Big Mason from Arkansas

The April issue of Smithsonian magazine contains an article about the Masonic temple in Washington. The temple has become a huge tourist attraction, largely because of sensational books and movies tying Masons to all sorts of skullduggery. An excerpt from the article:

“The dark green marble floors of the atrium lead to a grand staircase and a bust of Scottish rite leader Albert Pike, a former Confederate general who spent 32 years developing Masonic rituals. Pike remains a controversial figure, with detractors alleging that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a Satanist. In 1944 the Masons, by an act of Congress, gained permission to dig up Pike’s remains from a local cemetery and bury them in the temple.”

Left unsaid was that Pike was a large and colorful figure in Arkansas history. Born in Massachusetts, he came to Arkansas as a young man and became a teacher, lawyer, publisher, political activist (deep into Whiggery at one point), duelist, poet, philosopher and soldier (in the Mexican War and the Civil War, during which he commanded Indian troops at the Battle of Pea Ridge). And a Mason, of course. The present Masonic Temple in downtown Little Rock is named for Albert Pike.

Bye-bye benefits

Post-retirement health coverage is becoming a rarity in American business. How rare? Even some of the most successful businesses around are moving away from it.

Retirees from Stephens Inc., the Little Rock-based investment house, learned recently that the company will stop providing medical insurance coverage to them and their dependents as of June 1. In a letter to retirees, human resources director Ellen Gray said the change was required by new accounting rules. Companies are now required to report the financial status — whether asset or liability — of such benefits on their balance sheets. Active employees had been notified in January that post-retirement benefits would no longer be offered.

Gray reminded retirees that the loss of coverage makes them eligible for Medicare supplement programs and provided website addresses and a contact at Stephens Insurance to call for more information.

Frank Thomas, Stephens Inc. spokesman, said the company declined to comment on the new policy.

One price fits all

Here’s a tip. If you think you might visit Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, the amusement and water park at Hot Springs, more than once this year, buy the season pass. It costs $49.99, versus $44.99 for a single daily admission. The season pass gets you unlimited use, plus all the 16 concerts with familiar touring acts at the Timberwood Amphitheatre.

That $44.99 price isn’t so high as it sounds. This year’s come-on: unlimited soft drinks throughout the park (sorry, Coke fans, Pepsi is the elixir of choice); free tubes to ride in the water park and free sunscreen. What else is there, after all? Well, maybe some nachos. Some gift items. Some brewski at the concert. Still.

Season pass sales begin April 2. New this year is a water park expansion, the Crystal Lagoon, with three “speed slides,” four “tube slides,” two “tube bowls” and a new pool.



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Arkansas unemployment rate rises in September

    The Arkansas unemployment rate in September moved up to 4 percent from 3.9 percent the month before, with an overall drop in workforce.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • The push for medical marijuana begins

    Advertising has begun for Issue 6, the constitutional amendment to allow sale of medically prescribed marijuana through for-profit dispensaries regulated by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Division.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • Bart Hester and the myth of self-sustaining public services

    The War Memorial Stadium budget debate is full of red herrings from Sen. Bart Hester. Public services are rarely self-sustaining. We pay taxes to support things of public value.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • More »

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Most Shared

Latest in Smart Talk

  • Better than Texas

    Arkansas's tax system is slightly more friendly to the poorest people, but only slightly.
    • Aug 24, 2011
  • Small-school champions

    Two Arkansas congressmen are among the 14 sponsors of a bill that would "correct" a provision of the federal school-funding formula they say favors large school districts over small districts.
    • Aug 24, 2011
  • Bipartisan race

    The rise of Republicanism in Arkansas has brought a rare two-party race to the state Senate in Southeast Arkansas, traditionally a Democratic stronghold.
    • Aug 24, 2011
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments


© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation