January / Arkadelphia, Arkansas

Arkadelphia is made up of little moments

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The clock in the Clark County Courthouse has not struck the hour in over 22 years. Numerous attempts have been made to fix it. Grady Runyan, the County Judge put an ad in the local paper to ask for funds to help, on a Friday. On Monday, a little old lady came in and asked , ‘How much do you need?’ and wrote him a check for $8,500. Her name is Mrs. Stevenson and there is a plaque with her name on it in the Courthouse hallway next to the cigarette machines that now hold the Doritos corn chips.

Deaton’s Cleaners used to be a church. It went out of business and had a final auction on November 23rd. The property sold for $15,000.

Captain Henderson bought the land and rebuilt Henderson College after it burnt down. His house is now a museum.

There are approximately 10,000 residents of Arkadelphia, Arkansas. 6,000 are Henderson State University Students. The only original piece of campus that remains is a wrought iron fence.

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Sam and Ruby Matson run the only independent Pharmacy left in town. They’ve been married 44 years. “My sister was born on the same day as Bill Clinton, same hospital, August 19, only a year earlier,” Ruby offers. “Sam wants to retire, we hope a pharmacy buys us out , that it remains this way.” “Yeah, everybody’s buying new houses in town all the time but I don’t know who’s moving into them,” Sam adds.

They are the only pharmacy in town that will still deliver prescriptions.

Down the street from the 720 Auto Supply place is the auto dealership sign that reads, “Clean, low miles. Financing available, regardless of credit.”

Gabriel picks me up by the gas station in the rain. He is my angel and unofficial tour guide for the day. He’s driving a 1979 grey Volare with a V6 engine. It’s got 152,000 miles on it. “I’ve driven it all over Kansas and Arkansas. My friends call her the Dynamo Hum.”

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Otha and Roy are brothers. “Some people think we are twins.” Otha has on a well-worn black felt hat. Roy’s hands are huge and gnarled, hands that are familiar with work and touching the land.

“We’re farmers, just two little boys roaming around.” “I used to work in a fire tower,” Otha and his blue eyes add but I can’t quite understand him and the rest that he says because of his accent.

Otha is 86 and Roy is 84 years old.

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A chili coney is a hotdog with chili on it.

In the morning, instead of coffee, you drink a Coca Cola or a Dr. Pepper.

A hush puppy is a piece of fried batter that is served instead of rolls at Kreg’s. It got its’ name from being a piece of dough the cook would throw to quiet the dog.

Grits are good.

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They still allow smoking at the OK Barber Shop on Caddo Street. “I like to keep it authentic,” Stan the son tells me. He has been the barber for 5 years. He explains that he was born and bred in Arkadelphia. “I only left once to find my treasure and I brought her back home with me.”

You can still get a straight razor shave at the OK. A haircut costs $7.00. Stan lathers up the guy in the chair right around his ears and shaves carefully. “That’s what you call a whitewall.” Stan grins and reveals missing teeth top and bottom in his mouth. There is a photo of his blonde wife holding his daughter on the mirror.

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There are tons of trucks here mostly red. Good ole Ford pickups, big wide ended dirty Chevy’s, not the new Rangers people use as fun sport accessories. These people use their trucks to do their work.

Nancy Dunaway tells me she once counted 96 red pickup trucks driving twenty minutes outside Little Rock to the Arkadelphia turnoff on Interstate 30.

The Arkadelphia library is closed for renovations. It is an exact replica of Jefferson’s Monticello.

Arkadelphia is closed on Sunday. “This is the Bible Belt, ma’am.” Everything is closed on Sunday in the South.

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