There is a reality show on Discovery called Clash of the Ozarks. Have you seen it? It is about two feuding families in a small town in north central Arkansas called Hardy. This happens to be my hometown. Well, I am technically from the next town over, but everybody knows everybody in Sharp County. My family has been in that area as long as the Russells and the Evanses.

clash-of-the-ozarks

Picture Source: Discovery Network

Yes, the two main characters on the show are real people whom I have known my entire life.  They are larger than life for sure!  It was easy to understand why the producers approached them for a scripted reality show.  Both have a talent for telling a story with the essence of the truth spun with just enough elaborations to leave you wondering where the truth ends and the elaborations begin.  Something about that region just seems to produce story tellers.  My own Grandpa Fuller was a master at weaving a tale.

The show itself has been polarizing for the residents of the area. Some see it for what it is— a means for entertainment meant to be taken with a grain of salt. Others are frustrated by the one-sided stereotype of provincial Arkansans being perpetuated by “Hollywood” to the rest of the country.

I am not here to argue the validity of those points.  Rather, please allow me to inject some perspective as someone who grew up there and to present some images and glimpses into a lovely town not shown in Clash of the Ozarks.

The quaint little railroad town of Hardy, AR is situated on the Spring River; an attraction well worth visiting on its own merits.  People travel from all over to fish, camp, and canoe on this river.

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

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Picture Source: Arkansas Tourism

But there is more to Hardy than just its surrounding natural beauty.  I had an opportunity to visit Main Street Hardy last week.  It was as I remembered it.  Busy shoppers were hunting for old forgotten treasures in the antique malls.  Locals sat on sidewalk benches enjoying a slower pace of life than most of us allow ourselves.  If these buildings could talk, even they would have more than a few stories to share.IMG_1419

This one is my favorite on Main Street.  I only know fragments of its history, but it is a history that intertwines with mine.IMG_1411

This unassuming white building used to be a restaurant run by my grandparents.  It was a family affair.  My mom and her sisters waited tables and my grandmother was the cook.  She made the best pies!  Mom lived in the upstairs apartments with her family while my parents were dating.  And do you see that sign?  The one that advertises the Church of Christ?  That is the church Mom and Dad got married in.IMG_1409

While taking a stroll down memory lane, I stopped in at some of my favorite shops.  Let me introduce you to some of the real people who make Hardy so interesting.  Please visit their websites and consider visiting their stores in person.

Dale and Liane Maddox own the Hardy Pottery Shop.  They have been producing some of the finest pottery in the region since 1980.

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

photo 1

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

photo 2

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Their talent is evident in their quality handiwork!  Aside from pottery, they sell metal work, blown glass, jewelry, and more.  The building is over 100 years old and used to be Doc Johnston’s Drug Store.  But that’s another story.

photo 1 (1)

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

photo 2 (1)

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Right next door, is Horton Music.  A friend of the family, Dennis Horton owns this little shop.  He sells and repairs new and used stringed instruments.  He also offers music lessons.IMG_1422

photo 4

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Across the street is the Flat Creek Dulcimer Shop which is owned by Jeff and Debbie Kamps.  Mrs. Kamps was one of my teachers in high school.  They are a sweet family.  They make Mountain Dulcimers, Bowed Psalteries, Lap Harps and Hammered Dulcimers in the basement of their retail shop.IMG_1418

Just down the street is a relatively new addition to the Main Street businesses. Pig-N-Whistle a British style restaurant owned and operated by Philip and Rebecca Ashcroft.  I was touched that day to find a dish on the menu named in tribute to Rebecca’s grandmother, Nadine.  Being from England, Philip creates authentic cuisine even in this most unexpected place.  Where else could you find a full English breakfast in the state of Arkansas?  But don’t take my word for it.  Go try it for yourself!IMG_1414

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Courtesy of Dale Maddox

Coffee With Jen recommends the traditional fish-n-chips!

Coffee With Jen recommends the traditional fish-n-chips!

