Bob Mitchell: Cassville shakes, rattles and roars

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pre-Labor Day excitement arrived in Cassville at 7:02 a.m. Saturday with tremors from an earthquake originating in Pawnee, Okla. It was the first in recent years to so react in Barry County communities.


Rated at 5.6 on the Richter scale, the quake was rated the most severe in Oklahoma history. The location was north of Oklahoma City. News reports said the incident, resulting from oil drill fracking of subsurface drilling and activities of oil companies, was sure to further raise the question of the activity in the state. Some damage was reported in Pawnee, but not in other areas where the shaking was felt.

There was no doubt in this area but what the activity was an earth tremor, sufficient to rattle shelves throughout the region. That's the "shake and rattle" part, to follow the title of a long-ago song.

Now for the 'roar'

I'm changing the "roll" part of the music title to "roar" as the Wildcats of Cassville roared their record to 3-1 with a 42-16 victory over the East Newton Patriots.

Before the contest, the Head Coach Lance Parnell's Wildcats were ranked third in the district. The team's lone loss was the season-opening trouncing at the hands by Class-2 power Lamar.

Cassville returns home Friday, hosting St. James, before heading into the Barry County Brawl with local rival, Monett.

Movie houses

Cassville's posture in good movie days went out with the demise of the Hall family here. Initial "picture shows" were the offering of Mrs. Nolan in the Ozark Theater on the South Side of the Square. Ushering at the movie house -- my very first job -- was a real experience in many ways.

One of these was the area's first known air conditioning system, which wasn't all that cool. The equipment was actually a water conditioner that required close scrutiny during the progress of a movie to make sure the control of water was correct. This required a trip up through the stage area into the back of the theater to make adjustments.

The best place to take advantage of what little cooling there was was in the front of the theatre. Anywhere from the middle back had very little cooling during the summer months.

Mrs. Nolan welcomed with open arms the nights CCC Camp participants were in town for a movie. These fellows were good concession customers, requiring whoever was operating the popcorn machine to keep busy. The owner didn't welcome drinks being brought in from the Music Store down the block, as they often resulted in messes to mop up at the end of the evening.

These CCC guys were granted admission by tokens issued at Roaring River before they were transported to town. The tokens were then redeemed at one of the two banks in town at the time. The Ozark employees never were told, but we always guessed, the token redeeming process brought in more to the owner than did regular admissions.

Hall to town

The name changed to the Hall Theater when Glen and Clairece Hall came to town from Kansas. Glen hadn't much more than lighted in town before adding another chore to his activity. They were living on Main Street when the Wildcats lost their basketball coach, who resigned to become a game warden, and a group of players hit his front porch one evening after learning of his playing ball at Pittsburg, Kan.

After some dickering with the Cassville Board of Education and the state, his lacking of education hours were overlooked, and he assumed the helm. So, between running the theater at night, coaching on game nights, and overseeing a study hall during the day, his plate was full.

That lasted one season before Hall returned to his true love.

Moved to new digs

It didn't take many years before Hall's intentions for a new theater materialized as the city decided to sell the community building on the west side of the square. Hall acquired the property, converted the building to a first-class facility and living quarters on the second floor.

Several years later, the Halls acquired property on Highway 44, now Able Two, for Green Hills Drive-in, operating the two alternately in the summer and winter months.

Hall Theater's operations brought first-class entertainment to the Cassville community throughout their runs.

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

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