Bob Mitchell: Past dairy outlets were plentiful

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Probably with no connection to the dairy industry, it might be important to recall some of the product outlets that existed in Cassville years ago.

There were more than you might think, and probably a few that I may have forgotten. With that in mind, I’m taking a chance, knowing that corrections are always possible — here we go.

There were always the haunts of Wooten Drug on the north side of the square and Miller Drug on the east side. Both businesses were extremely proud of their fountain service, each laying claim for the best milkshakes in town. That claim was personally laid aside while in my final high school days here, aunts Missie Pearl and Bland White put me behind the soda fountain. That was where Sue and I struck up an acquaintance.

M. M. Hess and family had an ice cream business in the German Building, after he retired as Cassville R-4 superintendent. Thomas Dairette was on South Main, which was the first real drive-in here. Marcum’s Grill had the first soft ice cream machine in town. The owners were Don and Kathryn Marcum. Their oldest son, Jerry, a retired MSSU instructor, just recently gave up their former Joplin home for a retirement facility.

A couple of dairy operations existed in those days, Jaques Dairy and Talbert Dairy. The latter’s land became Wildwood Estates. The land along Flat Creek is now part of the R-4 campus. There were also a few milk providers in town, including Leonard and Kathryn Mitchell.

Seven Valley Cheese Co. and a small receiving station at 10th and Main, which provided a source of revenue for those milking cows in those days. With Pet Milk and Kraft also market possibilities, the dairy industry grew in the county to eventually attract attention of milking equipment. Carol and Rowena Hutchens and Bill Wiley were the first providers of Surge dairy equipment in this area.

Like other so-called progress, this too soon departed Cassville and became available only through sources distance from the City of Seven Valleys.

Food stores plentiful

In those days, food stores were plentiful in Cassville. There are a lot of today’s residents who wish prices were the same today as they were in days gone by. There were: Preddy’s, Sanitary Market, Larry and Sue Blythe’s, Haskins, Coones, Gale Cope, Baker Produce, MFA Exchange, Paul’s Consumers and Edmondson’s.

One customer remembered

The MFA Exchange was just off the square, and the Cassville Democrat was on the south side of the square. Twice each day, Mrs. Galord Price made a trip to the MFA store, often purchasing only one can of food. On the return trip, she would stop and rest in our office, which always had visitor chairs in the picture windows. She would normally break into most conversations in the office, regardless of what the subject might have been.

One afternoon, the late Ralph Hamilton had just become the new superintendent of R-4 and was visiting with my uncle Means Ray. Mrs. Price was in her seat and had resisted as long as possible and approached Hamilton, breaking into the conversation. Her remark was: “Just who are you and what is your business here, and what is your religion and politics?” An astonished Hamilton thought a minute, eventually replying, “Well, I suppose I’m a Baptist and a Democrat.”

To this, Mrs. Price slapped her side and exclaimed, “Oh, that just suits me fine!”

Golf personalities

Public Broadcasting had an interesting program recently on Golf Era in Springfield. Especially enjoyable was the portions that included a recognition of golfers in the Queen City that took part in the Cassville Golf Course dedication in 1966. The event was quite a milestone for this small town as the first grass green course in the area. Monett’s later promotion for their conversion said, “Even Cassville has grass greens.”

A couple of foursomes for the opener included Don Sallee, Kyle Lafoon, Sam Reynolds from Springfield and local pro Jim Hatfield. First off the tee that Sunday afternoon was governor Warren Hearnes, J.B. Nations, Truman Baker and myself. Nations and I won our match.

An entertainment portion of the event was Governor Hearnes giving the late state representative Dewey Hankins a couple of lessons before the matches began. The governor’s nickname, from Jefferson City days was “uncle Dewey.”

A sport’s change

This event followed a previous golfing facility, featuring sand greens, on the Horace Neeley place, now owned by the Marrs.

Volunteer labor built this one, pulled fences, cut brush, getting to the place where Evan Hutchens could cut greens on the nine-hole facility permitting sand to be installed. Hutchens later sprayed special oil on the sand — and it was let the play begin.

Right down the middle of the location was a sod landing strip that facilitated a number of aircraft arrivals and departures. One twin-engine aircraft ran through a fence on landing and that was the end of regular use of the strip.

Copperhead Canyon was the name on one-hole gully crossing.

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.