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The following stories are examples of feature writing done by author and editor John Hancock Nelson. We hope there is something that you will enjoy. Please email us if you have written a feature you would also like to see published here. You will get a byline and probably provide us with yet another good read.
Welder artist travels to Hot Springs
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
A Tennessee welding artist made an icy journey from Chuckey, Tenn. to Hot Springs, Arkansas on Tuesday, March 4 so he could make sure his artwork was on display at the American Art Gallery on Friday night for the popular first Friday of the month “Gallery Walk.”
Brian Mace, 56, said his only display in Hot Springs has been American Art Gallery downtown and he has been bringing his steel structures, all hand painted, to the gallery off and on for between 7 and 8 years.
“I have been welding artistic creatures and painting them since I was in welding class in high school 43 years ago,” he said.
“I must have been about 15 when I made my first piece. That would have been in my third year welding class.”
Ann Gilbert, co-owner of American Art Gallery, said the welding art pieces are popular and reasonably priced.
“I have had pretty good luck selling Brian’s pieces over the years and I am glad to get this new supply,” she said.
Mace said if anyone wants additional items, tell the Gilberts. He called Willie and Ann Gilbert, and the American Art Gallery, his special display partners in Hot Springs “and any orders should go through them.”
In addition to cats, dogs, possums, peacocks etc., Mace is always looking for new ways to please customers.
“I brought a whole van full of art this time so welding art fans should have plenty to choose from,” he said.
Mace’s art has multi-colors and seems to be all nature oriented from observation.
“The displays are curved to where you can generally tell the animal being depicted and then I add the brightly colored paint for that good mood feeling on a porch, patio or out near a garden,” he said.
Mace has been producing art work after art work in the recent past as therapy to combat grief. His wife of 5 years recently passed away from cancer.
“We had five great years and you won’t hear me complain about that,” Mace said. “When I think of all of the joy she gave me, it is easy to create this uplifiting art.”
Mayor says accountability needed before trusting tax money to Alliance again
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Gurdon Mayor Clayton Franklin said Wednesday he is not opposed to the renewal of the 1/2 cent countywide sales tax for industrial recruitment in Clark County “but my vote on March 11 may reflect the lack of accounting transparency current administrators of the tax money have given the public.”
Franklin said the tax has been in effect for seven years and expires in 2014. It has produced at least $1.5 million per year. According to Franklin, it has produced a total of nearly $10,500,000.
When the mayor was asked what all of this money was really used for, he said, “I really don’t know.”
The tax was approved by Quorum Court vote seven years ago and then put to a vote by the people of Clark County. Franklin said it carried in Gurdon.
“Our people are not opposed to the tax, just to the fact that it was subcontracted to an independent agency from a Quorum Court board that was supposed to be in charge of its administration and accountability,” Franklin said.
“Once the Alliance and Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce got the purse strings, there was no longer a legal requirement for public book keeping and accountability and they were free to do what they wanted with the money.
“I am not calling them crooked and accusing them of any wrong doing. I am simply saying that before I would be in favor of this tax again, the press and the rest of the public would have to have access to the industrial tax slush fund books.”
As to the mission of the money, increasing Clark County manufacturing jobs, Franklin is unconvinced of any success. He sited 1065 manufacturing jobs lost in the past 10 years for Clark County, according to the University of Arkansas division of research.
The mayor said he had heard the construction of an Arkadelphia Industrial Park railroad spur will cost the Alliance group close to $5 million before it is completed.
“Gurdon is never included in their plans. I told them a long time ago if they would turn over the portion of the sales tax money collected in Gurdon for the City of Gurdon to openly manage for industrial recruitment down here, I could go for that,” Franklin said.
“They never would respond to that offer. They are ran by a subcontracted body of independent folk that do not have to answer to the government of the people as to how they spend that $1.5 million a year and it does not appear that said group is the least bit interested in developing any industry in Gurdon, Arkansas.”
When asked about the chicken factory that was supposed to open up this spring, Franklin said he has heard nothing recently about that still being about to occur.
“I am not saying they won’t come and I am not saying that would not benefit Gurdon. I am saying the Alliance has kept closed mouth on any progress that might have happened with the chicken factory recruitment effort, which means the potential workers don’t have a time table either. Many really need some answers so they can make plans to go back to working a steady job.”
Mayor Franklin said the existing railroad spur, just south of Gurdon, was brought up early on as a plus to recruit new industry but that ball was dropped by the Arkadelphia based managers of the sales tax.
“They already pledged $1 million of the $5 million necessary to build a new railroad spur in the industrial park where that chicken factory was said to be opening up again,” Franklin said.
Franklin stressed the following logic as his bottom line on the sales tax vote coming up on Tuesday, March 11.
“I don’t feel it’s a vote on an industrial recruitment tax. I am in favor of having some money available to bring jobs into Gurdon and Clark County overall,” he said.
“This upcoming vote is really a referendum by the voters as to their satisfaction on how their tax money has been spent, and what industrial recruitment progress has really been made. It will also give voter reaction to the fact that those in charge feel no sense of accountability in regard to letting the public know how their money is being spent – at least they make no regular report on it.”
Franklin restated they don’t have to make such a report as the Alliance folks are not a governmental body with open-door requirements, such as the Freedom of Information Act puts on bodies such as a City Council or the Quorum Court and their committees.
“In considering the referendum on how the money is being spent, I must make a note that I can not find any evidence they spent any of this for the economic benefit of Gurdon – unless Gurdon workers want to drive to Arkadelphia if and when the chicken factory opens,” he said.
“Again, I think the vote on March 11 will be a referendum on the management and how the money has been spent, and on the organizational structure.
“People are either satisfied with Arkansas Regional Alliance and its affiliates, as to how their industrial tax fund has been spent or they are not.”
Franklin said he personally has found Alliance to be less than straight forward when asked about the number of jobs actually created with the tax money available, and about future plans- if the funding continues…
Come get a career in a year
By JOHN H. NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
The ABC Beauty College in Arkadelphia celebrated two years at its 26th Street location on Jan. 31 and is in the process of remodeling the Cutting Edge hair salon next door. The owner would like to assure the public he will continue to cut hair during the facelift.
ABC Beauty College student population continues to average between 20 and 25 and school personnel would like to invite anyone with a possible interest in a hair career to “come on in and get acquainted.”
Charles Kirkpatrick, owner of the school, the Cutting Edge hair salon and ABC Barber College at 103 Brenda Street, Hot Springs, said Feb. 13, “We have really been happy in our new Arkadelphia facilities and we continue to brainstorm ways to make our students more and more competitive in today’s workforce.
“The hair business is still one of the best ways to have a career in a year. If you come in to check us out, stick around any evening, Tuesday through Friday, and get yourself a pleasing hair cut at the Cutting Edge.”
School hours at both the beauty college in Arkadelphia and the barber college in Hot Springs are from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., with ABC Barber College also having a student population of between 20 and 25.
According to Kirkpatrick, the Cutting Edge takes off Mondays but stays on other weekday evenings “as long as there are still requests for haircuts.” It continues to serve the public with three hair stylists. Charles, his school manager and daughter Beth Waggoner and Beverly Hardin all work there. During the interview, Charles was cutting the hair of a Henderson State University baseball player, Colton Lorance, of Arkadelphia.
Lorance said, “Another one of my team mates said he came to Charles Kirkpatrick and was very satisfied with the haircut he got so that is why I am here. I plan on coming back.”
Kirkpatrick and he and his daughter Beth moved into the 203 South 26th Street mall/building in order to better serve the needs of the student body and the customer base. In addition to the tradition of working hard to please the hair customer, the move created a bit of history.
The ABC Beauty College moved to its former 2708 Pine Street location 28 years ago, on Jan. 31, 1984 and opened for business on South 26th Street on Jan. 31, 2012.
When Charles and Beth first took over the beauty college and hair salon, it was 1980 and their first location was at 620 Clinton Street.
Kirkpatrick said the beauty college has graduated approximately 1,050 students to become licensed cosmetologists since 1984 and around 1,450 total since he took the school over in 1980.
Anyone interested in a career as a cosmetologist should contact Delores Clark, ABC’s registrar and business manager. She can be reached at: (870) 230-0777.
“We are still a great choice for a career in a year, with a pretty well depression-proof guarantee, as people will continue to get their hair worked on even in hard times,” Kirkpatrick said.
Mrs. Clark said ABC Beauty College currently has 20 plus students enrolled, but the school is ready for an increase. The beauty college has added a new instructor and a new office worker since moving to the new location. There is plenty of room for a few more hair-career ambitious students, she added.
“It is like anything else,” Mrs. Clark said. “Once we get you in here, and we find a way for you to pay for the education, it is up to you to finish your 1,500 hours and make this a worthwhile experience and a ticket to a good job.”
Kirkpatrick said he and his daughter have lived in Clark County just about all of their lives.
Originally from Amity, Charles said he traded working with wood pulp for working with heads of hair. Charles Kirkpatrick is the executive director of the Arkansas Barber Board and one of the founders of Barbers International, plus he is in the Barber Hall of Fame in Ohio.
He said many of his beauty school and barber school graduates start out making $100 a day or more. Any age is a good age to go to school to do hair. He has had students from ages 17 to 62.
“It takes 1,500 clock hours to become a licensed cosmetologist,” Kirkpatrick said. “This takes most of our students about a year to complete.
“We are accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) and the Arkansas Department of Health, cosmetology section.”
Kirkpatrick said ABC Beauty College has financial aid through Title 4, as well as Pell grants for those who qualify.
“All student work is performed in the presence of a licensed instructor,” he said. “The new facility is state of the art and a great place to learn not just haircuts, but hair coloring, pedicures, manicures, perms and the like. You learn to please the customer hair-wise.”
As an aside, Charles said when he cuts he likes to ask about hair length before he gets too far. He called it a hair stylist’s nightmare to hear a customer exclaim, “that is just too short!” Always ask before you cut and avoid this situation…
Kirkpatrick said a new class of students begins during the first week of every month. Those wanting to enroll do need proof of citizenship, as well as economic and family information.
Instruction, he said, is available through a traditional class setting and also on line.
“We teach the basics,” Charles said. “But we do have many success stories. Once in a while one of our former students will give us a call to let us know some good news. They may be starting a business or they have just landed that good job in a great location.”
Kirkpatrick said he would like to see the classes graduate 30 to 35 per year and believes enrollment will pick up to that level “as the word of the fine facility continues to spread and available jobs continue to be hard to find.”
“If you want to cut hair, and you work it, this certificate can mean making a good living – even if our country heads back into economic recession or worse. People get their hair done and will continue to do so.
“My motto at both schools has always been if hair is something you enjoy doing, invest a year of your life getting an education so you can not only have a job but enjoy your job.
“Once you are a trained hair person, you have something you can rely on to make money and to possibly own your own business.”
Valentine couple enjoys rainbow on their honeymoon
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Togetherness says a lot. If you can work with a person and then go home and spend time with them, that says a lot about how much you not only love them, but like them – and like being around them.
Charles and Anita Cabe, both 69 and of Gurdon, have been married for 46 years. They are the ones you see at the Cabe Land Office when you want to apply for various foundation grants.
But they are also man and wife and have been ever since a minister finally decided Charles would take Anita to be his lawful wedded bride, but not her twin sister…
The Cabes have many such anecdotes in their years together. They have one son, Clay, 45, who is married to Sarah B. Cabe. There are no grandchildren yet.
But how did this all start? Anita said Wednesday she met her husband, and now long-term Valentine, at Henderson State University. Charles was visiting Arkadelphia and at the time attending college at the University of Arkansas in Monticello.
“I have lived in Gurdon all of my life,” Charles said. “Anita and Annette were from Forrest City and were originally from Mississippi. I dated Anita for three years before asking her to marry me at Dairy Queen. She said yes and we took off on a Hawaiian honeymoon after getting married in Forrest City.”
Anita said she and Charles were married on July 2, 1967 by Brother Hankins at the Forrest City Baptist Church.
After coming home to Gurdon, they have been active members of the First United Methodist Church for many years.
Their son Clay was born on Sept. 14, 1968.
The particulars of the anecdote mentioned earlier and their marriage ceremony went like this.
Anita said, “Brother Hankins got nervous about the situation of two twins in his church, being myself, Anita, and my sister, Annette.
“He asked, “Do you Charles take Annette…”
Anita said the preacher had to be corrected and the ceremony went on as planned. But on the marriage certificate was written the following explanation. It says, Do you Charles take Annette? No. Do you Charles take Anita? Yes.
But before we get to a bit more romantic occurrence related to the Cabes’ honeymoon, let’s get a few more basics uncovered.
Charles and Anita met at the Henderson State University student union back in 1964. They both ended up alumni from Henderson.
Charles said, “I took her to a movie in Arkadelphia on our first date. I think it had something to do with a computer, but I don’t really remember.”
They continued dating through December of 1966 and he popped the question in January of 1967. She said yes and the engagement began, with apparently summer wedding plans in mind.
“I asked her at the Dairy Queen where we could at least be alone,”Charles said. “I sure don’t understand these guys who ask a woman to marry them on television or the like. To me, that would be awful if the girl decided to turn you down.”
Well after the date at the movies, and after the wedding where Charles nearly ended up married to the wrong twin, it was time to get away from all that preliminary marriage stuff. It was time for the honeymoon and their love for traveling sparked to life in Hawaii.
Anita said, “We flew into Hawaii and I looked out the window to see a rainbow.
“I took that as a very good sign to start our marriage by.”
Charles said he and his bride visited Honolulu, the island of Ma hi and the Island of Hawaii while over there.
He warned this editor Hawaii is a beautiful place “but it is pretty expensive. I would advise anyone planning a trip there to take plenty of money.”
After touring three islands, the Cabes took a cruise ship home. Then the day to day marriage began, as it does for every couple.
But Charles and Anita’s marriage has stood the test of time.
“I would have to say the secret to getting along and keeping things positive in marriage has to do with giving and taking. And sometimes you just have to know when its time to give more than you take,” Anita said.
Charles thought a minute and decided his wife was right.
“I was going to tease and tell you it was a matter of saying ‘yes Anita’ when she asked me to do something, but the truth is give and take in this marriage has been the secret of its success. That, and just enjoying each other’s company.”
This editor asked the couple when it was they fell in love? Anita and Charles smiled at one another.
Anita spoke first, “Falling in love for us has been a process.”
Charles must have agreed with his wife, as he smiled and never said a word. At least part of that process, in the case of the Cabes, has been the discovery of common ground.
Charles and Anita both said their satisfactions in life come from seeing those in need get help from foundation grants that they process through boards for approval and from traveling.
At work, Charles and Anita are in charge of two lumber business related grant foundations;
“We have basically spent at least 30 years in this office together and many times we spend 24 hours a day together,” she said.
