Posts Tagged ‘Fountain Lake’

Things Are Different in Fountain Lake

A Recent Addition At A Motorcycle Shop

This is fairly new to the neighborhood. It’s parked outside a motorcycle repair store on Highway 5.

I’ve lived in the community of Fountain Lake, Arkansas with my husband for 25 years. It’s about ten miles outside of Hot Springs.

Fountain Lake is on Highway 5/Park Avenue, which used to be the old Little Rock Highway. For more than 150 years (I’m guessing) wagons, stagecoaches then cars traveled to and from from the state capital on Highway 5/Park Avenue.

All this to say, Highway 5 is one of the oldest roads in the area. And it shows.

Nice Windows, Nice Door…No Roof

Everyday for 25 years I’ve driven past all kinds of unusal/funky and quirky landmarks in Fountain Lake. Some old, some newer…but all of them are beautiful, interesting or weird.

I believe Fountain Lake is  different than  other Garland County Communities. Kids who grow up in this area generally stay here and their kids go to Fountain Lake.

Often times we are a little suspicious of new folks.  We have lots of churches, one bar Buzz Too but the heart of the community is the school and the Shell Station at the Junction of Highways 5 and 7.  For a long long time that gas station was called David and David’s, and still is by old timers.   And the ladies that worked at David and David’s seemed to have a pretty tight clique that favored men.  It took me a long time to gain acceptance at the gas station when I first moved in with Alex.  But the ladies loved him!

Most of us have driven past all of these locations so many times we really don’t pay much attention.

Fountain Lake, it’s really kind of different out here.

A failed pizza joint that tried to turn into an Escape Room. For a while there was no “e” on the big escape room sign. This is what it looks like now. A little creepy. But it’s right there on the side of the road.


Arbordale was a terrific swimming destination in the 30s and 40s, with docks, diving boards, paddle boats. People danced to live music back in the day!

Arbordale was a terrific swimming destination in the 30s and 40s, with docks, diving boards, paddle boats. People danced to live music back in the day!

Fountain Lake used to have a Motel! This sign still stands on the side of the road across from the Fountain Lake Middle School.

I just love these mailboxes across the street from the school. Not sure who’s they were.


I really don’t know what this sign means. Either they have questions or maybe answers.


I absolutely  love that this big tent pops up several times a year, right in front of the bar, Buzz Too for a church revival, and after the revival it sometimes turns into a fireworks stand!


I Lost My Friend….To Gossip

graveyardLosing a friend, when you are an adult, is terrible, seriously something horrible, especially if you are a woman.  When you are a kid you have a gang, so losing one …plus or minus…is bad but it’s ok.

I lost a very dear and cherished friend about a year ago and I still ache. I have a million “friends” but very few (maybe two) friends I let into the inner circle of my family, that I trust with secrets and worries and concerns. And I only had one that I trusted with the truth about my life and my children and my family. Just one. Some people are blessed with a gaggle.

So, I found out one day because a loud mouth  twenty something chef said something like, “oh, your best friend said your daughter is a habitual liar, charming, but can’t be trusted.” When I asked my dear and beautiful friend she said yes, it was true.  Late at night, at a party and lots of beers she had made that kind of statement.

At first, I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have anyone to talk to because she was gone.  I knew I could no longer trust her with my worries and concerns.  I knew I loved her so much I would always tell her the truth and share my life with her. So I had to “divorce” a friend I loved and needed so much.  It’s a friendly divorce, because I still lover her desperately and wish her well. But I can never trust again.

My husband is a dude. When he heard the story he was quick to say, “cut her off,” but he doesn’t seem to need friends.  Family is all he needs.  I needed her.

To this day I still don’t have any one like her. I don’t have a dear dear friend that I can trust one hundred percent.There is a gaping hole in my life and heart.She is lucky and lovely and has moved on and has lots of friends and pals and support.  We are different animals.

So, bottom line. If you have a friend, don’t take that for granted, especially if you are an adult. Cherish and protect that friendship.  Some of us are lucky and have a whole gang of grown up pals, some of us only have a select and coveted few.

