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How do you tell the story in one hour, of my friend Mr. Robert Traylor, a 94 year old man who sired 7 children, held the office of Arkansas state representative in 1971, smuggled gems out of Columbia, gave up alcohol in his 50’s and proudly became an early adopter of the healing powers of pot all while exploring his talent for painting, discovering his love of art, and showing his works at the Arkansas Art Center’s Delta Exhibition.
[0:00:10] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. A production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider's view into the commonalities of successful people and the ups and downs of risk-taking. Connect with Kerry through her candid, funny, informative and always encouraging weekly blog. And now it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:35] KM: Thank you, son, Gray. How do you tell the story in one hour of my friend, Mr. Robert Traylor? A 94-year-old man who sired seven children, held the office of Arkansas State Representative in 1971, smuggled gems out of Africa. Was it Africa, Bob?
[0:00:56] RT: Colombia.
[0:00:57] KM: Colombia. Even better. Gave up alcohol in his 50s and proudly became an early adapter of the healing powers of pot all the while exploring his talent for painting, discovering his love of art and showing his works at the Arkansas Arts Center's Delta Exhibition for the past 30-plus years. Well, this is how. You jump right in. It is my great pleasure to welcome to the table, man of many lives and stories, Mr. Robert Traylor, who I call Bob. Hey, Bob.
[0:01:28] BT: Hi. Thank you, Kerry.
[0:01:30] KM: You're welcome. I don't think I know this. Where were you born and who are your parents? Were you born in Arkansas?
[0:01:37] RT: I was born in Little Rock at the old Saint Vincent's.
[0:01:42] KM: What'd your mom and dad do?
[0:01:44] RT: My father was a Little Rock businessman, real estate. And my mother was a housewife.
[0:01:55] KM: Everybody was a housewife back then.
[0:01:56] RT: That's right.
[0:01:58] KM: You later went into real estate. And we're going to talk about that. But I just need to tell our listeners that I have known you since I was a teenager. Out of your seven children, I hung out with about three of them and spent many a night at your house. You were married to Rita, a nurse. How did y'all meet?
[0:02:15] RT: Right. We met at a med school dance in approximately 1949.
[0:02:29] KM: Did you want to have seven children or was it all just an accident?
[0:02:32] RT: Well, both.
[0:02:35] KM: Are you an only child?
[0:02:36] RT: Yes. And, also, Rita was an only child. She wanted to have six children. We had an accident and had seven.
[0:02:51] KM: David, are you listening? You're an accident. You know, back then, in the – I guess that would have been in the 50s mostly, every child seems like was an accident.
[0:03:01] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:03:02] KM: I kind of feel sorry for people today because they have so many choices. If you ever had to choose to have a child, I'm not sure I would ever choose to have one. But it sounds like you and Rita did.
[0:03:11] GM: Oh, great. Thanks, mom.
[0:03:13] KM: You're welcome, son, Gray.
[0:03:16] RT: Yes, we did.
[0:03:18] KM: In the intro I talked about some of the things you've done, but you also had an insurance company and you had Titan Mining Company where you mined for coals.
[0:03:31] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:03:31] KM: After college – you were a World War II veteran. Did you go to college first or did you go to World War II first?
[0:03:41] RT: I went to Hendrix one semester when I was 17 and then went into Merchant Marine when I was 18.
[0:03:50] KM: I saw that you went to Bremen, Germany as one of the places that you visited or occupied while you were in World War II. Tell us what Bremen was like then.
[0:04:02] RT: It was completely demolished. They had bombed it into oblivion. There was a little left of the town when I was there.
[0:04:13] KM: Why were you there?
[0:04:16] RT: I was in the Merchant Marine and we brought goods, food, and munitions and other things into Bremen for the US Army. This was right after the war was over.
[0:04:37] KM: Yeah. They really – everybody that was in Bremen I believe had to evacuate according to this book I read. You get out of the service and you go to Hendrix College.
[0:04:49] RT: Yes, ma'am. Went back to Hendrix. Graduated in '49.
[0:04:55] KM: Did you know what you wanted to do?
[0:04:58] RT: I imagined myself as a salesman of some type. And I joined my father in the real estate business both building houses and selling them.
[0:05:13] KM: And then you met Rita.
[0:05:15] RT: Yes, in '49. We married in '50. I worked with my father in the real estate business and also the insurance business. And he built the Rose Motel on the Pine Bluff Highway in the 50s. I helped with that. And I formed an insurance agency and sold insurance for a number of years.
[0:05:56] KM: The Rose Motel.
[0:05:57] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:05:58] KM: You held onto that for a pretty long time.
[0:06:01] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:06:01] KM: What year did you sell it?
[0:06:03] RT: In the 70s. Mid-70s.
[0:06:06] KM: You say the Rose Motel on the Pine Bluff Highway. But I think of it as being on Roosevelt Road.
[0:06:11] RT: Yes.
[0:06:12] KM: And it changed from when your father built it.