Speaking of memory lane, there is actually an antique store called Memory Lane Mall which is owned by Ronnie Martin.   As a teenager, I  had regular gigs babysitting the Martin kids.  Previously, this building was a furniture store owned an operated by Ronnie’s dad, Don.  My mom worked for Mr. Don Martin as a bookkeeper, but that was before I was born.IMG_1415

To the right of Martin’s Furniture Store/Memory Lane Mall is the barber shop that my Daddy has used since he was a child.  As a little girl, I can remember running errands with my Dad.  On occasion, we would stop in for him to get a trim.   As you could imagine, it was in that shop that I heard some of the “biggest fish stories” I have ever heard.IMG_1417

Of course, I have to tell you about my favorite coffee shop in Hardy!  It is called Words Afterwords.  I went for the first time last week.  I LOVED IT!  It is owned by Beth and Greg Bess.  Beth is a sweet friend and an inspiration to all who meet her.  The atmosphere was so lovely, and the coffee was delish! They have live music and performances on the weekends.  Check them out!

Courtesy of Words Afterword

Courtesy of Words Afterword

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As you can see, Hardy is so much more than has been portrayed on TV.  It is a town of hard workers, great cooks, artists, musicians, as well as great story tellers.   Residents embrace the town’s rich history but are always pursuing and making new stories; stories that I think are worth sharing.

I am proud to call it my hometown.

This post is a part of the #48Walks challenge.
Link Up With: “Inspire

100 comments on “A Story Worth Telling: Hardy, AR

  1. Christy Duncan

    Awesome article Jen! This, to me, is the REAL Hardy, and the reason I love it so much!

      1. Wren W

        Thank you for the wonderful article on Hardy. My parents owned a business there in the 90’s and I have many fond memories of the people and places there. I use my pottery from the pottery shop everyday for the last 12 years. Hardy is never far from my heart.

        1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

          Wren,
          Your welcome! It was a joy to share my memories and it has been a joy to hear all of the reader memories as well. Blessings

  2. Olanda Sauer

    Jen, I know this Hardy too. I am also old enough to remember the “old” Hardy. There was a theater on the main street. They handed out bags of popcorn on Halloween. The Courthouse was the also there along with a little tiny jail. There was a drugstore that had a soda fountain and there was a little tiny jewelry store. You had Horrell’s grocery store and furniture store. I remember your grandparents restaurant.We moved here from San Diego when I was 10. My father was from Hardy. My grandparents had a rooming house here. I finished 6th grade at the old Hardy school then on to Highland starting in the 7th grade, graduating as a proud member of the class of 72 along with Crowbar. It saddens me to see so many empty businesses these days. It used to be a bustling little town.
    .

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Olanda,
      My Dad was in the first graduating class of Highland. I have heard many stories about the theater. Thanks for sharing your story!

    2. Mitch hackney

      My grandfather was Marshal of Hardy he put a few in that jail including my father and uncle one time

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Thank you so much, Liane, for all the beautiful pics! I really enjoyed the time we spent together last week. You store is so lovely! Blessings!
      Jennifer

  3. Marsha

    That was a great tribute to Hardy!! It is my home town also. I would also like to mention it is the best place to fish & camp, there are several FREE places to camp on Spring River and there are more game fish in Spring river in the Hardy Mammoth Springs area than any other river in the US!! The Harold E Alexander Wildlife area offers the free camping so city slickers can come out and see if they can survive in a tent on the Spring River like Jimmy Haney for real,lol. We go there on week ends and take horses, we ride in the mornings & evenings then fish & swim during the day. We sit around the camp fire at night. NO MOSQUITOES!!! I love Hardy and the surrounding areas, it is a great place to raise kids and to just enjoy life after they are grown!

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Thanks for the tips! I love the surrounding area as well! Can’t hardly beat some of the lakes around there.

  4. Lou Ann Cushman

    Thanks, Jennifer! This is a great article….you have so many talents….so proud of you!

