Elderhostel Trip to Ozark Folk Center - Day 2 June 2005
The Group Boards the Bus
The bus picked us up at 8:00 for breakfast. After breakfast we had a few minutes and I loaded the page for the First Day with access through the office ether-net thanks to Jimmy Edwards. The first event of the day was a lecture by Elliot Hancock about the original settlers in these parts. He said that it was settled mostly by Scots-Irish who had left the lowlands of Scotland to escape the English and highland Scots. They moved to Northern Ireland were that was still interference from the English so they moved on to the colonies. There they moved to the Appalachian Mountains to get away from the English along the coast. They were a very independent group of people. Because of the difficulty of travel in the mountains these people maintained the original lifestyle for a much longer time than did others in the United States. The result was that their strange speech and mannerisms gave others the impression that they were ignorant, unlearned people. But they were able to survive by the wits and used what was available to provide the necessities of life.
The music of these people is what was none as mountain or country music years ago and the Ozark Folk Center tries to maintain the old music by limiting what they do to music as it existed before 1941. The Folk Center came about in an odd way. The citizens of Mountain View found out that the government was helping finance public water and sewer systems and they needed one. However, the population was considered to be to small for a government grant. A government official came up from Little Rock in the early 1960s during one of the early Mountain View Folk Music Festivals and told them he had an idea to get their water and sewer put in. He said that they should start the Folk Center with a government grant and then as tourists came to visit, the population would then be considered big enough for a water and sewer government grant. And so it was that about 10 years later they had both the Folk Center and water and sewer.
Elliot Hancock, Ozark Folk Center Assistant General Manager
After a break, Marion, our Elderhostol host, told us about the way of life of the hill people and some very entertaining stories that had been collected by writers who came through the area many years ago. Her story telling was very animated and informative. After lunch we toured Blanchard Springs Caverns which Ann and I had toured with our children soon after it opened in the early 70s. After the short cavern tour we went on to Blanchard Springs where water from the cave comes out of the mountain. The photos will speak for themselves.
After supper we heard “Charles Kelly, Sheriff of Independence County” tell of his life on the rivers of Kentucky, Ohio, and Arkansas from the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth centurie when he died in the 1830s of cholera. He said that he didn’t remember anything after that! It was a very entertaining story of the life and times of a very enterprising young man who made his fortune in the salt trade on keel boats, in the bear fat business and then in real estate, politics, and steamboats. It was a classic tale! And it’s all true! I’d swear by my tattoo! (If I had one.) I'll have to add his name later, but he is (or was) a professor of history at Lions College in Battesville.
Our group peruses Marion's displays.
Our interpreter was very informative and helpful in explaining the history and features of the caverns.
Ann watches as Marian explains some of the natural features of the spring area.
Day 1 - Refreshments and Get Acquainted. Announcements and Introductions. Jimmy Driftwood Barn music show.
Day 2 - Folk Center history and Ozark Lifestyles. Blanchard Caverns and Springs Tour. "Charles Kelly, Sheriff of Indenpendence County"
Day 3 - Float trip down the White River from Boswell Shoals to Jack's Boat Dock. Evening program - Native American Influence with Carl King
Day 4 - "Long Walk Home" Jimmie Edwards relives an Arkansas Confederate Soldier's time in the Civil War. 1890s Parlor Party with the Brysons. Visit to the craft center. Ozark Folk Center country music program.
Day 5 - Tomahawk throw and history with Scott Reidy. Craft center visit. Signs and Superstitions with Deb Redden. Learning country games and dances with Mary Gillihan. The Herbin' League. More country music.
Day 6 - "This Ain't No Devil's Box" with Danny Thomas as "Gus Pike." Graduation. Then we visited Oil Trough, Arkansas, on the bank of the White River.