One Voice For Many: ‘My Father’s War’ an emotional tribute

One Voice For Many: ‘My Father’s War’ an emotional tribute
LARA JO HIGHTOWER/Special to the Free Weekly

On June 2 and 3, a huge field on the outskirts of Prairie Grove will hold the largest selection of open-air flea market booths in the Northwest Arkansas area. From polished antiques to funky vintage treasures to rusty farm finds, shoppers should be rewarded with just about anything they’re looking for at the Junk Ranch, which boasts 150 vendors and more than 200 booths.

We asked a few vendors what they’re bringing to the event, how they got involved in junking, and what their best find ever was.

Don Wilkinson

Don Wilkinson found his way to junking the way a lot of vendors do: he kept finding great stuff while shopping for his own collection of vintage Speas Vinegar bottles. So when he retired in his mid-50s after 35 years with the Arkansas Highway Department, he threw his hat into the flea market ring and got a booth at one of the largest flea markets in the country in Canton, Texas. After 10 years of selling at Canton, he moved up to an even bigger venue — Round Top, Texas, the Holy Grail of flea markets.

“It was a lot of work on my part,” he says. “We would haul seven or eight trailer loads down between shows, store them, and then we’d go down and set up and stay two weeks, selling. We sold to people from everywhere — California and everywhere. They got to buying from me, and they actually got to buying too much. It became too much of a job, and age took over.”

Wilkinson is 85 now, and he was thrilled when the Junk Ranch opened up so near his home in Mountainburg. Though the main product he sells are chicken laying houses — he estimates he’s sold around 30,000 over the course of his junking career — the booth he runs with his son is an eclectic mix of auction, estate and farm sale finds.

Wilkinson’s best find ever was deceptively simple: a box full of old bottle caps.

“I told my wife, ‘I found the Holy Grail,’” he remembers. “They were unused, cork-lined Dr Pepper bottle caps from 1907. The first bottle caps ever used on a Dr Pepper bottle.”

When he put them on eBay, he says, “people went crazy.”

Stacey Murphy

The Weathered Pearl

Stacey Murphy’s relationship with the Junk Ranch started off as a shopper.

“I loved the eclectic mix of old, used, collectible items and the vendor inspired pieces! I thought to myself, ‘I could do this,’” she recalls. “I applied the next year, and junk has been my livelihood ever since.”

Murphy advises yard sale shoppers to look for the signs with a torn piece of cardboard with the word “sale” scribbled across it as a marker.

“Often these sales are not advertised on social media, so it increases your chances of finding a hidden treasure,” she says.

She also hits the widely advertised sales, like the Oklahoma 100-mile Yard Sale. That’s where she found her favorite find: a 13-foot late 1800s banquet table discovered in a barn in Cleveland, Okla.

“I have done several shows all over Oklahoma and Arkansas, and I would say what sets the Junk Ranch apart from the others is the venue itself, the friendly vendors, the amazing shoppers, but most of all how well [Junk Ranch founders] Amy [Daniels] and Julie [Speed] have it organized,” Murphy says.

Tracy Davis

Rusty Heart Relics

“I have always loved old things as long as I can remember,” says Tracy Davis of Rusty Heart Relics. “My mama had an eye for the ornate and passed it along to me. We spent many a weekend traveling the roads for that elusive treasure.”

For her booth, she stocks a wide variety of items.

“I love vintage and antique garden items, primitive and antique furniture, and holiday decor,” she says. “I loved MCM before it was cool.”

Her favorite find is an antique child’s bedroom suite she found at the famed Texas flea market Round Top.

“It is a beautiful faded robin’s egg blue with a painted design, and it’s to die for,” she says.

Davis has had a love affair with the Junk Ranch since the first year.

“From the live music and food trucks to the mountains of treasures and lovely vendors, I knew this was the show that I wanted to be a part of,” she says. “Amy and Julie are the best and treat us like family.”



Junk Ranch

WHEN — 9 a.m.-3 pm. June 2; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. June 3; tickets go on sale at 8 a.m.