  5. Melody

    Great story. Just recently moved back to my home state of AR after my husbands 23 year military career. I will be visiting Hardy soon. I have not been there in years.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Melody,
      Please do! Where do you live? I have other post of things to do in Arkansas. I will be adding more this Spring and Summer. Please come back and check it out! Click on NWA Day Trips at the top. I will be rearranging things soon so that it will be easier to find information on my site.

      1. Melody

        Jen, I live in Fort Smith, AR. We were married in Eureka Springs. We love day trips so I will definitely be visiting often.

        1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

          Let me know if you have any tips for a day trip in the River Valley. I have lived in Rogers for 12 years but have yet to venture to Ft. Smith.

          1. Melody

            Thanks for asking, Jen. I will put something together and let you know.

  6. Alanna Russell

    This is truly Hardy, AR. Not the unwelcoming, outsiders beware that is portrayed.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      That is one thing Mr. Kamps told me while visiting with him last week—when they came from the North they were never treated as outsiders.

  7. Tonya Rees

    My Mother-in-law was a waitress at that restaurant. I remember going in there for breakfast and lunch quite often while my husband and I were dating. It was one of my favorite places in main street and holds such great memories 🙂

      1. Tonya Rees

        My mother-in-law’s maiden name was Wiles. I’m sure y’all are related 🙂

        1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

          Yes, we are all related! There are so Wiles’s from Sidney and Melbourne too. They all came from the same two brothers. I love the story…maybe I will tell it another day!

  8. Garnet R Brooks

    My mother’s family (The Richardson’s) are also from Hardy, I was conceived there, born in Thayer , Mo., and I still have family that live in around Hardy. My Grandmother, Dad’s mom, ( a licensed plumber)and her third husband Fred Hennings dug and laid most of the plumbing and sewer for the area. My entire family that has passed before me are laid to rest in our family cemetery just north of town on 63. I was there for a visit just a few weeks ago….

  9. Mrs. Karen Hunnicutt

    Thank you for telling something about the “real” Hardy, AR. Although I’ve only lived in the area for 27 yrs., my husband lived here as a child of the 1950’s/60’s… he remembers a lot about the town & can definately tell some “tales”.

  10. Jamie Hackney

    🙂 My great grandpa was the Sheriff for a while. Sterling Hackney! I remember as a kid going there and my grandpa would take us to see the papers that lined the walls in the jail maybe? Cant remember! I love Old Hardy! <3 My favorite childhood memory!

    1. Freda Gamblin

      Jamie I knew your Great Grandpa Hackney. I loved them – You are correct about the papers lining the jail wall. Last time I saw them they were living in Coffeyville, Kansas. Years ago.

  11. latisha russell

    Hey Jen!!! (: May Hardy’s and Your cup both overflow with global tourist in major abundance this summer and always!!! I know first hand they will all be welcome with that Southern Hospitality and Warmth that The Main Street of Hardy is well known for!!! Great pics…Always, Latisha & Crowbar

  12. Kaye (Carpenter) Safley

    I remember old Hardy from the wonderful times visiting grandmother, Mollie (Causbie) Carpenter Nicks. One fond memory is climbing Wahpeton Hill with Grandma along with the food needed for cooking breakfast. We visited Horrels Grocery, Piggley Wiggley, the dime store; had a drink at the drugstore, went swimming at Spring River Beach, got ice cream cones at the Dairy Freeze or whatever it was called and sat in the porch swing watching traffic go by. Such wonderful memories!

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Kaye,
      Sounds wonderful! I love hearing all these stories! I would always beg my mom and dad to tell me their stories. History is so important!

