Book Review: A Fame Not Easily Forgotten

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Eureka Springs, Arkansas is one of my favorite places to visit. It is quirky, beautiful, full of unique artists, craftspeople, writers, entertainment venues, and natural scenery. It is a town built seemingly overnight in July 1879 following the discovery of what was then and is believed to be now curative powers in the waters of the many natural springs in the area.

In “A Fame Not Easily Forgotten”, researchers, historians, and authors June Westphal and Catharine Osterhage spent four years culling newspaper articles, historical records, written accounts, and rare photographs to compile a reasonable and accurate description of what many call the “City That Water Built.”

In mid-December 2015, just prior to my departure on a thirty-day winter holiday, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with June Westphal at her book signing at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum. I was impressed by her extensive knowledge of the town, its inhabitants, and the entire region.

Here’s an excerpt from the Preface of A Fame Not Easily Forgotten: An Autobiography of Eureka Springs:

Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a remarkable place—and utterly improbable. Why would anyone in the late 1800s, traveling on horseback or in wagons, traverse dirt paths through the steep Ozark Mountains to what must have seemed like the end of the earth? Why would they settle and build elaborate structures on sharp, rocky inclines?

The answer is, water. Pure, abundant spring water reported to have extraordinary curative properties—hope of healing was that powerful and that compelling. So, come they did. Build, they did. And while the water may not have reached expectations, the beauty and magic of the place captured the hearts of so many, they stayed, or kept returning. They still do…

The extensive research is well documented, includes many old pictures of the early days of expansion and growth of the town, and makes for interesting, informative, and entertaining reading. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the area and its history. You can order your own signed copy of this book from the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.

Book Review: Gone to the Grave

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The leaves cross over our graveyards

When the cold wind blows and raves

They whirl and scatter on the frozen ground

Then settle on the sunken graves

They put me to mind of the children of the earth

The mournful condition of us all

We are fresh and green in the spring of the year

And are blown in the grave in the fall.

–Florence Elizabeth Rutherford, 1873-1889

Rutherford Cemetery, Independence County, Arkansas

*

Abby Burnett’s Gone to the Grave: Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks, 1850-1950 is an interesting, intriguing read exploring the traditions surrounding death, local customs and rituals concerning bereavement, and the burial practices in the Arkansas Ozarks. It is excellent in its research, narrative, and visual presentation. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in such subject matter.

I had the pleasure to meet author Abby Burnett, a former freelance newspaper reporter, at the Books In Bloom event in Eureka Springs, Arkansas May 2015 and again this past week during her presentation at the Fayetteville, Arkansas Public Library. Her speaking and presentation abilities are every bit as impressive as her knowledge and expertise on Arkansas burial history and customs.

*

 “This painstakingly researched and thoroughly engaging book is as much an anthropological and sociological study as it is a historical and folklorist account of death, dying, and burial in the Arkansas Ozarks…there is virtually no source of information that Burnett hasn’t explored—epitaphs, business ledgers, funeral home records, obituaries, WPA questionnaires, health department regulations, oral history interviews, ministers’ journals, censuses, mortality schedules, doctors’ notes, undertakers’ record books, historical photographs, museum collections, and newspaper accounts…”

–Allyn Lord, Director, Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Springdale, Arkansas

*

I hear a voice you cannot hear

Which says I must not stay,

I see a hand you cannot see

Which beckons me away.

–S. N. Lyle, 1875-1932

Lowes Creek Cemetery, Franklin County, Arkansas

“Living History” Cemetery Walking Tour

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The Eureka Springs Historical Museum will host its 7th annual “Voices from Eureka’s Silent City” cemetery walking tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 15th, 16th, and 17th.  Then again on Friday and Saturday, October 30th and 31st.  The living history tours feature live actors in period costumes portraying early citizens of Eureka Springs.

This year, actors and guides will be presenting  compelling stories of some of Eureka’s former leaders in service and philanthropy who now reside in the Silent City,  the Eureka Springs City Cemetery:  A WWI Army Colonel, a socialite, a prominent lawyer/mayor, a descendant of a Native American Chief, and an early proponent of baseball, among others.

