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By Joseph Dempsey Lake Dick

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The old water tower at Lake Dick, Arkansas, takes on a golden glow as an early-evening thunder storm passes through the neighborhood late in July 2009. In the foreground, a healthy crop of ripening corn similarly shimmers in the natural flood of yellow light.

Lake Dick, in addition to being an oxbow lake, is also an unincorporated area in Jefferson County, south of Altheimer and northeast of Pine Bluff. The community now consists of some utility buildings, the tower and a few homes. Just how the lake got its name, and consequently, the community, remains a mystery.

How the water tower and the houses got there is not a mystery. During the first Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, the Farm Security Administration along with the “Resettlement Administration,” which I’m presuming was a part of the former, hatched up a scheme to put families in a cooperative agricultural venture. There were a number of homes built around the lake. There was a large barn-like headquarters and a store.

The project was put into operation and was probably doomed to failure from the git-go, but World War II came along and by 1943, the governmental agencies which gave rise to the Lake Dick project were summarily dissolved. The land, nearly 3,500 acres, and buildings were reverted to private ownership.

Lake Dick was one of a number of similar projects created under the same banner by the Farm Security Administration (FSA). While the original intent of the FSA went down like a one-egg puddin', there was an ancillary benefit. FSA created a “Photography Program.”

For this program, administration officials enlisted the talents of Dorthea Lange, Gordon Parks, Russell Lee, and a number of other gifted photographers. The photographers traveled around the nation during the thirties and recorded the still lingering effects of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the other natural and social pestilences of the thirties. The haunting images they captured have been seen by millions and are recognized as the definitive statement of how the Depression affected an entire generation of Americans.

The failed Lake Dick project also made possible this week's featured picture — for which I am personally grateful. Blind hog finds acorn.


A week or so ago, I returned to the scene. The corn had been harvested. There was no storm, but late evening sun again illuminated the tower satisfactorily. Life is good.

N O T E S:  
Nikon D300, Nikkor VR 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 G ED, all ISO 200, tripod mount. The pictures are composites, so exposure varies. Base exposure for the storm shot , 1/250 @ f8, for the back to normal shot, 1/2000 @f4. Post processed with Photoshop CS4 Extended and Genuine Fractals print pro.

divider go there now See some more old water towers on our blog, Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind. Also we discover a place where you can still get an RC Cola and a Moon-Pie, and we have a shot of the Ground Zero Blues Club at Clarksdale. Mississippi.


Click the jump wings
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weekly grist

Most of the time, there is more to the Photo of the Week story than can be told in an essay. And most of the time there are more pictures to be seen. Presuming that some folk will enjoy being privy to this trove of information, I have created a blog, “Weekly Grist for the Eyes and Mind,” where I am showing and telling “the rest of the story." There are also some blatantly commercial mentions of some of the things we do to earn our beans and taters. Click on the Weekly Grist logo and go to the blog.  — J. D.


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