Hot Springs holds a special place in my heart. I was born in the lovely “Spa City” thirty--some years ago. Neither my mom nor my dad were born in Hot Springs. My dad grew up in Conway, and my mom was raised in Batesville.
My parents’ moved out to Colorado Springs, Colorado, as soon as they said, “I do”. Dad was working for the Red Cross then, and that’s where they needed him. One year later, he was sent to Korea with them. My Mom and older brother, who was just a baby, could not go with him. Mom wanted to return to Arkansas to be near her family. But where? She wanted to get a job, so she decided to be a teacher. Her degree was in sociology with a minor in French. She would teach French! Teaching would give her decent working hours so she could be home a lot with my brother while earning a living. She sent out her application to the major cities in Arkansas, the only ones who would have a need for a French teacher: Fayetteville, Little Rock, El Dorado, Fort Smith, and Hot Springs. She was soon hired by the Hot Springs school district. And it would change our lives.
In Hot Springs, she taught French, but only for a short time. It was in Hot Springs that a kind lady named Jean Daves would one day invite us to Grand Avenue Baptist Church to hear her pastor, Bro. Glenn Riggs. It was one starlit evening when that pastor, along with his associate, Glen Lewis, would knock on our door on Sunset Bay Drive and ask to visit with them. It was there that my parents welcomed them in, Mom worrying a bit about how the house looked (it looked fine). The gentlemen opened a book, a Book that led the way to a new life in Christ! It was around that brown kitchen table, with crickets chirping outside, that mom would dab at the tears in her eyes as she learned that the sinless Son of God came down to Earth to bleed, die, and rise again, for her. What a thought! No one had ever loved her like that! My father fiddled with his napkin – or so I imagine – as he took it all in, he, too, believing on this glorious Savior! They bowed in prayer as sinners destined for hell, but looked up as sinners saved by grace, going to Heaven! It was in this kitchen that mom baked a multitude of cupcakes for little bus kids, prepared Sunday school lessons, mopped floors, stirred tea and washed dishes. It was in the large master bedroom that I listened to stories, wrestled with my dad and watched Magnum, P.I. It was in the vast backyard that I played, pretended to be all sorts of things, where I saw a tarantula, threw a brick in the Putman’s frozen swimming pool, rode my bike, and “smoked” bubble gum cigarettes with my neighbor, Christy. It was at that kitchen table that dad informed me not to “smoke” those again. It was on the carport that I got to stay up way past my bedtime waiting for my brother to come home from college. I sat on the bumper of our Fiesta and held my cardboard “welcome home” sign, and dreamt of moving to a bigger, better town.
Years have come and gone since I sat wishing to be elsewhere. And I’ve gone to quite a few places since then, too. But no matter where I go, no place has the power that Hot Springs holds. As I drive down its familiar roads, inhaling the pine, listening to the cicadas’ song, soaking up the beauty of this valley, I can’t help but thank God that He brought us to Hot Springs. God moved us away when I was seven, and I grew to love our new home just as much as the old! But I can’t help but feel a surge of excitement when I see signs for “Higdon Ferry Road” or “Grand Avenue” and “Central Avenue”. I love the sight of the magnolias. I love the faux gaslights that line Bathhouse Row. I love seeing the mall, which we visited often! But I only love it because it takes me back in time. Back to the family of five that lived on Sunset Bay Drive, back to the stories, the books, the playtime. When I go back in my mind, my dad is alive and laughing, my sister is home, Mom is humming as she works, and everyone is smiling.
But best of all, we are all together. Together. That’s really my favorite place to be.
The lovely valley that was home.
Lake Hamilton was just a few blocks from where I lived.
“We were sailing along, on Moonlight Bay…”
The house – that’s the carport and part of the backyard.
The front door! The house didn’t have all of that shrubbery or trees in the yard when we lived there. My room was the window on the left end. I got to share it with my sister.
The fountain in downtown. It was 112 degrees that day, but I didn’t even notice till I looked at the thermometer in our van! I guess I’ve adjusted (somewhat) to the heat. Or, I was just so excited to be home!
I liked this view from Bathhouse Row.
Walking along Bathhouse Row.
Another bathhouse…they are all very unique, but my photography doesn’t do it justice.
I just liked this photo. Dusk was coming on. Half the street lights were on, the other half weren’t.
My hot date and walking companion.
More Bathhouses! And I didn’t photograph all of them. 🙂
Terry washing his face in a hot spring. Every fountain is about 150 degrees.
Here I am with one of the springs.
One bathhouse has been closed and turned into a museum. This sign has been there for a very long time! I love seeing God’s Word!
Yes, please! (Wish I could have had one!)
The Fordyce Bathhouse exists because of spring #46. (see next photo)
Which originates here. 🙂
We had never noticed this tall building before. We liked it.
My favorite photo of the day! Bathhouse Row at dusk. Lovely.