h/t: Jeff and Debbie Grooms
I had a great trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas — home to the University of Arkansas. Jeff Grooms’ commencement went well — though I wish he were the guest speaker. Later, both tornado warnings and watches marked the afternoon; I did not realize this until I arrived in the state, but Arkansas has experienced the second most deaths due to weather (22) behind either Tennessee or Ohio (33). Tim and Debbie Grooms (Jeff’s parents) treated everyone to some Champaign and dinner that evening. I tried not to dominate the conversation with Jeff and Amy, but they are two of my favorite former students, though I view them more as friends these days. Jeff impressed me with his expansive knowledge and insight into a number of historical problems; I was not surprised seeing that he has more cords around his neck than I did upon my graduation.
Of course, I was also reminded that I was in Arkansas. Sunday morning Janette and I got up to have breakfast at a local diner. While enjoying both my breakfast and conversation, I could not help but listen to a couple of rednecks behind me pontificate about how Mexicans are abusing their resources without paying taxes (whatever). We spent Sunday afternoon in what must be the best independent bookstore in America, the Dickson Street Bookstore. When I was a graduate student then an instructor at CAC, I would often make drives to Fayetteville just to immerse myself in hours of book hunting. I have traveled to a number of places that house an academic base – – but it is here that one can find books stacked from the floor to the ceiling. Because it is a used buy/sell bookstore, there is very little organization outside of a general area (i.e., 19th century English Lit section here). After all of us visited the bookstore, we had dinner at this cool microbrew resturant across from the bookstore; I cannot remember the name.