit our work, so that enough time would be left to type the individual pages.  We typed the paper on stencils, which were like ditto masters but a bit harder to work with.  The stencil consisted of a sheet of paper attached to a second, wax-coated sheet of paper.  When you typed the stencil, the impact of the typewriter keys made a wax impression on the back of the first sheet of paper.  This would serve as your duplicating master.  If you made a mistake, you had to take a knife and carefully scrape away the wax from the back of the page, and then make sure your page was still lined up correctly so that you could re-type over the mistake.  The typists always breathed a sigh of relief when a page was completed successfully. 

The next step was the production.  Each page had to be carefully attached to the drum of the mimeograph machine.  There was a little metal strip on the drum that raised up, enough to fit the top of the page under, and then it lowered back down to hold the page secure.  You would take your stencil, tear off the front page and discard the wax-covered second page.  Then, you carefully placed the master under the little metal strip on the drum.  You had to get it just right, or else your page would wrinkle when the drum turned, which could cause a young person to lose their religion if not extremely self-controlled.  But, if all went well, you could then crank out however many pages you needed.  Since we were a newspaper, we printed on front and back, so you would turn the printed stack of papers over and print the next page on the back.  Finally, after all the pages were printed, they had to be sorted and stapled along the left side of the page.  So, as you can see, the production staff worked hard!

Then, the fun part; selling the Bow Wow.  I believe we charged ten cents per issue.  The Bow Wow staff could get out of class to sell the paper.  We would all grab a stack of papers and disperse to all regions of school, some to elementary, some to junior high, and others to the high school classes.  Elementary kids were eager to buy the Bow Wow, even though there was almost never anything about elementary school in it. 

So, what was in the Bow Wow?  We had reports from various clubs, a little bit of sports news, occasionally some goofy survey where we asked lots of people some off-the-wall question and published their answers, poetry, a student-made crossword puzzle, occasional serious commentary about national or world events, and I even got to do a series of comic private eye spoofs.  Working on the Bow Wow was great fun, and we even learned a lot about teamwork and creativity, not to mention the importance of meeting deadlines.

But, alas, The Bow Wow is no more.  It went away quietly, no one seemed to even notice.  I don't know when it happened, actually.  It just ceased to exist.  I guess it was just a matter of time catching up with it.  High school students now have access to technology and coursework that is far beyond what we were able to learn.  And Waldron High is able to offer students training and experience in a number of high tech areas, at a level comparable with or above even larger school districts.  So, we shall weep not for The Bow Wow; it will live on in our memories, and in the copies that I've kept since 1974.  And maybe I can do a post sometime soon featuring exerpts from some of those Bow Wows.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Self Promotion Friday: Ten Things About Me

I've been seeing them for the last week or so, those ubiquitous Facebook posts in which people tell little-known facts about themselves.  Fascinating, they are, truly; I have enjoyed reading them.

So, since I have been so short of material for this blog lately, I'm taking my cue from Facebook and posting...

Ten Things About Me


1.  I have not thrown up since 1977.

Perhaps the accomplishment of which I am most proud.  I was in college at Arkansas Tech, living in prison-like conditions in a facility called Paine Hall.  Caught a stomach bug, middle of the night, made the tortuous trip down the hall to our community/prison bathroom.  Decided afterwards that the experience was far to unpleasant to repeat, and determined that I would not throw up again.  Has worked for almost 37 years.


2.  I did not see a movie in a theater until I was 21 years old.

I am very thankful for the way I was raised, but some of you youngsters today might have considered it to be a bit on the conservative side.  In my little church, going to the movies was considered a no-no.  So, I didn't go.  But, at age 21, I decided that I really wanted to see my favorite musical group, The Bee Gees, in their new movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The movie, considered by critics to be possibly the worst movie ever made, I found to be quite good.


3.  I Own Every Episode of The Andy Griffith Show.

On VHS tape, so what good is it?  But, I am a huge fan and in fact, the only area in which I consider myself to be near expert is Andy Griffith trivia.  I'm even a member of an official organization called The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Association.


4.  I am a twin.

Yes, most of you probably know that already, but I'm trying to come up with 10 of these things, ok?  I have a twin sister, Janet, who is 10 minutes younger than me.  What you might not know, however, is that my mom didn't know she was having twins!  So, when I was born, everybody was all excited and happy and then somebody happened to notice that my mom was not finished.  So, they sat me down in the corner somewhere and proceeded to assist into the world the first female to be born into the Yates family in 50 years or so.  Eventually, after the excitement settled down, someone remembered that there were two of us and, after a brief search, I was located in my corner and reunited with the family.


5.  I once worked on a garbage truck.

For a summer, in college.  Pretty sweet, actually; anything I found of value I got to keep.  That is, if the driver didn't want it.


6.  I like to do magic tricks.

For kids.  Only simple ones though.


7.  I've been to the World's Tallest Thermometer.

In Baker, California.  During a drive my wife and I made from Las Vegas to Oceanside, California.  Which brings me to my next item...


8.  I love the desert.

Although my wife hates it.  I was enthralled with the beauty of the desert on our drive; at times it seemed like we were driving around on the moon.  I guess I like it because the landscape is so different there than it is here.  But I do love it.


9.  When I'm introduced to new people, they almost always mention Bill Gates.

Which allowed me to come up with a good little laugh line, which I use whenever I speak to a group.  "The only difference between me and The World's Richest Man is one letter...and 9 zeroes!"  (Pause for laughter)


10.  I can't swim.

In fact, I'm quite afraid of the water.  My beautiful wife Marilyn can swim.  Our son Ross and his wife Maegan are excellent swimmers, as well as our daughter Laura and her husband Kip.  Even little granddaughter Kate, age three (almost), is totally fearless of the water and is on her way to swimming.  But not me.  I did, however, buy a snorkel and mask in the spring.  I thought about it all summer, and in September, on the last day Marilyn and I got in the pool, I donned my snorkel and mask, put ear plugs in my ears, and submerged my head underwater for what seemed like several minutes but was clocked by Marilyn at four seconds.  

Gotta start somewhere...


Monday, November 11, 2013

100 Grand


The Growing Up In Waldron blog has been around since July 23, 2010.  In its heyday, I normally posted one or two times a week, and then I ran out of memories, so posting has been sporadic at best for the last year or so.

In spite of the lameness of recent postings, I'm happy to say that the little GUIW blog has now reached the milestone of 100,000 pageviews!  I find this particularly gratifying; I had so much fun living those stories and I'm pleased that others have enjoyed reading about them.

So, what do we do to celebrate 100,000 pageviews?  I thought about holding a party, but my wife said I had to limit the invitees to 50,000 and I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

So, I've decided to just have a chocolate malt for myself and, for everyone else, I'd like to share a few of my favorite pictures of the town that will always have a place in my heart, Waldron Arkansas...

I paid an exorbitant amount for this old postcard, but it was worth it.  This is the oldest picture I have of Waldron.  I don't know the year, but I think the old bank building in the background is still standing.  Can you imagine what life was like for these folks?

This old postcard fascinated me as a child; the time-lapse photography is amazing.  Sadly, the original postcard is lost; maybe when my Dad took it to the Waldron News for publication he never went back to pick it up.  I would give anything to find another copy!



