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OPINION: What a difference ...

June 8, 2021 at 8:44 a.m.

Did that headline catch your attention? That's the start of a saying we hear spoken quite often: "What a difference a day makes" ... or a week or a month or a year ... or even, say 70 years. This 'cuff will be a conglomeration of different events in years past. Some of those differences were found when I found a little notepad with information on several topics that occurred in Eagle Observer country. And I was still able to read my writing so you can guess how long the notes have been lost. One of the items was about good old Highway 59 ... so just another saying: "Let's get on with the show."

It was 70 years ago, 1951, when schools in Gentry, Decatur and Gravette dismissed a month early. Not like last year or this year when this daggum coronavirus has caused so many problems, not only with education but with every phase of our lives. What caused the schools to dismiss early? The answer is a doozie. The state ran out of money and the legislature wasn't able to dig up any ... or so it seemed. And the state ordered the schools to be closed by the end of April.

Governor Sid McMath called a special session to solve the problem and what was the answer on April ninth? It was a big NO after hours of arguing, name calling, etc. ... sort of like what we have going on in Washington D.C. now. About ten days later another attempt was sought to find an answer but, you guessed it. The vote was NO, 47 to 46. They packed up their bags and went home. The "nose" had it. Quite a stink.

I would bet all the local schools had baccalaureate programs, religious events. That was before anything was banned, even though our nation had been and still is founded on religious principles. Such a program was held in Gravette, as well as a commencement program when 37 seniors received their diplomas.

What else was found in that little notebook? An article was printed in the local paper on March 17, 1949, that work had begun on the Crystal Lake dam at Decatur ... and that the state game department had stocked Spavinaw Creek with 3,500 rainbow trout and 5,500 smallmouth bass. Do many fish Spavinaw today? We know Crystal Lake is quite a spot. In the same issue of the paper, it was announced to chicken growers a new vaccine had been discovered to stop the loss of baby chicks from Newcastle disease.

Another tidbit on the front page noted Highway 59 was already paved from Gravette to Siloam Springs, which occurred in the '30s, and the highway was paved or being paved from Siloam Springs to Van Buren.

That's enough highway talk, but let's look at another mentioned subject you often find in the 'cuff. It's not about sweet gum balls or turning on your headlights when it's raining. Just a week ago, on a trip between Siloam and Gravette, more than a third of the vehicles met came charging by as black as a dungeon on wheels.

It's time to wind this up with another topic. Nope, it's not about the postage stamp garden (which really isn't) or a sweet gum tree. But it is about a tree, a dogwood tree I planted three years ago and is now about 15 feet in height -- a nice shaped tree, which a few weeks ago leafed out with no blossoms.

Actually, dogwood trees form the buds for flowers in the fall and there were not buds showing last fall or this spring. But then ... some tiny buds began forming, and in the latter part of May, the tree was a mass of bright white blossoms. But they were slightly different than usual dogwood blossoms. I noticed similar specimens in yards which showed up a good two weeks after the expected blossoms appeared. That was a recent difference! So ... I wonder how and why? Could it be the widespread heavy frost that followed the 15-degree-below reading earlier that got the schedule of the tree out of step? Any ideas? I'll look for buds again this autumn but do you suppose these were those buds arriving early? Again, any ideas?

'Till next time.

Dodie Evans is the former owner and longtime editor of The Gravette News Herald. Opinions expressed are those of the author.


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