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Introduction

“You can take the boy out of the country,
but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

–Anonymous saying

To mark my seventy-sixth birthday on November 23, I made up a couple of posts about my childhood in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas. This first one has to do with the speech I heard and used in those early days of my life.

You Might Be from the Country, If . . . Part I

“An [American’s] way of speaking absolutely classifies him,
the moment he talks he makes some other [American] despise him.”
—Paraphrased from My Fair Lady

In an earlier post titled “Why Cain’t th’ Okies Teech Thur Childrun Howda Tawk Suthun,” I examined some of the differences between Arkie speech and Okie speech based on the thirty-seven years of what I call in biblical terms “My Oklahomian Exile by an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant.”

Continuing that same theme in this post I examine not just Arkie speech in general but some specific country words, phrases, and sayings I heard or used during my childhood in rural Southeast Arkansas, particularly in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas.

My birthplace in Selma, Arkansas as it looked in the 1980s

My birthplace in Selma, Arkansas, as it looked in the 1980s, fifty years after I was born in the front room on the right (to magnify, click on the photo)

Samples of 1940s Southeast Arkansas Country Speech

“For all of my great love of the Delta, my wife says that my basic problem is that I have never left Selma.” (And it proudly shows in my Southern country speech!)
—Jimmy Peacock

“Home is where you don’t have an accent.”
—Jimmy Peacock

In an earlier post titled “The Way We Were,” I described my childhood in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas. In that post I used a few country expressions of that era and area, such as the “wranger” on our new Sears and Roebuck “‘lectric” washing machine that we bought when we got electricity in 1947. (To read that post, click on the title above. To see two other posts on this subject titled, “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy” and “Selma Store Evokes Boyhood Memories,” click on their titles.)

Me about age nine

Me at about age nine while still living in Selma; I moved to McGehee the next year at age ten (to magnify, click on the photo)

Following is a sample list of some more of the gems of country speech that I heard during my formative childhood years of the 1940s, especially among the older, less educated, and less sophisticated generations.

This list is only partial since there are many more linguistic items that could have been added to it. The fact is that, despite my quote above about home being where you don’t have an accent, what I am presenting in this post is not just an example of a Southeast Arkansas country accent from the 1940s, but indeed a separate and distinct regional and social dialect—one that I sometimes still use myself when I consciously or unconsciously revert to my “native vernacular.”

A-comin’/a-goin’ (coming/going, as in, “I doan know if I’m a-comin’ or a-goin’!” This adding of “a-” in front of verb forms is an old country usage that goes all the way back to Old England.)

A-holt (hold of, in touch with, as in, “I ben tryin’ to git a-holt ‘a yew all day long!”)

Aint (aunt, as in, “Aint Ludie shure is a purdy wummun.” See the following entry for “ain’t.”)

Ain’t (is not, are not, etc., as when native Arkie baseball player and sports announcer Dizzy Dean once responded to an English teacher who criticized his ungrammatical speech during the Great Depression, “A lot of fokes who ain’t sayin’ ‘ain’t’ ain’t eatin’!”)

Aist (ask, as in, “I doan know, but I kin aist.”)

Awf (off, as in, “I thank ‘at guyz kinda awf in th’ hed!”)

Awl (all, oil, as in, “Awl th’ ole truck needs iz sum awl.”)

Me and my cousin Troy Gibson

Me, and my cousin Troy Gibson, a sailor in WWII  during the 1940s, sitting on our “ole truck” in Selma (to magnify, click on the photo)

Bad ta (bad to, i.e., has a bad habit of, as in, “‘At dawg iz bad ta bite!”)

Ban’ster (banister, see the entry for “yessur, nawsur, yes’m, nome.”)

Bawl (cry, ball, as in, “Don’t bawl jist ’cause yew lost yur bawl.”)

Bedder (better, as in, “Yew bedder look out now!”)

Behine (behind, see entry for “ignernt.”)

Big Daddy/Big Mama (Grandfather/Grandmother, pronounced “BIG Daddy” and “BIG Mama” and not “Big DADDY” and “Big MAMA,” which is Yankee)

Rev. Willis and Ola Barrett, Jimmy Peacock's maternal grandparents from Selma, Arkansas

My maternal grandparents Rev. Willis Barrett and Ola Barrett of Selma whom I called “Papa” and “Big Mama” (to magnify, click on the photo)

Biskits (bisquits, see entry for “boy hidy.”)

Biscuits with fig preserves

Biscuits and fig preserves with lemon slices (photo provided by Pat Scavo who prepared and photographed them, to magnify, click on the photo)

Bizness (business, see my earlier post in which I quoted one of my father’s sayings: “Any man who’s gotta consult his wife about his bizness ain’t got no bizness bein’ in bizness.”)

B’lieve (believe, see entry for “cain’t.”)

Bob war (barbed wire, see entry for “yessur, nawsur, yes’m, nome.”)

Boy hidy (boy howdy, as in, “Boy hidy, I jist luv biskits ‘n fig perserves!” See photo and entry for “perserves.”)

Brekfust (breakfast, see entries for “dinner” and “supper.”)

Brickbat (brick, see entry for “thow/thoo.”)

Bubba (brother, as in “Bubba iz a rite smort yung’un.” See entries for “rite smort” and “yung’un.”)

Burnt (burned, as in, “Dang it, yew dun burnt th’ biskits!”)

Bush hawg (brush hog, pronounced by Yankees as “brush hahg”)

Butterbeans (lima beans, see entry for “chainct.” For Trisha Yearwood’s recipe for butterbeans, click here.)

By dawgies (by doggies, expression of awe)

By-oh or bow (pronounced like the bow of a ship) for bayou (by-you)

Bayou Bartholomew, "longest bayou in the world," which passes between Selma and McGehee, Arkansas

Bayou Bartholomew, “longest bayou in the world,” which passes between my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, and my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

Cain’t (can’t, as in, “I cain’t b’lieve yew sed dat!”)

Car shed (detached garage)

Chainct (chance, as in, “I ain’t got a chainct ‘a gittin’ me a mess ‘a butterbeans.”)

Chaw (chew or bite, as in, “Gimme a chaw off ‘at plug ‘a tabakka.”)

Chillun (children, see entry for “razed.”)

Chimley (chimney)

Chittlins (chitterlings, “usually the small intestines of pigs”; for more information, click here.)

Churchhouse/schoolhouse (church/school)

Selma Methodist Church Kay 1

The Selma Methodist Church, located “right across the branch” from my birthplace, as it looked in the 1980s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Selma elementary school that I attended as a boy

Selma elementary school that I attended as a boy in the 1940s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Co-Cola (Coca-Cola, term used for all soft drinks)

Collerds (collard greens, somewhat like spinach or turnip greens; for more information, click here.)

Could (cud, what a cow chews, as in, “Yew look dummer’n a cow chawin’ her could.”)

Cudd’n (cousin, as in, “Cudd’n Minnie Pearl wuz a funny wummun!”)

Daince (dance, see entry for “mite.”)

Dangdist/durndest (most unbelievable)

Dawg/hawg/lawg, etc. (dog, hog, log, etc.)

DEE-pole (railroad depot, as in, “We goan go down to th’ DEE-pole and watch awl ‘em tranes kum in!”)

Dinner (lunch, see entry for “supper.”)

Drank/thank/blank, etc. (drink, think, blink, etc.)

Dr’eckly (directly, in a short time, as in, “Tell ‘em I’ll be there dr’eckly.”)

Dude (nickname for an outsider, especially a city dweller; also used as a nickname for a beloved relative, such as “Uncle Dude.”)

Dun (done, as in, “I dun dun awl I kin ta hep’ ‘at boy.”)

Eb’n (even, as in, “I doan eb’n care no more!”)

Evenin’ (evening, but referring not to night but to the afternoon)

Fambly (family)

Fanger (finger)

Far (fire, as when my grandmother said to me about her bowl of steaming soup, “This soup tastes like somethin’ not good ta eat . . . far!”)

Father/futher (farther/further, as I say, “We Southern Baptists knew nothing about Catholicism, but we did sing a lot about ‘Father A-Long’”! That’s a pun based on the words of an old Gospel song titled “Farther Along.” If you didn’t recognize it, either you weren’t country or you weren’t Baptist! To hear this song sung by Elvis with Spanish subtitles, click here.)

Fillin’ stayshun (filling station/gas station, see entries for “fixin’ to” and “Iry.”)

Fine (find, see entry for “ignernt.”)

Fixin’ to (going to, as in, “I’m fixin’ to go down to th’ fillin’ stayshun and git me a Co-Cola!”)

Fly’rs (flowers, see entry for “putt.”)

Fo-teen (fourteen, see entry for “razed.”)

Fryin’ (frying, see entry for “greezy.”)

Gahd (God, see entry for “kuntry.”)

Gal (girl, see entry for “play purty.”)

Git (get, see entry for “fixin’ to.”)

Goan/doan (going/don’t, to rhyme with “moan,” as in, “I’m goan whup ‘at boy if he doan straiten up and fly rite!”)

Gran’maw/Gran’paw (Grandmother/Grandfather, see entry for “razed.”)

Greezy (greasy, as in, “Han’ me ‘at greezy fryin’ pan!”)

Grocer’ store or gen’rul store (supermarket, which didn’t exist in rural Arkansas of the 1940s)

Selma general store as it looked in the 1980s

Selma general store as it looked in the 1980s, forty years after my childhood days in Selma in the 1940s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Hans (hands, see entry for “ignernt.”)

Hed (head, as in, “Boy hidy, yew jist hit th’ nail on th’ hed!”)

Hep (help, see entry for “dun.”)

Honey chile (a term of endearment, especially for young females)

Hushpuppies (defined by Wikipedia as “a savory food made from cornmeal batter that is deep fried or baked rolled as a small ball or occasionally other shapes.” For Paula Dean’s recipe for hushpuppies, click here.)

Huzbun (husband. One of my wife’s third-grade students once sent me a get-well card addressed to “Miz Pecokes has-ben.” Out of the mouths of babes and children.)

Ice creem (ice cream, pronounced “ice CREAM” and not “ICE cream,” which is Yankee)

I declare/I swan (expressions of surprise or awe)

Idy (idea or Ida, as in, “Beat’s me, I ain’t got no idy; go aist Aint Idy.” See entry for “whut.”)

Ignernt (ignorant, as in, “At boy’s so ignernt he cain’t fine his behine with both hans.”)

IN-shurnce (insurance, pronounced “in-SHUR-ance” by Yankees)

Iry (Ira, as in, “Mr. Iry runs th’ fillin’ stayshun.”)

Gas pump like the one in front of the Selma general store and the Selma filling station

Gas pump like the one that stood in front of the Selma general store and the Selma filling station

Iz (is, as in, “It shure iz hot today!”)

Jist/plum (just/plumb, as in, “I’m tellin’ yew, I’m jist plum wore out!”)

Kerry (transport a person, as in, “Kin yew kerry me down to th’ fillin’ stayshun?” For the term “carry” in regard to a thing, see the entry for “tote.”)

Kin (can, see entry for “aist.”)

Kinely/kinda (kindly, kind of, as in, “Wood yew kinely han’ me ‘at fryin’ pan ’cause I kinda wonta use it.”)

Kinfokes (relatives)

Kodak (camera)

Kum/kums (come/comes, see entry for “yonder.”)

Kum nex’ sprang, summer, etc. (come next spring, summer, etc., as in, “I’m goan be eighty years ole kum nex’ sprang.”)

Kuntry (country, as in, “Thank Gahd, I’m a kuntry boy!”)

Lack (like/lack, as when I was translating for a French preacher in a Denver church in the 1980s and was laughed at for allegedly saying “lack” for “like.”)

Lack ta (like to, i.e., almost, as in, “Them kids lack ta drove me outta my mine!”)

Laist/paist (last/past, as in, “I git so tard of a evenin’ I jist cain’t hardly laist paist suppertime.”)

Li’ble (liable, see entry for “waws ness.”)

Luv (love, as in, “I jist luv a good mess ‘a poke salat.” See entry for “mess.”)

Makin’s (makings of a “roll yur own” cigarette; see entry for “reddy rolls.”)

Mash (press or push, as in, “To git yursef a Co-Cola you got ta mash ‘at button!” Also used in the expression “mash’d ‘taters” for “mashed potatoes.”)

Meri (Merry, Mary, Mari, the last of which I call my wife Marion whose parents and grandparents called her “MAY-urn”)

Marion at her sixth-grade piano recital

Marion, whom I call “Mari” (Meri), and whose parents and grandparents called her “MAY-urn,” at the time of her sixth-grade piano recital (to magnify, click on the photo)

Mess (serving or bunch, as in, “I jist picked me a mess ‘a collerd greens.”)

Mine (mind, see entry for “lack ta.”)

Mite (might, as when we Southern Baptist kids would reply when someone suggested some wholesome activity, “Mite as well, cain’t daince.”)

Miz (Miss, and also Mrs., as in, “Miz Ledbetter wuz my third-grade teecher fur sev’ral years.” See entry for “widder wummun.”)

Much obliged (thank you, as in, “Much obliged fur kerryin’ me to town”; see entry for “kerry.”)

Nair (nary, none, as in, “I ain’t got nair chainct ‘a gittin’ rich.”)

Nanner puddin’ (banana pudding, my favorite dessert as a boy)

Naw (no, as in, “Naw, I doan ‘no nuthin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!” See entry for “yeah.”)

‘N ‘nem (and them, used as plural of two or more people, as in, “Bubba Joe ‘n ‘nem iz comin’ over for supper tonite.”)

Nubbin (corn cob, often used as nickname for a beloved relative such as “Uncle Nubbin”)

Of a mornin’, evenin’, etc. (in the/every morning, afternoon, etc., as in, “In th’ kuntry, fokes git up reel early of a mornin’.”)

Okry (okra)

Ole (old, see entry for “kum/kums.”)

Oughta or orta (ought to or should, as in, “I reckin I orta go, but I jist doan wonta.”)

Overhauls (overalls, see entry for “warsh.”)

Own (on, as in, “Yeah, I heard dat own th’ radio.” See entry for “putt.”)

Perserves (preserves, see entry for “biscuits” and photo of bisquits and fig preseves.)

Pert near (pretty near or pretty close, as in, “I pert near starved ta death!”)

