Bob Mitchell: My, oh my, how things have changed

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Reading about the possible replacement of the Seventh Street Bridge over Flat Creek recently, detailing the number of state and federal authorities that had their fingers in the works, sparked my interest in how the former structure came to be. Floods last year wiped out a portion of the bridge that had existed since the early 1970s.

My best source of any information happened to be Phil Hutchens, who was a young man working for his father Evan Hutchens at that time. In the early days of Hutchens Construction Co., there was the necessity for a new bridge, due to the same circumstances as exist today. Thoughts of giving the new firm the responsibility of building the crossing was opposed by certain segments of the town’s officials, who thought the possible contractor was inexperienced. However, the opposition was overridden.

Possible plans to build a bridge of some magnitude were quickly defeated, and work proceeded in taking out the old structure. That’s where Phil came on the project, working on the demolition of the damaged bridge and preparing the site for a new crossing.

Phil said breaking into the old bridge discovered a mix of what had been used to add strength to the concrete, since the material of reinforcement steel was not available, or had not been used in the old bridge.

No kitchen sink

Demolition work discovered there were old wagon wheels, barrel hoops, scraps of steel, apparently from Otis Fisher’s Blacksmith Shop that was nearby, and assorted other materials. Quite unorthodox, but at the time, they used scraps or whatever was available. The bridge had lasted over 45 years, and through an untold number of Flat Creek floods.

Using whatever was available or more economic at the time has now waited for three agencies and an engineer to decide what needed to be done.

The most recent structure’s absence had been missed by those accessing city park facilities and Oak Hill Cemetery, and had become somewhat disturbing by some people in the community.

It will be interesting to discover what the cost differences might be this time. The best estimate of the old bridge’s value was in the $20,000 range.

Remembering John McCain

Those who remember when McDonald’s came to town also came to know the franchisers, Chuck and Melvadean Peterson, who came to down out of the military and working overseas with determination to bring the business to town. Melvadean was a Swofford whose family was from of the White River area of the county. Her husband, Chuck, was a retired Navy aviator that had flown prop aircraft his entire career.

With the death of the Arizona senator, the Petersons told of his flying off the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany during the Vietnam War. Chuck didn’t fly jet aircraft, but was associated with McCain in shipboard life. He said he remembered the incident of McCain’s crash landing and flight off the carrier during which he was shot down and taken prisoner.

Without prejudice to his political affiliation, John McCain’s performance in the military, his capture and performance in the U.S. Senate leaves a void of his thinking that apparently doesn’t exist today. He will always be a hero in my way of thinking.

The ninth month

Here we are already in the ninth month of 2018, and I’m having some difficulty in recalling what happened to the past eight months.

Anyway, it’s time for an Almanac report on the best fishing days remaining in this month. Best days are 21st and 23rd. Good days remaining are 13th, 18th, 20th and 27th.

These fall days were once my favorites to be on the lake, sometimes by just by myself. I would find a favorite, out of the way place, shut everything down, and just observe the area. With tree foliage nearly gone, there was a lot of the out-of-doors that began to make their appearances. One of those favorite spots was Big Creek, above Fish ‘n Fun Resort, built and run then by the Fitzpatricks.

Weather-wise, there are stormy times possible according to the publication and through local sources. Then toward the end of the month, there are chances for some cold weather to visit us after the arrival of Autumn on the 22nd of this month, which would indicate a good time to put some fireplace wood in for easy access.

Off the spike

It was recently realized that the Cassville Democrat was older than Budweiser beer. The newspaper was founded in 1871, and the brewing company came along four years later in 1876. Dr. John Ray had taken his medical saddlebags (which I still have), off his horse, hung them on the wall, and never practiced medicine again. The newspaper remained in the Ray family 134 years, until 1996.

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.