Jump to content
American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!
Sign in to follow this  
Keep the Show on the Road!

042208 Eureka! 25 Cent Hail, And Fine Small Town People On The Hypotenuse Trail

Recommended Posts

Eureka! Golf Ball Hail, and fine small town people.

 

Today I drove from Eureka Springs, Arkansas to Emporia, Kansas.

 

Eureka Springs is a must see. It contains vintage buildings beyond belief, beautifully restored, but not over restored. I think the cover of American Road of a few issues back was taken here. I wrote the following last night, but was unable to post it.

 

McGehee, to Eureka Springs, via Hot Springs, AR

 

Pigtails, dogwood,, and springs…the state of Arkansas is showing off her charms. To tell the truth, I have never longed to see Arkansas…boy was I wrong!

 

There is a soft misty feeling to the landscape that matches the 40 shades of green on every hillside. The roads wind through small towns and beside small lakes and streams. Bait seems to be as important here as bread.

 

There isn’t the overwhelming feeling of wealth gone berserk that you get in parts of southern Florida. The houses are cozier, and the stores less pretentious. And that great favorite of so many, Sir Wal Mart, rules the land.

 

It was sunny part of the day, I imagine the temperature was in the high 70’s, and the tourists stayed home. Downtown Hot Springs was quiet, and this afternoon, the streets of Eureka Springs were only sprinkled with a few people, like a Sunday morning back home.

 

I’m guessing that this is like August at a ski resort…not quite that quiet, but definitely the off season. Otherwise the many beautiful shops and interesting restaurants would not be here. But what a wealth of interesting places.

 

I didn’t stay in Hot Springs, so I can’t comment as fully about it as I can Eureka Springs. Eureka Springs would please both my wife and myself. She would love to shop the many unique shops, I would like to follow old US 62 through town, photograph the magnificent old buildings, and we both would enjoy the wonderful variety of restaurants.

 

Hot Springs was also unique among towns that I have visited, with a little of the flavor of an English Spa town. Obviously its heritage shaped its present magnificence, with a row of hotels/ spas that harken back to the last century when” taking the water” was the fashion.

 

Half the fun of any trip for me is the research before and after the trip. Among my road collection are some 1800’s tourist books that will now get my attention.

 

Coming north from Hot Springs, I took state 7, a scenic byway, then went west on state 22 to pick up state 28, The Pigtail Byway. Some of the curves were so sharp, at times I could see my taillights ahead! The dogwood was just coming out and the rosebud (?) tree was just turning pink. Another week and it will be a colorfest. Sheila has already declared that she and I are taking the same trip….or else!

 

Heading north out of Arkansas this morning (after a night in Eureka) I turned on local AM radio and I heard that people were slipping and sliding all over the road. The station was crackling through the lighting strikes. I could see dark clouds ahead, but when the fellow said in his Arkansas drawl that there was 7 inches in spots…my attention was riveted. Seven inches of what….a freak snow storm?

 

It was hail, and was reported as large as golf balls! I immediately started looking for something to park under….but then no one else was fighting me for a place, so I figured they knew what they were doing. But I was trying to remember how much my insurance deductible was. I just did an insurance review with my agent and was trying to remember what we decided.

 

Then the most awful squawking comes on the radio and breaks into the broadcast. Hail the size of quarters is falling and the National Weather Service emergency broadcast guy is saying “Head for cover.” It’s already raining and he gives a minute by minute description of when the “cell” will be over what town. The cell is moving due east at 38 miles per hour and will be over the town ahead at something like 10:13. It is just before 10:00 I have about 10 miles before the town, and according to my calculations, I’m about to see what real Missouri hail looks like. I’ve heard they grow em bigger here, but I don’t care to be shown.

 

I grab the GPS and look for the first road west, figuring I will stay south of the cell center. Luckily there is one, and I turn west off route. To end the suspense, I get only a little rain. I was a little nervous, but it was fun. And of course I did a movie of the scene out the window with the guy making the emergency announcement on the radio. It will probably have to wait until I get home…but it should be fun to hear..and see.

 

Just about everywhere in Kansas there are small towns…dah! Wonderful, interesting, small towns! In fact, Kansas should create a “Small Town America Byway.” You can say you heard it first right here.

 

When was the last time you stepped into a real Rexall Drug and had a soda at the fountain, or saw a Sears store in a small brick building on the corner downtown….with garden tractors parked out front. Well, try Independence, Kansas.

 

I drove downtown and as big as life there is a 1940’s Rexall sign, with soda fountain advertised on the door. As it turns out, Theresa is redoing the fountain, as the drug store hung up its hat in December……but the good news is twofold. A fellow in town has put the money up to keep the soda fountain alive, and they are looking for a pharmacist as we speak. Another example of good folks saving what we love and remember, and making it something our children and grandchildren will enjoy.

 

My next stop was in Howard, Kansas. I went there because I had somehow spotted a town council discussion of whether to save the old gas station. Old gas station…save? This was a no brainer, so I better go see what was up.

 

I pulled into town and spotted an old gas station of the 1920’s variety. I parked in front of the courthouse and started to take pictures of the unrestored beauty. A fellow in a pick up pulled up and I told him I was going to post the pictures on the internet. He said, why don’t you get a picture of the other one too,” and point down the street. There is all its splendor was a 1920 station, with a couple of gas pumps on the island. Two beauties within a block. Howard is the vintage gas station capitol of Kansas…maybe America!