 When going through some of my Dad's possessions after he passed away, I came across this incredible find; the shirt he wore when he was a projectionist for Waldron's only movie theater.  For most of it's existence, it has been known as The Scott Theater, but when it first started it was The Pines Theater.  My wife had this precious find professionally framed for me.


I love this old picture of Waldron from the 30s.  I don't own it; I borrowed it from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture website.  Not a lot has changed in the past 80 years.


Here's another wonderful picture from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas website.  This one is looking south down Main Street.


One more from the same website.  My mom used to talk about how the sidewalks of Waldron would be so crowded with people on Saturday that you could barely make your way through the crowd.  


One place that at some point almost everyone in Waldron visited was Crutchfield's Restaurant.  I remember the booths with individual jukebox selections, and Madge's pies were a town favorite.  


Although taken a few years before my time, this was my church and most of the people in this picture were an important part of my childhood.  Precious Memories, how they linger.


The Methodist Church, foreground, and Baptist Church, background, were major Waldron landmarks.  I passed both when I walked to school or town, and in fact we kept a permanent trail cut through the Methodist churchyard where we cut the corner.  


I love this view of Main Street; it's one of my most prized cards.  You see the Baptist Church at the far end of Main, and I love the trees in front of the courthouse.  Lots of people in town that day, and one fellow making his way up Main Street on his bicycle.


Another great card, but nobody is really sure what was going on when this picture was taken.  One person told me that Charley Forester was giving away a plow at his store, but I don't know if that's right or not.  I hope there weren't any pickpockets in the crowd.


I got this picture from Herb Wilson, and I love it.  Maybe the only time a buffalo has been seen on Main Street.  I imagine this would have been quite a show to see.


So that's my Waldron, at least a quick view.  If you're from Waldron, these pictures may bring on a few memories of your own, and if you're not, your hometown might have looked a little like this too.  

And thanks for looking at this blog.  All 100,000 of you.  Now go get yourself a chocolate malt.

P.S.  In my candy store days, we called it the "hundred thousand dollar bar"...





Friday, September 13, 2013

A Brief Observation That Makes Me Feel Old


When I was little, around 8 or 9 years old, my family had an old Model T, just like the one above, only ours was a bit rougher.  My only memory of riding in it was the indelible image of the road zipping by beneath my feet as seen through the rusted out floorboard.

My brothers, who were older, had many more adventures with the old Model T.  It was primarily driven by our cousin Jerry, who was a bit older than my brothers and thus more qualified to drive.  I think we ended up selling it to someone for $25.

Even at my tender age, I recognized the old Model T as an OLD, OLD car.


When my twin sister and I left for college in 1974, we bought a used Buick Century almost identical to this one for the sum of $3,000, which comprised the life savings of both of us.  It was far and away a much nicer car than we ever thought we could afford.  

That wonderful car, that Buick Century, would be 40 years old now.  That's about how old the Model T was when we cruised around Waldron in it back in 1965.  

Oh, my.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gary Explains It All

That's me and my dog Scooter and various other family
members.  That's Gary directly behind me.
Most of what I know, or think I know today came from my older brother Gary.  In a family of seven people living in one tiny little house, it's sometimes easy to get overlooked.  But somehow Gary always managed to be there when I had a question, or needed to know something.  To this day, my sister and I continue to be amazed by his encyclopedic knowledge of confidential family information that we were previously completely clueless about.  Gary, the firstborn of the Yates clan, is ten years older than my twin and I, so we have always looked up to him.  Plus, Gary and I resemble each other more than any other members of the Yates family, so much so that to this day we are frequently mistaken for each other.  Should I decide to hold up a liquor store on the way home from work today, there is at least a 50-50 chance that the wrong person would be arrested.

The groundwork for our admiration of Gary was laid at an early age, when Gary would tell us bedtime stories.  Gary has a brilliant and creative mind, so his bedtime stories were crafted with thoughtful moments of realism that seemed to bring them to life.  There we would all be, in Gary's story, hiking through the woods on some generic pursuit, pausing by a little stream to sit down and eat, almost always bringing forth a snack of cheddar cheese and crackers.  In Gary's story, you could actually taste the food.

One cold morning, Gary and I were in his Dodge Dart, for some reason heading out East 80 to get Aunt Addie and Uncle Joe and bring them to church.  I noticed a fly on the dashboard, and pointed it out to Gary.  "Watch this," he said.  Gary reached out, and to my amazement picked up the fly with his fingers.  Rolling down the window, he tossed the fly out.  "How did you do that???," I exclaimed.  Gary explained that the fly's metabolism slowed down due to the cold, so it could not react in time to fly away.

Some of Gary's scientific explanations were a little too complex for me, which sometimes resulted in confusion.  For instance, there was at some point a discussion about the Earth's atmosphere freezing.   I don't know what the actual context of that was, but for about four years after that I imagined a horrific scenario in which we were all attempting to make our way through layers and layers of thin ice.

Gary also indicated that sound waves continued on forever as they moved through the atmosphere.  In my memory, he seemed to have suggested that perhaps the voice of George Washington was still out there somewhere, possibly trapped under a rock.

I lifted many rocks in the days and weeks following that, looking for old George.

Elsewhere on this blog, I've mentioned Gary's incredible ability to hypnotize chickens, and his life-changing discovery that I needed glasses.  Those two stories are wonderful examples of Gary's contributions to my quality of life.

But perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from Gary was in the frequently overlooked realm of bathroom etiquette.  It was Gary who took the time to point out to me that a gentleman, after visiting the facilities for the purpose of Number 1, always takes a little piece of tissue paper and goes around the rim of the toilet.

And it was even Gary who took on the herculean task of The Talk.  Or perhaps, I should say, The Read.  One Saturday, when I was about 10, Gary and his wife brought down a couple of little thin books designed to explain the birds and bees to children.  I, after reading one of the books, was so amazed that I exclaimed, a little bit too exuberantly, "SO THAT'S HOW IT'S DONE!"

One of those moments in time that is still recalled by many family members.

I would not have gone to college if not for Gary.  My sister and I lived with Gary and his wife for two years while we went to Westark Junior College in Fort Smith.  We honestly could not have gone if not for this tremendous act of generosity.

And so, today, Gary is still my source of knowledge.  He has fulfilled the Big Brother job description extremely well, and there is no one else on earth I'd rather be mistaken for.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Yell "Ki-Yi! Ki-Yi!"

Another rerun...


It is, as every Waldron High School graduate knows, our assigned task.  Upon leaving those hallowed halls and going out to make our mark in the world, we make a solemn promise to our beloved institution to, in the midst of our various pursuits, accomplish two significant things:



"We'll sing your praise, o'er all the earth,
And yell, "Ki-Yi! Ki-Yi!"

I am sorry to admit to all today that I have been remiss.  Singing, yes.  Praising, yes.  Perhaps not o'er all the earth, but there are people from other countries who have read this blog, and hopefully read some various posting about Waldron High School.  But, and it saddens me deeply to say this, I can not recall even a single "Ki-Yi!" emanating from my bashful persona. 

