got caught between my belly and my belt, stinging me over and over, something bumblebees can do that honeybees can’t. I was delirious and had to be rushed to the doctor, but recovered soon enough with another valuable lesson: Romantic oil painting
tribes of bumblebees give intruders one fair warning but not two. More than thirty-five years later, Kate Ross, the five-year-old daughter of my friends Michael Ross and Markie Post, sent me a letter that said simply: “Bees can sting you. Watch out.” I knew just what she meant.My move to Hot Springs gave my life many new experiences: a new, much larger and more sophisticated city; a new neighborhood; a new school, new friends, and my introduction to music; my first serious religious experience in a new church; and, of course, a new extended family in the Clinton clan.The hot sulfur springs, for which the city is named, bubble up from below ground in a narrow gap in the Ouachita Mountains a little more than fifty miles west and slightly south of Little Rock. The first European to see them was Sport oil painting
Hernando de Soto, who came through the valley in 1541, saw the Indians bathing in the steaming springs, and, legend has it, thought he had discovered the fountain of youth.In 1832, President Andrew Jackson signed a bill to protect four sections of land around Hot Springs as a federal reservation, the first such bill Congress ever enacted, well before the National Park Service was established or Yellowstone became our first national park. Soon more hotels sprung up to house visitors. By the 1880s, Central Avenue, the main street, snaking a mile and a half or so through the gap in the mountains where the springs were, was sprouting beautiful bathhouses as more than 100,000 people a year were taking baths for everything from rheumatism to paralysis to malaria Storefront oil painting
to venereal disease to general relaxation. In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the grandest bathhouses were built, more than a million baths a year were taken, and the spa city became known around the world. After its status was changed from federal reservation to national park, Hot Springs became the only city in America that was actually in one of our national parks.The city’s attraction was amplified by grand hotels, an opera house, and, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, gambling. By the 1880s, there were several open gambling houses, and Hot Springs was on its way to being both an attractive spa and a notorious town. For decades before and during World War II, it was run by a boss worthy of any big city, Mayor Leo McLaughlin. He ran the gambling with the help of a mobster who moved down from New York, Owen Vincent “Owney” Madden.After the war, a GI ticket of reformers headed by Sid McMath broke McLaughlin’s power in a move that, soon after, made the thirty-five-year-old McMath the nation’s youngest governor. Notwithstanding the GI reformers, Venice oil painting
however, gambling continued to operate, with payoffs to state and local politicians and law-enforcement officials, well into the 1960s. Owney Madden lived in Hot Springs as a “respectable” citizen for the rest of his life. Mother once put him to sleep for surgery. She came home afterward and laughingly told me that looking at his X-ray was like visiting a planetarium: the twelve bullets still in his body reminded her of shooting stars.Ironically, because it was illegal, the Mafia never took over gambling in Hot Springs; instead, we had our own local bosses. Sometimes the competing interests fought, but in my time, the violence was always controlled. Watercolor oil painting
For example, the garages of two houses were bombed, but at a time when no one was home.