Sometimes I overindulge in the luxury of preconceived notions and it takes an outside force to nudge the trajectory of my thinking. In this case, it was my short association with Ned Shank in the Eureka Springs Rotary Club.
I was working as an accountant in town and my boss was the incoming president of the club. He said he’d put me up for membership (or however it worked) and as I do occasionally try new things, I hesitantly agreed. I didn’t know the first thing about civic clubs at the time and though I had agreed to join, I was a little skeptical about it all.
The Rotary Club met weekly downstairs at Myrtie Mae’s. I showed up at the appointed early hour bleary-eyed but curious. After an omelet made to order, the meeting got down to business and I was surprised at how closely the proceedings mirrored some church services, with music and singing led by Alan Epley and his horn, introduction of guests and a weekly speaker. It all ran smoothly despite some good-natured grumbling by those in the back seats.
I don’t remember if it was the first meeting I attended, or the second, but when things drew to a close, Ned Shank made a bee-line for me. We shook hands, and he loomed over me (he was quite tall) and he enthusiastically endorsed the work of the Rotary Club, both local and world-wide. That was 15 years ago and I don’t recall the exact words Ned spoke, but I’m thoroughly aware of the impact those words wrought. What struck me as interesting is that he seemed well aware of my skepticism, but used reason to make his case. We had a good conversation and I looked forward to more.
It wasn’t too long after I joined the Eureka Springs Rotary Club that Ned Shank was killed in a tragic bicycle accident just west of Eureka. The Ned Shank Wikipedia article states that he was posthumously made a Paul P. Harris Fellow, which is an award given by the Rotary Club.
Recently, I wrote about the Lake Lucerne Resort near Eureka Springs. Since that time, I’ve learned more about the old resort and its history, much of it from Randy Freeman. Randy has a unique perspective because both of his grandfathers were associated with Lake Lucerne.
In the 1930s, businessman Ray Freeman was involved with Lake Lucerne with long-time owner Richard R. “Dick” Thompson. Dick Thompson also owned Ozarka Water and lived in the Roundhouse near the train depot on Main Street in Eureka. He is said to have shipped as much as two million gallons of Ozarka Spring Water per year out of Eureka Springs. Thompson had originally come to Eureka in 1908 to teach at the Crescent College. Also involved in politics, he represented Arkansas at the 1916 National Democratic Convention.
Randy’s other grandfather, Charles Taff, lived adjacent to the Lake Lucerne golf course and his house overlooked it. Mr. Taff mowed the golf course in the 1940s and 1950s with a mowing machine pulled by two horses. Mrs. Taff sold eggs and produce to the resort restaurant.
Randy remembers playing on huge rocks located on the links. His mother, Pat, also played on the rocks as a child, as did her sisters. Pat remembers Mr. Thompson playing golf and his frustration with the game.
The nine-hole golf course was located in a valley and partly on the hillside. Between it and Lake Lucerne was Tex Belt’s riding stable. When Randy was little, he would go down and visit with Tex. He said the stable was a cool place for a little boy with all the horses and the leather saddles.
Randy said Tex was a fixture around Eureka Springs for many years. He was known for coming to town in a wagon pulled by a team of horses, up into the late 1960s. The wagon had rubber automobile tires and Tex and his wife would be seen in it all over.
Thanks to Randy for sharing his memories. Send your remembrances to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 43 in Eureka Springs, 72632.
In my novel, Murder in the Ozarks, Andy attends church one Sunday morning. “A tall man with a crew cut and black-framed glasses met Andy at the door, welcomed him by name, and handed him a photocopied program.” That line is my earliest recollection of Theo Jackson, handing out bulletins Sunday mornings before church when I attended with Granny. He knew everybody, and everybody knew him.
Theo was a direct descendant of the pioneer doctor Alvah Jackson, the man who many consider the founding father of Eureka Springs. Theo Jackson made a big impression on me. He had a large farm in the Rock Springs area east of Eureka Springs and he was a man of stature in the community and in his church. I was always impressed with how he carried himself with both humor and dignity. We once attended one of his mountain oyster parties and he was a gracious host.
Theo is someone whom I regret that I’ll not have another conversation with. In fact, I feel like he and I started some conversations that were still in play; conversations that we never finished. The last time we talked was in the barber shop and we continued a conversation we’d been having for twenty years about coyotes and wolves.
We lived on Rock Springs Road at one time and Theo was a neighbor. We had a half-grown Anatolian Shepherd pup named Frost and I was concerned about Frost getting along with Theo’s dog. Theo pulled in one day and his dog jumped out of the truck. Frost was probably 80 pounds then and put the dog back into the truck. I apologized, but Theo just said that Frost was doing his job. Over time, Theo grew to think a lot of Frost. He said that he liked to drive by and see Frost standing out with his cows in the pasture because that meant there were no predators around. After we moved to the hollow, Theo called a couple of times just to ask how Frost was doing.
Theo Ulysses Jackson died August 1, 2015 at the age of 88. He will be missed.
My daughter works at a shop in town frequented by tourists. The other day, a couple probably in their 70s came in and the gentleman said, “The last time I was in Eureka Springs I must have been about twelve years old.” He told about coming to visit during summer vacations and about the restaurant at Lake Lucerne. As his wife impatiently tried to usher him out the door, he said, “I’m just trying to tell this young lady about her town’s history.”
I have some old Lake Lucerne postcards and they show that it was quite a resort. One postcard shows the sizeable restaurant, which was a hot spot for both locals and tourists, looming over the lake. There is a high dive, a tall water slide and other recreational activities. Another postcard shows the hilly golf course.
Lake Lucerne was once partly owned by Lance Alworth. He is considered an all time great of both the Razorbacks and of professional football. I’m told that in the era that Lance Alworth played for Frank Broyles in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks would come to Eureka Springs and stay at the Crescent Hotel the night before home games. Perhaps that is when he became familiar with Lake Lucerne. Later, during the 1965 off season when he wasn’t playing professional football in San Diego, Lance Alworth and two Little Rock businessmen purchased the Lake Lucerne Resort. They only owned it for two years, but Lance Alworth managed to establish a boys camp there during that time.
I’ve read articles about the group that purchased the resort from Lance Alworth and company and their plans. According to what I read, they planned to lengthen and pave the airstrip at Lake Lucerne so that it could accommodate daily passenger flights. The 9-hole golf course was to be expanded and a ski slope and chair lift for snow skiing was to be built.
If you have memories of Lake Lucerne, write to me at email@example.com or P.O. Box 43 in Eureka Springs, 72632.