If memory serves me, it was the WHS class of 1929 that created our Alma Mater.  Not that I was there, mind you, but I've heard the story.  Lorene May was a graduate that year, and she has not missed a single reunion event.  They also gave us our school colors, orange and black.  The complete song is:

Oh Waldron High, Oh Waldron High
We sing your praise tonight.
We'll let you know, where e'er we go
That the orange and black will fight.
We'll sing your praise o'er all the earth
And yell, "Ki-Yi! Ki'Yi!"
In books of fame, we'll write your name
Oh Waldron High.

So, where did our beloved little ditty originate?  Who penned those immortal words?  Who unleashed a bunch of ki-ying country kids upon an unsuspecting world?  Why, H.G. "Seldy" Seldombridge of course.

Who, you may ask, is H.G. "Seldy" Seldombridge?  Seldy was a speech instructor at Oklahoma A & M College, later to become Oklahoma State University.  In 1908, Seldy tooled on up to New York City, to Columbia University to be specific, in search of an idea for a senior class play.  There, he saw a performance of the runaway Broadway smash The Red Mill.  He was particularly taken by one song from the operetta, "The Streets of New York (Old New York)". 

When he got back to Stillwater, he incorporated the song "Old New York" into a college production there.  Looking at the stage decorated in orange and black while the song was being performed, Seldy was struck by inspiration.  He told the choir to take a break, grabbed a pencil and paper, and soon had adapted the lyrics to "Old New York" into a song more appropriate for Oklahoma A & M College.  His new lyrics were:

OAMC! OAMC!
We'll sing your praise tonight;
To let you know where e'er we go,
For the Orange and Black we'll fight
We'll sing your worth o'er all the Earth
And shout: Ki Yi! Ki Ye!
In books of fame we'll write your name,
OAMC!

For the truly intellectually curious, here is a performance of the original tune, "Old New York."  Stay with it until the chorus, there you'll recognize the familiar tune.

The night the song was performed, lettermen from the various sports joined the stage, waving in unison to the song, which had to be repeated several times.  The enthusiastic audience waved back; the response was so exuberant that a near-riot erupted.  From that point on, The Waving Song, as it became known, has been a staple at Oklahoma State University sporting events.

Click here for the full story of the OSU Waving Song. 

Was a WHS faculty member perhaps a graduate of Oklahoma State in 1929?  Did they provide the impetus for the creation of our own Alma Mater?  Interesting question.

So, what about one particular component of the song, those curious "Ki-Yis"?  At OSU, the second one was actually Ki-Ye, probably to rhyme with the "C" in OAMC (Oklahoma A&M College).  Let us now research the historical literature in search of the elusive expression.

There are those who feel that "Ki-Yi" was perhaps one part of the fabled Rebel Yell of Civil War lore.  The Rebel Yell battle cry was never specifically described, but there is a clip on YouTube of some Confederate veterans demonstrating the yell.  It doesn't sound like Ki-Yi to me, but there are some references to "Ki-Yi" being a part of the yell in other writings.   

Another historical reference to "Ki-Yi" comes from Jack London's classic book White Fang.  Here's an excerpt:

The next moment he received a clout alongside the head that knocked him over on his side. Then all fight fled out of him. His puppyhood and the instinct of submission took charge of him. He sat up on his haunches and ki-yi'd. But the man whose hand he had bitten was angry. The cub received a clout on the other side of his head. Whereupon he sat up and ki-yi'd louder than ever.


For the sake of our own pride, let's just skip over the reference of "Ki-Yi' as the sound made by a wounded puppy.  We are The Bulldogs.  Case Closed.
 
So, who will join me?  I am pledging that before another week is past, I will yell Ki-Yi somewhere, sometime.  And I'll continue to let them know, where e'er I go, that the Orange and Black will fight.  That is, if a reasonable agreement can't be reached.  Then, we'll fight. 
 
And, in books of fame, I'll write her name.  Oh Waldron High.

UPDATE:  Carolyn Terrill with the Scott County Historical and Geneological Society has tracked down the source of the WHS Alma Mater!  She found an article by Virgil Bethel, who came to Waldron in 1929 to teach and ended up starting our first football team.  With used equipment donated by the Arkansas Razorbacks, the team played seven games and lost all of them.  In the article, Virgil says:

"During that year (1929) I taught the Waldron School their Alma Mater.  After that first year, I went to Oklahoma to teach.  I returned to Waldron School  in 1950 and I was so overjoyed to learn they had kept their Alma Mater I had taught them.  It was to the tune of the Alma Mater of Oklahoma A&M College at Stillwater (now called Oklahoma State) but there is a little variation of words.  I learned the song at Stillwater in 1916."

Thanks Carolyn!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I Once Knew A Hero


I once knew a hero
Long ago
When no cares of the world
Had weighed him down
And no tempest or storm
Had gathered round
Just a young hero
Yet to grow

He set about to live
His life
The way that heroes do
You would not think
This life he made
Beyond the brink
Of ordinary
Still to grow

When we called for him
He ran
To lift us up or help us out
And leave us with a smile
To back us up or point our way
And go the extra mile
And be our friend
Nice to know

A hero lives his life
Too brief
And leaves us with a tear
For dreams unknown
And other things
For foundations built
On solid stone
But Duty calls
Time to go

I once knew a hero
Long ago.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Trouble With Percy Sledge

When my wife and I found out that the legendary Percy Sledge would be appearing in our area, we knew we had to go see him.  It would be New Year's Eve, 2008, at the Choctaw Casino in Pocola, Oklahoma, only about 20 minutes away.  Percy's great hit song, When A Man Loves A Woman, was a favorite, and the chance to see him sing it in person was too good to pass up. 

Percy was slated to go on at 11:00 PM, so we were in no particular hurry that night.  We arrived at the casino around 10:00, figuring we would kill some time playing the slot machines while we waited for the show to begin. 

But when we got to the casino, which lies just past the border between Arkansas and Oklahoma, we saw that the parking lot was unusually full.  In fact, technically, we ended up parking in Arkansas and walking to Oklahoma.  Literally, since the newest parking lot was across the state line.  But we found one of the few remaining parking places, and walked in the freezing cold to the casino, to play some slots.  We thought.

As you might suspect, EVERY single slot machine was in use.  We walked around for a few minutes, searching, then finally decided we would just find the stage area where Percy was going to appear and wait there.  We found it, but it, too, was packed.  The few rows of chairs that had been set up on the gaming floor were already full, and a larger standing room only crowd had already assembled.  So, we took our place among the hapless throng of standees and prepared to wait for the next 45 minutes.

But then, about 20 minutes into the wait, a disturbance erupted.  A lady somewhere in front of us collapsed, falling onto the casino floor with a resounding "fluff."  I would have said "thud," but the carpeting made it actually sound more like a "fluff" than a "thud."  The people closest to the catastrophe, my wife and I included, began to motion for casino security to come quickly.  They came, making their way through the standing throng, and knelt down next to the poor woman, who was conscious but definitely not chipper.  As they dragged her to her feet, somewhat reluctantly it seems in hindsight, and carted her off, my wife and I noticed that her previous and now vacant standing point was located conveniently next to the side of a slot machine, which would offer a place to rest one's back at least.  So, while our neighbors were still buzzing about the recent events, we covertly began to make our way over to the prime real estate next to the haven of the slot machine.  Soon, we were ensconced in the best "seats" remaining in the house, thanks to what I assume was an inadequate blood sugar level of the previous occupant.   That's the breaks.