Pitcher show (movie/theater)

The Malco Theater in McGehee, Arkansas

The Malco Theater, one of two “pitcher shows’” in McGehee that I attended every Saturday when I was young (to magnify, click on the photo)

Play purty (play pretty, i.e., toy, as in, “Little gals lack play purties.”)

Poke salat (poke salad, defined by Wikipedia as “a dish prepared using American pokeweed,” for more information, click here.)

Pore (poor, as in, “He’s as pore as a churchmouse!”)

Post (supposed, as in, “I’m post to go to th’ churchhouse this Sundy, but I ain’t goin’.”)

Pray’r meetin’ (prayer meeting, a regular Wednesday night ritual among Southern Baptists)

Selma Baptist Church as co-founded by Vivian Barrett Peacock, her father, and several others with Rev. Willis Barrett as pastor

Selma Baptist Church which was co-founded in the 1940s by my mother, her father, and several others with my grandfather Rev. Willis Barrett, as pastor (as magnify, click on the photo)

Purdy (pretty, see entry for “play purty.”)

Putt (put, as in, “Jist putt them fly’rs over yonder own th’ table.”)

Rainch (rinse, as in, “Yew bedder rainch out them thangs ‘fore they mildew.”)

Razed (raised, as in, “Me’n yur gran’maw razed up fo-teen chillun.”)

Reckin (reckon, as in, “I reckin them two thangs is ‘bout like awl and warder; they doan mix none too good.” See entry for “warder.”)

Reddy rolls (ready rolls, commercial cigarettes like Lucky Strike brand rather than those self-rolled from a packet of papers and a small can or bag of tobacco, usually Prince Albert or Bull Durham brands pronounced “Bull Durm.”)

Lucky Strike cigarettes

“Ready rolled” Lucky Strike cigarettes from the 1940s

Prince Albert tobacco used in "roll yur own" cigarettes

Can of Prince Albert tobacco used to make “roll yur own” cigarettes in the 1940s

Bag of Bull Durham smoking tobacco

Bag of Bull Durham (pronounced “Bull Durm”) brand of “roll yur own” cigarette smoking tobacco

Rilly (really, as in, “I rilly lack nanner puddin!” See entry for “lack.”)

Rite (right)

Rite smort (rite smart, a goodly amount)

Road (used instead of street)

Saive (salve, as in, “I dun burnt mah fangers, so I need ta putt me some saive on ‘em.”)

Sam Hill (mild expletive, as in, “Whut in th’ Sam Hill are yew doin’?”)

Screeceport/Tex’akana (Shreveport, a city in northwest Louisiana not far from Texarkana, which sits astride the Texas/Arkansas state lines, as in, “Uncle Dude iz a-movin’ his fambly frum Sreeceport ta Tex’akana.”)

Sed (said)

Seeve (sieve, but pronounced to rhyme with “sleeve”)

Shoot ‘em up (Western movie, as in, “On Sairdy evenin’ we always go to th’ pitcher show to watch a shoot ‘em up.”)

Shuck/shucks (husk/husks, as in, “We need ta shuck ‘at corn to git some shucks to putt in th’ mattress!”)

Shure (sure)

Sigh-REEN (siren, as in, “Th’ laist time we went to town to th’ pitcher show, we heard a bunch ‘a sigh-REENS!”)

Slop jar (chamber pot)

A slop jar (chamber pot) found in most country Southern homes in the 1940s

A slop jar (chamber pot) found in most Southern country homes in the 1940s

Stang (stung, see entry for “whelp.”)

Stout (strong, as in, “Boy hidy, yew shure are stout, ain’t cha?”)

Stud’n’ ‘bout it (considering it, thinking about it, as in, “I ain’t eb’n stud’n’ ‘bout it!”)

Supper (dinner, the evening meal, as in, “Ever’ day I eat three meals: brekfust, dinner, ‘n’ supper.”)

Suthun Babdis (Southern Baptist, the Catholic church of the South in the 1940s)

McGehee First Baptist Church

The First Baptist Church of McGehee which I attended as a youth after my family moved to town in 1948 when I was ten years old (to magnify, click on the photo)

Tabakka (tobacco)

Taken (past tense of the verb “take,” as when U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn out of Fort Smith said in True Grit, written by Charles Portis, an Arkie, “I turned [my horse] Bo around and taken the reins in my teeth and rode right at them boys.” My father, with an eighth-grade education, always said “taken” for “took.” See my next post on Daddy’s cattle business.)

Tard (tired, as in, “Shuckin’ awl ‘at corn made me tard!”)

Tawk (talk, as in, “Yankees shure do tawk funny.”)

Teecher/preecher (teacher/preacher)

Teech’rige (teacherage, i.e, , a teacher’s home)

Selma school teacherage

Selma school teacherage which was located right across the road from the Selma elementary school I attended as a boy (to magnify, click on the photo)

Side view of Selma elementary school

Side view of the Selma elementary school right across the gravel road from the Selma teacherage (to magnify, click on the photo)

Th’/thang (the/thing, as in, “It wuz th’ dangdist thang I ever seen!”)

Thow/thoo (throw, through, as in, “I’m goan thow a brickbat thoo ‘at winderpane!”)

Toilet (outhouse or privy and not the indoor bathroom, commode, stool, or potty)

Tote (carry a thing, as in, “Yew kin tote dat catfish home in a tow sack.” See the next entry on the term “tow sack.”)

Tow sack (gunny sack, croker sack, burlap bag, etc. For an interesting discussion of the regional differences in this term, click here.)

Tump over (tip over, as in, “Yew bedder look out, you goan tump over ‘at wheelbar.”)

Warder (water, as in, “I’m goin’ to th’ well ta git me a big drank ‘a warder!”)

Warsh (wash, as in, “I need to warsh them overhauls, but I’m jist too tard.”)

Waws ness (wasp nest, as when we kids warned one another about shooting rubber band guns at red wasps, “Yew bedder look out, yew li’ble to git waws ness stung!”)

Wheelbar (wheelbarrow, see entry for “tump over.”)

Whelp (welt, as in, “That waws ness stang razed a whelp on my hed.”)

Whur (where. I was terribly embarrassed after we moved from Selma to McGehee and my elementary teacher corrected me in front of the whole class for saying “whur” for “where.”)

Whut (what, as in, “Whut’s ‘at fly’r you got own, honey chile?”)

Widder wummun (widow, as in, “Miz Ledbetter wuz a widder wummun after her huzbun died.”)

Winderpane (windowpane, see entry for “thow/thoo.”)

Winsdy/Sairdy/Sundy (Wednesday/Saturday/Sunday, as in, “We always go to church on Sundy mornin’, pray’r meetin’ on Winsdy nite, and th’ pitcher show on Sairdy evenin’.”)

Wont (want, as in, “I won’t do it ‘cause I doan wont to!”)

Wood’n’ (wouldn’t, as in, “I wood’n’ do ‘at if I wuz yew.”)

Wore out (worn out, see entry for “tard.”)

Wrop (wrap, see entry for “yessur, nawsur, yes’m, nome.”)

Wummun/wimmin (woman/women, as in, “More’n wun wummum iz wimmin.”)

Wun (one, see entry for “wummun/wimmim.”)

Wusht (wish, as in, “I wusht I had me a big mess ‘a fried catfish ‘n’ hushpuppies!”)

Wuz (was, as in, “Wuz yew th’ wun that got waws ness stung?”)

‘Y (why, as in, “‘Y shure, I kin tawk kuntry!”)

Yawl (y’all, used for plural of “you” rather than the Yankee “you guys”)

“Yawl ben ta dinner?” (“Have you all had lunch?” Probably used because farm folks often went back to the house at noon for their “dinner,” their largest meal of the day.)

Yeah (yes, see entry for “naw.”)

Yessur, nawsur, yes’m, nome (yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am, as when the little country boy told his teacher, “Papa wropped bob war ’round th’ ban’ster ta keep gran’maw frum slidin’ down it.” “Oh my, did it stop her?” “Nome . . . slowed ‘er dow-yun.”)

Y’heah (do you hear; see entry for “yung’un.”)

Yonder (there or over there, as in, “Look, yawl, yonder kums ole man Johnson!”)

Yung’un (young one, as when my grandmother used to tell us kids, “Yew yung’uns, yawl doan never git ole, now y’heah.” Too late, Gran’maw, dun dun it! Also see entry for “Bubba.”)

My grandmother Simmie Peacock and my grandfather Tom

My grandmother Simmie with my grandfather Tom Peacock, both of whom were born and lived in Selma all their lives (to magnify,click on the photo)

As noted above, this is only a sample of Southeast Arkansas country speech from the 1940s. In the following post I will continue this subject by examining some terms used in my father’s livestock business in the Ark-La-Miss area of that period. I will then conclude the subject with some French sayings I picked up in my career as a French teacher, translator, and interpreter.

Other Sources of Southern Speech and Culture

For a quiz on Southern/Country words and phrases titled “How Many Southern Words and Phrases Do You Know?” sent to me by my longtime friend and high school classmate Pat Scavo, click here. There are fifteen entries. To take the quiz, click on your choice in each entry. If you are right your answer will turn green. (I scored fourteen out of fifteen because there was one saying that I had never heard.)

For more interesting information and another quiz on Southern/Country speech, visit my earlier post titled “Some Southern Stuff IV: Do You Speak Southern?” click here.

To view a map of the most commonly spoken languages other than English in each of the fifty states, click here.

Are you rural or urban? To view a map from the U.S. Census Bureau showing whether each of the states is primarily rural or urban, click here. (You can guess which category includes Arkansas!)

As an update on my previous posts about the Arkansas Delta, to view a three-and-a-half minute video of the exterior of the Pickens Plantation home with the traditional white columns, click here. Then stay linked to watch (and listen to) two or three videos with examples of SEARK speech: one of a fisherman showing off his catch and the others of former Desha County Judge Mark McElroy auctioning off Arkansas items at a sale.

Introduction

“Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay,
Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away . . .”
(And now even the cotton fields are disappearing!)
—Stephen Foster, “Old Black Joe”
To hear this song sung by Paul Robeson, click here.)

In my last post I discussed four subjects: the sale of the McGehee Estate mansion, an alligator in the McGehee city park pond, my wife Marion’s brown cotton plant and harvest, and the passing of two members of the cast of the 1980’s TV show “Designing Women.”

In this post I would like to provide an update on three of those subjects: the McGehee Estate sale, the decline of cotton production and the changes in modern cotton harvesting, and “Designing Women.” I will also include another related subject I have discussed recently, the dogtrot houses that were once so numerous in the Arkansas Delta and surrounding areas.

Update on the Sale of the McGehee Estate

“But though we are what we do, what we do is not all of what we are. We are also products of place. Where we grew up and how we experienced the physical environment of our formation are also a part of who we are.”
—Kathleen Parker, “The nominee’s gender, geography,”
Tulsa World, May 13, 2010

In a recent email, Barbara McClendon Barnes, a native of Southeast Arkansas, sent me an update on the sale of the McGehee Estate, called in the realtor’s ad “A true Southern plantation mansion.”

Exterior of the McGehee Estate mansion

Exterior of the McGehee Estate mansion (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is what Barbara had to say on 10/26/14 about that sale:

 “This is what I’ve found out about the McGehee Estate. A man from Monticello, Michael Berry, has supposedly bought it . . . for the sum of $110,000. That is for the house and property including the chandeliers and things attached to the house . . . but not including the furniture and such. . . . I’ll keep you informed.”

McGehee Estate chandelier

McGehee Estate chandelier (to magnify, click on the photo)

And I will keep you informed as I learn more about the fate of this icon of our hometown and home country.

Update on Cotton Production
and Picking in Arkansas

“A recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article states that
Arkansas planted ten times as many acres in soybeans as in cotton.”
–Taylor Prewitt

On October 21, Pat Scavo sent me a link to an amazing 4.42-minute You Tube video titled “Cotton Harvest, Pickens, Arkansas,” featuring a mammoth new John Deere cotton picker in action. To view that incredible video, click on the title. You will see that it is a far cry from the old days in which cotton had to be picked by hand—and even from the early days of primitive mechanical cotton pickers!

Obsolete 1950's single-row mechanical cotton picker

Obsolete 1950′s single-row mechanical cotton picker (to magnify, click on the photo)

New John Deere 7770 cotton picker

New John Deere 7770 six-row cotton picker as seen in operation in the video (to magnify, click on the video)

On October 23, Taylor Prewitt, a native of Southeast Arkansas, shared with me his views on the subject of declining cotton production in Arkansas in general and this video in particular:

“A recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article indicates that this year Arkansas planted ten times as many acres in soybeans as in cotton, almost five times as much in rice, and nearly twice as much in corn.”

Here Taylor inserted a chart showing that while Arkansas grew 335,000 acres of cotton, at the same time it grew 3,300,000 acres of soybeans, 1,500,000 acres of rice, and 560,000 acres of corn.

“Also, a number of gins in the Arkansas Delta have not even been operating in the last couple of years. I didn’t see much cotton between Pine Bluff and McGehee, except for the Pickens and Tillar Estates, both very large operations, but I don’t know how much cotton they’re planting. The McGehee co-op gin is still operating, and farmers from Mississippi bring their cotton across the river to have it ginned in McGehee because the McGehee co-op gin gives cotton seed rebates. Rebates are a pretty big deal for the farmer. Rebates weren’t given until the co-ops started giving them, and some but not all other gins now give them.

“I had never seen one of these [huge modern cotton pickers] in operation. I think they cost about $800,000. [The actual list price for a John Deere 7760 6313N self-propelled cotton picker is $810,244.00. To learn more about it, click here.] I learned from the video that the farmer also has to buy a machine to go out into the field and pick up the round bales. The new picker is really an amazing machine.

The new John Deere 7770 cotton picker in operation

The new John Deere 7770 six-row cotton picker in operation

“When all the old pickers are worn out, I guess the new ones are the only ones that will be available. A six-row picker could take the place of three two-row pickers. Lower labor costs. But the farmer has to be able to afford to save that much money.”

A rear view of the new John Deere 7770 cotton picker dropping of the new round bales of cotton

A rear view of the new John Deere 7760 six-row  cotton picker dropping off the new huge round bales of cotton

Update on Arkansas Delta Dogtrot Houses

 “It’s a different [world] down there [in the Delta]. . . .There are little communities of gray, weathered shotgun shacks [and dogtrot houses] tenanted by people living off of the cotton as much the same way as people have done down here for nearly two hundred years.”
—Conrad Vollersten, “The colors of the Arkansas,”
in 1980s column titled “Along the Arkansas”
in unknown Oklahoma newspaper

Obviously, this quote about the Arkansas Delta is no longer entirely true. One apparent reason is the fact that due to the development of mechanical cotton pickers and other technological changes in farming over the past few decades, the need for farm laborers has been drastically reduced. As a result, the once ubiquitous sharecropper and tenant farmers and their shacks are fast becoming things of the past.

In evidence, here is another report from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” on 10/12/14 about one of these fast disappearing relics of an earlier time and lifestyle. 

Side view of the old dogtrot house

Side view of an old dogtrot house (to magnify, click on the photo)

“Well over 100 years old, this old dogtrot house in Cleveland, Arkansas, sits right bedside Highway 95 for all to see. Since time is taking its toll, get a good look. A few more ill winds and it could become kindling.

Front view of the old dogtrot house showing the renovated dogtrot breezeway

Front view of the old dogtrot house showing the renovated dogtrot breezeway (to magnify, click on the photo)

“The left (north) side of the front porch will be the first to go. You can easily see where the dogtrot was closed in the center. The ‘home-place-tree’ in the background is a healthy walnut, which will probably long outlive the house. 

The back side of the old dogtrot house

The back side of the old dogtrot house (to magnify, click on the photo)

“The back of the house shows evidence of additions made after the original structure was completed. The missing roof segment lies in the foreground of the picture.”

In Joe’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” post published on November 2, he featured photos of old abandoned and decaying barns, houses, stores, etc. in the Arkansas Ozarks. Here is his answer to the question of why people leave such old structures to fall into disrepair rather just tearing them down:

My thinking is that these old structures give us a glimpse into our immediate past, a privilege that, since the old structures are falling, will not necessarily be available to succeeding generations. If they are to know, the onus is on us to record them while they are still standing.”

Amen, Brother Joe!

Update on the Cast of “Designing Women” 

“So many thanks for all of your hard work on behalf of ‘Designing Women.’ I was surprised, after all this time, there are people out there that are still such fans of DW. Really, we are most indebted to you and want you to know how very grateful we are to all of you for your enduring interest and appreciation.”
—Linda Bloodworth-Thomason,
writer-creator of “Designing Women” TV show

The cast of "Designing Women" in the first five seasons

The cast of “Designing Women” in Season 1–5 (1986–91): Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Alice Ghostley, Jean Smart, Annie Potts, and Meshach Taylor

As noted, the last section of my latest post was about the passing of two of the cast members of the 1980s TV show “Designing Women.”

On the Web site for “Designing Women,” Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the show’s writer and creator, had this to say about that show and its Web site:

“The ‘80s gave us many classic sitcoms, but the brassy and sassy Designing Women was in a class all its own. . . . Each character carried a different ‘voice’ which set the stage for many humorous and often heartwarming debates, complimented by sharp dialogue and the charm and chemistry of the ensemble cast. And though it’s been over 25 years since it first aired, the series continues to grow in popularity as it touches new generations of viewers.

"Designing Women" Web site photo of four of the Southern ladies

“Designing Women” Web site photo of four of the original Southern ladies

“This is the fourth incarnation of this website— now officially Designing Women Online. Since the site debuted in 1998 as a tribute to the series, features and layouts have evolved, relationships with the series cast and creators have blossomed, and an incredibly loyal fan base has shared what the show has meant to them.”

As noted in my previous blog post, Dixie Carter passed away on April 10, 2010, in Houston, Texas, and Jan Hooks passed away on October 9, 2014, after a long battle with an undisclosed illness.

A reader of my post wrote to call attention to the fact that another member of that cast, Meshach Taylor who played the young black male, also died recently, on June 28, 2014, at his family’s home after a long battle with cancer. According to the DW Web site another member of the original cast, Alice Ghostley, who had ties to both Arkansas and Oklahoma, passed away on September 21, 2007, at her home in Studio City, California.

Another photo of four of the ladies from "Designing Women"

Another view of four of the original ladies from “Designing Women”

To learn more about the other members of the DW cast and much more about the show itself, go to the beautifully designed “Designing Women” Web site and click on your favorite cast member or subject.

Sources

The quote from the song “Old Black Joe” was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Black_Joe

The You Tube video of Paul Robeson singing “Old Black Joe” was taken from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6Tvq_0tkyw

The update on the sale of the McGehee Estate was taken from a personal email from Barbara Barnes on 10/26/14.

The photos of the McGehee Estate were taken from:
http://www.fowlerauctioneers.com/auction/236940/dodds-estate-absolute-auction-real-estate-and-personal-property/#detail-tabs-morephotos

The information on which Taylor Prewitt based his remarks and estimates of cotton production versus that of soybeans, rice, and corn was taken from an Arkansas Online entry for 10/15/14 titled “Storms hamper farmers’ harvests, Growers waiting on fields to dry,” written by Glen Chase.

The video of the John Deere cotton picker in action was taken from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz9ZPjWWZP8&feature=share

The photo of the 1950′s single-row mechanical cotton picker was taken from a book titled McGehee Centennial 1906-2006 published by the McGehee Centennial Committee.

The three photos of the modern John Deere 7760 six-row cotton picker were taken from:
http://www.deere.com/en_US/products/equipment/cotton_harvesting/7760_cotton_picker/7760_cotton_picker.page

http://pictures.directnews.co.uk/liveimages/the+development+of+the+cotton+picker+has+helped+farmers+harvest+their+crops+more+effectively+john+deere+has+been+at+the+forefront+of+this+technology+a_2034_800628598_0_0_14009526_300.jpg

www.thecombineforum.com/forums/16-specialty-crop-harvesting/10…

The photos of the dogtrot house were taken from Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” on 10/12/14 at:
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo360379/photo368.html

The photo of the original cast of “Designing Women” was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Designing_Women

The quotes and photo about the show and its Web site and cast were taken from the official “Designing Women” Web site at:
http://designingwomenonline.com/

 Sale of the McGehee Estate

“To love a place from a distance is to embellish it with memory, desire, and myth. Why Don’t You Come Home is a fantasy, a lyric, and a document of one of several returns to the place where I grew up. It is part of an ongoing exploration of a South that is both familiar and strange, both real and imagined.”
—Missy Evans, a native of Mississippi who now lives in Oregon,
quoted in OxFord American Magazine
and sent to me by Pat Scavo on 9/24/14

On September 24 my longtime friend and McGehee High School classmate from the Class of 1956 sent me an advertisement of the auction sale of the mansion, furnishing, and vehicles of the McGehee Estate, the home of the McGehee family for whom the town was named. Here is what Patsy Mc had to say about what the realtor’s ad called “a true Southern plantation mansion”:

The McGehee Estate, "a true Southern plantation mansion"

The McGehee Estate, “a true Southern plantation mansion” (to magnify, click on the photo)

“This ad was listed in our local Hot Springs newspaper today and I thought you all would be interested. The house was described in the paper as having a staircase similar to the one in ‘Gone With the Wind’ and being complete with a white-columned porch. The estate’s furniture and cars also will be auctioned on September 27.”

Following is a realtor’s description of the items for sale:

Formally known as the “McGehee Estate” named after Abner McGehee SR. founder of the town of McGehee Arkansas. Upon entering foyer area, your eyes will be focused on the Spiral Staircase that compares to the one in “Gone with the Wind.” It is constructed of beautiful hardwoods and custom railing. A Crystal Chandelier hanging from the second floor ceiling in the foyer to be offered separately from the home. The master suite has walk-in cedar lined closets and a huge walk in marble shower. Out front are 6 beautiful white columns soaring 24 feet to the ceiling of the 60 feet wide front porch. The front lawn has the appearance of a park with huge Pine, Oak and Pecan trees plus a creek running along the width of the lawn. This property’s beautiful corner lot fronts Crooked Bayou and D Street. Split level central heat and air system and is on City Water and Sewer. As true with many older homes, there are some updating needed here and there.  We will also be selling all furnishings and collectibles including a Robert W. Erwin Bedroom Suite which the Dodds family traveled to Fort Worth in 1960 and purchased for $6,000.

The McGehee Estate circular staircase

The McGehee Estate circular staircase (to magnify, click on the photo)

This sale is a historic event since it marks the first time in its long history that the mansion will not be owned by the family of the founders of the city of McGehee. There was no mention of the ownership of the land and other tangible assets of the estate.

For more photos of the house, furnishings, and vehicles, click here and wait a few seconds. For more about the McGehee Estate and its importance in the founding of the city of McGehee, click here.

 Photo/article about a McGehee Alligator

“Alligators, like snowfall, are just rare enough in Southeast Arkansas
to cause a stir among the locals.”
—Jimmy Peacock

On the subject of our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, it has been noted that McGehee is the only city in the country to have a swamp (actually a small cypress slough) as its city park. On September 24, 2014, the McGehee Times published a photo/article about the appearance of a young alligator in the pond of that park.

The Wiley McGehee city park in McGehee, Arkansas, from the cover of an Arkansas road map

The Wiley McGehee City Park pond in McGehee, Arkansas, from the front cover of an Arkansas road map (to magnify, click on the photo)

A young alligator in the McGehee city park pond

A young alligator in the McGehee city park pond (to magnify, click on the photo)

Officials from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spent Thursday afternoon searching Wiley McGehee Pond’s newest resident.

Local police contacted the AGFC after an alligator was sighted several times recently. Mark Barbee, the AGFC’s nuisance alligator coordinator for the area and AGFC biologist David Luker said they followed the young gator in a boat for several hours before he disappeared into the high grass area at the north end of the pond.

Barbee said the risk of human interaction at the park led officials to determine the alligator should be relocated to a less populated area. Barbee said the gator is young and an estimated four feet in length.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the gator had not been caught but AGFC officials say they will continue relocation attempts.

As an update, the Wednesday, October 8, issue of the McGehee Times reported that the gator had been caught and relocated “to an unnamed Wildlife Management Area.”

Police chief holding the McGehee gator

McGehee police officer Darren McAdoo holding the McGehee alligator later relocated

Hunted to near extinction decades ago, alligators have made a tremendous recovery since they were reintroduced from Louisiana a few years ago. Their increasing numbers and activities are evident in the establishment of the position of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s “nuisance alligator coordinator.”

In my files from the McGehee Times and other Arkansas newspapers I have several photos/articles of alligators in Arkansas (including a huge one discovered in the middle of U.S. Highway 65 around McGehee). These I have collected and kept as evidence to those who question or even dispute the presence of alligators in the state.

Mari’s Brown Cotton Plant

“Gonna jump down, turn aroun’ an’ pick a bale ‘a cotton,
Gonna jump down, turn aroun’ an’ pick a bale a day.”
—Lead Belly, old-time Blues music composer and singer
(To view a brief video of Lead Belly performing this Blues song
sent to me by Pat Scavo on 9/30/14, click here.)
To read a bio of Lead Belly from his induction
into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, click here.)

Whenever cotton is mentioned one almost automatically thinks of Scarlett O’Hara and other Southern Belles. (See the opening quote of the next section about “Designing Women.”)

Here is a photo of a group of such Southern Belles, Mari’s high school Clique about whom I have written several times on my blog. (See, for example, the post titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique.”)

A portion of Mari's high school Clique of Southern Belles with Mari on the right in the long white dress with the flower on the front

A portion of Mari’s high school Clique of Southern Belles; Mari is the curly-haired blonde on the right wearing a long white dress with a flower on the front (to magnify, click on the photo)

Since Mari is also from McGehee, and since she misses the Arkansas Delta and the now virtually defunct Southern Cotton Kingdom as much as I do, several years ago she began growing a couple of cotton plants to show the bolls to her Okie pupils who had never seen raw cotton.

Later she learned about brown cotton and began to grow it to show to people in general who have never seen it or even heard of it.

This year Mari’s brown cotton plant is currently in bloom (see photos). Soon those blooms will be replaced by cotton bolls which will later open to display and give access to the actual cotton fiber within them.

That’s when Mari will “jump down, turn aroun’ an’ pick a [bit] a cotton.”

Mari's first brown cotton blossom of 2014

Mari’s first brown cotton blossom of 2014 (to magnify, click on the photo)

Mari's brown cotton plant in bloom in our back yard

Mari’s brown cotton plant in bloom in our back yard (to magnify, click on the photo)

Mari's brown cotton plant in bloom in our back yard

Mari’s brown cotton plant in bloom in our back yard (to magnify and see the brown cotton boll open, click on the photo)

Marion's last year's crop of brown cotton

Mari’s last year’s crop of brown cotton (to magnify, click on the photo)

(To view an interesting four-minute YouTube video of an old black man telling and showing how to pick cotton, click here. Warning: Disregard the comments about the video which contain racist terms and messages!)

 Salute to Late “Designing Women”

“The Old South will never die, not as long as there are darling debutantes, doting docents, indomitable dowagers, and other groups of proud Southern women like the Junior League, the Ya Ya Sisterhood, The Sweet Potato Queens, the Steel Magnolias, [Designing Women]—and the Maggie [McGehee] Clique!”
—Quote by Jimmy Peacock in letter to
Charles Allbright dated June 10, 2002

Speaking of Southern Belles, here is a salute to the “Designing Women,” especially the late Dixie Carter and Jan Hooks. First, here is Dixie delivering five of Julia Sugarbaker’s best rants from that TV show. They were sent to Mari and me by our longtime friend and Southern Belle Pat Scavo.

Cast of "Designing Women" during their first five seasons

The cast of “Designing Women” in Season 1–5 (1986–91): Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Alice Ghostley, Jean Smart, Annie Potts, and Meshach Taylor (to magnify, click on the photo)

Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker on "Designing Women"

The late Dixie Carter as Julia Sugarbaker on “Designing Women”

Dixie Carter was our favorite character on “Designing Women.” In fact, once when she visited Tulsa I thought about driving over to the studio where she was taking questions from the audience to tell her that it was her performances on reruns of that show that got me through a bout with lymphoma back in 1991-92.

These bits by Dixie are jewels. We miss her and her indomitable spirit greatly. Just as we miss the Southern homeland and lifestyle she represented so well.