“When we get home, I knit or we play board games and such. We like DVDs and some television. Besides the give and take, the part about liking each other is very important. Especially when you are always with the other person.”
Charles said he also likes politics and history. He and Anita are Republicans and attended the inauguration of United States President Ronald Reagan.
“Reagan started out a Democrat, but made the statement that the Democratic party ran off and left him,” Charles said.
The C. Lewis and Mary C. Cabe Foundation was established in December of 1989. Then the Horace C. Cabe Foundation was set up around 1993, by way of nieces and nephews after Horace Cabe passed away in 1992.
But the overall Cabe Land Company has had an office next to the railroad track, near Front and Main Street, for years.
“Before this was Cabe Land Company, Paul Potter the barber was cutting hair in one end of it,” Charles said.
Anita said grants from the foundation and their boards have been awarded throughout Arkansas, but the help they have been able to secure for Gurdon has been “the most rewarding for me to see.”
“We live here,” she said. “Yes, we now have a weekend place on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, but we live here during the week. And we watch Gurdon and the needs around us. When our foundation work is able to help, we can see first hand some worthwhile results.”
Anita used as an example of grant recipients, the Cabe Library, the Baptist Medical Clinic, the Cabe Auditorium on the GHS campus and the Cabe Middle School.
There are many more projects that have been funded here through the Cabe Foundations and the grant process they have to offer. Not every grant application is funded, but Charles and Anita continue to invite any worthy cause to apply.
As to their other passion, that is traveling to new places, the couple has been to Hawaii four times, Greece, the Caribbean and the Scandinavian countries, to name a few adventures. State side, they have been out west and also to Florida.
Anita shared a vacation memory from a 1980 family cruise in Athens, Greece.
“We had sort of a language barrier mix up,” she said. “When we paid the bill at a restaurant, they brought the change back in a tray. I understood the waiter to tell me to ‘take the tray,’ and so I started to put it in my purse. A little fat Greek security person said No!”
Charles teased his wife by saying it was the one time she almost went to jail. Anita just smiled and gave him his fun. After all, they did say marriage was give and take.
As to Valentine’s Day, the Cabes plan to go to a Valentine’s party at the Hot Springs Country Club.
“We enjoy getting out with family when we can,” Charles said. “We do things for ourselves, but more importantly we try and do things that we know will make us both happy.”
Two Gurdon boys get a scholarship/athletic boost
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
The head football coach at Gurdon got to see a little bit of his dream come true Wednesday morning when the offensive quarterback star of the Gurdon Go-Devils and the renowned defensive lineman both signed athletic/academic scholarships to play college ball and pursue a college degree.
Head Coach John Pace, a 23-year veteran to his post in Gurdon, said GHS seniors Austin Kirkpatrick and Devante “TuTu” Charles “are two of the finest athletes and academic achievers I have had the privilege of coaching in all of my career.”
Coach Pace said Kirkpatrick,#15 for the Go-Devils, played football at Gurdon from his seventh grade year on. As he senior, he is 5’9” and 175 pounds.
Pace said Kirkpatrick has also had experience playing defense in football. “AK” played defense and on the outside line back in junior high school.
But as a quarterback, Pace said Kirkpatrick has had 6,127 yards of rushing overall during the past three years. The quarterback also had the all-team best record in touchdown throwing, as well as rushing.
Kirkpatrick made All-District as a sophomore and was also All-State sophomore. Moreover, he was an All-State as a junior and a GHS senior. AK was also nominated to play in the All-State game. Pace said Kirkpatrick was also AA offensive player of the year.
Pace also touted AK’s top rate academic record and said he is a “4.0 student,” meaning Kirkpatrick had the perfect high school grade point average of 4.0, that is all As.
“AK is a fine athlete, an academically excellent student and an outstanding individual,” Coach Pace said.
The coach added that AK’s scholarship will pay for “probably 90 percent of his expenses at OBU,” rather than 100 percent like Devante’s at HSU because of the higher cost to go be a Tiger.
DEVANTE TUTU CHARLES
Devante “TuTu” Charles, #53, played football at Gurdon since seventh grade.
Coach Pace said Devante’s senior weight is 308 pounds and the defensive powerhouse is 6’2 and a half inches tall.
“Devante has played both sides of football. As a sophomore, he was a right guard on offense,” Coach Pace said.
“As a defensive lineman in his senior year, TuTu had 74 tackles and 75 sacks. three blocked punts and two fumble recoveries.”
Pace said Charles has come a long way, both on and off the football field. Academically, he had a 24 on the ACT.
Devante made All District for three years (in the 7AA District) and was All State last year and this year.
Charles was nominated, and voted to participate, in the All State football game.
His family gave him the nickname Tutu. Pace said his positive and enthusiastic personality has gained him many friends.
The Path I Took; Chapter 1, The Best Band Ever
By John Nelson
Tailgate News Editor
When I entered the fifth grade, it was proposed to me that I join band in Hagerstown, Indiana. I loved music, and my Daddy had been in band, so why not?
I began by taking up the clarinet. Before it was over, I would get pretty good on the coronet as well, plus get good enough on the guitar to write my own songs. But back in fifth grade, I just smiled and asked for a clarinet.
My Daddy got me one from somewhere in Oklahoma. It was a wooden woodwind, which was an old clarinet. But it played pretty good and the best part was making music with my friends. To this day, I wish that is what I did for a living; make music with my friends.
And yes, I realize that is a line from “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson, but believe me, it fits. I went to work with that Clarinet to be first chair in the clarinet woodwind section. I made first chair out of about a dozen or so players. However, I shared it with a girl named Peggy Lindley. We would challenge each other from time to time. Sometimes I was first, sometimes second. It all depended on who won the challenge.
I have a column in Tailgate News Magazine called Memorable Moments. This book is probably going to be a series of such moments; times I remember that somehow stick out at 55 years old. The stuff we are talking about now represent some pretty good times when I was between the ages of about 11 and 18. They all took place in Hagerstown, Indiana, my childhood hometown.
My first band director was Mr. Haskett. I don’t recall his first name. It might have been Joe, like my second and final band director was called. Joe Backmeyer came into my life when I was about in the seventh grade. I loved his class and how he made me and my fellow musicians feel a part of each other’s lives.
I probably learned more friendship skills back then than at any other part of my upbringing. I used to have a lot of close friends. I don’t let all that many folks that close to me anymore. I know I should, and I am working on it. I suppose I have been playing life a little over cautious these past eight year but that is another rabbit to chase entirely.
Let’s go back to band class. I remember those challenge trials with Peggy. She was a slender, very tall blonde girl, a grade or two ahead of me in school. I have always been short; 5’6” is stretching me. But hey, Napoleon was short right?
I remember Ross Bennett playing trumpet, John Sanders playing trumpet and Dean Charles playing trombone. Bob Farris played the tuba. I saw Bob at our 35th class reunion but did not get to talk to him. I hope to do that at our 40th. That should be coming up in three years, say 2017…
So let’s try and get a handle on the year I first started band. I graduated Hagerstown Jr. Sr. High School in 1977 and so my first experience with band must have been around 1970. I don’t really recall too much about fifth and sixth grade band, or if I did all that much with Mr. Haskell except figure out I enjoyed what I was doing.
But in seventh grade, when it was announced that Joe Backmeyer would take over, things started to change. There was this girl who played clarinet also. Her name was Joni and she went to my First United Methodist Church with me. We sang in choir together there and played in band together. She had curley reddish brown hair and freckles. I watched with interest as she grew up…
But somewhere in junior high school, Mr. Backmeyer decided to let some of us young folks, with what he called talent, move up to play with the high school kids now and then. I was one of those that got to play with the bigger kids. That was great boost to my ego.
I was not only in band, but in 4-H, Methodist choir and vice president of the Hagerstown Historical Society. This met I got to help another classmate, Jim Hudson, clean out cemeteries from time to time. We mowed them, set up broken head stones the best we could and recorded names and dates of the dearly departed. That data would probably be of use in today’s world of the Internet in something Ancestry.com. But back then, it was taken down and I have no idea what happened to it after that. Jim Hudson was the Optomitrist’s son. I thought Dr. Hudson was cool and his profession was the first one I attempted before switching majors in college to Social Work and then to psychology and journalism. I stuck with the latter and eventually got a bachelor’s with a major in journalism and minor in psychology.
So I was a busy kid back in 1970. I also took care of between 100 and 300 rabbits, from which I picked a prize winning buck, doe and meatpen to display at the Wayne County Fair every fall.
One of my first memorable band moments was in a church. I had competed in this music memorization contest with my clarinet and Mr. Backmeyer played along with my song on the piano. The contest was at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, where I would eventually get that bachelor of science afore mentioned. I got a superor rating and felt so accomplished.
But the moment that stands out in my memory came about a month later when I was supposed to reconstruct my musical piece in front of Dr. John W. and Nancy Nelson, my Daddy and step mother. There was only one problem. I did not take seriously relearning the piece…
I got up on the stage and started out pretty good. I noticed my Daddy smiling and Nancy smiling. I so wanted to impress them. You see, I only got to see them every three months, when they came to visit me from Oklahoma City. Other than that, my grandparents (his folks) raised me on the farm. Even back then I was a lover of life and the pleasures there of. Before I fully understood the path of following Jesus Christ, I understood pleasure and exploration. This little moment we are on is an example.
I had spent the time I should have been practicing for that concert talking to my Daddy, which I idealized back then and frankly still do. His dropping out of my life is the single most painful thing that ever happened to me. That pretty much happened when I was 20 years old and newly back from Florida.
I know I was hard to take as a young, “bullet proof” young rebel. But still yet, I wanted to see my Daddy every chance I could. He did come to my college graduation in 1982 and his own father’s funeral in 1989. That is the last time we were together. I have never understood why and I probably never will. My latest research, here in 2014 is swaying me to believe that my neurologist father has passed from this world. If he is still alive, and he happens to read this, I sure would like some contatct. Just for the heck of it, my telephone number is 1-870-353-8201. As always, I am throwing the bottle out into the ocean.
But let’s return to those innocent times. That church concert was a hoot. I started looking at my Daddy and step-mother and completely forget the song! I mean I had no idea what in the dickens I was playing. But I am a natural song writer. Having written more than 150 poetic tunes for guitar, I suppose I can say that. And it was no different at the age of 14 or so. I played that group a tune they seemed to be into. My band director cut his eyes to me and then started following my jazz piece with his piano keys. We both played along a while until it seemed like an appropriate place to stop…
The crowd went wild. I received all sorts of applause. I got the heck off that stage as fast as possible, after taking the customary bow with Mr. Backmeyer and after seeing that my Daddy and Nancy seemed fine with the tune.
Back stage, Mr. Backmeyer could not help but laugh. I laughed right along with them. We even went out and took another bow, or at least I am remembering such. All I know for sure is we pulled it off. It was the John Nelson version of Mark Twain’s “Royal Nunsuch,” straight out of Huckleberry Finn! And it worked. Mr. B asked me if I could play the same tune again. I laughed and shook his hand. I said something to the effect of, “Not until donkeys fly!”
It was one of the first times I remember that I realized I work better under pressure. That is why, in my opinion, my 16-page Southern Arkansas Magazine, is turning out to be much more entertaining to create for you than my 12 pager I created in 2013 was. It fills my schedule and challenges my talents. That is the best thing for John, and hopefully for you the reader.
I remember going home and telling my grandparents what happened. Sweet Jesus, I said, I simply went blank and then decided, what the heck, time for improvision. They too had a great laugh about it. I don’t remember whether I told Daddy and Nancy or not. If I did, I am sure I was somewhat embarrassed, but at any rate, we do what we must. At least that is the way I was raised.
The next big band memory was my first band camp. It was also my first time away from home, other than that occasional visit to Daddy’s house in Oklahoma, or before that Milwaukee, Wisc. And of course North Webster Church camp. That is worth a mention in another chapter. But now, for my favorite band memory, “It happened at Band Camp.”
To fully understand the wonderful relationship I had with this 65-member band, you just have to have a little background to how bad I wanted to go to that first band camp. I was 15 and had just been snipe hunting with Joni Woodward. That is the little curley headed gal I mentioned earlier, also a clarinet player. Now at band camp, I was playing the coronet. I switched ombisures and instruments for marching band to be heard more. Even as a writer of the written word today, I love it when we have a huge number on the site visits. It makes me think maybe someone is enjoying what I have to say.
But anyway, I was in first section trumpet, never first chair like on the clairinet. My trumpet playing buddies all had five or six years more experience than me and besides, I just did this when I marched.
Back to Joni. I promised my wife Michelle that I would not write anything dirty in our Christian based magazine, so I will not go into the full relationship. But I can tell you Joni and I were in puppy love and I could have done a lot worse than to love, honor and obey that gal. She was fantastic. We never married though. It was the era of, “If it feels good, do it,” so when I went to college on my own I started dating other women and eventually moved on to Elaine DeHart, my second serious girlfriend.
Again, back to the age of innocence. I was excited. I had kissed Joni snipe hunting and that was a thrill to me back then. She kissed back with a lot of enthusiasm and we went to the show pretty regular. We also spent a lot of time at each other’s houses. But band camp took our relationship to the next level, where it stayed for five great years. In short, our childhood relationship became accepted by our family members to the point where the term John and Joni was used a lot, instead of thinking of us as two people.
But just before band camp, about three years before my graduation so it had to be in 1974, I started dating this gal that was two years older than me. And we had big plans together for when we got away from home…
I was so excited about it I dropped a huge dresser drawer on my right big toe! I mean it was seriously meated up and horrible looking. I lost that toenail and it grew back funky. It is something I just looked at as I was writing this. Yes, it is a childhood folly that stuck with me this far in life an will probably always look funky and double-layered.
My folks suggested I go to the doctor and that I definitely needed to cancel my band camp plans. I did neither one. I had a date with Joni for some serious smooching and I was not going to let her down! We band folk left the next day for some 16-hour-day marching. This was actually my second band camp we are talking about. I knew the routine and still wanted to go – because of my heart-throb for Joni Michelle Woodward.
My first band camp, where I met a gal named Kelley Thompson, was a lot of fun too. But nothing compared to band camp number two. So we will go on with the Joni band camp story of 1974. It was everything my folks said it would be work wise, and I was a rank leader. That made it even more challenging.
I had a straight ranked file and I had a comical way of lining them up. I remember saying some word phrase akin to “Butts up!” and all of the five folks in rank formed a perfectly straight line for marching . Mr. B caught me doing that one time and remarked that my unique approach to life had not changed since that church audition a few years before. I smiled at him. Our rank actually won an award, despite the fact that I felt like my foot was going to fall off.
I think Brent Meadows actually got put down in the airduct the year before. He was good natured about it though. A group poured water on him and let him loose. It was so hot in Indianapolis that year and also the second time that water was defintely a good thing.
