"I was in the third grade and my parents let me skip school that day, the family was driving from our home in Shreveport, La. to Fayetteville Ark. to go to the University of Arkansas (my Father and both sisters alma mater) vs. Texas Tech football game. We had the car radio on and as we drove through Texarkana we heard the first bulletin that shots had been fired at the President's motorcade and each of the subsequent ones (including one that reported that both the President and Vice President Johnson had been shot). At one point, my Dad stopped the car and went into a bar to see if television had any more information (it didn't). We were unsure whether to keep going to Fayetteville (would the game even be played?) or turn around and go home. It was a major debate all over the country whether sporting events should be held or not. The general conclusion was that the President would have wanted games to go on so I think a few were cancelled."
—Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of the Cook Political Report and a political analyst for National Journal magazine, where he writes a twice weekly column.
"Because of our great appreciation for President Clinton, and in recognition of the extraordinary public service work performed by Clinton School students, we have now decided to make the Clinton School our educational philanthropic focus," said Carlotta Walls Lanier, the foundation's spokesperson. "The Clinton School prepares its students in the global arena and what better way to keep our story alive than through those we assist."
Two buildings in the West 7th Street Historic District were constructed in the 1920s and are both located at 1100 block of W. 7th. The building at 1107 W. 7th was constructed c. 1925 for Little Rock Bottling Company, who advertised the manufacture of Chero-Cola. The Dr. Pepper Bottling Company moved into the building in the late 1930s, remaining through the 1950s. The building was expanded to the west in 1930. Next door, on the southeast corner of Ringo and W. Seventh Streets, the Massery Laundry Company Building at 1123 W. Seventh Street was built c. 1925. The one and one-half story brick building is typical of 1920s commercial design in its decorative brick pattern with subtle cast concrete details.Update I: Arkansas Historic Preservation registrar Dawn Washington said the owner of the property, Robert Cassinelli, can paint over the sign if he wants, but the state agency would discourage him from doing that. However, painting over the sign would not adversely affect the building's historic standing the way structural changes would.
A biography compiled when an exhibit of his papers was opened in April at the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture provides many of the details of his life. He retired from UALR in 1997 after 37 years, a time during which he was a professor, chair of the department of political science and dean of the college of liberal arts.
He served five terms in the state House of Representatives (a Democrat) and was among the leaders of two unsuccessful efforts to revise the Arkansas Constitution. He created an endowment to study the legislative process and to begin assembling legislators' papers for that purpose. His scholarly writing included "Carpenter from Conway: George Washington Donaghey as Governor of Arkansas, 1909-1913."
A courtly and studious man with an impressive resume of his own, Ledbetter also had a measure of public familiarity because of his wife, Brownie, a political activist who died in 2010. A portion of the exhibit on his papers included information about her devotion to progressive causes.
Ruebel Funeral Home will be handling arrangements. UALR has scheduled a memorial service for him at 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, in the Calvin R. Ledbetter Jr. Assembly Hall in the Donaghey Student Center.
UPDATE: The family's obituary follows.
I wrote recently about the demolition of the former Massery Cleaners at 7th and Cross by the Metropolitan Emergency Medical Services, a city agency, for future expansion of its nearby headquarters. MEMS said it couldn't salvage the structure, though it's listed as a contributing building in the West Seventh Street Historic District (parts of blocks between State and Cross), because of its disrepair and because of cleaning chemicals that pollute the site. It would have been too expensive to clean up the chemicals sufficiently to allow preservation of the structure, MEMS said. A parking lot will take its place.
This decision could have farther-reaching effects. Vanessa Norton McKuin, executive director of the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas explains:
In order for a district to qualify for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, at least 50% of the sites within the boundaries have to be "contributing," which means, simply, the structures on the sites fit within the period of significance and they retain historic integrity. The demolition of the Massery's Cleaners building reduces the percentage of contributing structures in the West 7th Street Historic District boundaries to right at 50%. In order for the district to go away it has to be formally de-listed by the National Park Service, which is a process that can take a
little time. The demolition does very much jeopardize the historic district and de-listing would take away an important redevelopment incentive that property owners and developers have to invest in that district—the Historic Tax Credit.
