Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for April 23, 2014

Tourists. You can’t live with them. You can’t live without them.

My wife, Diane, recalls a disgruntled tourist years ago complaining about having driven all the way out to Dinosaur World/Land of Kong and the dinosaurs weren’t even alive. Another time a lady was impressed that Diane could read and write, considering that Arkansas didn’t have schools.

Used to be, one of the recurring questions asked was where were all the “real” hillbillies? Do the tourists still ask that? I’ve heard stories of years ago how disappointed they’d be that the locals wore shoes and didn’t smoke corn cob pipes.

I remember when my brother was a teenager and would visit from Washington, D.C., he’d borrow Uncle Arlie’s old Willys Jeep to drive around. He’d dress in overalls without shirt or shoes and go down Spring Street for the tourists to see a hillbilly.

Fred Muller tells of being asked if the Christ of the Ozarks statue was manmade or a natural occurring formation. As jokes, kids used to tell gullible visitors that the Christ of the Ozarks statue had a revolving restaurant housed in Jesus’s head, or that you could take an elevator up to the top of the statue and look out Jesus’s eyes. Others told tourists that the statue would sometimes turn and wave.

I’ve heard of frantic tourists rushing into the emergency room at the Eureka Springs Hospital because their child had a tick and threatening lawsuits over it.

I remember being told by a tourist that they were tired of driving on the curvy, hilly roads and would I tell them how to get on the interstate. When I explained the distance to the nearest interstate, he argued that all towns had interstates and would I just tell him where it was.

I like this one. Jessica Ross tells of a tourist calling the front desk of the Matterhorn Towers one night to say, “The frogs are quaint and all, but could you please turn off the recording?”

Tell me your story at steve@steveweems.com or P.O. Box 43 in Eureka Springs.

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