 

But maybe the highlight of today was my quick stop in Hamilton, Kansas. This wonderful corner store and fountain attracted my attention, so I stepped in. A couple of local fellows sat at a table, and a young woman sold me my cola. I can’t resist starting a conversation, and saying I’m driving from Miami to Seattle in 14 days all off the interstates, always starts a conversation. Then I tell them I’m blazing the Hypotenuse Trail. Some think I’m crazy, and others want to join me.

 

These folks leaned more toward thinking I might be nuts, but we had a great, but far too short conversation. I love conversations with people in small towns. There are usually filled with good humor, and a lively give and take. “Why didn’t you tell us you were coming?” Because then both you guys would have worn your hats.” “I want a buck to have my picture taken” “I know some folks who would give me fifty not to show it” Stuff like that, all with laughter, smiles, and good humor.

 

I have one regret on this trip. I should have taken it 30 years ago. I had no idea what I was missing!

 

Well, I’m in Emporia, and trying like the dickens to get some photos posted below. A tiny sample follows:

 

Just one of hundreds of beautiful, historic buildings in Eureka Springs, AR

 

 

AREureka.jpg

 

 

Rexall Rules again! Independence, KS

 

ARDrug1.jpg

 

 

ARDrug2.jpg

 

 

I haven’t seen a Sears downtown in a small brick building in 60 years! Independence, KS

 

ARSears.jpg

 

 

Howard, Kansas, Vintage Service Station Bonanza!

 

 

ARStation1.jpg

 

ARStation2.jpg

 

 

 

Hamilton, KS Corner Store, Where America Rests Easy!

 

 

ARCornerStore1.jpg

 

 

ARCornerStore2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why in the hell am I sitting here testing software when I could be out on the road??? (Well, one could argue that I'm not actually testing software at this precise moment. But you get the idea.)

 

These are some great photos, and outstanding stories. I can't wait until tonight's installment!

 

jim

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Why in the hell am I sitting here testing software when I could be out on the road??? (Well, one could argue that I'm not actually testing software at this precise moment. But you get the idea.)

 

These are some great photos, and outstanding stories. I can't wait until tonight's installment!

 

jim

 

Jim,

 

Yes, why indead? Like I already said, I should have done this 30 years ago. Its not too late for you!!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes the best gems are in the small towns. Poplarville, Miss., still has (as of 2006) an old fashioned drugstore with a soda fountain. I stopped in for a chocolate soda or three when I was in college there.

 

It doesn't look like Independence has been without its JC Penney for long. There were still three department stores downtown in my hometown until earlier this decade: Sears, Penney's (it had that '50s or '60s style script) and Lampton's, a local. The drugstore downtown still has a sign reading, "A Walgreen Agency," and there is a faded Coke ad on the side of one of the buildings.

 

I'm one of the ones who wants to join you. Unfortunately, exams are this week and next and my car is parked at home for now. Someday...

 

I'm glad you missed the hailstorm; those aren't fun.

 

Thanks for the photos; I wish I had stopped by the forum before now!

 

Tracy, who is now off to read the rest of the forum

 

ETA: In your post intoducing the Hypotenuse Trail, you asked if I can "see" things as they once were. Most downtown areas (at least in this part of the country) have changed only in the types of businesses (thrift stores instead of department stores, etc.), so it is somewhat easy for me to imagine the cars as Studebakers and Hudsons rather than Toyotas and Hondas. I don't necessarily try to imagine the various businesses in a town unless I know the specifics from old signs, old photos, newspaper articles or personal memories. For example, I cannot pass the Chamber of Commerce in Starkville without seeing the "Giant Market" sign above the door. Rails are easier for me to imagine, since I have a better idea of exactly which lines the tracks were parts of, assuming there are still signs of the tracks (I couldn't tell you exactly where the old bridge across the river, destroyed sometime in the 1970s, was). I guess what I am saying is that I see a sort of ghost image, where the specifics are not present but the general feel is there.

Edited by cityboy1986

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sometimes the best gems are in the small towns. Poplarville, Miss., still has (as of 2006) an old fashioned drugstore with a soda fountain. I stopped in for a chocolate soda or three when I was in college there.

 

It doesn't look like Independence has been without its JC Penney for long. There were still three department stores downtown in my hometown until earlier this decade: Sears, Penney's (it had that '50s or '60s style script) and Lampton's, a local. The drugstore downtown still has a sign reading, "A Walgreen Agency," and there is a faded Coke ad on the side of one of the buildings.

 

I'm one of the ones who wants to join you. Unfortunately, exams are this week and next and my car is parked at home for now. Someday...

 

I'm glad you missed the hailstorm; those aren't fun.

 

Thanks for the photos; I wish I had stopped by the forum before now!

 

Tracy, who is now off to read the rest of the forum

 

ETA: In your post intoducing the Hypotenuse Trail, you asked if I can "see" things as they once were. Most downtown areas (at least in this part of the country) have changed only in the types of businesses (thrift stores instead of department stores, etc.), so it is somewhat easy for me to imagine the cars as Studebakers and Hudsons rather than Toyotas and Hondas. I don't necessarily try to imagine the various businesses in a town unless I know the specifics from old signs, old photos, newspaper articles or personal memories. For example, I cannot pass the Chamber of Commerce in Starkville without seeing the "Giant Market" sign above the door. Rails are easier for me to imagine, since I have a better idea of exactly which lines the tracks were parts of, assuming there are still signs of the tracks (I couldn't tell you exactly where the old bridge across the river, destroyed sometime in the 1970s, was). I guess what I am saying is that I see a sort of ghost image, where the specifics are not present but the general feel is there.

 

Cityboy

 

Wise beyond your years....thanks for the comments. Sorry I am so rushed, or I would reply in detail!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Dave

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×