In my last post I talked about wandering around the downtown area of Benton, Arkansas. I mentioned that I had met three very kind people. They each saw me and my camera and asked "do you like to photograph old things?" That's my favorite question.
The first young man noticed me as I was taking a picture of one of the letters on his business sign. Remember I was looking for unique letters of the alphabet. He said that he owned the barber shop and thought I might like to see inside because he not only cuts hair, but he collects sports memorabilia, old signs from around town, and vintage barber equipment. He was very proud of his barber chairs. The one below is called a Presidential Chair from around 1959. This type of barber chair was popular in the Kennedy era. He even uses an antique cash register.
All four of his barber chairs are antiques. The barber chairs below are from 1905 to 1930. The pole in the window is from 1940's.
I'm pretty sure my grandsons would love to get their hair cut here and look at all the sports memorabilia. Isn't this a fancy place to prop your feet while you're getting your hair cut?
The second man noticed me as I stepped in the open bay door of his auto repair shop. I was taking a picture of a neon sign. He invited me in and told me all about the vintage signs hanging in his shop.
As I was leaving he asked if I'd like to see some old tools. In a small room at the front of his shop he has quite a collection of antique tools, oil cans, repair books, and car parts.
He also mentioned his wife owned the building next door which was being restored. He told me I was welcome to go in and look around. The walls were brick with nice arched windows in the rear, but it was the ceiling tiles that caught my attention. They were installed in 1908.
He told me to be sure and go around the back of the building to enter the basement. It used to be a mortuary, now it's used for storage. The building sits on sloped ground. The top floor is at street level and the slope causes the basement that can be entered from the rear parking lot. I loved the arched doors that led to the basement. I could tell why this would have made a good place for a mortuary in days without air conditioning. It was very cool even though it was hot and humid outside.
I was headed home when I remembered that in a nearby neighborhood were several large crepe myrtle trees. I wanted to see if they were in full bloom, which they weren't, but I took a few pictures anyway. As I was taking pictures this very sweet lady came outside of her home and talked to me. She showed me her black walnut trees and her beautiful oak leaf hydrangeas in her side yard. I asked her if she knew how old the crepe myrtle trees were. Her answer was no, but if I'd come inside with her she had a newspaper article about them. I hesitated, but she insisted. I think she was very lonely and just needed someone to talk to. The article said that the trees were planted as part of a city beautification project in 1927. We talked a few minutes about her family history in Benton. She was genuinely grateful that I had visited with her. I know it wasn't the safest thing I've ever done, but my instincts led me to a very nice visit.
I'm still so amazed every time I'm out with my camera. It seems to lead me on fun adventures. I'm looking forward for cooler weather to arrive. I'm ready for more wanderings and more adventures. I will have a photo buddy to go on adventures with now, my sister. She retired a few weeks ago. So look out Arkansas we'll be out and about with our cameras.