When we last checked in with Joe Cole last fall, he was busy practicing law and operating the Inn at Piggott in a downtown building constructed in 1925 to house the Bank of Piggott. Along with his wife Tracy, he also had opened the Piggott City Market on the courthouse square. It's a coffee shop, bakery and a place to showcase northeast Arkansas products such as art, furniture, jewelry, toys, pecans and honey. I spent the night in a two-bedroom loft above the market that the Coles rent out to visitors.
David Cohn, the well-known writer from the Mississippi Delta, said that the Delta "begins in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg."
I'm having lunch at the venerable Ozark Cafe in downtown Berryville. The building that houses the restaurant was constructed in 1905 for a hardware and furniture store, though it has been occupied by a restaurant for decades now.
After attending the summer meeting of the Arkansas Press Association at Eureka Springs, I wrote a column about the little tourist town where there never seems to be a shortage of good stories. I noted how Eureka Springs continues to be a fun place to visit for those of us who love history, art and architecture. That tends to be an older audience, though. To attract younger, affluent visitors, the city also must focus on outdoor activities--mountain biking, hiking, floating the Kings River, fly-fishing for trout on the White River and more. Since then, I've written about the world-class mountain biking trails being built at the city's Lake Leatherwood and on the grounds of The Great Passion Play.
A real football stadium: Razorbacks' tradition of playing in Little Rock started some 70 years ago with construction of War Memorial
War Memorial Stadium, the historic facility in the middle of Little Rock, has been in the news this year. Tuesday will mark the 70th anniversary of the first game played at the stadium.
Hunter Yurachek, the relatively new athletic director at the University of Arkansas, is scheduled to address the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday. I look forward to meeting him and thanking him for making a sincere effort to understand this unique state, its people and what makes us tick. The fact that Razorback football teams will continue to play games at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock tells me a lot.
I'm in the office of Stephan Mc-Ateer, which occupies part of the basement of the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. I'm in a good mood for several reasons. It's a beautiful Friday afternoon, football season has arrived, we're talking about one of my favorite subjects (Arkansas history) and Ron Fuller has brought ribs for lunch from Sims, which has been serving barbecue in Little Rock since 1937 when Allen and Amelia Sims opened their restaurant.
My first byline appeared in Arkadelphia's Daily Siftings Herald when I was a boy. I wrote accounts of youth baseball games on notebook paper. My mother typed the stories, and I then delivered them to the newspaper's offices in an old building downtown. I was hooked.
It was a tough decision to leave the newspaper business in July 1996. I was in my 30s and having the time of my life as the political editor of Arkansas' largest newspaper. Bill Clinton was in the White House, and all political roads seemed to lead to Arkansas. Whenever big-city radio stations or television networks would call, those calls often were sent to my desk. Arkansas journalists were getting their 15 minutes of fame.
Jim Davidson of Conway is in a battle against illiteracy, one child at a time. Davidson, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, began an initiative in 2005 known as Bookcase for Every Child. The goal is to provide preschool children from low-income families with personalized bookcases and starter sets of books.