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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WELCOME TO SMALL TOWN, USA!


Today I am joining Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday and Melissa at Huckleberry Prairie for the Great American Town Tour.

We'll begin our tour at a couple of public parks in my little town.


The founder of our little town is buried on this site, so the name of this park is Founder's Park (Somebody thought long and hard before coming up with that name!)



Everyone in our town has some reason to visit Walker Park. There is a large fishing pond (supposedly for children only); a large tennis court, a walking and biking trail, a LOT of ducks to feed (which is becoming a problem-see all of the duck poop on the sidewalk?-No, this is not the walking trail! It's the: throw stale bread to the ducks sidewalk!), and a gazebo, which often hosts local bands.


Let's head on over to Main Street now.


My Church.


This charming bookstore has made our little town famous (at least with authors, book publishers, book distributors, etc.) Some day, I am going to find the time to take you inside this wonderful store and tell you all about it.

When I was growing up, this was the only movie theater in town. It has been renovated and is now a civic center that hosts live productions.


Greyhound no longer uses this bus station, but a group of our citizens applied for and received a grant to renovate this retro bus station and had it placed on the National Historic Register. It will soon be offices for some of our non-profit organizations. When it is open to the public, I hope to take you on a tour of the inside.


This mural is painted on the side of an old building on Main Street. In the center photograph, you can see cotton being picked next to the train track. This town and the surrounding areas have always been a major cotton producing area, although in recent years, the cotton production has dropped somewhat. When I was growing up in this town, we had THE National Cotton Pickin' Contest, and it was kind of a big deal in these parts! See that pile of cut trees? Lumber yards were a big business here in the 30's, and that is what brought the railroad tracks to our town.

The above mosaic shows the Federal Building (formerly the U.S. Post Office building), the County Courthouse, the old First National Bank (which now contains apartments), and a lovely antique shop and tea room.

Our local Police Station. Something about these lights have always reminded me of the Keystone Cops! (No! I'm not old enough to remember seeing them in movie theaters, but I have seen clips of those silent movies).




There are several arches we drive under when we are going down Main Street. Each depicts something that is special about our city. The only ones pictured are the ones I drove up to when there wasn't a car behind me! The airplane on the arch on the top in my little mosaic is in reference to our former Air Force Base, which was the home of the B52. It was closed a number of years ago when a lot of military installations were closed. It was a huge part of our economy, and we were all very concerned about the future of our little town.

The arch shown on the bottom of my mosaic references our local Community College.

For years after it was built, people from all over the world visited our community college, because it was one of the first solar powered buildings. The rounded top houses solar panels, and the picture on the bottom left shows solar panels on a different building on campus.



This is what has helped this little community to survive the closing of our Air Force Base. Nucor Steel and Nucor Yamato Steel built plants here shortly after the closing of the Base. Since that time, we have become the largest steel-producing county in the country! Of course, the steel industry has suffered as much, if not more, than a lot of businesses in these hard economic times. Steel is being imported from foreign countries at a lower cost, and our steel-related industries have had lay offs and shut downs, just as other industries have had. I included the photo on the lower right of the mosaic, because I love seeing that farmers are still farming their land next to one of the steel plants.

And this is what attracted the steel industry to our town. We are on the Mississippi River, and barges carry huge loads of steel I-beams and rolled steel up and down the river. It always amazes me that those little tug boats can pull so much weight!


The steel is moved among the various steel mills via their own train tracks.

We have been able to make great use of the former Air Force Base. We are really proud of our multi field ballpark that is built on the former base. I spend a lot of summer evenings in this ballpark, because it is also home to our soccer fields, and my granddaughters play baseball and soccer. Houses which were formerly homes for Air Force Base personnel, are now being utilized as a retirement village.

The former air base facilities have attracted some business to our area. This airplane repair and paint business (bottom picture) was a perfect match for the property, because we already had runways. Those funny looking structures at the top of this mosaic are home to Christmas lights from Thanksgiving until the first of the year. A very generous couple who live in the area had an amazing Disney-like Christmas light display for several years. They donated it to the City, and now we have an amazing "drive-through" light display located at the former base facility.

