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It is indeed a small world, afterall.....

Took a trip to the Old Mill today.... for those unfamiliar with the North Little Rock structure or who might live outside Arkansas.... it is a 1930s replica of an early 1800s grist mill--- Or, for you movie buffs out there... it was filmed in the opening scenes of Gone With the Wind, and is believed to be the only building from that production that still stands.

I've been to the Old Mill many times in the past, and have always marveled at the stone structures that have been cast, sculpted and painted to look like wood. I've only lived in Arkansas since 2002 and every visit to the Old Mill is another chance to marvel at the craftsmanship and another chance to remark on how much the Old Mill reminds me of Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis that my family frequented while I was a child. And, today, I now know WHY--- both places were crafted by the same man.
                                 *bridge at Old Mill*
                                                     

                         *bridge at Memorial  Park Cemetery*


Growing up, my brother and I were taken to Memorial Park Cemetery quite often to explore the grotto and climb through the concrete structures that were fashioned to look like wood--- the detail was so precise that you needed to be standing on top of it to realize it was not wood-- the grain, the color, the shape of the "bark" were enough that from a distance they were, in fact, trees.

What made this place special to us, though, was the story that went along with it. My grandmother, born circa 1915, spent most of her formative years in Memphis. Unfortunately, she passed away when I was only 8 or 9, so I don't have very strong memories of her, other than the cricky squeaks of her rickety wood kitchen table and that her house always smelled of oil paints and over-ripe bananas.

The one story, that trickled through our family, revolved around Memorial Park Cemetery and the little Mexican man that crafted the place. Right after high school, my grandmother worked at Cress's Dime Store in downtown Memphis and one day she was greeted by this Mexican man who purchased a handful of cheap paintbrushes from her.

He went on to tell her that he needed them for a project he was working on and that he had to keep it pretty quiet. We later came to assume that he used the cheap paintbrushes as it was easier just to toss them once he finished each task. And keeping his projects quiet were exactly what he came to be known for.

The trunk of his car was his workshop, where he mixed and blended colors to achieve his masterful results. The bottles were stripped of their paper labels and the trunk lid was slammed shut if anyone approached him. He was even known to toss the bottles to the ground-- shattering their contents so no one would be able to copy his ingredients-- his technique.

He was such an odd little man, but his impression was a lasting one--- his eccentricities, giving a story that my family continues to repeat. And, possibly her encounter with him was what led my grandmother to spend a good portion of her life working in oil paints herself.

So here, one state away and two decades later, I have a name for the odd little Mexican man to whom my grandmother sold cheap paint brushes ---- Senor Dionicio Rodriguez

At least now I know why the Old Mill felt so familiar to me ----

Gracias, Senor, gracias....

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