Finally, Percy was introduced.  He had a nice combo of musicians with him, along with back-up singers, and sounded great, especially considering his age of 68.  Not only did he sing his classic hit When A Man Loves A Woman, but also nailed his other hits like Take Time To Know Her, The Dark End of the Street, and My Special Prayer.  At midnight, when the new year of 2009 rolled around, and the whole casino raucously celebrated, Percy even called his wife on his cell phone from the stage, since he normally celebrated with her.  Or tried to call, at least; I don't think the call ever went through, because he tried for about five minutes to place it. 

Then, the show resumed for some more great Percy Sledge songs.  My wife and I, leaning comfortably against the side of our slot machine, were enjoying it tremendously.  But then, something caught my eye.  Something barely visible, yet disarming.  Something so discordant that it instantly zapped my attention away from the great music, so that I could focus on only this one thing and nothing else.  Something that was beginning to freak me out.

As Percy sang, he was putting his all into it.  When he hit the high notes, he hit them with every muscle in his body, from the top of his head to the soles of his feet.  And that included his facial muscles.  So, as he neared the end of his performance, I began to detect a bit of color that didn't seem to belong.  I wasn't sure, it was so tiny, just a little spot of color that I could make sense of.  There it was again, when he hit that last note.  What is that?  What am I seeing?

And then, I realized what it was.  It was Percy's right eyelid.  His face was contorting so that, when he hit certain notes, his right eyelid was turning up on its edge, and then staying there.  The dude was singing with his eyelid flipped over. 

When I was a kid, we had a guy at church who would do that; intentionally turn both eyelids inside out and walk around like that, just to freak people out.  And it worked.  So, that memory securely tucked into my subconscious mind, seeing the great Percy Sledge popping that eyelid out freaked me out all over again.

I looked around to see if others were noticing; perhaps someone else would faint.  Perhaps I would faint; I wasn't sure, but my enjoyment was waning the more I looked at that eyelid.

Then, Percy sang his last song, which happened to be a reprise of When A Man Loves A Woman.  The song was so great that it caused me to overlook the eyelid thing and just enjoy the great performance that I was witnessing.  It was after 1:00 AM, and time to go home.

But as we were leaving, some of the crowd had thinned out, and my wife saw a vacant slot machine.  "I want to try that one, " she said, and I, figuring it was already late, knew an extra 30 minutes or an hour wouldn't matter any way, agreed.  She sat down at the machine, put two dollars in it, and before her initial investment was gone managed to hit it for $1,256.50.  Literally within minutes.

So, we get taken back to the cashier to collect her winnings.  Which they give her in cash, of course, along with paperwork for the IRS.  But the good news is, since it is now 2009, we don't have to declare those winnings for an entire 12 months!  During which time, of course, I lose the paperwork for the IRS, and have to go back to the casino 12 months later to get a copy, which costs me $40, which is the amount I put in a slot machine while I'm there to get the paperwork.  But, as I said, that's the breaks.

And of course, our tax man happens to be one of our deacons at church, so we have the somewhat awkward situation of explaining to him that we are turning in $1,256.50 of additional income as my wife's gambling winnings, and he, as an accountant, has to ask if we possibly have some gambling losses to turn in which would balance out the winnings, so we end up having a long conversation about our gambling prowess or lack thereof with our church deacon.  But we really just went to see Percy Sledge, you know. The win at the slot machine was kind of an accident. 

I didn't mention my $40 to him.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Whatever Happened to Little Pearl?

This post is based on an article that appeared in the Feb. 11, 1979 edition of The Southwest Times Record newspaper.  The author of the story was historian Walter H. Watts.  This story is familiar to may long-time residents of Waldron.

It was Friday morning, October 19, 1923.  The little community of Tate was located between the Scott and Logan County line, in the remote White Oak Mountain region of Arkansas. 

Lynn Turner was a sharecropper.  He was out cutting firewood with two of his five children, Rosa and Ruby, when little three-year-old Pearl came out to where they were working.  Lynn told his two daughters to take Pearl back to the cabin so she wouldn't get hurt.  Rosa and Ruby gathered up a handful of wild huckleberries and bribed Pearl to follow; she did, and the girls left her in the front yard of the cabin and went back to help their father.  They left little Pearl sitting on a tree stump, eating the huckleberries. 

No one would ever see her again.

When the family gathered for the noon meal, Lela, Lynn's wife, asked, "Where is Pearlie?"  Only then did the family realize that Pearl was missing.  Leaving their infant son with Nola, Lela's unmarried sister, the family began a frantic search.  They soon found tracks in the dirt road leading to White Oak Mountain, two miles away.

More tracks appeared along the road nearer to the mountain, and at the base of the mountain, where the tracks stopped, lay a little hankie that Rosa had made from a flour sack for Pearl that morning.  It would be the last piece of physical evidence of little Pearl ever found.


Lynn and Lela Turner in 1969.  They died wondering.
Frantic by now, Lynn rode to the home of hid landlord, L.P. Wilson, and requested help in organizing a search party.  Before dark, a posse of more than 25 men led by Sheriff Allen of Scott County arrived and began searching the area where the last tracks were found.  With darkness approaching, and the temperature dropping, Lela Turner searched frantically with the posse, crying, "Oh, my poor baby- out there in the dark and cold.  Please find her!"

The long night passed with no trace of little Pearl.  At dawn, more volunteers from Waldron arrived, and by noon, volunteers from Booneville showed up to help with the search.  Sheriff Allen lined the men up 20 paces apart and told them to march forward, searching the entire area carefully. 

All day, volunteers arrived on horses, in wagons and buggies, and on foot, to help with the search. 

The Sunday edition of the Southwest American newspaper in Fort Smith carried the front-page headline "SCORES JOIN HUNT FOR LOST MOUNTAIN CHILD."  Monday brought more searchers from Fort Smith and Oklahoma.  One man arrived in a Model T Ford, which was the first car the Turner children had ever seen.

From Booneville, a man named Walker arrived with bloodhounds, and Lela Turner was beside herself with joy.  "I dreamed about you!" she told him.  "You're the man I saw find my baby in a dream last night!   I'm going to stay with you until you find her." 

The hounds, however, were unable to pick up any scent, and and Sheriff Allen advised Walker to call them off.

That night, the mountain looked like a giant Christmas tree, with lights from campfires scattered across the slope.

The next day, trucks furnished by OK Transfer and Storage Company in Fort Smith arrived, carrying Boy Scouts of America, Boy Rangers of Arkansas, and new camping supplies for the searchers.  More wagon loads of supplies and searchers continued to arrive over the rough mountain road.  A wagon loaded with groceries and supplies arrived, bearing a placard that read "From The Ku Klux Klan of Mansfield, Arkansas."