But all rabbits aside, Joni and I had a plan. She was going to sneak down to the boys floor and we were going to listen to eight track tapes after room inspection. My room mate, Grover Brower, a drummer, was part of the plan. Most of the band knew about this rondevous, but nobody ratted us out.
We came up with some cock and bull story the next morning about how Joni had just wanted to borrow a couple of tapes and had only been in my room a few minutes. It was still a violation of rules. We waited for the axe to fall and Mr. B to send us home… He was no dummy. He knew she had not been in my room for just a few minutes. But what happens at band camp stays at band camp… just like in Vegas right?
He scolded us and told us there would be no more violations of the rules on his watch and then sent us back to our ranks and files. We did not chance any more get togethers that week, but the flood gates had been opened. After that week, for five years, it was never John. It was never Joni. It was always John and Joni.
We were kids and we from decent families. But we were in lust/love and that, as they say, was that. Yes, it was a band thing. And we stayed in band. She was there until her graduation in 1975 and me until mine in 1977. We never dated around. It was always John and Joni. I tried to date a couple of times, but somehow my innocense was in tact. She was my one and only those five years, and that was the way it stayed.
As for the band, they were my closet friends in high school. I can honestly say I had a love for each and every one of them. We played concert after concert, and marched in those hot uniforms every summer. We also played with frozen horns on the post office steps every Christmas as the Christmas carols bellowed out and the seasons passed.
We were in pep band too. I remember these giant sweet tarts, sorta solvo tablet sour treats, that I loved ot eat as I watched my classmates play football and basketball. To me, it was only yesterday.
Next week, in Chapter 3, we will go into family memories during high school, both good and bad on the farm, and how life progessed for the John and Joni dating scenerio. Every day was exciting back then. I was a young man in love and full of dreams to conquer the world.
Magnet Cove veteran receives life saving wound vac to cure pressure wound from VA
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
In this ever changing world, the Veteran’s Administration receives a lot of criticism but one veteran pilot and sign maker from Magnet Cove praises VA efforts and gives them credit for keeping him alive.
Britt “Santa” Armstrong, owner and operator of Signs by Santa, said Monday, Jan. 20, “I can not say enough good things about the doctors, nurses and other staff members at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Little Rock.
“Without them, I may very well not have been able to anticipate a 67th birthday, and I am 66,” Armstrong said. “I am a pilot and veteran with 50 years experience flying airplanes and I am not used to being so laid up. It is not over with yet, but I believe VA treatment will have me completely well within four to six weeks. It is taking a little time, but the wound vac is working.”
Armstrong, whose wife Sunni passed a way a few years back, lives alone in a dome house he designed years ago. He has a small pet dog that appears to be a wienie dog with long hair. The dog is many times his only company. The sign maker cut his business back to part-time several years back to attend college and accumulate an associates degree in graphic arts from National Park in Hot Springs after Santa suffered a major heart attack and no longer had the physical stamina to continue working at his previous pace.
He was given the name “Santa Claus” by former Malvern Daily Record Editor Mark Bivens because Armstrong and his wife were involved for several years with the Santa Train, toy-give-away effort in Hot Spring County. Santa also went to his wife’s native Texas during the Christmas season to do Santa shows every year to play his favorite character. And he is Santa Claus. If you have any doubts, ask him to show you his pilot’s license…
Feeling more like himself after recovering from his heart attack, but needing time to study for his goal of turning that associates degree into a bachelor of science in aviation from Henderson State University at Arkadelphia, Santa took a job as a customer service representative for Sykes in Malvern. He had attended HSU years before, without getting to finish, because he elected to join the service.
Armstrong came down with bronchitis this past November and took a leave of absence from college and his customer service job. His sign business, and his ongoing charitable giving, also came to a halt.
“I was really sick and the bronchitis ran me down something awful,” he said. “But after the Veteran’s Administration doctors put me on antibiotics, I began to feel like my old self. Then I misplaced the meds and it took a couple of days to get more. I took a turn for the worse, but was starting to feel a little better when the biggest part of my illness occurred.”
Armstrong said he was alone in his dome house and needed to go to the restroom. His electric wheelchair batteries began to go out. The power was too low to pull the chair across the dome floor and so Santa got up to walk himself to the bathroom entrance. His dog got in the way and he tripped and fell. The fall resulted in the start of a pressure wound.
He got medicine from the VA to treat the wound at home but despite getting the medical help in changing it that he needed, it kept getting worse until he finally went to the Hot Springs Veterans Clinic.
“This is when I met practical nurse Damon. Damon wanted me to go to McCllellan Veterans Administration Hospital Emergency Room at Little Rock to be admitted right away because the wound was tunneling and needed attention. I told him I needed to get my dog fed and to the vet and would then go to Little Rock. He said I could wait until morning but it would be better to go tonight. I went to Little Rock that night, on Dec. 2.”
Armstrong then met Applied Nurse Practitioner Linda Fletcher. She acted as counselor and “drove the bus to my recovery.” Santa offered a special thank you to Fletcher for her special interest in his case and the hard work she did to help him. He was not released from the VA until Dec. 11.
Santa said, “I would like to also thank my heart doctor Susan Trussle, as she was a very conscientious cardiologist and did all she could to keep me alive. The danger, you see, was they were afraid the wound infection tunneling would spread to my blood, possibly causing me to die.”
Armstrong said the doctors considered cutting out the infected wound, leaving him to use a colostomy bag. They asked him for direction on that surgery and he told them to avoid it unless it was a last resort. They did just that and found a way to get the wound to finally be on the way to a full healing.
His pressure wound is now being treated by what appears to be an electronic cleaning device, about the size of Bible. It keeps the infectious material out of the wound and helps in the healing process.
“It is working! That is all I can tell you about the thing. I am very grateful for this wound vac,” he said. “And the VA went to bat for me with it so I did not have to have a colostomy bag the rest of my life. I would like to give special thanks to the team that continues to monitor this wound vac. They are: Elizabeth Johnson, Applied Practical Nurse (APN); Linda Fletcher, APN, Dr. Powel Dutklewicz, attending nurse Leslie Harris, who changes the bandages on the wound; APN Ritza Robinson and others on the staff.”
Santa said medical tests he took while in the hospital also revealed that his insulin intake for diabetes could possiblycause kidney failure. He elected to take himself off of the insulin to avoid this so APN Fletcher helped him figure out appropriate diet and exercise to control the diabetes.
“I could go on and on about the VA staff and home support effort made. So many times our Veterans Administration takes too much heat for being slow because there are so many veterans to serve. But they got to me as soon as they could and it would seem they were able to give me a life back,” Armstrong said.
“I am looking forward to going back to work and school. Many years ago, I promised my mother, who was a poet and loved education, that I would finish college. Because of the VA and mercy from the good Lord above, it looks like I may be able to keep that promise. Hats off to the VA and God bless them.”
We dodged the mandate tax on Obamacare this tax season
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Despite rumors about hidden taxes connected with Obamacare, Quick Tax owner and consultant Sue Uchtman said Wednesday, “We have not been instructed to figure any Alternative Care Act taxes or penalties for this year.”
Uchtman said her IRS continuing education was in New Orleans for this season and instructors talked about the possibility of penalties for those who have no health insurance, or “substandard” health insurance, “but that is all we did was talk about it.”
Uchtman said she has not even heard of anyone being penalized tax wise over the health insurance changes brought on by Obamacare.
REFUNDS IN LIMBO
Uchtman was not quite so optimistic for late filers from last October. She said last fall’s government shut-down somehow caused those taxpayers refunds “to go out there somewhere in limbo.”
What it amounts to is they got behind at the IRS due to the federal government shutting down, she said.
“To be honest, someone filing at the end of January is more likely to get their refund faster than an October 2013 late extension filer. When we pull up an October filer to find out what happened to their refund, the computer can not seem to give us any timetable.”
TWO WEEK FILING DELAY
Uchtman also said taxpayers wanting to file in the middle of January this year will not be allowed to do so “because the federal government will not accept any filings until the end of this January.”
“We can usually start printing refund checks before Martin Luther King Day, that is around Jan. 17 or 18, but this year we can not start filing until Jan. 31, again as a result of the Internal Revenue Service getting behind because of last fall’s government shut down (Oct. 1-16). The IRS told us in New Orleans that refund checks would only be delayed a week, but I believe I will be printing checks on February 10 this year.”
On the brighter side, Utchman said five consultants from Quick Tax went to the three-day IRS continuing education classes for this year in New Orleans and standard deductions going up was something they knew would be a plus for their Southern Arkansas customers.
“We get to pick up things in the training to bring back home and share that are area relative. This year, if you are under 65, single, or married filing separate, your standard deduction has gone up to $6,100.”
Uchtman said the married filing joint has now gone up to $12,200. Head of Household standard deduction is $8,950.
Uchtman added that if you are a taxpayer over 65, all of these deductions go up even more.
As to how much tax deductions have gone up since last tax season, single or married filing separate in January of 2013 was $5,950, while married filing jointly was $11,900. The old Head of Household deduction was $8,700.
Another positive change for filers this year is you will be able to check the status of your refund, for federal (IRS) taxes, within 24 hours of the IRS receiving your tax return electronically.
“You can check the status of your refund by way of your smart phone or computer,” Utchman said.
“You go to Amended, Where’s My Amended Return IRS, IRS2GO, from ITunes or Google Play,” she said.
“You can also go to IRS.GOV on your computer and that will check on your refund status or amended tax return. If you get confused, just let us know. The point is we can track your refund much quicker than ever before because of this change.”
BUSINESS MILES UP
Yet another positive change for area taxpayers this year comes in the arena of business mileage pay. This year the IRS has gone up 1 cent, from paying 55.5 cents per mile to 56.5 cents per mile.
Medical miles are now 24 cents. Uchtman said moving expenses mileage pay is also 24 cents a mile.
OUICK TAX HOURS
Uchtman said operations at her Gurdon office, 109 E. Joslyn Street, as well as the Arkadelphia branch at 904 Main Street, will be open during the upcoming busy season from 8 a.m. until every customer has been served, Monday through Saturday, and by appointments on Sundays.
Uchtman said her five consultants normally stay open until about 6 or 6:30 p.m. but from the last week of January until the end of February those hours will be extended as needed.
Nikki Jennings is the contact operator in Arkadelphia.
AND IDENTITY THEFT
Consultant Claudia Moreno, who has been with Quick Tax seven years, specializes in Hispanic clients. She is the one many clients go to for answers about Identiy Theft or ITIN questions.
ITIN, that is Individual Taxpayers Identification Numbers, are applied for through the IRS if a person has no Social Security number and needs to file taxes.
In the case of Identity Theft, the victim applies to the IRS for a pin number, insuring that the pin number gives a definite identification to the filer.
Moreno said to get an ITIN, a person needs a valid passport and if they are under 18 they also need school records, medical records and parents’signatures. Minors may also be filed under their parents as dependents.
Moreno said, “From now on, an ITIN is only good for five years. The ones issued before 2012 were good forever.”
Running in the rain; and all was well with the world
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
This moment happened when my daughter Kelley was very young. My then wife Doris and I had moved to Dardanelle, Arkansas so I could take a job as a reporter for the Russellville Courier Democrat. She would go to work for Warner Cable, but I don’t think she had taken that job when the moment came.
Russellville was economically sound back in 1987. Life would level out a bit and be fairly stable. But there was a lot of work involved at my new job and I was a dead man coming in from work that evening.
If I remember right, my then mother-in-law Mandy Akins was visiting us, probably to help Doris unpack and to keep Kelley Marie happy while the place was being put together.
It was one of those moments that a person just remembers in life, sort of like letting go of the steering wheel on your car at 70 miles per hour just to see if the thing happens to be in alignment.
I was tired that day and my eyes met my wife’s as I walked in the door. It was raining cats and dogs and thunder and lightening were even beginning to rumble and flash.
Our daughter was with Mandy in the back bedroom. This memory in detail is not so clear but the moment I am coming to is vivid, like it happened just yesterday.
We had moved to McCleansboro, Ill. for a year and a half and came back down to Arkansas and lived in Benton for about six months so I could take “a money job” as a copy desk editor at the then Arkansas Democrat.
But I couldn’t take the boredom of editing the copy and headlines of my fellow writers. I just had to pick up the pen again. I took that job in Russellville to get back to some basics in reporting and doing the feature stories I so loved.
So there I was, probably about 28 years old with a wife and 3-year-old daughter. Indeed, more and more details are coming back to me as I think about this moment in time. We were barely unpacked and my wife was doing dishes.
I looked at her exhausted face and she looked at mine. We were both crazy back then; me for being so bent on following my dreams and her for following me anywhere out of what appeared to be blind love. But we both knew the whole thing was getting too heavy. Too many bills, too much moving and just plain too much reality to suit either one of us…
I smiled at her, as I came into the house soaked from my head to my toes. She started laughing at me as I started shaking the rain off shouting something about oh what an exhilirating feeling!
I noted her apparently entertained smile and said, “Well then, let’s run down by the Arkansas River (about a block away) and just feel the rain on our faces as we look at its vastness. After all that sounds more fun than unpacking to me.”
She agreed and we were off. The umbrellas remained by the door. We were certain we would not need them. We ran and ran and ran in the rain. As I recall, Mandy got an umbrella and brought Kelley down by the river as well.
She was probably trying to find us so as to give the folks with the white coats some clear direction as to where we were…
Doris and I started dating when I was editor of the Osceola Times, back in 1983. The Mississippi River bank was one of our regular haunts.
Perhaps we ran in the rain that day trying to recapture some of those good times.
But for whatever reason, we ran. We were impractical, crazy but happy “as two bugs in a rug.” For an instant, all seemed right with this old world…
Saving a tourist attraction…
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Most of the interest from neighboring cities in preserving the 52 miles of deserted railroad land between here and Glenwood has died down, but Gurdon’s mayor still believes there is hope of saving the Gurdon Light tourist attraction.
Gurdon Mayor Clayton Franklin said Dec. 11, “I believe if we wait until the 5 miles we are interested in goes through the bankruptcy courts, and becomes the property of Blue Sky landholders, we can still have a tourism attraction in the Gurdon Light.”
Franklin said a Little Rock attorney had volunteered to look into getting the land around the Gurdon Light involved in a rental agreement last summer. After months of study, it was determined that all 52 acres of railroad right-a-way land would probably go through bankruptcy, thus going back to the original landowners.
“Blue Sky will need a fire lane back there to where the Gurdon Light has been seen,” Franklin said. “My idea is to try and convince them that Gurdon could maintain such a fire lane for the right to have a tourist site. Blue Sky is a timber-growing holding company and I believe we could work together as such, for our mutual benefit.”
