One day in Little Rock a bluejay ate the only tomato on the only backyard tomato plant I've ever grown. I don't normally avenge wrongs committed against me by creatures doing what comes naturally. But this whorehopper had attitude, and had it coming.
One day in Little Rock state Sen. Mutt Jones of Conway gave me a personal seminar on the life and works of a Belgian historian named Hendrik Willem van Loon. I didn't know at the time that Mutt and Hendrik were both Loons. I suspected it, but didn't know.
One day in Little Rock I asked Anita Bryant, then at the top of her game, if she ever doubted the righteousness of her cause. In response, one of her handlers pulled me aside and said, "Let me ask you something. Are you saved?"
One day in Little Rock the late, great George Fisher entertained creative-writing students at a big writers' conference at Hall High School. He drew them take-home cartoons of celebrities and of themselves, and played the guitar and sang mountain folk songs and had them sing along. They had a high old time. When George left the stage, I came on to talk to the same audience about writing essays.
One day in Little Rock, Gerald L.K. Smith told me with a companionly chuckle that when he and his goons took over they'd have me in a concentration camp before sundown. If that came to pass, I told him, I wouldn't want to be found anywhere else.
One day in Little Rock I insulted a blind professional-rassling promoter who retaliated by renaming the fattest, most disgusting slob in his stable "Bruiser Bob Lancaster," putting him in pink tights, and having his entire sweathog drove, pretty boys and villains alike, beat him senseless with piledrivers, clotheslines, ringside tables and folding metal chairs. This was the main event on their weekly TV show.
One day in Little Rock Joe Wirges, the police beat reporter, yelled across the newsroom at the Arkansas Gazette to ask an editor if cocksucker was one word or two. The editor yelled back that you couldn't use that word in the Gazette, and Joe replied: "Oh, it's all right. It's in a direct quote."
One day in Little Rock some hustings acquaintances came to town for an elegant, romantic anniversary dinner. All duded up, and whetted for prime rib, they were inside the Carriage House with somebody asking "Can I hep y'all?" before they realized it wasn't a restaurant but a furniture store.
One day in Little Rock the power windows and door-locks on my car went crazy and I had to take it to the dealership, then owned by and named after a famous Arkansas basketball player. "Somebody done put the hoodoo on it," the repair technician explained. "Oh," I said, as if I understood. Only cost $1,800 to get it fixed. Including Marie Leveau's hex remover, and the chicken foot.
One day in Little Rock a former waitress watching the demolition of the Hotel Marion told me the most famous person she'd served coffee to there was the swayve and deboner actor Walter Pidgeon, a fair-to-middling tipper.
The worst tippers then, she said, were judges.
One day in Little Rock an innocent bystander got beat up by a stick-swinging gang of state troopers when civil rights protesters tried to desegregate the cafeteria in the basement of the State Capitol. I was that innocent bystander. Got whomped pretty good, although in later years I didn't suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
One day in Little Rock, at the State Fair, I saw Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy, not the original certainly, not even a good knockoff, and decades beyond boyhood, but arguably dog-faced, at least as much so as Dwayne Chapman, taking a break from the freak booth, waiting patiently in line to order a corndog.
One hot summer day in southwest Little Rock I set the all-time record for cherry snow-cones purchased and consumed by one person in one day at Ethel's Sno-Cone House.
One day in Little Rock I stood out watching and waiting for the airliners to come crashing into our skyscrapers. And they did. In a way, they did.
One day in Little Rock I saw my brother stepping off a red train at Union Station, home from World War II. First time I'd ever seen him, and him me. My second earliest memory if I'm not mistaken.
One day in Little Rock, Bill Clinton, all sweaty from jogging, flopped down on an expensive leather chair in my office and just ruined it. I was royally p.o.'ed. No, wait, that was Jim McDougal's office, and it was Jim who was p.o.'ed. That must've been the case because I had no office, and my cubicle lacked furniture except in a certain laughable sense.
One day in Little Rock I saw the old America. Didn't know it'd be the last time, but reckon I wouldn't have done anything different if I had known. Maxie going out of business.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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