Archive for July, 2012

Skyscrapers of Stuttgart Arkansas


Stuttgart, Arkansas is a small farming town with a rich history.  It is not only the largest producer of rice in the world but is the home of some of the best duck hunting in America and the host city for the annual World Duck Calling Contest.

Last week, the Arkansas Parks,Travel and Tourism Commission held its monthly meeting in the new magnificent Grand Prairie Center.  This 63,000 sq. ft. building can seat up to 1250 in the Concert Theater and handle meetings, conventions and community activities with dining and breakout rooms capable of comfortably seating small to large groups in the hundreds.

On the fifty or so miles return trip to Little Rock, I took time to explore stopping first in another small town, England, dropping by the Mayor’s office and then in the spirit of Robert Frost, I took the road “less travelled by”.  The following pictures inadequately show the peaceful majesty of a bayou forest of towering Cypress Trees … what a special surprise.


Last but not least, on this 100 degree plus afternoon, I found a brief albeit pleasant respite from the scorching sun and treeless farms as I drove under the canopy of most likely 100 years old Pecan trees.  This brought back immediate flashback memories of my childhood when my dad took our family to Scott to buy fresh Arkansas Pecans.  The other photo is of the Civil War Campsite which was part of the Little Rock Campaign.


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1874 Courthouse

In Arkansas we are blessed to have more than fifty State Parks.  Some are in obvious places conveniently located in population centers like Pinnacle Mountain Park. Some are small, more remote and difficult to access such as the Louisiana Purchase State Park which I wrote about in an earlier blog. Some are destination parks Like Petit Jean State Park and Mount Magazine.  Some are History and Heritage, some are Recreational, some have camping, fishing, boating and others have cabins with beautiful vistas. Arkansas parks are well managed, maintained and diverse.  In this blog, I will feature Historic Washington State Park in Southwest Arkansas.

There have been many times I have passed the exit on Interstate 30 near Hope, Arkansas only to speed by at 70 MPH with the thought “I need to check this out someday”.  Well, Saturday one week ago I did just that.  I pulled off the Interstate and drove the beautiful 8 miles to Historic Arkansas.  Not only was the meandering two lane road refreshing but my entry into the museum village can be summed up with the first word I uttered out loud … “WOW!!” I was flabbergasted and immediately felt I had just stepped back into the 1840’s.

There are some 30 plus blocks of buildings, homes, offices and shops impeccably restored to original 19th Century grandeur including period furnishings, many original. The Visitor Center museum/ticket office is in the 1874 Hempstead County Courthouse.

Rather than making this entry longer, there are a few pictures I took that tell the story better than I can write … Historic Washington, Arkansas is a must visit for anyone wishing to know more about our pioneer days and certainly about Arkansas’ Civil War role.  Washington served as the Confederate State Capitol of Arkansas from 1861-1863.

Arkansas Constitution of the Confederacy.

1845 Royston Home with period actor as tour guide.  He told me he had 39 slaves and fought in the Mexican War.

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When I sat down today to add a blog entry I had no intention of writing about my mom.  That said, here I am composing a short message about her, one week and one day after her death. Our family and friends are still experiencing a sense of loss but gratitude as we celebrate a beautiful life story of an incredible woman.

The black and white picture is of mom and me circa 1942. The color picture is one taken by Patti’s and my son Jeff within the past year.  Though 90 plus years separate the two pictures there is one clear unmistakable identifier, her smile. I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of her that failed to capture her inner spirit and genuineness displayed for all to see through her captivating smile.

Ellen Teresa Mattingly Dailey was a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, wife, sister, friend and business woman. She was a strong Catholic known for her consummate belief in the power of prayer and her relentless generosity to the Church, to Mount Saint Mary School for girls and Catholic High School for Boys. She was loving, gentle and gracious but could stand strong and tall on principle such as charging employees of Dailey’s Furniture Company twenty five cents anytime she heard a curse word slip from their lips.  (all collections went to a charity.)

In retirement, she devoted herself to family,  to helping my sister Kathy with the Auction business, and to making regular fun filled trips to play penny slots in Tunica.  On Monday evenings she fixed dinner for me, Patti and our sons DJ and Jeff.  Even during my years as Mayor, everyone knew monday evening was mom’s. On Sundays she played cards with her sister/best friend, Frances and brother, John.  She still drove her 10 year old car to her hair appointment and to the grocery store, where she knew every best deal down to the penny.

I could go on and on … maybe there is a book to be written … a book filled with life lessons, lessons of humility, grace, integrity, holiness, generosity, strength and commitment to that which is really important.  Though she is gone physically, her teachings and her spirit live on in each of us blessed to have been touched by her or included in her life.  Kathy, Stephanie and Patti will probably feel the emptiness the most, but …

I miss you mom!  You are my hero forever.

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