Bob Mitchell: Ever been ‘skinny dipping’ in Flat Creek?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

About this time of the year, at least 80 years ago, there were a number of things that went on around Easter time. While I’m acknowledging this column is a little late, there are a number of things that have been ringing around in my mind.

They aren’t major happenings, but unusual for these days and times.

There is one that it would be especially interesting to know if there were others out there that might recall the event or better still could have been participants. If so—they would have to be getting up in years! But there might be that possibility, since the size of the cross would require at least a couple of hundred youngsters to form.

The living cross

At the special Easter Sunrise Service, which was held annually, there would be a human Living Cross formed on West Seventh Street at the crest of the hill, which would greet the sunrise as it topped the hills to the east over Oak Hill Cemetery.

This was in the vicinity of the old grade school building, which was crammed with youngsters to supply personnel for the exhibit. Sheets provided the white covering for those in position for making the cross, and each one was assigned to be in the same position for rehearsal and actual presentation.

There were several boys who resented being a part and would often leave their sheets at home thinking this might get an excuse to get out of the program. They were quickly supplied extras made available by teachers who anticipated this move. These wise teachers were Ruby Fern Meador, Grace Hawk and Mary Brown.

Egg hunt included

Proximity to the old school campus made an ideal location for the egg hunt that followed sometime in the morning, usually just before full church services, which would follow the sunrise event.

Colored eggs for the event were plentiful as the high school home economics pupils boiled and colored them.

Two sources of the eggs were the produce firms of Gale Cope and John Baker—the only two in my recollection during this period of time.

Oftentimes in those days, there would be those who were participating in the contest found peeling and eating their finds. I don’t recall any serious consequences.

Stormy weather

Easter storms simply caused the event to be moved to the old Community Hall on the west side of the Cassville public square where the stage served as a reduced cross size, built on risers that were quickly installed for the program. This location at least provided seats for a usually packed house.

At just about any community occasion the music was usually provided by Maud Wilson, often assisted by her accordion pupils.

Another usual event

Especially for the older boys, there was an annual Easter-time event, the first swim outing of the year. Regardless of the weather, there was a certain location on Flat Creek that attracted a “skinny dipping” by a number of youths. They usually discouraged participation by younger boys who were occasionally permitted to observe.

If you’re familiar with the creek sector that is now part of the R-4 campus, the water hole is near the gate accessing the public area. Or perhaps, it’s just down stream from where the Reunion access bridge was constructed each year.

Water was deep in this area of the creek in those years, and a high bank was ideal for leaping into the cold water.

Although an annual event, duration in the cool water, frequently under blistery conditions, meant short stays in the water.

Gardeners are active

This being the second week of May, gardeners are getting active, but should be reminded of weather statements, “thunder in February, frost in May,” the ground hog’s shadow and then there is always the Blackberry Winter.

V-E Day

This date in 1945 was Victory in Europe Day, starting the end of World War II. That was another of those conflicts to end all wars…and we’re still in one.

The generation responsible for standing for this country in Europe and the Pacific is nearly gone now.

One was Bob Rider, who took a stand years ago on President Truman’s decision to drop the Atom Bomb with the statement, “if those critics had been aboard ship on their way to invade Japan, they would have thought differently.”

The late B.F. Babb echoed his sentiments, as he was a foot Marine in the same situation.

Something for fishermen

Best fishing days for remainder of this month are, 9th, 16th 17th, 26th and 27th. Good days are 21st, 23rd and 25th.

Good luck, remember oak leaves are getting about the size of squirrel’s ears, so it’s time to sharpen the hooks on the top water baits.

And don’t forget

Next Sunday is Mother’s Day, probably one of those springtime holidays you fellows had best not forget.

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.