Mitchell: Landmarks going by the wayside

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

It had been some time since my route to Chinquapin Woods had included heading east on 13th Street, so it was a surprise when rounding the curve near the Old Reunion Grounds that a new roof appeared on the right side of the road.

What was happening was a new home was going up on what in our family had always been called the Mitchell Spring Home. The old structure had been completely removed and a new, small home was replacing the historical spot. It's like a number of locations in this community that I have noticed recently, where historic places are being replaced by either new structures or a vacant lot.

Spring House

The Mitchells lived in the Spring House when they first arrived here from Nora Springs, Iowa, to become owners of a new clothing store. Some of them later lived in a house that still stands at Second and Gravel in Cassville.

There were two boys, Earl and Leonard, who both became auto salesmen, and a daughter, Ethel, who never married. Aunt Ethel, whom no one living today will probably remember, had a career in the hotel industry that was quite interesting, but that story is coming later. Earl ended up in St. Louis selling Buicks, were he died after an auto accident. Leonard, my dad, was content to sell Fords or Chevrolets in Cassville, before eventually settling in Springfield, where he died in 1946.

Aunt Ethel's career included housekeeper positions in the Lennox in St. Louis and later the Shelborne on Miami Beach, Fla. This also might be the subject of a later column.

Cooled food

There were many stories about the Spring House, including never having any problems with cooling food, and this was long before refrigerators. Leftovers were simply placed under the house in or near the spring, where temperatures were sufficiently cool to keep the food from spoiling.

The same could be said for the hot summer nights when access through the floor to the running spring could provide some cooling for the house. For years, the spring ran when other sources of water might cease during periods of dry weather.

The Mitchell Spring House was also known as a source for water at times when another spring on the Old Reunion Grounds would cease to flow adequately.

On occasion, that source could be utilized to fill the watermelon tanks at the reunion. There always had to be a watermelon source, especially when it was cooled sufficiently, and it was always among the most popular stands.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is Monday. Why is it so important?

According to the American Legion Magazine, more than one million men and women have lost their lives defending America in wars from the Revolution to the global war on terrorism. One of these, a Marine serving his fourth tour in Afghanistan, left a letter to his family, "just in case something happened to him." He lost his life to an IED while walking on a patrol.

The letter follows: "My death did not change the world. It may be tough for you to justify its meaning at all.

But there is a greater meaning to it.

Perhaps I did not change the world. But there will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home country to come to his. And this child will learn in the new schools that have been built. He will walk his streets not worried about whether or not his leader's henchmen are going to come and kidnap him. He will grow into a fine man who will pursue every opportunity his heart could desire. He will have the gift of freedom, which I have enjoyed for so long. If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know that it was all worth it."

History will tell us whether his idea of serving and eventually giving his life was for naught. Some of us will be around to make this determination, others will be long gone from this life.


For us today, as we are about to remember all those who have served their country and have gone to hopefully a better place, it seems to be a small cost for the everyday freedoms we enjoy.

It doesn't take much to place a few flowers and a United States Flag at the graves of these patriots of the nation. Some of them did their service by choice and others were required by their country to enter the military. Some were in wartime and others served in better peacetime billets, but the fact of their service is sufficient for them to be among the remembered.

Remember, each time we take a step in freedom today, there is a veteran of the U.S. Military that contributed to what we enjoy.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.