photo of the week

Delightful Du Bocage

Du Bocage, the now pristine home of the late Judge J. W. Bocage at 1115 West 4th Avenue in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, was completed and first occupied in 1866.  Ownership of the property remained with the Bocage family until 1966 when it was deeded to the Pine Bluff Optimist Club.  The club renovated the old home and opened it to the public in 1969.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
By the early part of the current century, the home was back in the downslide to deterioration.  Its future was grim.  But then came the second rescue.  A corporate neighbor of Du Bocage, MK Distributors, bought the property and immediately made plans to completely restore it.  You can see the knock-it-out-of-the-park results of their restoration pictured above.

Du Bocage

Sunday, November 17, 2013
Pine Buff, Arkansas

Just about every community has a few treasures masquerading as rapidly deteriorating structures.  The masquerade has predictable endings: either restoration, a date with a large track-laying machine, or ultimate collapse.  Unfortunately the last two outscore the first by a long shot.  Du Bocage here in Pine Bluff is a notable exception.  It survived the cut.

Architectural aficionados call the structure “Greek Revival.”  They tell us it was all the rage following the unpleasantries of the mid-nineteenth century.  Us uninformed observers call it “neat,” “cool,” “copacetic,” and “aw-right.”  And therein is an abstract feel-good value brought about through the application of private funds by a thoughtful and responsible corporate citizen.

Allbright's gin

No More Cotton at Allbright's

One that did not survive the cut, but is still standing because termites have not yet figured out how to masticate and digest steel, is what’s left of Albright’s cotton gin in Sherrill, Arkansas, just a few miles north of Du Bocage.  In 1963 when I first set foot in Jefferson County, Arkansas, just about every community had a gin or two, or three.  I’m thinking it was a safe bet that more than 30 gins were active in the county then.  Now there are none.  A finger pointed in the direction of crops moving offshore would be in the right direction.

an old barn

Walking Away

Out of the Delta, west of Hot Springs, Arkansas, I found this old barn on its last legs.  One would presume the numbers don’t work to shore it up or turn it around.  If certain deposits in this photograph remind you of the current political landscape, I cannot help it.

The ominous truth is, our societal structure cannot and will not preserve most of what “was.”  In the rare circumstances where that practice is reversed, we get to enjoy the resultant “feel-goods.”  Lord knows we need all of those we can get.

Photo Notes

Du Bocage, Nikon 7100, tripod mount, ISO 100, AF S Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR, 1/250 @ f6.3; Albright’s gin, Nikon D300, tripod mount, ISO 200, Sigma 10-20 f4-5.6 EX DC HSM, 1/320 @ f9; Cow pen and barn, Nikon D300, hand held, ISO 200, AF VR –Nikkor 80-400 f4.5-5.6, 1/400@f10.


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