Bob Mitchell: An extra hour of daylight

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sunday brought the annual spring duty of changing timepieces around the homestead and in vehicles.

The time change was started back in the World War I era as an incentive for people to have more daylight hours to work gardens to produce food needed for the Armed Forces. Back in those days, that’s exactly what lots of people did, much to the benefit of their own families since many produced food items were either rationed or just simply not available.

Frankly, the Daylight Saving Time observance goes well in our neighborhood, with about 3-1/2 hours to mow at least every other week. Some of that job can be accomplished outside the heat of the day.

Memories in the mail

I’m indebted to Wilda Whisman Bray of Raytown for her recent reminder of an important part of this neck of the wood’s history that really goes back in years. Her contribution of a partial publication about the Mountain Maid can bring back memories of anyone living in that era. The article, consisting only of a continued portion, apparently came from the Ozark Mountaineer, a popular monthly magazine that came out of the Branson area.

Jenne Wallace, lived about halfway between Highway 112 and Eagle Rock on the Sugar Camp Tower road. Her estate included about 100 acres, which she guarded very closely. There were times during her middle years that her rocky driveway might of had several parked vehicles, bringing those who sought her advice or predictions.

Miss Wallace apparently died when her log cabin caught on fire in February 1940. The fire was first observed by two boys hunting in the woods nearby. The coroner in those days, Floyd Callaway of Monett and Sheriff Troy Wilson of Cassville, ruled it an accidental death. Found near a small stove was a can of coal oil that was apparently being used to start a fire. A flash blaze apparently started the blaze that destroyed the home.

She had often been found on her front porch, seated in a rocking chair, willing to give of her wisdom or insight to anyone who was seeking her help.

Wealthy sought advice

Back in the early days of Roaring River State Park, when the old Rod and Gun Club existed, there were private homes in the park, mostly in the area across from the Twin Falls.

One of those homes was owned by a wealthy lumberman named Fred Bannister, and he made no excuses about his visits with the Mountain Maid, concerning his business operations.

Neighbors checked on her regularly since she constantly refused any charity for herself. She was most usually glad to visit with groups of CCC camp personnel, unless she was “having a bad day.”

Predicted a career

Wilda writes in a note that she was a freshman in Cassville, coming out of Shell Knob, when she and her boyfriend (not identified) went to visit the Mountain Maid.

“She told me I would be a teacher, which brought on a laugh,” she relates.

Her future seemed headed toward milking cows and riding bulls, but when she signed her first teaching contract, the Maid’s words came back to her.

Mrs. Bray wasn’t the only one who sought advice on the future from the Mountain Maid. Except during World War I years, when she returned to New York, her original home.

It was about 5-1/2 miles from her home to Eagle Rock, the distance she walked for groceries. On the return home she carried her needs in a cloth flour sack.

Miss Wallace was buried at Seligman, services were conducted by Horine-Culver Funeral Home, with the Rev. Charley VanZandt officiating. VanZandt, in later years claimed the record of that time for the number of weddings performed. Discovered at the Bank of Seligman was a safety box in her name, containing $226, designated for her final expenses.

Somber statistics

Out of the American Legion Magazine for March comes some sobering facts of how a lot of history is being overlooked as veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam are no longer with us. Reality hit this columnist back in 2006 when Veterans Administration estimates put WWII veteran deaths at 1,000 daily. That number today stands at 372 now passing away every day.

The decreased number is obvious with the growing departures over the 11 years. Estimates are that 620,000 of the Armed Forces from that era are alive today.

Possibly even more sobering are the Korea numbers, with over 5.7 million having served, about one fourth, or 1.6 million, are alive today. The numbers come from those who served between 1950-53.

Those serving in Vietnam have a statistic of being 60 years of age or older.

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

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