  13. Doyne Rboertson

    Jennifer,
    Thanks for the great article.
    I think I told your Dad one time that I remember eating at the café on the corner many times during the 1950’s. Our family owned a farm near Wiseman. We lived at Jonesboro but would travel through Hardy on our way to Wiseman. I remember ordering an open-faced hot beef sandwich with gravy and potatoes. I remember how great that tasted. I doubt that your Mom was the waitress since she would have been too young then.
    Thanks again for the article.
    Doyne

  14. Vaughn Jerome

    Loved the story. I was the first band director at Highland High School. I began in 1967 building a band. My wife taught kindergarden. I taught there for 16 years and remember and knew everybody in Hardy and Ash Flat. Thanks for the memories.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Vaughn,
      How exciting!!! Your wife was my Kindergarten teacher. 🙂 I loved Mrs. Jerome! My first-born is in kindergarten this year. I have thought of Mrs. Jerome several times this year.
      Jennifer Wiles Mullen

  15. Amy Charbauski

    Love, love this article! Still remember coming to Hardy for the first time when I was 12…loved how friendly everyone was to us “flatlanders” So happy to raise my family here in our business in Hardy 🙂

  16. Lori Krepps

    Jennifer I love your article! I too grew up not far from Hardy and love the “old fashioned” feel of the town. We have also been watching the show, and I hate that they portray everyone there to to be like the people on the show. Like people there just go around shooting and beating people up. I think your article captured the real heart of Hardy. I can’t wait to go back and visit some of the “new” shops.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Please do go back! I knew some Krepps. 🙂 Sure you are related. I love the connections that have been made today. Blessings.

  17. Lori Krepps

    I bet you know my husbands family. Jacqulyn maybe. She and I were friends and that is how I met my husband. I lived at Smithville and would love to go back.

  18. Cari Paris

    Jennifer, I also grew up in Hardy. I worked for Dale and Liane in their pottery shop and watching their kids. I swam in the Spring River. The Kamps were my neighbors and I babysat their children including Sarah on the show. My parents still live there. I agree there is much more to Hardy that the show could capitalize on.

  19. Brenda Baldridge

    Thanks so much for showing our beautiful home town it is mine too. I love it here. The Spring River and also the beautiful lakes. No other place in the world like it… Loved the article.

  20. Iris Estes

    I loved the article. We lived in Batesville from 1967 to 1976. My husband and two children performed in the Arkansas Traveler Theatre; We loved Hardy and the surrounding area.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Iris,
      Wow! I forgot about the Traveler! That is where I tried fried green tomatoes for the first time. Yum!!!

  21. Micki Gott

    I have been going to Hardy since “before” I was born!70 years ago! Have pics of my grandmother sitting in the falls of the river when SHE was young. The stories I could tell. Used to go to Rio Vista and dance in the round house.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Micki,
      I graduated with a Gott. Sure you are related. 🙂
      Love all of these stories! So great to have you all sharing with me today!
      Jennifer

  22. Laura

    My family moved to Hardy in 1987, and I lived there until 2002, when I married. I still go back and visit regularly. I enjoyed your article, and getting to see familiar sights and faces… but I would like a little more comparison to the TV show. HAHA! I don’t want to bother with watching it, but I would like to know what they are portraying Hardy as. LOL I’m just curious.

  23. Barry Sellers

    Nice story of a nice place. As I keep saying, a little fact, a little fiction, and a lot of fun. I keep coming back to there.

  24. Randal Smith

    Thank you for this. My mother was Ruby Smith, and she worked in the restaurant your grandparents owned. For a while, my Uncle Floyd and Aunt Ella (Ragsdale) operated a doughnut shop behind the restaurant. I was very young, probably 6 or 7 years old, but I can still remember going to visit them. In my teenage years, Hardy was where I hung out on weekends, mostly at the movie theater or the library, then as I got a little older, at the pool hall. I graduated from Williford HS in 1970 and moved away shortly after. Several of my classmates still live in the area. Bobby Higginbottom still lives in Hardy. Again, thank you for the pictures.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Randal,
      Your welcome! What a joy it has been to hear all of the reader stories today! So thankful for this community.
      Blessings,
      Jennifer

  25. Renee Zeigler Robinson

    Jennifer, I am so glad you wrote this article. It was so beautifully written, and captured the pleasant nature of Hardy which is everything I remember growing up as a child. Hardy, and the surrounding areas, has always been a small and quaint place where people felt like family, not like the feuding enemies portrayed in the show. My mom was also in the first graduating class of Highland along with your dad. Your mother was my babysitter for several years, and I still think the world of your parents and you! So proud of you!!

