Bob Mitchell: Remembering past happenings

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Having the opportunity for the first time to write the New Year 2017 -- and it coming out correctly -- was amazing, since that had not happened some years in the past.


This might indicate my level of forgetfulness hasn't progressed as far as some have thought. Anyway, it's a good time to clear up some notes and thoughts -- both out of the past and some more recent -- that might be of interest.

Many in this area had considerable sympathy for Ermil Stever 59 years ago, about the time everyone was getting interested in boating on the newly filled Table Rock Lake. Ermil was one of the many area truck drivers who also took pride in the automobiles he drove.

One day, he arrived in mid-town driving a brand new Skyliner -- the first, and only of the Ford model to arrive in this community. You talk about bells and whistles of today's vehicles loaded with electronic gear, this model had a hard top that was retractable into the trunk area. Imagine if you can how many small motors were required to accomplish this task.

The Stever family, apparently on their first outing with the new vehicle, drove to the Eagle Rock area, planning to launch what could have been their new boat on the pad at the Eagle Rock-Eureka Springs Dock. Incidentally, that was the first official name for the lake facility, because at that time, all docks and parks were sponsored by an area community under arrangements with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Back to the Stever story. Ermil backed his trailer into the water at the ramp and, for some reason, both rigs -- boat, trailer and hard-top convertible -- kept right on going, with the vehicle disappearing under water. Some of the boat did float to mark the spot of the disaster.

There never was a full understanding for the mishap, but some thought the boat might have been too large, which subsequently pulled the rig into the water.

A good part of the story is the Skyliner was naturally recovered and taken to mechanics who knew what they were doing, and the car was seen on the streets of Cassville for some time afterward.

A local auto dealer provided info on the name and year of the vehicle, noting rejuvenation after the dunking would have been quite a chore.

Things of the past

Some events of days gone by that more than likely won't happen again, at least not in the near future, might include wading Flat Creek with grandson Andy, a Navy doctor now in a fellowship at Harvard, and answering all the questions that would come across his inquisitive mind while enjoying the fishing adventure. That outdoor experience began at the old steel bridge, at a once thriving community of Star City.

Parking the pickup on former Wierman land near the creek, we hit the water and headed downstream, never thinking of what we would find when we returned.

To shorten this story, a couple of hours of enjoyment later, we returned to the vehicle to discover paint gone from several areas of the vehicle. Thinking it was a prank, we later learned horses in the pasture where we parked had decided to sample the paint, leaving teeth marks at several places.

Vollenweider apples

Long gone from this area is one of the best treats and businesses that the community has enjoyed, Vollenweider apples. Along with the treat of a Delicious number 88, there was Fred Vollenweider, who started in the Seymour area, moving to his orchard in Exeter for his later years. Fred was a fighter for his crop, especially in the years of raising peaches.

If a cold front came through with fruit on the trees, it was an event attracting sightseers from the area, when a helicopter would be hired to fly over the area in danger of frostbite, driving warmer air from above to the trees. In later years, large wind machines were installed throughout the sprawling orchard to combat freezing temperatures.

When there was a community event, like Cassville Rotary's Halloween street party, it was one of Fred's pet projects to furnish apples for all those attending and watch the dunking process. There was always a sparkle in his eye as he watched people help themselves to the Red Delicious or Yellow Delicious varieties.

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