The search dragged on for days.  The cold weather, and the hungry packs of wolves that lingered around campsites drawn by the smell of food diminished all hope.  Lynn and Lela Turner searched along with the volunteers until they were forced by exhaustion to return to their cabin to rest.

On Sunday, October 28, services were suspended in all area churches in Waldron and Booneville and a call was made for more searchers.  Repeated searches with no success led most of the searchers to believe that Little Pearl had been kidnapped.

Frustrated by failure, the attitude of the searchers changed to sullen suspicion.  Muttering groups of searchers assembled in the Turner's yard began to demand that the Turners tell what they had done with the child. 

Others pointed a finger of suspicion at a community resident known as "Preacher," the leader of a small religious group.  He had been at the cabin throughout the search, but never joined in with the searchers, choosing instead to sit on the porch.  He was known to be fond of Pearl.  The sheriff was urged to arrest him for suspicion, but Sheriff Allen was too busy with the search to do it. 

By the third week of the search, people began coming out of the woodwork.  A fortune teller arrived in a car from Hot Springs, telling Lela Turner she would help locate the child.  In a vision, she saw the child being held captive in a home in the community.  A posse was dispatched to the designated home, but the child was not there.  Then, the fortune teller said that Pearl was being transferred from house to house by the kidnappers.  The posse searched every house in the Tate community, but did not find Pearl.  The uproar, however, caused even more people to turn against the Turners.

It was discovered that, on the morning Pearl had disappeared, a man had visited the Turners at the cabin and had then proceeded on foot on the road toward the mountain.  When this became known, it turned many neighbors who had been kind and concerned into an angry mob.  The man, of course, was never seen again. 

From Magazine Mountain 20 miles to the east, an eccentric mountaineer known as Hermit arrived with a report of having seen little Pearl.  Two days earlier, he said, he had seen Pearl, who he knew well, sleeping on a bed at the home of a man on the outer edge of the mountain community.  On the basis of this report, the man, his wife, and their 17 year old son were arrested as material witnesses.  When Hermit failed to appear at the hearing, the family was released.

Nothing was known of Hermit's background except that he had appeared in the mountains as a wandering poet and writer of songs, which he delighted in teaching to the small children of the community.  

From Malvern came a report of a man and a woman passing through in a covered wagon with a child fitting the description of Pearl.  The Hot Springs County Sheriff sent a posse to intercept the couple, but they were able to produce proof that the child was theirs.

From Hodgens, Oklahoma came word of a couple passing through with a child that also matched the description of Pearl.  The man, it was reported, told people at a grocery store that they had found the child wandering in the woods near Waldron and, believing her to be abandoned, had taken her with them.  A Leflore County posse was sent out to look for the couple, but after a week of searching, returned to report no trace of the mysterious couple.

Another report came from the owner of the Atalee Hotel on Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith, who told of a man with a little child fitting Pearl's description staying at the hotel, then catching a train to Oklahoma. 

In a strange development, Lela Turner was taken secretly to Fort Smith to spend the night at the home of the Matron of the Missouri Pacific train depot.  The matron had engaged two clairvoyants to interview Mrs. Turner.  They assured Lela that the child was well, happy, and would return in due time.  On the return trip home, Lela told two companions that she felt at peace about Pearlie for the first time.

On November 8th, the Southwest American ran the headline "MISSING TURNER CHILD REPORTEDLY FOUND IN OKLAHOMA."  A child abandoned by an itinerant construction worker at a boarding house in Picher, Oklahoma was believed to be Pearl.  The man had shown up at the boarding house the week of Pearl's disappearance, telling the owner that the child was his daughter Elizabeth.  The owner, seeing that the child fit the published description of the missing girl, asked the child her name.  "Elizabeth," she replied, "but it used to be Pearl Turner."  The child went on to tell the woman that she used to live in a place where "the hills were all covered with trees."  She left, she said, "when a man and a nice lady" promised her candy, a new dress, and stockings if she would go with them.  The owner of the boarding house contacted her local sheriff, who contacted Sheriff Allen in Waldron. 

Sheriff Allen was getting a haircut at a barber shop in Waldron when he received the telegram.  "Whoops!" he shouted.  "Little Pearl is alive!"

The little girl thought to be Pearl Turner
The wave of gladness that through the community was short-lived however.  When Lela Turner was shown a newspaper photograph of the child in Picher, she said, "It looks kind of like her, but it's not my Pearl."  When the man called Hermit saw the picture, however, he said, "No doubt about it, that's little Pearl."  The manager of the Artelee Hotel in Fort Smith also identified the child as the one that had stayed at his hotel. 

Meanwhile, the drifter who had abandoned the child at the boarding house in Oklahoma was arrested, and when questioned, maintained that the child was his daughter Elizabeth, and that he had left her to await the arrival of her mother to pick her up.  This proved to be false, since it was soon discovered that his wife had been dead for three years. 

Under further questioning, it was discovered that the man had been in Fort Smith at the time of Pearl's disappearance.  To further cloud the issue, he had in his possession the license plate of the Fort Smith clairvoyant who had joined in the search for the child.  The man had no explanation for this curious detail, and it remains one of the inexplicable facets of the case.

Area citizens raised money to send Lela to Picher to see the child at the boarding house.  The Southwest American newspaper provided funds to send Hermit as well.  He told the newspaper that they would know for sure if the child was Pearl, because she would recognize him at once. 

Lela Turner and her oldest child arrived at Picher on the same train as Hermit.  However, Hermit was first to arrive at the boarding house.  When Lela and her daughter arrived, he was sitting on the porch of the boarding house with the child on  his lap.  When Lela and Rosa approached, Hermit asked the child, "What is your name?"  The little girl replied "It's Pearl Turner, and I have a little dog named Robbie."  Lela told Rosa to check the child to see if she had a scar on her rib cage, and Rosa did so, reporting that there was no scar.

"It's not my Pearlie," said Lela.  She left for the railroad depot to return to Arkansas.  Hermit, however, insisted that the little girl was Pearl, and that she sang a little chorus that he had once taught her. 

Lela Turner returned, heavy-hearted, to the little mountain community of Tate.  Hermit returned to his retreat on Magazine Mountain, still insisting the child in Picher was the missing Pearl.  Hermit remained on good terms with the Turners and continued to visit them as long as they lived in Tate.

On November 18th, the last headline about the Turner case appeared in the Southwest American; "NEW HUNT TO BE ORGANIZED IN HILL SECTION."  The proposed new search never materialized, however, and the Turner story disappeared from the newspapers just as little Pearl had disappeared into the White Oak Mountains.  One searcher, however, never gave up.  When winter came and the snows fell, hunters would often encounter Lela Turner wandering in the mountains, crying "Pearlie?  Pearlie?  Where are you?"

When spring came, the Turners left to share crop a farm near Booneville.  Later, they moved to Oklahoma, and then to California, where they remained.  Lynn Turner passed away in 1970, and Lela in 1973. 

Many questions remain about the disappearance of little Pearl Turner.  It is a mystery that will never be solved.


This is a retelling of the story written by Walter Watts that appeared in the Southwest Times Record newspaper.

 

 


Friday, April 26, 2013

Great Candy I Have Known

Another rerun, but one of my favorites...

