Years ago I was an Arkansas traveler. Anyway, that is where our family would go, every year or two, as I was growing up. We loaded up the station wagon or some other boat of a car (that's what a typical family drove back in the 1970s) and headed southeast toward Little Rock, where my […]

Years ago I was an Arkansas traveler. Anyway, that is where our family would go, every year or two, as I was growing up.
We loaded up the station wagon or some other boat of a car (that's what a typical family drove back in the 1970s) and headed southeast toward Little Rock, where my mother's sister and her family lived.
Those are good memories"the trips to Arkansas and, for some reason late one afternoon this past week on the way back to Pratt on Highway 61, the whole scene flashed back into my mind. Those long drives are now just sweet memories of family and the passing of time.
Perhaps it was the dreary, cold weather earlier this week. It seemed that way often when we traveled to Arkansas. I'll never forget the trip back home after one Thanksgiving visit. A sheet of ice and snow had covered I-40 in eastern Oklahoma. It seemed as if our family held its collective breath as we slowly rolled forward toward home. My brother and I gazed out backseat windows at vehicles that had spun off the road and were now pointed at odd angles in roadside ditches. We even saw one car spin in a circle right in front of us, twirling off into the ditch.
But that's not what this story is about. It's about family and how two sisters made an effort to keep their families connected across the miles. Sometimes, Mary and my cousins Stacey and David would come for a visit to Oklahoma. Sometimes it was Thanksgiving, once or twice it was Christmas, but usually it was just a fall trip. Anyway, my Aunt Mary always made everything special and fun for us when we visited.
Like introducing us to Charles Chips. Mary always seemed to have a tin can or two of those delicious chips, which I later found were mail-ordered from Pennsylvania. It's about Arkansas-made Atkins Pickles, which were well-advertised on billboards across the roadsides of The Natural State (the Atkins plant closed down in 2002). It's about Stuckey's, which, with billboard after billboard for miles before you got there, was bound to have my brother and I pleading with our parents to stop.
Those are just a few memories from being an Arkansas traveler. The days for those trips have come and gone. I'm just thankful for times we had.