Bob Mitchell: The best time of the year

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Bob Mitchell Ozark Views & Comments

Today, we've reached either the best or second-best time of the year -- the first day of autumn.

It never has been quite clear to me, in my 86 years of recollections, whether spring or autumn should be ranked atop of the seasons that seem to be rolling by even more quickly than they once did.

But then, it would have been as easy to determine as looking up a calendar to have gazed out our back window at the largest of our Dogwood trees and see that the colors are beginning to appear in the leaves.

This year, with the canopy so heavy, thanks to an abundance of moisture this summer, it might be a sure-fire bet that when the Flaming Fall Review rolls around, there will be an abundance of color that we haven't seen in several years come mid-October.

That will be something that will highly please Ozarkers and their visitors.

Planning underway

While all of us are enjoying the autumn changes, there are a lot of people in the community who are planning upcoming events for your entertainment. They will all be coming your way about the time of the fall color show in Mark Twain National Forest that can add to the excitement of this time of the year.

First of the events will be the production of The Show, under the direction of Greg Beck, which has a long-standing way of highlighting talent of the area. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 and 24 and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 25.

Right in the middle of this event comes the Cassville Chili and Salsa Cook-Off, which fills the public square with people brewing their chili or salsa and others offering the widest assortment of novelties and numbers of items. This is an all-day event on Oct. 24.

Back years ago

Years ago, when transportation wasn't as convenient as it is today, an event that was on the look-forward-to list was the medicine show that traveled this area when temperatures were more enjoyable and the opportunity for rain wasn't quite as high.

There were a couple of locations in Cassville where these traveling salesmen (they always had something to sell, usually at the conclusion of their entertainment) would set up. The show part of the engagement might have been a music presentation and a magician. There was an occasional snake show, and one that we were always warned by parents to stay away from, the "hoochie koochie" shows.

Setups were usually on the west side of the square, next to the old Community Building, where a vacant lot provided ample space, or at the east bottom of Ninth Street, which we kids enjoyed more, since a pole yard for the electric company was located nearby furnishing seating.

Since electrical power was usually available from an adjoining source, the square location frequently provided a movie as part of their attraction to the location.

It was always a wonder to the younger generation as to how successful the hawkers were in selling their wares to some of the folks, who forked over good dollars for their products.

Always Roaring River

While these entertainment events were going on in the past, there was always Roaring River State Park that started in October, grinding down for a seasonal close.

Not long ago, entertainment went to the park in the identity of the Cassville Civic Choirs, which was the brainchild of a late CHS music instructor, Bob Merideth. It wasn't enough that he worked hours to produce award-winning groups and units in his department. The community programs seemed to be his crowning achievements.

Actually, few in the choirs gave it a thought that the visits to Roaring River would be enough to attract people from their vacation activities, but areas where the music was provided was always full of lawn chairs and attentive audiences.

Lean football years

Unfortunately, many of these activity years found Cassville's football program in something less than entertaining times. There were years without a victory, seasons with defeats that made spectators want to depart from the conference at that time, and scores posted by larger schools that should have embarrassed their administrators and coaches.

Carved on some memories is one season, the first of the season, when the scoreboard was turned on. The last game of the season was Neosho 66, Cassville 0.

In that game, the opponents ran linemen out of the backfield so they could make a first down or score a touchdown.

But, that has also changed, with the Wildcats these days able to get themselves in the mix of competition, and having a history of outstanding achievement for which players involved in those seasons can be proud.

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