[0:06:16] RT: That was the Old Pine Bluff highway in the old days.
[0:06:19] KM: Mm-hmm. And then it changed. That whole strip was widened into four lanes and went into a bit of a disrepair.
[0:06:27] RT: Yes. And the Interstate was built right next to the Rose Motel. So, the Interstate was the usual way of getting there.
[0:06:41] KM: Mm-hmm. When you were in the real estate business, in the insurance business, is that when you had your offices in the train station in downtown Little Rock?
[0:06:52] RT: That was when I was mining coal in Western Arkansas.
[0:07:00] KM: Oh. So, when you were in the insurance and real estate business, you were in your dad's office, I guess?
[0:07:06] RT: Mainly in the tower building at that time.
[0:07:09] KM: And then when you started mining coal, you moved it over to the train station. And that's where Buster's Restaurant is. And we need to talk about Buster's Restaurant. There is a lot to say about that era in Little Rock, Arkansas. And I want to find out about how you decided in the 1970s to run for office. But this is a great place to take a break.
When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with my friend, Mr. Robert Traylor, who I call Bob. A 94-year-old man who sired seven children, held the office of Arkansas State Representative in 1971, smuggled gems out of Colombia, gave up alcohol in his 50s and discovered art and drawing, and now has been showing at the Arkansas Arts Center Delta Exhibit since, I guess, the 1980s. We'll be back after the break.
[0:07:57] GM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed along with Kerry's experience and leadership knowledge.
In 1995, she embraced the internet and rebranded her company as simply flagandbanner.com. In 2004, she became an early blogger. Since then, she has founded the non-profit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom. Began publishing her magazine, Brave. And in 2016, branched out into this very radio show, YouTube channel and podcast.
In 2020, Kerry McCoy enterprises acquired ourcornermarket.com. An online company specializing in American-made plaques, signage and memorials for over 20 years. If you'd like to sponsor this show or get involved with any of Kerry McCoy's enterprises, send an email to me, Gray. That's email@example.com. Telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the flagandbanner.com.
Back to you, Kerry.
[0:09:06] KM: Thank you, Gray. You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. And I'm speaking today with Arkansas State Representative in 1971, Mr. Robert Traylor, a 94-year-old man who has a big life and continues to while still living in his big house in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Before the break, we talked about World War II. Bremen in Germany. We talked about going to Hendrix College, working for your dad, the Rose Motel. And now we've moved into your business in the train station, which you said was coal mining. How do you go from insurance and real estate to coal mining?
[0:09:44] RT: I've always had an interest in mining. During World War II when I was 15, I worked at a bauxite mine in Bauxite, Arkansas. An underground mine. The aluminum industry was very important to the war effort at that time. At 15, I drove a truck and worked at the mine. That interests me in mining. And since then, I've done coal mining and some bauxite mining of my own.
[0:10:32] KM: You drove a truck at 15 and worked in a bauxite. I bet you can't do that anymore at 15.
[0:10:38] GM: Probably not.
[0:10:40] RT: A trooper stopped me and wanted to see my chauffeur's license. And I told him I did not have a license. I was only 15. And he scratched his head and said, "Well, you go on. No problems." I had a load of workers in the back. I drove them every morning from Little Rock to Bauxite. And he said, "I don't know how to handle this. You just go ahead on."
[0:11:19] KM: He didn't want to do the paperwork.
[0:11:21] RT: Right.
[0:11:22] KM: A load of people that you drove on the outskirts of town or you drove from town out to the bauxite that wanted to work – were minors, I guess?
[0:11:32] RT: Right. I picked them up every morning at five o'clock and drove them to the bauxite mine.
[0:11:40] KM: In the company truck.
[0:11:40] RT: Yes.
[0:11:42] KM: Did you take the company truck home at night?
[0:11:44] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:11:44] KM: Well, things have changed so much. Today would just get sued to death if you did something like that. There are so many rules today. But back then, it's the war. You got a lot bigger fish to fry and problems to solve than some 15-year-old taking people to their work every day.
[0:11:58] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:12:00] KM: Yeah. We can just nickel dime ourselves to death with these laws today that sometimes are not very helpful. Because you might not have learned you loved mining if you hadn't had that job at 15.
[0:12:16] RT: True.
[0:12:17] KM: I started working at 15 also. I think it's really important for kids to get a good work ethic and start working early.
[0:12:23] RT: You're right.
[0:12:25] KM: Well, thank you, Bob. Y'all know that show Bob Newhart.
[0:12:29] RT: Yes.
[0:12:30] KM: You know his wife, Suzanne Pleshette?
[0:12:33] GM: Mm-hmm.
[0:12:34] KM: Did you know there's a drinking game? That every time she says the word Bob, you take a drink?
[0:12:39] RT: No.
[0:12:41] KM: Well, I like to think –
[0:12:41] GM: We can do that during the show.
[0:12:43] KM: That's what I was thinking. Every time I say your name, Bob, I think I need a drink. Anyway. So, you get into coal mining. Now that's expensive. Do you own the mine yourself?
