Bob Mitchell: Looking forward to spring

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

We’re just two days away from the second month of the year, February, a period in the calendar that was once the target of elimination.

Anyone who had read this column for any period of time will realize the tongue-in-cheek rhetoric that the late Joe Ellis and I had annually about the end of January. We had a theory that the 28 or 29 days of February could well be distributed among the other 11 months and no one would be the wiser or no one would be injured.

To our way of thinking, February was not only the shortest month of the year, but it also meant some of the most undesired weather would visit our communities. The question involved was: Would eliminating the month remove the possibility of undesired weather? We never got a definitive answer on this one.

Actually, it was Joe who had worked out how the formula of distribution would be handled, that is how many days each surviving month would receive. Remembering slightly it was the spring and early fall months that would receive the majority of those reassigned days.

The proposition never got off the ground, but it did provide consideration conversation and speculation not only between ourselves, but actually anyone that might want to listen.

Two important events

In my way of thinking, there were really only two important dates in February that concerned us, Groundhog Day on Feb. 2 and Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, the latter probably being the most important.

Paying attention to Groundhog Day, three days from now, might be important being an indicator in most circles whether there will be an early spring or six more weeks of winter. Thus, those looking for early planting opportunities or whatever the arrival of spring might offer, should probably hope for a heavy layer of clouds next Saturday so the groundhog will return to his lair and not see his shadow!

Back to the past

Also absent from events that once occurred in and around the public square were the traveling preachers. Frequently accompanying themselves with various musical instruments, the visitors would present their attention-getting program and then proceed to proclaim their sermon.

For the most part, they would attract mostly young people who would set on the street curb for a closer look at the preachers. As I remember, their message, at least for the most part, would be the same as heard in Sunday school or from the individuals’ church pulpit. On a rare occasion, the rhetoric would become undesirable, even to younger ears.

To answer a question

A couple of times in the past, the question has been forwarded concerning the building between east Eighth and Ninth with the tall smoke stack. What was the original purpose and what is its use now?

For the latter, there isn’t an answer available, but the structure has served Cassville and the business world in a number of ways over the years.

Initially, it was the powerhouse that provided electricity to those living in the city limits at the time. Replacing candle or lantern elimination in homes, electricity came to Cassville in 1905, but for a limited number of hours each day, that was in the evening 5-10 p.m., and was to use for lighting homes only.

Lynn Mitchell, son of the early operator of the plant, was a long-time insurance agent and ran many aspects of the old Commercial Club in those days.

Later use of the structure included ice storage, along with the old mill, for large pieces of ice cut during the winter from Flat Creek. A hide house for buying pelts of all types was also a later use, and my father, Leonard Mitchell, had a tire shop there. Most recent occupant of the building was a restaurant and saloon. There could have been others.

Weather coming

Unseasonably cold weather is possible, says the Almanac, periodically through February.

But, there is good news for football fans. With the Super Bowl 53 scheduled for Atlanta, they can cope with any situation with a retractable roof.

The publication is even talking about a couple of freezes reaching as far south as Florida. There are some cautions, so far as weather is concerned, for those jumping the gun on planting.

Fishing conditions for the most hearty of those wanting to hit the waters would best be on 7th, 15th and 16th. The longest span for angling possibilities listed as good days are: Feb. 5, 6, 19, 20, 23 and 24.

Take heart those who join the rest of us with being restless concerning the winter months, spring is just 49 days away, arriving at 3:58 p.m. on March 20.

We’re all looking forward to that date!

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.