Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Visiting old friends never gets old

Lots of places we haven’t seen and tons of relaxing is something we badly needed on our trip to Tennessee. And although we didn’t get to go as far and see as much as we would have wanted, because of some unfortunate RV problems and the extreme heat, the trip still involved visiting with some old Heavenerite friends and that was something we wanted, too. We traveled 1250 miles, going through five states, but the few days we spent with Jackie and husband Ken Alsup in Arkansas, along with Larry and Sharon Pennington in Memphis, were of the utmost importance.

Cynthia didn’t know Jackie and Ken before last year, but the time with them in Missouri was so fun-filled, we knew that this time in Arkansas would be the same way. They chauffeured us around Eureka Springs and the surrounding area of Northwest Arkansas, took us places that were gorgeous and places to eat that were scrumptious. Ken is a tour guide by trade and now that he has retired, we are certainly happy for him, but the sightseers in Missouri will suffer from his loss. Ken drove us around places and showed us some towns where he would like to live, but Jackie has told him, emphatically, “No!” They intend to move to Fort Smith as soon as they can sell their house in Lampe, MO. Good for them. They won’t be much closer to us, but you can rest assured, we’ll see them a little more often. Tyler to Fort Smith isn’t so far. And vice versa.

Larry and Sharon were as gracious in Memphis as Ken and Jackie were in Arkansas. They took us a couple of places to eat that were also memorable. One Italian restaurant the first night and the next night a catfish place that was to die for. Wray’s Fin n’ Feather. Seems Wray used to work with Sharon and retired. But after a couple years, he sat up in bed one night and announced to his wife, “I know what I want to do, “Put in a catfish restaurant!” He had always caught catfish and had fish fries, and people told him the fish was so good, he should consider opening an eatery. The rest is history.

With his own recipe he fried catfish like no other. Larry had said it was the best he’d ever eaten and I tend to agree. We went to Larry and Sharon’s house in Olive Branch, MS afterwards for some homemade strawberries and shortcake. Mmmm. Larry is an accountant and after years as administrator with a huge Methodist church, he is now working with the Memphis Boys & Girls clubs. Sharon, granddaughter of the late Buck Olive of Heavener, works for a funeral home in Olive Branch in the pre-needs area. Larry is also friends with Jackie, since they know each other from their days in Heavener. Larry was in the Class of ’67 with Jackie’s brother, Charlie Garrett. Jackie, of course, was in the Class of ’65. Larry and I were always good friends growing up in Heavener and both served in Viet Nam in 1969, Larry with the Army and me with the Air Force. We actually saw each other while we over there.

Next blog: sights in eastern Tennessee and around Memphis.

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