The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents -

Ev­ery July, we jump to the heart of sum­mer. In Hot Springs, vis­i­tors dis­cover what lo­cal denizens have known for years — that the quaint­ness of our town com­bines quite nicely with fun-in-the-sun ac­tiv­i­ties for per­sons of ev­ery age and in­ter­est.

As long as I can re­mem­ber, the re­sort city has al­ways held a spe­cial al­lure for peo­ple who are at­tracted to places that are wel­com­ing in na­ture and of­fer more than the usual va­ca­tion fare.

Par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nat­ing for most who dis­cover the Spa City is how learn­ing more about its his­tory adds color and panache to all the things there are to see and do here. And the size of this unique mu­nic­i­pal­ity is only rel­a­tive, nei­ther defin­ing nor lim­it­ing res­i­dents’ out­look on their fu­ture.

Dur­ing my girl­hood days, I spent many a July day in the com­pany of my ma­ter­nal grand­mother, Mary El­iz­a­beth Parker Proc­tor, an in­vet­er­ate world trav­eler who none­the­less loved and ap­pre­ci­ated Hot Springs’ am­biance and wanted to make sure I did as well.

Fa­mil­iarly called “Miss Tea” by close friends, she and I — two-piece suit and gloves for her and less for­mal warm-weather wear that she deemed ac­cept­able for me — would tra­verse the down­town area, stop­ping in var­i­ous shops and look­ing in the win­dows of oth­ers. She would in­tro­duce me to ac­quain­tances, share some lore about th­ese dif­fer­ent en­tre­pre­neur­ial ven­tures, and un­doubt­edly cri­tique my man­ners as we went along Cen­tral Av­enue.

Re­gard­less of my young age on th­ese early ex­cur­sions, I felt quite grown up as to­gether we took in the en­vi­rons of the busi­ness dis­trict, the amaz­ing ar­chi­tec­ture sur­round­ing us, and the grandeur of Bath­house Row. On oc­ca­sion, we would stop by the Med­i­cal Arts build­ing where my ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, a fam­ily physi­cian, once had his of­fice, and spend­ing time in the lobby of the Ar­ling­ton was al­ways a must if time al­lowed.

No mat­ter where the en­su­ing years took me, th­ese men­tal im­ages re­mained clear and vivid and on re­turn trips home, I would re­trace the steps Tea and I had taken dur­ing our ex­ploratory ad­ven­tures.

Of course, the streetscape has changed dra­mat­i­cally, along with many other as­pects of our com­mu­nity — a healthy sign of growth and new pos­si­bil­i­ties. Hot Springs has cer­tainly broad­ened its base and thus con­tin­ues to build on a solid foun­da­tion. It’s still so­phis­ti­cated, sassy and serendip­i­tous. It’s still the place to be. Melinda B. Gas­s­away Ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor

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