Bob Mitchell: The dog days of summer

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

Here we are smack-dab in the middle of the dog days of summer -- a time years ago that such things as swimming in Flat Creek were discouraged. That was in the era of Polio being the dreaded disease that it was.

Come to think of it, not in my memory was there ever a case of Polio connected with the waters of Flat Creek.

In those days, this was the only swimming available, unless someone had transportation available to Brock's Spring Pool, which was just outside Cassville on Mineral Springs Road, or even further to the cold waters of the old pool at Roaring River State Park.

Both places were eventually considered to not be the most healthful places to swim, since neither had any treatment or filter equipment available.

Cold water

Swimmers had to be able to withstand cold water at either facility, since both were spring fed with a periodic inflow of water to provide whatever sanitation they might provide.

The Roaring River pool was located a few steps from the original hotel facility -- not across Dry Hollow and up a steep grade like the present park pool.

Eventually, contributing to the closing of the park pool, was the fact that water that was used in the swimming facility came from a rearing pool for trout that was located adjacent, separated only by a sidewalk.

As long as the park pool existed, there never was much of a problem for local people to use the facility.

Roaring River's Bass Lake provided a swimming dock, and the falls at the end of the lake was a popular place to wade and cool during the hot weather. Water in the lake was eventually drained, due to silting from floods over a period of years. The water never warmed much, and only the best of swimmers got very far from the dock.

Youth campers, annually using Camp Smokey, made a big splash in Bass Lake at least a couple times each day. They got instructions concerning water safety, including handing a canoe -- usually from Boy Scout Troop 76 members who had just recently returned from Camp Arrowhead near Marshfield.

Interesting falls

While the pool of water at the bottom of the falls was usually more swift than most swimmers chose to enjoy, the levels of the falls themselves were often quite interesting.

The various levels of the falls often found a group seated in the water, with their feet touching, scooting from the shallow side toward the limestone bluff. Their idea was to catch fish that might be residing in that particular level. Fishermen might not believe it, but there were often some pretty good- sized bass and trout to be had with this method.

As far as I know, they always became someone's meal that evening, and the wear and tear on a swimsuits didn't bother anyone.

Tumble bugs

Reaching a favorite swimming hole on Flat Creek meant crossing the Twetty Black pasture, which was gated at the Arthur Salyer Service Station. Today, that would be somewhere in the vicinity of the remote facility for Commerce Bank.

The route was obvious, since Black would herd his cows to his Mill Street residence for milking each day, then take them back -- producing a well-trodden path toward the creek.

Along this path, especially in the heat of the summer, fresh cow piles would have Tumble Bugs attacking the material and making marble-sized balls about the diameter of a dime, which they would roll on down the path.

There were times swimmers might stop and watch them and even speculate on how far they might take their treasure down the path. There would even be a few of the creatures making a second trip in the opposite direction. It was never determined how many of these balls they would handle in a day.

2 swimming holes

Reachable through this pasture were a couple of swimming holes, with the Cable hole being the best. Warm hole, which was downstream, might be the choice if there happened to be a cool breeze blowing.

Further upstream was even a better swimming spot, but it was available only by invitation at the home of Olie Olsen, owner of the All American Red Head Women's Basketball Team. Their son, Connie Mack, often asked small groups of boys to use these waters, which also had a cable swing. There was some deeper water in this area.

The lone problem with swimming in this area of Flat Creek was that a swimsuit was required, since Mrs. Olsen and some of the ball players might be enjoying the afternoon on a sundeck, located on the south side of the home in full view of Flat Creek, which no longer runs through that area.

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