Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Tale of Two Rivers

… and neither are named Joan.

The Mississippi River, and one of its major tributaries, the Arkansas, are two of this nation’s grand old rivers. The Arkansas’ source is high in the Colorado mountains, and it flows generally south-eastward until it meets up with the Mississippi in eastern Arkansas.  The source of the Mississippi is Lake Itasca in Minnesota, where it is possible to walk across, as we did several years ago.

The Arkansas

Arkansas River at Dusk From Campground
For the past couple of days, we have been camped on the Arkansas River, directly across from the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. An old railway bridge (on left in photo) has been repurposed as a “rails to trails” bridge, with added night-time bling. This bridge, now named the Clinton Bridge, is now a walkway connecting this side of the river with the library.

We visited the Clinton library, but because the temperature was 90 degrees, the humidity 95%, and the forecast said there might be thunderstorms, we opted to drive rather than walk.  After living so long in "dry heat," we don't do well in high humidity any more!
Clinton Bridge Decked Out in Lights

The library was interesting, and contained a very nice restaurant called Forty Two where we grabbed a bite before venturing into the Clinton-abilia. 

There was a replica of the Oval Office as it existed during the Clinton presidency (including a replica of the Resolute Desk, originally a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880,  and built from the timbers of the British Arctic exploration ship Resolute), a display of the gifts given during state events (all such gifts are accepted in the name of the people of the United States, and archived), various Clinton photos and objets d'art, and a replica of the office in which the Cabinet members met.

Saxophones and Gift

Replica of the Resolute Desk
Place Setting For State Dinner


In addition to Presidential documents, a section showed letters sent and received to/by various celebrities. My favorite was a correspondence between Bill Clinton and Paul Newman.  Clinton sent a letter in March 1996, after Newman’s racing accident, saying he was sorry to hear about the accident, and stating, “I’m glad your hand fared better than your Volvo.” Newman replied, “It was a humiliating experience. I’m the only race car driver in modern history to crash off the circuit at 25 mph.  Don’t spread this around.” 

The rest of our day in Little Rock was spent at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, a pivotal point in the Civil Rights movement of the 50s.  In 1957, after a mandatory integration decision by the Supreme Court, the “Little Rock Nine,” entered the previously all-white school.  Per Wikipedia:

On the morning of September 23, 1957, the nine Black high school students faced an angry mob of over 1,000 Whites in front of Central High School who were protesting the integration project. As the students were escorted inside by the Little Rock police, violence escalated, and they were removed from the school. The next day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the 1,200-man 327th Airborne Battle Group of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to escort the nine students into the school. By the same order, he federalized the entire 10,000-man Arkansas National Guard, in order to remove them from the control of Governor Faubus.

The courage and determination of the Little Rock Nine is nothing short of heroic.  When you look at the façade of this enormous high school, it would be intimidating enough as a first-day experience for any student beginning school there. Add in a thousand people screaming hatred at you, cursing you as you walk up that long staircase, and the ability to find the courage to keep walking forward is something I can’t even imagine. 

Little Rock High Schoool

The Mississippi

We are now parked in West Memphis, Arkansas, directly on the Mississippi. This is the view from our front window.  That is a barge.  Life is good.
The View From Our Front Windshield

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is an area of the country we have yet to visit. I no longer do well in high humidity either so a vehicle would have been my choice of travel. Thanks for the tour and the great photos.