Always take care.


The Meanest bus Driver On The Planet

cobraSchool starts in four days and I have to worry about a lot of stuff for my kids. Will Sandor be alright in the new middle school building.  Will Lexie keep her grade point above a 3.5, will she get all her college stuff filled out in time, will Sandor take school seriously or develop a toxic case of  “boy disease “, will I get a new cowbell for this year’s football season? (the clanker fell out of me last year).


Thankfully there’s one thing I don’t have to worry about. Our school bus. For more than fifteen years my kids have had the same bus driver. Coach R. He’s a monster, he’s strict/mean/harsh/scary. And  he’s the best bust driver on the planet. The man doesn’t take &*%# from anybody and rules his school bus like Russian Prime Minister. It’s a beautiful thing.

This summer Sandor and Sam went to day camp. Every morning I waiting in the parking lot for the big yellow school bus to arrive and take them to a day filled with ponies, zip lines, catfish, canoes and bible verses. They loved camp but HATED the bus ride. When I asked them why Sandor said, “The bus driver is terrible, she doesn’t care about anything! So every body screams the whole time, they all throw stuff like pencils, kick the back of the seats and fall out into the isle when we go around a corner and she doesn’t say anything, ever!”

Sam was nodding his blonde head in agreement, “She doesn’t care what we do, Miss Diana. It’s like she’s deaf or something.”

They were two indigent little boys, frustrated by the obvious lack of leadership and adult supervision.

(Sidebar: Adults…most kids want order and supervision. They count on us, the adults in their lives, to make rules and set limits. If you are a lame ass grown up who lets kids get away with anything because you want to be the “cool parent” you are an idiot and you are letting your kids down. Now, some body please help me off this soapbox).

Last year I had to sit in a court room and watch a video from a local school bus. For ten minutes a girl was picked on, smacked, tormented, yelled at and bullied. Kids were standing up, yelling and obnoxious. The bus driver didn’t do a damn thing for twelve minutes.  Her defense? “I didn’t’ want to mess up my schedule.”

That kind of stuff does not happen on Coach R’s bus. Little kids sit up front and are safe, nobody screams or nobody goes home. If he suspects there’s something wrong at a house or nobody is home, he keeps the little kids on the bus with him. there is law and order every day on Coach R’s bus and Everybody knows who the Sheriff is and they know he genuinely cares about them.

I have put my kids on the same bus for fifteen years knowing they would be safe and protected.

I thank the Lord for giving my family the meanest bus driver ever. He’s wonderful

A Fountain Lake Song with Tattoos and Explosives

jack and theoJack wrote this Fountain Lake, Arkansas/ Fourth of July/ Love Song when he was in Turkey a couple of years ago. I thought all you Cobra kids would appreciate  the story


Tattoos and Fireworks

by Jack Hampo

Well, I woke up this morning with sunglasses on and I don’t remember writin’ this song

and I’ve been laying in this bed too long, can’t quite picking up my old bong.

And I think it’s because I’m afraid of you and what you might do, when you see my new tattoo.

Last night is a haze and I think I know why  I got this empty bottle laying by my side and a bunch of texts about

a double wide and no accomplices in sight.

And I think I broke into a fireworks stand before I got this tattoo on my hand.

So I’m going down town try and figure it out but Highway five is blocked gotta find another route.

I hope this isn’t what i think it’s about.  There’s a trailer in the road with it’s guts blown out.

And I think this tattoo ain’t all that bad,  I blew up your house and that’s why you’ll be mad.

And I’d apologize if you’d ever pick up your phone .

Sorry I blew up your mobile home.




Poor Kids Are Awesome

A few days ago my son, Jack, said “growing up poor was awesome.”

I pressed him to explain what the hell he was talking about.  As far as I’m concerned being poor is not awesome, it’s not even kind-of-cool. Being poor sucks and ranks right up there with having the chicken pox.

