Out On The Mudline

Arkansas Auto Journey Recalls Horseback Trip

By W. P. Sissell

The Trip

As we moved westward along Arkansas 64, I began to see a line of sharply rising hills to our front. There looming in front of us was Crowley’s Ridge.

There’s a family story in my mother-in-law’s family about this ridge. Her family lived on the Stafford Farm some distance from Oakland, Tenn. They called their farm there “Dark Corner” and it actually was at the end of the road where you either turned left or went into the Loosahatchie River. This is where my wife, Nannette, went many summers to spend time with her grandmother and grandfather Stafford along with a bevy of aunts and uncles. There were ten living children in the family of Eula Blanch and Monroe Isom Stafford.

The firstborn of the couple was Dora. At a very young age Dora was taken, in Momma’s arms as she rode horseback, to  visit Eula Blanch’s kinsfolk who lived in one of the communities on Crowley’s Ridge.

The point that makes the trip interesting to me is that Eula made the trip riding a sidesaddle. A part of our collection of memorabilia includes Eula’s sidesaddle which we had rebuilt in the saddlery at Bellfontaine, Mississippi many years ago.     

It took us about two hours to cover the distance from Memphis to Crowley’s Ridge—most of the time at seventy miles per hour on the three-two lane Arkansas highway 64. If you add the distance from “Dark Corner” to Memphis we would get about another hours drive. The question that came up was how long did it take Eula’s party on horseback?

Our Trip’s Purpose

Early on in friend Bob Samuels illness the decision had been made mutually that when Bob and Mary told us to come we would do that immediately. There were many calls and then the call came. This trip we were making was the trip before the extensive surgery took place. By the time you read this that will have occurred.

We found Bob looking better than we had expected. Rather than the couple of hours as planned the visit lasted about four. Lots of you who read this will know that Nannette and Mary have been close friends almost all their lives. I think that Mary is a few days older than Nannette and one of them was born at the top of a hill and the other at the bottom –the same hill—in a place called Taylor, Miss.

At Camp Ground Elementary Bob was a year behind me in attendance. We played together on the Junior High School athletic teams and were good friends.

The surgery, to be done at the hospital in Little Rock, and some of the procedures proposed and accepted by the family are new. Like a lot of other things that have come about in Bob’s life, Bob is ready to accept the risk. We along with them covet your prayers. Bob Samuels looked me straight in the eye and said—“Bill I’m ready to accept whatever risk there is.”

Our wish for you is a great week. It has been threatening rain most of the afternoon—our thunderstorm warning went off several hours ago. Our grandson, William, has spent most of the afternoon trying to find the owner of a stray horse that has been wandering on the roadways. He did finally find him.  People should always remember that if you have livestock they’ll find a place to get through most any fence.

Thanks for your compliments. I’m about to forget to tell you that Nannette and I spent a couple of hours with our longtime friend, Bill Trusty. We shared many pleasant moments. I will share many of them with you in the coming weeks.

 You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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