Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Road to Little Rock

Ben has a new painting over his fireplace. Titled "The Road to Little Rock," it was painted by Laurie Anne Johnson, a friend from Birmingham. The painting depicts a portion of U.S. Highway 78 in Mississippi, which connects Birmingham to Memphis and is a major portion of the route to Little Rock.

The first time I ever travelled U.S. 78 was in July of 1988. LBeau had taken a job with Rust Engineering, and Hunter and I were going with him to Birmingham to help him settle in. The boys and I would stay in Texarkana to sell the house before moving.

We had driven to Newport to leave Brent and Ben with Mema Martha. Meanwhile, my car was having issues, so we left it in Newport to be worked on and borrowed Mema's car. Somewhere in Mississippi I was driving Mema's Oldsmobile and following Larry and Hunter, who were in Larry's car. It was raining, and all of a sudden I found myself barrelling sideways down the median.

Fortunately, I was able to get the car under control before running into the west bound lane, but we vowed at that point that we would find another road to Arkansas. And for years, we would take I-65 north to Cullman, Alabama, and angle over to U.S. 72, which would take us to Memphis, where we could pick up I-40 into Arkansas.

Finally, Mississippi upgraded U.S. 78 to interstate standards, and once again it became our road home. Over the years, we have altered portions of our route as Alabama has upgraded sections of U.S. 78, which will become I-22 once those upgrades are completed. We now by-pass Jasper, Winfield, Guin, Gu-Win and Hamilton, Alabama. Most of our stops come in Mississippi in either Fulton, Tupelo, New Albany, Holly Springs or Olive Branch.

Halfway between New Albany and Holly Springs is the exit for Potts Camp, Mississippi. While we have never been to Potts Camp, it holds special significance on the road to Little Rock. A few years ago our friends Nick and J.R. were travelling back to Arkansas after a trip to Birmingham for a Razorback game. At the Potts Camp exit, they suddenly found themselves doing a 360 and ended up plowing up a portion of the highway median.

Since then, every time we successfully negotiate that portion of the highway, I send Nick a text message that simply says, "Potts Camp."

This weekend we took the road to Little Rock for a party for Ben and Claire. Back in 1988 we didn't have cell phones and text messaging, but this weekend I was able to send the "Potts Camp" text twice.

1 comment:

abbiegrace said...

I love the painting!

We've traveled that road many a time. I know just the spots when the cell phone goes out of service.

I'll have to think of you the next time we pass Potts Camp!