Franklin said he believed the old railroad land in question will be in bankruptcy litigation until at least spring. The Gurdon Light is a Halloween favorite spot, just off of Highway 53 and the now “cow trail” that used to be a railroad track. The Light entry is about 2 miles from the Highway 67 and 53 intersection, to the left and past the cemetery. To get there, cross over eight or so railroad trestles before going right. You will be walking toward Highway 183 (Sticky Road).
Legend has it that the Gurdon Light is a ghost looking for his head. Allegedly two robbers came on a train long ago, chopping off the conductor’s head and stealing the money from the lock box. The conductor is said to take out his lantern on certain clear lights and search around the track area to find his head.
The mayor said a student group from Henderson State University, of Arkadelphia, did a study on the Light years ago “and they think it is some sort of swamp gas or fox fire.”
The siting has been so frequent that Ripplies Believe It Or Not did a televsion show about the strange phenomenon that aired back in 2004.
Feeding the Hungry…
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
GURDON – Faith Mission and Evergreen Church have been busy the past year, as the Community Pantry has given away 98,000 pounds of food to a public with a “huge need that God has amply filled.”
Co-chairs for the Community Pantry are Faith Mission Director Tommy Potter and Velvet Gonzales.
Gonzales provided the following statistics about the project.
“We served 280 families in November. We have purchased more than 98,000 pounds of food from the Arkansas Food Bank at a cost of slightly over $12,000 during the past year,” she said.
Gozalez added that 598 families have been served at some time during those months since the project’s inception in October of 2012.
Potter said the Community Pantry operates under non-profit status, through the 501 license of Evergreen Church, located on Highway 67 near the Gurdon Park.
The food is distributed with the help of 12 to 30 volunteers, every fourth Tuesday of the month at Faith Mission on Main Street in Gurdon.
Because of Christmas Eve, the next big distribution will be from 4 until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
Those without viable transportation to get to Faith Mission receive food box deliveries to their homes every second Tuesday of the month. Potter said there are 80 such families at this time.
Gonzalez said food donations have been made by the Post Office (“Stamp Out Hunger”), Henderson Nursing Students (from HSU in Arkadelphia), CarMart and Tyson Food.
The Community Pantry has received grants from the Cabe Foundation, Arkansas Food Bank, Clark County Community Foundation and WalMart. There has also been financial support from several churches and individuals.
There are no financial requirements to prove; just be hungry. There is a registration process so that folks receiving food can be tracked, just in case there are any expiration date problems.
“We require two utility bills and some sort of photo ID, usually a driver’s license,” he said. “We like to take down a valid telephone number. The information goes on computer and do all we can to keep it current.”
The Community Pantry is Christian based and a news letter with encouraging verses is distributed each month, according to Potter.
“We don’t preach at them. We just try to show Christian love,” he said.
Potter said he is sure there are those who take advantage of their system, but it is worth it to get to those who have a real hunger need.
“And you never know. Sometimes hearts can melt,” he said.
On any given fourth Tuesday, around 300 folks show up with boxes to cart off the meats, canned goods, potatoes and other staples.
Potter said the Community Pantry works with Arkansas Food Bank on the Senior Task Force to determine the best way to serve the older population.
“We let seniors come a little early on distro day so they can get their food first,” he said. “Several volunteer to help us and also take food. If you believe our amount of distribution is unreal for a small mission and a small church, you are absolutely right. This project is bigger than logic would suggest. It reminds me of the part in the Bible where Jesus took a few loaves of bread and pieces of fish and then fed 5,000.”
Potter said Community Pantry is always looking for more volunteers.
“Just come on and we will put you to work,” he said. “It is very humbling but very spiritually rewarding.”
He went on to mention the back pack program at Gurdon Primary School. The Community Pantry partners with Rice Depot, another food providing organization from Little Rock, to feed hungry kids at school.
Evergreen Pastor Kevin Sims said food boxes given away average about 50 pounds.
Sims, who has been a minister for 20 years, said he is from Glen Rose. He saw the local hunger need strong in Gurdon during his Wednesday, community-wide, Bible study efforts. Evergreen members, along with volunteers from other churches, pick up about 80 Gurdon kids every Wednesday evening to show them the path to Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
“Tommy is one of our Wednesday night volunteers and he asked me if Evergreen Church wanted to help open a Community Pantry? I told him yes,” Sims said.
The directors plan to invite Arkansas Health Department personnel to the Food Pantry so they can offer flu shots. The organization has already had representatives from SNAP, the modern term for the food stamp office, to come and sign people up.
Gallery Walk, Friday, January 3 in Hot Springs downtown
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Marlene Gremillion calls herself a sensitive person who enjoys life and her surroundings. She will have her work on display and be creating art for the public at American Art Gallery, downtown Hot Springs, during the December Gallery Walk, from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3.
In addition to the artist at work, American Art Gallery will have a gangster book signing that same evening. From Capone to Costello, written by Robert Raines, Director of the Gangster Museum of America, was to be coming Nov. 25 to the shelves of Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Wal-Mart, and, of course, The Gangster Museum of America gift shop at Hot Springs.
The book’s debut will be followed by a signing tour. Some exciting spin-off developments for television are brewing as well. Ask the author for details. Author Robert Raines will be signing copies of Capone to Costello during the Gallery Walk at American Art Gallery.
As to the artist at work that night, Marlene examines the beauty of nature especially in bright sunlight looking for the transparency in flowers and the shadows cast by objects onto another. Texture plays a major role in her paintings along with color that expresses a mood and feeling seen in the subjects she puts to paper or canvas.
Traveling with her husband throughout the United States, much of which has been in the out doors, Marlene loves mountains, streams and flowers which are visible in her realistic and abstract paintings and collages.
Marlene is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is a registered nurse. Being a very sensitive and observant person when caring for others has carried over into her artistic endeavors. Marlene is active in the arts in her community and has also studied art extensively, polishing her watercolor techniques as a major subject. She has taken workshops from nationally renowned artists, who she feels has broadened her abilities to really see minute details that can express an atmosphere in a particular piece.
Marlene explores visually varied subjects along with photographing and just sitting and taking in the ambiance of God’s creation. She has displayed her expressive photographs and also used them as tools in her paintings and collages. Unable to put to words why she must create, except to say she feels a desire to keep on trying something new. “It’s like I’m a child with a new toy, each time I pick up a paint brush full of paint. I’ve just got to have fun!”
Marlene is a signature member of Mid-Southern Watercolorists (Arkansas) and Louisiana Watercolor Society. She is a charter member of the Ouachita River Art Guild in West Monroe, Louisiana and member of Brush Strokes in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. The Arkansas Studies Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas, Backwoods Gallery in El Dorado, Arkansas, Ouachita River Art Gallery, West Monroe, Louisiana and Artist Workshop Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas represent her.
Marlene and her husband have built a home in the mountains of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas and have retired, devoting full time to the outdoors and the creating of art and grandchildren!
Marlene’s work is on display at: American Art Gallery – Hot Springs, Arkansas; 724 Central Ave Hot Springs, AR 71901 (501)624-0550; Butler Center for Arkansas Studies – Little Rock, Arkansas, 401 President Clinton Ave. Little Rock; Backwoods Gallery – El Dorado, Arkansas
209 E Main St Ste A El Dorado; Ouachita River Art Guild – West Monroe, LA
308 Trenton St West Monroe, LA; and Gallery 726, 726 Central Avenue Hot Springs.
From Capone to Costello, written by Robert Raines, is being considered by television producers, along with actor Sylvester Stalone, for a movie.
American Art Gallery owner Willie Gilbert told this reporter Stalone (Rocky) would like to be a part of killing a gangster during the film.
I see over there,
not just on this side,
but over there
where more memories
are yet to be made.
I would like to tell you
that like so many,
a 55 year life is plenty,
but I can not.
Because you see,
I see over there,
not just on this side,
but over there.
Where rivers flow,
where sunshine is,
where I want to go.
Do I speak of heaven?
Not just yet. I believe
this life has more
chapters for me to write.
The end times folk,
they tell me its the end.
But as my Grandpa used to say,
“I will be a new man in the spring.”
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
It may very well be Friday, Nov. 22, as you are reading this article on being thankful for the opportunity to work toward tearing down the walls of isolation and building the bridges of friendship.
If so, and you can make it, the editor encourages you to go see the annual Gurdon Primary School Turkey Trot program scheduled for this morning in the GPS gym. It is an elementary school perspective on Thanksgiving and why we should be thankful for our allies – even if those bonds of friendship are with people from very different cultures.
In order to be thankful for a new country where they could practice their Puritan Christian religion, the Pilgrims of old had to be thankful for the friendships they had with each other, and they had to believe in their cause enough to take risk.
One of the risks the Pilgrims took, after getting off of the Mayflower and docking at Plymouth Rock or where ever a particular group happened to land, was the risk of making new friends.
In their case, they had to build bridges with Native Americans. The Pilgrims were a peaceful lot and the Indians taught them about growing and eating corn, and how to live off the land.
Having not been there to conduct an interview, this editor has no idea if the Pilgrims and Indians ate turkey for the first Thanksgiving dinner.
But history reports they ate together as friends. It was not until greed got in the way, sometime later in history, that the white man and the Indian became bitter enemies over land disputes, buffalo hunting rights and “ownership” in general.
The Indians wanted to share with their new friends, while the later Europeans wanted takeovers rather than treaties.
But let’s look a little more at the first Thanksgiving, when the Pilgrims and their Indian hosts were getting along. They had built bridges of friendship, one stick at a time, just like the second graders at GPS have been doing this past week or more.
By building physical bridges, Mrs. Norris has illustrated to the children that it takes effort to build anything, and even more so to be able to work with someone else successfully.
Three of her second grade bridge builders commented on their favorite part of the project.
Jaden Berry said, “I liked the working, that is the construction itself.”
Leo Yanez said, “I liked being able to work on a project with my Mom.”
Ja’Mya Garland said, “I liked to participate and help out.”
Feed the people and make no excuses…
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
A director for Arkansas Rice Depot, an organization that supplies more than 300 church food banks throughout the state, told Gurdon Rotarians Tuesday Arkansas has the second highest percentage of hungry Americans of any state in the union, coming in ahead of Mississippi.
Cyndi Gregory, corporate development director, said her organization provides nourishing food items to the elderly, school children and everyone in between. She said it provides everything free, whether it is helping a food bank like the one at Gurdon’s Faith Mission, in cooperation with Evergreen Church, or a Meals on Wheels situation where the elderly are receiving meat and beans etc. or sending staples home by way of a back-pack to school children who are victims of no groceries in the household and yet they are expected to learn with a growling stomach.
“You would be surprised how many of the people we help are not on public assistance,” she said.
“Many are the working poor, trying to feed several children and keep the rest of the bills paid.
“Our hope is to help them get on their feet, rather than for us to take them on permanently. God has blessed this effort for more than 30 years and we have never had to charge for anything.”
Gregory said Rice Depot helps along side Arkansas Food Bank, but is an entirely different organization.
“We have been asked to join them, but our leaders have insisted we continue to operate in Arkansas’s 75 counties like we have since our inception – feeding hungry Arkansans without any fee scales attached – ever.”
Gregory said food supplies sometimes come to them at the last minute, “but God keeps bringing in the food as long as we are willing to serve Him in this capacity.”
Gregory said Rice Depot is Little Rock based and all faith based.
“For 31 years, we have been praying in the food and the money to continue feeding every county in Arkansas and that is the way our fundraising stays. We are here to feed the hungry, not to charge them in any way.”
She said services are provided to four basic groups; 1) food for families directly and church pantries and their families; 2) the school back-pack program; 3) food boxes to senior citizens and 4) disaster relief programs, such as giving food to tornado victims.
Gregory said her organization does have a heart for those that are hungry, and/or near starvation, in other states, but “we have always concentrated on Arkansas.”
Donations are accepted from anyone who wants to give and food is given out to any Arkansan that is hungry. There are not forms to fill out to get rice, beans and meat, plus a whole host of other food items. You just have to tell them you need a meal.
If you do determine that Rice Depot is the type of Christian missionary work you want to give to, Gregory says 98 percent of the donations go for the food and its distribution. Only 2 percent are kept for administration expenses. This is possible because of the hard work the nearly 8,000 volunteers statewide do on a daily basis.
She said Rice Depot now has food outlets in 50 small communities the size of Gurdon.
“It is hard to imagine what people go through,” she said. “Even if a single mom or dad is working two and three jobs, one medical bill can mean no groceries in the house.
“Some people are just not as prepared for added costs in their budget – and not everyone has family members or friends to turn to when times get hard.”
Gregory said Rice Depot currently feeds 70 senior citizens, mostly in the Little Rock area. They try and arrange it so the same volunteers visit the shut-ins on a consistent basis. The company is needed as well as the food.
“When it comes to food boxes for the seniors, we mostly give ham, turkey and beans because those foods help them to maintain strong bones and muscle mass. That way there is not so much risk for health issues relating to eating the wrong kinds of food,” she said.
In addition to providing high protein foods, Rice Depot volunteers take vital signs and give blood pressure tests.
Volunteers and donations are always needed and sometimes short until just before a delivery. Gregory says God always comes through on time, just not always early.
She thanked Anita Cabe and the Cabe Foundation for the Rice Depot gift shop in Little Rock. She said a foundation grant and volunteers run the place.
“It’s name is the Cabe Foundation’s Simple Pleasures Gift Shop and we have a lot of great items for Christmas presents. Check us out and help us feed our part of America.”
As to government funding, Gregory said there is none on a regular basis. When helping with a major disaster, sometimes a small amount of federal funds come their way.
“Working for Rice Depot will keep you humble,” she said. “I did not eat all of my corn at lunch today and boy do I feel guilty.”
To volunteer, or donate, call Cyndi Gregory at: (501) 565-8855, Ext. 143 or email her at: email@example.com.
They send the boys
and girls off to war.
Far from the days
of football games
All of a sudden those high school chaps and dolls
are weilding guns and bombing halls.
But they decency and freedom of choice that they left behind
keeps their minds ever dwelling on freedom so kind.
As many have noted, and many have said,
freedom is not free
and some will come home dead…
It is not a given
that you get a ticket home.
Now, in this day of political confusion,
even burial may mean a loan!
But soldiers fight on,
because there will be another day.
A day to work hard,
and a day to make hard work pay.
That day will come if one thing is true.
The aim of a soldier to protect me and you.
Many are jealous of the freedom we possess.
Lock and load my soldier, give it your best!
Editorial – Obamacare a mandate, not a choice
We will make this editorial short and to the point. Obamacare is a communist mandate, not an American health insurance choice for those with pre-existing conditions.
We previously wrote an editorial indicating we believed the policies in Obamacare to simply be a series of guaranteed issue insurance options for those unlucky enough to have uninsurable pre-existing conditions. It is much more than that.
