About Scott

A cultural thinker with a life long interest in the arts and humanities: theatre, music, architecture, photography, history, urban planning, etc.

Little Rock Look Back: Apollo 11 Lifts Off on July 16, 1969

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 lifted off from Florida as 528 million people (15% of the world’s population at the time) viewed it on television.  As would be expected for that historic trip to the moon, both the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat were filled with stories covering all aspects of the preparations and the launch.

The Gazette carried a story in which Sargent Shriver, then Ambassador to France, recalled his brother-in-law John F. Kennedy saying that if he died before the US landed on the moon, he would be watching it from his rocking chair in heaven and would have a better view than anyone on earth. The comments were made on May 25, 1962, the same day President Kennedy addressed a joint session of Congress about the quest to send man to the moon.

But Apollo 11 was not the only thing in the newspapers.

  • July 16 was the first preliminary night for the Miss Arkansas pageant.
  • Ruth the elephant was ailing at the Little Rock Zoo.
  • The Arkansas Constitutional Convention continued
  • The Loch Ness Monster had gone into hiding according to Scottish officials
  • Plans were underway to bring private Little Rock University into the University of Arkansas System

Sports headlines included:

  • The Cardinals beat the Phillies 5 to 0
  • The Travelers were rained out at home.
  • Joe Namath was in secret meetings with NFL leadership regarding his retirement plans. He’d announced them rather than give up ownership of a club frequented by mobsters.
  • Brooks Robinson was named to his 13th consecutive All-Star game.

In advertisements (and there were pages and pages and pages of advertisements – comparing them to papers of today one really sees how much a drop in revenue newspapers are facing):

  • Curtis Finch Furniture offered a side by side refrigerator with icemaker for $499
  • Bruno’s was now serving wine and cocktails
  • Moses Melody Shop had a color TV for $399.50
  • Pfeifer-Blass was selling shoes for $3.50 and women’s jersey dresses for $11.99
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$2 Terror Tuesdays at CALS Ron Robinson Theater – Tonight is 1959’s THE WASP WOMAN

The Wasp Woman Poster$2 Terror Tuesdays continue tonight (7/16) at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater with 1959’s THE WASP WOMAN.

“If I be waspish, best beware my sting.” – The Taming of the Shrew

No, tonight’s film is not a re-telling of Shakespeare’s classic battle of the sexes.  Would that it were.

The Wasp Woman is a 1959 American science fiction horror film, produced and directed by Roger Corman. A cosmetics queen is transformed into a murderous monster after she uses an insect chemical to preserve her beauty.  (But parts of the current version appear to have been filmed sometime in the early 1960s given some of the vehicles clearly visible.)

The showing starts at 7pm.  Cost is $2.

FILMLAND to feature Andrew Stanton of TOY STORY 4 and “Stranger Things”

Two-time Academy Award winner Andrew Stanton is bringing Toy Story 4 to FILMLAND!

He also directed episodes of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things and will screen Episodes 4 & 5 of Season 2 as well.

Tickets are not yet on sale for individual screenings, but if you want to have the first opportunity to reserve a seat, you can purchase a FILMLAND Pass.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton was raised in Rockport, Massachusetts. He was educated at The California Institute of the Arts (or “CalArts”) in Los Angeles, where he studied character animation. After graduation, Stanton began working as a writer on the TV series Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures (1987). In 1990, he became only the second animator and ninth employee to join Pixar Animation Studios.

Stanton went on to help establish Pixar as one of the world’s leading animation studios. He was designer and writer on Toy Story (1995), for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He went on to write and direct such worldwide hits as A Bug’s Life (1998), Finding Nemo (2003) and WALL·E (2008), the latter two both winning Oscars for Best Animated Feature. Stanton also dabbles in voice work, perhaps most memorably as Crush, the laid back turtle, in Finding Nemo (2003).

Three weeks left for dance classes at Wildwood Park

There’s only so much summer left – and only three more weeks of dance classes with Moriah Patterson to go!  There is still time to get to  Wildwood Park for the Arts for one of their exclusive theatre dance classes.

