Campho-Phenique! | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 25, 2009


Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2009 at 11:25 AM


Gov. Mike Beebe plans a trade mission to Europe, with stops in Paris, London and Hamburg.

The headline? Old story. It's said to be the toast shouted by a colorful Pine Bluff legislator during a famous AIDC trade mission, joined by many legislators, that included a fancy banquet back in the 1970s. Perhaps Ernie Dumas, who was there, can fill in my missing memory.

UPDATE: Ernie comes through:

The story is this. The Arkansas delegation that accompanied Frank White (AIDC director) and Governor Pryor to England, Germany and Belgium in 1976 to see if we needed to open an office in Europe was in a fancy dinner on the old square in Brussels (above). There were some toasts, including one or two in French (or was it German?), from the hosts. So Rep. Boyce Alford of Pine Bluff raised his wine glass and uttered the only French words he knew, "Campho-Phenique."

Ernie refreshes my memory, too, on why Saline County was on my brain originally.

We were in the Savoy Hotel in London. There was a big reception for the Arkansas delegation and Eliot Richardson, ambassador to the Court of St. James and former attorney general, was a host. When each of us entered the room we handed a guy in a tux a card and he turned around and announced us to the room, "Mister Ernest Dumas."

There were little bowls of nuts around the room. Pryor and Eliot Richardson formed a sort of receiving line to the side. Virgil Fletcher, state senator from Saline County, grabbed a fistful of nuts and was tossing them in his mouth. He strolled over to Pryor, who introduced them, "Ambassador, this is Senator Virgil Fletcher; senator, Eliot Richardson." 

Munching on cashews, Virgil stuck out his hand. "Glad to meetcha, Eliot, where you from?"

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