One clear night in the 1980s around midnight I left my apartment for one of my nocturnal walks. This one took to the square, drawn by the sound of a lone violin, playing in the night.
This was at a time when there where no clubs around the square, so it was nice and calm if one just wanted to wanted some peaceful solitude on a walk. But tonight a woman in a long white dress was standing amidst the flower beds, playing her violin.
I just stood there for a long time and marveled, and realized yet again how special Fayetteville was. I even wrote a letter to the editor describing my experience that night.
A few years later I met Free Camman, the woman who so impressed me that night, and reintroduced wonderment into my world.
Some years later, cancer cruelly took Free from all of her friends, and in her honor, a bench was placed on the square in her memory.
Well, that didn’t last very long.
I have been thinking about Free for some time now, and my friend Brenda Moossy, a poet who enriched the lives of so many in our community.
It wasn’t so very long ago that I attended the funeral of Chris Daniels, who often played his guitar on the square during the Farmers Market in years past.
And Marion Orton, who was one the chief voices who convinced the city of Fayetteville that investing in public access television, which would provide a showcase for all of its citizens, was a sound investment for the future.
I have been thinking about my friends, and even people who weren’t my friends, but made creative contributions to the Fayetteville community after the mini-debate some time back over what to name an alley downtown.
I was struck by the fact that we don’t name our streets after our artists, our singers, poets and writers who have inspired so many. No one ever seems to think of it, in fact.
According to a recent study by the University of Arkansas, the city of Fayetteville has produced more creative men and women than any other city in Arkansas, bar none.
Wow. That’s the kind of thing that just makes your heart swell with pride, doesn’t it? Too bad it’s all a complete and utter fabrication - each and every word of it. I made it up.
But yet . . .
In my heart, I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if someone were to say this to me on the street.
One of the reasons that Fayetteville is such a fascinating place to live is our abundant mass of creativity, practically bursting at the seams. Hell, just turn on Fayetteville Public Access Television at any given hour and you are likely to see any number of local poets or singers performing.
I live on Red Bud Lane - part of a subdivision where most of the streets are named after trees. It’s sort of like Shrubberyville.
I have lived on Maple Street, Sycamore, and other streets with names of similar sounding, ear-catching brilliance.
I think we should have streets in Fayetteville honoring not only the captains of industry who have gone on to the great beyond, but also those who have made our lives better through their art.
This is Fayetteville, after all.
Not only streets, but a plaque at the end of the street (it can be a small plaque - I’m not unreasonable) which tells briefly of this person’s accomplishments.
That might be nice.
UA Men’s Gymnasium Memories: The night that Leonard Nimoy came to Fayetteville
My friend Bill Schmidt and I both called in sick that night (that’s right, Campbell Soup - we were faking, dock my pay) so we could hear Leonard Nimoy, the actor, poet, photographer and “singer” come to speak in Fayetteville.
This was a few years before the first Star Trek movie came out, so about 50 of us came to hear the man we revered speak in the old men’s Gymnasium at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
It was a good night, too. Somewhere in my collection of cassette tapes I actually have the tape I made that night, though the sound isn’t that great.
I had bought several of his books of poetry - okay, it was kind of sappy - and even listened to his musical versions of “Sunny.” “If I had a Hammer” and even a few of songs his own writing. He did not sing that night, though, which is pretty nice, all things considered.
He was a good speaker, though. And I think everyone came away pretty satisfied.
Quote of the Day
No is an affirmation of life just as yes is. Only falsehood is death. Lying to oneself, a defect of the spirit. - Romain Rolland