The town of Struggles corroborates its name. The business district is an amalgamation of boarded-up shops, derelict buildings, and weed-infested lots punctuated by an occasional “open for business” sign placed by hopeless romantics with delusional dreams.

Struggles, Arkansas was named after its founder, Dwight Struggles, an entrepreneur and explorer who intended to turn a central Arkansas lake into a destination for well-to-do easterners who had tired of interference in their affairs by an unchecked government. One hundred sixty years later, its glory days had long since evaporated into the wet mist that seemed perpetually to hang over the valleys and drift upward to enshroud the foothills in fog.

Brevard Nelson was born to Struggles, though not in Struggles. No one was born in Struggles. The town never had a hospital nor a clinic, not even a midwife. Expectant mothers take care to arrange for their babies to be born in the nearest town with a maternity ward in a building that pretends to be a hospital. That would be Nichols, Arkansas, thirty miles from Struggles. Yet babies’ birth certificates assert their entry into this world took place in a town called Struggles. Call it pride or provincialism; that’s the way the mothers, and the fathers who accept responsibility, want it. Back to the matter at hand; people are born to Struggles.  That’s the way their parents want it, because that’s the way it has always been. Tradition, in this part of the country, is thicker than a fifty-fifty concoction of blood and flour.



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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