The question before us today is “Have I been to Arkansas?” I honestly don’t know. Here’s why:
Back in 1959 my family took one of our many cross-country driving vacations. My dad loved long-distance driving. My mom loved seeing places she’d never seen before. And I loved the odd little souvenir stands and quirky tourist attractions along the road. My sister was less enthusiastic than the rest of the family because she had to spend the entire two week vacation in the back seat with her incredibly annoying little brother.
If you were to ask me if I’ve ever been to Arkansas, I would have said no. I have no memories of being there.
That being said, it is possible that we passed through during that 1959 vacation.
I know we stopped at Graceland, Elvis Presley’s new home in Memphis, Tennessee. There’s a famous family photo of my sister standing in front of the estate’s massive wrought iron front gate. She worshipped the King, and attempted to scale the barrier. Ebbis’ security guards immediately rushed out and threatened to arrest her if she didn’t stop. As my sister wiped the tears from her eyes, my dad put the car in gear, and we headed north for my Uncle Pete’s place in Gary, Indiana.
I got on Google maps and charted the route from Graceland to Gary. As you can see on the map above, today’s route turns northwest almost as soon as Graceland fades in the distance, crosses the Mighty Mississip and takes you directly into Arkansas. Then you take a hard right and skirt along the Arkansas side of the Big Muddy for ninety minutes or so before passing into Missouri.
The problem is that I don’t know if that’s the route the main highway would have taken back in 1959 pre-freeway America.
So have I been in Arkansas? Maybe. Do I get to check it off my list of states visited? I’d say it’s probably fifty-fifty, but that’s not quite good enough.
Texarkana is only a couple hours away, so Jamie and I may drive up this weekend, have a quick lunch, and make it official.