[0:12:59] RT: The mine was leased.
[0:13:01] KM: Is it an Arkansas mine?
[0:13:01] RT: Yes.
[0:13:02] KM: Because coal mining used to be kind of a big industry here in Arkansas.
[0:13:08] RT: Yes, it did. And it has declined. There's very little mining coal mining in Arkansas today.
[0:13:14] KM: Why would someone lease their coal mine when they've got it and they're like, "Well, I could make more money if I mined it myself?" Why would they lease it? Why wouldn't they just mine it themselves?
[0:13:26] RT: It entails a lot of investment. And you have to sell the coal. You've got to have a program to get it out of the ground and then have it delivered. It's more complicated than you think. And today there's a little market for coal.
[0:13:51] KM: Yeah. Why'd you get out? You saw the writing on the wall?
[0:13:55] RT: The demand for coal about approximately 1980, it had declined to the point that there was not the demand for it.
[0:14:09] KM: Already starting.
[0:14:10] RT: Yes.
[0:14:11] KM: When did you decide to run for representative on the Democratic ticket?
[0:14:17] RT: I ran first in '68 and was defeated and decided to run again in '71 and was elected at that time. I decided because I felt like Arkansas needed positive representation. And I felt like the time had come for me to run.
[0:14:50] KM: What did you not like? What was the representation that you didn't agree with?
[0:14:54] RT: That was the times that you would say the old guard was involved in politics. Things were changing. Arkansas was coming into a new era. I felt a new beginning. So, I wanted to be part of that.
[0:15:19] KM: Who was the governor at the time?
[0:15:20] RT: Dale Bumpers was elected the same year I was elected. And there were 33 new members of the Arkansas House elected at that time, which was a huge turnover and representation. We felt like a new era was coming into the government at that time.
[0:15:52] KM: I think it was mostly Democratic then, right?
[0:15:56] RT: We had two members of the Republican party in the house and one Republican in the senate at that time.
[0:16:07] KM: Well, it sure has swung the other way.
[0:16:09] RT: Yes, it has.
[0:16:10] KM: Do you think that's because of gerrymandering?
[0:16:13] RT: No, not so much. It's just the mood of the country and of Arkansas, I think.
[0:16:23] KM: You know, I just want to say, because I need my kudos here, that I worked on your campaign.
[0:16:29] RT: And I appreciate it.
[0:16:31] GM: No kidding.
[0:16:32] RT: Still appreciate. I remember we went out and we campaigned up and down the streets.
[0:16:43] KM: Yep. All over.
[0:16:43] RT: Yes, we did.
[0:16:45] KM: I went to strip malls and handed out your flyers. And then I went in the back of a truck and rode – because you could ride in the back of trucks back then. And I rode in back of trucks around the Heights and handed out flowers. And your son who just recently passed, rest in peace, Robin, was driving. And I remember we went wrong way on one street. We were all screaming. But it was great fun. It's a great learning experience, too. I think you had – what was your slogan? It was something catchy. Oh, no. It was your song.
[0:17:20] GM: What song?
[0:17:22] KM: "Traylor's not for sale or rent. He's for good government."
[0:17:27] GM: Oh, my God.
[0:17:27] RT: That was it. That was it.
[0:17:28] KM: That was it. I can't believe I pulled that out.
[0:17:33] RT: Right.
[0:17:34] GM: Wow. I love that.
[0:17:36] KM: I know it is. There was more to it, but that's all I can remember. I'm doing good to get to that. All right. Let's talk about –
[0:17:42] RT: My slogan was Traylor Tries at that time. Yeah.
[0:17:46] KM: There you go.
[0:17:47] GM: Oh, I like that.
[0:17:49] KM: There was also – we had hats that we'd take a bite out of. Because there was a cigarette commercial that said something like "I would rather eat my hat than switch". And in the commercial was a hat with a bite out of the brim.
[0:18:04] RT: Bite out of it.
[0:18:06] KM: Why did your campaign have – we handed out hats with bites taken out of them all the time.
[0:18:10] RT: Yes. And, let's see, they were straw hats made out of straw or look like straw hats. Yeah.
[0:18:19] KM: Yeah, looked like straw hats. Aha. Why did we do that? You remember?
[0:18:24] RT: We've worn things around at that time that advertised.
[0:18:29] KM: I guess we were just wearing it and was everybody was wearing those hats with bites out of the brim. And I guess we just had Bob Traylor on one of those hats.
[0:18:35] RT: Yes, we did. We took the bumper stickers and they went around the hat.
[0:18:44] KM: Oh, yes. I got you. Mm-hmm. All right. You went to UALR. When did you decide – so, you get out of the coal mining. I guess you're still in real estate. I guess you're still in insurance, right?
[0:18:55] RT: Right.
[0:18:56] KM: You're at the train station though.
[0:18:59] RT: Yes.
[0:19:00] KM: This is Buster's heyday, for everybody that remembers Buster's heyday in the train station. It was a great time to go down there. That's when you had two martini lunches.
[0:19:07] RT: Yes.
[0:19:08] KM: It was great. I'm just telling you. Of course, we didn't get anything done after that. But they didn't have the internet back then. So, you didn't really need to do anything after that.
[0:19:16] RT: Right.
[0:19:17] KM: But you decided to quit drinking. Is it because you had your business above Busters?
[0:19:23] RT: No. Not necessarily. I still drink a little bit, but not very much. I don't think it's good for me.
[0:19:34] KM: Oh, okay.
[0:19:35] GM: Solid answer.
[0:19:36] KM: I can't complain with that. All right. We're going to take another quick break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with my friend, Mr. Robert Traylor, Bob. Another chance to take a sip. A 94-year-old man who sired seven children, held the office of Arkansas State Representative in 1971. Was a coal miner investor, was an insurance agent, was a real estate agent. When we come back, we're going to talk about his life as an artist. He's been exhibiting at the Arkansas Arts Center for over 30 or 40 maybe years. And he went to UALR for a little while. And we're not going to skip and forget to talk about how he smuggled precious gems out of Colombia. This is a good story. We'll be back after the break.
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[0:21:12] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. And I'm speaking today with Arkansas state representative in 1971, Mr. Bob Traylor. A man with a big family and a big, big life.
Before the break, we talked about World War II, Bremen, Germany, Hendrix College, real estate, insurance, coal mining, Buster's Restaurant, your campaign in 1971 as a House Representative under the Democratic party. And now I want to talk about the story where you decided, like you said earlier at the break, that you are really interested in – how did you put it? Not coal mining, but geology maybe. What made you decide that you were going to go to Colombia and buy gems to come back and sell in America?
[0:22:03] RT: I had a friend that was going to Colombia. And he invited me particularly if I would help invest with him in the venture. So, I agreed. And off we went. He had been there for before. And he was interested in buying gems there.
[0:22:32] KM: Did you not know Colombia is a scary place?
[0:22:34] RT: It was somewhat scary at that time. Yes. But we we didn't have any problems as it turned out.
[0:22:44] KM: I thought you did. I thought you had to get in a chase to get to the border because –
[0:22:51] RT: We went to a mining town. Reported that the seven miles into town was a spot where they would rob you and kill you if necessary. And, yes, when we left the town of Muzu, we drove very fast and we saw people on the road that might have tried to ambush us. But that was the only real problem that we had.
The next two days later, there were three people killed on that road and were robbed. You either bringing money into the town or you're leaving with the gems. One way or another, they would ambush you.
[0:24:02] KM: Did you go do it again or did you just do it the one time? You said, "You know what? I have a bunch of kids. I better not do this."
[0:24:08] RT: We just said it one time. We went up to the mine. They allowed us in and we went to where they were mining the emeralds.
[0:24:22] KM: What gem? Emeralds. Hmm.
[0:24:24] RT: Emeralds. And this is one of the most productive areas of emeralds in the world there. And the Colombia government, they regulate it. So, everything goes through the government. If you buy emeralds except from the government, you are breaking the law. Therefore, we had to – you might say smuggle. We just carried them out in our pockets.
[0:25:06] KM: I think that would be called smuggling or stealing.
[0:25:10] RT: No. We paid for them.
[0:25:14] KM: Oh, there you go.
[0:25:15] RT: Yeah. We didn't steal them.
[0:25:16] KM: There you go.
[0:25:18] RT: Also, when we were in the main town there, we purchased emeralds that supposedly smugglers had smuggled. We bought we bought them there also what would be black market.
[0:25:38] GM: Dirty emeralds.
[0:25:39] RT: Yes. Yeah.
[0:25:41] GM: Yeah. Interesting.
[0:25:43] KM: Did you make any money on the deal? Was it worth the effort?
[0:25:51] RT: It didn't make a great deal of money, but it's a very interesting situation. Yes.
[0:25:58] KM: Yeah. It's a story you can tell 50 years later on the radio.
[0:26:02] RT: Right.
[0:26:03] KM: And I'm sure being a person that likes that sort of mining, you were very fascinated by the way they did it.
[0:26:11] RT: Yes, I was. I had no idea exactly how it was done. However, it is illegal. That type of mining today is illegal.
[0:26:26] KM: What type of mining is it?
[0:26:28] RT: They started with the mountain and would use dynamite, and blow it up and push it off the mountain until they got down to the minerals. And then they would take those out.
[0:26:49] KM: Where are emeralds in the mountain? Are they in the very center? Are they all over?
[0:26:53] RT: They are encapsulated into lenses that are in the mountain. You can see the emeralds. Of course, most of it was just removal of rock and dirt. And this was pushed off into streams and polluted the streams. And they have now outlawed it. Now you have to do hard rock mining in the mountain. Follow the vein itself.
