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Turn Left at the Little Rock

By: 12 May 2010 No Comment

which way signDon’t get me wrong, I love Arkansas, and I enjoy the plain folks you meet all over this great state, but once in awhile I find that getting a simple answer to a simple question is a simply more than I can stand.

I’m in the middle of moving and I’ve spent the last week or so trying to get all of my utilities turned on. I guess I’ve gotten spoiled by the internet. Anymore I just expect to be able to perform any transaction I need to over the internet. Turns out, in the just slightly rural area I’m moving to, the water company has no website.

Well, alright, I can talk to an actual human being over the phone if I have to. Mind you, it takes some effort on my part. I’ve spent a lot of years practicing for the day I become an actual recluse, but I forced myself to pick up the phone and speak to the nice lady at the water company. I had hoped to be able to get this done over the phone since it’s about a forty-five minute drive, but she needed to make a copy of my driver’s license, which on the face of it is a perfectly reasonable request, so I told her I’d drive up there.

My mistake was in asking, “Where are you folks located?”

And then she gave me a simple answer to a simple question, “We’re right under the water tower, sir”

Well, I don’t have to tell you, I felt a right fool.

But I got in my troubled-loner-mobile and I drove up there and we managed to complete the transaction in less than five minutes, which makes the hour-and-a-half round trip seem worthwhile somehow.

I guess I’ve been guilty of giving the same kind of directions myself from time to time. I recall one time many years ago I was riding around town with a friend of mine. We came to a busy intersection and I was rambling on about one topic or another while he was trying feverishly to make a left hand turn across a four lane road during rush hour. I guess I wasn’t paying attention, he asked, “Is it clear over there?”

My reply, “Yeah it’s clear.” He pulled out in the lane. I continued, “there’s not a cloud in the sky.”

No actual mayhem ensued so it’s a funny anecdote.

I recall also a time when I was about three that my older brother was sent on an errand to my grandmother’s house. I believe he was to pick up a sack of fresh corn. As soon as he was out the door I asked if I could go too. My mother quite naturally said yes as it was just right next door. On the other hand my other grandmother lived about a half mile away.

Yeah, I did.

I think the whole thing must be part of the cultural DNA around here.

According to Wikipedia:

Little Rock derives its name from a small rock formation on the south bank of the Arkansas River called la Petite Roche (French: “the little rock”). The “little rock” was used by early river traffic as a landmark and became a well-known river crossing.

That may well be, but when I was in school I remember we were taught several other theories as to the derivation of the name. Back then we were taught that in addition to la Petite Roche some folks thought it had been named in reference to Pinnacle Mountain, which to a European was a tiny little mountain who had seen the alps was a tiny little rock indeed.

We were also taught that some folks apparently believed it was named for a daughter of one of the members of the expedition of Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe. The story as I recall was that she was born when they camped on the river and was given the name Rochelle, hence the location being referred to not as la Petite Roche, but as la Petite Rochelle in honor of the child.

However the name came to be, I am nigh-well convinced that it must have involved at some point, a yard sale, a maiden aunt, and the pony express.

“You caint nary miss it, there’s all kinds of notions and what-nots to be had for a trifle, just turn left at the Little Rock.”

About: Edwin E. Smith:
Edwin E. Smith is a poet, heckuva writer and all around swell guy. Send him an email at or visit him on the Internet at

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