Bob Mitchell: Picking out the perfect tree

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

It wasn't many years ago, perhaps 50 or so, that this time of the year signaled time to head to the woods and find a suitable cedar tree that would be the family Christmas tree.


Not just any tree would do, it had to conform to the wish of a little girl in the crowd who usually got the last word in the selection process.

The best location in those days was on land owned by Martha Dunnam east of Cassville, just off Highway 86. This particular field was virtually covered with cedars, and the late Mrs. Dunnam cared not how many were sawed or chopped in the selection process.

You see this decision-making involved first picking the tree, cutting it down by saw or hatchet, standing it up and trimming limbs, then waiting for the approval. Sometimes it took three or four choices before approval was forthcoming.

Other decorations

There were other decoration processes that used cedar in their holiday decorating. Believe it or not, Cassville once had lighted streamers across streets that were wrapped in cuttings of the cedar. This was before the days of plastic or other materials being available.

As Barry Electric prepared to put the lighted streamers from one side of the street to the other, volunteers would be on hand to tie the branches on the line.

It was in this manner that many an area got rid of their cedar groves and contributed to the holiday season.

Along came subs

Then along came the substitute materials that looked like real Christmas trees and were much less messy. These were trees that only required putting them together and then doing the decorating of your choice.

In more modern times, the decorating is done for those buying some trees. All these models need is putting together and then plugging into the electric and decorating for the holidays is completed.

Father of golf

A couple of weeks ago, Cassville lost one of its citizens who could be recognized in a couple of ways. He had possibly served more churches in Arkansas and Missouri than any other Baptist preacher. He could also bear the title of Father of Golf in Cassville. Bob Neeley, had almost reached his 90th birthday when he passed away Nov. 23. He was a full-blown Cassville native.

Before his retirement, the late John Duncan noted he had spent 23 years pastoring in Cassville. He also noted that Bob Neeley had pastored that many churches.

Neeley's interest in golf resulted in transforming the land of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Horace Neeley, from pastureland into a sand-green course. This was back in the early 1960s, several years before the present links were opened in 1966.

Perfect location

The acreage, south of Cassville, on the edge of Washburn Prairie, was well suited for the conversion, which was accomplished entirely by volunteer labor. Cross fences had to be removed, and there was some rock-picking before the late Evan Hutchens brought a grader to the farm to construct greens, then provided an oiler to treat the sand.

For the benefit of Cassville, a landing strip for light planes was provided at the east side of the course.

Except for one hole of the nine, which was titled Copperhead Canyon, there weren't any obstacles. One favorite was No. 9, which stood near a barn that afforded a bank shot into the sand for more accomplished golfers.

Good hosts

Bob and his family, the parents still lived on the farm (now the Charles Marrs farm), were always good hosts for golfers. The first T was located just a few yards from the family's front porch, from where his dad, Horace, could shout a welcome to round beginners. He also encouraged a brief visit before the round began.

Only the bare necessities were available at the location, but it served the purpose of getting golf interests well tuned for something better to come.

The Neeleys provided golf-stuff from a display case in the small clubhouse, which was supervised in member construction by Willie Bowman. Equipment was also merchandised out of their home at the time on Sunset Heights.

Off the spike

Congratulations to those whose entries made another Cassville Christmas Parade a success. Since 1979, these night-time events have thrilled thousands as they made their way though the business district early in December. Give them a pat on the back when you see those responsible.

The Irwin--Easley American Legion's Veterans Day breakfast is missed. The event, more years than can be recalled, might not have done much to recognize veterans, but it sure filled stomachs in the Nov. 11 holiday. Several reasons forthcoming about the cancellation should be resolved before November 2016.

Think of this, a turn on the old adage, "Still waters run deep," substituting, "Shallow waters make the most noise."

There are only 16 days before Christmas. If your gifting list isn't finished, you better get hopping.

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