Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Few More Bits

Maybe I reminisce too much about my years in Fayetteville, but I think it's because those were among the happiest years of my life. So I revisit them every chance I get.

There was an article in the Democrat-Gazette this morning about the transformation of Dickson Street. Back in the good old days, the street was downright seedy-looking, and everyone worked hard to keep it that way. One of the mainstays of Dickson Street has been George's Majestic Lounge.

It used to have only one big room, with a bar on one side and cushioned booths on the other. There was a beer garden out back with stone benches, concrete picnic tables and a dirt floor. Later, the beer garden was enclosed, but the place is still very popular with the UofA students.

George's was one of several bars that offered live music. Now, it is almost the last. The bars with live music had cover charges and people came early and stayed late to listen to bands like The Cate Brothers, Gypsy, The Nace Brothers, Oreo Blue, and others.

Now, people go to the bars to see and be seen. They tend to bar hop, with no interest in listening to the music. The street has been cleaned up and made acceptable to the yuppies that have taken it over. Now, it is a street full of upscale restaurants and bars that come and go and little cutsie boutiques and trendy stores, and Dickson Street will never be the same.

And, the blame can be laid at the feet of the Walton family. Helen Walton had the Walton Art Center built on the corner next to George's. Then, somebody bought the building on the corner across from the Art Center, and built a micro-brewery. These two buildings made the rest of the street look even seedier than it was. Hence, the face lift.

Now, it's a street like any other little yuppie haven. It has no personality, much like the superficial generation of people who built and frequent it.

Too bad.

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Another story in the paper today concerned the demolishing of a landmark of another kind. Carlson Terraces was made up of 15 buildings and designed by Architect Edward Jones, and built to house married students. It was located close to the football stadium,and was always bursting with students and their kids.

There was an OB/GYN doctor named Mashburn who delivered all the babies, because he charged $200 for everything from pre-natal care, to the birth, and through post-natal care. Everyone called Carlson Terraces "Mashburn's fertile valley."

In 2005, 5 of the buildings were torn down to make a park to be used for UA events and tailgating by university donors during football season. And now there's a move to tear down the rest of the buildings to build a softball field and stadium.

For shame.

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The UofA administrations have a long history of diverting funds meant for other things to the athletic department. In the late 50's there were plans to build a new library. Somehow, the funds for it wound up in the coffers of the athletic department. I was on the student newspaper at the time, and the editor and one of the reporters made the discovery, accidentally. SCOOP! Of course, we printed the story.

Whooie! That did not sit well with the administration. So, they relieved the editor and assistant editor and the reporter of their positions and appointed a girl who would never print anything controversial. Up to that time, the Traveler had been an independently run entity. Those of us who worked there were paid employees. The paper didn't have to answer to anyone.

After that story, the paper and its editors had to answer to everyone - and the stories had to be vetted by the administration. Talk about your freedom of the press. When this happened, the rest of the newspaper staff resigned in protest, and poor B. had to rush out and find people to write for her. No student in the journalism department would have anything to do with it.

So there.

4 comments:

Jay said...

All the corporate money rolled into Dickson street and did what corporate money does. Ran off all the hippies and other "colorful" characters and made the whole place boring.

The UA paper is more independent again now than it used to be. They are constantly taking shots at the athletic dept again. Poor Frank Broyles. He's losing control over everything in his old age.

her indoors said...

when you said the Walton family i thought you meat THE Waltons good night John boy an all lol

Betty said...

her indoors: LOL. I keep forgetting that not everyone knows who I'm referring to. In Arkansas, they do.

SongBird said...

I remember the seedy Dickson Street of the early 80's when I was a student at the U of A. I had some really good times on that street!! Jose's used to have live music and the club of choice was The Landing Strip which also had live bands for dancing. I also remember when the street was blocked off in celebration after the Razorbacks defeated Texas one year. I hardly recognize Fayetteville when I occasionally go back to visit.