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Renee,
      How sweet you are to leave a comment! We love you too! I have fond memories of playing with you and your brother on long summer afternoons. So thankful for all the people who have shaped my life! Hope you are well.
      Jennifer

  26. Pam Willett

    Thank you so much for this article! My mother , JoAnne (Garland) Stewart, grew up in Hardy and I spent a lot of my summers in Hardy with my grandmother , Hessie Harbison. I love that little town! You’re article depicts my memories of Hardy! Thank you!!

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      You are welcome! It has been so much fun to hear all of the readers’ stories too. Thank you for sharing!

  27. dhparker

    Can’t claim to have lived in Hardy, but for many years of my life we passed through it two to four times a year. It was on our route from Alabama to my hometown in the Missouri Ozarks. Getting to Hardy always made me feel like we were almost home. We never had much time to stop. Someday I would love to come and spend several days there. The only thing I disliked about it was sharing the narrow road with the huge trucks that frequented Highway 63. The bypass has helped that. 🙂 …I once read that Ozarkers don’t mind perpetuating the hillbilly myths because it keeps out the city-slickers. 😛 Great article! Thanks.

  28. Jennifer Erin Richey

    The candy store… dont forget the CANDY STORE. My family will travel the 2 hour round trip journey, if only to see just the candy store.

  29. Liane

    The candy store is across the street and to the left of the Pottery shop. It’s been there for many years. Old Time Candy Shop. Lot’s of candy, ice cream and other goodies and they specialize in homemade fudge! Jennifer you must take your children there next time you visit.

  30. Liane

    One more thing… Everybody is talking this blog post up! Even Kerry Evans.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Well, I didn’t understand the significance of this post as I was writing it. I could have never imagined the response it has received. Words matter, and I try to use them well. Over the years, I have learned that the written word can bring healing, hope, and encouragement. I pray no matter what I write about whether it be a devotional piece or a promo piece for an event or place, that it reflect the heart of my Father and bring glory to Him. What a joy it has been to be a blessing to the town of Hardy!
      Jennifer

  31. Denise

    Great story! My dad went to school and grew up in Williford, so I’ve been to Hardy often. My cousin lives there. We were there last month. It’s a neat little town.

  32. Christi Worley Jacques

    Thank you so much for sharing the real “Hardy, AR” with us. I was bewildered why so many people I knew wanted to re-locate there. I know a young single mother that moved there with a small child. She has had a rough 1st Winter there and at times, I feared for her safety. The community has embraced her and she truly feels that she can make a better life for her children & herself. Your article was a true BLESSING to Hardy, AR.

  33. Tavner Martin

    Im one of the Martín children that she baby sat!! Hardy is the best place to to take a weekend and explore.

  34. Jennie

    I enjoyed your pictures, I still have some pictures of Hardy, loved going there, my mom came from The Collins, Jones Clan. Are you related to Karen Mullens?

      1. Laura

        Jennifer Wiles… that name sounds so familiar… Did your dad drive a bus?

          1. Laura

            Ahhhhh….. that was probably who I was remembering. I rode his bus the one year that I went to public school.

  35. Vicki Lawrence

    Thank you for this article! I loved it. A few years ago my husband flew in on our private (small plane) to the little Hardy airport. The gentleman from the Bed & Breakfast agreed to pick us up at the airport and drive us to our little cabin/house. It was funny because there was no one else there for us but the gentleman was standing there holding up a sign with our names on it! Then later he insisted we borrow his car and go for a drive north toward Missouri. We very much enjoyed our stay there and I’d really like to come back this summer! Vicki

      1. Ronald Gargus

        Great article. I also had left a comment on FB regarding the “real” Hardy. The show doesn’t do the town justice (no pun intended). Been coming to area since early ’70s. Been back for good in Cherokee Village (for you non-locals, it knida adjoins Hardy) since “92. Great place to live & especially retire!

