May 28, 2008 Edition

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A stop at Powhatan

D.C. Rowlett
Guest Writer

The first Sunday in May has always meant a family get-together in the Possum Trot community, five miles West of Swifton.

This time of the year meant seeing all the cousins who lived far away and having different kinds of food that we didn't usually have.

For the cousins who lived in other states that would be the only day of "all day church and dinner on the ground."

Not so for those of us who lived anywhere in Arkansas.

Mother's Day is the following Sunday and that meant a trip to the hills to a church called Mt. Harmony near Saffell. Yep, all day church and dinner on the ground again.

All too many times the spring flooding prevented us from going across the river at the Elgin Ferry so we had to "go around by Powhatan."

Those words caused excitement to swell up in my chest ~ I was going to see that Powhatan Courthouse. Something about that building still excites me, and I am 64 years old and have been inside it many times.

I can remember as a child the ominous feeling crossing the river there at Black Rock and the road winding back underneath the overpass.

It was like being in one of those Indiana Jones action movies ~well old Indy didn't exist back then but you get the idea how it felt ~ like I was in another country.

On one Mother's Day, my dad stopped there in Powhatan to let me go to the bathroom, and the man at the cash register in the station asked me, "Where are you from son?"

My answer ~ "I am from back over there in the United States."

***

Swimming pools are seen in backyards just about everywhere you look these days. Some are the relatively inexpensive ones with the floatation ring, but nonetheless, swimming pools.

The only pools I can remember from my childhood are the city pool at Newport and the Holbrook swimming pool ~both too far away for this country boy from Possum Trot to visit more than once during the summer.

There was, however, a beach on Black River just a few miles from my home.

A fellow named Smith owned the land bordering the river beach and he had the foresight to build a dressing room, complete with a snack bar and a drink machine. It even had a concrete dance floor and a jukebox. For a small fee of 25 cents, one could use the beach and the dressing room (even a water hose to wet yourself down and prepare for the cold river water).

I was not much of an outdoorsman myself, so I did not use the beach very much, but I always felt the excitement of the summer when I would see all those cars passing my house on the way to the beach on a Sunday afternoon.

The only boat I had ever been in was a small wooden boat my dad used for fishing, so when I saw those fancy "speedboats" as we called them going by the house on the way to Black River Beach, I was sure this was people from far away because I did not know anyone rich enough to own one of those.

Like the Holbrook pool, the beach was closed down long ago, and there is a fence across the road that prevents anyone from even making a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Seems to me, places like these that provided so much entertainment to so many people should be somehow preserved with a historical marker ...Well maybe I am just a nostalgic old fool, but I would like to hear what others think about it.

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