Times were hard in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. The old timers had a saying that was often quoted around the whittlin’ and spittin’ benches in front of the Hatfield stores. It went like this, “ you can hear nearly anything in these here mountains, except meat a’ fryin’ er’ money a jinglin’”.
For years Mountain family’s had went to work on jobs way off somewhere. Logging , pipeline, ect., were popular and my Dad was a pipeline welder, until he heard about a job out in Arizona in a Copper mine. We moved out there and discovered that it wasn’t sand dessert as we had imagined, but was high Sonoran Dessert, just below the Mogollon Rim.
The family car was a old gray ford fastback sedan that had been wrecked, repaired and re painted. It had a tendency to run hot if loaded heavy and ran very fast. Now, by fast, I mean fifty miles per hour or so. There were few paved roads between the mining town and Grandma’s house in Arkansas, so as we learned about a new one, we would re route to take advantage of it. Vacation time was a big thing and it was planned and re planned, over and over.
Route 66 was a marvelous thing back then ! We would leave the mining town in the cool of the evening. Then cross the San Carlos Apache reservation and go through the Salt River canyon. We would be carrying heavy canvas water bags on the bumper for when the car ran hot on the long hard climb out of the canyon. Gasoline was very inexpensive and every little wide spot in the road had gas pumps and a general store.
Arriving back in the Ouachita’s was a wonderful thing ! We would just absolutely soak in all the old familiar sights, sounds and smells. The pole yard’s rich pine scent was one in particular.
Times may have been hard in the Ouachita Mountains, but there was folks there that had compassion for each other, like no other place we knew of.