Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saddle, Arkansas: Fact and Fiction

Saddle Store
(Image from Sutherland Site)

Pictured above is the old Saddle Store, located in Saddle, Arkansas, a place not far from my hometown of Salem, Arkansas. I assume that the store still stands since it was added to the National Register of Historic Places a little over ten years ago. It ain't much to look at, I reckon, but it's a piece of history. You can read about it and Saddle in a news article by Sherry Pruitt, "Old Store is Saddle landmark," in the Jonesboro Sun from 1999. Or you can go instead to the first installment in Mr. LeRoy Tucker's fictional story, "Cadillac Pie," in which the town of Saddle supplies a place:
By 1937 T-model Fords were common and there were a few A Models. Nobody owned one that was reliable. Electricity and telephones were a distant dream. The people of Saddle, having with no prospect of progress responded with feigned indifference.

"Jest look yonder" said Saucer. The boys stood looking in amazement almost shock as the big green car approached. "Aye god, what kind is it?" Saucer continued, as in the distance a car approached, slowly and ever so soundlessly.

"Hit's a La Salle is what they call 'em," said Jake. "Actual it's a Cadillacs. Purtiest car they is to my thinkin' and they may be the best. I preferr's Packards myself. What in hell would it be in Saddle fer?"

The big green car crept slowly past the largest and newest store which was prudently perched on the slope of the nearest hill side and out of the flood plain bearing a sign, SADDLE STORE AND U.S. POST OFFICE, and continued on to Erby's store where the boys idled. Just across the narrow dirt road was a flowing spring, boxed on three sides by wide planks, and conveniently upturned on a twig of an overhanging bush was a Prince Albert tobacco can with the folding top removed and can squeezed open to maximum utility, a common dipper.
Well, there it is, in literature, the old Saddle Store. Mr. Tucker is still reworking this story, so expect it to alter in minor ways as he proofreads it (as I have, a bit). What I've posted here is merely a short passage near the beginning, but if you're interested in reading more, just click on the link. You'll notice, if you read Mr. Tucker's story in conjunction with Sherry Pruitt's article, that some of the same family names appear, for Mr. Tucker is fictionalizing a real time and place.

If you happen to be more interested in nonfiction, and are a nature lover, there's this more up-to-date depiction from Southwest Paddler:
The South Fork of the Spring River forms just northwest of Saddle, Arkansas, then flows southeast through Saddle to its confluence with the mainstream of the Spring River just above the Town of Hardy and the Hardy Beach access off US Highway 62 / SH 175. From Saddle to Hardy Beach the run is about 18.3 miles of generally flatwater flowing over gravel and rocky shoals. The South Fork is an incredibly beautiful and remote river winding through Ozark Mountains foothills, where few signs of civilization will be found. The constantly twisting riverbed is lined with spectacular bluffs and dense stands of hardwood trees indigenous to the Ozarks area. Its waters are cold, and optimum paddling is in the springtime, when northern Arkansas is still shuddering from winter temperatures.
This description isn't quite accurate, so I suppose it's also partly fictional. South Fork River forms not "just northwest of Saddle, Arkansas," despite the Southwest Paddler's assertion, but in southern Missouri, and if you read more from this paddler of rivers, you'll see that he's unaware of the springs around Saddle that feed South Fork River and help maintain its flow for the 18.3 miles from Saddle to Hardy.

I've not floated that part of the South Fork, but I might just try it this summer, when I'm scheduled to be back in my hometown for a month.

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At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya'ar, if'n ye'll jest head over that big swimming lake Sun Ae pichered an' go over the next hill (I think there used to be some kinda airplane runway atop it) there's a nice little "puttin' in place."

From that point you kin paddle (or laze) - but it's a good idee to portage when you get twixt Trivett's to Wolf's place lessin yer the "sporty type" fer 16.5 miles (river curves realize) to get to where you kin start that "last" 18.3 miles.

I'd suggest if you are the "sporty type" go in a canoe and wear catcher's shin pads. You'll find out "the why of it" when you hit that second and third bunch of rapids. But put your samiches in Tupperware.

Ideally, have a .22 pistol with rat shot with you too. Rat shot is better'n solid shot long rifles 'cause they won't make your boat so leaky. (When you inevitably hit the low timber an' some wildlife might want a ride).

I'd tell you a funny story 'bout a couple of cousins from near Sturkie who used regular long rifles - but one of 'em - I know still lives within range of me.

Might want to tell "that perfessional" it's 'bout 9 miles from Sturkie to where I'm tellin' you to launch from.


At 2:27 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, JK. I'd translate your comment for the non-hillbillies who read this, but I'm in favor of keeping the Ozarks as wild as possible, so this can stay in dialect so as to prevent any outsiders from figuring out how to follow your directions.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:47 PM, Blogger Jules Aimé said...

I have to say I think the Saddle store is beautiful rather than not much to look at.

PS: Iove this:

"This description isn't quite accurate, so I suppose it's also partly fictional."

Wittgenstein would have had a field day with that sentence. I would hazard a guess that much if not most of what sells under the heading of "non-fiction" is not true. OTOH, there are novels which are nothing but thinly veiled autobiography and yet we unhesitatingly call them fiction.

My guess is that Wittgenstein, if her were still alive, would say, absolutely correctly in both cases.

At 3:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rose Wilder Lane, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, of Little House Books fame, was one who used historical people and events to write her books of fiction.
Her book, Old Home Town, was based on acquaintences of hers who resided in Mansfield, Missouri.
On our visits to the Rocky Ridge farm and museum, we noted that the guides were not nearly as fond of Rose as they were of Laura.
She may have revealed some things that the local folks didn't appreciate being reported. They likely could have put the proper names to the "fictional" characers.


At 5:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jules, there is something appealing to that store -- and surprising, too, that it's two-story. I wish that the photo were larger and would catch the entire building.

Speaking of catching things, I wonder if Wittgenstein would have caught my joke. I seem to recall that he lacked a sense of humor, but that might be fictional, too.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Uncle Cran, I've read that this is a problem for many writers, whose friends find themselves -- or think to find themselves -- in the fiction written.

It also happens with blogging.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:50 AM, Blogger Jules Aimé said...


I think he'd catch the joke alright but he'd be more interested in the way you used the word "fictional" as a partner with "accurate". He was a bit of a collector of odd match-ups like that and, I suspect, even suggest that only somebody who was being playful would treat them opposing statements the way you have.


At 7:18 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jules, thanks again. You know Wittgenstein better than I.

By the way, call me "Jeffery."

Jeffery Hodges

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