This is the visual epicenter of Taylor Auto Salvage on US Highway 70 at the southern edge of North Little Rock, Arkansas. Were it similarly assembled in some fabled east-coast gallery, it would probably fetch a price affordable only by those who sport Lear Jets for toys. On the left-coast, it would probably give rise to a new cult and attract a throng of chanting worshippers. Here in Arkansas it raises a few eyebrows, but not far.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Thank goodness for bizarre people, places, thoughts, ideas, and things. Otherwise, our existence could be an Orwellian, vanilla-flavored, light-beige, cube-shaped, asleep-at-the switch world.
No two places better serve to rescue us from the hovering threat of boredom and nobly protect us from the ordinary than Taylor Auto Salvage on the southern outskirts of North Little Rock, Arkansas, and Dickey Tree Services of Portia, Arkansas. Taylor's sprinkles everything imaginable around the landscape. Dickey puts Elvis on top of an old fire truck. Both are delightfully unexpected.
When I stopped in front of Taylor’s emporium, I had no more stepped out of the truck than a Taylor minion sauntered up to see if he could "help me." What he was actually doing was making sure I did not throw a few artifacts in the back of my truck and beat a path out of there. Then he saw the camera and everything became OK. I asked if this was his place. He replied, "Naw, it's Johnny's and he's not here," then returned to his observation post.
The old Chevy appears to be making an unauthorized entrance to Taylor's. It greets your weary eyes as you head south on Highway 70 leaving North Little Rock. It would take the biggest part of a day to look at everything unique and original on the premises.
Just about every southern town of any size has one or more of these places, although most are not as artfully decorated as Taylor's. Back in my past, while wearing Uncle Sam's green in Augusta, Georgia, I found "Shanty's," a store and station with a collection similarly eclectic to Taylor's, but not in size. "Shanty," the proprietor, knew where everything was and what it was worth.
The car sticking through the building is the tip of the iceberg. Here on display are an ancient Case rice tractor, a well-used Dodge truck, and an old G model John Deere tractor. These classic vehicles grace the front of Taylor's cabin facing Highway 70.
Closer to home, my friend, the late E. M. "Blondie" Snellgrove, an unapologetic native of Alabama who became displaced in Arkansas, operated a shop not far from the business where I was employed. Blondie’s shop premises, adjacent to his home, was covered with deep piles of "stuff" — parts and pieces of about anything you could imagine in your wildest dreams. Blondie made his living by "fixing" things and buying and selling used items, primarily car, truck, and tractor parts. If you needed something for an older truck, chances are Blondie had it or knew where to get it.
Despite the unkempt appearance, the businesses described here are (or were) run by people slicker than one might think. They know where to find each and every little treasure, and they know exactly what each part is worth. As a bonus, they can often share a tidbit or two about the provenance of much of their merchandise. And if you are selling something, they know what it will "bring" when they eventually resell it. That is, if you are willing to part with your merchandise after hearing the offer. Some do. Some don't.
N O T E S:
NOW, SEE ELVIS
Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog. — J. D.