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THE HAPPY COUPLE: Van den Heuvel and Holder (left).
  • THE HAPPY COUPLE: Van den Heuvel and Holder (left).

Joe van den Heuvel and Ted Holder are like any couple. They met at an event — Ted was the bold one, asking if he could call — and followed it up with lunch at the Spaghetti Warehouse. It was 1991. They had a chaperone, a friend who knew them both.

Four days later they had their first date, watching “Rosalie Goes Shopping” and eating an Indonesian rice dish that Joe made. They exchanged histories. Joe was born in the U.S. into a Dutch family that had emigrated from the Netherlands. He had been a Calvinist Cadet. Ted was a West Memphis Methodist and a lawyer.

But while their courtship followed the general path that most take, it wasn’t until last week, after 15 years as a couple, that it reached the church. When it did, it made Arkansas history.

On Sept. 16, at 6 p.m., St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, led by Rev. Ed Wills, blessed the union, before family — a brother all the way from Indonesia — and friends. The service didn’t draw from the Book of Common Prayer, but used a blessing by Bishop Paul Marshall of Pennsylvania — the two dubbed it “the Marshall plan” — combined with another from the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada, which forged same-sex blessings in the Anglican community.

The service, with incense and all, ended with William Sloane Coffin’s prayer: “Oh God, take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire.”

And then off Joe, Ted and their guests, whose invitations featured a reproduction of a painting of two black sheep with flowers in their hair, went to a reception at the Arts Center. Just like so many other couples. With simple bands on their fingers, Ted’s gold, Joe’s platinum.

David Ware is the Capitol Historian for the state, so when he says it was Robert Crittenden who killed Henry Conway and not the other way around we listen.

Here’s what happened, Ware tells us: “Conway had won re-election as our representative to Congresss and the bad blood between Conway and his former associate (Conway had been so rash as to stand for re-election, opposing a Crittenden favorite) boiled over in a pointless duel.

“Michael Dougan notes, by the way, that Conway probably died of an infection carried into his wound from fragments of his toothbrush, which had been hit in his pocket by the ball from Crittenden’s pistol.”

There’s a moral in there somewhere. Maybe more than one.



The Observer took advantage of the great weather last weekend and cycled the North Little Rock portion of the River Trail. (The Observer prefers bike trails to roads since so many drivers these days are talking on their cell phones, oblivious to cyclists, pedestrians and other moving vehicles.) So we’re riding along toward the Skate Park and moving at a pretty good pace.

We look ahead and see moving towards us, also at a pretty good pace, a mini-van. A mini-van on the bike trail? No, couldn’t be, but there it is, getting closer by the second.

The Observer is forced to make a quick stop off the trail in the grass and mini-van drives on, missing us by a foot or two. The Observer yelled something unprintable at mini-van driver. The mini-van driver never noticed The Observer — or the fact that it was a bike trail, not a street, the driver was using. Just drove on by. Might just as well have been on a cell phone.


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