[0:27:29] KM: How big is an emerald? Is it a big – or is it a lot? I mean, you see little emerald rings and stuff. Are they all just a bunch of little small deposits or is it a big rock and you break it up with the into smaller ones?
[0:27:43] RT: It's smaller. Most of it you have to break out. And emeralds are usually not very large.
[0:27:55] KM: It's probably got the emerald right in the core and then there's all this geode around it, I guess?
[0:28:00] RT: Yes. Crystals. It's embedded with crystals.
[0:28:07] KM: Oh, I bet those are nice though. They're not sellable?
[0:28:11] RT: No.
[0:28:12] KM: Oh. What year is this? So, I can just get my bearings here where I am.
[0:28:20] RT: This was in the 80s. Early 80s.
[0:28:25] KM: Now you decide to get out of the insurance and real estate business, I guess, or out of the coal mining business. When did you decide, "Okay, I'm going to get out."
[0:28:34] RT: I had real estate holdings and an apartment building on 3rd Street where my office was. I had apartments there. And I ran that apartment building and other real estate that I own until two years ago when I sold and moved my operation to my house. I still have real estate holdings around the state.
[0:29:09] KM: Oh. You started UALR once you hit 60. You were telling me. Because I'm past 60. You can go to school for free.
[0:29:14] RT: Yes, m'am.
[0:29:17] KM: What'd you take?
[0:29:18] RT: I took art and geology, archaeology.
[0:29:25] KM: Course.
[0:29:27] RT: And history. But mainly art was my main subject.
[0:29:33] KM: I want to talk about your art and I want to take the last break. And then I want to come back and talk about your art. It's fantastic. You paint with a lot of color, which is exactly the kind of art I like to buy. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with my friend, Bob Traylor, who held the office of Arkansas State Representative in 1971. Smuggled gems out of Colombia, which you just heard about. Gave up alcohol in his 50s. Became an early adopter of the healing powers of pot all the while exploring his talents for painting, discovering his love of art and showing his works at the Arkansas Arts Center's Delta Exhibition. When we come back, we're going to talk about his art.
[0:30:09] TW: We know you probably see a lot of videos during the course of a week, but you probably never seen one like this. Subscribe to flagandbanner.com's YouTube channel and see flag pole climber Robert Ray. He recently climbed one of our customer's flag poles in downtown Little Rock simply to fix a broken pulley that a bucket truck couldn't reach. Our team was there to watch this rare sight. And as Robert ascended, the excitement was thick. Check it out and see all the other tutorials and videos on the flagandbanner.com YouTube channel. You don't want to miss a thing.
[0:30:49] KM: You're listening to Up in Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. And I'm speaking today with Mr. Robert Traylor of North Little Rock, Arkansas, who would give up the Dos-Equis-Beer Man, the most interesting man in the world, a run for his money.
All right. If you're just tuning in, we have been talking about – we started at World War II. And we have come all the way up to the present where he's still running his real estate holdings out of his home. Mr. Robert Traylor is. And we've talked about his mining operation, his insurance operation, his –
[0:31:27] GM: Campaign for state rep.
[0:31:29] RT: Oh, good one.
[0:31:30] GM: That you participated in.
[0:31:31] KM: That I participated in. Thank you. And I sang a song too just a minute ago.
[0:31:34] GM: Yep.
[0:31:35] KM: Sorry.
[0:31:36] GM: Yeah. Please go back and listen if you haven't heard it.
[0:31:40] KM: Now we're going to talk about your art. How did you decide to get into your art? And I believe it was in the 80s when you started painting. Did you always know you had a love of painting?
[0:31:50] RT: Yes. I liked and was interested in art when I was in junior high school, I started. And I didn't feel like I had time to devote to it until I reached about 60 and decided I would join the art center. That was in 1985. And I've been a member ever since. I took courses at UALR for about 10 years and enjoyed every minute of it. Yes.
[0:32:34] KM: The Arkansas Arts Center Delta Exhibit. You've been participating in that ever since I can remember.
[0:32:42] RT: I've been accepted one time for a piece that I did. I have submitted before and not been accepted. I've been accepted one time. Yes.
[0:32:59] KM: You're going to have to start giving more money to the Art Center, I guess?
[0:33:03] GM: Oh, boy.
[0:33:05] KM: So, you don't sell your art. Before the show, you gave me a calendar that's absolutely stunning of your art. And you like still lives, too, which is unusual.
[0:33:16] RT: Yes.
[0:33:16] KM: Not a lot of people paint still life, I don't think. I try to do everything from start from just plain old art to some special paintings. And also, I do ceramics.
[0:33:35] KM: Oh, you do?
[0:33:36] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:33:38] KM: You do a lot of color, too. You paint with a lot of color.
[0:33:43] RT: I've always liked color.
[0:33:44] KM: I do too.
[0:33:47] RT: The more color the better, I figure.
[0:33:49] KM: Me too. So, what's next for you?