After I had made up this post I read in the Tulsa World the news about the death of another member of the “Designing Women” cast, Jan Hooks. Jan was also a favorite of ours whose career we had followed since she first appeared on the Bill Tush Show on an Atlanta cable station. In that show she often played a televangelist who berated her viewers for not sending in enough donations to fill up the “inspirational font” (a fish bowl set on top of a piano) or pay for the “inspirational Cadillac de Ville” or the “inspirational Winnebago.” Our older son Sean sent her some old copies of Confederate money. Jan wrote him back and thanked him for his “worthless donation.”

Jan Hooks

Jan Hooks

From that show Jan graduated to “Saturday Night Live” and then on to “Designing Women” in its latter years. To read her obituary that appeared in the Tulsa World on October 11, 2014, click here. For more about Jan with videos of some of her best performances as presented on the Huffington Post Web site, click here and then scroll down. To view other videos of Jan hook’s funniest bits, especially as Brenda the waitress and the tour guide at the Alamo from the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, click on the titles.

Incidentally, one of her funniest bit was a skit in which she played Brenda singing “Is There Life after Elvis? . . . I Hope So.” I could not find a video of it, so if you do, please let me know.

Sources

Information and photos about the McGehee Estate were taken from:

http://www.fowlerauctioneers.com/auction/236940/dodds-estate-absolute-auction-real-estate-and-personal-property/#detail-tabs-morephotos

http://www.auctionzip.com/cgi-bin/photopanel.cgi?listingid=2205967&category=0&zip=&kwd=

http://www.auctionzip.com/Listings/2205967.html

The link to the entry on the city of McGehee was taken from:
http://www.arkansas.com/places-to-go/cities-and-towns/city-detail.aspx?city=McGehee

The articles and photos of the alligator in the McGehee city park pond were taken from:
http://themcgeheetimes.com/edition/

The link to my post titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique” was taken from:
http://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/my-annual-tributes-to-the-clique/

The link to the YouTube video of the old black man telling and showing how to pick cotton was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW4dBODmN9o

The links and photos about “Designing Women,” Delta Burke, and Julia Sugarbaker were taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Designing_Women
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie_Carter
http://jiveturkey.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/julia.jpg
http://www.newnownext.com/happy-28th-anniversary-designing-women-julia-sugarbakers-5-best-rants/09/2014/

The photo of Jan Hooks was taken from:
www.behindthevoiceactors.com/Jan-Hooks/

The October 11, 2014, Tulsa World obituary of Jan Hooks was taken from the online edition at: http://www.tulsaworld.com/scene/tv/former-snl-cast-member-jan-hooks-dies-at-age/article_bc4479ab-05f4-5fba-b8ad-9cbaf74171ab.html

The Huffington Post Web site obituary of Jan Hooks was taken from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/09/jan-hooks-dead-dies_n_5961882.html?flv=1

The video of Jan Hooks as Brenda the waitress was taken from:

http://www.purpleclover.com/entertainment/3264-snl-30-rock-jan-hooks-10-funniest-moments/item/6-brenda-waitress-snl/

The video of Jan Hooks as the Alamo tour guide from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was taken from:

http://www.purpleclover.com/entertainment/3264-snl-30-rock-jan-hooks-10-funniest-moments/item/2-alamo-tour-guide-pee-wees-big-adventure/

A river [or a land] doesn’t bestow enlightenment in and of itself—but it can provide clarity and insight for someone who was ready to observe and listen to it.”
—Bob Krist

In my previous three posts, titled “Arkansas Delta Plantations and Other Post-Mortem Tidbits, Parts I-III,” I examined several subjects relating to the Delta and its surrounding areas which have had such a powerful and enduring influence on my entire life.

Thinking I had exhausted my material on those subjects, I had planned to publish a different post at this time. However, since then I have received several additional “tidbits” which I feel compelled to share with you all, my readers.

As indicated by the title of this post, these “tidbits” relate to: An update on the Taylor House at the Hollywood Plantation, Joe Dempsey’s fifteen Delta photos, and the upcoming publication of a book about a voyage of discovery down the Mississippi River.

The next post will be about the auction and sale of the McGehee Estate mansion and its furnishings and vehicles, the appearance of a young alligator in McGehee’s city park pond, the blooming of my wife’s brown cotton plant, and a marvelous video of five of Julia Sugarbaker’s most delightful and amusing rants from the popular television show of the past “Designing Women.”

These two new posts may be some of the longest I have published, but I wanted to do justice to these interesting, informative, intriguing, and inspiring updates and reminiscences. I hope you share my interest in them and my enthusiasm for them.

 Taylor Prewitt’s Update on the Taylor House
at Hollywood Plantation

“Why would anyone with a big plantation and house in Kentucky
want to do all this amid the mosquitoes etc.?”
—Taylor Prewitt, describing the Southeast
Arkansas Hollywood Plantation
in an email to Jimmy Peacock on 9/27/14

Taylor Prewitt, a physician who now lives in Fort Smith but whose family has been engaged in large-scale farming in Southeast Arkansas for generations, sent me the following email account of his recent visit to the Taylor House on the Hollywood Plantation near Winchester, Arkansas, a site which I have featured several times on my blog.

Taylor House at Hollywood Plantation

Taylor House at Hollywood Plantation

I have presented Taylor’s message below just as he sent it with the photos of the house, bayou, cemetery, and fields that accompanied the email report.

“While on a run to look at the farm yesterday I ran by the old Taylor House on the Hollywood  Plantation east of Winchester—built before 1846, up to 11,000 acres, had a basement/cellar (!). Literally under wraps. Bayou bed below house was dry! Don’t understand that. Must have been a tributary of Bayou Bartholomew, which had plenty of water in it as we crossed the bridge. [See my earlier post titled “Bayou Bartholomew: Two Book Reviews.”] They were burning the harvested fields nearby.

Dry tributary of Bayou Bartholomew behind Taylor House at Hollywood Plantation

Dry tributary behind the Taylor House

View of barren fields at Hollywood Plantation

View of burning fields at Hollywood Plantation

“Max Hill was operating the Hollywood Plantation at Winchester when I was a boy. Don’t know what’s happened to it in terms of ownership and management.

“The Arkansas Historical Preservation Program Web site says about the Taylor home on the plantation:

 . . . the last known example in Arkansas’s lower Delta region of an intact two-story log dog-trot residence, its alterations notwithstanding. Its square-notched, cypress log construction is intact throughout and the open breezeway on the first floor remains open.

Close-up view of Taylor House

Close-up view of construction of Taylor House

Interior of Taylor House at Hollywood Plantation

View of the dog trot breezeway at the Taylor House

John Martin Taylor was born in Winchester, Kentucky on July 23, 1819. Apparently his family was fairly well-to-do, as by the time of his marriage in 1843 to Mary Elizabeth Robertson (the daughter of Martha Goodloe Robertson Arnold, a family relative by marriage) he was a practicing medical physician with large land holdings and a great number of slaves. He and his new bride began enlarging their agricultural land holdings in both his native Kentucky and Arkansas, and soon established homes in both places. He built a palatial mansion near the banks of the Kentucky River in Westport, Oldham County, Kentucky, that he named Mauvilla.

Family tombstone at Taylor House cemetery

Family tombstone at Taylor House

Henceforth the Taylor Log House served as the headquarters for a large plantation complex that raised cotton with the help of a large slave labor force until the onset of the Civil War. After the cessation of hostilities Dr. Taylor attempted to continue his farming operation with free labor until his death, though with mixed results and at great personal cost. After his death in 1884 his children continued to run the farm, even regaining a good deal of the land lost immediately after the war and expanding the Taylor farm to as much as 11,000 acres. The Taylor farm operated in various forms through the first half of the twentieth century.

Burned fields at Hollywood Plantation

View of burned fields at Hollywood Plantation

Joe Dempsey’s Fifteen Photos of the Delta

“Driving through the Delta is like bank fishing on the river: you never know what you are going to catch (and or see).”
—Joe Dempsey

In his “Daily Grist for the Eyes and Mind” on October 5, my longtime friend and Ouachita Baptist College classmate Joe Dempsey published a post titled “A Delta Sampler.” In that post he featured fifteen recent photos of the Arkansas Delta.

An Arkansas Delta cotton field ready to be picked.

This cotton near the junction of Highways 1 and 318 northeast of St. Charles appears ready to pick.

These photos pictured huge trucks waiting at grain elevators, fields being burned off in preparation for a new planting season, flocks of white egrets in a recently harvested cornfield, two abandoned and rusted vintage vehicles from the 1930s and 50s, a cotton field (above) “white unto harvest,” a sample of Delta “buckshot” soil, a leaky water faucet, another abandoned Delta farmhouse, a cotton gin (below), as well as a derelict small-town cityscape from days gone by.

An Arkansas Delta cotton gin

Here’s a close look at a Delta cotton gin. Farmers would bring picked cotton to the gin in a trailer like you see in the picture. A gin worker would climb in the trailer and maneuver a large metal vacuum tube descending from the overhang through the cotton to suck the crop into the gin.

These two photos feature Joe’s own captions. To view the rest of the fifteen photos and Joe’s commentary on them, go to http://weeklygrist.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/a-delta-sampler/.

Believe me, the view of the “dying Delta” is worth it!

 Announcement of Book on Mississippi River
Voyage by Gayle Harper

“ . . . an epic river voyage teaches the traveler as much or more about himself than about the topography and geography of the waterway itself. It’s an exterior trip that prompts an interior journey.”
—Bob Krist

“Muddy Mississippi River water leaves a stain on the soul that is impossible to get out—assuming any fool would try!”
—Jimmy Peacock

In an earlier blog post published on October 15, 2013 and titled “A Few of My Favorite Things I: McGehee, Mississippi River, the Delta/Cotton” I included a section about a voyage down the Mississippi River made and recorded by Gayle Harper. (To read that post, click on the title.)

To view a Web site of Gayle’s trip down the Mississippi River from its source to the Gulf of Mexico, especially the posts on Arkansas City and Lake Village, Arkansas, click here and then click here.

Seal of Desha County, Arkansas, with the county courthouse at Arkansas City and steamboats on the Mississippi River

Seal of Desha County, Arkansas, with the county courthouse in Arkansas City and steamboats on the Mississippi River (to magnify, click on the photo)

In an email announcement titled “Off to the Printers” dated 9/27/14, Gayle sent me the following announcement of the upcoming publication of her book about her voyage of discovery.

 “Hello, my friends! HOORAY!

Roadtrip with a Raindrop:
90 Days Along the Mississippi River 

has been sent to the printers!

“Thanks to an amazing team of talented folks, this baby has been kissed and bundled off! And…it will be beautiful! I revealed the cover in the last update, but in case you missed it, here it is.

Photo cover of Roadtrip with a Raindrop

Cover photo of Roadtrip with a Raindrop by Gayle Harper (to magnify, click on the photo)

“Every detail is the best possible quality and has been given the greatest possible care and attention. There is even a satin ribbon placeholder! Inside, are 55 short stories, each with its photographs that give you your own experience of this magical adventure. As we discover America’s greatest River and meet her colorful people, we keep pace with a raindrop called ‘Serendipity’ on its 90-day, 2,400 mile journey from the headwaters to the Gulf.

“I want to share something very special with you. Bob Krist is a world-renowned photographer who has been shooting for National Geographic Traveler for more than 25 years. He has been honored in many ways, including being named three times as ‘Travel Photographer of the Year.’ I have admired him and his work for many years.

“Some years ago, when I was fortunate to be in one of his workshops at the Maine Photographic Workshops, he encouraged me to find a personal project that touched my heart and to make time in my schedule for it. That is what opened me up to receive this Mississippi River project when it appeared. So, I have always known that I would ask him to write the Foreword for this book – and I was thrilled and honored when he agreed to do so. When I received it, I could only cry. Here it is.”

Foreword

As literature and myth illustrate time and time again, a river journey can be a life-altering experience.

Whether it’s the young Buddha in Siddhartha, Mr. Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, or Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, an epic river voyage teaches the traveler as much or more about himself than about the topography and geography of the waterway itself. It’s an exterior trip that prompts an interior journey.

Fortunately for us, Gayle Harper’s book, Roadtrip with a Raindrop, is both. While her encounters with the beauty of the Mississippi and the wide array of humanity who make their home along the river—barge captains, blues musicians, artists, hunters, historical reenactors and even a jolly nun—obviously move her in a profound way, she never fails to take us along to share her experience.

Like Vasudeva, the ferryman who helps Siddhartha find enlightenment in the rhythms of the mythic river, Harper acts as our ferryman, documenting the beauty of this mother of all North American rivers and its people in stunning photography and rich prose, while she herself undergoes the profound changes that occur when an artist meets her project of a lifetime.

The result is a beautiful, warm and intimate portrait, as stunning to look at as it is to read, that makes us appreciate all that the Mississippi River has meant and continues to mean to America. In these pages, we feel the river’s pulse, we come to know and appreciate its people, and in doing so, we learn more about ourselves.

A river doesn’t bestow enlightenment in and of itself—but it can provide clarity and insight for someone who was ready to observe and listen to it. Fortunately for us, Gayle Harper was prepared not only to learn and be moved herself, but she has the vision and the craft to make it as vivid an experience for us as it was for her.
—Bob Krist

“Thank you, my friends, for being an essential part of this adventure. I cannot wait to put Roadtrip With a Raindrop into your hands. I will be back in touch with details about exactly when and where they will be available, but I can tell you that we expect to have them by Thanksgiving!

“In the meantime, if we are not yet connected on Facebook, come on over to www.facebook.com/GayleHarper.MississippiRiver. There’s photos, fun, conversation and information. Or visit my blog at www.gayleharper.wordpress.com. I will be posting information about the publication of the book there as soon as it is available.

“See you soon!

“Love, Gayle”

Sources

The photos of the Hollywood Plantation were provided by Taylor Prewitt.

