Springs is not exactly the big city, but I wouldn’t call
it tiny either. It is however, home to Tiny Town. More than
just a town, Tiny Town is its own little world, all made
out of cast off scraps, odds and ends, whatchamacallits
and whatnot gathered by
Frank Moshinskie over decades, then recycled into a wondrous miniature
landscape. Frank began building the scenes as a teenager and never
in an old residential corner of Hot Springs, we found Tiny Town
well off the beaten path. Since Frank has passed on to his reward
— to the not-so-tiny town in the sky — the presentation is
carried on by his son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Barbara
Moshinskie. Barbara was there to greet us and promptly began
the story of how the collection grew and took on a life of its
his family and friends — and celebrities
— to populate his little world. We had to look close, but sure
enough, there were Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson walking along
with Mr. T. Now that’s not something we see everyday!
we made our way around the display, Barbara pointed out
the highlights. She kindly included us in the show, Push
that button in front of you. We did, and a part of
the town sprang into motion. Push another and
trains begin to roll. Hey, who doesn’t like that?
master-of-all-I-surveyed. Starting and stopping the Ferris Wheel,
the guy chopping wood, an airplane, cars, dogs barking — yes–
I was controlling anything that moved. I could turn on lights
in the houses and buildings — even in an outhouse — there
was no stopping me.
didn’t mind, she’d seen it all before. Everyone, regardless
of age, is transformed into a kid at Tiny Town. I think Frank
would be happy.
fingers began to ache, I started to snap out of the trance.
Veronica, still bit-chomping, was ready for some bathhouse babying.
She had a point — I pried my trigger finger away to go check
out the springs, since they are the whole reason Hot Springs
have been taking in the waters of Hot Springs for their
healing powers as far back as history can record. Long before
Hernando de Soto came along to claim the area for Spain,
the Quapaw, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, and many other tribes
enjoyed these springs. Native
Americans called this The Valley of the Vapors and hostilities
were left aside while partaking of the 140-plus degree healing
bathhouses were built over the springs, drawing folks from
far and wide to partake in the perceived curative properties
of the waters. And still they come, drinking and/or bathing
to cure what ails them.
By 1832 the
became a National Park.
Through the years an array of grand bathhouses developed into
the famed Bathhouse Row that is now a part of the park.
spas are preserved in fine detail and several are still in operation,
so we certainly had to check out the inside of one. The Fordyce
Bathhouse now serves as the National Park Visitors Center, so
it was the obvious choice. We wandered in, were handed a map
and shown the way for the self-guided tour.
around, we gawked at the stunning stained glass ceiling
of the Roman style men’s baths, sat in the locker
rooms, checked out the old tubs and steam boxes, and generally
enjoyed a glimpse into a bygone era.
Then we went upstairs.
some point along the way, someone decided that the water
alone wasn’t good enough. Nope, tools — really scary tools
— were necessary to supplement the healing powers of the hot springs.
We had stumbled upon what looked like a Frankenstein movie torture
by the collection, we still had to look. Good God, that one
has an electric plug! I don’t even want to think what a long
glass tube with a 120 volt plug out the back could be used for.
I actually started getting a queasy feeling deep in my innards.
Things were skrintching up a good bit. Orifices were tightening
in a precautionary manner, with the hope of preventing any unwanted
ahead while Veronica stood frozen in either shock or wonder.
She had to be scared, but what I found in the Women’s Hydrotherapy
Room wasn’t going to reduce her fears any. It looked like it
should be on top of a fire engine.
rounded the corner and stood face-to-face with a large box
containing several firehose-like nozzles protruding from
one side, and a
bevy of levers, knobs, pedals, valves, gauges and dials on the
other. The whole room was tiled and waterproofed, so obviously
the idea was
to soak down the patient until whatever afflicted
them drowned — or begged for mercy. Hey, I’d be begging as soon
as Igor touched that first knob.
this was the stuff they showed the public, I’d hate to think
what’s behind some of those locked doors. Oh gee, look at
the time, we ought to get going.
I decided to
steamy medicinal elixir bubbling up out of
the ground instead.
I’m much better now.
No wonder people keep coming here.
Did you know that Hot Springs hosts the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade?