Bob Mitchell: Having picnic thoughts?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

With better weather arriving, as even some weather forecasters are thinking, there are a lot of thoughts about getting outside and enjoying these Ozarks.

The winds that have been with us might not be gone in this early spring, but predictions exist that our cold weather could be a thing of the past. But, having said that, as most of us realize, this is the Ozarks, and weather changes can be just around the corner at any given day or night.

Then there are those traditional indicators, such as the groundhog, thunder that rolled through the area in February and other Ozarkese signs.

Getting outside

My thoughts of getting outside have sparked memories about a couple of favorite picnic spots that were around before Table Rock Lake went in. In the days before 1958, people in this area took pride in the rivers and creeks that were available for various recreational activities, paramount of which included picnicking.

This activity was two-fold, packing a trunk full of food, some blankets, chairs and whatever was to be used for water activity. Nearly everyone had a well-patched inner tube around the house, which worked quite well in river waters. Those days were before the widespread use or availability of air mattresses. In some cases, they were considered affluent or flimsy and not well suited for use around rocks.

The favorite recipes that always arrived at the scene were always well worth the trip. It was surprising what would come out of storerooms when it came time to venture out. One family always provided a folding table and chairs, which eliminated setting on rocks.

Kingís River site

Among our favorite locations for picnicking was the Jim Couch (now Green Shores) area on Kingís River, which had a broad gravel bar with shade located away from the river for the non-sun worshipers.

The river was fast in this particular area providing a good ride for those liking this sort of thing and didnít mind the walk back to the picnic site.

For the explorers in the group, there was always the bluff side spring that required considerable climbing to reach. Others who had a ride back to the site would venture floating to the mouth of Kingís and under and past Pinnicle Point where they could be retrieved.

Farwell Bridge site

Then there was the White River location in and under the Farwell Bridge, which was named by the longtime family of that area. Always reachable by driving near the gravel bar, this site also provided an extensive gravel bar, which eliminated being immediately adjacent to others enjoying the outing. Here too swift water or quiet stretches were available for those who might want make a choice.

Plenty of good food choices were readily available if a multi-family event was caught on any particular outing.

Noticeable changes

Difference in outings these days would be noticeable in the equipment that went along with a picnic. Early outings found an absence of cooling equipment, which was quickly overcome by other available containers.

Heading this list were 10-gallon milk cans that would hold refreshments usually in glass bottles and then adequately iced down at the Cassville Ice House. These had to be handled rather carefully due to the containers inside.

By the time canned drinks came along, so were ice chests available on store shelves, and the can containers went by the wayside.

When camp stoves came on the market, open fires for doing any cooking went away, which might have been a mistake so far as the atmosphere of the event was concerned.

Didnít overlook Roaring River

While the river outings were somewhat of an adventure, the food was every bit as enjoyable at Roaring River State Park. The picnic area near the old park superintendentís residence was a family favorite if only a segment was available for the outing.

When the crowd increased, like when a family reunion rolled around, there was a requirement to make a reservation for the Shelter Kitchen, which frequently required someone to arrive early to lay claim to the facility.

Two congratulations

For media recognition, which can be important, congratulations must go to both the Exeter and Washburn communities, or the individuals responsible, who have logged onto local television weather facilities for reporting their local weather conditions on TV. Good job folks!

Such a move has been suggested a number of times for Cassville but no civic group has seized the proposal. In the past, we became aware that such mention anywhere, especially on media, has produced valuable results here.

Good media relations, even if it includes only the mention of a name, can often result in more good than is readily apparent.

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 Universityís Regional Media Hall of Fame.