Our government is in the process of taking our choice of health insurance out of our hands in the name of uniformity. We in America are not used to that.
Insurance has been a product, just like toothpaste. Nobody tells you that you must buy Crest. The government is attempting to coherse us into buying their insurance, even when it is a terrible choice as to value, in order to make sure there are enough healthy people in the insurance pool that the sickly ones do not bust Obamacare.
This is pretty well the act of a dictatorship, not a democracy. Come on folks, this is a clear violation of the United States monopoly laws. You can not go around pushing your product to the front of the line and then holding a gun (in this case a fine or jail term) to the head of your potential customer before telling the fellow or girl this is something they must do “for the good of the country.” Hi Hitler! Give me a break! This is Nazi Germany all over again.
I realize I am a 54 year old American male who grew up on a farm in Hagerstown, Indiana, not some fancy socialist law school drop out from Kenya. But even I am smart enough to see it when somebody is trying to destroy the freedom of choice my father fought for in the Korean War and many of your fathers did too, in whatever war you want to name.
On the Internet, one Republican is denying saying that he can not stand to look at Barack Obama. I will not deny the same feeling. I respect him just as much as other names in history such as Hitler or Mussolini.
I am sure that last fellow may not be familiar to some, but he was a dictator who would have been pleased with Obamacare.
I am not even saying our country does not need some sort of guaranteed issue health insurance for the indigent or the traditionally uninsurable, but not at the cost of our freedom of choice.
I would urge everyone reading this to contact your congressman or senator and raise hell. I do not know how else to put it. This is ridiculous. Obamacare needs serious gutting or repealing. We were sold a bill of goods. This is supposed to be the Alternative Care Act, not the Alternative Care Mandate!
Mr. Obama said his original proposal would not have forced us to drop our current coverage in favor of the government’s. In short, he blames Congress and the Senate for this mandate part and all of these threats of fines and/or jail terms.
Frankly, it does not matter who created this communist manifesto. We need Obamacare to be like other American products, a choice rather than something the government forces down our throat – much like a farmer might a sick calf who refuses to take his medicine. People of integrity are going to weigh the odds and check their options. They will opt to take private insurance if it helps them more and especially if it costs less. And then they will pay higher and higher fines for rejecting the government insurance or eventually go to jail for not signing up for Obamacare. I wonder if they will let me take my chess set?
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
HOT SPRINGS – Valerie Hanks-Goetz, an internationally recognized Native American artist now residing in Bigelow, will be the guest artist on Friday, Nov. 1 at the American Art Gallery.
Hanks-Goetz will display her horse hair pottery techniques.
A member of the Muscogee Nation of Florida, Valerie’s art is unique, mixing the traditions of her tribe into decorative designs for home or office.
A mixed media artist, she uses basketry, gourds, pottery, leather, wood and copper to express and educate her public about her particular brand of Native American culture.
Valerie uses horse hair to mix in with her pottery, which makes her items of pottery and baskets unique. But she is not the first to use horse hair in this way.
She said the horse is a gift to the Indian, brought by the white man.
The bond forged between and horse and rider was like no other.
Horse hair pottery is said to be the act of painting battle pain between white and Indian riders on pottery using a horse’s tail.
The horse is said to have witnessed such brutal battles so many times, and felt such compassion for all concerned, that artistic expression was the result – thus the horse hair pottery evolved as an animal need for artistic expression, according to Valerie’s horse hair history lesson.
An art like no other, each custom piece is pulled from a fiery kifn at 1800 degrees and touched with clippings of your horse’s mane or tail.
The strands of hair warp and curl from the immense heat, transferring a permanent carbon image unique to each vessel.
Making the most of all resources, Native Americans began using horse tail as a basket making material shortly after the arrival of the horse.
While the earliest historical recordings of horse-tail baskets were with the Trojans, many different Indian tribes, including the Apache, Navajo and Arapalio are known for their intricate and ornamental basket design.
A dying art form, Valerie strives to keep it alive and use Muscogee traditions in her basket designs, creating both traditional and contemporary art forms.
For more information about Valerie and her art work, visit:www.nativeworks.com . She captures the unbridled spirit of your faithful steed in an award winning art form.
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
BRYANT – Paula Jordan is going to keep baking cakes and pies, and no doubt winning contests from those who go around judging taste.
Paula said Tuesday, Oct. 15, “I love to bake and this new location with more on the menu seems to be going pretty good so far.”
She and her husband Gary opened Paula Lynn’s Kitchen, Old Fashioned Dairy Bar & Bakery, on Sept. 30 just down Reynolds Road from where she had Paula Lynn’s “Really” Homemade Sandwich and Sweet Shop for the past three years.
The new location is at 302 South Reynolds Road, just down from City Hall, and the hours are from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Paula Lynn’s praise record for her baking includes top pie awards from such publications as the Arkansas Times, the Saline County Courier and now the Tailgate News. The Times talked of her fluffy pies and cakes topped with chocolate moose, the Courier gave her a first place for the best bakery in Saline County and runner-up for the best sandwich shop in the county. The Courier also voted her best dessert in the county for 2012.
This editor got to taste some of her peanut butter cake after the interview and must agree her baking talents are top notch.
Gary Jordan, who owns Jordan’s BBQ and Catfish with his wife, at 110 North Reynolds Road, said, “Our family has been in the barbecue business for 27 years.
“Paula has always loved to bake and this is why we have opened Paula Lynn’s Kitchen.”
Paula Lynn’s offers cakes for weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. The menu has gourmet sandwiches, fresh salads, combo specials, homemade chili and soup, foot long hot dogs, fresh ground beef burgers, a kids menu and a waterin’ hole with plenty of fountain drinks and coffee.
Gary said all of the meats are smoked and cooked at Jordan’s.
On the dessert side, Paula has homemade pies, such as pecan, lemon, coconut, chocolate, apple dream pie, strawberry cream cheese, chocolate peanut butter and key lime.
The dairy bar has homemade cookies and cakes. The cakes include such favorites as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cake, Smores Cake, Strawberry Cake and Lemon Cake.
Also on the menu, you will find homemade fudge, homemade brownies and assorted cake balls.
As to ice cream, Paula’s offers it in shakes, cones, coke floats, Brownie Delights and Sundaes.
If you need to call in an order for carry out, the number is: (501) 847-2066.
Gary said his wife takes pride in the “all homemade” part of her business. The hamburger paddies are fresh, never frozen, and fries are homemade.
Paula said her specialty sandwiches, such as club, BLT, grilled Fajita chicken and cheese, Rueben, and steak and cheese are all very popular.
“She specializes in great tasting foot long hot dogs too,” her husband said.
Paula Lynn’s Kitchen, Old Fashioned Dairy Bar & Bakery, has five employees ready to serve you.
Paula said she is getting some traffic from Bryant High School before ball games, or around other events. and welcomes youth of all ages from the community and surrounding area to come in and give her a try.
Although she is grateful for the new location, convenient parking, and generally hometown atmosphere of her new restaurant, her reason for cooking remains the same as it has always been.
“I love to bake and I can’t say that enough,” she said.
And, as with most anything, if a person loves something they usually become very proficient at what they love to do as the years go by.
Although you could call this subjective, stop in the next time you are in Bryant and see if you don’t agree with this editor.
Not only is the food really homemade, your taste buds will most likely perk up when you think about Paula Lynn’s Kitchen once you have tried out your favorite sandwich, pie, cake or whatever your pleasure on the menu.
Paula and Gary both thanked the community of Bryant, as well as the surrounding area, for a continued good reception and for allowing them to be of service in the restaurant business.
Prices are old fashioned too, so come on out and enjoy yourself.
Little Mo’s Liquor; a business dream come true
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
It all started as an idea that two friends in the timber business had when selling alcohol became legal in Clark County, Arkansas and therefore the availability of liquor, wine and beer was going to become more widespread whether they tried to become a part of that business growth or not.
Both men were a bit skeptical at first of the legal process being described to them as to how the limited number of liquor permits would be distributed. They suspected “the powers that be” would get those permits, rather than a couple of hard working country guys with a dream of doing something a little different with their lives.
Mitch Pennington and Rodney Hurst opened Little Mo’s Liquor in 2012 after Clark County “went wet” and did so with an attitude of being of service to their customers and taking advantage of a business opportunity that had come their way.
“I can not complain about the fairness involved with selecting who got the limited number of liquor licenses . We drew #4 and it really was just a matter of chance. But once we realized the opportunity to build this business existed, Rodney and I began to go to work,” Mitch said.
Rodney said he was a bit skeptical of adding a liquor business to his logging duties at first, but he has really enjoyed the change.
“The Liquor Store business is just a lot less stressful than what Mitch and I used to do full-time. Most people come into a liquor store in a good mood and make our job of serving them a pleasure,” he said.
Ever since Little Mo’s opened in the spring of 2012, it has continued to grow in service, product and customer base as the store becomes more and more well known.
Rodney said construction started in January of 2012 with the intention of opening May 1. Although the building was finished during second week of April, May 3 ended up being the best opening date.
The business is located on Highway 67, between Gurdon and Prescott, with an official address of 8996 Highway 67 South, Beirne. If you are in search of Little Mo’s, it is close to the Little Missouri River, well lit and easy to find.
Rodney said Little Mo’s Liquor is in a 40×80 feet building that he and his partner built themselves. It does have a drive-through for customer convenience and a dedicated staff of five employees.
“Something we do, that nobody else in this business does that I know of, is we carry your purchases to your vehicle for you and put them in the car or truck. This is important, especially to some of our less able-bodied customers. One thing I love about this business is we get to see people when they are about ready to relax and have fun. We provide them a way to take it easy and the curb service we do gives them one more reason to smile,” Mitch said.
The store hours are 8 a.m. until 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Little Mo’s Liquor has a full line of liquors, wines and beers. This includes a full line of NA (non alcoholic) beers.
It is also probably the cheapest place in the Clark and Nevada County area to buy ice. Little Mo’s charges $1.54 for a 10-pound bag!
The store carries kegs of beer. Just ask the staff or details.
Mitch and Rodney both said they would be glad to entertain suggestions for improvement.
Mitch said, “The law limits what we can have in the store besides liquor, but a few snacks, deer hats and such are OK and we carry them.
“So we can not always do all of the suggestions of our customers because of legal limits, but we want to hear them anyway because we want every opportunity to please people. Again, we usually see them happy and ready to relax. We want them to still be that way after they stop here.”
Mitch and Rodney invite you to come out and visit with them at Little Mo’s Liquor.
Never take more than the feds will insure…
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
I grew up on a farm in middle Indiana during the 1960’s and 1970’s and was raised by my paternal grandparents, the late John Hans and Marvel Nelson.
During my upbringing, my grandfather and I had numerous conversations about John Dillinger, the famous bank robber of the depression era.
It would seem that Mr. Dillinger had grown up on a farm at Mooresville, Indiana, probably 60 or so miles from our place, which was a little more than 2 miles from the small town of Hagerstown.
Growing up alone, I had occasion to take up rabbit hunting. We had a woods attached to the 80 acres we lived on and there were probably a half of a dozen roadsters from the early 1930’s junked out there in Johnson Balls, which was the ground just to the edge of what we always called Warfles’s woods.
The thing I noticed at about 10 years of age was that the abandoned roadsters had what appeared to be rivets in the sides of them.
I asked Grandpa what had made those little holes? He smiled and replied, “A Tommy Gun did that many years ago.”
He told me the John Dillinger gang had probably left the cars back there, or some such a bunch of desperate men that had achieved a lot of extra cash during the Great Depression.
He seemed to know a lot more about it than what he was telling. I asked him if he knew John Dillinger.
“Everybody did back then, I suppose,” he told me.
Time rocked on and I found myself about 14 years old, getting ready to turn in a report on the John Dillinger Gang to my history class at school. The eighth grade teacher, a Mr. Lloyd Michaels, had told us to write on any group connected with the Great Depression.
I learned in my research that Baby Face Nelson shot a deputy during a Dillinger bank robbery. Nelson had been a member of the gang for a short time during the year and a half “Public Enemy Number One” ravaged the banks of Indiana. I believe it all occurred in 1933 and part of 1934.
Grandpa had continued telling me stories of the robberies and how the bank robber always gave to the poor and needy, especially widows or single mothers trying to feed their family.
He told me “Dillinger” never took more than the $100,000 from each bank, as that was all that was insured by the federal government and so no poor soul trying to create a life savings need suffer.
I brought my paper home that day and used several facts Grandpa had mentioned about John “Jack Rabbit” Dillinger, a man apparently known for being more than one place at the same time.
I asked him why he had told me nobody ever got hurt in any of the 18 bank robberies and yet history records Baby Face Nelson, also known as “trigger happy” Nelson, as having shot a sheriff’s deputy during one of the famous heists?
My grandfather was reading the Richmond Palladium Item, sitting in his favorite rocking chair in our living room when I asked him about Baby Face. He got up quickly and screamed out these remarks, “Baby Face Nelson was one of the dumbest people I ever knew. I told him there was to be no shooting see and he did not pay any attention to me.
“I fired him the next day!”
I stopped my grandfather there and asked him, “You fired him?”
He just smiled and sat back down, picking up the newspaper once again.
At that time, I thought Grandpa might be the real John Dillinger. But he let me know he was not a couple of years later in a fishing boat.
We were out on Scout Lake there in Hagerstown and Grandpa had grown a mustache. I had asked him earlier, while we were showing rabbits at the Wayne County Fair, what was with the hair under his nose?
He had said at the fair, “Just thought I would grow it out. It was part of a disguise I created many years ago.”
When he said that, I asked him directly, “Are you John Dillinger?”
He smiled but gave no response. However, he did not forget the question. Once we were alone, out in the boat, he began to open up about a few things.
Out of the blue, in the quiet of the morning, Grandpa began to get real…
“You know my best friend died recently right?”
Yes, I said. He was Lawrence Hoover.
“Think about that name. It stands for Jimmy Lawrence, a code name for John Dillinger, and J. Edgar Hoover, the federal copper that I struck a deal with. You see, Jimmy Lawrence wanted a life on my farm for a couple of years. I needed money because my hogs had died of the cholera. So we made a plan.”
Dillinger, Lawrence, so I learned, had a sweetheart who was pregnant. The grandson, also named Jimmy Lawrence, wrote a book about his grandpa trying to get a nose operation to change his looks etc. My grandfather had a natural bump in the bridge of his nose. I also have that.
The idea was to make the real McCoy look like the double so neither would look like the wanted man, John Dillinger of Mooresville.
Grandpa also talked of how he had no fingerprints because of burning them off on a hot motor “by accident of course.”
When Dillinger was shot, after being fingered at the Biograph Theater in Chicago on July 22, 1934, the brown-eyed man lay dying in the dirt. The main shooter, FBI agent Melvin Purvis, saw the brown eyes and cringed. You see, my grandfather had blue eyes. So did the man they arrested twice during the bank robbery sprees; being held both at Joliet State Prison in Illinois and in Kendalville, Indiana. Purvis killed himself because he knew the wrong man paid for the crimes.
