We went to Mena, Arkansas and all we got was …

a crummy t-shirt? No way. The days of buying t-shirts* four souvenirs are long over. Now we buy architectural salvage when we travel.

When we go to Howard County in south Arkansas for Duckett Decoration (first Sunday in June and the preceding Saturday), we always stop at Ri-Jo’s salvage place in Mena (in Polk County, but nearer to Duckett than most places in Howard County). This time, Richard sold us a light fixture.

I have been struggling with the Arts and Crafts vision for our house. Nearly all the lights I look at don’t suit my vision of the house. Don finally nailed my problem: I’m afraid it will look like 2008 when we’re done instead of 1908 (or 1916 in our case). Everybody is doing Arts and Crafts now — the new houses, the old houses, Renovation Hardware, the Home Depot. They’re all doing it. Plus, I still haven’t made it safely to the 20th Century, what with our last two houses being solidly in Queen Victoria’s reign.

We’re compromising with a transitional look, a hybrid between Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts. What does this mean? It means we are buying fewer square light fixtures with divided lights, and more classical ones, while still having plenty of beams in the ceilings*** and nice oak trim. Here’s the fixture we bought from Ri-Jo … along with the great shades we bought from Rejuvenation. I love the iridescent look to them plus the shades were on clearance at Rejuvenation! (Sorry, I think they’re all gone now.)

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Now we just have to figure out where it goes. Dining room? Foyer? Living room? (We might need a pair for that room.) Oh, we also need an acceptable canopy.

Meanwhile, here’s the Little One doing her part for Duckett Decoration, before dinner on the grounds. Don thought that eating at the cemetery sounded quite odd when he first joined me for Duckett, but he doesn’t hesitate these days. (I made her dress and hat.**)

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We also went to the swimming hole at Cossatot State Park, where the Little One made s’mores. (I think this was Don’s first time to eat s’mores. I didn’t know that s’mores were a southern thing, but I can’t explain his lack of experience otherwise… By the way, when you search for s’mores, you discover that s’mores are a southern food. At least according to the recipe index on about.com. They may have inspired or been inspired by Moon Pies. I like s’mores better, of course.)

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And we stopped by Duckett Schoolhouse, which was a one room schoolhouse for grades 1-8, which my grandfather, his siblings and many of his cousins attended. It’s in about the same state of disrepair that it has been in for thirty years.

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* I think the Little One may have wound up with three Vacation Bible School t-shirts this year. Episcopal, United Methodist, and Bible Church. She was explaining heaven to me yesterday afternoon. Streets paved with gold and lots of magical thinking are involved.

**Shortly after we came back from Duckett, the Little One lost her hat. She must have been worrying about it for weeks. When we packed for Chicago in mid-July, I asked her to find her hat so I could pack it. She burst into tears: It was lost, lost forever! She lost it at Central one day, and maybe it blew away in a storm or somebody saw it and thought it was paper and thought it was litter and thought she had littered and threw it away! Or some other implausible event. Oh, the tragedy of it all. After the wailing and gnashing of teeth subsided, I offered to make her another hat, which I did while we were in Chicago, and then I made matching tops for her and her cousin. When we got back, Don checked at Central’s lost and found, and found her hat. (He says that the director said that lots of people complimented the hat while it waited for the Little One’s return.) These are the matching tops. I guess I didn’t take a picture of her new hat.

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*** The Johnson Brothers are adding some functional beams in the living room in the next couple of weeks so the upstairs won’t fall down once we get the bathrooms installed. As many beams as they’re putting in, I think we won’t need any decorative ones.

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3 Responses to “We went to Mena, Arkansas and all we got was …”

  1. Bill says:

    S’mores are well-known in both Minnesota and New England, for whatever that’s worth.

  2. B.Williams says:

    The great thing about the craftsman style that most people don’t know, is that Victorian fixtures in a craftsman home are historically accurate, especially in a turn of the century home. When people built the craftsman homes, they added faucets and fixtures that were readily available and in most cases were the victorian fixtures that then dominated the market.

    BTW, Tell the Johnson Brothers we said hey.

  3. Bret says:

    Looks like you had a great trip. There is a similar schoolhouse in Walkerville, outside of Magnolia, AR. My grandparents went to school there. It’s still in good shape and they hold community gatherings and reunions there. Those reunions are about as authentic as a rural southern experience can be. It was nice to see your photos. Seems very much like home country to me.

    Glad to know that Don’s education is ongoing! S’mores are a vital source of nutrition when you’re out in the wild.

    The light fixture looks great. Lots of our clients like to do a bit of a hybrid with their lighting plans. They’ll use a period or reproduction fixture and small-diameter recessed cans for supplemental lighting. It’s not pure, but the effect is nice. We have one project that has zero overhead lighting. They’ve used floor and table lamps only. It’s a rigorous discipline, but the effect feels very authentic.

    Thanks for the great post!

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