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  37. Deborah Jane Pierce Meeks Henry

    I love Hardy. Lived there with grandparents and then married,1968-1975. Graduated at Highland High 1970. Canoed Spring River from Mammoth Springs to Hardy many times. Actually lived in Cherokee Village. Remember all the wonderful retired people. Father-In-Law, Ed Meeks, had a hardware/tool store on main street. I worked as a cashier at Town + Country Groceries. Remember the old Hardy bridge and campgrounds. Married in Cherokee Village, ’71, First United Methodist Church, Ken and Deborah (Pierce) Meeks… Waterskiers, Ski Shows, Waterski Teachers…on Thunderbird Lake. Remember the Hamburger/IceCream place across from the lake; and the marina. Also, I worked as waitress at Sitting Bull Restaurant in the Village. I remember Mr. & Mrs. John Cooper and the gift shops, businesses, gas station, sales people, real estate business, tourists, social clubs and events, lifeguards, beach, etc. in the Village when property was selling and homes were being built. The developed lakes, the natural water springs; the deer and raccoons. The hiking places and hidden gems! There use to be an old mansion at the intersection of Hardy/the bridge-Hwy towards Cherokee Village/Retirement Community. My husband and I were the Postmasters and lived in a nice house near the beach. Living on the lake most of the time was nice. Last time I was there; the Oak Ridge Boys did a concert by the railroad tracks. Camping was so much fun there. Scenery and small towns in the area (Ash Flat) is so beautiful. Miss the catfish restaurant! The road from Mammoth Springs to Hardy; no other like it. Hardy was a dry county. People had to drive to Mammoth Springs/Thayer for liquor. Three of our Highland High School football players lost their lives on that road. The road has been much improved since then. The roads in the Village have to be experienced! There was hardly television or radio reception when we lived there! Most people made their own entertainment…like Hillbilly clogging, frog gigging, storytelling, campfire songs……No large retail shopping. No Hospital. Simple life. Hardy has kept it’s heritage with a few small folk/craft shops. A lot of stories to be told in that area! Thank you for the article and pictures. Brought back nice memories. 🙂

  38. Julie Headrick

    I love the pictures of down town Hardy, my home town. My parents the Wilson’s owned the building you call now memories on Main Street. Back in 1969. It was a restaurant then.

  39. Kim

    LOL, this was a lovely read. I enjoyed the show for how crazy it was and if it peeks interest for tourism to help Hardy than that’s a bonus. I had my mom watch with the sound turned off just so she could enjoy the beautiful shots of Hardy and the river. While I no longer live down there, my childhood memories are filled with walking across the old bridge to downtown to get donuts with my friends at the gas station, saving my money for trinkets at the Treasure Trove or going into the dulcimer shop just to listen(I have no musical talent whatsoever) and if we were good, a few quarters for the arcade. Watching the trains go by while waiting for for my mom to stop talking, and talking, and talking. The rummage sales at the church…was there a Jamacian restaurant at one time?

    I don’t go as far back as most on here but but my first frog legs were eaten at the Catfish place/motel right before town and I remember the Christmastime flood of ’82 when gas tanks and groceries were floating across Main Street.

    Traffic would get so backed up with people stopping for lunch and to browse the antiques. I always wanted to live in one of the iconic river rock houses. I love the Arkansas Traveler but wasn’t much the fan of the traditional food, my dad called it tree bark, but whenever family came to town we’d go for a show. Everyone would get a good laugh a few days later when they noticed the Traveler bumper sticker placed on the on the car during the show.

    As a teen, we’d return each summer for the best bbq on the planet, back when Sandy and Bobby were right on the river( but still the best at the hilltop location) or getting a new Rebels shirt made at the Red Hog shop. I miss those days but have started new ones each time we make our way down. It’s not as often, and the buildings have changed, but there’s nothing like driving in . Alcohol availability was a shocker but if that helps business’ survive the bypass, then so be it.

    Again, thank you for this piece and all the wonderful photos.

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