You could not change your eye color back then. They killed John Dillinger, the grocery store robber, but they did not kill the man responsible for robbing 18 banks.
Grandpa had the bluest eyes I have ever seen. I would imagine the conversation between him and J. Edgar Hoover went something like this: “You got Public Enemy Number One and the FBI looks like a team of heroes.
“But if you continue to chase me, I will go back to robbing banks and it will be obvious you did not catch the real robber.”
Hoover, after a short pause, said, “You are John Hans Nelson. We were looking for John Dillinger and we found him, shot him dead to rights. Go back to farming John. Nobody is after you.”
And that is just what he did, went back to farming and continued it for more than half of a century. Grandpa learned how to vaccinate hogs and never ran short of money over losing a crop of them again.
Somehow, during the depression, he always had $20 bills to pay for his feed and seed in cash. He paid everything in cash, as a matter of fact.
When I would ask him about that, he would smile and simply recite an old Swedish poem, “There was an old man and he had a wooden leg. The tobacco that he chewed was tobacco that he begged. So he went around the corner where the money is thick as rocks and he always had tobacco in his old tobacco box.”
Truth? Yes. Every word of this story is true, to the best of my knowledge. Can I prove it? No. The only man who probably could have died on Jan. 22, 1989 at age 96.
Artist loves nature, has wonderful discovery style
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Lorrie Bridges, a naturalist who loves capturing “the thrill of discovery” with her silhouette painting or surreal idea, will be the featured artist from 5 until 9 on Friday, Oct. 4 at the American Art Gallery in downtown Hot Springs.
The Gallery Walk star is the former Lorrie Martin and grew up in the river valley of Arkansas. She is also a computer programmer and serves as an officer on the local art guild’s website. Jason and Lorrie Bridges moved back to Arkansas from Texas in 2005 and built a house in Greenwood. Flower gardening became Lorrie’s passion.
With nature around here, her painting has thrived. Lorrie moved into her own style of painting when she discovered silhouette techniques. She arranges plants, stems, branches, leaves and flowers on a painted canvas and then sprays over the top of them, creating detail and depth that mesmerizes viewers.
Keeping in her life’s theme of being a naturalist, her garden has become a source of endless possibilities for silhouette paintings.
Lorrie said, “Painting became a way of capturing the calmness I feel outdoors.”
Lorrie Bridges’ silhouette paintings began to sell quickly when she displayed them in business offices, restaurants, doctor clinics, plant nurseries and local art shows.
Lorrie added, “It is thrilling when someone tells me they saw my work and immediately knew whose it was.”
“Whether I am working on a silhouette painting or a surreal idea, I’m working toward a goal of creating more than a pleasing picture. I am relying on our desires to know the truth, focus the blurred and piece together what does not make sense.
“When I create silhouette paintings, I often use real plants, limbs, leaves and flowers for that ultra-real effect, while still allowing for the thrill of discovery. I love how viewers will point out something I didn’t even notice.”
Recalling the Light…
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
I had a conversation about general news with Gurdon Mayor Clayton Franklin Wednesday morning, as is my weekly habit. Among other things, we touched upon the subject of the Gurdon Light.
There is a lawyer, Jess Askew III, of Little Rock, who is to present some papers to our council on Monday night, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. about Gurdon getting right a way of 4 miles of railroad track path from Highway 53 to where the light is normally spotted.
If memory serves, that used to be eight trestles and a graveyard from the Southfork Truckstop Highway 53 Road to where reports of the Gurdon Light were common. We will know Monday how successful Askew thinks the town will be in getting rights to the property so it can be maintained for a tourist attraction.
One new, and really good, piece of news that the mayor shared was there have been reports of curiosity seekers going back to the old light location and the phenomenon has been seen since the railroad tracks have been lifted.
This inspires me to believe that our ghost, or swamp gas, whichever you believe, is still very much a part of the terrain. With the ease of the path back there now, and the reported filling in of the weak spots in the trestles, this editor just may get a good pair of snake-proof boots and go Gurdon Light hunting fairly soon.
Seriously folks, Forest Festival would not be the same without visiting the light during the Halloween season around Gurdon. I am very glad this Gurdon namesake is being pursued.
THE STORY OF THE GURDON LIGHT
According to Mayor Franklin, a study done by Henderson State University concluded the Gurdon Light is simply swamp gas and nothing more.
Those of us who “do believe in spooks” beg to differ. I much prefer the following explanation of what is going on. You see, on a train ride, say about 150 years ago, a couple of robbers jumped from the woods onto the caboose, where the conductor was playing solitary and drinking a glass of wine.
You see, said conductor was surprised by the intruders and rose up to grab his pistol. When he did, the robbers panicked and quickly formed a plan of violence so they could get on with their stealing. One saw a large saber hanging on the caboose wall. He grabbed it and before you could say “Jimmy Crack Corn,” that robber took the head of that old conductor. The body fell to the floor and the head rolled out the door.
All of this time, you see, the train was moving on down the line. It got about four miles from the future Highway 53 Southfork Road in Gurdon when that conductors head hit the edge of the track and bounced over to a nearby wooded area.
The robbers took all of the valuables they could find and jumped the train some miles down the track, never to be heard from again. When the engineer came back to talk with the conductor, he discovered his co-worker dead and headless!
But this is not where the story ends. You see, on clear and dark nights, when there is virtually no moon, brave souls have sought out that exact spot where the conductor’s head bounced off the track. They say they see a figure, headless man I have been told, with a lantern, going up and down the area where the track laid for so many years, and then moving a bit toward the wooded area.
Many of you have figured out the spooky tooth explanation. You guessed it, the old conductor comes out at night, with his lantern, in search of his head…
While not to discredit the natural explanation from HSU about the swamp gas/foxfire etc., more than one report has reached this editor of the light actually chasing people down the track area. It is as though it is following those that might have a clue as to where that dog gone head has gone…
The Gurdon Light was on Ripply’s Believe it or Not back in 2004, when this reporter was the editor of the Gurdon Times. The legend, going by that fact and the numerous reports over the years, does have some credibility.
If Gurdon can get the land rights, and the city maintain a bike trail back to it for easy access to the Gurdon Light area, I believe it might even put Gurdon on the map – with the right publicity. People do go to remote places to do things they really want to do. Case in point, “Rowdy’s Adventures,” a zip-line company in Okolona, Arkansas… It’s Internet advertising campaign, according to a former employee, helps it bring in thousands of dollars per weekend.
If this city plays its cards right, maybe we can sell Gurdon Light novelty T-shirts and flashlights to raise money for the police and fire departments. I could envision a successful tourism business here; small at first, but worthwhile.
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Arkadelphia Poultry Production Plant, a division of Vikon Farms, is coming to the Clark County Industrial Park and locating in the old Petit Jean Poultry Plant facility.
A ceremony was held Monday, Aug. 12, at the plant to welcome Arkadelphia Poultry and its projected 172 new jobs.
Gurdon Mayor Clayton Franklin was on site, along with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and several other area leaders. Clark County Judge Ron Daniel and Prescott Mayor Terry Oliver were among those who attended.
Franklin said Wednesday Petit Jean Poultry, which has been closed since April of 2011, had more than 500 employees in its glory days. Old Petit Jean workers will be the first to be considered for hire.
“It was a very dignified opening ceremony and the owners of the Vikon Farms operation were present,” Franklin said. “But we still don’t know exactly when the plant will begin hiring or when it will open.
“We do know that if someone wants a job out there, and they are among those with Petit Jean experience, they had better speak up quickly because we are talking about 172 new positions and many more than that were let go when the plant closed.”
Shawnie Carrier, president of the Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance, introduced Quan Phu, chief executive officer with Vikon, at the Aug. 12 welcoming ceremony. The company will be investing $5.4 million into the Clark County facility. Phu said Vikon will add the necessary equipment, contract growers and the hatchery, and solidify when it can open. The plan is to begin operations in six months.
Franklin said those interested in employment should check with the Clark County Employment Security Division in Arkadelphia.
“I am not sure they will be hiring through the unemployment office, but that would be a good place to start,” he added.
The mayor said the new industry will be good for Gurdon “as a lot of our people have experience from working at the old plant and Gurdon is a blue collar town.”
As to wages, Franklin said he believed starting pay would be somewhere close to $10 an hour, but again nothing exact was announced at the Monday afternoon welcoming ceremony.
The new plant will be processing chicken, but not the same type Petit Jean Poultry did. Franklin said Arkadelphia Poultry will deal with smaller “range” birds, say 2 pounds instead of the 4-pounders processed through Petit Jean. The new poultry are more like a game bird. The mayor said a retail market has already been established through Vikon’s other holdings. That market is in Asia, as well as in California and other western states.
Franklin said growers in Eldorado would be utilized, as they also lost a processing plant “that left employees high and dry” and workers there have the necessary experience to grow birds for Vikon.
“This bird is grown to be less fat, whereas Petit Jean grew them to get big quick,” Franklin said. “There will also be four or five employees over at Prescott, where there is a building for egg hatching.”
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
The Gurdon Community Pantry now feeds more than 200 families out of the Faith Mission every fourth Tuesday of the month and has plans to continue the fight on local hunger.
A brain child of Mission coordinator Tommy Potter and Evergreen Church’s Velvet Gonzales, a need was recognized and contacts were made with the Arkansas Food Bank, Caddo Valley branch, so that Thanksgiving could be enjoyed by 175 Gurdon families in 2012 who otherwise may not have eaten at all – much less enjoyed a holiday meal.
“Through the help of volunteers from the church and community, and the continued cooperation of the food bank at Caddo Valley, we were able to feed 175 families Christmas dinner as well,” Potter said.
But the Community Pantry really stepped up to the hunger plate in 2013, with 60 tons of food being dispersed since January 1 and no anticipated slow down in service. This figure does not count what has been collected this month.
In addition to the 200 to 250 families per month that come get groceries from 4 to 6 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday, Potter said Tuesday, Aug. 13, “We deliver to between 75 and 80 Gurdon shut-ins. The little box of food we bring just does not seem very much when we put it in a refrigerator and on shelves where nothing else exists.
“Our only requirement is a light bill or some sort of proof that a person lives in Gurdon. We realize there are those who just take this food because it is here. But the Christian based philosophy of Evergreen Church, as well as Faith Mission, is we have to go through the greedy to serve the needy.”
Potter and Gonzales are heading efforts currently to stuff back packs with food items for hungry children who are returning to the Gurdon schools.
At last report, Gurdon public schools has 76 percent of its student population who are eligible for free or reduced lunches.
For several years, there has been a district sponsored breakfast program to encourage students to get something to eat so their minds will be more receptive to learning. The Community Pantry has taken this one step further by stuffing back packs with food items.
Potter said the idea for the Community Pantry sprang from a Wednesday night community youth Bible Study he was involved with at Evergreen.
Pastor Kevin Sims had Tommy volunteering to drive a church bus as part of the transportation for 80 children to attend the mid-week youth meeting last school year. Sycamore Church Pastor James McCain and his congregation also helped with transportation.
Potter served as a driver and a teacher. It was noticed that several of these kids seemed undernourished… A concern by Tommy and the church resulted in an effort to feed those children and their families over Thanksgiving.
The Wednesday night Bible Study effort will continue again this school year and so will the expanded Community Pantry effort that spurred from seeing this community need.
“Velvet Gonzales got us a grant for a freezer that we put at the mission and we had to really revamp things over there physically to meet all of the requirements to get our food from Arkansas Food Bank but it was worth it,” Potter said. “We have other gift sources of food and money but the food bank is our main source.”
The Community Pantry has probably six freezers full of donated food. There are huge ham loaves, frozen vegetables and other frozen meats. There are also at least six huge shelves of canned goods, as well as potatoes.
“Once the need was recognized an people started working together,” he said, “things started really taking off. I can not believe we have distributed at least 60 tons already this year. I give God all of the glory and the credit.
“This is more food distribution than I ever considered possible back when I just had a small mission food bank for a few people to use.”
Potter said the Community Food Bank kicked off in September of 2012, after much remodeling was done to Faith Mission – especially in regard to shelving.
“Velvet and I had to attend state food bank classes about properly shelving food items,” Potter said.
The hunger need in Gurdon is “so much bigger than most people realize.” Potter said he also gave away between 8 and 10 tons of donated pretzels. That truck load donation was not unusual, as donations sources for the Community Pantry are too many to mention.
Potter said Gonzales has been trained on computers and keeping records. Velvet keeps the records while Tommy physically goes and gets the food from the Caddo Valley Branch of the Arkansas Food Bank. Tommy’s wife Stephanie Potter keeps the books for the mission itself. She also helps with Celebrate Recovery’s women’s group.
Celebrate Recovery, a program for helping people get over grief, kick additions and much more, has been a main part of the Faith Mission for more than a decade.
Tommy said, “As for Stephanie’s being involved with the food bank, she works selling advertising to pay for the utilities at the mission, and has furnished me with a truck and gas to go get the food. Quite honestly, I would not be able to help anybody if I did not have a hard working wife who encourages me and prays with me for God to bless us to where we can increase our efforts to whatever level He sees fit. Stephanie is the backbone of this mission and if it were not for her financing so much of it, the Community Pantry would have nowhere to put all of this food.”
Tommy is aided in the physical transport of the food by Pato, Velvet’s husband. Potter carries it back to Gurdon by the trailer load, pulled by his heavy duty pick up.
“Other churches are helping us with money donations and food as well,” Potter said. “We go and get our main loads on the second and forth Tuesdays, but distribution is on that fourth Tuesday from 2 until 4 p.m.”
Potter said the volunteers get to his mission on the fourth Tuesdays and begin to set up tables. In reality, 4 p.m. is a myth as to a quit time. Potter said food is usually handed out by the 20 some volunteers until its gone.
He and Pato go get the food from Caddo Valley about 10:30 a.m. that morning.
“We encourage everyone to come and help,” Potter said. “Our shut-ins many times need a visitor nearly as bad as they need the food. Sometimes they just need something simple done – like changing a light bulb.”
Distribution day includes packaging up the 75 boxes of groceries that are then delivered to area shut-ins.
Grocery boxes include portions of meat, vegetables and potatoes.
“We recently passed out 220 watermelons and 450 pounds of bell peppers,” he said.
“Our plans for the future are to keep on giving as long as hunger is an issue in this community,” Potter said.
Potter is also the current president of the Clark County Boys and Girls Club.
This gives him yet another means for discovering a hunger need.
“My heart is really in that Boys and Girls Club effort,” he said. “I would like to see a chapter in Gurdon and Amity both.”
