I’m not exactly sure which movie is my all-time favorite. What I do know is that True Grit is in the top 10.
The John Wayne version, of course, because, well, it’s got John Wayne in the lead role. But the Cohen Brothers’ version, which stars Jeff Bridges, gets a “B” spot next to the Duke’s version, as in if the first one is a 5 the remake is a 5B.
No, I’m not like Arkansas women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors, who has approximately 2,500 DVDs all arranged in order of favorite to least favorite – No. 1 being “A Few Good Men.”
I don’t have anywhere close to that amount and mine are listed alphabetically. I would still be organizing them had I gone the other route.
But True Grit is, well, True Grit. Even with its flaws.
I didn’t grow up in the River Valley, but I grew up in Arkansas and know enough about the state to understand that back in the day when you left Fort Smith and crossed the river into Indian Territory, arriving later that same day, there were no such things as snow-capped mountains.
My dad was born in Paris. No snow-capped mountains there, either. My mom lived in Van Buren during her high school years and, again, no snow-capped mountains. My family was living in Clarksville until the summer before I was to step into the third grade. Even though my thoughts in those days were mostly spent wondering if third graders in Harrison, where we were moving to, got as many recesses as second graders in Clarksville and if my Mamaw had any plans to cut up those luscious Clarksville peaches she had sitting on her kitchen table for me or if I was going to have to take matters into my own hands and just swipe one to enjoy in the back yard, still, even then I knew there were no snow-capped mountains just over the river in what used to be the Indian Territory.
I didn’t know a lot about the River Valley, but I sure knew enough to know when I first saw Marshal Rooster Cogburn, Texas Ranger La Boeuf and young Mattie Ross (from Dardanelle in Yell County) ride off into the Indian Territory sunset that something was wrong with that picture.
Fast forward to the modern day River Valley and I’m finding out many of the things I suspected of Crawford County are, in fact, true, and I’ve been happy to find that out.
Since moving here in September of last year, I’ve found the people to be welcoming and friendly, something I’d previously experienced in bits and pieces while covering Harrison High School athletic events as the sports editor of the Harrison Daily Times for 11 years.
On many occasions the Goblins did battle with the Alma Airedales. Many individuals associated with those Alma teams are still around and it’s been nice to renew those acquaintances. And even though Harrison and Van Buren competed against each other only sparingly, the friendliness I ran across during those events has been echoed in every encounter I’ve had in the home of the Pointers.
That graciousness, along with many warm welcomes, has been extended to me from other county residents in Dyer, Mulberry, Mountainburg, Cedarville and Rudy while I’ve been out gathering photographs and news stories.
And as for those news stories, well there are many positive, heartwarming stories out there in Crawford County – certainly more than one person can write. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.
Everyone has a story to tell and in the months I’ve been here I’ve had fun digging up those stories.
Whether it’s the wonderful work being done by the Boys and Girls Clubs in both Van Buren and Alma, the caring steps the area school districts are taking to add to their students’ educations or the many incidents I’ve had related to me of neighbor helping neighbor, neighbor serving neighbor.
There aren’t any snow-covered mountains, but there are plenty of warm smiles and welcoming handshakes, and those already have led me to many warm, welcoming stories that deserved to be told.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them to this point as much as I have enjoyed writing them. The Press Argus-Courier is the newspaper of record for Crawford County – Van Buren, Alma, Chester, Mountainburg, Mulberry, Cedarville, Dyer, Rudy, Uniontown, Natural Dam, Winslow – and I hope you’ll continue to tag along with us as we ride out in search of the rich stories that make this county a truly special place in which to live, whether it’s been for a lifetime or just a few months.
Bennett Horne is the editor of the Press Argus-Courier and Alma Journal. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.