The link to my earlier post titled “Bayou Bartholomew: Two Book Reviews” were taken from: http://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/bayou-bartholomew-two-book-reviews/

The quote about the Hollywood Plantation from the Arkansas Historical Preservation Program Web site was taken from:
http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/historic-properties/_search_nomination_popup.aspx?id=1371

The link to my previous post titled “A Few of My Favorite Things I: McGehee, Mississippi River, the Delta/Cotton” was taken from:
http://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/a-few-of-my-favorite-things-i-mcgehee-mississippi-river-the-deltacotton/

The links to Joe Dempsey’s “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” titled “A Delta Sampler” from October 5, 2014, were taken from:

http://weeklygrist.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/a-delta-sampler/

http://weeklygrist.wordpress.com/

Information from Gayle Harper’s voyage down the Mississippi River  was taken from:

http://gayleharper.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/5-good-reasons-to-see-the-movie-mud-this-week/

http://gayleharper.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/faces-of-the-delta/

 

“Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.” (And my “one small area” seems to be the Arkansas Delta and surrounding sites in Southeast Arkansas.)
—Nadine Gordimer, Celebrity Cipher,
Tulsa World, 8/27/14

This final post in the series titled “Arkansas Delta Plantations and Other Post-Mortem Tidbits” was originally supposed to be one post.

However, after working with it for some time I came to realize that it was too long and needed to be divided into two posts. Then later I saw that it was still too long so I divided it into three posts, with this one being the third and final.

This one concludes the subject of Arkansas Delta plantations and examines some of the places that have special meaning to me in surrounding areas in Drew County, in which I was born, and Desha County, in which I grew up.

Final Look at Arkansas Delta Plantations

“Poor people in the Delta kiss the devil to survive.”
—Jeanie Branch, 82, of Watson, Arkansas, quoted in
“Delta people ‘kiss the devil to survive,’”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 27, 1997

In my last post, “Arkansas Delta Plantations and Other Post-Mortem Tidbits, Part II,” I examined some of the slave/sharecropper/tenant farmer houses usually associated with cotton plantations. I especially featured three photos and a comment from Joe Dempsey on this subject.

Since then on September 8 Joe published another interesting post on the subject in his “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind” blog. In that subsequent post, titled “The Lumber That Lasts,” Joe presented another example of an Arkansas Delta sharecropper shack complete with cotton fields, cotton bolls, cotton storage, etc.  To view that post, click here.

Sharecropper shack in a cotton field

Sharecropper shack in an Arkansas Delta cotton field (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is what Joe had to say about that particular surviving relic of the past:

“Just looking at the structure, one almost expects Erskine Caldwell characters to emerge. The reality is it was likely home to more than a few hardworking families who worked hard and saw fit that there was food on the table and the kids went to school and everyone went to church on Sunday. There were probably chickens in the yard and a dog under the front porch.” 

“This is the archetypical early and mid-twentieth century Delta farmhouse. In their latter years, they were used more by farm hand families than the farm owners, but many started as a residence for the owner of the property. 

Front view of the sharecropper's shack in the Arkansas Delta

Front view of the sharecropper’s shack in the Arkansas Delta (to magnify, click on the photo)

“With two front doors, it appears that it might have started life as a dog-trot house, but a glimpse inside one of the windows makes me believe this is the original configuration. I have not been able to find out much about the history of the old house other than the fact that it is constructed of cypress. That is probably a contributing factor that, despite the harsh winds and weather of the Delta, the old structure is still standing. Few woods resist the nasty temper of weather better than cypress.”

Corner of an Arkansas Delta sharecropper's shack with a cotton field and a church in the background

Corner of an Arkansas Delta sharecropper’s shack with a cotton field and a church in the background (to magnify, click on the photo)

Since this post, I have received two photos of this year’s cotton crops beginning to bloom on two Arkansas Delta plantations: Lakeport and Pickens:

Cotton in bloom at Lakeport Plantation

Cotton in bloom at Lakeport Plantation (to magnify, click on the photo)

Cotton in bloom at Pickens Plantation

Cotton in bloom at Pickens Plantation (to magnify, click on the photo)

Other Post-Mortem Tidbits

“The past is all around us. We live our lives against a rich backdrop formed by historic buildings, . . . [as well as] the landscapes and other physical survivals of our past. . . . Historic buildings and artifacts can define a region’s localities and communities.”
—Alice Rogers-Johnson,
president of the Lakeport Cemetery Committee,
quoted in “Lakeport Plantation to host reunion celebration,”
McGehee [Arkansas] Times, July 1, 2009

In regard to the “historic buildings [that] define a region’s . . . communities,” the following announcement was sent out recently by Lakeport Plantation:

Taylor Plantation House

Taylor House at the Hollywood Plantation (to magnify, click on the photo)

“The University of Arkansas at Monticello is engaged in plans to create a Southeast Arkansas Heritage Trail anchored by its three historic properties: WWII Italian POW Camp near Monticello (Drew County), the law office of Arkansas Governor Xenophon Overton Pindall in Arkansas City (Desha County), and the ca. 1856 Taylor House at the Hollywood Plantation near Winchester (Drew County). Dr. John Kyle Day, associate professor of history, will discuss the university’s plans to save, preserve, and interpret these important sites for students and the public.”

For more information on this conference, titled “Lakeport Legacies: UAM’s Historic Properties and Tourism in Southeast Arkansas,” email Lakeport Plantation at: lakeport.ar@gmail.com or visit Lakeport’s Web site at: http://lakeport.astate.edu/

Another one of these historic buildings that define our past is the recently restored Selma Methodist Church in my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas, about which I have written in several earlier posts. In fact, it was the sole subject of the first post on my blog titled “My Bucket-List” Trip: The Selma Methodist Church.”

Selma Methodist Church

Selma Methodist Church (to magnify, click on the photo)

Recently, a friend sent me a photograph and a link to an article and video on Monticello Live about a fire in what is called locally the Selma Fish House, a rustic catfish restaurant located on Highway 278, just west of the 293 intersection. (See photo and map below. To read the article and view a video about the fire, click here.)

Selma Fish House

Selma Fish House (to magnify, click on the photo)

 

Drew County, Arkansas

Drew County, Arkansas (Selma is in the upper right hand corner, due west of Tillar and McGehee, to magnify, click on the map)

Again, there has been no word of any plans to restore the rustic relic.

One reason I am so concerned about the demise, destruction, or simple disappearance of such vestiges of the past is because (as noted in the opening quote above) they define not only our region and community but also our very lives: past, present, and future.

For example, for years there has been talk about the construction of a new interstate highway to run diagonally southwest across the United States from Canada to Mexico. Models show that interstate highway crossing the Mississippi River in Desha County, just above my hometown of McGehee, and then continuing west and passing right below Selma in Drew County.

As interested as I am in supporting any type of projects that will contribute to the restoration of the Delta and surrounding areas, I must admit that I am concerned about the effects of a huge interstate highway system passing within a mile of my beloved rural birthplace. (See map below.)

Desha County, Arkansas

Desha County (McGehee) with the Mississippi River on the right and the eastern part of Drew County (Selma) to the left, just west of Tillar and McGehee (to magnify, click on the map)

To learn more about the existing I-69, click here. To view a map of the proposed I-69 corridor from Canada to Mexico, click here. To learn about the proposed I-69 in Arkansas, click here.

Finally, although not historic buildings, I am also concerned about the continued preservation of two geographical and cultural sites in Desha and Drew Counties.

First is Bayou Bartholomew, “the longest bayou in the world,” which passes between McGehee and Selma on its twisting route from Southeast Arkansas into Northeast Louisiana. To learn more about this vital but endangered stream, see my earlier post titled “Bayou Bartholomew: Two Book Reviews.” To read about an award-winning documentary on Bayou Bartholomew, click here. To view a Blues music video by Marty Denton of McGehee titled “Delta Mud in Your Blood” featuring Bayou Bartholomew, cotton picking, Delta sharecropper shacks, juke joints, etc., click here.

Bayou Bartholomew

Bayou Bartholomew (to magnify, click on the photo)

Next is the Seven Devils Swamp, which is located just below Selma. Recently my longtime friend and McGehee High School classmate Pat Scavo sent me a link to a most interesting article on this subject titled: “Seven Devils: The Wildlife Paradise with the Ominous Name.”

Seven Devils Swamp

Seven Devils Swamp, south of Selma, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read this November 15, 2013, piece in Seark Today written by Patty Wooten, and featuring some interesting facts about the swamp’s history and nature, the derivation of its name, and several photos of its foreboding landscape so typical of Southern lowlands, click here.

As I say about this iconic symbol of my birth and childhood, “I was born on the edge of the Seven Devils Swamp. God saw fit to cast me out of the Seven Devils, but unlike Mary Magdalene He has never seen fit to cast the Seven Devils out of me.”

And that’s why I continue to write about and to champion the restoration and preservation of all the “iconic symbols” of not only my own life but the lives of all those who have been shaped forever by these endearing and enduring “places of the heart.”

Videos and Links to “Places in the Heart”

“You are a true Arkie if . . . you think the fall in Eden refers to autumn in Arkansas.” (Used by the Arkansas Times)
–Jimmy Peacock

To view a musical video of the official Arkansas state song with marvelous scenes from all over the state including the Arkansas Delta, click here.

To view a video of Wayland Holyfield’s Arkansas state song “Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me” with glorious scenes of autumn in Arkansas, click here.

To read about the best fall foliage tours in Arkansas, click here.

To view a three-minute video of native Arkansan Glenn Campbell and Carl Jackson playing a tune titled “Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance and based on the Arkansas state folk tune “The Arkansas Traveler,” click here.

To view a Blues music video titled “Whistle Blowin’” with scenes of the Arkansas Delta written and sung by Marty Denton of McGehee, click here.

To visit a Kat Robinson Tie Dye Travels blog post titled “Conceptions People Have about Arkansas That Are Wrong,” click here and then scroll down to the September 19 entry by that title.

Sources

The photos of the Arkansas Delta sharecropper’s shack were taken from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind published on September 8, 2014, at:

http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo360379/photo364.html

The photos of cotton in bloom at Lakeport Plantation and Pickens Plantation were provided by Pat Scavo.

The photo of the Selma Methodist Church was taken from:
http://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/my-bucket-list-trip/

The photo, article, and video from Monticello Alive about the fire at the Selma Fish House were taken from:
http://www.monticellolive.com/selma-fish-house-burns/

The entry on the existing I-69 was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_69

The map of the proposed I-69 corridor from Canada to Mexico, was taken from:
http://blog.lordsutch.com/local/nafta-presentation-cnl.pdf

The entry on the proposed I-69 in Arkansas was taken from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_69_in_Arkansas

The information about the two books on Bayou Bartholomew was taken from:

http://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/bayou-bartholomew-two-book-reviews/

The photo of Bayou Bartholomew and the Seark Today article about the award-winning documentary on it were taken from:

http://searktoday.com/bayou-bartholomew-documentary-wins-aurora-gold-award/

The photo and information from Seark Today about the Seven Devils Swamp were taken from:
http://searktoday.com/seven-devils-wildlife-paradise-with-the-foreboding-name/

The link to the musical video of the official state song of Arkansas was taken from the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Department at:

The video of Wayland Holyfield singing “Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me” was taken from:

The link to the best fall foliage tours in Arkansas was taken from:

http://www.arkansas.com/fall/fall-color-locations.aspx

The video of Glenn Campbell and Carl Jackson playing “The Dueling Banjos” was taken from:

The announcement of the Southeast Arkansas Heritage Trail was taken from an email from Lakeport Plantation dated September 15, 2014, in regard to a conference titled “Lakeport Legacies: UAM’s Historic Properties and Tourism in Southeast Arkansas” held on September 25.

The Blues music video by Marty Denton titled ‘Whistle Blowin’” was taken from:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnRaB5V95HU

The post titled “Conceptions People Have about Arkansas That Are Wrong” by Kat Robinson was taken from her Tie Dye Travels Web site at: http://www.tiedyetravels.com/

 “I was born in the delta region of Arkansas, . . . . But Delta, in this case, means more than typography. It is also a landscape of the mind, formed by the culture that blossomed out of that rich soil as surely as the cotton on which that culture was based.”
—Margaret Jones Bolsterli, Born in the Delta

In my preceding post on Arkansas Delta plantations I began a discussion of this subject as presented in an AETN public television program titled “Plantation Homes of Arkansas.” In that post I examined some of these historic homes individually and introduced some lesser-known Arkansas Delta plantations and their misfortunes due to fire.

On a more positive note, one of the earliest Arkansas Delta plantation homes is still standing and is currently being excavated to locate the original cellar and outdoor kitchen. The Taylor Plantation is located on Highway 138 in Drew County near Winchester, Arkansas, a few miles north of McGehee.

According to an online source titled Arkansas Preservation.com, the dig is being co-sponsored by the University of Arkansas at Monticello (the seat of Drew County in which I was born) and the Drew County Historical Society which notes:

Taylor Plantation House

Taylor Plantation House

The Taylor House, a two-story, log dogtrot built in 1846 on the west bank of Bayou Bartholomew by Dr. John M. Taylor and his wife, Mary E. Robertson Taylor, was the epicenter of the 11,000-acre Hollywood Plantation and in 2012 was donated to the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

For additional information and photos at the Taylor House dig from Arkansas Online, click here and here.

Another important Arkansas Delta plantation was located in Mississippi County, at one time reputed to be the largest cotton-producing county in the country. The Robert E. Lee Wilson Plantation covered some 65,000 acres and was said to be the largest cotton plantation in the world. (To read an entry from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture about Lee Wilson and Company, the parent company of this agricultural giant, click here.)

Sharecropper house at Wilson Plantation in 1935

Sharecropper and children in front of company house at the Wilson (Mississippi County) cotton plantation, 1935 (courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Lee Wilson and Company entry)

As for those shacks of slaves, sharecroppers, and tenant farmers so often associated with images of Southern plantations (see photo above), my longtime friend and Ouachita Baptist College classmate Joe Dempsey recently featured one of these few remaining humble dwellings in his Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind.

Here is that photo along with Joe’s comment on such disappearing vestiges of Southern plantation life:

Sharecropper shack in cotton field

Sharecropper shack in cotton field

Back in the day, the Delta was liberally sprinkled with domiciles of this genre. The DNA markers inevitably were tar-paper siding and a “tin” roof (aka “roofin’ arn”). As machinery replaced sweat to plant, nurture, and harvest the life-blood crops of the Delta, folks left and no replacement population was forthcoming. Once the technology ratchet was engaged there was no looking back. If one were to plot the curves of advancing agricultural modernization with declining population, I’m betting on a hard correlation.