Celebrate expanded from Faith Mission. It meets at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday nights in Gurdon and at the same time on Monday nights in St. Andrew’s Methodist Church at Arkadelphia.
Former Prosecuting Attorney Bob Sanders, who is a Methodist minister, hosts Celebrate on Monday.
“I can not stress enough how grateful I am for my wife’s support in all of these helping endeavors,” he said. “She is a team player and that is what it takes.”
for Beal Street
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
I got lost in Memphis without a cell phone on my nine-day vacation the last part of July. I was lost about three hours.
It might be best, if reading this, to prepare for a good belly laugh. It really is a funny circumstance. I was not, however, laughing at the time. We arrived at our first motel for the 2013 vacaction lift off at about 4 p.m. at a Day’s Inn in downtown Memphis that my wife had pre-booked.
The idea was to see the sights on Beal Street that night and listen to some good blues. We got settled in and I told her on this Friday night, July 19, that I was going out for just a minute to buy cigars. I was sure there would be a Tobacco Superstore just around the corner. WRONG!!!
That store would be on Summer Street, about a million miles from where I was. I never did make it there, finally settling for a pack of Marlboros three hours later after going up and down Poplar and where ever else. I think I hit Central and wound up on Southern Avenue over by the old Memphis State University Campus. Gez.
At any rate, I neglected to take my cell phone. When I finally got back to the room, Michelle was still there. She said she thought I ran off and so she might as well at least relax for the night while making up her mind what to do next. I informed her that somebody had swaped up the streets in Memphis since I had been here nearly 20 years ago and set all sorts of traps for me up and down the blocks – intentionally getting my old butt lost as a goose!
She tried to keep a straight face, bless her heart. Then we both realized how rediculous the situation was and laughed heartily.
Then it was off to Beal Street for an enjoyable evening listening to the blues. They even played one of our favorite old Eric Clapton songs, “My Darling, You Look Wonderful Tonight.” That got us dancing a bit. It was a good evening.
By JOHN NELSON
I now have a Florida sunburn that once again, after not looking this way since I was 20 years old, makes me wonder if my body might be mistaken for a color television set that was not tuned in very well.
My wife Michelle and I left Gurdon, Arkansas on Friday, July 19 and returned on Sunday, July 28. The vacation we took was the first one she and I had taken in 15 years of marriage. Sure,we have visited with family. We even went to my home state of Indiana to attend the 35th Class Reunion of the 1977 Class at Hagerstown High School last summer. But we had never take a vacation just because we could and on a route we picked just for fun.
The route started with a night in Memphis. We went to Beal Street and caught a blues concert. The guy was great. The performer was an older black gentleman with more talent in his little finger than most music folk have in their entire bodies. He and his group even played, “You Look Wonderful Tonight,” an old Eric Clapton blues slow dance tune that my wife has known for years makes me think of her. Yep, we did dance to it and that was one spectacular memory.
Being older than dirt, I insisted on cutting the party short pretty early. But we got on the road the next day for the Grand Ole Opry. We saw Darryl Worley and listened to his patriotic songs about 911 that are now updated with the fact that Ben Laudin has been killed.
They had numerous other artists from the distant past, such as Connie Smith, a country singer my daddy used to like. The entire Saturday night at the Opry was fun! We again turned in fairly early and hit Interstate 65, heading for Montgomery, Alabama.
I wanted to see the grave monument of country singer Hank Williams. His son, Hank Williams Jr., and no doubt other family and friends, have created a great place to sit and think about one of the cornerstones of country music. It was a shame Hank died so young. I do not know the details, but my daddy the doctor taught me early in life that sleeping pills and booze do not mix. They stop the heart, cheating or otherwise…
After spending a peaceful night in Montgomery, Michelle and I continued our ride from Highway 82 to Interstate 75. We were on our way to Sara Sota, Florida. On route, we stopped at Ocala for the night. It was our first stop in Florida. I remarked to Michelle how much I have always loved Florida trees.
We ate at a place called the Gator. The food was fantastic! Then we spent the next day getting to a town between there and Sara Sota named Arcadia. I lived there in 1979 and 1980. The old bus station, where my boss sent me around distributing Amway and such, seems to now house a newspaper called the Arcadian. Ironic, in my mind, since I have been a newspaper man since returning to Indiana in late 1980 to finish college before launching into a lifelong career as a journalist.
We ate at the Clock in Arcadia and caught up a little on 33 years of gossip. Many things change in more than three decades. But what I loved about Arcadia remains; a great rodeo town with friendly people. They are still holding that rodeo and I have photos to prove it.
Then we finally went to Sara Sota and watched the sunset at Turtle Beach… We then headed to Bradenton, Florida to get a motel and some rest. The next day, Wednesday, I got this wonderful sunburn badge. If only a body cast sunburn made a 54-year-old writer lose weight. But alas, an old fashioned chicken soup, celery and peanut butter diet until football season will probably have to do that. My wife has had much success in losing weight. Me, I am much too stubborn to lose weight traditionally. But lose it I will, as soon as this sunburn heals…
So after walking the beach, playing with my wife and a float toy in the waves near the beach and collecting sea shells by the Gulf waters, we went back to the motel. The next day was the hardest, We drove about 14 hours to New Orleans. On Thursday night and Friday night, we lived in a bed and breakfast, just down from Bourbon Street. Now there is one wild place. We listened to much music, bought weird looking hats and such for our grand children and also walked around the French Quarter wearing out two pairs of shoes.
My wife tells me all of the walking was to gaze at the old architecture. I grew up in an old Indiana farm house. Some of the old stuff in our hotel reminded me of that structure; such as the hard wood floors and fancy throw rug. The place even had pink sinks and a pink toilet, just like back home. Apparently that was a popular thing from my Grandpa’s world of the 1930′s.
And then, as all good things, do, the vacation had to end. We left New Orleans on Saturday morning, heading to a family gathering in Paragould, Arkansas and also to help my best friend get some phone service. Reality has set in. We promised each other we would pay off the card that had allowed this vacation by next July so we can take a similar trip again.
As to Gurdon, there is a City Council meeting tonight. It was great to get home last night and my house is still standing after my son Jacob looking after things for nine days. So all is well with this small town writer. I know, as you might surmize, have many new stories to tell. And I feel very blessed.
And the sunburn is pretty well painless. Finally. Sure, I should have used Sun Screen. But hey, I need my pain. It earns me a few things and certainly keeps me awake.
Tailgate News, June 28, 2013 issue
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Many people over the years have refused to believe that anything more unusual that rocks, dirt and sky could actually exist.
Tal Branco, of the Bryant area, is not one of those people Tal has investigated the existence and particulars about a creature known to Native Americans as Sasquatch, that is Bigfoot, for nearly 50 years.
Tal said he has seen a Bigfoot up close three times. He leaves food out for them near his cabin in the Quachita National Forest and they come up close to eat.
He has also investigated 15 incidents of Bigfoot in Alabama, as well as several other states.
A law enforcement investigator and expert witness in his younger days, the 78-year-old is no doubt used to investigating secretive and odd habits of people and other animals.
Tal went to an undisclosed area, near Okolona in Southern Clark County this past week to investigate two alleged Bigfoot “woods apes” who were said to attack cattle.
“I was able to get hair samples from the fence and I believe one of the Bigfoot creatures is a young teenager, while the other in his early 20’s,” he said.
“When a Bigfoot attacks a calf, it is interested in the heart and liver, not much else. They eat fruit, nuts, a variety of things and they stay to themselves. I believe our two guests in Clark County are probably small, say 5 to 7 feet tall. Full grown red-haired Bigfoot grow as high as 9 feet.”
Tal interviewed one anonymous guy who claims to have seen the two Okolona area Bigfoot by the road as he was driving through the area.
Determined to validate the claims, Tal took off with a small band of followers, including this editor, on Tuesday night. He played recordings of other Bigfoot screaming their “kill calls” and jungle -like greetings.
Tal said the erie kill call sounds were from a siting in Minnesota. Bigfoot are said to live deep in the woods and swamps of North America, known to the Native Americans as “the other brothers.”
They are non-aggressive to humans and simply seek to be left alone. The kill call, Tal said, is screamed by the hunters of the pack of Bigfoots so the females and children know that there will be something to eat.
Although the shadows were playing their tricks in the moonlight, the recorded callings did not seem to bring the beast-like creatures bounding from the woods.
Tal did not give up. He said sometimes it just takes time to find some evidence. He said if you look into a suspected wooded area with infrared binoculars, sometimes you will see orange type eyes staring back.
Tal said at Gurdon Rotary last week that Bigfoot can not be hunted effectively because “they will hunt you.”
“But they will reveal themselves and I’ve even seen them bluff charge skeptical humans just to laugh at them while they run to their trucks.
“It gives the Bigfoot a laugh for the night.”
After the hunt, Tal said he was going to spend a couple of hours investigating another siting, south of Malvern. Or at least that is where this reporter understood him to say. Tal said his persistence, and the fact that he has seen these creatures with his own eyes, have facilitated a lot of success in finding evidence of Bigfoot.
“I wanted to show all of you a Bigfoot running from the woods out here tonight and make believers out of all of you, but no such luck.”
Tal did stare at one section of woods with intensity. He vowed to continue gathering evidence.
June 5, 2013
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
A Little Rock lawyer is researching the laws of bankruptcy in regard to railroad property so the City of Gurdon can apply for the right-of-way to a 4-mile track path, which includes the site of the Gurdon Light.
If Council members approve the application, and so does the court system, Gurdon could end up having authority over said path under the agreement that the city maintain it. The next step would be to apply for grant money to improve the accessibility of the tourist attraction.
The Gurdon Light has been an unexplained phenomenon on the tracks in that area for years, appearing as a glowing entity moving up and down the railroad area, giving many a Halloween enthusiast a thrill.
The Gurdon Light, according to Mayor Clayton Franklin, has long been an attraction to the South Clark County area but has been disrupted recently when 50 miles of railroad track was abandoned in a bankruptcy case. Much of the actual iron track has been pulled up.
The 50 miles in question runs from Highway 53 where Midland Railroad track maintenance ends, all the way to Glenwood. A mill was closed that used those tracks and the loss in revenue caused the bankruptcy.
Franklin said Wednesday Little Rock Attorney Jess Askew II is very interested in bike trails and has agreed to donate some legal time to Gurdon in order to secure the sought after 4-mile stretch. It starts where Midland maintenance ends and extends past an old graveyard where the ghost of a young lady has also allegedly been seen by Halloweeners gone by.
According to the mayor, the track looks like a bike trail for the entire 50 miles because of the missing iron tracks. Franklin said he is not sure if removing the track has damaged any of the trestles, but did not see that as a problem getting to the Light – just a slight diversion of the path.
“I am sure there is grant money out there for us to get an easy access, well maintained, bike or waking trail to the Light,” Franklin said.
“But the first step is to wait on our lawyer to get with the court about what sort of paperwork needs to be filed by the city to claim the right-of-way on the appropriate 4 miles of property. If we fail to get the right-of-way, it will go back to the original property owners. This could make it much more difficult for us to get it in the future.
“Askew is optimistic about Gurdon getting the right-a-way without involving the original property owners.”
Another concern about the Gurdon Light is whether or not it can be seen without the presence of the iron railroad tracks. Legend says an engineer who was beheaded by robbers about 100 years ago is searching the area with his lantern for his lost head…
Science suggests that the “foxfire” might need the iron from railroad track to properly display the Light.
In addition to tourism, Franklin said the 4-mile stretch of right-away could be a good industrial railroad spur sight sometime in the future.
“I don’t believe that will happen in my lifetime, but some future company needing to move something by rail might be very glad Gurdon has these rights,” he said.
May 6, 2013
Believe It or Not?
Rabbit hunting brought curiosity
from rivited holes in old roadsters
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
I am John H. Nelson the second. I used to sign my name that way before Grandpa passed away because I loved him so much and was so very proud to carry his name.
When I was 8 years old or so I started asking questions about something unusual that I saw going on at my mentor and adopted father’s farm. It would seem, in an area of our farm called “Johnson Balls,” there were several cars of the 1934 vintage. All had multiple holes in the metal.
I used to hunt rabbits back there in the winter time, as part of my early on experiences growing up on my grandparents’ Indiana farm. I did not shoot very many rabbits, mostly went back to the woods to think.
I suppose us writer type guys do a lot of that, thinking up stories and all. So one day, after coming back from Johnson Balls, I asked my Grandpa about the cars. He was silent for quite a long way as we walked through the snow covered fields.
Finally, he began to speak. Those cars, he said, were relics of a by-gone time in his life. They were from a past that would be better off left in the past.
It was my turn to walk in silence. After about 200 yards I started talking to him.
“Grandpa, how could those cars have gotten so many holes in them?”
He looked at me and smiled. Those holes came from an old fashioned machine gun, he began. In particular, they came from Tommy Guns.
I asked him why shot-up cars ended up in the back of our Warfle’s Woods? He smiled again and said they were the result of 18 jobs done and vehicle wise what was left after the tasks.
Now my face was really starting to crinkle up with curiosity.
We walked a while again and Grandpa began to ask me questions.
“Have you ever heard of John Dillinger?” he asked..
“I know he was a bank robber that my teachers say thought like Robin hood,” I told him.
Grandpa smiled and let go a laugh. So that is what they are saying about Mr. Dillinger. He rubbed his chin and thought about that.
“I knew John Dillinger, the bank robber,” he began. “I heard tell he would rob $100,000 from each of the banks he hit because that is how much FDIC insurance the banks carried.
“You see Dillinger believed our government’s mismanagement of tax dollars caused the Great Depression. And he did like to give money away after the robberies.
“There were times he would look up single mothers hanging their laundry in their back yards just to give them a few $20 bills to tide them over until things got better…”
So Grandpa agreed with me that Dillinger was a bit like Robin hood. He robbed from the rich old government coffers, via banks, and then gave the money away to hard working folks he ran into along life’s path.
We sat in silence once again, just next to one of those roadsters with the riveted Tommy Gun holes in it. The snow fell. I was not sure what to ask next.
Grandpa seemed to be thinking back on that time, hearing those rat-a-tat-tat Tommy Guns going off once again. Yet it was just a dream. You see, this part of my life took place in about 1966, about 32 years after the Dillinger Gang took down its last bank.
Then all of sudden he looked straight at me and said, “Remember son, my name is Nelson and my best friend and fishing buddy is Lawrence Hoover.”
I looked at the old man and smiled, not knowing what the beegeebees he was talking about at the time.
But times changed. I got older and more curious. Grandpa told me more and more and I began to fit together a puzzle that to this day gets more sensible and believable every time I write it.
