Souvenir 

The Observer, as you may have heard by now, will be making the trip to Washington, this week for the presidential inauguration, accompanied by our ol' pal, Arkansas Times resident shutterstud extraordinaire, Brian Chilson. Keep your eye on the Arkansas Blog at our website, arktimes.com, because — the gods of technology willing — we'll be posting our adventures from the road, leading up to a cover story about the trip.

We're going on the bus. Specifically, one of several buses chartered by the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission and packed full of eager young folks. The Observer plans on chatting up as many of our fellow travelers as possible on the way there, in hopes of finding out why they're going in the first place, and what they hope for, and what they dream.

It's a tall order, we know, but we're the nosy sort and can talk to just about anybody on any subject after doing this for so long. Once we've made a few friends, making a fun read out of this trip — so full of promise, pride and pomp — should be a cinch.

One of the main reasons we decided to take a 20-hour-each-way bus trip, though — other than the fact that our Rich Uncle Lindsey was willing to pay for it — is personal. You see, one of the long-held dreams of The Observer's dear, departed father was to travel someday to Washington. Specifically, he wanted all his life to go to the Smithsonian Institution.

He was born poor and lived most of his life that way, but he was always a great lover of the past, always a lover of museums — a haunter of the collections at MacArthur Park as a boy.

When The Observer was a pup, he used to tell us stories of those displays: the birds and rocks, aged relics in glass cases, photos with tiny, careful placards. He was always a great storyteller, and made the place sound like Miss Havisham's attic.

Somewhere along the way, he'd found a copy of National Geographic Magazine dedicated to the collections of the Smithsonian, and soon became a voracious reader on the subject. Though he never made it any closer to Washington than walking guard duty at Fort Knox, Ky., while in the Army, he talked nearly every summer about gathering us all up in Ma's station wagon and heading out — seeing Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat and The Spirit of St. Louis and the Hope Diamond with his own two eyes.

Time and duty, however, conspire. He was a roofer who always owned his own business, and the fact of owning your own business is often this: When you have the spare time to do what you want, you usually don't have the money, and when you have the money, you usually don't have the time.

And so it was that by the time The Observer's father passed away in 2001, five days before his 52nd birthday, he had never walked through the doors of the Smithsonian.

And so, his dream has become our dream.

We know we could have realized it handily many times before now — our income and supply of vacation days and access to long-haul-operational cars are all much more steady and plentiful than his ever were. But then as now: time and duty conspire. That is not to mention the fact that a working trip will keep us from thinking too often about how much we wish he was there with us in more than spirit, seeing what we see.

Yes, The Observer will be working. But at some point, Your Roving Reporter will close his notebook, doff his fedora and slip away down the Mall. And a few days after that, some trinket — a coffee mug, or postcard or pin — will appear on a grave in a little cemetery way out Chicot Road. It is, at this late date, the best we can do. And then that too will be history, friends, though not the kind you'd ever find in a museum, even one so vast as the Smithsonian.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • The martyr of Danville Mountain

    Jacob George, 'moral injury' and one soldier's losing struggle against the encroaching darkness of war.
  • Eugene Ellison: Little Rock's Michael Brown

    A couple of weeks ago I accompanied 10 students to St. Louis for a mass rally in support of indicting the police officer responsible for killing Michael Brown in mid-August.
  • Tom Cotton campaign's dirty telephone tricks

    A Democratic voter of my acquaintance who lives in Conway received a call this week that informed he was not registered to vote.
  • Clarke Tucker: a vote for the future

    If the Democratic Party of Arkansas has a future, it is in people like Clarke Tucker, the Democratic nominee to succeed term-limited John Edwards in representing House District 35 — the Heights and northwestern Little Rock.
  • Good news abounds even if you don't see it in the polls

    Ernest Dumas is back from vacation with a column that chronicles abundant good news in the land and an electorate that either pays it no mind or disbelieves anything could be good on Barack Obama's watch.

Latest in The Observer

  • Roommates

    The Observer is a few months from 30 and still has a roommate. Just to be clear, this is a share-the-rent deal, not a share-the-bed deal. I'm not gay, and therein lies the problem.
    • Oct 23, 2014
  • Shhhhhhhh

    The Observer observed nothing last weekend but the rain. It came down on The Observatory in pails at times, the old oaks in the yard dripping dejectedly, their half-baked fall colors varnished in rain the temperature of spit. In a month, we'll all be November deep in coats and scarves.
    • Oct 16, 2014
  • Yawp!

    The Observer has been known, on occasion, to let the yard work go. While we know there are those who simply live for perfecting their landscaping ("Out, damned crabgrass! Out, I say!") Yours Truly has allowed The Observatory to be fairly swallowed from time to time.
    • Oct 9, 2014
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
  1 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

  • The martyr of Danville Mountain

    Jacob George, 'moral injury' and one soldier's losing struggle against the encroaching darkness of war.
  • Pre-K and taxes define race for governor

    Ross, Hutchinson disagree over what state can afford.
  • Roommates

    The Observer is a few months from 30 and still has a roommate. Just to be clear, this is a share-the-rent deal, not a share-the-bed deal. I'm not gay, and therein lies the problem.
  • Cotton's muddy record

    The best thing we have to look forward to is the certainty that we will have someone other than Tom Cotton to represent us in the 4th Congressional District. His voting record has been an embarrassment to humanity. When his record was brought up as an issue after he announced his candidacy for the Senate, he accused his opposition of slinging mud. At least we know that Tom Cotton is honest: He acknowledged what his voting record looks like.
  • On the eight day, Jason Rapert was a thin-skinned bully

    Also, War Memorial should host a catfish derby, health care-cuttin' Tom Cotton, smartphones are the devil and no-show Mark Martin.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The martyr of Danville Mountain

    • Koon connects. 2012 the year of Old Guard Dropping like Flies. As Durango notes by…

    • on October 25, 2014
  • Re: A head-scratcher

    • Nice photo. Hayden Fry (Bielema's college coach) would've said that the head Hog ought not…

    • on October 24, 2014
  • Re: The martyr of Danville Mountain

    • Excellent story David about a young man I was around a few times.His life seemed…

    • on October 23, 2014
 

© 2014 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation