We were working a booth on the Fayetteville town square selling belts and buckles. It was a good gig only 30 minutes away from our shop on the Missouri/Arkansas border and we could realize an easy $100 for a morning in the sun sitting on the quaint plaza of an old southern square. The University of Arkansas was only a few blocks away but this rustic part of town took you back a century or so. This was no hillbilly ruse; we really did wear bib overalls, dip snuff and live in the woods. We were a bunch of 1975 hippies communing in the wilds of rural Missouri, growing pot, eating twat and eking out a living in a bug tussle paradise.
This wasn’t a tourist crowd, just people coming to town. We wouldn’t work Branson or Eureka Springs; in ’75 we still had a sense of shame. Most of the booths were local produce, quilters, farm artists and a few craftspeople. There was a guy who made junk pile people, a woman who was everything persimmon and an old boy who worked wonders with walnut hulls. Our buckles were made from geodes some stoner in Iowa found digging around in the glacial moraine. If you didn’t smoke pot our buckles would make you want to try.
Fayetteville probably had a population of about 50,000 in those years but it was smack dab in the middle of the Boston Mountains and hill people tended to roll down into town. There would always be a bunch of for real goobers picking and grinning for tips. The best of the lot were a bunch of ancient good old boys who’d linger around the edges messing with each other. These were honest to god crackers in mangy overalls; crushed hats and shit caked shoes come to town to visit with other old boys from day’s gone bye and share a joke or two. The biggest laugh was stepping on shoes. One old dude would dance a buck and wing to the picking and sidle up to the next old bud and casually stomp on his shit kickers to the delight of the gathered crowd. The stepping of shoes was a rural classic and as I watched I felt in my heart that I could not wait to be so old and have such dear friends that would tolerate my goofing humor.