First, I want to state, we have never been poor.  When Jack and Mary were little, we were clinging to the lower end of middle class but we were never poor.  Jack and Mary however, love telling stories about their glorious, impoverished, redneck childhood.

When they were little, we never went on vacations. Instead, we spent almost every weekend in the summer playing in the creek not far from the house. I would pack up their friends, Bryce and Kay, some cheap red sodas and crackers.  They would slide around on the little rock water fall for hours and we would catch army’s of crawdads, then then turn them all loose.

One winter we couldn’t afford to go to the skating rink in Little Rock so we tried to make one in the yard with a giant piece of plastic and the garden hose. It didn’t work but we laughed a lot.

All their clothes came from Wal-Mart. Until Jack was in 6th grade. The whole family was ridiculous proud of his first expensive pair of  shoes.  Alex paid $80 for a pair of And One basketball shoes. The entire team was impressed. Back then, it was a really big deal when anyone at Fountain Lake got a new pair of Nikes much less And Ones.

Ok, we were pretty broke most of the time. The kids never qualified for free lunches but I do remember, after church we would roll through the Burger King drive through and get one happy meal. One child got the burger and one got the fries and they split the drink.  A two happy meal day was a really big deal.

At least once a year Alex had to pawn his 9 mm hand gun so we could buy school supplies (those cost 120 for both kids) or buy Christmas presents.  But we always paid off the loan and and got his gun back. Good news now Alex has an arsenal and he hasn’t pawned anything in years.

But all their  friends were in the same shabby economic party barge so they didn’t realize just how broke we were. We had food, electricity and a lot of fun. I grew up wealthy so at least once a week I had a meltdown but the truth is the kids were really, really happy and well adjusted.

The really great thing about kids who grow up on a shoe string….they are  very easy to impress. Great big malls, elaborate Christmas lights, concerts and nice shoes make them so happy.

Kids who grow up with money, in big cities, are rarely in awe…of anything. They’ve already seen better. But poor kids are pretty excited about everything, they’re amazed, the recognize the beauty, they marvel and smile.

My youngest son, Sandor, still says, “Oh my goodness” when we walk into the Hot Springs Mall at Christmas time.  And our Mall is tiny, but Sandor who is nine, thinks its magical. (And yes, he really says “oh my goodness”, he also plays football so don’t make fun of him.) Imagine how he’ll react when he sees Rockefeller Center or Big Ben.

Maybe Jack and Dolly Parton are right. There is a noble magic to growing up almost poor.  I just hope that sense of wonder and awe  stay with my kids for the rest of their lives.

Friday Night American Warriors

It’s just Wednesday but I’m already thinking about this weekend. I’m starting to twitch.The Fountain Lake Cobra football team is in the semi-finals.  They weren’t supposed to be. I want to thank them for thrilling me all season.

Friday mornings…are  awesome.On Friday mornings when I drive around the school I get to see all the senior high players in their big purple jerseys. They stand together, they swagger together. The girls bump up against them and everybody laughs.

If it’s a home game the colossal lights will be turned on in the afternoon and the field will glow as the sun sets. School busses from other towns will roll onto campus. They are strangers and they don’t wear purple. The stadium is beautiful and pristine, waiting for the Friday night warriors.

 Most of our boys are sweet guys, they hug their moms and their mom’s friends. They throw footballs at the little boys who wear jerseys on Fridays too, hoping they will some day be able to take the field when the stands are packed and the home crowd cheers and rings cowbells. Alumni in skinny jeans and hightops and camo, faded overalls and ball caps line up, shoulder to shoulder to cheer.

The Cobra players are all just teen-age boys, all on the verge of becoming men, taking care of business, getting a job done, for their school, for their fans and for a tiny Arkansas community built around the purple and gold Cobras.

No matter what happens this weekend the Cobra football team has given us  all so much this season. They have played  hard, they have come from behind and they never quit in the 4th quarter. The boys have made everyone in the community proud to say we are from Fountain Lake.

*Please write me at hampoland@gmail.com or leave a comment. That makes my day!  This story is a re-write from earlier in the season.