I can't take you on a tour of our town without showing you George's childhood home.
EDITED TO ADD: For those who are not regular visitors to my blog, you might want to see my post about George's most recent visit to his hometown. If so, click here.

(I use Photoscape for my mosaics)
Since the sun is setting, I have run out of picture-taking time, so we're back home at last!

Be sure to go to A Southern Daydreamer and Huckleberry Prairie for links to see a lot of outdoor beauty and a lot of lovely towns. Thanks Susan and Melissa for hosting these great events! I loved this idea of giving a tour of my town. I grew up here and have lived here most of my life, so I tend to not notice anything around town anymore. This post made me really look around as I drove around town, and looking at our town through the photo lens gave me an interesting perspective on it. I hope you enjoyed coming to visit Arkansas. Ya'll come back now, ya hear! laurie

40 comments:

Hootin' Anni said...

Mmmmmmmmmmm, has George Hamilton ever visited his home town? I just LOVED this whole tour. Brings back fond memories of days gone by for me....and my childhood hometown.

My Wordful is all about something that was 'taken from our yard'. But at our request. Happy Wednesday to you.

mbkatc230 said...

What a beautiful town you live in Laurie. I love the way you have repurposed the old Greyhound station - what a fantastic idea. It would have been a shame to lose that beautiful deco gem. And I love the old movie theatre! We did the same thing here and it has been a great asset to our town. Fantastic tour, and I can't wait to see more about the bookstore. Kathy

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Next time we drive down that way, we're going to get off the highway and have a look. This is another example to leave the big highways, while traveling. So many wonderful things are missed by just driving on the big ol' roads. We keep telling people to do that, when they drive through Missouri.

Wonderful post, Laurie. I'm sending the link to my friends, who travel that highway beside your town every now and then.

Robin said...

Love all your photos and the quaint town you live in...the way you set up this post was perfect, giving so much information and allowing us a peek in.
Happy 4th
Robin
All Things Heart and Home

mythoughtsmyvoice said...

I enjoyed very much the tour - as if I was their and you were accompanying me :-)had to laugh about the how the "Founder's Park" was named.

The book store is too cute. It reminds me of a candy store more as a book store.

The old buildings and structures are amazing to look at. I enjoyed reading a bit of their history.

And I do think cotton picking is a fun contest :-)

Happy Outdoor Wednesday!

carolinajewel said...

What a wonderful town you live in Laurie! It is so wonderful to see how much preservation/reuse is going on. The ia an amazing Art Deco Bus station!!!! And what a beautiful mural. Not to mention Mr. Suntan himself - George Hamilton!!!! Thanks for sharing! :D Jewel

amariaf2000 said...

Mmmm...George Hamilton...very cool! Or very tan?! Does he ever visit? Lovely town you live in! I have only been through your state once - when I was teenager. I'd love to explore it more! Thanks for your tour!!!
~angela @ peonypatch

xinex said...

I love your hometown, Laurie, so many nice things about it. I think it is very similar to mine, so quaint. George Hamilton's home is really charming. In fact, the whole town and its building are all so charming. Your flowers are gorgeous!...Christine

Picket said...

Fantastic tour girl....I loved it all and how you did the pics and all the history...loved it!!!! I hope you have a great 4th weekend my friend!

KBeau said...

Thanks for the tour, Laurie. Your church looks very much like First Baptist Church in Camden, not the church I grew up in, but right next door. I wonder if they had the same architect.

I've heard about the bookstore for years. Glad to see pictures.

I think the last time I was in Blytheville was for Tommy's and Susie's wedding.

Carol said...

Thank you so much for giving a tour of your town! It looks like an interesting, quaint place to visit.

Stacey said...

Laurie, that looks like America to me! You live in a gorgeous little town. I love your church!

Marsha's Mpressions said...

Laurie,

Nice tour of your all American town. Thanks for the visit!

Happy 4th.

pk @ room remix said...

What a cute town! Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

Miss Laura Lu/RMS4291960 said...

Hey Laurie! I'd forgotten about the base closings there! I'm so glad the town has maintained and blossomed! I loved the tour! I'm glad all my friends are posting...I just haven't found the energy to take pics and do another post lately! Blogger's writer's block! I really need to read your blogbook! Have a blessed day girlfriend! Lauralu :)

Mama said...

