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”:
“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.
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.
Photo/article about a McGehee Alligator
“Alligators, like snowfall, are just rare enough in Southeast Arkansas
to cause a stir among the locals.”
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.
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.”
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.”)
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.”
(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.
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.”
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.
Information and photos about the McGehee Estate were taken from:
The link to the entry on the city of McGehee was taken from:
The articles and photos of the alligator in the McGehee city park pond were taken from:
The link to my post titled “My Annual Tributes to the Clique” was taken from:
The link to the YouTube video of the old black man telling and showing how to pick cotton was taken from:
The links and photos about “Designing Women,” Delta Burke, and Julia Sugarbaker were taken from:
The photo of Jan Hooks was taken from:
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:
The video of Jan Hooks as the Alamo tour guide from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was taken from: