Just around the bend in the road you see through the barn is the residence of Glenn Squires, his family, and his dogs. It's not everyone who has an old barn straddling his driveway. One big advantage: "It's really easy to give directions to our house," Mr. Squires said. He readily agreed to his barn being photographed and acclaimed on the World Wide Web, for which we are all grateful. Thanks are due also to my friend-upon-whom-I-have-never-laid-eyes, Fred Garcia, who first photographed and provided directions to the location on Cash Mountain Road in Hot Spring County, Arkansas. I had explored Cash Mountain Road previously, but turned off before encountering this fine barn.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Glenn Squires’ dogs did their job well as I rolled to a stop in his front yard, having just driven through his barn. They bristled, barked, and raised cane to announce my presence in Squires territory. As I approached the house to seek permission to shoot his driveway barn, Glenn exited his front door and approached me. I handed him a business card and told him what I wanted. He immediately and cordially agreed. Meanwhile the dogs calmed down and went from the barking to the licking mode, a familiar treatment for me.
As one is leaving the premises, through the barn, this is the view. Cash Mountain Road is in the foreground. Glenn Squires says the barn "came with the house." He briefly entertained thoughts about tearing it down, but was overruled by his family. He says now that he will leave it there until it falls down.
As I proceeded to set up my camera, to my surprise and delight, Glenn and his yellow lab joined me. He pointed out some of the eccentricities of the structure including some carved initials on interior boards. We were shortly joined by his across-the-road neighbor, Linda Hankins — and her Boston terrier, otherwise known in the South as a "Bawstun Bull." After a bit of sniffing, he went about being a dog.
The initials carved inside the barn appear to be MP 1931, so we know the barn is that old. From the overall appearance, I'm guessing early twentieth century as the built-on time, but don't hold my feet to the fire on that.
Some of Linda's forbearers originally occupied the territory, but details about the provenance of the barn were sketchy. We did establish that the barn was still functioning as a barn in the sixties. She said her father more or less designed the neighborhood. He set up lots on the west side of the road and agricultural activities on the east side. At that time the road was gravel, and, according to Linda, "He put the houses on the west side so they would be bothered less by road dust." Good thinking since the prevailing winds in that territory blow from west to east.
The pitch of the barn roof appears to be steeper than those I normally observe. No mystery here: The builder wanted to store more hay, so he added height.
As I was shooting, we conversed, chuckled and had a good ol' time despite sweating profusely in the 92-degree heat. We observed that it wasn't often one could be grateful for weather that hot. Considering the several weeks of 100-degree-plus weather, it was no stretch of the imagination to understand the gratitude.
The angled door latches are a new one on me. I have looked inside a lot of old barns, but this is the first time I have seen this arrangement. They were obviously hand-hewn and fitted, an exercise in patience, since the channels had to be angled.
Here were three perfect strangers accompanied by canines who had never laid eyes on or sniffed my presence, all passing the time of day together with no small amount of enjoyment. Considering the mistrust and suspicion that pervades our society, this was a societal oasis and a refreshing experience. All you need is a barn straddling a driveway and some willing participants.
N O T E S:
SEE MORE OF THE BARN
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.