[0:33:55] RT: I'm headed for the Buffalo River. I'm going to float the Buffalo one more time. We have an annual for the family. I have an annual get-together on the Buffalo River every year. Didn't last year because of the pandemic. But for the last – well, since '87, the family, we've had an annual float trip on the Buffalo.
[0:34:26] KM: Trailer Flotilla.
[0:34:28] RT: Yes, ma'am. We usually have about 30.
[0:34:31] KM: Well, that's just your family.
[0:34:33] RT: Yes. And a few other friends. Yes.
[0:34:37] KM: Well, you've always kind of liked the water also because you have a houseboat on the Arkansas River.
[0:34:42] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:34:42] KM: You still have it?
[0:34:44] RT: Still have it. Yes, ma'am. I've had it since the 80s and have enjoyed it greatly.
[0:34:54] KM: What do you think about the new Little Rock Yacht Club?
[0:34:57] RT: It's very fancy. He's got a lot of uh a lot of docks down there. And there are more and more boats on the river. I'm sure he'll have lots of boats there before his food.
[0:35:14] KM: You know, there's never been enough docks on the river. And now we've got two new fairly recent docks for people to use the river more.
[0:35:22] RT: Right. We sure do.
[0:35:23] KM: And the river's always high now. So, you can't use it as much.
[0:35:28] RT: It comes and goes. Up and down.
[0:35:29] KM: It mostly comes these days.
[0:35:32] RT: And during the 80s, I took a trip down the Arkansas, down the Mississippi to New Orleans in the houseboat, and then across the Mobil, and up the Ten-Tom waterway, to Paducah, Kentucky, down the Ohio, Mississippi river, to the Arkansas River and back to North Little Rock, Arkansas.
[0:36:06] GM: That sounds so fun.
[0:36:08] KM: How long did that take you?
[0:36:09] RT: Well, I did it in four trips. And it took about a year. But it actually took a month.
[0:36:23] KM: If you never stopped.
[0:36:24] RT: Right. It was about 3,000 miles and took – I think it was 28 days in all.
[0:36:33] KM: So, you would take it to down – you take the Arkansas River to the Mississippi, like, maybe at Memphis and spend the night in Memphis.
[0:36:40] RT: No. No. The Arkansas comes into the Mississippi below Memphis.
[0:36:50] KM: Memphis. Oh.
[0:36:51] RT: At Helena.
[0:36:53] KM: Oh, yeah. Right.
[0:36:55] RT: And we left the boat in New Orleans and came back several months later. Took it across the Mobil and up the Ten-Tom Riverway to Alabama. Left it there. Then came back. Took it to Memphis. Left it in Memphis and then back to North Little Rock.
[0:37:22] KM: How old were you when you did that? You had to be retired.
[0:37:26] RT: It was 80 – yeah, I would have been in my 60s.
[0:37:34] KM: I've been on that boat. It's slow.
[0:37:37] RT: Very slow.
[0:37:38] KM: Very slow.
[0:37:40] RT: It'll go 10 miles an hour.
[0:37:43] KM: There you go. That's a lot –
[0:37:44] GM: Takes a month.
[0:37:45] RT: Yeah.
[0:37:45] KM: Yeah. What was the most harrowing thing that happened to you on the trip? I know there had to be one. Because I've been boating enough in my life to know there's always a harrowing experience.
[0:37:57] RT: We were on the Tennessee River headed West. And all these bolts started going by the other direction at a high speed. Listened to the radio, there was a tornado coming. We turned around and followed the boats. We pulled in a spot behind a little island and the tornado hit about that time. It tore down the trees and the electricity. And more or less tore up around us, the land around us. But we were protected by this island. And that was about the most exciting, I think, was the tornado, which didn't have anything to do with the trip, of course. It just happened we hit the tornado at the wrong time.
[0:39:19] KM: It's a single engine, isn't it? Ain't your boat a single engine?
[0:39:20] RT: Yes. Yeah.
[0:39:22] KM: Those are kind of hard to steer.
[0:39:24] RT: No.
[0:39:25] KM: No?
[0:39:26] RT: No.
[0:39:26] KM: Isn't that twin-engine easier to steer?
[0:39:27] GM: He's got to cover it.
[0:39:29] RT: It can be. Yes. Yes. And that you can maneuver it more. But, yes, one engine. It's pretty slow, but it'll get you there.
[0:39:43] KM: It's a great little boat. What year is that boat?
[0:39:49] RT: '67.
[0:39:52] GM: Vintage.
[0:39:53] KM: I'm just thinking about being on a boat when the tornado is whirling around you. I mean, tornadoes are not nice to boats. Did you stay on the boat or did you jump off and get on the island? Because if you're on a boat and a tornado comes, you could end up half a mile down.
[0:40:08] RT: No. We stayed on the boat.
[0:40:10] KM: Who were you with? Danny?
[0:40:12] RT: Danny.
[0:40:11] KM: I knew it.
[0:40:13] RT: My son, Danny. Yes.
