Bob Mitchell: Book brings back memories

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

Memories can come at you many ways, especially when you have been newspapering 62 years. You can have your own recollections of what happened in the past, and then a publication comes to your attention that will rattle up some memories of times that have passed.

Such was the case when a publication came to me through the Cassville Democrat that was titled "From the Outhouse to the Penthouse." This and the subtitle "Turning Points" didn't do much to identify why I happened to be on the receiving end of this booklet.

Then a closer look at the face that was on the cover began to bring things into focus. This was a memoir of a one-time vocational agriculture instructor at Cassville High School who left the field of teaching to enter the game of insurance. And well did he do in his new field, climbing the ladder of success.

Sunset Heights resident

Now known as B. Dean Brown, he and wife, Lozelle, resided in Sunset Heights during his teaching tenure in Cassville with R-4 records indicating his last year was 1964. In the book, Dean stated he taught here six years.

A quiet individual, Dean went about his teaching duties in competent way, getting things done in a manner that was pleasing to the entire community. He hit town at a time of the departure of Vester Wilson, a long-time vo-ag person on the R-4 campus.

Many had a feeling that Wilson's departure, with his wife who taught vocal music, would be the end of the two departments in Cassville.

Quick success

Those thoughts of the vo-ag department losing ground with Wilson's departure were quickly out the window when Dean Brown put his ideas and methods in motion. He was quick to establish himself as a strong community individual and obviously had his sights set on a successful agriculture department that was to eventually make a reputation that was known throughout Missouri.

Ranking teams

Not much is covered in his book about successes in Future Farmers of America activities except a couple of instances.

Brown's meat judging team received a national award with members Joe Holder, Loy Bowen and Jerry Nickle in one of the photos with their coach. Another is Carl Easley, chapter president at the time, holding a National FFA Gold Emblem Chapter Award.

A photo also depicts the back of a Cassville FFA jacket.

Back to chapter

Brown's most recent visit to Cassville came 12 years after his departure to attend and speak at the organization's banquet here. In those days, the banquet always included past members and the Honorary Chapter Farmers from the community.

That honorary status came to me during Brown's reign on the Cassville campus and was always one of those welcome events each year to enjoy the activities and watch the success of FFA members and what they had achieved during the year of classes and activities.

If the practice is still observed in the chapter, apparently notices don't go out to those holding the honorary status.

Small spaces

Although agriculture might have been stronger in academia circles in those days, the department wasn't allotted a very high status for space. Actually, there wasn't much building space on the campus in those days as have been constructed since.

Wilson and Brown and those they followed, such as Joe Flint and Bill Wiley, held their classes and their shop in small spaces in the north end of the stone gym. Those spaces have since become renovated administrative offices and board of education meeting room after recent renovations.

Added duties

To augment his income, Brown sometimes filled in as a bus driver on one of Cassville's far-flung routes.

This financial arrangement is a far cry from his presidency of United Liberty Life in Cincinnati, which has sent him around the world for business and pleasure, and resulted in a project closer to Cassville than some might imagine.

As founder and board chairman, he's involved in Images at the Cross, a development near the intersection of Highways 65 and 160 north of Branson.

A philosophy

Toward the end of his book, a philosophy develops that includes:

"I hear the older generation talking about the good old days. I grew up in those days. I certainly gained much experience from those years long ago; however, I would not want to do those years again. I didn't like taking baths in cold water. I didn't like carrying water from a spring a half mile down the mountain. I didn't like going, in frigid weather, to the bathroom in an outhouse 400 feet from the living quarters. I didn't like using sheets for paper from magazines as tissue paper.

"Take it from a person who has been there, today's days are the good old days."

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