I opened up the November 16, 1978 Eureka Springs Times-Echo and saw my wife looking back at me from page 3, though she was only 11 years old. She, along with classmates Clyde Osterhout, Jessica Lux and others, were winners in the school poster contest. Over on page 2 is a large photograph of Paul Anderson with art teacher Barbara Ackley. He won the grand prize in the contest and his artwork would soon grace the cover of the new Ozark Gardens menu.
The lead story of the week is about the ongoing plans to build a city parking lot on Water Street in the wooded valley between Douglas and Steele. City Administrator Karen Grulkey updated the city council about problems with the appraisal process when Mayor-elect Marcile Davis said she wasn’t in favor of the location. After input from City Attorney Ed Buice, alderman Bill Reasor introduced a motion to drop the Water Street project completely. The motion failed when only Truie Walsh and Bill Reasor voted for it. Al Westphal, Richard Kelley and Dave Drennon abstained. I believe Water Street is now a city park.
It was also reported that United States Senator Dale Bumpers would be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Chamber of Commerce banquet. An $8.50 ticket, purchased at the Chamber of Commerce office located in the Municipal Auditorium, bought a meal of cordon bleu.
Also on the front page is a photograph of Ruth Eicher, Jeanette Bullock and June Westphal being sworn in as members of the Historic District Commission. Previously, Charles Freeman and Clio Miller were sworn in by Mayor Charles Robertson. There is also a photograph of Eureka Springs native, Sheriff Jerry Colvin.
I perused the restaurant ads, wondering where people may have had plans to eat out for Thanksgiving the following week. Inn of the Ozarks and Eureka Inn had competing Thanksgiving buffets planned. The Hylander Steak House also had a special menu advertised. Miceli’s and the Spaghetti Mill have ads, though it wasn’t clear if they were open Thanksgiving Day. Tastee-Freez announced they’d be closed so they could stay home with the kids.
Four miles down Rockhouse Road off US Highway 62 in Eureka Springs is an old house leaning precariously under the unrelenting force of gravity. Informed it was once the home of Cora Pinkley Call, I drove to take a look. On my first pass, I didn’t see it because I was looking in the woods on the east side of the road. Turning around, I drove north and saw the small dilapidated building in the pasture on the west side of the road.
Cora Pinkley Call was a prolific and well known regional writer. As a child she was often sickly and spent her time writing or observing nature on the George Washington Pinkley farm on Kings River. She died in Eureka Springs two years before I was born, in 1966.
Because Cora Pinkley Call was McKinley Weems’ aunt, I swung by and picked him up. We traced our way down Rockhouse Road and looked at the house some more. McKinley said he couldn’t remember Aunt Cora ever living there, that it used to be the Roy Gaddy place. He said that he always knew of her living with her husband Miles Call on Mill Hollow Road. Miles Call was a postman in Eureka Springs after having farmed and soldiered earlier in life.
McKinley did tell me this old family story. In the early 1940s, he went fishing on Kings River with his Uncle Miles. They were on the old Pinkley place and passed a little house. Uncle Miles said, “Do you know what that is? That’s the weaning house.” It turns out that George Pinkley and his wife Mary Jane Harp had a second house on their farm for their children to live in when they first married. They had four sons and six daughters and when the next child married, they would get their turn to move into the weaning house.
But the weaning house was not the same as the house four miles down Rockhouse Road. I talked to more people and looked through land records but never figured out for sure when Cora Pinkley Call lived in the house, but had a good time trying.
I received an email from my sister Barb Mourglia the other day. In it was a short message that expressed some things about Eureka Springs and change and the passage of time that resonated strongly with me. You may know Barbara from her volunteer work against domestic violence. This is what she said:
“Eureka Springs has been home to me since I was brought home from the hospital to Rocky Top Road in 1985. It was a gravel road then, and I swore I wouldn’t be able to cope if it were ever paved. They did pave it, though. Chip and sealed it. I survived, but I still reminisce about a time when dust rose like a cloud when a car drove by. Some people don’t understand that. Now, when I visit my childhood home I see cars fly by going at interstate speeds.
“A few weeks ago, I was thinking to myself, ‘I hope the Office Supply (at the bottom of Planer Hill) never closes.’ When my Aunt Terri’s store Happy Things closed last year, I felt like a part of Eureka that lived inside me died. Then, I received news of the Quilt Shop closing and now the Office Supply. These shops have been here at least as long as I have and, in my mind, are concrete fixtures of home. I appreciate the little things like how the Office Supply smells upon entering. It just gives a feeling of comfort and stability, similar to the way you could count on classic rock playing when you entered Happy Things. Maybe some Tom Petty. You’re probably thinking I’m one of those sentimental types, and you’d be right. I keep stuff. I cry about absolutely anything that stirs up the slightest emotion. I suppose everyone has places or things that define the way they see their home. Eureka is a special place, built on little experiences and the people who provided them. I’m thankful for the three women, Terri, Kristy and Sandy, who ran those three shops for so many years. They helped shape the way I see the place that I call home.”
Home from college last week, my daughter bought tickets and treated me to the 7th Annual Voices from Eureka’s Silent City tour. Every person portrayed was interesting, but the one who caught my fancy was F.O. Butt. I’d heard stories about Mr. Butt and was eager to learn more.
Some kids snickered when they heard Festus Orestes Butt’s full name. I was impressed that he is said to have had one of the finest private libraries in the state of Arkansas. That is, until 1943, when his house burned down. I happen to know someone who was 12 years old and a neighbor to the Butt’s at that time and asked him some questions about the house.
The house that burned was one of the largest around and was situated where the Land O’ Nod motel is now located. F.O. Butt and his wife Essie had seven children and each had their own bedroom. There were also dorm rooms for the grandchildren, one for girls and one for boys. The bottom floor of the house was nearly encircled by porches with the south porch crowded with old push-type lawn mowers. Mr. Butt’s study had a private entrance and inside was his collection of pipes, as he was an avid smoker.
I’d once noticed that in the 1930 Federal Census it was reported that the Butt’s home was valued at $25,000, an astronomical amount at the time. I told the Butt’s neighbor this and he said that perhaps the 25 grand included the property connected to the house. The grounds stretched to the location of the present day Pizza Hut and included the 28 acre parcel that now contains Thomas Drive.
If you’re not familiar with Mr. Butt, perhaps you are wondering how he could afford such property. I certainly do not have room here to do his biography justice, but suffice it to say that he was a very successful attorney. In fact, I learned on the 7th Annual Voices from Eureka’s Silent City tour that he was licensed to practice law in the state of Arkansas for an astounding 75 years.