The old homes were left to face the elements with no maintenance, a sure course to collapse. In a few cases, we find these classic structures still standing and I’m guessing it is not by accident. Someone cares and though the maintenance they do is sparse, it is enough to ward off the inevitable. We should be grateful to these individuals for keeping our past in front of us. Though living in these conditions was hardscrabble at best, few will deny that it “built character.” (italics mine)

To read Joe’s entire Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind for June 29, 2014, click here. To view another of Joe’s Weekly Grist posts on an old abandoned Delta farmhouse, click here. To view Joe’s Weekly Grist post on a restored dogtrot house, click here.

Joe Dempsey photo of a Delta shack

Joe Dempsey photo of a neglected Delta shack

A restored dogtrot house

A restored dogtrot house featured on Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind

Slavery on Arkansas Delta Plantations

“The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.”
—Wendell Berry

For a glimpse into the lives of those who occupied Delta plantation shacks, like those pictured above, here is a recent announcement from Lakeport Plantation of a conference on slavery held on August 28.

Lakeport Legacies:
Slave Life in Chicot County: Toil and Resistance on the River
presented by
Kelly Jones, University of Arkansas (Ph.D. Candidate) 
Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lakeport Slavery

(Note: To magnify the ad for the runaway slave, click on the photo.)

Wealthy planters, like Chicot County’s Elisha Worthington with 543 slaves on four plantations, benefited from the work of their slaves. However, slaves like, Toney, who in 1836 escaped twice from Chicot County plantations, sought ways to act in their own interests and not their masters. Photo courtesy of Annie Paden; Runaway Slave Ad, Arkansas Gazette, June 3, 1836.

In the antebellum period Chicot County’s economy was dominated by slavery and cotton. The labor of slaves, who cleared vast forests and cultivated cotton, helped make Chicot County one of the wealthiest places in the United States. Slave life in the peculiar institution was complex; while not free, slaves developed their own culture, married, worshiped and, at times, sought the freedoms they were denied. Kelly Jones, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Arkansas, will explore the world of slaves and slavery in Chicot County through court records, the census, newspapers and WPA narratives.

For more information about plantation life in the Arkansas Delta visit Lakeport’s Web site at: http://www.lakeport.astate.edu/

Sources

The photo and quote about the Taylor Plantation were taken from the Arkansas Preservation site at:
http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/tours-events-workshops/walk-through-schedule/default.aspx

The additional sites from Arkansas Online with photos and information on the Taylor House dig were taken from:
http://www.arkansasonline.com/galleries/18210/album/578458/?page=2#displaySnap

http://media.arkansasonline.com/img/photos/2014/04/03/resized_99261-taylor-house_1_32-18210_t1000.JPG?cc6fa094ad523b984325c7879220d3883a443e7f

The photo and information about the Wilson Plantation from The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture were taken from:
http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=4437

The photos of the sharecropper house, the abandoned farmhouse, and the restored shotgun house were taken from Joe Dempsey’s Weekly Crist for the Eyes and Mind posts at:
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo340359/photo354.html
http://weeklygrist.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/this-old-old-house/
http://corndancer.com/joephoto/photo360379/photo360.html

The announcement of the conference on slavery in Chicot County, Arkansas, was taken from an email sent out by Lakeport Plantation on August 14, 2014.

 

 

“When I first went north, I was surprised to learn that there were people in the world who did not know that Arkansas has both a delta and a culture that goes with southern lowlands.”
—Margaret Jones Bolsterli,
a native of Desha County near McGehee,
writing in Born in the Delta

In my last post I noted that I had to “take a sabbatical” from blogging for a while due to my failing health. Therefore, in that final post I presented a list of the 115 posts on my blog since it was launched in May 2011.

Now since I am feeling somewhat better, and since I have been receiving and discovering so much information and so many photos and links about Arkansas Delta plantations, I have decided to try to put it all together into a couple of “post-mortem blog” entries on that subject.

If you have been following my blog in the past, especially on the subject of the Arkansas Delta, you will recognize the opening quotation above from Margaret Jones Bolsterli, author of the book Born in the Delta. (To read my earlier post titled “Born in the Delta,” click here.)

Born in the Delta

Born in the Delta

The prevailing ignorance about the Arkansas Delta that the author speaks about is one reason I began this blog three years ago. Perhaps these new blog posts on Arkansas Delta plantations will help to dispel some of that ignorance on the part of many in other parts of the United States and, sadly, even in other parts of Arkansas.

For example, Merriam-Webster defines a plantation as “a usually large estate in a tropical or subtropical region that is generally cultivated by unskilled or semiskilled labor under central direction.” It then provides an example of this usage of the word “plantation” by citing this quotation from literature: “rich cotton land, cultivated in large plantationsAmerican Guide Series: Arkansas.”

Thus, as notable and reliable a source as the American Guide Series recognizes and cites as a prime example of the term “plantation” a literary reference to Arkansas rather than to any of the other Southern states that usually come to mind when that word is mentioned. That distinctive citation alone should serve to dispel ignorance of the fact “that Arkansas has both a delta and a culture that goes with southern lowlands.”

TV Program on Arkansas Delta Plantation Homes

“You are a real conservator of a special place and time.”
—Paul Talmadge, Southern Baptist educator,
to Jimmy Peacock in email dated May 24, 2013

In one of her writings, another Arkansas Delta author, Alice French, who wrote under the nom de plume of Octave Thanet and who lived on an East Arkansas plantation named Clover Bend, noted that there were hundreds of plantations of various sizes in the Arkansas Delta of her day (1850-1934). (To read an Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture entry about Octave Thanet, click here.)

Alice French, who wrote under the pen name of Octave Thanet

Alice French, who wrote under the pen name of Octave Thanet

Unfortunately, most of those plantations, especially the homes of their owners, have now passed into history. Fortunately, a few of the grander homes have been preserved or restored. On December 13, 2013, three of these magnificent homes were featured prominently on AETN, the Arkansas public television station, in an Exploring Arkansas documentary titled “Plantation Homes of Arkansas.”

The AETN Web site says about this fascinating look into a part of Arkansas history and culture that is now fast fading into the past:

Coming from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia ‘planters’ began arriving in Arkansas during the early 19th century to grow the king of all crops—cotton. The stately homes these planters built with their unique architectural style, exemplified that plantation era steeped in southern history. Through these plantation homes of Arkansas, visitors can experience the plantation culture which illuminated the rich historical and cultural heritage of the American South—the habits and traditions of its people, along with the triumphs and tragedies of its past—all preserved to come alive for present and future generations.

To access the Exploring Arkansas Web site, click here. To view the “must-see” thirty-minute video of Arkansas Delta plantation homes and the Southern history and cotton culture they represent, click here.

The first of the three antebellum homes featured, with its surrounding cotton fields “white unto harvest,” is Lakeport Plantation, located near the Mississippi River at the foot of the Greenville, Mississippi, bridge, about twenty-five miles south of my hometown of McGehee. Lakeport, now restored to its former glory, offers historical and cultural presentations and events relating to the Arkansas Delta and other subjects of regional interest. (To visit the Lakeport Plantation Web site, click here. To view a timeline of the history of Lakeport, click here.)

Lakeport Plantation and cotton fields

Lakeport Plantation and cotton fields

The second Arkansas plantation home featured in the program is The Elms, located about fifteen miles south of Stuttgart in the Wabbaseka/Altheimer area. With its location in the heart of the famed Mississippi Flyway, The Elms is known as a natural habitat for waterfowl. It also enjoys international fame and worldwide attraction as a hunting and fishing lodge, and for its Old South traditional lodging and fine dining. (To visit The Elms Web site, click here.)

The Elms Plantation

The Elms Plantation

The third and final Arkansas Delta plantation home featured on the outstanding AETN Exploring Arkansas program is Marlsgate Plantation at Scott, Arkansas, fourteen miles southeast of the capital city of Little Rock. With its stately Greek Revival mansion shaded by ancient oaks and a pecan grove overlooking Bearskin Lake, in addition to its historic and cultural preservation of a now largely bygone Delta life, Marlsgate is a popular site for elegant weddings and other fashionable gatherings and photo shoots. (To visit Marlsgate’s Web page, click here.)

Marlsgate Plantation

Marlsgate Plantation

In summary, to view a brief video of historic places in the Arkansas Delta produced by Arkansas State University where I once taught back in the early 1970s, click here.

Other Lesser-Known Arkansas Delta Plantations

“One of the saddest things happening around us now, is that no one knows where anyone else came from, nor where they are going. Thus a total focus on self, and the here and now.”
—Hunter Douglas,
Ouachita Baptist College alumnus,
in personal email to Jimmy Peacock dated 5/2/14

Unfortunately, as wonderful as this documentary on historic and preserved or restored Arkansas Delta plantation homes is, it does not and cannot preserve or restore other lesser-known Arkansas plantation homes, commissaries, slave/sharecropper/tenant farmer houses, and other buildings that were such an integral part of Southern plantation life.

For example, just this summer two of my friends and blog contributors, Pat Scavo and Andy Herren, both shared with me photos of a fire at Pickens Plantation. The plantation, known officially as “R. A. Pickens & Son Company,” is located just south of Dumas, Arkansas, about eighteen miles north of my hometown of McGehee.

Fire at the commissary/cafe of Pickens Plantation

Recent fire at Pickens Plantation

In regard to the fire, Andy Herren wrote in an email, “This is a shock. Big Daddy Borland worked in the front corner office of that building for probably forty years or so.” As Andy later explained, “The fire was in the shop, a large building that is about two or three hundred yards down the railroad tracks (north) of the restaurant.”

Fortunately, like the “big house,” the popular Southern-style restaurant and store Andy refers to above went unscathed by the fire. (To read more about what is called by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism the Pickens Restaurant and Commissary, click here.)

(To view a video shared with me by Andy Herren in which John McCown, another Ouachita Baptist College classmate of mine, relates a four-part history of Pickens Plantation, click here.)

Another example of the burning of an Arkansas Delta plantation home is one titled Palmer’s Folly. It is located near the small cotton town of Holly Grove, where Mari and I started out teaching when we were first married in 1962. Decades after we left Holly Grove, the mansion had been restored to its original elegance and grandeur. But then recently, as so often happens to such isolated, rural relics, it was destroyed by fire, again with no information about any plans to once again restore and preserve it.

Palmer's Folly plantation house as it looked after restoration

Palmer’s Folly plantation house as it looked after restoration

Palmer's Folly in flames

Palmer’s Folly in flames

This discussion of historic Arkansas Delta homes will be continued in my next post which opens with a slightly different perspective on these great homes and the traditional outbuildings that surround them and concludes with some related “post-mortem” blog subjects.

Sources

The photo of the book Born in the Delta was taken from:
http://myokexilelit.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/born-in-the-delta-a-review-of-a-book-by-a-delta-author/

The photo of Alice French was taken from the entry on Octave Thanet in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture at:
http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=1651

The AETN Exploring Arkansas quotation and photo were taken from:
http://www.aetn.org/programs/exploringarkansas

The AETN Exploring Arkansas video titled “Plantation Homes of Arkansas” was taken from:
http://www.aetn.org/programs/exploringarkansas/december2013

The Lakeport Plantation photo and timeline were taken from:
http://lakeport.astate.edu/
http://lakeport.astate.edu/timeline

The Elms Plantation photo was taken from:
http://elmslodge.com/

The Marlsgate Plantation photo was taken from:
http://www.marlsgate.com/about-marlsgate.html

The video on historic places in the Arkansas Delta was taken from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjxDCoDdvZ0&feature=youtube_gdata

The photo of the burning of the building at Pickens Plantation was provided by Pat Scavo and Andy Herren.

The video of the four-part history of Pickens Plantation was provided by Andy Herren from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-plJIR9j7E&feature=share

The photos of Palmer’s Folly plantation house were provided by Pat Scavo.

 “The goal isn’t to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.”
(That’s what I have been trying to do with my writings
—to preserve them and pass them on to my progeny.)
—Chuck Palahnuik

“What are we but our stories?”
(And here are some of mine and others’.)
—James Patterson, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer 

As indicated by the title and the opening quotes above, what I have been trying to do over the past three years of my blogging is to preserve my writings and pass them on to my progeny and to any others who might feel an attachment to them and to their own lives and past.

Now it seems that due to my failing health and other personal concerns I may have to “take a sabbatical” from my blogging for a while. If so, hopefully I can resume writing new posts to a limited degree this fall.

Meanwhile, since I have now published about 115 posts on this blog I thought it might be helpful if I offered a list of the titles of the past posts along with the dates on which they were originally published.

For ease in locating and accessing these posts I have provided a link to each post. If you see a post that sounds interesting to you, just click on its title. If it does not open, simply go to your search window and type in “myokexilelit + (the title of the post)” and you should be taken to a list of entries among which should be the one you are seeking. If not, type in the nearest post title and when it opens click on the title you are seeking which should appear in the upper margin as the previous post.

At the end of this post is an addenda section of two works reviewed earlier on this blog about the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas. One is a film documentary titled Relocation, Arkansas, and the other is a book titled The Red Kimono. There is also a brief conclusion to the post and the blog.

Good reading and good viewing—until we meet again.

