• 24 Oct 2008

    Arriving in Tennessee almost at the moment that the autumn color was about to emerge represents probably the greatest unintended and certainly the most welcomed consequence of this trip. 

    This seasonal saturation of color is something that many Californians quietly envy.  There is good reason.  It warms you to your core.  And it doesn’t stop at the colors.  After enduring 5 states of iceberg lettuce*, I find myself awash in a sea of rich vegetables prepared in the most decadent and heart stopping ways.

    * Lettuce clarification - After consuming more iceberg lettuce (or, as I like to call it, crunchy water) in the past month than I have eaten in my entire adult life, I ordered a Caesar salad at the first restaurant that offered one.  My hopes crushed when the waitress placed a bowl of iceberg lettuce with Caesar dressing and a packet of Parmesan cheese on the side in front of me.  I miss home.

    My time in West Memphis was amazing.  On my first day, Debra Rieves had introduced me to Dixie and Ralph Carlson.

    Theirs is a remarkable story.  Married for 60 years this coming April, they are first generation farmers who purchased 320 acres at the age of 19 producing cotton, soybeans and oats.  Along with Ralph’s brothers, they built that farm into more than a 25,000 acre enterprise in three states.  In 1966, they succesfully obtained a charter to start the first community bank in Crittenden county.  Along the way, they raised 4 children, Ralph won 3 gold medals for tennis in the Senior Olympics and Dixie became a master gardener.  More, Dixie is an elected State delegate for the Republican Party and attended this year’s convention.  She also serves as a State Commissioner on the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission and on the County Election Commission.

    Dixie and Ralph graciously opened their home and their hearts in the greatest southern tradition. 

    Dixie and Ralph Carlson

    Posted by jm-admin @ 9:09 pm

4 Responses

  • david Says:

    Hi Julie, All I’ve managed to do was ride my bike up Geneva Avenue from Cal Train to Derrick and Craig’s (well, then I did ride back to Menlo Park). Bonus is I found your web site. Reminds me of hitchhiking across country in 1975 with my girlfriend. We found many people who thought we were crazy hippies, but for the most part they were generous, friendly and hospitable. (Just like the people in Afghanistan in 2002.) I’ve just read this one post but now am going to savor all the others. You are almost there. Keep up the good good work you are doing.

  • Linda Says:


  • Roderick Says:

    Now that was an intelligent discourse, even if they do say “Wah.” You know, the interrogative, as in “Wah is the country the way it is today?”

    Not far from where you are now, the clerk in a convenience store asked me if I wanted some “Ahss.” My first thought was that he was offering sex or something, but he was referring to the solid phase of water, to be put in my drink.

  • Sharon Says:

    Hi Julie!

    So glad you’re having a great time in Arkansas; Dixie and Ralph sound like they want to adopt you! How were Dixie’s brownies? The veggies in the photo look yummy–is that ONE serving of broccoli?

    I am so loving your reporting!!

    your ever-lovin’