WHERE — 11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove

COST — $10


Some time ago, TheatreSquared co-founders — and husband and wife — Amy Herzberg and Robert Ford paid tribute to the men who lost their lives on D-Day by visiting Utah Beach in France. There were 4,414 Allied deaths confirmed from the battle, while the total number of estimated casualties is around 10,000. The site was of particular import to the couple because it was where Herzberg’s father, Art — a private in the 90th Infantry Division, Third Army — landed on June 6, 1944, fighting his way from boat to beach, surrounded by immeasurable violence, carnage and death. Herzberg says she grew up hearing her father’s stories about the war, but it was on that visit when the idea to honor her father and the men he fought alongside in a play first crystallized. That play would become “My Father’s War,” written by Ford, and first produced by TheatreSquared when it was still a fledgling theater company in 2009.

“In some respects, every play is personal,” says “My Father’s War” playwright Robert Ford of the challenges of writing such a deeply personal play. “It’s my feelings, my world view, my values on display up there. That said, this one is acutely personal. At a certain point in the writing of it, I had to remember that the character called Amy Herzberg in the play is ultimately a fiction. I had to stop asking myself, ‘What would Amy do?’ and instead make decisions about how ‘Amy’ would behave, what choices she would make, in service of the overall structure of the play. That aspect was incredibly difficult (and, in fact, I still mix up the two Amys in my head). What made this easy was the trove of amazing stories handed to me by my dad-in-law — vaudevillian, ironic, heartbreaking, deeply insightful. All I had to do was pick my faves and line them up in some sensible way, while discovering what it was that I wanted to say – which became the story that frames the play.” (Courtesy Photo/Wesley Hitt)

“I was in a phone booth in Normandy, talking with my dad back in Phoenix, asking questions and sharing details about the places Bob and I had seen — and that’s when Bob knew for sure that he would write this play,” remembers Herzberg. “As soon as we got home, we started recording my father’s stories, which was at times quite difficult. There was a moment when my dad was recounting a particularly awful event, when I thought we should absolutely not continue with the project, as I didn’t want my dad to have to remember such a painful experience. My father, for his part, was very happy about the project. He has always felt it was his job to make sure these stories got told, since there were so many guys he served with who would never have the chance to share their stories.”

“A number of times, the guy next to me got killed, and I didn’t,” Art Herzberg said in this newspaper last year. “For some reason, I was allowed to come home. If I don’t talk for those men, who will?”

A revival of the show was on T2’s schedule for spring 2020, but it was postponed because of covid-19, despite the fact that rehearsals were already in progress. Finally, the show is getting its due in a production that is on stage now at T2. Both playwright and actor say they’re grateful for the opportunity to revisit the show, which is an emotional one for both.

“Having the opportunity to revisit this play after a spate of readings and productions a decade ago — and to revise it for this production — has been extraordinary,” says Ford. “I’m incredibly grateful to my colleagues at T2 for the chance. I’ve been able to [work] a lot of the bugs out. That said, the words ‘finished product’ are anathema for a playwright. There’s always another tweak lurking around the next corner (if not a dozen).”

“The telling of my dad’s story feels deeper this time around,” says Herzberg, “perhaps because my dad is older, or perhaps because our country seems to be in such a different place than before. But the play feels even more essential this time. The script has changed quite a bit — new scenes, new understandings — so there’s been a lot more to explore. I’m so lucky to have these beautiful words to work with — a combination of my dad’s voice and my husband’s. And I’m greatly fortunate, as well, to be working hand in hand with the many remarkable theater artists who have brought their enormous talents to this production.”

Herzberg says her father — who was present for the first production in 2009 — will be seeing this version again and on his birthday; she hopes it will serve as “one of the best birthday presents ever.” It’s hard to think of a better gift for a father than a heartfelt tribute from his family, honoring his service to his country.

“All in all, writing this play brought me closer to my father-in-law than I ever would have gotten without it,” says Ford. “Him saying to me at one point, ‘You got it right,’ has meant more to me than any compliment I’ve every received.”

“I feel so greatly fortunate to be honoring my father in this way — both his accomplishments and the huge-hearted way he has chosen to remember others whose lives were marked by the war,” says Herzberg. “One of the most joyful things I can imagine is for everyone to know what a remarkable person my dad is, but, it also feels like an enormous responsibility — making sure we get this right.”


Amy Herzberg (center) stars with Chris Hecke, Garrett Young and Mason Azbill (right to left) in “My Father’s War,” on stage now at TheatreSquared. (Courtesy Photo/Novo Studio)

‘My Father’s War’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, June 1-20

WHERE — TheatreSquared, 477 W. Spring St., Fayetteville

COST — $20-$54

INFO — 777-7477 or

Categories: Theater