Driving up Rich Mt....1955
It saddened me to hear that Mena was struck by a tornado this week. We lived in that little town in 1955-56. Bob was a "sales rep" and his company transferred us to Mena from Memphis. Our second child, Laura, was born there and the next door neighbors we had almost 55 years ago, Bill and Beth Shipman, remain dear friends to this day. They are no longer living in Mena, nor any other friends that we had at the time but we return often....it's only a five hour drive from Dallas.
Queen Wilhelmina Lodge is situated atop Rich Mt. about 12 miles "up" from the town. They offer camping sites as well...and we've also enjoyed aome camping there. It's a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere and a good place for children to play outdoors in the wide open expense of the yard that surrounds it, the playground areas, miniature golf, small train ride...a few things to do but its not a crowded, commercialized place like so many vacation spots are today. Six years ago when our family was celebrating our 50th. wedding anniversary we all spent a weekend together there. I think we needed about 10 rooms to accomadate us. Last year Bob and I were back for our 55th. wedding anniversary and in two weeks we will be there again on our 56th. anniversary weekend.
We've also stayed at a lovely place in town...The Carriage House. I believe that it actually was a carriage house at one time. It, along with the large Victorian home on the property had been purchased and restored by a young couple who moved back to Mena from Dallas a few years ago. I seem to recall that Mena was the wife's home town and she desired to raise her children there.
The Lodge is very historical..It was constructed in 1898; was closed in 1910 and fell into ruins. It was rebuilt in 1963 but was destroyed by fire 10 years later. The State of Ar. declared the area a state park and the lodge was rebuilt for the second time and opened for business in 1975. When we were living there it was just a shamble of stone and rocksbut we would ride up there with friends just to have something to do and enjoy the beautiful view of the valleys below. There was little TV reception in Mena...so we would go up on the mountain where radio reception was better and listen, on the car radio, to "Gillette's Wednesday Night Fights are on the air"...(radio airwaves that is) ....Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston, Joe Lewis, Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott, etc. Bob liked boxing....but I digress...
I know from the news that the tornado hit downtown...I sure hope that the lovely older homes of Mena were not destroyed.... We're anticipating what we will see when we're back there the 24th.
Ruins of the Inn in 1955...
The Inn 2006