Bob Mitchell: Road hunting rattlesnakes

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bringing back thoughts of the late Jeanne Wallace, better known in these parts as the Mountain Maid, provided memories of one of Cassville’s best liked businessmen, John Haddock. He was a plumber who could be relied on to arrive, complete his job, and leave you with the assurance that what he had worked on would not need additional repairs.

In later years, he joined Fred Meador in Meador-Haddock Hardware in the 600 block of Main Street. Meador was himself a legend in Cassville, having spearheaded the Industrial Development Corporation and played a big part in keeping the organization on track in its early years.

Haddock was somewhat of a magician, usually amazing youngsters by pulling a quarter out of their ears or from atop their head, always presenting the coin to his awestruck subject. He was a partner when we opened and developed Sunset Heights Subdivision in Cassville.

An avid river float fisherman, the late Harold Shetley and I frequently accompanied Haddock and Glen Truhitte to an area above Lost Bridge on White River where they could put their canoe in the water and travel for a days fishing before arriving at the bridge.

While waiting for them, Shetley and I would use a boat stashed near the bridge, a lock key hidden under a large rock, and bait fish below and above the bridge. We used softshell crawfish caught the previous night in Flat Creek as bait, usually bringing home a good mess of catfish.

All this was before the days of Beaver Lake, the Lost Bridge area of those days now under lots of water.

Back to the heading

One of Haddock’s unusual involvements was traveling through Roaring River State Park in the summertime, up the big hill on Route 112 to Sugar Camp Tower Road. The route ran through to Eagle Rock, accessing the often-used fire tower facility halfway through the stretch of road that passed the Mountain Maid’s cabin. That wasn’t Haddock’s objective. He was hunting rattlesnakes.

This unusual activity was often quite successful, either before arriving at the Sugar Camp intersection where 112 was paved, or on the less traveled gravel road. As a lover of nature, he frequently recalled some of the other wildlife he would encounter on his runs, which frequently took him on east to intersect with the Eagle Rock community.

Often returning to Cassville via this route, Haddock was known to move off the road in the Wolfpen Gap area where he might resume his quest of the crawling creatures.

His was not always the purpose to eliminate the reptiles, often to observe them under whatever source of light he might have with him.

Strong for Cassville

During what has been called Cassville’s Industrial Revolution, Haddock never stepped out in front in the activities, but was always in a position to encourage those who were leading the effort. In a few instances when prospects for financial involvement were hesitant to invest in their town, he was known to have visited with them with words of encouragement.

His fiscal involvement was always one of the first contacted and was always forthcoming right out of the chute.

An ardent Mason, his lodge was foremost in his thoughts as were those of his wife, Kathryn.

Supported tennis

Residing adjacent to the lone tennis court that was on the school campus, he always supported youth tennis. It was the Haddocks who provided a bench under a tree in their property line, which players could use until it was their turn to play.

A hydrant on the side of their house was available should hot-weather players not have their own source of water.

A telephone warning

Recently, a couple of unwanted phone calls have opened with “Hello, this is your grandson,” bringing on the response of, “Which one am I talking to?”

The response from one caller was, “Don’t you recognize my voice?”

Demanding some further information, resident’s address, parents’ name, etc., the caller quickly ended the attempted conversation. Others, who have continued the call, have been asked for birthday funds, money to use for bail out of jail or to pay a traffic fine.

In these days of communication there should be some form of contact with these people that would lead to their apprehension and punishment.

A word of warning: Watch out for strange calls for roof repairs. Since the hailstorm, some of these calls are happening.

Lost landmark

For whatever reason, a Cassville landmark that many of us watched grow over the decades has partially disappeared.

The three large cedars trees along Main Street at the Mercy Hospital are now down to one. Two of them were removed for reasons unknown.

The large trees, once near the old Highway Department Garage, were stately and an obvious landmark of the town.

The complete destruction of this landmark was stopped, leaving a lone tree — the least magnificent of the three that were there.

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