Below is the “Notes from the Hollow” column from the August 15, 2013 edition of the Eureka Springs Independent newspaper.
It may also be accessed here: http://issuu.com/esindependent/docs/esi_vol_2_no_7/17?e=0
I was behind a man in line at a local convenience store one day and a tourist asked him if he was a Eureka Springs native. The man answered, “I’ve lived here five years, I think that makes me a native.”
That’s a curious statement. Is it really that easy to become a native Eurekan? It only takes five years?
Not all Eurekans are native born, of course, so who qualifies? I don’t know exactly. My children are sixth generation Weemses here, and yet we actually reside outside the city limits. Does that disqualify us as Eurekans? Just how does one prove one’s bona fides? To be honest, I was born in the Eureka Springs Hospital, but I’ve only clocked half my life here. Is that good enough? Home has never been anywhere else, but maybe I don’t make the cut.
Certain hard-boiled natives, long-term residents and ex-pats see Eureka Springs as being occupied by foreign forces. That’s a bit harsh. Their view of Eureka Springs is much different than that of someone who optimistically cashed in their 401k to move here and buy a business. And that person’s view is much different than the one selling out, leaving town bankrupt and bitter.
Some say Eureka Springs isn’t a real town anymore. Sure, some locals only go downtown for the post office or to eat at Local Flavor, but that just means the town has changed. Whether for better or worse is for you to decide. I’ve heard it both ways.
What of the many Eurekans who have moved away for a living wage, to be near children or just to experience the real world? Are their passports confiscated on the way out of town?
I think a true Eurekan always comes back, whether it be for short visits, to retire or maybe just to be buried.
I once read in the newspaper that a city leader said something along the lines that we are all here because of tourism. That makes a nice rallying cry, except for those here despite the tourism. Some are here simply because it’s home.