Palestine, Arkansas and Nashville

In Nashville at the Nashville Country RV Park comfortably settled in with cheese, crackers and salami and a great bottle of cabernet. Actually, cheap wine here is 10 bucks a bottle, but it’s Australian so of course it’s good. Love that blackberry overtone with hints of vanilla and chocolate in the Yellow Tail. Sigh. Nice evening. It’s been raining and more is coming, but for now it’s quiet.

Today I went to Palestine, Arkansas, where my mother was born. I stopped in at the Post Office to mail our Christmas cards and talked with the postmaster there about the Hurt family, the person listed on my mother’s birth certificate is Emmet Hurt, a barber. After much slow drawling kind southern conversation, interrupted by locals coming in for mailings and conversation, I got the phone number and address of a 90 year old lady who knows all the history of Palestine. And I was told very sweetly that Palestine is in the Middle East and Palestyne in right here in Arkansas.

Just standing in that post office was a southern experience, with Mary the postmaster so kind and conversational, and I just waited and waited while she thought about people to call. Finally talked with a woman who married into the Hurt family who said, “Well, Emmet must have divorced that lady you are speaking of because later he married my aunt and they had no children.” Emmet is dead now, as are his two brothers. I am thinking that maybe the 90 year old lady Vada will remember the gossip of the time, but who knows what the reality is in this story.

My grandmother told me bits and pieces and refused to tell me the whole story, only alluding the intrigue and fear and secrets. I will never know for sure if this man Emmet Hurt is really my grandfather or if he was some kind of cover up to an even more secret story of my grandmother giving birth to a baby girl in Palestine Arkansas at the tender age of 15.

Another small piece of a story had something to do with my grandmother’s mother taking her to the train when in the midnight dark in the rain in an old wagon, getting stuck in the creek, and going fast because the situation was fearful, and my grandmother had to get out of town for her safety. She left my mother behind and went to Tulsa, where she worked as a photographer’s model while her mother took care of the baby back home in Palestine.

Stories. Part of all those stories that flew past my inner vision as I lay on the massage table at the Hot Springs. Do the stories really matter?

It was gray and cloudy as we crossed Arkansas today, with brown fields and brown trees with no leaves, and water that was gunmetal gray full of geese flying somewhere farther south.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

8pm in Lake Catherine State Park, Arkansas
My grandmother lived near here, my mother was born here in Arkansas, maybe it’s genetic, the familiar feel of the hardwood forests here, my Cherokee heritage, past memories that aren’t even mine that I feel here in the Arkansas winter. I went to Hot Springs today, the Hot Springs national park, and to the original Buckstaff bathhouse established in 1912. Turned out to be a truly amazing experience, from the old tiles to the antique plumbing, the huge porcelain tubs, the huge linen bath sheets that they wrap around you as you go from treatment to treatment.

It was really cold today, at least for what we expected in Arkansas, and gray all day. Maybe 45 degrees at best but really windy and damp. Cold.

Hot Springs is a magical space, at least the area around the actual hot springs was amazing. Old buildings that were once the heyday of the rich and famous coming for the water therapy that used to be considered so healing, even by the medical establishment.

John and Linda came in last night and we visited in the moho and then went to dinner at Chili’s and I had some truly tremendous ribs. It was a nice visit, and they drove back home after 9. He said he could do it, after all he was a truck driver. We talked a bit about trucking and Deanna and Keith and wondering how it all is going to go for them. We even managed to sit around and talk and visit in this tiny space with a modicum of comfort.

Mo was tired last night though, after driving in all that wind, and after “entertaining”. Today’s travels were a mere 138 miles from Van Buren to Hot Springs, and it still seemed like a long day. Mo didn’t partake of the baths, she isn’t susceptible to all that stuff the way I am. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it though.

Tonight the GSM broadband is less than non existent, so I suppose I won’t get to the internet, even though it says I am connected. Ah well. Out in the countryside of Arkansas.