Teen Broadway Dance, 6:00-6:50 p.m.
This fast-paced class geared towards teens will accommodate both those with prior dance experience and those who may be new to dance. The goal of the class is to introduce the language of jazz and musical theatre movement while teaching positions, dance vocabulary, good technique, body placement, and musicality. In addition, focus will be placed on expression and interpretation. This class is perfect for the teen Musical Theatre student looking to further their skills in both dance and performance. Ages: 11-17

Beginner Broadway Dance, 7:00-7:50 p.m.
Want to have happy feet? This class begins at the beginning and teaches all of the basic terminology and steps you’ll need to feel comfortable dancing in a musical. Various styles of dance will be explored–jazz, modern, Latin, and more. Perfect for artists/singers who always wanted to audition for a show, but were afraid of the dance call! Ages: Adult
Proficient Jazz and Tap Technique, 8:00-9:00 p.m.
This adult musical theatre class is intended for more intermediate – advanced dancers, and will incorporate jazz technique (i.e. pirouettes, kicks, jetes, etc.) while staying true to Broadway-inspired choreography and music. Dancers will fine tune their performance and stage skills, while learning Broadway-inspired choreography and movement. The tap portion of this class, will emphasize rhythm, style, and sound. Students will study basic tap steps, combinations, and precision timing with an emphasis on developing proper tap technique and producing clear tap sounds. Ages: Adult

Birth of Little Rock Mayor James Woodson (aka – future Ron Swanson)

On July 14, 1848, future Little Rock Mayor James Alexander Woodson was born in North Carolina.  The son of two prominent eastern families, he and his parents moved to Pine Bluff in 1849.  His father died within two weeks of the family’s arrival in Arkansas.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted as a drummer boy in the Ninth Arkansas infantry but was discharged because of his youth. He worked as a clerk at a general store in Pine Bluff. After the Civil War ended, he attended school in Virginia and Maryland before returning Pine Bluff. Upon his return he worked in the steamboat business and eventually started working in railroads. He was instrumental in putting together one of the forerunners of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and worked for them for 18 years.

Woodson moved to Little Rock in March 1881 and continued working for the railroad until 1891.  Working in the mercantile business allowed him more time to be engaged in civic affairs.  In 1895 he was elected mayor.   He handily defeated former mayor W. G. Whipple who was seeking to return to office.

During Mayor Woodson’s tenure, he oversaw renovations of the 1867 Little Rock City Hall (which was located at the time on the north side of Markham between Main Street and Louisiana Street).  He also championed the construction of a city hospital and the first free bridge across the Arkansas River.  Mayor Woodson was reelected in April 1897 and April 1899.

In April 1890, he resigned to take over the Arkansas and Southwestern Railway.  After restoring it to sound financial footing, he later led the Arkansas Asphalt Company.  That company provided the first asphalt for paving Little Rock city streets.

Woodson served as a director of the Little Rock board of trade (forerunner to the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce), director of the Mercantile Trust Company and president of the state board of trade (forerunner of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce).

Woodson married Virginia Lanier in 1868.  They had six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.  Mayor Woodson died on October 19, 1908 and is buried in Mount Holly Cemetery.  His wife lived until 1937 and is buried next to him.  Also buried in Mount Holly are their children James Alexander Woodson, Benjamin Morehead Woodson and Gertrude Woodson Hardeman; each of whom died before their mother.  Mrs. Hardeman’s husband and son are also buried in Mount Holly.

Some have noted his resemblance to actor Nick Offerman of the show “Parks and Recreation.”

Bastille Day look at Benard de La Harpe

Today is Bastille Day, or as they say in France, la Fête nationale.  It commemorates both the 1789 storming of the Bastille as well as the 1790 Fête de la Fédération.   

At the time both events occurred, the land today known as Little Rock, like the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, was under Spanish control. (A fact overlooked in the operetta The New Moon which is set in New Orleans during the French Revolution.)

However, since this area was “owned” by the French from 1699 to 1762 and again from 1800 to 1804, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the French heritage of the area on this day.

Even though Arkansas was explored by the French in 1722, no official settlement of the area now known as Little Rock took place until 1812.  There was no permanent settlement until 1820 (though by 1818 settlement was eminent as evidenced by the Quapaw Treaty).

Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe was the lead French explorer who first came to Little Rock in 1722.

From 1718 through 1723, he spent time exploring various areas of the southern sections of North America.  His 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers was at least his third such expedition along a river in the area.  From 1718 to 1719, he explored part of what is now Oklahoma up from the Red River.  Next, he explored part of what is now the eastern section of Texas.

After a trip back to France in 1720, he came back to the New World in 1721.  After his February to May 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, he then went to transfer Pensacola to the Spanish on behalf of the French. In 1723 he went back to France and remained there until his 1765 death.