I will be attending this event. It should be a fun, interesting experience.

For more information and pictures from previous walks take a jaunt over to Eureka Springs Historical Museum!

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Cemetery Walk Eureka Springs 2014

 

Books In Bloom 2015

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I attended the Books In Bloom event in Eureka Springs, Arkansas again this year and am happy to report both weather and turn-out was good despite thunderstorms and heavy rains the two days previous.

Met some wonderful, interesting authors including the internationally best-selling author Tess Gerritsen who writes the Rizzoli & Isles series as well as many, many others. Her website is here http://www.tessgerritsen.com/

Kimberly and James Dean, authors of the children’s book series Pete The Cat, were very entertaining and drew a large audience, many of whom were young ones tightly clutching their personal copies of Pete’s various adventures eager for autographs. Listening to the two authors during their presentation, there could be no doubt Kimberly and James were in their happy, sweet zone doing what they love best. https://www.petethecat.com/about

Many regional authors also participated including Nancy Hartney (Washed In The Water); Abby Burnett (Gone To The Grave); Margaret Jones Bolsterli (Kaleidoscope-Redrawing an American Family Tree); Robert Cochran & Suzanne McCray (Lights! Camera! Arkansas! and Our Own Sweet Sounds).

For a list of all Books In Bloom participants both this year and past you may visit Books In Bloom, Eureka Springs.

I’m already looking forward to Books In Bloom 2016 on the grounds of the historic Crescent Hotel in beautiful Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

28th Annual May Festival of the Arts

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It’s that time of year once again when my all-time favorite little town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas hosts their May Festival of the Arts.

Art is alive in Eureka Springs!  Tucked in the mountains, surrounded by lakes, rivers, streams, and natural healing springs, authentic creative spirits run rampant through the village. Come visit and soak in an art happening that can’tbe found anywhere else.

As many of you may know, in a previous life—before I took up writing and procrastination as serious endeavors—I had a twenty-year career as an artist. One of my favorite art venues is right here in Eureka Springs where you will find over 300 artists working in every medium imaginable. It is a beautiful, happening place if you are into the creative art vibe and they put it all on display in the month of May.

The 28th Annual May Festival of the Arts is packed with one-of-a-kind art exhibits, demonstrations, performances, culinary arts, free music in the park, and the wildest street party thrown by artists – The White Street Walk.

If only I had a dollar for every step I’ve ever taken touring and enjoying this beautiful place. I highly recommend a visit.

You can find more information here at the Eureka Springs Visitor Blog.

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Books In Bloom 2015

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My home state of Arkansas boasts many wonderful events for authors and artists. Among all, one of my favorites is Books In Bloom Literary Festival held on the grounds of the historic 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs.

I’m pleased that my friend and fellow author, Nancy Hartney, is among those selected to attend the prestigious event.  

Books in Bloom, an event for writers and readers, was established in 2005 by the Carroll and Madison Public Library Foundation to promote the value of books and reading. The Festival provides an opportunity for the public to meet authors and to hear them speak about their work and various aspects of writing and publishing.

For a complete list of events and all invited authors please visit the Books In Bloom web page.

More information about Nancy Hartney can be found here at http://nancyhartney.com/

My review of Nancy’s book “Washed In The Water: Tales from the South” is here.

Congratulations, Nancy!

Around My Neck Of The Woods

It is nice when an area of my state gets good national news coverage.

USA Today has an article from American Style Magazine naming Eureka Springs, Arkansas one of the Top 25 Art Towns in America–the fourth time the magazine has done so. Historically, tourists to the area (at least the non-native American kind) began visiting in the 1800s to enjoy the many natural springs. Now, along with the therapeutic waters, the town is home to art galleries, studios and events. As Style Magazine correctly notes: “The entire city of Eureka Springs is listed as a National Register of Historic Places because of its historic structures.”