When I drive around Hot Springs there are some buildings who talk to me. They don’t “speak”, they talk, they chat away like an old buddy.
Central Park Fusion on Park Avenue used to be a bank branch. My dad designed it in the 60’s, I think. The beautiful rock wall that arches away from the building was such an elegant design touch. The curve and texture of that wall were perfect. Dad used volcanic rock so it would match the tuffa rock found in the National Park. The idiots who knocked a big hole in the wall make me and the building crazy (not the current restaurants owners). Because of the cantilevers and stone work it was one of my mother’s favorites. That building always talks to me about the power and importance of detail, even on the smallest projects.
The Arlington of course talks about all kinds of stuff. She wishes someone would fix her up again. She loves warm nights when couples and families sit on the veranda. We talk about nights when Alex and I were dating. We would visit the Arlington to hear the legendary Reggie Cravens play his stand up bass in the lobby. Alex would ask Reggie to play My Funny Valentine and we would dance and laugh along side the tourists.
I tease her about her Christmas decorations. They are ancient and shabby, but the squeaking made by that Santa and his
reindeer are the sound of Christmas for me.
The Ohio Club is such an extraordinary building it makes me smile. That gigantic and gorgeous back bar stuffed inside such and tiny and ornate building is ridiculous and wonderful. The Ohio Club, which is the oldest bar in Arkansas, is the reason we should all avoid chain restaurants and bars in strip malls. I’m so glad my buddy Mike Pettey has taken that building and restored so much of it’s exquisite history and beauty.
When my daughter, Mary was a little girl we’d listen to a guitar player, Mike Stanley, play at the Ohio Club. He’d sing John Prine’s “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” and Mary would dance away, shaking her butt and laughing hysterically.
The First Methodist Church has plenty to say. My grandfather was one of the architects who worked on the original sanctuary and it’s stunning. My dad designed the modern half of the building. He had Mexican artists create the three story Jesus mosaic who towers over Central Avenue, arms outstretched. I was a little girl when the building was under construction but I remember how upset my mom was when Daddy invited all the Mexican artists to the house for dinner without giving her warning. They filled the house with big smiles and dirty work clothes. Fortunately, they didn’t speak English so they didn’t understand my parents snarky remarks that night.
Sometimes the Methodist Church and I talk about my grandmother, Mooie. In order to coax the grand kids to be quite in church she kept a roll of Life Savers in her purple purse. ( Mooie never wore or carried anything that wasn’t purple). The Life Savers were always covered with lint from the bottom of her purple purse so we spent most of the time picking them clean.
The buildings talk and I listen. Makes driving through town pretty interesting.