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REX NELSON: Visiting the cemetery

Subscriber onlyIt's peaceful as we stand under the big magnolia trees at Helena's Confederate Cemetery on this hot Saturday in May. Confederate Cemetery, set high on Crowley's Ridge, is part of the larger Maple Hill Cemetery. I'm here with a group from Little Rock. We're spending the day touring the Delta on the Arkansas and Mississippi sides of the river. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: A city awakens

Subscriber onlySomething touched a nerve. Following the announcement that Arkansas Repertory Theatre was suspending operations due to financial difficulties, I wrote a column headlined "Wake up, Little Rock." Continue reading...

REX NELSON: Unstoppable momentum

Subscriber onlyWhen I walked into The Vault, the new fine-dining venue at 723 Central Ave. in Hot Springs, I felt as if I were somewhere other than the Spa City. You see, I was only 8 years old in 1967 when Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller shut down casino gambling. For most of my life, downtown Hot Springs was a neighborhood whose best days were in the past. The popularity of the baths had been declining since the late 1940s. With illegal yet wide-open gambling gone by 1967, downtown lost its appeal. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: Calling all Texans

Subscriber onlyA crowd gathered earlier this month in front of the old Citizens Bank Building on Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs. Among those at the event were two members of the state's congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. John Boozman and U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: Raising hell in the Ozarks

Subscriber onlyHistorian Blake Perkins begins and ends his book on the history of defiance in the Ozarks with events I remember well. He starts with a violent episode in Lawrence County that ended the life of extremist Gordon Kahl in the summer of 1983. He ends with the rise of the Tea Party almost three decades later. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: Playing to strengths

Subscriber onlyThe last time we checked in with Gary Brinkley back in January, the Arkadelphia city manager was attempting to inject some fresh thinking into my beloved but often cliquish hometown. Brinkley spent almost two decades as the general manager of Stockyards Station, the shopping and dining component of the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. He even served as chairman of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: The stagnant city

Subscriber onlyA week ago, I asked a question in this column: Do talented young people across the state still want to move to Little Rock? Having grown up and attended college in Arkadelphia, I couldn't wait to move to Little Rock at age 22 in 1981. Continue reading...

Easy going: To avoid pitfalls that come with taking I-40 to Memphis, central Arkansas travelers have option of oldie but goodie

Subscriber onlyAll you have to do is mention the drive from Little Rock to Memphis on Interstate 40, and the tales of woe start coming. Continue reading...

Go East, young man

Subscriber onlyJacob DeVall and his son Chappel found a place along the lower White River in the 1840s and established a mercantile store there. What would become DeValls Bluff in Prairie County has had fewer than 1,000 residents since the Civil War. It reached its post-war high-water mark with 924 residents in the 1910 census and was down to 619 people in the most recent census. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: One-eyed fat man

Subscriber onlyI think of Fort Smith as the Rooster Cogburn of Arkansas. There are plenty of Arkansans who consider this state's second-largest city to be a "one-eyed fat man," the same way Ned Pepper viewed the deputy U.S. marshal who was hunting him down in True Grit. Continue reading...

Wake up, Little Rock

Subscriber onlyI couldn't wait to move to this state's largest city after finishing college in 1981. A job in the sports department of the Arkansas Democrat awaited, and I found a furnished apartment on Rebsamen Park Road. The Buffalo Grill and Faded Rose would soon open, providing me two good choices for lunch that were within walking distance of my apartment. I went to work in the middle of the afternoon and left the newsroom after 11 p.m., often stopping for a late supper at the Steak & Egg Kitchen at the bottom of Cantrell Hill. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: A city with grit

Subscriber onlyIn Little Rock last weekend, people gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of True Grit, a novel by native Arkansan Charles Portis. The celebration included music from Iris DeMent and a panel featuring nationally known writers Roy Blount Jr. and Calvin Trillin. There was a screenwriting panel; a screening of the 1969 movie True Grit, which stars Arkansan Glen Campbell, Kim Darby, Robert Duvall and John Wayne in his only Oscar-winning performance; and a screening of the 2010 version of the movie, which was directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and stars Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: Marking an anniversary

Subscriber onlyMonday will mark the 215th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. On April 30, 1803, Robert Livingston, who was the U.S. minister to France, and James Monroe signed the Louisiana Purchase Treaty in Paris. It has been described as the greatest real estate deal ever. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: State's internment camps

Subscriber onlyActor George Takei was in McGehee last week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the World War II Japanese American Internment Museum, which is in the city's former depot. Continue reading...

REX NELSON: Lynching in Arkansas

Subscriber onlyIt's not a pleasant subject. It was swept under the rug for decades in Arkansas. It was the taboo topic that wasn't discussed in polite company. For those reasons, Bullets and Fire: Lynching and Authority in Arkansas, 1840-1950 is one of the most important books ever published by the University of Arkansas Press. Continue reading...

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