[0:40:15] KM: Mm-hmm. Well, that's a good story. Do you sell any of your artwork, Mr. Bob Traylor?
[0:40:21] RT: No. No, I don't.
[0:40:22] KM: You should.
[0:40:24] RT: I give it away mainly to my children. Some to other people that might want it.
[0:40:31] KM: I've got my hand up.
[0:40:32] RT: Okay.
[0:40:33] KM: All right. Pick me one out.
[0:40:34] RT: All right. I'll pick you one out. You've got it.
[0:40:38] KM: Oh, boy. I'm so happy. You have painted for so long. You're going to have to give some of it away or take out a warehouse space.
[0:40:47] RT: Well, I wish I devoted more time and effort to it. But you know how things are.
[0:40:54] KM: I know. Okay. I can't let you off there without talking about you were an early adopter of marijuana and the health benefits of it.
[0:41:02] KM: Tell us why.
[0:41:03] RT: I found and I have studied it some that it's has many very good quantities qualities for your health. You name it, it will help most any problem that you have.
[0:41:18] KM: Well, I feel like it's the new snake oil. It does. They say it does – it cures cancer, glaucoma, inflammation, mood swings. I mean, they say it does all of this stuff. And I'm like, "Well, which ones does it really work on?" And it seems to me like it should not be good for your lungs.
[0:41:35] RT: No. It isn't good for your lungs.
[0:41:37] KM: That's why you eat it. Do you eat it or smoke it?
[0:41:42] RT: Some of both.
[0:41:43] KM: There you go.
[0:41:45] RT: Do you take any kind of anti-inflammatories? Or is it really good for inflammation?
[0:41:49] RT: Yes. I don't take any drugs.
[0:41:53] KM: None.
[0:41:54] RT: None.
[0:41:54] KM: 94-years-old.
[0:41:57] RT: So far, so good.
[0:41:59] GM: I love it.
[0:41:59] KM: Well, he's a walking testimony to the medicinal benefits of marijuana.
[0:42:03] GM: There you go.
[0:42:04] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:42:04] KM: And you've been smoking – you've been using marijuana for 40 years, I think?
[0:42:09] RT: 35 maybe.
[0:42:10] KM: I will say this though, Bob. You didn't start till you were in your 60s or 50s. 50s or 60s.
[0:42:17] RT: Right.
[0:42:19] KM: It is a low motivator sometimes for young people to do it too much.
[0:42:22] RT: I wouldn't recommend it.
[0:42:24] KM: Yeah. There you go. All right. I've really enjoyed talking with you so much. Will you come back on your 100th birthday please?
[0:42:31] RT: I certainly will. And I want to commend you for this wonderful program you've been putting on for what? 5 years now. And it's a wonderful, informative program.
[0:42:46] KM: Thank you, Bob.
[0:42:47] RT: And stay with it.
[0:42:49] KM: Okay. I will.
[0:42:49] RT: All right.
[0:42:51] GM: She's planning on it.
[0:42:52] RT: Good. Good.
[0:42:53] KM: Thank you. I have a present for you. You brought me a calendar with all of your art in the calendar. So, that's your present to me. And this is my present to you. It's a US and Arkansas desk set.
[0:43:02] RT: Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate that. I am going to put it on my desk.
[0:43:09] KM: There you go. That's the perfect place for it.
[0:43:11] RT: Yes, ma'am.
[0:43:13] KM: I want to tell all our listeners in closing, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening. And that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy, and I'll see you next time on Up in Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[0:43:30] TW: On today's program you heard Robert Traylor mention the Arkansas River and how he navigated it with his houseboat. One of our favorite past shows on Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy has been a visit with Samuel Ellis from Rockwater Marinas. He navigates the Arkansas River every day. He knows if you go one way, you can see Metropolitan downtown Little Rock from the Arkansas River. But if you go the other way, you may find yourself in the middle of what looks like a beautiful rainforest.
[0:43:59] SE: Luckily, in the last two years that I've been at Rockwater Marina, on our tours through downtown, those are guided. And we don't let people just go down that by themselves. At least in our boats. It's open water. People are allowed to get out and see it no matter what they want. I don't own the water.
But behind Rockwater Marina is a stretch of sand bars and islands that really protects everything from the main channel, any boat traffic. And it's really crazy, because if you put in the water and you go just out a little bit from Rockwater Marina, if you go left, you're going right through the heart of downtown. If you go right, you go into these islands and sand bars and you don't see any other buildings. You feel like you're in the middle of nowhere.
[0:44:47] KM: What? Now say that again. If you leave Rockwater Marina and you go downstream and you stayed at the right, you see downtown Little Rock.
[0:44:56] SE: Yeah. You go underneath the Baring Cross Bridge, which is the functioning train bridge right there that still raises and lowers for barge traffic. You go underneath all the bridges through downtown.
[0:45:06] KM: Yeah, six bridges. But not really six. But if you go on the left side, on the North Little Rock side, you're saying that you can go between a sandbar.
