A Visit to Clark & Williams
I crossed the border from Missouri to Arkansas this afternoon, and I knew immediately I was home.
For starters, the land is achingly beautiful. I miss the Ozarks I grew up with, which are surprisingly unspoiled by development. Every curve in the rugged terrain brings a new vista. You might be high over a lake one minute, deep into a fog bank the next then spiraling down switchbacks the next.
The roads are magnificently contorted, narrow and treacherous. In other words, it’s a fun drive.
The other evidence I was home is that my electronic devices began to malfunction. I entered my hotel’s address in Eureka Springs into the Garmin on the dashboard. It promptly took me to Snaketown, a reptile farm six miles north of Eureka Springs, Ark.
I’m down here to interview Larry Williams and Don McConnell of the Clark & Williams planemaking company. I’ve known Williams and McConnell for many years, but I’ve never gotten to write about this remarkable little company, its interesting history and how they go about building their wooden-stock planes.
I arrived at their shop about 2:30 p.m. Thursday and we spent the next two-and-a-half hours just catching up. Then we went to dinner at an excellent little Italian restaurant and talked late into the evening. I’ve just now looked at my notebook. I don’t think there’s much there I can print. It’s too wild.
I’m going to try again in the morning, but already I fear there is little chance I’ll be able to do this story justice. That’s because every question and comment leads down an interesting and odd side road.
For example: Snaketown. I told Williams and McConnell about how my GPS landed me there. Larry laughed and told a hilarious tale about his daughter’s herd of bitey and impossibly fertile gerbils. And how Larry ended up taking the whole lot of them to Snaketown to become a little snack for the performing reptiles.
– Christopher Schwarz