19 July 2014--That "Bubba" would, of course, be Bill Clinton...just in case you hadn't figured it out. haha
Got here to Little Rock late Wednesday afternoon and we're leaving this morning, Saturday, so this entry is basically a whirlwind tour of the immediate area. FYI alert: Arkansas is called "the natural state" because it is the only diamond-producing state in the country...that's a diamond on their otherwise plain license plate.
We stayed a literal stone's throw from the Clinton Library, in this city-owned RV Park on the Arkansas River. In the 1st picture is the Clinton Presidential Bridge, one of 7 bridges that crosses the river in a 6-mile stretch from here. The bridge was built back in the late 1800s for the railroads, but was revamped and rededicated as a walking/bicycling-only bridge in 2011. Interestingly, 3 of the 7 bridges here are walking/bicycling only.
You can't see it in these pics, but directly on the far side of the bridge is the Clinton Library, and behind Cathy in the 2nd picture is downtown Little Rock.
The 2nd pic here shows the Presidential Park, and if you blow it up you can see on the left a walking/biking trail that is the start of a 14-mile round-trip trail along and over the river that would lead right back to our RV Park. They have trails and parks all along the river that stretch for 34 miles, but we couldn't take any bike rides due to the weather. Unfortunately, it rained or threatened rain the 2 full days we were here.
Here is something we haven't seen before...all along the trails are these bicycle repair stations, with tools and even an air pump. How thoughtful! haha
As the weather called for more rain Friday than Thursday, we headed out for the Little Rock Central High School as our 1st stop. We have all seen pictures and clips of these images on TV, but they have a Visitor's Center across from the school that was very interesting nonetheless.
This is the actual school the 9 students tried to integrate, surprisingly still in use today, and it is amazingly huge! Actually 2 city blocks long and 150,000 sq ft of space. Needless to say my camera couldn't take it all in one shot, so this is just the main entrance area.
I had forgotten that the then-governor of Arkansas had initially used the National Guard to keep the 9 black students from entering the school.
I had seen the 2nd picture before, but notice the almost violently angry white woman in the middle of that picture...that was 1957, and in the 3rd picture are both the black and white woman in 1997, in a pic titled "Reconciliation". I have to hand it to the white lady, cause if it was me, I am not sure I wouldn't be too embarrassed to show up even 40 years later. haha
Blaming it on a "power grab" by the federal government, (where have we heard that before?), they actually closed the schools in 1958...I don't think I knew that, or if I ever did, I forgot.
In a section of the exhibit on the constitution, here they lay out how slavery was incorporated into the constitution while never saying the word. The top of each pic gives the constitutional wording, while the bottom tells us what it actual means/meant.
Another little fun fact...the 2nd pic here tells us where the phrase "grandfathered in" comes from.
Some upstanding citizens from Maryland in 1956...you gotta love the one that says "integration is communism"! People actually were told, and truly believed, that integration was a communist plot to destroy traditional values. Again, that wording sounds both familiar and current! haha
In a section titled "Not Just a Southern Problem", it pains me to say here is Boston, in a time we remember all too well.
And Native Peoples...don't miss the writing here, especially the 2nd and 3rd pics.
And good for them...they included women, too!
So from the Little Rock 9 Center we headed just a few blocks over to the "new" State House, begun in 1899 but not finished till 1915 due to in-fighting. Their state motto, "Regnat Populus" means "The People Rule" in Latin. The legislature is another "part-time" body, meeting only 90 days a year in odd years and 30 days a year in even years (budget years).
Their state flag started with only 3 stars, in the white field, which you can read about, if you want to, in the 2nd pic. haha The 4th star wasn't added till a law was passed in 1923, calling for it to represent their membership in the Confederacy during the Civil War. (Not sure that was called for--haha.)
Most of the building couldn't be captured in a pic because of the way it was laid out, but the staircases and ceiling were pretty, the ceiling of the House of Representatives was cool with the drapes, and that last pic, of the guy in the center, Cathy thought he looked like "Mad-Eye Moody" from the Harry Potter series so we included him. haha
Off to the "Old" State House, built in 1836 and used till 1911. Bill Clinton announced his candidacy for president from here and his wins for both terms in 1992 & 1996.
Most of the exhibits inside were of the history of the building, but more interesting were exhibit rooms on the "bicycle", "period" displays, and movies related to Arkansas. Love the wooden bike from the 1890s.
And Susan B. Anthony.
And bikes given to Hillary and Bill. Hillary's says "First Lady" on the Guard Rail.
There were actually 2 period rooms, this one from the Daughters of the American Revolution and another from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I don't know what it is about those names, but I have always found them to be funny...just sounds a little absurd to me. And crazy as it may sound, the harp has always made me laugh, too. I just picture some woman (always a woman, right?) in a long dress from the 1800s playing it in her leisure time. Just something foolish about it, no?! haha
You gotta love that Bill! And I included Alan Ladd because I remember my mother telling me that he was so short he supposedly had to stand on a box when being filmed with his leading ladies. And finally, the poster of "The Town that Dreaded Sundown"...Ellen, do you remember seeing that at the drive-in with Karen and me? It was supposed to be a scary movie, but we continuously laughed at it from the opening credits. haha
Saturday was not only overcast, but cool enough that shorts and t-shirt just wouldn't cut it. In the 60s all day, but we bravely headed to the "Big Dam Bridge", the 7th bridge and 6 miles from where we were staying. Built between 1998 and 2006, it is 4226 feet long and is the longest walking and biking bridge in the world built exclusively for that purpose.
You can see guys fishing in the 1st pic here...a sign said large predator fish, like catfish and sturgeon, gather at the base of dams because they know that small "feeder fish", like bream, come through the locks so fast they are disoriented, and therefore easier prey. Who knew?
Looking down river, and info about how Native Americans were shipped on this river to Oklahoma as part of the government's relocation efforts.
All of the bridges are lit up at night.
Almost thru for the day, we walked over to the Clinton Library. The building isn't actually curved, but was too wide to capture in a regular shot, so the panoramic view from the phone took this.
A special exhibit included a room and displays throughout of blown glass by some world famous blower named Chihully. I have always liked blown glass, so here are a few pics...so pretty!
After being to a few of these libraries, I would have to say we liked the Johnson Library the best, but this wasn't too bad. Too much information, as always, but to his credit his is the 2nd least expensive to get into. Johnson's was free (not the reason we liked it best--haha), Clinton's only $5 each to get in, while Reagan's was the most expensive.
Just a few highlights. (I barely remember Hillary that young, and have no recall of her at all looking that thin! haha Look at her dancing.)
There was a small section on Hillary's individual accomplishments and her run for Senate while Bill was still president. I await her next run with baited breath! haha
A section on the opposition and impeachment, but it was too irritating to relive. haha
I guarantee you that most military people would tell you that Reagan and Bush 2 were the biggest military supporters...facts are funny things, huh? And an exact replica of the Oval Office when Bill was there.
And finally, a walk along the river and to the River Market section of town. The River Market is somewhat like Fanueil Hall in Boston, but far smaller.
The 3rd walking/biking bridge, the Junction Bridge, was built for the railroads in 1884 but converted to pedestrian use only in 2008. This actually has an elevator and/or stairs you have to take to get up to the walking part and it remains in the raised position for barges to get through. The last picture is looking down from the bridge at a submarine in use at their maritime museum.
So that was a long entry, but only 2 days of sightseeing for us...far more interesting than we thought, especially with all the bike trails and parks. The weather didn't cooperate, but we will definitely come back here again for a week or two.