ARKANSAS: Capone, Clinton, and Cornbread

The Fall colors are still blazing here the week before Thanksgiving. The rolling, forested hills are a welcome relief from the flat prairies of OK and the Top of Texas. Hot Springs, AR is a charming town for a hot soak, gangster tour and BBQ. Although most of the 47 springs have been capped, there is one next to the Arlington Hotel where it is left to flow down the hillside. Otherwise you can go to 2 bathhouses for private or public baths. During Prohibition this town was jumping! Gambling and booze were available as the police were well paid to look the other way. Gangsters like Al Capone travelled in tunnels from the hotels to the gambling halls; Lucky Luciano was arrested by the g-men while hiding out here.

So much history makes you hungry. That, and reading John T. Edges book, Southern Belly. He is well respected in the Southern Food Alliance; when he says something is still great because it is made exactly as it was by the grandparents, we have been counseled to believe it and go there. We study his book, and we eat. We try new things, and then dab the last of the sauce, pick up the last crumbs with our fingers, and wonder how much exercise would be required to burn off the ribs with 3 sides. McClard’s in Hot Springs is one such spot, as is Lindsey’s in Little Rock. Lindsey’s has the unusual, “Fried Pies” (peach or apple, of course we had to try both!) Lindsey’s was also our first fried, hot water corn bread, a crispy, dense and hearty delight the size of your thumb…and of course Eleanor is the very friendly daughter-in-law of the owner, who keeps coming in just to make sure the “children” are still doing it right.  They are, she reports. We certainly cannot disagree…she brought us a smoked link on the house just to make sure we didn’t miss anything! I tried to take pictures of the food, but it looked disgusting. I guess food photography is a unique art form, beyond my abilities at present.

President Clinton Museum is a gorgeous cantilevered building overlooking the Arkansas River. It is filled with gifts received from foreign dignitaries, timelines of his accomplishments, photos, speeches, documents, and accomplishments (but no blue dress with semen sample!)

We caught the end of the “Mothers” exhibit, introduced by Chelsea Clinton, with material about her grandmothers. Bill Clinton’s mom was a hoot! Narcissistic, dramatic, extravagant. He must have loved to make his mother laugh. Whereas Hill’s mom is purely smart and pragmatic, as noted in the quote above.  Both are clearly warm and generous women.

We missed Bill’s visit to the museum last week, but I enjoyed hanging out with Hillary. I wore my signature Hillary pantsuit for the occasion but she upstaged me with the blue suit. She is a hard one to follow as she has won the mileage plus award; she is the Secretary of State who has put in the most miles representing our nation’s interests and in pursuit of whirled peas. I got to shake her hand once in San Francisco on Julia’s dare. Of the gazillion women trying for the same thing, I yelled, “Hillary for President” (a year before she announced her intention to run) and she reached over other people to shake my hand.





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About Sally

A Studio Artist and painter trained at Stanford university, Sally has since then graduated from a long career as an Attorney with the Public Defender, and returned to painting. Living in Mexico with her son for a year, they adopted a feral dog, Lety. Sally's son left for college and their dog adopted her new best friend, Steven.

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