Saturday, June 5, 2010

Welcome to Fort Smith.

There's a saying in my hometown, coined by our mayor of twenty years (who, for reasons which may or may not be legitimate, is a total thorn in my side - but that is neither here nor there) Ray Baker:  "Life's Worth Living in Fort Smith, Arkansas!"  If you are lucky to be at a function where Mr. Baker is saying this in person, he will always follow it up by throwing rose petals into the crowd.  It's his thing.  I don't know why.  The old people applaud and laugh heartily, the young people groan and wander off to do illicit drugs.  It's a tradition.

I've spent all of my conscious thought-having years thinking of reasons to hate this town, and believe me, I've come up with a very long, comprehensive list. But since making the final decision to finally get out, come hell or high water, I've become sort of sentimental about this little black hole.  Alyssa, a good friend and soon to be cross-country roommate, and I decided that for the last months we live here, we're going to make a list of all the things there are to love about this town:  Reasons to Come Home (On Gift-Giving Holidays).

Over the next few months, I'll have a post from time to time that lists some of Fort Smith's charming qualities, along with a little history, too.  Because book learnin' ain't just for you yanks!

So anyway, tonight, Downtown Fort Smith (seriously click that link for a good laugh).

This is Miss Laura's, a former bordello and currently Fort Smith's Visitor Information Center (the first whorehouse to be listed on The National Register of Historical Places - I can't imagine why?).  It was one of seven houses called "The Row" in the first part on the 20th century.  It's doors stayed open as a brothel until 1948 (!!?), and it's the only one left standing.  It's been restored, especially after the roof was torn off in a tornado in 1996 (that I'm not entirely sure I didn't cause.  All I'm saying is that me, my best friend Chloe, and my brother did a rain dance on a trampoline.. the next day, the entire downtown area was basically destroyed.)... anyway, that stained glass is original, and I thought it was cool, in that "Red Light District" kind of way.



West End Park.  That park itself is not that old.  That ferriswheel is restored - it was originally displayed at the 1935 San Diego World's Fair.  The carousel is handpainted from Italy.  It's a weird little park.  I'm not sure why it exists.  This was actually the first time I'd gone inside.

We wandered over to the ampitheater that sits down on the river, where we discovered a community concert going on.  That happens sometimes, apparently.  At least that's what the bike cop told me.  It was just a few old dudes (yes, that is a polyester guitar shirt) singing Allman Brothers and Joe Cocker covers, but it was nice.  There were more than five mullets involved.  That ampitheater is also home to my very favorite thing EVER about Fort Smith - The Riverfront Blues Festival.  That'll be happening in about three weeks.  Amazing music, and an excuse to romp around in mud in expensive sandals and get blackout drunk on Bud Light.

Life's Worth Living in Fort Smith Arkansas - but if you decide that it's not.. come on downtown and throw yourself out of one of our many suicide-friendly buildings with randomly placed doors.  I have no idea what this place is.

And finally, the Arkansas River. It's, you know, pretty and stuff.


  1. Why would you ever want to go elsewhere? you have Downtown Fort Smith!!!

  2. Hi Annie, I have a question.
    Are you going to NY for a determined time, like to study or for a project or for a limited-duration-job or are you going there, try to find a job and if you like it remain there forever?


  3. So, basically you live in Nashville.

    Some whore history back at ya...There are no old sorority houses in Tennessee because of an anti whorehouse law that would not allow more than seven women to reside in the same building at the same time.That's what I heard anyway.