She adds that the issue is complicated. The 50 percent level is required, and still barely met, but McKuin said the Park Service prefers a clear margin of over 50 percent. Also, there's a question of whether a couple of addresses account for more than two structures. But there's no doubt a danger point is near.
Both state and federal tax credits are available for such work. Also, a brownfields fund could provide some assistance on remediating environmental problems. It's being used on at least one Main Street project. McKuin said she believes one tax credit project is underway in the district, for repairs to the Weekend Theater building.
Here's a detailed listing of structures in the 7th Street District. the Massery Laundry Company was built around 1925, a typical commercial design of the era.
The line is open. I apologize for a haphazard day. Our Internet woes continue and connectivity has made posting difficult, not to mention photos and corrections. Sorry.
* WALMART: LOW PRICES, BUT MARKING UP HISTORY: A Fayetteville correspondent sends the photo above of a rack of T-shirts in the Walmart store on the campus of the University of Arkansas, the state's flagship university and now wholly owned in several departments by the retail chain, including the education reform unit.
The T-shirt says "Arkansas: Established 1837." I thought Arkansas achieved statehood in 1836. And that the UA itself dated to 1871. More or less. I may need some more of that good charter school education, along with the Walmart T-shirt supplier. Calling Jim Walton.
* GUILTY VERDICT IN POLICE CASE: It took three days, but a federal jury today convicted former Little Rock police officer Randall Robinson of one count of aiding what he believed to be a drug shipment in passage through Little Rock. The jury couldn't reach a verdict on three counts and a mistrial was declared on those. Fox 16 has the story.
* PIVOTAL POLITICS: Dianne Curry of Little Rock said today she might switch from the Democratic race for lieutenant governor to the race for 2nd District Congress.
* ABORTION FILING: The ACLU of Arkansas has filed a motion in federal court seeking a summary judgment in the lawsuit that says the Arkansas ban on most abortions at the 12th week of pregnancy is unconstitutional. The motion asks for a permanent injuction against Jason Rapert's attack on women's medical rights. Hard to see how they won't get it.
The Board had voted earlier to name the library for Mrs. Clinton conditioned on her agreement. "She has and she's delighted and we are, too," said Library Director Bobby Roberts.
Mrs. Clinton will be at the dedication Monday, Roberts said. A library news release said admittance to the event is free, but attendance will be limited to 150, and four attendees per registration. Each adult must be accompanied by a child up to 12 years old.
Register at this website or by calling the library at 978-3870. (Sorry: The original post had a digit wrong in that phone number.)
In naming the library for Mrs. Clinton, the Board acknowledged her work "as a citizen of Arkansas, including service for the Children's Defense Fund, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, Arkansas Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youth, Arkansas Children's Hospital, Arkansas Educational System Task Force, Rural Health Advisory Committee, and many others, including her ground-breaking work as co-chair of Arkansas's Educational Standards Committee. Also recognized is her continued work at the national and international levels to improve the lives of all the world's children."
Mrs. Clinton was to be in Little Rock Monday for an invitation-only opening ceremony of a special exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center of Oscar de la Renta fashion. It has 30 pieces of his work, including fashions designed for Hillary Clinton. de La Renta and Vogue's Anna Wintour are also expected to attend the Little Rock event.
Chelsea Clinton and former President Bill Clinton are expected to attend the de la Renta event. It's not known if their schedules include joining Mrs. Clinton at the library.
I've just received word that Jack Meriweather, 79, died this morning at St. Vincent Hospice.
Knowing his death was near, Ernie Dumas, currently traveling, wrote an advance obituary on his frequent lunch companion that is a rich slice of Arkansas history — ranging from Paragould to Texarkana to Little Rock City Hall to corridors of power in Washington, to the University of Arkansas with stops at Charles Portis and the Arkansas Gazette. It is, most of all, a tribute to a friend. It begins here and will continue on the jump. Ruebel Funeral Home will be handling arrangements.
