An All-too-short Week in the Ozarks

The story of my recent trip to the Ozarks begins in 1950. The Korean war had brought a wealth of rural French Canadians both from the Maritimes and Maine down to my home town, Hartford Connecticut, to find work at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft supplying engines to our war effort. Along with them came their music. In what seemed to an eight year old boy no time at all, Hartford had country music! Call it old-timey or hillbilly or even bluegrass, there it was not only on the radio but on the shelves of Park Street’s Belmont Record Shop located appropriately enough in that section of Hartford known–and still known–affectionately as Frog Hollow. Maybe it was the storytelling, maybe it was the energy, maybe it was the voice-oriented range that my voice felt it could handle. One way or another, me, the eight year old in question, I was hooked immediately.

–Skip ahead sixty-nine years–

Drawn by the promise of live mountain music in actual mountains and with the guidance of Road Scholar, a touring company dedicated to taking us older folks out of our comfort zones to discover more of the world before leaving it, I spent about six days in and around the Ozark Folk Center State Park in north central Mountain View Arkansas. To cut to the chase: It was fantastic! We stayed in thoroughly modern cabins (floors, electricity, indoor plumbing, cable TV) in a forest setting which incorporated a traditional craft village of blacksmiths, potters,  leather crafters, doll makers, stained glass artists and jewelers. We walked through forests, rafted a peaceful, cliff-enclosed river, ate what the folks eat and, at seemingly every turn, heard music: bluegrass music, old timey music, folk music. A world of acoustic strings where everyone was participant. The folks we met were unfailingly welcoming and happy to be in conversation with us from off (the mountain.) I was eager to learn more about their world, and they showed it, lived it more than explaining it. As for me, an undoubtedly liberal Buddhist Jew from New York City, I’d never felt more comfortable among strangers than I did in this  all-white world of fundamentalist Protestants.

Here are some snaps from the trip. Not an attempt to document the experience, but rather a collection of revelations.


White River Arkansas coming out of the morning fog


White River Arkansas


White River near Chessman Ferry Arkansas


Museum at Calico Rock Arkansas


Calico Rock Museum, Arkansas


Abandoned Old Town, Calico Rock Arkansas


Blacksmith, Craft Village at Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Potter, Craft Village at Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Pre-historic rock at the Craft Village, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Broom making, Craft Village at Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Made in Mountain View Arkansas


Mary Parker Group, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Ozark Highlands Radio Square Dancers live performance, Mountain View Arkansas


Blanchard Springs Caverns, Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas



Published each Wednesday in Mountain View  Arkansas

Homer of Pet Partners, Little Rock Airport. Homer, with his handler to be sure, patrolled the departures areas of the airport to ease anxieties and entertain children waiting to board.

Published in: on October 30, 2019 at 6:28 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Richard,

    A wonderful collection. Thank you for your talent and for sharing it.

    Norm and Carol Aulabaugh


  2. I am enjoying your William Turner inspired photo of “White River Arkansas coming out of the morning fog.” Beautiful.


  3. Richard, I’m sorry I missed you when you came thru Calico Rock. We would have had much to compare. I was born and raised in NYC, until 1950 I believed that the world ended at the Hudson River. Then I joined USAF and found that the world begins there. In 1970 I found the sweetest part to be here in Calico Rock. I wouldn’t still be here if I didn’t love it.


  4. This from Dave S. who was on the trip: Beautiful, great photography, you are a craftsman and an artist.


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