Memories from the Past
Underground Meeting in 1973
Lou Oberste, Travel Director for the Arkansas Department of Park and Tourism, hosted the club's meeting at the Blanchard Springs Caverns National Park. The club was the first to visit the park before it officially opened to the public that year. Skål Little Rock was the first club ever to have a meeting in a cave!
Skål International World Congress, Africa
J. Dan Baker offered to pay his expenses to attend the 1973 World Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa, to represent Skål Little Rock.The club exempted him from monthly fees for the seven years it took to reimburse him!
A Skål member from London, England, joined Skål Little Rock for dinner one evening while he was in town visiting with state officials to try to increase visits to the U.K. Member Charlie McCoy, General Manager at the Sheraton Hotel arranged for a special southern dinner of pinto beans, collard greens, hamhocks and cornbread with buttermilk. Members were shocked and surprised that he would serve such a meal at a Skål meeting. McCoy finally admitted it was all a joke and escorted the group to the next room where they were served a wonderful steak dinner. The London Skålleague enjoyed the joke as did the club members.
Skål Little Rock chartered a motorcoach every February to go to the Oaklawn Race Track in Hot Springs. Several club members were members of the Jockey Club and were able to host members. Skål member J. Dan Baker was also a race horse owner. The club members all won money on his horse named "BeauBright."
Lost in Pine Bluff
Frank Allen invited the club to have a meeting at a new exclusive restaurant in Pine Bluff. The club chartered a motorcoach to transport all the members. The driver, not knowing where the restaurant was located, was given directions by Cecil Tennant and Barry Travis. Unfortunately, the motorcoach ended up on a small, dead-end street with no place to turn around. A nice resident allowed the motorcoach to enter his driveway and do a U-turn in his back yard. Tennant and Travis were never again asked to give directions.
Casino Trip to Mississippi
When the first casinos opened in Mississippi, Skål Little Rock arranged a one-day trip via motorcoach to the Cotton Club with snacks and drinks provided by the Holiday Inn West. On the way, the motorcoach conked out in front of Cummins Prison. The company had another motorcoach thirty minutes behind that stopped to pick up the group. Most of the travelers on the second bus were not happy to pick up the group until they saw the snacks and drinks which the club shared! The trip was a lucky one for Cecil Tennant who won $3,700 that day on a quarter slot machine!
Joint Meeting with Skål Memphis
A motorcoach took Skål Little Rock members to the Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis for a joint meeting with Skal Memphis.The meeting was timed to coincide with the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The dinner menu was exactly the same as the last dinner served on the doomed ship. In keeping with the Titanic theme, servers and hosts were dressed in period costumes. It also coincided with the day that the new movie, Titanic, began showing in the theaters.
Christmas at Marlsgate
Skål members and spouses, wearing formal attire, met at the Holiday Inn West for a motorcoach ride to Marlsgate Plantation. Upon arrival at the mansion, it started snowing heavily. The snow, lit by Christmas decorations and mansion lights, made for a pretty as a postcard picture. It was a memorable evening with owner David Garner and his staff.
Christmas in Hot Springs
For several years, Skål Little Rock held a Christmas weekend in Hot Springs. The host hotels, the Arlington and Majestic, offered special rates to members and provided a meeting room for the formal dinner. Member J. Dan Baker always invited everyone to his lakefront condo on Saturday mornings for a continental breakfast and Bloody Marys.
Flying to Fayetteville
Member Jacques Leveque, Vice President of Skyways Airlines, provided free round-trip tickets from Little Rock to Fayetteville for Skålleagues and their spouses to attend a special meeting at the Mountain Inn Hotel. After the dinner, there was a big commotion in the lobby with police and firemen. A young man was in the men's room of the hotel threatening to set himself and the hotel on fire with a gas can. The evening ended peacefully and members retired to their rooms eventually.
In the "old days" before liquor by the drink, Skål Little Rock maintained its own portable bar that was transported to all meetings by the club's treasurer. Most hotels and restaurants provided setups and allowed the alcohol to be brought in.The box was kept well supplied and was, therefore, very heavy. No more carrying around the bar these days!
An old Skål tradition was to set time for "after-dinner jokes" told by members. Each Skålleague was called on to tell one joke. Many of the jokes were off-color but most were funny. Probably the longest joke in the history of Skål Little Rock was told by Charles Stoermer. He began the joke on one of the motorcoach trips to Hot Springs and didn't finish until the motorcoach arrived! Another "infamous" joke comes from Barry Travis with the "Chicken Joke" which has officially been retired due to its content/length.
For many years Skål International was a "men's" organization. Women were allowed in the clubs slowly. The first woman in Skål Little Rock was Janie McDonald. The story goes that in 2005, Skål Little Rock became the first club in the United States (and possibly worldwide) to have all women officers.
Many years of summer picnics took place in Pine Bluff at Charlie Jamison's "Spud's Roost" and at the Lakeside Country Club in Hot Springs. Hot summer days, great food and special friends made for wonderful experiences. Cecil Tennant hosted the club at his lakefront home in Hot Springs and provided lake tours on his boat.
Wild Skal Dinner
Charlie Jamison always provided the club with excellent dinners at the Camelot, Hilton North Little Rock/Wyndham Riverfront. One special evening was billed as a "Wild Dinner Party" with members not knowing what they were eating. Turns out that venison, alligator, duck, raccoon and emu steak were all on the menu. In addition, Charlie provided a TV so members could watch March Madness basketball.
Arkansas River Cruises
The Arkansas River has offered many opportunities for Skål meetings on the water. One of the first boat trips was provided by Charlie McCoy in his houseboat. It was daylight when the boat went through Murry Lock & Dam but dark upon its return. It was a challenge to keep the spotlight aimed from one buoy to the next! Wayne Woods also has hosted several meetings on his yacht, Southwind, over the years. Meetings were held onboard the Arkansas Queen Riverboat upon its arrival in central Arkansas.
Christmas Wine Dinner
For many years, Cajun's Wharf has been the site for the annual Christmas Wine Dinner. A lovely four/five course meal of "Chef's Choice" is paired with wine. The sommelier provides narrative about each of the wines, explaining its heritage and why it works perfectly with the dinner.
Torpedoes Full Speed Ahead
One of the most unusual locations for a Skål Little Rock meeting was the USS Razorback submarine docked in North Little Rock on the Arkansas River. As part of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, the World War II submarine made for a special touring and dining experience for members.
Up on the Mountain
Members were hosted by Jim Fix and the Winrock Institute at Petit Jean Mountain. Members spent the weekend in cabins and enjoyed a fabulous dinner prepared with ingredients "fresh from the farm" - the Winrock Farm, that is.
Down on the Farm
Members enjoyed their first-ever OctoberFest held at Salscilla Farms, which is owned by member Judith Allen. The evening's highlights included homemade German food, lots of German drinks and a large bonfire -- all perfect for sharing stories and telling jokes!