Meriwether, who was born and reared in Paragould, was the city manager of Texarkana and Little Rock and later vice president of the University of Arkansas, a job he used to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the state’s system of higher education. Between those jobs, he was general manager of the Arkansas Gazette and vice president for development of the First National Bank of Paragould, on whose board he served for more than 30 years.
When Meriwether resigned as city manager in 1974 to help run the bank at Paragould, the Arkansas Democrat’s editorial cartoonist, Jon Kennedy, caricatured him embracing the Little Rock skyline under the caption “The City that Jack Built.”
Clinton School Dean Skip Rutherford notes a September lecture visit by journalist Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation") who'll publish in September a new book, "Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety," centered on a famous Arkansas happening.
Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved—and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind. While the harms of global warming increasingly dominate the news, the equally dangerous yet more immediate threat of nuclear weapons has been largely forgotten.
Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policy makers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can’t be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust. At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.
Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with people who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.
For those of you not here to have been at least a tiny bit concerned that a nuclear winter was about to settle on Arkansas in September 1980: Here's a good summary from the Encyclopedia of Arkansas. One person was killed and 21 injured when an accumulation of fuel contributed to a massive explosion. The nuclear warhead was thrown from the silo, but didn't explode.
Schlosser will be at Clinton School Sept. 23, about a week after publication date.
It's plugged at the top of the page, but don't fail to read Roy Reed's obituary for Orval Faubus' sister, Bonnie Lou Salcido, and the story it tells about Faubus family opposition to his stance that created the constitutional crisis in Little Rock.
Rich Arkansas history from a veteran journalist eyewitness.
It's time for the Historic Preservation Alliance's annual list of historic structures in danger of being lost.
This year's list:
* Hantz & Durst Houses, 1950 & 1951, 855 & 857 Fairview St., Fayetteville, Washington County
* Ferguson House, 1861, 416 North 3th Street, Augusta, Woodruff County
* Frith-Plunkett House, c. 1858, 801 Main Street, Des Arc, Prairie County
* Park Hill Elementary School, 1924,
2700 N. Poplar St., 3801 JFK Boulevard, North Little Rock, Pulaski County
* Roundtop Filling Station (Happy's Service Station), 1936, Old Highway 67, Sherwood, Pulaski Co.
* St. Joseph's Home, 1910, 6800 Camp Robinson Rd., North Little Rock, Pulaski County
* Wynne Opera House, c. 1900, 218 S. Front Street, Wynne, Cross County
Hot Springs passed for a liberal precinct in 1954. The people who ran the Hot Springs Bathers in the Cotton States League, including a Republican lawyer and politician named Hank Britt, hired two black pitchers, Jim “Schoolboy” Tugerson and his brother Leander. The other Arkansas and Mississippi cities in the league announced they wouldn’t play the Bathers if they fielded a Negro. The attorney general, J. P. Coleman, declared it illegal in Mississippi for a black man to play baseball on the same field as whites.
My beloved Oilers at El Dorado and the other teams voted to expel the Bathers until their management agreed not to play a Tugerson. When Schoolboy went to the mound anyway against the Jackson Senators, before he could deliver a pitch the umpire forfeited the game to Jackson.
The Tugersons picked up and went to Knoxville, Tenn., where the unhittable Schoolboy won 33 games that season. Before the season was out, Britt managed to put a black Langston High School lad, Uvoyd Reynolds, and another player from the Negro American League on the field for a few games at Hot Springs, and attendance jumped. But other cities—El Dorado, Helena, Pine Bluff—were not ready to see black athletes. I went to town one August night that year to see the Oilers pound the Greenville Buckshots. Jim Johnson from nearby Crossett, who was running for attorney general to fight integration, stood at the plate with his wife and sang “On Mockingbird Hill” at the seventh-inning stretch. The Cotton States League, facing integration and other issues, folded the next season, and for some of us summers were never the same.
PS — A hardcore fan sends an image from a retailer of historic baseball garb of a Hot Springs Bathers replica jersey, now sold out.
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