Jimmy Peacock

Titles and Dates of My Past Blog Posts with Links

1. My Story Begins (May 12, 2011)

2. My “Bucket-List” Trip (May 25, 2011)

3. My “Bucket-List Trip” II (May 31, 2011)

4. My Annual Tributes to the Clique (June 8, 2011)

5. A Soldier’s Story (June 15, 2011)

6. The Passing of a Real Man (June 22, 2011)

7. My Cancer Car (July 2, 2011)

8. My Father’s Brand and Seal (July 6, 2011)

9. The Way We Were (July 13, 2011)

10. My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty (July 20, 2011)

11. Yo Recuerdo (I Remember) (July 27, 2011)

12. Thank God I’m a Country Boy (Aug. 3, 2011)

13. My Religious Conversion (Aug. 10, 2011)

14. My First Encounter with Elvis and His Music (Aug. 17, 2011)

15. Life Is Reg’lar/My Mother’s Bible (Aug. 24, 2011)

16. Selma Store Evokes Boyhood Memories (Aug. 31, 2011)

17. Facts About Marion Williams Peacock (Sept. 7, 2011)

18. Reader’s Digest-Type Humorous Anecdotes (Sept. 14, 2011)

19. Who Cares About Texas? (Sept. 21, 2011)

20. Bayou Bartholomew: Two Book Reviews (Sept. 28, 2011)

21. The Peacock Love Story/The Passing of a Friend (Oct. 5, 2011)

22. Dreams (Oct. 12, 2011)

23. A Gathering at the River (Oct. 18, 2011)

24. Three Significant Insignificant Events in My Life (Oct. 26, 2011)

25. A Summary of My Personal Spirituality and Pilgrimage (Nov. 2, 2011)

26. Keep Arkansas in the Accent (Nov. 9, 2011)

27. Memory and Memories (Nov. 16, 2011)

28. Reflections on My Birthday: Then and Now (Nov. 23, 2011)

29. Barbecue in the South (Nov. 30, 2011)

30. My Favorite Childhood Books/The Truth about Santa Claus (Christmas, Dec. 7, 2011)

31. The Missing Baby Jesus (Christmas, Dec. 14, 2011)

32. The Three Unwise Men: An Arkansas Christmas Memory (Christmas, Dec. 21, 2011)

33. Our Honeymoon Was No Honeymoon for Mari (forty-ninth anniversary, Dec. 28, 2011)

34. A Thing of Beauty Lasts Forever (Jan. 4, 2012)

35. Occupation in Exile, Deliverance in Time (Jan. 11, 2012)

36. Some Southern Stuff I: Self-quotes and Robert E. Lee’s Birthday (Jan. 18, 2012)

37. Some Southern Stuff II: Quotes on the South from Others (Jan. 25, 2012)

38. Thoughts for a Winter Day (Feb. 1, 2012)

39. Some Southern Stuff III: Are You Southern? (Feb. 8, 2012)

40. Some Southern Stuff IV: Do You Speak Southern? (Feb. 15, 2012)

41. Miscellaneous Tidbits of Personal Correspondence (Feb. 22, 2012)

42. Quotes on Writing and Writers: Mine (Feb. 29, 2012)

43. Quotes on Writing and Writers: Others’ (March 7, 2012)

44. St. Patrick’s Day Tributes and Trivia (March 14, 2012)

45. Some of My Favorite Irish Quotes (March 21, 2012)

46. Keiron’s Poems I: The Peacock Seed (March 28, 2012)

47. Keiron’s Poems II: Huntin’ Poems (April 4, 2012)

48. Is It Really True?/Requiem (April 11, 2012)

49. Some Southern Stuff V: Sense of Place (April 18, 2012)

50. Some Southern Stuff VI: Love of the Land (April 25, 2012)

51. Quotes on History and the Past (May 2, 2012)

52. Mother’s Day Tributes (May 9, 2012)

53. Quotes about Women (May 16, 2012)

54. Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update (May 23, 2012)

55. Keiron’s Memorial Day Speech (May 30, 2012)

56. Tribute to a Female Friend and Mentor (June 6, 2012)

57. Wish I Was in the Land of Cotton, Part I (June 13, 2012)

58. Wish I Was in the Land of Cotton, Part II (June 20, 2012)

59. Additional Quotes about the Delta (June 27, 2012)

60. Reflections on the Fourth of July (July 4, 2012)

61. Arkansiana I: The Name of Arkansas (July 11, 2012)

62. Arkansiana II: Pronunciation of Arkansas (July 18, 2012)

63. Arkansiana III: Change the Name of Arkansas! (July 24, 2012)

64. Arkansiana IV: Arkansas’ French Connection (Aug. 2, 2012)

65. Some Additional Quotes on Arkansas (Aug. 8, 2012)

66. Strange Encounters at the Pink Palace and Beyond (Aug. 16, 2012)

67. “Days Gone By”: A Delta Passing (Aug. 22, 2012)

68. “Born in the Delta” (Aug. 29, 2012)

69. “During Wind and Rain” (Sept. 5, 2012)

70. Country Come to Town: A Youthful Trip to Dallas (Sept. 12, 2012)

71. Quotes about Home I (Sept. 19, 2012)

72. Quotes about Home II (Sept. 26, 2012)

73. Ben’s Report on Hernando de Soto (Oct. 3, 2012)

74. My Cousin Donald: His Early Years (Oct. 10, 2012)

75. My Two Brothers: A Humorous Pair (Oct. 17, 2012)

76. Ben and Levi Get Their Deer! (Oct. 24, 2012)

77. The Return of the Trumpet: A Ouachita Memory (Oct. 31, 2012)

78. Who’s to Blame?: Humorous Self-Quotes (Nov. 7, 2012)

79. “Return to the Arkansas Delta”: A Review (Nov. 14, 2012)

80. Thanksgiving and My Birthday (Nov. 21, 2012)

81. Humorous Quotes from Others (Nov. 28, 2012)

82. My Thirty-five Years as an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant I (Dec. 5, 2012)

83. My Thirty-five Years as an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant II (Dec. 12, 2012)

84. A Baptist Pastor in an Episcopal Christmas Service (Dec. 19, 2012)

85. Mari: Anniversary Remembrances (Fiftieth Anniversary, Dec. 27, 2012)

86. Three Southern Gentlemen and a Holy God (Jan. 17, 2013)

87. About Copyeditors: God’s “Noble Bereans” (Feb. 1, 2013)

88. Ash Wednesday: Home, Stumbling Blocks, and Psalm 119 (Feb. 13, 2013)

89. My Oklahoma Connections (Feb. 27, 2013)

90. The Danger of Mixing Religion and Politics (March 13, 2013)

91. Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum (March 20, 2013)

92. Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta (April 18, 2013)

93. The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps (May 9, 2013)

94. Old Indian Church Burns to the Ground (June 6, 2013)

95. Maps That Show How Americans Speak Differently (June 20, 2013)

96. “Why Cain’t th’ Okies Teech Thur Childrun Howda Tawk Suthun?” (July 4, 2013)

97. Billie Seamans: Arkansas’ War Hero and Master Photographer (July 26, 2013)

98. Spiritual Vision and Renewal, Identity and Mission (Aug. 16, 2013)

99. Faith and Pilgrimage, Life and Growth (Aug. 30, 2013)

100.How the Words in Italics Changed My Whole Life (Sept. 13, 2013)

101.Some “Top-Five Lists” of a Few of My Favorite Things (Sept. 30, 2013)

102.A Few of My Favorite Things I: McGehee, the Mississippi River, the Delta/Cotton (Oct. 15, 2013)

103.A Few of My Favorite Things II: Arkansas, the South, Elvis Presley, Gone With the Wind (Oct. 28, 2013)

104.A Few of My Favorite Things III: Quotes and Excerpts on a Variety of Subjects (Nov. 11, 2013)

105.A Few of My Favorite Things IV: Women’s Issues and Conclusion to Blog (Nov. 25, 2013)

106.Addenda to Blog: Christmas and Our Fifty-First Anniversary (Dec. 18, 2013)

107.My Après-Blog Post: Saving Mr. Peacock (Jan. 9, 2014)

108. Dialect, the Delta and Mississippi River, Nostalgia (Jan. 27, 2014)

109. Black History Month: Reprint of a 1996 Article about Race Relations (Feb. 27, 2014)

110.St. Patrick and Other Irish Saints and Names (March 10, 2014)

111.Memory of a Selma Family Tragedy (April 4, 2014)

112.Memory of a Selma Family Tragedy II (April 21, 2014)

113.Updates: WWII Japanese-American Relocation Museum; Camp Nine; Relocation, Arkansas (May 12, 2014)

114.The Red Kimono and Other Month of May Updates (May 27, 2014)

115.Selma Methodist Church and Other Month of May Updates (June 10, 2014)

 Addenda to List of Blog Posts

 Relocation, Arkansas

“I want [the documentary film] Relocation, Arkansas to be a ‘love letter to the Delta!’”
—Vivienne Schiffer, author of book Camp Nine
and film Relocation, Arkansas

In two previous posts on this blog I have presented updates on Vivienne Schiffer’s book Camp Nine and her documentary film Relocation, Arkansas, both about the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas. (To view these posts, click on their titles: Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta (April 18, 2013) and Updates: WWII Japanese-American Relocation Museum; Camp Nine; Relocation, Arkansas (May 12, 2014)

Vivienne and her family with Bill Clinton

Vivienne Schiffer and her family with former President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is a recent update from Vivienne on her film Relocation, Arkansas:

Thank you [to] everyone who has followed the progress of Relocation, Arkansas. We wrapped filming TODAY! I [will] spend the end of June in New Mexico with my editor, cutting the film, so we are on our way to a finished film. This has been a really great journey thus far, and it has turned out vastly different than what I thought it was going to be. But the story is touching, amazing, funny, and sad, all at the same time. Stay tuned, everyone, for premiers in Arkansas, California, and DC, among screenings in many other places. Can’t wait to get this film on the road, y’all!

Part of Vivienne's crew filming Relocation, Arkansas

Story editor Johanna Demetrakas and cameraman Pablo Bryant from Los Angeles, part of Vivienne’s crew filming Relocation, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo taken on June 11, 2014)

To view a very moving twelve-minute preview video of the film titled Relocation Arkansas, about the Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas, especially the one at Rohwer near McGehee, click here. 

To view a similar but updated video trailer with the same title made in 2014, click here.

The Red Kimono

“I appreciate all of your hard work in keeping the history alive
for this part of Arkansas [i.e., the Delta,
the location of two WWII Japanese-American relocation camps].”
—Jan Morrill, author of The Red Kimono
in recent email to Jimmy Peacock

On my blog I have also presented two updates on Jan Morrill’s book titled The Red Kimono, which is also about the WWII Japanese-American relocation camps in Arkansas. (To view these posts, click on their titles: The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps (May 9, 2013) and The Red Kimono and Other Month of May Updates (May 27, 2014)

Jan Morrill with George Takei

Jan Morrill with Star Trek actor and Rohwer camp internee George Takei at the WWII Japanese-American Internment Museum in McGehee, Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is a recent update on that book from Jan:

My latest update is that on October 11, 2014, I will be making a presentation titled ‘Wearing the Red Kimono,’ in which I will talk about what I learned about my family, my culture, and the history of internment while writing The Red Kimono. Also, I am continuing to work on the sequel to it.

In regard to the presentation “Wearing the Red Kimono,” Jan reports:

The Greater Kansas City Japan Festival will take place on October 11, 2014, at:

Johnson County Community College
12345 College Boulevard
Overland Park, KS 66210

For more information go to this link: http://www.kcjas.org/kcjapanfestival.

In addition to these links and my earlier posts, to learn more about Jan, The Red Kimono, and Jan’s other books, go to the Web sites below the photo of the book.

The Red Kimono

The Red Kimono

BOOK TRAILER FOR The Red Kimonohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Etyg8feWCiw

BLOGS:
www.janmorrill.wordpress.com
www.theredkimono.com
www.haikubyhaiku.wordpress.com

 Conclusion

In a recent issue of the McGehee Times there appeared a photo of three people standing inside the WWII Japanese American Interment Museum in front of a wall display titled “AGAINST THEIR WILL: The Japanese American Experience in WWII Arkansas.” The photo carried this caption:

Clearwater Paper Corporation recently presented a $1,500 Community Giving grant to the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee. Pictured are: (L-R) Clearwater Exec. Asst. Lynn Bliss, Museum Director Jeff Owyoung, and Clearwater Mill Manager Bill Horne.

Due to my failing eyesight (another reason I must take a leave from blogging for a while), I read that last name to be “Bill Home,” obviously a Freudian error! But what better word to summarize and conclude this post and indeed this blog than its theme word “HOME”!

“But since Mari and I were able to visit with so many friends and family; enjoy the delicious catfish and barbecue meal; listen to live gospel music; participate in a fundraiser auction; and take photos of the church, my birthplace, and the Mount Tabor church and cemetery, it was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime, ‘bucket-list’ opportunity to ‘renew old memories.’”
—Jimmy Peacock, “My ‘Bucket-List’ Trip,”
May 25, 2011

As noted in the opening quotation above, the month of May marked the third anniversary of a “Bucket-List” Trip that Mari and I made in May of 2011 to my birthplace of Selma, Arkansas.

The purpose of the trip was to attend the reunion/fundraiser for the restoration and preservation of the historic Selma Methodist Church, right across the “branch” from the farmhouse in which I was born in November of 1938.

Selma Methodist Church, side view

Selma Methodist Church, side view (to magnify, click on the photo provided by Scott Shepard)

To read about that visit and the event that motivated it, click on the title of the blog post (the second on my new post), dated May 25, 2011: “My ‘Bucket-List’ Trip: Part One: The Selma Methodist Church.”

A year after that trip on May 23, 2012, I published an update on the progress of the restoration of the church. To read that update post, click on its title: “Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update.”

Restored interior of Selma Methodist Church

Restored interior of Selma Methodist Church (to magnify, click on the photo)

Recently I received some photos and information about the church restoration from Scott Shepard who noted that “it was Scotty Howard with Elite Homes (theelitear@yahoo.com, 501-690-6095) who returned the church to the beautiful shape we see today.” He also noted that

“The descendants of the John Barrett family (Idelle and Lucile’s children) had the doors replicated and made by John Alexander of Ozone, Arkansas.”

Selma Methodist Church doors

Selma Methodist Church doors (to magnify, click on the photo provided by Scott Shepard)

To learn more about the Selma Methodist Church, contact Dorris Watson at: djwatson2001@yahoo.com.

My Father’s Death

“Any man who’s gotta consult his wife about his bizness
ain’t got no bizness bein’ in bizness.”

“You jus’ gotta take a deep seat in th’ saddle,
lock your spurs, and ride it out!”

—Arthur Peacock quotes on taking care of business,
and getting through difficult situations

On July 6, 2011, almost three years ago, I published a post titled “My Father’s Brand and [Corporate] Seal.” (To read that post with my poem about my father’s branding iron and the corporate seal of his livestock business, click on the title.)

In that post I recalled my father’s sudden death of a heart attack at the McGehee Livestock Auction in which he was a co-partner with auctioneer C.B. Walker. I noted that at the time of his death Daddy was forty-nine years old and I was fifteen and in the back of the barn penning cattle.

Arthur Peacock in the ring of the McGehee Livestock Auction in 1952 before his death in 1954

Arthur Peacock (on right in white hat) in ring of McGehee Livestock Auction in 1952 before his death in 1954 (to magnify, click on the photo)

I now tell Okies: “I started out life as a cowboy in Arkansas and came to Oklahoma as a French translator. Go figure.”

