It has been pointed out to me that I had a factual error in my January 7, 2015 column that appeared in the Eureka Springs Independent newspaper. The following is the corrected version.
My wife Diane grew up where the Pig Trail Kart n Golf (formerly The Fun Spot) is located on Highway 62 East in Eureka Springs. If you go back to the early 1980s, it was still a beautiful family home place, with an abundance of flowers, bushes and large old trees around a house with a big yard. There was some pasture and Duane O’Connor sometimes ran a few cows. Diane and her brother Doug would play in the front yard and periodically a car would pull up and tourists would ask for directions to the Passion Play. After being given directions, the tourists would sometimes ask how many blocks away it was. Diane didn’t know how to answer that.
Thirty years ago, we kept my Cousin Jim Sisco’s mare Lulabell at our place and I spent many a happy hour riding across the countryside. I wanted to go to my grandparents’ farm, but didn’t want to ride down through the curves on the shoulderless highway. (I’d done that before and didn’t want to repeat it.) My Grandpa Jack McCall knew all kinds of shortcuts, so I asked him for directions. He suggested I take the old road over the mountain and through the woods. Turns out his definition of a road and mine were different (mine undoubtedly influenced by living in East Coast suburbia.)
I still remember his directions. I was to turn left at the red oak snag. I found it. I was to stay straight at the giant dead elm. I found it. I was to watch for the dogs at the house where the hippies grew dope. Those dogs found me before I found them. Lulabell and I made it through that section pretty quick. Looking back, I realize that she and I did a lot of trespassing without a second thought.
Speaking of Grandpa and hippies, he told me once that he’d heard that there were hippies in Eureka that didn’t get out of bed until nine in the morning. He was incredulous. I’m glad he didn’t know what time I got up.
For thirty years, O’Connor’s Texaco Service Station operated in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In about 1954, Duane O’Connor bought an old Dodge Power Wagon so they could offer a wrecker service, too. Over the years he bought a number of different wrecker trucks to be used in the business. The one pictured below is a 1955 model Chevrolet truck. He eventually sold this vehicle to Howard Weems. Duane operated the wrecker service until his back gave out in about 1980.
In my little workshop building, there is a backroom I use as an office. I was sitting in there yesterday with the cat upon my lap, when in through the open door walked a young raccoon. I assume he was just looking for cat food, but thinking him rude, I told him so and off he ran in surprise.
My sister bought a copy of the 1954 annual yearbook of the Eureka Springs High School. Below is the front cover.
Next is the list of students and faculty sponsors who comprised the staff of the 1954 edition of the annual yearbook. There are several familiar names on the list. Donna O’Connor, for instance, is my wife’s aunt. Tommy Walker is the father of Laura Loudermilk who was the maid of honor at my wedding. Many of the surnames listed represent the oldest families of Eureka Springs and the Western District of Carroll County, Arkansas.
The boys and I hiked down through the woods the other day. I took this photo with my cell phone and then Barb Weems-Mourglia enhanced it with her particular brand of magic.
For the last couple of days, this owl roosted in the open window of the barn. It appears to be a barred owl to my untrained eye, which makes sense because we have several of them in the hollow. We often hear their distinctive call or occasionally they chatter like monkeys. They have raised young several times since we’ve lived in the hollow and it is a joy to hear this occur. I took this photo with my cell phone and it looked so dark that you could barely make out the owl. I turned it over to Barb Weems-Mourglia and in just a few minutes on her phone she had enhanced it into this beautiful photograph.
Since I was a child, I have read from a novel every night before sleep. There have been times my schedule did not permit this and I would miss it terribly. The last couple years, however, I have read very few novels because they just couldn’t keep my attention. I would start a novel known to be a real page turner and I wouldn’t get half way through before I would abandon it.
This novel was different. I quickly fell into the soothing cadences of Henning Mankell’s writing and couldn’t have stopped reading even if I had wanted to. I don’t consider this Mr. Mankell’s best novel, but it was exactly what I needed at this time. It saddens me to think that he finished writing it the year of his death.
Here is a bit of a spoiler: my favorite part of the story may have been that most of the characters live on islands off the coast of Sweden in an archipelago. They get around in boats unless the ice is on, then they walk around. They all have boat houses on their islands in which they park their boats. The island characters live in old houses, though many of the houses have become summer retreats for city dwellers. The main character is a retired doctor who lives in his grandparent’s 100+ year old house. He continues the old tradition of bathing in the sea every morning, even when he has to chop a hole in the ice to do it. The culture of the islands is very interesting, reminiscent of many rural cultures, even the old culture of these Ozark hills.
Roy Reed of Hogeye, Arkansas died yesterday in Fayetteville. He was certainly one of Arkansas greatest writers. I attended a book signing by him in 1997 at the Eureka Springs Carnegie Library. Below is how he inscribed the book for my daughter Sarah.
I don’t know the date of these clippings of Karen Weems, but I’m guessing 1967. They would have been snipped from the Eureka Springs Times-Echo newspaper. Today she is known as Karen Grulkey.