Friday, September 19, 2014

Conceptions About Arkansas That Are Wrong.

This is Arkansas.
I tend to get up in arms about things that the average human being considers trivial. And sure, there’s adequate support for not being concerned about our state’s chosen native dessert, or the location of the most incredible Arkansas doughnuts, or why someone got our most prolific and representative chain restaurants wrong.

Still, what’s a blog for but to celebrate the trivial and entertain the masses?

This is also Arkansas.
Recently, the real estate website Movoto – which, as far as I’ve been able to tell, doesn’t really have any other reason for posting these lists about Arkansas than to drive people to its site to purchase homes – created a new piece of junk called “10 Signs You’ve Lived in Arkansas 
This too is Arkansas.
Too Long.” Now, other than not being a really good motivator for individuals considering The Natural State to find a home (what are you doing, Movoto? You’re drunk, go home), it’s actually a pretty offensive piece of sputum that doesn’t deserve the wide dispersal it’s received across the Internet. In fact, it saddens me that such a purulent article has found its way to postings on many of my friends’ social media pages. Alas.

Yes, Frank Bonner's from
Arkansas.  No, we don't
dress like that.
So, Movoto, since you obviously dredged your information about Arkansas from ancient Southwestern Conference football program flyers, old Herb Tarlick suits and classic episodes of both the Beverly Hillbillies and Hee Haw, here’s some education for you.

A Southern Arkansas Mulerider (courtesy
1. We did not all grow up, and do not all now speak, what you call “Hog Speak.” Nay, though many of us native to this state have rooted for the Arkansas Razorbacks, represented by that fine porcine beast, Arkansas also celebrates its other great schools and their mascots, including the Red Wolves, Trojans, Muleriders, Golden Lions, Boll Weevils and Cotton Blossoms, Wonderboys and Golden Suns, Bears, Reddies, Bison, Warriors and all the rest. Herb Tarlek may have carried around an Arkansas Razorback mug on WKRP, but his attire and attitude weren’t indicative of all of us.

Yes, there are many, many Razorback fans. But this “hog speak” is not practiced in schools by our children, nor is it common to just walk up to someone and ask them to call the Hogs. There’s a time and a place: in a football stadium, for instance. At a pep rally. In a bar full of sports fans, even. I hardly think you’ll hear “woo pig sooie” hollered in a communion or a movie theater. Hasn’t happened in the ones I’ve been to.

2. The Arkansas Delta tamale is not Mexican food. Honestly, bring a tamale from Mexico and serve it alongside one of the moist, fat-soaked tubular miracles from Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales or the hearty, beef-rich smooth and juicy packages from Pasquale’s Tamales. Heck, even alongside one of Lackey’s Tamales from Smokehouse Barbecue or a stack of golden marvels from Tamale Factory… they are as similar as Indian fry bread and Taco Bell.

Nay, immigrants and ethnic influences have elevated Arkansas’s Delta pride from a mere masa-cased meat-filled corn husk empanada to a sustaining, irresistible meal staple that, alongside duck and rice, marks the trinity of all that is holy in Delta foodstuffs. This writer apparently never journeyed west of the Mississippi into an endless plain broken by Crowley’s Ridge’s majesty, where roads run straight and sunsets last eternities. Better go learn about the history of the Arkansas Delta tamale before making such aimless assumptions.

3. Movoto’s writer decided to poke fun at the strong religious roots of many Arkansas families by posting this beauty:

The sign in question, by the way, stands hundreds of miles from our state’s borders. It’s actually located on I-65 in Alabama, between Birmingham and Montgomery. Way to check your facts there, Movoto (thanks, David!).

That's it. (Courtesy Shelli Russell)
There are signs encouraging church attendance, sure, but none of this sort. In particular, there is a longstanding sign in Benton that was once in a roadside field, now surrounded by homes and businesses, that simply states “WARNING: PREPARE TO MEET GOD.” Whether this sign was posted to welcome you to the Saline County burg or to inform you that God has made residence in the city, is open for interpretation.

The text that accompanies the photo, however, is equally as misleading. “You have lived here so long, that you hardly notice how, after just meeting someone, the first question they ask is your name and the second is what church you attend. It’s come to be expected,” the weblog says. Both are incorrect. Usually in a social setting, the first question is “do you require sustenance?” or, in some local vernaculars, “y’eet yet?”

4. The idea that randon gunshots have ceased to make natives flinch is misleading. There are times to flinch at gunshots, particularly when in the city or on a date. Certainly, the seasoned hunter waiting patiently in a tree stand for deer or sitting quietly in a duck blind fails to flinch when the first round goes off. But we aren’t so desensitized to hearing firearms as to dismiss them lightly.

Also, what is that, a pop gun? You can get a really good air rifle in Rogers at Daisy.

The insinuation that “most Arkansans own a gun or two, and sometimes they like to shoot at random things throughout the day” is incendiary, and is like to get you shot. Not all of us are big on firearms use. For instance, longswords and crossbows are the weapons of choice in my household.

