DAY NINE: APRIL 30, 2013
Willie Nelson turned 80 years old today. As pickled as his innards are he will probably live another 80 years. Katie Cisneros also has a birthday today. Many happy returns to K.T. and to Willie. Yesterday I forgot to mention that I drove 329.9 miles. That Best Western place where I stayed last night had a really comfy mattress. The drive today was 230.3 miles and I have ended up at the Wyndom in Little Rock. Nice place. They have free cookies here. The table lamps have outlets for your chargers. This has been another beautiful day in Arkansas. My dad liked it here, and I can see why. The coyotes and buzzards seem to be a little on the lazy side though. There are plenty of possums, coons, and armadillos that you see squished in the road. They are not being promptly attended to. This has been an interesting day. There is a little place called Washington State Park. Washington was a 19th
century town on the road between Saint Louis and Texas. The whole town has been recreated as a museum. I spent quite a bit of time viewing
the weapons collection and the blacksmith shop. I got talking to a guy in the weapons place and he asked me where I was from. I told him that I was visiting all the way from Arizona. He then asked me, “How comes y’all to have an Andy Forsberg sticker on your Jeep”? I told him that Andy is my cousin. Turns out he is a big race fan. He once saw Andy run up at Silver Dollar. Washington, Arkansas is a long damn way from Chico. Hopper
I don’t know what the family relationship might be between Lorena (Hopper) Thobe and Dennis Hopper the Hollywood star but I am sure that not more than a few branches on the family tree separates them. A few branches further up the tree a persistent researcher might also find the founder of the little town of Hopper, Arkansas. Shortly after the War Between the States ended the area along the Caddo River began to be populated. Hopper opened a store to serve the commercial needs of the few families that moved in. One of the families was named Cogburn. It was not long before
the Cogburns got involved in a whisky feud with their neighbors. Hopper did not like the feud because it was killing off too many of his customers and some of them owed him money. Hopper became the lawman in those parts and began arresting the feudists when they misbehaved. Yes, there really was a man named Rooster Cogburn, and Lorena’s great grand uncle, or whatever, arrested him. He was nothing like the guy that John Wayne portrayed in True Grit. The real Rooster Cogburn took up with Jesus after his trouble with the judicial sharpsters ended. He lived to a ripe old age and died up near Dardanelle in Yell County. Right where the sprite, Mattie Ross, was from in the movie. James Black
James was a silver smith from Philadelphia that landed in the bustling community of Washington, Arkansas on the Southwest Trail sometime around 1828. He went into a partnership with a blacksmith named Shaw. Their business prospered until Black fell in love with Shaw’s daughter. Shaw dissolved the partnership and drove Black out of town, but Black came back a couple of years later and married the
daughter when the old man was out of town. Black started up his own blacksmith shop and drove Shaw’s place out of business. About 1833 or so a land speculator dropped by the shop and asked Black to make him a knife according to a design given him by a brother. Black made two knives and the speculator selected the one he liked best. Land prices had fallen into a recession and the specular took his knife and moved on to Texas. His name was Jim Bowie. The blacksmith shop in Washington is a fully working replica of the shop run by James Black. It has been built on land very near the site of the original shop. The man working there now is employed by the state park but he makes a damn fine knife in his spare time. Shaw never forgave Black and one day beat him near to death with a single tree. As a result of the beating, and other medical conditions Black lost his eyesight. He died shortly thereafter. Hope
President Bill Clinton hails from Hope, Arkansas. Hope is only about 9 miles from Washington. When Hillary was making her own run at the Presidency her husband, Bill offered the opinion that, “If it weren’t for Hillary he would most likely be pumping gas into farm machinery in Hope, Arkansas. The photo shows a gas station in Hope. Bill probably would be assistant manager of it by now.
Tomorrow I am fixing to visit the National Guard Museum at Fort Joseph T. Robinson in Little Rock. After my dad returned from the Aleutian Islands in WWII he remained with his unit. They were assigned to recruit training at Fort Robinson. He became a drill instructor and remained in Arkansas until the war ended. He liked Arkansas and had friendships here. He might have stayed here except his father was in poor health in California and was needed at home. It will be interesting to see what might be learned about my dad’s service here at the museum.
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