We made a choice 5 years ago to live in Mountain View AR when we both retired. I had wanted to leave New Orleans for a very long time. Hurricane Katrina made me know that decision was the right one.
Living here is different, for sure. First of all, our little town and county are beautiful. More than beautiful.
The view from our front door
It’s a rural small town with a co-op, feed stores, and tack stores. Tack is what you put on horses so you can ride them. I think. Anyway, you can buy it here. You can buy overalls, muck boots, cowboy boots, 50-pound bags of almost anything. Not what we are used to in New Orleans. At all.
Hay baled in the fields
If you don’t want animal food or muck boots, your choices become a bit limited. There are a couple of local grocery stores with limited choices and of course, a Walmart. This is Arkansas, after all. Walmart started here and its headquarters are about 3 hours away from here. The rest of the stores are either second hand stores, souvenir stores or antique stores.
The choices are unusual at our rural Walmart. Seems as if there is really no call for red beans or Zatarain’s seafood boil here in Mountain View. Don’t ask for file’ to make file’ gumbo. Store personnel haven't the faintest notion what that is. The file’ or the gumbo. There are some folks who relocated after Katrina here, but they have not opened any restaurants or grocery stores. They must have relatives back in Louisiana who send them care packages when needed.
Restaurants are in short supply as well. There are a few family-owned ‘American’ restaurants serving hamburgers or maybe tuna fish sandwiches. And maybe apple pie. I don’t really know because they are not accessible nor do they serve any vegan food. They may not know what the word means and sure don't care if mobility impaired folks can get in their restaurant or not.
There’s a Mexican restaurant that has changed hands at least 3 times since we have been here. That does not bode will for the next owner.
Here in Stone Country, we have stones. Lots and lots of stones. We run out of ideas about what to do with them. We haul them around and build fences out of stones. And we budget for replacement of lawnmower blades because we need them. The rocks come up out of the ground every spring and we run into those stones regularly.
Built without mortar. Science and art and beautiful
One thing I find so strange about Stone County specifically, and Arkansas in general. 51% of our population gets some sort of government assistance. This county is so poor that most get food stamps and welfare. But no one wants the government to interfere with their lives. Store owners will never install accessible ramps or clear their aisles for folks who use mobility scooters or wheelchairs. Why? They will not do it because it’s federal law. Remember, “We don’t want no guv’mint telling us what to do.” But we will take checks every month so we can buy groceries. And we will keep electing the people who are trying as hard as they can to take welfare away or reduce it. Go figure.
These US legislators from Arkansas voted against Hurricane Sandy federal relief:
Arkansas is a prime target for tornados. Here’s hoping there is never another one. But if there is a natural disaster, Arkansas will be first in line asking for federal aid. Why do you do vote against yourselves, you hypocrites? And yet Arkansans keep reelecting them the very people who do not have Arkansas needs at heart.
There are no jobs in Stone County. Youngsters aspire to be clerks at Walmart. Oh, they can work in chicken-processing plants. Wanna kill chickens every day? There is a big tourist industry here, so there are service jobs, but tourism is seasonal, so winters are times of unemployment.
For all of its problems, Mountain View is a beautiful place to live. It doesn’t cost much to live here. And we love it.
As a social activist since the 60s, I can’t seem to stop being one. I don’t march anymore, but I do write letters about accessibility to the editor. Maybe Mountain View can start making some businesses accessible. It would be nice.