5. While the term “coke” is regionally used to describe soft drinks, individuals in Arkansas are certainly smart enough to know that Coca-Cola is a proprietary brand name, and that Cokes aren’t made in flavors such as Pepsi, Monster and Minute Maid. In fact, while cola is consumed broadly throughout the state, we also celebrate the creation of fruit-inspired carbonated beverages Grapette and Orangette, developed by one Benjamin Tyndal Fooks in 1939. His multiple flavors also included Lemonette, Sunburst and Mr. Cola, and his sodas are the flavors generations of Arkansawyers savored in their youth. Grapette was so beloved by one man, Sam Walton, that the original recipe and name were obtained by Walmart and today you can find both it and Orangette on the shelves of the world’s largest retailer.

But as far as referring to those sweet carbonated beverages as “cokes,” you’ll find, is just as prevalent in Atlanta and New Orleans as it is here.

These states require purple paint tree posting.  Arkansas
allows for POSTED signs.
6. While purple paint is used to denote hunting lands in six states, in Arkansas it is more common to see the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s regulation that clearly states “Signs may be placed not more than 100 feet apart and at each road entrance. The signs shall bear the words “POSTED” and/or “NO TRESPASSING” in letters at least 4 inches tall. Signs shall be readily visible to a person approaching the property.” Many of these signs will bear the name of the hunting club or family that owns the land. To hunt in these areas, you need written permission – unless you are related to the landowner, in which verbal agreement will suffice.

Growing up and visiting relations in southwest Arkansas, it was not uncommon to see where properties met, a series of different colored paint blocks. These were usually white, yellow, blue, pink, or whatever color paint the landowner had left over after some project. Purple was unusual.

7. Very few individuals keep Dramamine, and it’s unlikely you’ll just “end up” on the Pig Trail. Arkansas Highway 23 is one of many extraordinary, gorgeous drives in western Arkansas, and during fall it’s knock-out magnificent. But happening upon it by chance and still choosing to drive it would be the driver’s decision. And anyone who’d usually choose to drive the stretch from Ozark to near Fayetteville would probably be used to its hairpins and curves.

Any of you remember climbing the tower at Mount Gayler
along US Highway 71?
Most people take I-49 up from Alma to Fayetteville these days for Razorback games. Its sweeping stretches provide grand views of valleys below, and there’s a tunnel (the only one in Arkansas), and the speed limit is 70 miles an hour. Those choosing a slower route usually opt for the Boston Mountain Loop of old US Highway 71, which once was crowded and sometimes dangerous but which now offers magnificent views, quaint shops and access to Lake Fort Smith State Park, a jewel itself.

Hunter loves the snow.  Taken in January.
Or June.  Or sometime in the past five years.
8. The idea that Arkansas is any more weatherprone than any other state in the nation is problematic. Sure, we have tornadoes, hot spells, cold spells, the occasional ice storm, infrequent cycles of cicadas and the potential to one day have an earthquake – but we aren’t bothered by hurricanes, volcanoes, blizzards, tsunamis, sandstorms, glacial shifts or swarms of bees. What we do have, we prepare for as best we can.

While living here means you might encounter an ice storm, a flood and a tornado in the span of a week and a half, it also means you get to experience all four seasons in their fullest splendor. And if you’ve ever experienced a gorgeous Arkansas October, you’d understand that.

Know why it's called a tourist trap? It
traps the tourists. Those would be folks from
not around here.
9. Of course we know about Booger Hollow. Every person who watched TV during the 1992 presidential election cycle knows about Booger Hollow. It’s a shame property ownership issues kept it closed after the 2006 season. But we also have the Little Rock River Market District, Hot Springs Bathhoue Row and – oh, yeah, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Focusing on one two-story bathhouse is just another attempt to paint us as a bunch of hicks.

10. The last point in this piece is the only thing you really got right.
Arkansas folks are friendly. We still talk to strangers, and we still try to help one another out. If that makes us uncivilized, well, your definition of uncivilized is different from mine. And if it’s a sign that we’ve been in Arkansas too long, then by golly, seems like a good idea to just stay put. When your writer decides to come visit and actually see what Arkansas is like, we’ll welcome her, too.
And this is also Arkansas.

Oh, and one more thing. Arkie – or Arky – can be considered a condescending term. Mind your manners when you get here, and keep language like that under wraps.


  1. you got that right , Kat

  2. You did an amazing job with this! Thank you for standing up for Arkansas and Arkansans!

  3. I never bothered to click on the original link but I'm glad I didn't. Your article explained it well enough while disputing it. Great job and entertaining!

  4. Great arguments while keeping your cool. I'm afraid I would have been a little more irritated. :-)

    Deborah Brauser

  5. You just made this Arkansan living in Dallas very, very proud. Also, your description of the Arkansas Delta in a previous post is both strikingly vivid and poignant. I grew up in Arkansas County, home of the Duck Gumbo and the Coon Supper, and I couldn't have put it better myself. Thank you. Also, this blog just earned "bookmark status" on my computer toolbar. Best wishes and keep up the good work!

  6. oh this is awesome. brought a tear to my eyes. Thank you for this! :D


Be kind.