[0:45:17] SE: Mm-hmm. Just upstream from Rockwater Marina.
[0:45:21] KM: Oh, upstream.
[0:45:22] SE: Upstream. If you were to take a right coming out and following the North Little Rock Bank, that goes up into Emerald Park, and then goes all the way up into Murray Park, and then up into Cooks Landing and then the Big Dam Bridge.
Really, everything north of Rockwater Marina is all parks. You can take a left and go through the downtown and see the beautiful city and the hustle and bustle of the downtown evenings. Or you can literally take a right and feel like you're in a rainforest and not really see another soul.
[0:45:54] KM: And I bet there's not much current over there.
[0:45:56] SE: No. So, that's the great thing, is since it is protected by all these islands and sandbars, not only does it give us protection from any kind of current. But you can also get out and explore the sandbar.
[0:46:05] TW: Samuel Ellis. You can find his full interview on the Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy YouTube channel. You can also find an interesting interview with Sheffield Nelson. One of the most interesting Arkansans we've ever had on the show. He's done everything including run for governor.
[0:46:24] KM: How long was it before you decided after leaving Arkla, going into the law profession, how long was it before you said, “You know, I think I’m going to try politics.”
[0:46:33] SN: Actually, I’ve been involved in politics during my Arkla years. You had to be. You had to get along with legislature. You had to get along with the sitting governor and senators. I mean, United States senators and congressmen. I had a good base of friendships there that I always knew that when I wanted to do something else, I would run for governor. Never wanted to be anything else. I would not have run for anything that took me to Washington. I would not have run for a state senate or anything else, and the people would elect me or not for the governorship.
[0:47:01] KM: Well, you had children, didn’t you?
[0:47:02] SN: I did.
[0:47:04] KM: How old were they probably about then?
[0:47:05] SN: Oldest one at the time was about 16, 17.
[0:47:10] KM: Yeah, that’s not a good time –
[0:47:11] SN: Yeah, it’d have been terrible. What I did was I worked hard at Arkla during the day, but also did a lot of hard work in the other part of the day when I went at Arkla and at night. I did a lot of fundraising for a lot of good causes. My wife was very good at that and helped me from different levels of that. We tied in with various groups that are awfully good and later in life it became Easterseals and Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and something like that I’ve raised a lot of money for. But we did that sort of thing in addition to our other. It was very natural for me. I left Arkla December 31st of 1984. Joined the law firm the next day or two days later.
[0:47:55] KM: Don’t want to rest.
[0:47:57] SN: Started building toward running for governor. I mean, that was on my mind, the lawyers knew it when I went into the firm. Didn't start openly. Just started making speeches around the state. Started continuing to work for good causes. Doing things that would just get my name a little more out there. That’s what I did.
[0:48:11] KM: Well, it’s out there.
[0:48:11] SN: Until the time I ran in 1990. [inaudible 0:48:15]
[0:48:15] KM: Oh yeah, right.
[0:48:18] SN: Bill Clinton and Jim Guy Tucker, two of the best ever in State of Arkansas and really among the best in the country. The timing was not right. When you think about it, today is exactly the opposite of what it was back then. Back then, the Democrats owned everything. They owned just about every office. Now, the Republicans own that. We had that turnaround and I think Asa and I contributed to the turnaround, because after we both got beaten in 1990, we decided to grow a Republican party in Arkansas and it kind of fallen back.
[0:48:47] KM: Let’s tell the listeners though that you are a democrat.
[0:48:50] SN: That’s right.
[0:48:51] KM: And when you decided that you wanted to run for the governorship, the slot was filled by Bill Clinton.
[0:48:57] SN: Well, that wasn’t the reason though. Let me tell you a little further back that. I actually started converting when Ronald Reagan ran for president. That had to be 1980. Jimmy Carter had gotten the country in bad shape. I just felt we had to have a chance and I thought Reagan was a great answer to that. I started changing, because at that time I never had to say what I really was. The only time I’d ever declared what I was, it was when I was about 21, 22-years-old and ran for president as a young Democrat. That didn’t make any difference.
[0:49:27] KM: Were you the president of the young Democrats.
[0:49:27] SN: No. We got beaten. I got beaten in a deal involving Jim McDougal and [inaudible 0:49:31]
[0:49:32] KM: Oh Lord! All those names. Man! You are in everywhere.
[0:49:37] SN: Let me correct the young democrats, exactly state democrat party at the time. But I was in my early 20s. From that time forward, the only time I ever to raise my hand about what party I was in was when I ran for office. It had nothing to do with being afraid of Clinton, because I knew that I had to face him either directly or indirectly. That didn’t make my mind up.
[0:49:56] TW: That's just a couple of the upcoming programs on Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Thank you for tuning in every week. We hope you enjoy the program. Sponsored by flagandbanner.com.
[0:50:05] GM: You've been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. For links to resources you heard discussed on today's show, go to flagandbanner.com, select radio and choose today's guest. If you'd like to sponsor this show or any show, email me, Gray. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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