Week Eleven | West Memphis, AR to Helena-West Helena, AR: the next 150 miles

1pm, Thursday, September 24, 2020

West Memphis, Anthonyville, Horseshoe Lake, Hughes, Marianna, Helena-West Helena

LANDSCAPE | Crossings

A bridge is often seen as connecting two places, but in many instances along the river, bridges divide. Crossing over these bridges, the landscape tells the story of time-worn communities struggling with a conflicting history.


Gathering around a table, squeezing in a pew, living on the same block—these are the vocabulary of family, a constant refrain and priority up and down the river valley.

VOICE | Raymond Willie

Assistant Director of the historic Pillow-Thompson House and long time hospitality worker. Voice gathered on the morning of September 28, 2019 during a tour of the historic home in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas.

VOICE | Solon Anthony

Patriarch of the Anthony family and the Anthonyville community, as well as lifelong educator and owner of the Anthony Funeral Home operation. Voice gathered on the afternoon of September 24 in his home in Anthonyville, AR.

ENCOUNTER | Bobby Cupples

Life-long cotton picker with a deep connection to the land and the pure, white cotton fields in which he’s spent so many years. Voice gathered on the afternoon of September 25, 2019 in his John Deere cotton picker in a cotton field in Hughes, AR.

VOICE | Shane Williams

Director of the Main Street Program and overall fascinating personality. Voice gathered throughout the afternoon and into the evening on September 29, 2019 in Helena-West Helena, AR.

This week we spent time in the Arkansas Delta, making it 2/3rds of the way through the original Relay journey. Leaving Memphis into Arkansas, the terrain flattened, the accents took a turn, the Blues became a mainstay, and cotton was surely king. Crossing over at West Memphis introduced us to a sense of bridges and boundaries beyond physical structures. And the family unit so pervasive up and down the river came forward as an extended community of tradition and inheritance.

We were so glad to see Pat Audirsch of Marianna, AR and Richard Spilman of Helena-West Helena, AR at this week’s session. Thanks to any and all who might view the recording as well. We hope you will send us a note sharing your thoughts, questions, and ideas about this or any other, future ways we can continue to convey this content and these stories.