Popeye in Alma, Arkansas

Remember Popeye the Sailor Man? Alma, Arkansas does and it erected a statue of everyone's favorite sailor to prove it. It's an incredibly cheesy statue, but pretty cool nonetheless. If you're a big Popeye fan, you can also check out the spinach can water tower that proclaims Alma the spinach capital of the world. The spinach can is found off U.S. 71 North and also proudly sports Popeye the Sailor man.

The first Popeye statue was built in 1987 out of paper mache and fiberglass. Tourists in cars and buses would stop by to see it, laugh and leave. Residents of Alma were a bit embarrassed by it all so they decided to either get rid of the statue or make it into something to be proud of. After much discussion and debate, paper mache Popeye was retired in 2007 and replaced with the bronze statue and fountain now in Alma's town square. The original statue is in a store called Kustom Kaps right up the street.

Mural of old Alma in the Popeye Square
Why all the Popeye love in Alma? Alma is the home of Allen's Canning Company, which cans spinach. They are also home to the annual Spinach Festival held the 3rd weekend each April.

To see Popeye for yourself, take exit 12 on I-40 and go south on US 71. Go through the traffic light, bear left, then turn right onto Fayetteville Ave./Hwy 162 into downtown. The Park is near the end of town, on the right.

Fiesty Old Woman And Her Dog

Jonesboro Memorial Park Cemetery
You often hear the saying that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Well, Thelma Holford of Jonesboro, Arkansas turned the tables and decided to make a unique last impression. For her grave marker in the Jonesboro Memorial Park cemetery, she erected a one-of-a-kind monument featuring her and her faithful dog "Bunnie."

In Jonesboro, Thelma was widely known as the town's eccentric. She was an astute businesswoman who managed a very successful awning business. She was also a great lover of dogs, taking in numerous strays and treating them like the children she never had. In her will, she left funds for a pet cemetery. The executors named it in her honor.

Thelma had been briefly married once, but was divorced in her mid-20's and never remarried. That may account for the message on the sign her monument holds which says, "Don't be afraid to stand alone." Along with her name and dates, the monument also lists her daily prayer - "God help me keep my long nose out of other people's business and give me 26 hours each day to mind my own."

Not long before she passed away, she commissioned her self-designed monument to be crafted in Italy. She wasn't happy with the completed marker though and had it shipped back to be redone. The reason? "It makes my dog look like a horse." She passed away in 1989 at age 82 of natural causes shortly after accepting the 2nd working of her monument.


The Famous King of Clubs Roadhouse

Before the fire
In the early to late-1950’s, the King of Clubs in Swifton, Arkansas was the center of a rowdy club scene along Highway 67. Future household names like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Conway Twitty, and Jerry Lee Lewis were paid $10 to perform at the roadhouse for rowdy audiences of drunk red-neck patrons. The performers often spent more of their set fending off the drunks with chairs, their musical instruments and in several cases, a whip, than they did actually singing songs. The manager kept a tear gas pistol behind the bar and used it on a number of occasions to disperse people when things got out of hand.

In 1955, Elvis performed there with his opening act, Johnny Cash. Cash only performed 3 songs, but he was so good the manager paid him $20 instead of $10. Elvis, who was by then already a rising star, was paid $450 and drew such a large crowd that no more people could get inside the building and more stood around outside in the gravel parking lot. Whenever Jerry Lee Lewis performed, he had a guy stand next to the stage with a fire extinguisher to help control the crowd which he always incited into a frenzy with his possessed, revival-preacher-gone-wild performances. During his closing number, his cover of “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” he would jump around like a crazed madman pounding the piano keys with his elbows and feet. The bar always had to have new strings put in and the piano tuned after he performed.

After the fire
The little King of Clubs, located basically in the middle of nowhere, in its heyday, was one of the breeding-pens for rockabilly, a rough-and-ready mix of blues and country that provided great influence on later generations of musician’s like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Unfortunately, after more than 50 years of operation, the old building burned down with all of its irreplaceable memorabilia inside. During the night of December 13, 2010, dozens and dozens of one-of-a-kind photos lining the walls were lost forever. Elvis has left the building. So have most of his friends from that era and now, so has the old building.