Bob Mitchell: Near tragedy at Travel Show

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February being the month for vacation planning season, the month is traditionally time for Sport, Boat and Travel Shows throughout the Midwest.

The first such appearance from this area nearly ended in tragedy for a couple of reasons.

The booth was sponsored in a joint effort by the Central Crossing Association (forerunner of the Shell Knob Chamber of Commerce), Cassville Chamber of Commerce, Missouri State Parks and a small involvement by Aurora (from where a small lake community influence originated.)

Kansas City was chosen as the initial location with preparations including raising money, design of both a booth presentation and literature to be presented to visitors at the Municipal Auditorium location.

The first crew

Volunteers to transport, set up and man for the opening included Cecil Davis, original owner of Rod ‘n’ Reel Resort who had spearheaded the effort, Bill Brame who owned JuMarDe Resort and Truman Baker and myself representing the Cassville C of C.

Two station wagons were loaded with the broke-down display, constructed by Kenneth Corn and the boxes of brochures for the rainy-day trip north.

None of us were completely sure what we were doing, so upon arrival in the city, and a couple of trips driving around the show site, a ramp on the backside was discovered and the decision was reached to drive up the ramp. At the top, reaching the auditorium level, we found a large door, which we entered. Inside was an obvious unloading area, complete with dollies to transport heavy item.

We had the number of our booth location, found this and began unloading and transporting our show booth to the display floor.

Tragedy was near

After assembling the booth, we were standing back admiring our work, Davis was nearest to the large lighted Plexiglass map of the area, when the whole thing started to fall over backward, after one of the light-weight hinges had failed. He was successful in holding the display until the rest of us could provide assistance.

Some quick repairs from Davis’ tool box, and the problem was solved, and we could rest easy that the booth would stand alone.

Another problem

The lone remaining chore was to connect electricity to the unit and make sure all the lights worked. Plugging the cord into a nearby socket, we discovered there was no power available, which required a trip to the office to get service to the area. This really presented a whole new problem.

When Davis returned from the office, he was accompanied by a show official that was obviously upset. He quickly informed us we had violated a number of rules. First, by driving up the ramp, then unloading our display, moving it to the auditorium floor, assembling it on the floor, hooking up the electricity, and other violations that are now out of my memory, all of which caused him to be extremely unhappy.

It seems as though all those details should have been handled by assigned personnel of the show, obviously members of their union assigned to those duties.

Davis, having been a K.C. area contractor before his resort career, was familiar with these problems and quickly explained we had been adequately rebuked, so it was now time to turn on the power to our display. His handling of the problem was adequate and the processes to getting started at the show proceeded.

Effort well received

Observations at that first show provided this area considerable satisfaction, as large crowds were constantly in touch with the site and material flowed into take-away packs. Design of the booth received top ranking comments throughout the run of the show as was evidenced by subsequent crews who followed the installation group.

In fact, in subsequent years following the first one, a number of areas adopted the map, with points of interest indicated by lights, as part of their display.

The effort had been one of this entire area’s, complete to the design of the booth. It was unfortunate this booth and the large color photo that graced the surrounding area of the map, didn’t survive for this area’s history. It would have been something people could well be proud of.

Groundhog shadow

Obviously, with Friday’s high sky and bright sun, Barry County groundhogs had ample opportunity to see long shadows as they exited their dens. That’s a well-established omen for Barry County gardeners who are concerned with the possibility of six more weeks of winter.

And, by the feel of temps Friday morning, this seems to be a possibility. It’s not always the case, but there have been those ignoring the possibility that have planted two or three times before they got a crop in the ground. Some have touted Mother’s Day as the “safe” time for making heavy plantings for summer gardens.

Take heart — there are just over three weeks remaining before Roaring River State Park opens, which traditionally some feel is the first of spring in this area.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.