But on that winter’s day in 1966, I went over and stood by one of those riveted cars. I know they were supposed to be from 1934 but when I was young they always registered in my mind as from the early 1950’s. I guess my brain just could not fathom that they had been parked their after 18 bank heists in 1933, 34 and 35. It had to have been about the spring of 1935 when the biological John “Lawrence” Dillinger was fingered by the Lady in Red, iced by Melvin Pervis and his gang of J. Edgar Hoover FBI agents, for those guys only to discover that the fellow who robbed the banks was still at large.
But I get ahead of myself. The next hint growing up that my grandfather, John Hans Nelson, 1892-1989, was the body double for John Dillinger and actually led a gang to rob 18 banks in the 1930’s came when I did a paper on the John Dillinger Gang in the eighth grade – so 5 years after the Tommy Gun car partial explanation, some more entrapping information came from the old man.
I think, as he got older, he got to caring less and less who knew the truth about the whole thing.
Next week, In Dillinger Days, Part II, I will tell you about Grandpa throwing a fit over a deputy getting shot in one of those robberies. Until then, so long.
‘The Firing of Baby Face’
By JOHN NELSON
Tailgate News Editor
Hello again folks. This is the follow-up article on the anger of my grandfather, an alleged John Dillinger look alike, when he fired Baby Face Nelson for being trigger happy.
The year was somewhere around 1974. I had to have been about 15, which made my grandfather about 81. It was when I was learning to drive and first understanding the complications of having a steady girlfriend. Actually, Joni was great. I was a very lucky kid to have someone so pretty, smart and understanding. Unfortunately, I did not realize how lucky and she slipped through my fingers a few years later.
Back then, I was still in 4-H showing rabbits at the county fair. The conversation about Baby Face Nelson took place in the fall of that year, just after fair time in Wayne County, Indiana.
Apparently my old man was thinking of his Dillinger days out at the fair grounds. I have recently found out there is a book called Dillinger Days. Small world. For those of you who have not heard my “insane” assertion, I believe John Hans Nelson, 1892-1989, was one body double for John Dillinger back in 1933-35 and was the bank robber that knocked down at least part of the two dozen bank heists that occurred during that time period.
Their size was right. Their basic facial structure was right and the public in a panic could have been convinced old John Hans was the real McCoy. Also, Grandpa had blue eyes, just like it is my understanding did the “Dillinger” they caught and put in Joliet Prison. Interestingly enough, Dillinger also had blue eyes at Crown Point Jail. He escaped both times. Grandpa had not record, but then he wouldn’t would he, if he was being incarcerated as John Dillinger!
Further notice should be given to those reading and speculating that the biological John Herbert Dillinger that was shot to death in front of the Biograph Theater in July of 1934 had brown eyes. The FBI got their man. And they got the real John Dillinger. But go with me on a limb here. If John Dillinger was using Jimmy Lawrence, a real person that looked like him noted in the historical account on this Internet, so that he, Dillinger, could lay low and enjoy a few weeks with his woman, what is to say he did not also figure a guy looking like him could pull off some bank jobs while he was resting. Or maybe pull them off at the same time. Grandpa always said it was 18 bank robberies that told the tale of Dillinger. History is saying two dozen robberies. Perhaps my grandfather, in my way of thinking, might have been responsible for 18 – enough to get the cash for buying and maintaining 169 acres of farm land in the middle of a Great Depression, and enough to send his high IQ son to medical school and foot the bill.
But I digress. Let’s go to the county fair in Wayne County, Indiana in 1974 where John Hans and his grandson (me) are participating in a rabbit contest. Things are going great. As usual, Johnny (me) has won the grand champion for the rabbit fair. The ribbon had just been spotted on the cage of our best shaped New Zealand White doe. She had just the right amount of bulk and the perfect rabbit shape.
Grandpa had grown out his mustache a little, which wa still different from his normally clean-shaven face.
I said, “You look diffenent with that hair under your nose.”
He smiled until his gold tooth sparkled in the sun and did not say a word.
I stood there in the rabbit section at the fair pondering the situation. I was tired of wondering. I had been doing a research paper in school about the John Dillinger gang and thinking about the hundreds of conversations concerning Dillinger I had been prevy too with my Grandpa over the years.
I did not come up with the body double theory until just a few years ago. Back then, I believed Grandpa was Dillinger and some stool pigeon had been killed at the theater after being fingered by the Lady in Red. I have since determined the facts do not support the original theory.
I read a lot of history today and had to rethink some of my other theories while trying to concentrate on what my grandfather had really said – without my adlibs… It would seem the real John Dillinger did commit at least part of the two dozen successful bank robberies in 1934. He did have a girl he loved, his girlfriend Evelyn “Billie” Frechette. “Jack Rabbit,” as one reference called the biological John Dillinger, did have a fellow that looked like him called Jimmy Lawrence. He did attempt to go by that name some to lay low and just enjoy domestic life. But accounts are sketchy on the real Jimmy Lawrence. I once had a fellow claimimg to be Jimmy Lawrence’s grandson to reveal a book he wrote about his grandfather being a body double for Dillinger. At least, if memory serves, that was the jest of it.
At any rate, I could go on and on with history and theories, but let’s get to the facts of this week’s Dillinger tales. The fact is after Grandpa and I left the fairgrounds, he invited me to go fishing in his old “Mayflower” boat out on Scout Lake. I naturally accepted.
Once on the boat, the silence between us lingered as we fished our favorite holes. He rowed and fished. I fished. Then he spoke up, “My best friend’s name, as you recall, was Lawrence Hoover. That is Jimmy Lawrence and J.Edgar Hoover did me a huge favor many years ago.”
I asked again if he were Dillinger? He laughed. I am beginning to believe he was a substitute for the man. I do not believe he was the original. As he said, “Always remember my name is John Hans Nelson and I am proud of that name.”
The 1930′s were wild times to say the least. A lot of things could have happened. My grandfather had an extremely high IQ and he wanted his farming operation to work in the worst way. He always called money “just a tool.” But he had a lot of money that nobody could ever explain.
To conclude this week’s diaglogue, and reveal to you what he said about Baby Face Nelson, we have to come in off the fishing lake and go back up to our farm house. He started reading the Palladium Item, that is the Richmond newspaper. I decided to get his goat a little.
“Grandpa, I am doing this report in school on the John Dillinger Gang and I thought you told me nobody was ever killed during a bank robbery?”
“I did tell you there was no gun play to go on during the robberies,” he said.
“Well what about Baby Faced Nelson shooting a sheriff’s deputy? Did that really happen?”
My grandfather got out of his rocking chair and tossed the newspaper to the floor. He started talking very loudly and flailing his arms with excitement.
He said, “I want you to remember that Baby Faced Nelson was not related to our family. He was an idiot who could not follow orders. He was trigger happy and did not have much regard for human life. When he shot that sheriff’s deputy during that bank robbery, I fired the X#B the next day!”
I had what I wanted and I called the old man’s hand.
“Grandpa, you just said you fired Baby Faced Nelson. You said you fired him.”
The old man shut up tighter than a drum and sat down. He was done talking for then. So long folks and check us out again next week when I will talk about the desparate year, the unexplained good fortune, the pile of $20 bills that were always around and an alleged meeting up with somebody that could have been him during a long night at a bar in Chicago.
Could have been Dillinger, but was not. Again, the guy who escaped prison and jail, that they had caught robbing at least some of the banks had blue eyes, blue as the ocean. So did Grandpa. John Dillinger, according to record and according to what was seen at his death, had brown eyes. This was July of 1934, before eye color cold be altered. So long folks and have a good week.
Looking at the historical nickname of “Jack Rabbit,” perhaps Mr. Dillinger could be two places at once because in reality there were two bank robbers and one of them never got caught…
My grandfather’s ‘Dillinger’ history
By JOHN NELSON
In every family, there are rumors and folklore tales. Mine is no different.
I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana back in 1958, the son of two doctors. Both of them picked their careers over raising a child. Thus, my Dad’s folks stepped in…
I was raised by John Hans and Marvel Nelson, born in 1892 and 1896 respectively. They raised me on a farm near Hagerstown, Indiana, a town of about 2,500.
Being raised an only child, I was with my folks a lot. Like most older people, they loved to tell me their old stories, over and over again.
One of Grandpa’s favorite subjects was the John Dillinger Gang, a group that had about 18 months of successful bank robberies back in 1934. Most of the robberies were done in Indiana or Illinois, with the group going on the lamb in Florida.
Since this is 2009, despite the fact that I am very familiar with the stories about John Dillinger, both folk tales and historical accounts, I will assume you, the reader, have never heard of “Johnny Death.” I think it is an odd nickname since, to the best of my research on the streets and in books, the group never killed anyone. They did, however, shoot a sheriff’s deputy during one robbery. Dillinger was reportedly very unhappy with Baby Face Nelson about that “and had to fire that idiot!”
I must start this account with an admission toward the dramatic. I once asked Grandpa Nelson if he were John Dillinger? He smiled. But he never said yes or no. There is a part of me that hopes he was, and another part of me that would be just as happy if he really were not. The truth, since Grandpa died in 1989 at the age of 96, probably went to the grave with John Hans Nelson.
The year was 1934. My grandfather would have been 42. The historical accounts of John Dillinger would have put him around the same age.
I once did a history report, while in the eighth grade, concerning the John Dillinger Gang. I asked Grandpa, since he admitted at least knowing them, how the gang got started.
“Well Johnny, the stock market crash of 1929 hurt a lot of hard working people,” he had said. “Dillinger did not like seeing all of that suffering. So he started robbing banks of $100,000 each and giving most of the money to the poor to keep them from starving or sleeping out in the cold.”
The $100,000 was the amount insured back then by the FDIC. Now that amount has been raised to $250,000 that the government must replace if its stolen or lost. Grandpa made sure I know that his best friend in life was named Lawrence Hoover. I met that guy. He fished with me and my grandfather a lot at the Hagerstown Scout Lake.
John Dillinger was pursued by J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI and paid a fellow named Jimmy Lawrence $100,000 to have a nose operation so the guy would look like Dillinger and get shot after being fingered by the “Woman in Red.” I believe Jimmy Lawrence was the street name for the biological John Dillinger killed in front of the Biograph Theater on that historic night.
History says they got their man. Melvin Purvis, a leading investigator of the Dillinger bank robberies, killed himself shortly after the shooting of “John Dillinger” when it was revealed all over the streets that it was brown-eyed Jimmy Lawrence that was killed instead. Dillinger, that is the blue-eyed version, came out of the wood work long enough afterwards to warn the government that if they ever tried to say it was not John Dillinger the bank robber who was killed, John Hans Nelson would go on yet another rampage of bank robberies, using the Dillinger name – that is the name of then Public Enemy Number One.
Grandpa wanted to farm and he wanted amnesty. My grandfather said John Dillinger, the bank robber, got exactly what he wanted and lived to be an old man. Grandpa, who admitted no criminal activity on his part other than bootlegging moonshine for his brother-in-law, Searn Rossendoll, had no fingerprints.
I asked him what happened. He said he and some friends put their hands on hot Model A motors so that all of their hands would be smooth. Then he smiled at me.
I re-asked Grandpa about the beginnings of the Dillinger Gang. He always gave me a few more details at every interview. He told me the Dillinger name came from the Derringer pistol. Grandpa was of Swedish and Danish descent and could not speak very clear English. Dillinger was simply Derringer mispronounced. But history reports there was a John Dillinger with brown eyes. My grandfather always told me to remember his real name was John Hans Nelson.
I believe Grandpa robbed the banks and the real Dillinger farmed in his place during the two years of heists. I believe the Dillinger name was soiled after the baseball playing real Dillinger went to jail for eight years over robbing a grocery store. I believe that store was the only thing the biological John Dillinger ever robbed. The real Johnny Death traded his life for two years of freedom on the farm with his love, Birdie, and to spend time with his little boy. Young Jimmy Lawrence, the original’s grandson, eventually wrote a book on the subject, which I read and enjoyed.
As to something else, Grandpa said the Dillinger Gang took their farmer’s white handkerchiefs, cut the middle of their hands with pocket knives and mixed the blood together. The blood turned off purple, thus the Dillinger Gang was the spearhead of a much larger and more renowned gang called “The Purple Gang,” originating, according to history, from Indianapolis and Chicago.
I asked Grandpa why the Dillinger Gang decided to use force against a sheriff’s deputy in just one robbery? He was reading the Richmond Palladium Item daily newspaper at the time. Becoming very angry, my grandfather dropped the paper and said, “I told him not to do that. That Baby Faced Nelson was reckless and strung too high. I had to fire him.”
You, I asked? Grandpa came back to himself and said no more. But he never denied that he met “I,” leading me to believe he really was the John Dillinger who escaped Joliet State Penitentiary in Illinois and was recorded to have blue eyes – that is he was the man who looked a lot like the biological John Dillinger but had the guts, or just desperate desire, to rob those banks. My later research indicates that when my grandfather’s hogs died on the farm from the cholera, John Hans went to winning money playing pool in Indianapolis and Chicago. One night he walked into the bar and met himself… The two men could have been twins. A deal was struck right then and there.
Let’s put it to you this way folks, the old guy sure knew a lot about those bank robberies not to have been involved. I knew this man, how he thought, his method of operation and values. He also had a safe full of $20 bills during the great depression and would never explain where that loot came from. The secret was in his deep blue eyes. He convinced me he lead a group of men to rob those 18 banks and then retired to a life as an Indiana farmer, and frankly, I believe I was not only his grandson but also his best friend. Grandpa also had a lot of 1934 roadsters on the back of his farm, riddled with what appeared to be bullet holes.
He said, “Those Tommy-Guns went wild back then. I let my friends use the old Johnson Balls acreage at the back of my farm to stash the get-away cars.”
There were too many coincidences. There is a lot more evidence than time or space permits here. My Dad the doctor once asked my grandfather to be sure and not do anything illegal, as Dad’s pension would be in danger and besides the old man might go to jail!
Grandpa said, “I am 88 years old. What are they going to do? Do you think I will get a life sentence for growing the wrong kind of plants to suit the cops?”
Grandpa was the type of a person who worked hard as a farmer, but kept quiet about how much money he did or did not really have.
It took six months to find all of the banks he had deposits in throughout this nation after his death in 1989. When John Hans Nelson left the Quaker Nursing Home for a weekend visit in 1988, I was driving him around Richmond before we went home to Hagerstown’s farm, some 18 miles out in the country.
He said, “Pull over to this bank.’ I gave him a confused look and asked why, as that was not the bank he used. He replied, “Just do it.”
He pulled out a bank book I had never seen before and handed to the girl. He called him John and asked how he was? She was smiling from ear to ear. He smiled back and said fine. Then he asked her for $6,000 cash. She handed it over without so much as asking for identification!
So was Grandpa John Dillinger’s body double and the master mind behind 18 successful bank robberies? In my opinion, yes. You may draw other conclusions. But it is up to you, do you Believe It Or Not?