Bob Mitchell: Is February even needed?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Anyone who has read this column for any length of time will realize that the late attorney Joe Ellis and I -- despite the difference in our political thinking -- were highly successful in many other avenues of endeavor. Part of the same line of thought could have resulted in the fact that Joe and Sid Smith were classmates with Sue at Cassville R-4. At least that was the reason they used in remembering her birthday with flowers.


One of our collaborations -- outside of hunting, fishing and raising money for industrial development -- was the belief that if we created sufficient interest, we could do away with the month of February and distribute the 28 or 29 days of that month among the other 11 months on the calendar.

This possibility was always approached with an apology to all those who might have a significant anniversary or event in their lives falling on the second month of the year, with a suggestion that observing the event under more pleasant weather conditions might be more enjoyable.

Another theory followed the thought that the normally-bad February weather was simply a means to arrive at the March 1 opening of Roaring River State Park.

Took idea to Nebraska

Just a short time after Joe's recovery from his heart transplant, he was a member of the Missouri team at the Nebraska One Box Pheasant Hunt in Broken Bow. Our team's efforts weren't all that great, so we decided to have some fun with our idea with our guides and host families.

During the noon break, the day of actual competition, the family of the guides we had drawn put on a full harvest spread at one of the biggest dinner tables most of us had ever seen.

These folks were either going along with us out of courtesy, or were really interested in ridding themselves with a winter month, which in that neck of the woods can be quite severe.

A host's blizzard story

We reveled in one tale of a host family that told of a February storm rescue when a family member got caught in a blizzard, failing to reach a destination. The husband set out on his tractor for a rescue, only becoming stalled in drifts himself. With access to a radio in his unit, he called for help from a larger unit, which effected the rescues. After his bout with the weather, this experienced truck driver was willing to go along with our cause.

There were stories abounding in that Nebraska territory that provided sympathy to our tongue-in-cheek proposition.

Ideas on float trips

Joe and I were fortunate to make two or three float trips on Elk River when the stream was flowing just right for our senior citizen status, usually leading to thoughts of eliminating February from the calendar. But then there was always the consideration of others. Also, there was concern about what to do about Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day.

Since this is not a Leap Year, right at this point of 2017 there are some 34 days until the opening gun and siren will awaken the critters in Roaring River hollow and send the season toward another eight-month run.

Being unable to garner sufficient backing, over a run of many years, it's been noted that there are still 12 months being printed on calendars in this modern era.

Storm 40 years ago

About this time in 1977, the area was being told to brace for snowfall that would bring problems for Barry County. In those days the county was flush with dairy farms that fed the economy of every business that had doors open 40 years ago. And the predictions, without the aid of modern technology, put 15 inches of white stuff on level ground and drifts pushed by high winds that made travel impossible.

It was then residents started seeing some of the largest equipment the National Guard had moving into the area, bulldozers to push out roads, electric generators circulating among dairy farms without power and the personnel to run them.

There were accusations thrown out at the time that preference was given Roaring River State Park's electrical lines, when actually feeder lines to southern areas of the service area took care of the park on opening day events.

Without the coordination of events, scheduling of milking times twice daily, the industry and thus the economy of the area would have suffered considerably.

That single emergency sparked dairymen to acquire their own generator equipment, and look what that's done for Cassville's nighttime Christmas parades since then!

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

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