Before we ever had to worry about calories and triglycerides and saturated fats, there was candy.  Not a lot, mind you; none of us were rich enough to have all the candy we wanted.  But, when we really needed it, there was candy.  A nickle or dime of our lunch money was often allotted to candy, and when we could spare it, a grocery delivery from Robert Davis' store often included something sweet.

Here are some of my all time favorite candy memories:

The Wowee Whistle.  These came out around Halloween each year.  They were made of wax, similar to the wax candy lips that you can still get.  You blew on the whistle until you got tired (a skilled musician could actually produce songs), then you chewed up the wax.  The wax was infused with a flavor similar to Beeman's gum, and was quite tasty.


The Black Cow was a chocolatey, caramel sucker similar to a Sugar Daddy but vastly superior in flavor. 


In a stroke of marketing genius probably covertly funded by America's tobacco industry, candy cigarettes were available in packages that looked just like Dad's smokes, and with names that were often similar.  The candy cigarettes tasted pretty bad, but they looked oh-so real. 

I could always count on my Aunt Addie to have a stick of Clove gum ready at church when the sermon started getting a little too long.  I was never a fan of Black Jack, but the flavor of Beemans is delightful, and Clove is probably the most unique flavor you'll ever taste in gum.  These gums are still available at Cracker Barrel.  I was never much of a gum chewer; I always felt that gum required too much of a commitment.  After all, with candy, you chew it up, enjoy it, and then move on.  With gum, you chew it up, enjoy it, but it just keeps hanging around.

As it turns out, my research reveals that astronauts probably never actually ate these, contrary to the advertising.  Space Food Sticks were a chewy concoction similar to a Tootsie Roll, but much softer.  They came in flavors like chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, vanilla, and others.  They were somewhat pricey, so we didn't get to have Space Food Sticks very often.


The Butter Nut bar consisted of caramel and peanuts surrounded by milk chocolate. It was not necessarily my all-time favorite candy bar, but it was a good go-to candy bar when you wanted something different.

Winner Suckers.  No, this picture is not an actual Winner Sucker.  Evidently, no photographic evidence of this great candy exists today.  But, it did look kind of like this, with its cluster of grapes on one side (it also came in a cherry flavor, although I never bought that version).  The other side of the sucker was flat, and if it had a little piece of tape stuck on it that said "Winner", you got a free sucker.  Not a bad investment for five cents.

Hot Toothpicks.  These cinnamon flavored toothpicks were popular because you got your money's worth for a nickel; enough hot toothpicks to last way past the time you finally got tired of them. 

Wacky Packages were wildly popular among the younger set back in the 1960's.  I include them here because you did actually get one stick of bubble gum with the package.  I usually gave the gum away (I've mentioned my commitment issues) and laughed hysterically over the cards, which featured popular products of the day with their well-known advertising slogans slightly altered to produce hilarious results.  There are several websites devoted to the vintage Wacky Packages of the 1960's and 1970's.


My candy bar.  The Mars Bar.  I ordered one at Burden's Candy Store each day during most of my school career.  Back then, you ordered what you wanted, there was no self-service.  You told the person working at the candy counter what you wanted, they retrieved it for you, and you paid them for it.  For some reason, I always told the clerk that I wanted "a Mars Bar with almonds," evidently under the erroneous impression that there was a Mars Bar without almonds.  The Mars Bar is no more; it has been replaced by the Snickers with Almonds. There is, of course, a Snickers without almonds, so be careful what you order.  (Update:  In the time since this blog entry was originally written, the Mars Bar has been reintroduced!)


Mallo Cups and Smoothies were made by the same company, Boyer's.  I never cared for Mallo Cups; a chocolate and coconut shell with marshmallow cream in the middle.  But Smoothies, that's different.  A butterscotch and peanut shell, with peanut butter in the middle...delicious!  Plus, there was a little card in each package that had an image of a coin.  You saved the cards, which had coins ranging from five cents up to fifty cents.  My sister Janet loved Smoothies, and she decided that she was going to collect enough coins (500 points worth) to send off for the prize, which incredibly was a box of Smoothies!  She saved every card, as we all did, and after a while, she had enough points.  She mailed her collection of paper coins to the company, and we could hardly wait until the box of Smoothies came in the mail.  After what seemed like an eternity, a package from Boyer's arrived.  With trembling hands, Janet carefully unwrapped the package.  Sure enough, it was a box of...no, it can't be...Mallo Cups!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When I'm Down, And Feeling Low, I Read My eBay Feedback

I love eBay.  I love it so much, in fact, that I have forced myself to make it cost neutral; I must sell something of equivalent value to cover my purchases.  I started out buying and selling View-Master reels.  (Insert appropriately condescending comments here.)  Then I ran across a large collection of Coast Guard Search and Rescue patches at a flea market that turned out to be a goldmine.  Now, I search eBay for old postcards of my hometown of Waldron Arkansas. 

Needless to say, I have successfully completed a number of both purchases and sales on eBay, and consequently have had quite a bit of feedback left for each transaction.  I am happy to report that my feedback score on eBay is 100% positive.  Nowhere else in life, with the possible exception of my two dogs, do I enjoy a 100% positive feedback rating.  So it is understandable that I, on occasion, visit my eBay feedback page, just to remind myself that I do in fact have some redeemable qualities; that I am honest, reliable, and by golly, an excellent shipper.

In 1998, ilovefilms described me as Top notch in my book.  Fast & friendly.  A pleasure to deal with.  Later that year, ladesco said Bill, thank you for the great view-masters...your quick response is impressive!!!  That's right.  Three exclamation points.  Shortly thereafter, No Longer A Registered User captured my essence succinctly:  Quick exchange; great item; great person!  Only one exclamation point, but from the heart, I think. 

Then, jgdg220 effused Ah!!!  Bill is best kind of eBay dealer!  Merchandise better than described!!!  I don't think I have to count the exclamation points there, you can see for yourself.  I can take no credit for the excellent quality of the merchandise, I didn't make it, I just described it.  Inadequately, evidently.  But nevertheless, a home run with jgdg220 cinedux was less effusive, but still complimentary:  Pleasant honest trader.  Will deal with again.  That turned out to be an empty promise, but that's OK.  skycap later captured a characteristic overlooked by others:  Item as described.  Very fast transaction, informative seller.  Recommend highly!  That's me; I inform. 

Others became more personally involved in the transaction.  Fast shipment, great communication.  Love ya Bill - keep 'em coming said viewmasterladymelmc said Bill took great care with my item.  He was very responsive and kind.  That's just the way I am, melmcwildbillgaye also picked up on my innate goodness, with the simple Very kind and good at word

Some eBayers, probably on the rebound from some hurtful previous transaction, chose to compare me to other sellers.  lov2shop4mojo declared This was one of the most timely transactions I've had - Wonderful eBayer!! A+++.  Still greater praise came from bjricehawg, who said They don't get any better than this guy!!!!  I'm pretty sure he was talking about me and not himself.  topps55 summed it up best, I think, with the comment Wow, if only all eBayers were this good! 

And then, there are a few feedback comments that are notable simply due to their, shall we say, uniqueness; to their particular turn of phrase.  paisley beatle, in keeping with the spirit of her user ID, said Perfectly Positive..thanks so much for a fab transaction.  For cascade2, our online transaction took on its own reality, commenting Such a pleasure to meet!!  Great customer!  Recommend AAA++++!!!  2297653 No Longer A Registered User said Merchandise exactly as described!!  At our house, Bill's the One!!!  I must go there someday.  seawitch89 waxed poetic, saying Completed in the fashion of 'the way things should be'.  Very Good. 

Space does not permit me to share the comments from the likes of bbpoodles, beccasladybugacres, woody64, woodnfish, or levelord.  Suffice it to say, they all verified my excellent shipping record.  But cavemuseum, perhaps, gave me the highest praise:  It doesn't get any better than this, great transaction, a credit to eBay

So, when I'm long gone, my electronic feedback will remain, and all will know. 

I was a credit to eBay. 




Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Ate A Bug (My Cincinnati Travelogue)


But I didn't eat one here.
Yes, I did.  Because when you talk big, you have to back it up.  That's the Law of the West.  I ate a lot of other things, too, which were all significantly more tasty than the bug.  It all happened last week.  So we depart, once again, from the normal pattern of happy and humorous reminiscences of my life growing up in little Waldron, Arkansas that you usually find on this blog, for another post from the present day.  What follows is a recap of the exciting week I just spent in the city that old Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called the "Queen of the West," Cincinnati Ohio.

The journey to Cincinnati was a long one, about 14 hours counting the stops at gas stations, McDonald's, and Cracker Barrel.  My travelling party consisted of myself, my wife Marilyn, my stepson Ross and his wife Maegan, and their little two-year old daughter Kate.  We were going to Cincinnati to visit my stepdaughter Laura, who is doing a fellowship at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital.  Plus, it was Spring Break, and since everyone else was going south, we decided to go north.

Eleanor in repose.
The long journey to Cincy, as we hipsters call it, was pretty uneventful.  We arrived late on Monday night, and were warmly greeted by Laura, as well as Eleanor, the World's Greatest Jack Russell Terrier.  Exhausted, we quickly found our beds, and rose the next morning to a delicious quiche that Laura had prepared for us.  The first of many great moments of epicureal delight.

Tuesday marked our first shopping excursion.  My family loves to shop, and sadly, I must include myself in that as well.  A few years ago, Marilyn and I were at some kind of timeshare sales pitch in Branson, and the lady conducting the meeting asked everyone present why they were in town.  The young couple to our right said that they loved to rock climb, and they were enjoying doing that in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.  The woman then asked the two ladies seated to our left, and one of them said, "We like to hunt."  Then, the woman in charge of the meeting looked directly at Marilyn and me, and said, "And what about you?"  For some reason, the words that immediately escaped my lips were, "We like to shop."  This created a bit of suppressed laughter in the room, and the lady conducting the meeting for some reason felt compelled to amplify my comments a bit.  "See there ladies," she triumphantly bleated, "there ARE some men who like to shop." 

Not one of my more triumphant moments.

Anyway, back to Tuesday.  Ross had researched for me the location of a Nordstrom Rack store, which turned out to be in the Rookwood Pavillion shopping center.  I have difficulty finding shoes in my size, and I had heard that Nordstrom carried a good selection.  Sure enough, I found a pair that fit me.  We went to a few other stores too, but since I had already made a purchase for myself, I was pretty much just going along for the ride.  It's all about me, you see.  Anyway, after some shopping, we decided to look for a place to pick up some lunch.   We settled on a nearby sandwich shop called Potbelly Sandwiches.  It was good.  Extremely good. 

After lunch, we headed back home to rest up, since we had not fully recovered from our 14-hour sojurn of the previous day.  When Laura got home from the hospital, she had in mind a destination for our evening meal.  A restaurant called The Senate.

The Senate is downtown, on Vine Street, in the area the locals call Over The Rhyne.  Laura had been here before with some friends, so she had already given us a bit of an idea what to order.  As our appetizer, we chose roasted marrow bones.  Yes, really.  You get two bone halves that have been roasted with garlic; you dip your spoon into the marrow and put a little bit on your toast along with some of the supplied cranberry sauce.  We all had some, although there isn't much marrow in the two little bone sections.  The marrow reminded me of the residue that might be left in a skillet after frying a steak.  After we had all experienced the bone marrow, it was time for the main course.  After carefully perusing the menu, I settled on the McSchnitzel.  This was a porkbelly sandwich with a glaze of carmelized onions and apples, and my friends, it was superb. 

On the way out of the Senate, while I was waiting for the others to come out, a nice gentleman struck up a conversation with me.  He asked me how the food was, reported that he himself had tried to get a job at the Senate but with no luck, asked me my name, and then proceeded to recite an impromptu poem about my name.  Being the country rube that I am, as he was reciting his poem, I wondered to myself if he was a bum.  I had never really seen a city bum before, so I was perplexed.  At the conclusion of his poem, another person walking by handed the poet some folding money, so I followed suit.  I gave him five dollars; I'm not sure what the going rate for poetry is now days.

Here are some pictures of our exciting first day in Cincinnati:



Nordstrom Rack in Rookwood Pavillion


A mighty fine sandwich shop.



The Senate Pub on Vine Street

Roasted marrow bones, with cranberry sauce and toast.

On Wednesday morning, after a late breakfast, we traveled north of Cincinnati up Interstate 71 to an outlet mall that Ross and Maegan had read about, the Tanger Outlet in Jeffersonville Ohio.  This day turned out to be much colder that the previous day, and windy.  Marilyn and I took Kate to the food court while Ross and Maegan shopped.  After a bit, we ventured out to a few shops with Kate, but by the time we hit the Disney store she was fast asleep in her stroller.  I tilted the stroller back so that her little head could lay against the back of the stroller, and kept her that way for the next two hours.  At one point, as we were walking along the sidewalk, big snow flakes began to fall.  Kate, who had stirred a bit, stuck her hands behind her back and went back to sleep.



Kate taking a break at the outlet mall.
By the time we left the outlet mall, Kate had seen the playground with the slide, which happens to be one of her favorite things.  She really wanted to slide, but we felt like the cold wind would not be good for the cough that she had developed, so, much to her disapproval, we left the outlet mall and headed to our next stop, IKEA.

I had never been to an IKEA store before, so it was quite an experience.  The only problem was, we had barely managed to get everything we brought with us loaded into the car in the first place, so any additonal purchases of large items was out of the question.  I did allow myself, however, a small lamp and a set of door stops.


Eli's Barbeque.  We parked in the back.

Laura was working nearby that day at the Liberty Township branch of Cincinnati Childrens, so she met us when she got off that afternoon.  Our destination for supper this time was Eli's, a barbeque place on the riverfront.  Another winner picked by Laura.  I had the pulled pork sandwich with slaw, baked beans, and a coke in a bottle!  Kate really enjoyed this place, constantly referring to the couple sitting beside us as "those kids."  She also broke into song, favoring the crowd with an impromptu version of the "I Love You" theme from Barney.  She also felt compelled to have us join hands and say grace not once, but twice during the meal. 

After Eli's, it was back to the house to bed.  I might mention that my bed for the week was a blow-up air matress that I found incredibly comfortable. 




Marilyn's Happy Place

As cold as it was Wednesday, Thursday was even colder.  Big snow flakes were again falling that morning as we left the house.  Our destination was downtown Cincinnati, and Marilyn's favorite store, Macy's.  She had visited this store in January when she helped Laura move in, so she was familiar with how to navigate the parking garage downtown.  Let me brag on Marilyn here a bit; she was fearless driving around in Cincinnati.  She did the driving on this day, Ross (who was also extremely skilled at driving around the city) did the driving most other days, except for when Laura went somewhere with us.  She was by far the bravest and most skilled of our driving pool.  I pretty much just sat back and relaxed. 



A Cincinnati tradition.
 After a few hours at Macy's, where I tried in vain to convince Marilyn that I needed a bow tie, we headed out for lunch.  I had made it known that I wanted to eat at Skyline Chili, but the enthusiam for that concept from the other members of my party was neglible, at best.  So, as we were driving along we spotted a Chipotle restaurant.  We decided to go there, and when we turned the car around and headed back, we were surprised to see that there was a Skyline Chile in the same complex.  So, it was agreed that I would eat at Skyline, and the rest of them would go to Chipotle.  However, gripped with remorse at their decision, Marilyn, Ross, Maegan, and Kate all followed me into Skyline.

At Skyline, the chili is served over thin noodles and piled high with cheese.  A "Three Way" is noodles, chili, and cheese; a "Four Way is noodles, chili, cheese, and either onions or beans; and a "Five Way" is noodles, chili, cheese, onions, and beans.  I chose the "Four Way" with onions, along with a chili sandwich that consisted of chili and cheese on a hot dog bun.  I really liked the Skyline chili; many people don't.  It is flavored differently than most chili, with a bit of a cinnamon flavor actually, which some don't care for.  However, it is so popular that it is even sold in cans at grocery stores.  I brought back a small supply for some of my friends, as well as a couple of cans that I put in our own pantry. 

By the time we finished at Skyline, Laura had rejoined us. We went back to her house for a brief rest, and then headed to another unique Cincinnati landmark, Jungle Jim's International Food Market. 
Jungle Jim's is unlike any place you've ever been.  It is full of unlikely food items from all over the world.  The whole time I was there I kept thinking of my dad, Abb Yates, who passed away last year and who had a lifelong love for the quirky and unusual.  He would have really had a time a Jungle Jim's. 
This is a real U.S. Navy firetruck, which greets you at the opening of the hot sauce section, which is a house-sized room with what has to be every kind of hot sauce ever manufactured.


I had read on the Internet that you could get dehydrated insects at Jungle Jim's, and sure enough, you can!


Kate gets International flavor at Jungle Jim's.



Kangaroo.  It's what's for supper.

Well, since I had talked big about eating an insect, I felt that my honor was at stake if I failed to follow through.  So, I carefully selected one of the Giant Waterbugs.  The bug was completely intact, eyes included, just dehydrated.  So, for the honor of Abb Yates and the Arkansas Razorbacks, I ate it. 

It took about four bites to get it down, each one accompanied by a sickening "crunch" sound.  The bug was basically flavorless, perhaps with a bit of a salty taste, but it took forever to chew up each bite.  But I got the whole thing down.

After our trip to Jungle Jim's, we got take-out from an Italian place called Buca Di Beppo.  Outstanding, but frankly, after a Giant Waterbug, most anything tastes good.

End of Thursday.  Whew!

Friday, it was a bit warmer.  Laura was off that day, so she got to experience the full day with us.  Our first stop was the Gap Outlet, which may be the only one in the country (not sure).  (It's not; thanks Uncle Skip for the info.)  They all bought stuff, and I even found a sweater in my size for $1.99.  After that, we went to the Kenwood Mall, where there was another large Macy's.  We spent several hours there, and I made another pitch for a bow tie, and Marilyn and I actually looked at some, but they were not priced as cheaply as the one I saw at the downtown Macy's.  So I let it go.

For lunch, we went to a place Marilyn had been before; the BonBonnerie.  It is a bakery on one level with a little tea room/cafe below.  I had a delicious roasted turkey and colby sandwich on pickle bread, along with a slice of their signature quiche.  I had a small pot of English black tea to drink.  What a marvelous lunch it was!  Afterwards, we stopped at the bakery and Laura bought us a salted caramel cupcake.  Unbelievably good.

Later that evening, we went to the Chipotle that everyone had passed up for me for our supper.  The portions were huge, the food was delicious, and everybody was happy.  End of Friday.

Saturday was designated as Kate's day.  She had been very patient, and actually made it through the 14 hour trip with almost no complaints.  She was content to watch her favorite show, Calliou, on her mom and dad's iPad.  We had hoped to go the the famous Cincinnati Zoo that day, but we realized early in the week that it was too cold.  So instead, we went to the Cincinnati Children's Museum in the old train station downtown.

The 1930s era former train station, now a museum.
The museum was a art deco marvel, so beautiful in design.  I could easily imagine the trains steaming into the station, the concourse busy with travelers.  I had noticed earlier that there was an IMAX theater in the museum, so I bought a ticket for the "Flight of the Butterflies" show about Monarchs, while everyone else went with Kate into the Discovery section of the children's museum.  I figured everyone would be ready to go by the time my 45 minute movie was over, but when I located them downstairs, Kate was just getting started.  She had the best time!  She climbed into a tree house, played with the 3,000 plastic balls in the fun zone; spent a LONG time at the water table, and then went back and did everything again.
Kate crawling in the tube under the aquarium.


Kate having fun at the water table.


Ross, Kate, and Maegan, and the Cincinnati skyline.

Marilyn, Laura, Kate, and me.


Our Laura and Little Kate.



After the museum, a quick lunch at Tom+Chee.  It is, as you might suspect, a little place that specializes in tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Again, very very good (but the service was a bit slow).

Home then for naps, then I stayed with Kate (who was taking a LONG nap) while the others went to a store Laura wanted Marilyn to see called Bizarre Bazaar.  There happened to be yet another Macy's across the street, so they stopped by there and, yes, bought me a bow tie.

That evening, Laura took us over to the part of town where Cincinnati Children's Hospital is located.  She showed us the route she drives to work, which includes a short trip through what I would describe as one of Cincinnati's mean streets.  Our destination was Dewey's Pizza.  We had to wait a bit to get a table at this popular spot, but the wait was worth it.  We got three different pizzas; mine was a southwest pizza with white sauce, chicken, and barbecue sauce.  Very, very good. 

My, I love these people!
 And then, it was over.  We left at 3:30 (Arkansas time) on Sunday morning, stopped around 7:00 for breakfast at Bowling Green, Kentucky (home of Bobby Petrino), drove, and drove, and drove some more, got caught in the Interstate 40 construction in eastern Arkansas, but rolled in to beautiful Alma, Arkansas around 5:30 Sunday evening.

It was so nice to be with my family the whole week, and we had such fun and laughed and laughed.  Little Kate is quite the comedienne, it turns out.  I'm looking forward to going back; there's lots of places to eat waiting for me...