Me as a cowboy in Selma, Arkansas

Me as a “cow-boy” up on Ole Blue in front of our house in Selma in the 1940s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Jimmy as an older "cowboy" on the Peacock family place in Selma in the 1980s

Me as a visiting older Arkansas Razorback “cowboy” at our former family home place in Selma in the 1980s (to magnify, click on the photo)

Since my father died on May 25, 1954, it has been exactly sixty years since his death. This portion of this post, like the previous post in July 2011, serves as a remembrance of and a tribute to him and his life as a livestock dealer and a family man.

Arthur Peacock and his family in Selma, Arkansas, in about 1947

Daddy and the Peacock family (from left: Adrian, Joe, Arthur, Vivian, and me) in front of my birthplace in Selma, Arkansas, in about 1947 when I was nine years old (to magnify, click on the photo)

I hope he would be pleased with it and not tell me, “Son, I think you need to go back an’ lick your calf over agin.”

Our Younger Grandson’s Birthday

“You can take away my church but you can’t take away my God!”
—Ben Peacock’s response to his mother’s threat to punish him
by taking away his church’s youth night activities

As evident by the quote above, our younger grandson Ben has a sharp mind and a quick wit. He is also a sharp and quick learner in school. His report on the life and discoveries of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto is the second most popular post of the 113 that I have published on my blog. (To read “Ben’s Report on Hernando de Soto,” published on October 3, 2012, click on the title.)

Ben with "finally finished" sticker on his face after completing his report on Hernando de Soto

Ben with a “finally finished” sticker on his face after completing his science fair project for which he won first place (to magnify, click on the photo)

Born in Tulsa on May 31, 2002, Ben turned twelve years old this past month. In addition to his sharp mind and quick wit, he is also adept at mastering all the latest electronic gadgets that interest so many youngsters these days. In fact, whenever his grandmother and I have any kind of computer problem, before calling our computer geek in Tulsa we always say, “Let’s ask Ben what to do to fix it!”

Ben also loves board games and puzzles, and shines in arts and crafts, making full use of his nimble fingers and active imagination to create all kinds of interesting and useful objects from yarn, rubber bands, paper, small pieces of metal, and other ordinary household items. He has made us all colorful and attractive items such as bracelets, necklaces, potholders, coasters, artistic robotic mantelpieces, pencil and pen holders, etc.

As further evidence of Ben’s creativity, as a young child he taught himself to make Power Point presentations and composed one for each member of the family on their favorite subjects. For example, his brother Levi’s was on hunting; his father’s was on the military; his grandmother’s was on pink flowers (her signature color); and mine was on (what else?) Elizabeth Taylor! (See my earlier blog post titled “My Lifelong Attraction to Black Beauty.”)

And what was the subject of Ben’s own Power Point? It was about what he used to call when he was a youngster “putty gulls,” with his favorite being Marilyn Monroe. Hmmm. I wonder where he got that boyish fascination with pretty girls?

But his interests and skills are not limited to academics, electronics, games of skill, arts and crafts, and Power Point presentations. He also enjoys biking and skateboarding, as well as hunting and fishing with his father and brother, and recently killed his first deer. In addition, he enjoys the indoor activities of his church’s youth program and the outdoor activities of an annual summer camp for the offspring of military personnel, especially archery, rappelling, and balloon water fights with other campers.

Ben after killing his first deer

Ben after killing his first deer (to magnify, click on the photo)

Ben is also a star player on local basketball and soccer teams. Although small in size and short in height, he is so fast and energetic that he always manages to match the skills of older, bigger, and taller kids his age.

So as seems evident in this post dedicated to Ben’s twelfth birthday, we are proud of the gifts, talents, activities, and creative works of our young Thomas Benjamin Peacock, a name he inherited from his great-grandfather.

Happy Birthday, Ben! And don’t let anyone take away your God who gave you all those marvelous gifts and talents!

Ben at age twelve

Ben Peacock at age twelve (to magnify, click on the photo)

My Family’s Move to Oklahoma in May 1977

“I moved to Babylon (Oklahoma) from the Holy Land (Arkansas) in 1977 (“the year that King Elvis died,” see Isaiah 6:1) to take a much-needed job in religious publication. If ever a man put his hand to the plow looking back, it is me. I only miss home two times—night and day!”
—Jimmy Peacock

In several different previous posts I have written or quoted sayings of mine about what I have called in biblical terms “My Oklahomian Exile Literature by an Exiled Arkie of the Covenant.”

One of the most prominent and descriptive of these exile sayings is the one above about my moving from my beloved Holy Land (Arkansas) to Babylon (Oklahoma) in 1977. (See for example the earlier post titled “Occupation in Exile, Deliverance in Time” on this very subject.)

However, the fact is that since my wife was teaching elementary school and our two sons were attending that same school in our hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, when I was offered the job of a French-English translator in Oklahoma, I had to leave my family behind and move to Tulsa all alone in February of that year.

The Jimmy and Marion Peacock family in McGehee, Arkansas, just before Jimmy moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1977

My family in McGehee before my move to Tulsa to start a new job in 1977 (Mari’s mother in back, left rear; me and Mari in right rear; and our sons Keiron (third boy from left in front wearing a yellow shirt; and Sean, second boy from right wearing a reddish shirt; to magnify, click on the photo)

In keeping with the title of this post about “Other Month of May Updates,” I did not move my family up to join me in Tulsa until school was out in McGehee on Memorial Day 1977: thirty-seven years ago this past Memorial Day weekend.

The house the Peacocks bought and moved into on Halloween Day in 1977--an omen of their "Oklahomian Exile"?

The house in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, which we bought and moved into on Halloween Day in 1977–an omen of our thirty-seven-year “Oklahomian Exile”? (to magnify, click on the photo)

That involuntary move—and my more than three decades-long unsuccessful attempt to “go home again”—have been the inspiration and impetus for all of the writings in this blog. As I so often quote myself: “I had been writing for twenty-five years before I realized that the theme of all of my writing is  . . . loss!”

And the crux of that loss has been the loss of home, which I call “the most beautiful word in the English language.”

Thus, each year I commemorate that fateful day in May so long ago when I moved my family from my beloved and sorely missed home state of  Arkansas to join me in my ongoing and seemingly unending “Oklahomian Exile.”

Jimmy and son standing under a "Welcome to Arkansas" sign during their "Oklahomian Exile"

Me and our younger son Keiron standing under a “Welcome to Arkansas” sign on one of our “semi-annual pilgrimages to the Holy Land” over the past thirty-seven years of our “Oklahomian Exile” (to magnify, click on the photo)

 

“The Red Kimono tells it all—the bitterness and pain as well as the joy, pride and patriotism of a people too resilient to be beaten by racism.”
—Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author of
Tallgrass and True Sisters

In my previous post titled “Updates: Japanese-American Relocation Camp Museum; Camp Nine; Relocation, Arkansas” I examined these three subjects a year after I had written about them in posts on my blog.

Since that time there has been one correction. There have now been visitors to the museum from forty-five states and more than one hundred cities in Arkansas.

(To read the original posts from a year ago, click on the following titles: “Opening of WWII Japanese American Internment Camps Museum” (March 20, 2013) and “Camp Nine: A Book Review with Quotes about the Arkansas Delta” (April 18, 2013.)

Now in this follow-up post I present an update of The Red Kimono, by Jan Morrill, the other book about the relocation camp at Rohwer, near my hometown of McGehee, Arkansas, which I reviewed a year ago. (To read that review titled “The Red Kimono: A Book Review about WWII Japanese Relocation Camps” (May 9, 2013), click on the title.)

Jan Morrill at book signing in Tulsa

Jan Morrill at book signing in Tulsa

In order to write this update I requested that Jan send me information and photos about her and her book since that post a year ago. (To learn more about Jan and her writings, visit her Web site at: http://www.janmorrill.com/.)

Jan Morrill holding copy of her book The Red Kimono

Jam Morrill holding a copy of The Red Kimono (to magnify, click on the photo taken from Jan’s Web site)

Following is part of what Jan wrote to me in response to my request for an update:

1) In August, The Red Kimono was selected as an Editor’s Choice by the Historical Novel Society. [A review of the book can be found at]

http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-red-kimono/

2) In May, The Red Kimono was selected as the Best Published Book by the Oklahoma Writers Federation.

3) I recently published a book of haiku titled, Life: Haiku by Haiku. Many of the haiku from The Red Kimono appear in the book, and were read by Susan Gallion [curator of the WWII Japanese-American Museum in McGehee, Arkansas, see the previous post] at the anniversary celebration of the museum.

4) In August, I will be speaking to the Japan America Society of Chicago.

5) I am currently working on the sequel to The Red Kimono.

Jan Morrill (in red) with George Takei (Star Trek actor who was interned at the camp) at the Rohwer Japanese-American relocation camp in Arkansas

Jam Morrill (in red) with George Takei, a Star Trek actor who was interned in the camp (leaning over with a white box in his hand) on the speakers’ platform at the Rohwer Japanese-American relocation camp near McGehee Arkansas (to magnify, click on the photo)

I am sure that all who are interested in the relocation camps, especially the two near McGehee, would like to congratulate Jan on her writing awards and will look forward to the sequel to The Red Kimono. I will keep readers updated on this subject in this blog.

Meanwhile, to view a brief video interview with Charlotte Schexnayder, the former editor of the McGehee Times, on her experience with the camp at Rohwer, click here.

The Clique Meeting in Tulsa

“The Old South will never die, not as long as there are darling debutantes, doting docents, indomitable dowagers, and other groups of proud Southern women like the Junior League, the Ya Ya Sisterhood, the Sweet Potato Queens, the Steel Magnolias—and the Maggie [McGehee] Clique!”
–Quote by Jimmy Peacock in letter
to Charles Allbright, the Arkansas Traveler columnist,
dated June 10, 2002

As indicated by the self-quote above, my next update is about the Maggie Clique, a group of “girls” from the McGehee, Arkansas, high school class of 1960 who have met together annually since 1991, which must be some kind of record.

This particular update marks an addition to a blog post I published on June 8, 2011, almost three years ago, titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique.” (To read those annual poetic tributes accompanied by photos of the Clique over the years and of the greeting cards I sent to them with each tribute, click on the title of the post.)

The Clique card for 2014

The Clique card for 2014 (to magnify, click on the card)

This year the Clique met in Tulsa on May 1-4 with a special luncheon to which I was invited to attend at Miss Scarlett’s Tea Room in the historic Southern-style residence called the Burnett Mansion in Sapulpa where we live. The Clique had met the two previous years on the beach in Florida. Mari missed those two meetings because of my failing health; she would not leave me alone while she was gone that far away for a whole week. So the Clique graciously voted to meet this year closer to our residence.

The Burnett Mansion in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where the Clique held its formal luncheon on Friday, May 2, 2014

The historic Southern-style Burnett Mansion, home of the fashionable Miss Scarlett’s Tea Room, in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, where the Clique held its formal luncheon on Friday, May 2 (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is my tribute and thank-you to them accompanied by a bouquet of red and white spring flowers and a greeting card with this poem inside which I composed:

 The Maggie Clique came to Tulsa . . .

. . . for the sake of my dear wife,
to try to save her husband’s life.
I wish that they would never [de]part,
‘cause they take with them my grateful heart!

Blessed art y’all among women!

The Clique on the side steps of the Burnett Mansion at their formal luncheon meeting on Friday, May 2, 2014

The Clique on the side steps of the Burnett Mansion at their formal luncheon on Friday, May 2, 2014 (Mari is the blonde on the left in the first row) (to magnify, click on the photo)

Since I have known these “girls” most of their lives and dated and/or double-dated several of them, as an “honorary member of the Clique” (a title conferred on me in 2000 with the gift of a tee-shirt with that inscription on it), I felt I could take the liberty of sharing with them in my card a bit of “chick reunion” humor from an older Southern Gentleman and Scholar:

 “The Ladies’ Meeting at the Ocean Springs Café”

The Clique in their matching white robes at their bed and breakfast inn during their May 1-4 meeting in Tulsa

The Clique in their white bathrobes at breakfast in their bed and breakfast inn in Tulsa during their May 1-4 meeting (to magnify, click on the photo)

Here is a story about a group of Southern ladies who met together like the Maggie Clique, except that they met every ten years.

When they were forty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because the waiters there are all young, handsome, flirty, and wear tight uniforms.”

When they were fifty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because the food there is delicious, and it is all low-fat and low-cholesterol!”

When they were sixty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because the restrooms there are so clean and so big and well-equipped that you never have to stand in line!”

When they were seventy years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because it is handicap accessible with wheelchair ramps and everything!”

When they were eighty years old, someone said, “Where shall we go to eat?” One of them said, “Oh, let’s go to the Ocean Springs Café, because  . . .  we’ve never been there!”

 —Jimmy Peacock, quoting Dr. Paul Talmadge
his former dean in Anderson, South Carolina

 My High School Senior Trip and Graduation

“When the ivy walls
Are far behind,
No matter where our paths may wind,
We’ll remember always
Graduation day.
We’ll remember always
Graduation day.”
“Graduation Day”

(To hear this song being sung by the Four Freshmen,
click on the title above.
To view the full lyrics to the song, click here.)

In a post titled “Moments to Remember/Selma Methodist Church Update” published on May 23, 2012, I quoted some of the lyrics of another graduation day song titled “Moments to Remember.” That song happened to be our McGehee High School Class of 1956 graduating class song.

McGehee, Arkansas, High School class of 1956

McGehee, Arkansas, High School Class of 1956; I am the fourth student from the left in the second row from the back (to magnify, click on the photo)

Jimmy Peacock in cap and gown at graduation from McGehee, Arkansas, High School in 1956

Me in cap and gown at graduation from McGehee High School in 1956 (to magnify, click on the photo)

To read this post about our senior class trip to Petit Jean State Park, click on the title above.

Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas

Petit Jean (pronounced Petty Gene) State Park near Morrilton, Arkansas

However, although the post was published on May 23, 2012, the actual graduation ceremony took place on May 14, 1956—fifty-eight years ago!

In either case, regardless of the precise day, it is another one of the precious “Month of May Updates” in this nostalgic blog post in an effort to assure that “we’ll remember always: Graduation Day.”

In the next post I will provide a follow-up and progress report on the other subject on this post, the Selma Methodist Church and a few more month of May updates.

 

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