Bob Mitchell: Earlier generations more hardy

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

Trout season opened last week in an event that was once long awaited for. A late concessionaire, Norman O. Chaney, had his own name for the park: Beautiful Roaring River State Park.

Opening Day attracted one of the lowest numbers of fishermen in recent years under a situation of weather not being all that much of a problem. There were just more than 800 tag-holders there when Tim Homesley fired the opening gun at 6:30 a.m. from the hotel bridge, which was followed by the siren -- both signaling the start of whipping the water.

Before the day was over, there were 1,187 daily tags sold, meaning many area fly fishermen were reluctant to get out early.

Braver history

Years ago, weather didn't seem to affect trout anglers as much as this year. Back in the years that Jack Nickols was the concessionaire, there was much more extreme weather in the area for the opening. Hatchery Manager Paul Spurgeon went back in the records and provided this tag sale information. In 1983, there was an ice storm that visited the area with 12 inches of snow. Nickols said the park opened with generators operating facilities in the restaurant for a period of time. More importantly, the tags for this opening were sold to 2,158 anglers who were not to be denied their first day out to Rainbow Trout fish that year.

Ten years later, in 1993, there was 36 inches wet snow on the ground that put many power lines in this area on the ground. Highway Department personnel did a great job of clearing roads, as did Barry Electric crews in getting some of the lines back carrying power. At this opening, there were 2,086 fishermen who bought tags to be streamside for opening morning.


That year produced one of the most active fusses of this area when rural residents learned that the park had power. There were accusations that favoritism had been given to Roaring River over dairy farmers of the area, who were being provided electricity for their milking chores by Missouri National Guard generators.

Facts that were later presented stated that lines carrying power to the areas south and east of Cassville had to be restored first to those that went to Roaring River, thus the reason for electricity to the park being first.

There were some folks who at least should have taken back some pretty serious remarks after they learned the facts, which was provided by the cooperative personnel.

Another difference

This year, I noticed there wasn't as much of a problem of line freezing in rod guides as there could have been under colder conditions. In those heavy storm times, anglers had to periodically dip their rods in the water to remove that hazard.

Mississippi trip

Back to our Mississippi trip: There was one rural café that touted "Best hamburgers in the area and plate lunches." Now, that was the first time I'd seen an offering of "plate lunch" since college days at Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State) and working at the College Inn just across the street west of the campus, which was operated by Wes and Milly Trapp.

Many Cassville students in the 1940s got a chance to work there because of recommendations of the late Chan Griffin. All that was required was work ethic and Chan's phone call.

Anyway, Trapp prided himself on his "plate lunch," which was probably better for customers than the burger and chili also available. He never quarreled with staffers about their breakfast or lunch menu, but he required them to eat the "plate lunch" in the evening.

In the South, at several locations, Trailways busses are still providing transportation for the region. They once provided transportation to Springfield and Joplin through this area, transferring their passengers at the Missouri-Arkansas line who were accessing points south. Their station in Cassville was in the Corner Store (now Willis Insurance), operated by my aunts, Missie Pearl and Bland White. Their arrivals were noted at that time, by most of those in and around the square.

We saw a billboard north of Jackson, Miss., notifying anyone who might be interested that the local outhouse rental business had moved to Georgia.

Transplanted pine trees in Mississippi, that generally are used for utility poles, are planted so thick that groves would be difficult to walk through. At one stop, we were told that was to provide straight growth for the industry, obviously required for their principle use.

Since our return home, a lot of our mail has consisted of promotions from a number of casinos, which provided so many bountiful meals during our visit to the gulf.

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