Beautiful post Laurie, your town is so pretty, love the park, bandstand, bookshop, church and mural. Those buildings are amazing. The history and the changes are part of what make us and do go side by side. George H's childhood home is beautiful. happy summer days, Kathy.

Mary said...

What a wonderful tour of your all American town. Your photos are spectacular. Thanks for taking us along for the ride:-). have a wonderful day and enjoy the holiday weekend.

Joyce said...

Nice detailed tour. Yes please take us into the book store in a future post. Happy 4th of July.
Joyce

salmagundi said...

Enjoyed the tour so much! I can tell through your pictures and words how much your hometown means to you. Great to see in this time of a mobile society - not too many natives left anywhere!! Have a great week. Sally

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

Wow... not only was the trip fun but your creative flair in putting good shots together in your collages.

Nice work and thanks for sharing.

TTFN~~Claudia ♥

Cindy J. said...

Laurie, you know how much I would love to visit you and your beautiful little town.. Wonderful tour and what a great place you live.. Love, Cindy

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Enjoyed the tour - thanks for sharing.
Glenda

xashee's corner said...

thank you so much for sharing your hometown!! i LOVE to visit you in blogland and would LOVE it in life too!! :) Have a WONDERFUL day!!

stefanie said...

your town is beautiful, so much to see, thanks for sharing

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

It's good to see your home town surviving. So many small towns don't. The downtown of one of the towns I lived in was all boarded up. Everything went to the mall or out by WallMart.

Ginger said...

What a neat town you live in, Laurie. I loved seeing it. Your church is beautiful.

Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria said...

GM Laurie...girl I love this little town...how fun and to see Old tan George's house...can we look at the inside of it...what do you mean NO!! And the famous book store where you got to meet George...Loved this post my friend...May you have a Great Fourth...hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

ceekay said...

It looks like a warm and comfortable place to call home. Happy 4th!

cindy said...

I love your home town! So much character...........

Diane @ Four Paws and Co said...

Great pictures Laurie! This looks like a lovely place to live in. ☺ Diane

Connie said...

Your pictures are great, Laurie. I think we all had more fun growing up in small towns. I am going to have to get my map out as I always hear little Rock when I fly home, but I though it was quite a distance
from the Mississippi River. Someday, I would love to take that ride in the boat down the river. The one in Showboat ??
Have a great weekend.

Sue said...

Laurie, It's great that you live in a place where residents have seen fit to keep the town going, even with the loss of its main industries over the years. So often, little towns just fade away into obscurity.... Your hometown is adorable. You've shown us that you and your neighbors are proud of it! Thanks for the tour... I LOVE your mosaics! hugs, Sue

Soosie said...

Eve: OH, my! All we needed is "I was Born in a Small Town"(John Mellencamp) to be playing in the background. What excellent photography and narration you have done for B'ville. You should be elected head of the Chamber of Commerce! First Methodist looks just the way it should..stately and well-loved. TBIB is such a trea and i look forward to your tour of the inside and the tile discussion..and the chair signatures! Thank you for showing off the town we love so much..Susie
(kathy Beaumont was in Blytheville 38 years ago today!)

Kim said...

Thanks for the wonderful tour of your little town. I love towns that have that old time feel & yours sure does. I'm glad that some of your older buildings in town are being preserved for the future generations to enjoy. I'm glad that you town is surviving with the base being closed & now the steel industry & cotton industry on the decline. It is just so sad that we are losing so many industries to other countries. The only place in Arkansas that I have been is Ft Smith. We were visiting my brother in law who lived in Vian, Oklahome and we went to Ft Smith for the day. We had a good time.

Smilingsal said...

I love trains, so of course I like the train mural. Your town is charming, and it wonderful that so many things are being renovated. I love the welcoming arches and the good ol' Mississippi. Thanks for sharing.

its so very cheri said...

What an amazing little town. Thanks for sharing it with us. This is so fun.

Cheri

fiberdoodles said...

Oh we just drove through there earlier today; I so wished we had stopped. What a great post and tour!

Sharon

Marie said...

Hello dear Laurie - thank you for sharing such beautiful photos of your town! My favorite is your church. Wow, so cool.

Blessings,
Marie
http://emmacallsmemama.com

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