ES Independent Column – Old Enough

I’m old enough to remember some things about Eureka Springs that have changed over the years. I remember ice cream from Dairy Queen and hamburgers from Tastee Freeze. I remember Eurekans driving to Fayetteville or Rogers just for the novelty of eating at a McDonald’s.

I’m old enough to remember when the Eureka Springs schools weren’t air conditioned and the frustration of trying to keep my school papers from being ruined by the sweat running off my arm and dripping from my face. I can remember turning in papers that were soggy and limp and barely legible from the sweat and the running blue ink.

I’m old enough to remember high-powered deer rifles hanging in the back glass of pickup trucks in the Eureka Springs High School parking lot. I’m not old enough to remember this: a Eureka Springs student was going hunting after school with a friend, so he carried his rifle on the school bus in the morning. The gun was put in the home room teacher’s closet for safe keeping during class. After school, the boy picked up his rifle and rode the bus home with his friend. That sequence of events would certainly not be allowed today.

I lived on Spring Street from birth until the age of six months before moving to California, so I missed out on some Eureka Springs childhood rituals of the time. My wife Diane remembers that bill paying day each month as a special occasion. She’d ride with her mother downtown to pay the utility bills. They’d always walk across Spring Street to Eureka Drug where Diane’s grandmother Norma O’Connor worked. Norma would give Diane a chocolate mint and a monkey made out of a brown pipe cleaner. Sometimes Diane was allowed a treat from the Bingaman bakery. Other times, they’d browse at the Hallmark Shop.

I’m old enough to remember from the early 1980s when there were four country music shows in town, each operating out of their own giant building. Of course, that doesn’t sound too impressive when my grandfather McKinley Weems can recall being at the dedication of the auditorium in 1929.