It was a great thing to know Rollie Remmel. I first met him in the wooden train depot used by the Scott & Bearskin Lake Railroad in Scott when I was 12 years old. The first phrase I heard him utter was “This is GREAT!!” Any doubt I had about understanding the definition of enthusiastic vanished that day. He immediately treated me like an old friend he had known forever.
Over the years, I learned many lessons from this wonderful and kind gentleman. Rollie believed it was important to be interested in everybody and everything. He would remind me that “Life is so strong.” It was a saying that Rollie would often use upon receiving either good or bad news. And coming from him, it was always the right way to end a conversation.
When I was serving in Iraq with the 39th Infantry Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard, Rollie would e-mail often, always inquiring about the well-being of our soldiers and wishing he could visit. There were times I was actually concerned that he might find his way over. After we returned from Iraq, Rollie attended many of the memorial services for the soldiers we lost, always offering encouragement and support. “Support our Troops” was not just a slogan to him; it was a real commitment he made to our service-members.
Rollie Remmel made any place he was a better place. What a positive legacy. What a positive man!
A caring baker
Re: Article June 26 by Renan Antunes De Oliveria titled “The Staff of Life”
Although I found the article “The Staff of Life” extremely touching, filled with hope and an amazing journey, I must interject in fairness to my wonderful bakery manager Sonia.
The Brazilian man, who my staff and I all loved, that came to Boulevard with a plea for hot fresh bread at 7 a.m. for his friend Daniel in the hospital was absolutely accommodated!
The article portrays Sonia, directly or implied, as an insensitive person who didn’t think twice about depriving a dying man of his last wish. The exact opposite is true! Sonia is absolutely the most caring and loving person in Little Rock and she did everything in her power to get the bread out earlier to help this man. A man that none of us at Boulevard knew but all sympathized with and grew to admire.
Sonia, because she is caring and fair, was at first hesitant to bring her bake staff into work even earlier to have fresh baguette by 7 a.m. Many of her bakers have families who they spend time with before they come to work. (Some as arrive as early as 10 p.m.)
After hearing the Daniel’s plea and seeing the picture of Daniel reading “Boulevard — I want baguette please,” Sonia made a distinct effort to change our scheduling and bake order to please him. I have since received e-mails from Daniel’s friends thanking us for our efforts. Shortly thereafter the wonderful sick man who we did not know, but had earned the respect of my staff and I, went back to Brazil. That is the last we heard from Daniel and his friend until the article appeared
I believe that Sonia would appreciate it in the future if anyone writing an article quoting her or implicating her would first contact her and give her an opportunity to explain her actions, which in this case were noble and with complete integrity. It’s also worth mentioning that Sonia would never publicly criticize another individual without giving them a chance to explain themselves.
Outside of my family, there is nothing in the world that brings me more joy than making someone who is in Little Rock from a faraway place feel like they are at home when they walk into Boulevard. These wonderful Brazilians that frequented our store were no exception.
Boulevard Bread Co.
(Some of the problem, we think, may be in the translation. Renan made clear in pitching his idea — and we thought we conveyed it in using Boulevard baguette for a cover image — how happy his friend’s final days had been made by the bread that Boulevard made a special effort to supply.)
The new lodge
The Lodge at Mount Magazine and the state park are beautiful. One could search far and wide and not find a more glorious setting. Along with the tastefully appointed décor, architectural design and welcoming staff you have the makings of a top-notch retreat for couples, families and groups. The hiking and biking, pool, workout facility (lacking only some free weights and perhaps some music) and the in-room entertainment system are all top-notch. I was reminded of visits to similar establishments in Colorado and New Zealand. A facility of this caliber is long overdue for Arkansas.
However, there is one serious shortcoming at the lodge. The food in the restaurant is inedible.
Food can be simply and deliciously prepared. Arkansas berries, produce, herbs, poultry, etc., can certainly be the makings of a fine healthy meal. Chef Larry was touted as creating the menu and food concepts at the Skycrest restaurant. Whoever he is, he should be ashamed. [The letter goes on to list a number of shortcomings in various meals. As the Times has reported, the chef left shortly after opening because of staffing problems, which parks officials say are being rectified.]
You probably think I would never go back. Actually, I would. I would rent a cabin and take an ice chest full of wonderful foods from my local farmers market. Do I wish it was different? Do I wish I could find one item on their menu that was healthy and delicious? Do I wish I could recommend the lodge without hesitation to family and friends? Yes!
I will keep visiting our state and national parks because the natural beauty, sailing on the lakes, floating the rivers, biking the roads, hiking the trails and looking out over a gorgeous valley are what makes living in Arkansas worth the overabundance of fried food, mosquitos and militant right-wingers. I have lived here for 44 years and I’ll probably live here another 44. I’m an optimist. I will keep hoping it will get better and I will teach my children and their friends the importance of good food and vigorous exercise. But more importantly, I’ll tell them to let people know when it doesn’t get better.
Carol B. Auger