Bob Mitchell: Cassville’s South West Street in late 1940s

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

There isn’t any sign remaining these days, but the south end of West Street was nothing like it appears today.

From the public square headed south there was the old Baptist Church and across the street was the location of Lynn Mitchell’s auto agency.

Just south of the church stood a thriving business of Cliff Burton’s Shoe Company, which sold to the public and also to the wholesale market. Then, on that same west side there were a number of homes and across from them was a vacant lot that was usually a used car lot.

On down the street was the Presbyterian Church, which at its closure found members of the parish becoming associated with various other congregations in the community. The land was acquired by Blalack Motors with the building being demolished.

Neighborhood boys

Next door to the church stood a couple of homes, both owned by the Blalack firm. The first dwelling was occupied by the Perfect family. Yep, that was their name! The man of the family was the top mechanic for the auto firm, and the family included a pair of twin boys, Loren and Leon. With us living next door on the corner of West and Fifth streets, we became tight friends.

In those days, when Flat Creek flooded, my family’s yard caught the brunt of trash washing from that entire part of town. The twins were always on hand to assist in the cleanup.

Also in that general area were Larry Blythe, Gene Brewer, Carl Dopp and Trolinger Wilson, who usually ran together in a lot of the activities that found us involved in those days.

Best sidewalk

Across the street from the former church location was the Hardy Kemp home. He was an attorney, and a man who had lost one arm. Mrs. Kemp was an aunt of John Q. Hammons, the possible reason he began his teaching career in Cassville.

Their sidewalk was the best in the neighborhood, and an ideal place to roller skate. This activity, for some reason, aggravated Mrs. Kemp and when skates hit that concrete she would be out on her porch, broom in hand, shooing the skaters off their concrete.

Mrs. Kemp was a meticulous housekeeper, discovered by Bill Barber and I once while delivering groceries to her back door. Once we stepped inside, we found newspapers on the floor everywhere that we were expected to step on.

Laundry at street’s end

The remainder of the street was residences, with the west side at the south end being a laundry, once owned by Clyde and Jane Ledgerwood. They were in business when resorts started appearing on Table Rock Lake and did a thriving business servicing the linen needs of many of those businesses.

Across from the laundry eventually became the headquarters of Barry Electric Cooperative, at that time managed by George Robbins. The Co-op, which began putting electricity in the rural areas of a portion of Barry County, spawned something entirely new for households, including their mode of cooking.

To cope with this problem the Co-op had a complete kitchen in their building and employed Mary Alice Carlson, a former school home economy instructor to teach cooking and operating electrical appliances.

The kitchen was equipped with every appliance known to man. Later, appliance firms, Miller Electric and Hutton-Tucker Appliances, introduced the microwave to town in the early 1950s.

There were a few times that as a result of her instructions, if it was baking, there might have been some youngsters who were around at the time when the goodies came out of the oven.

At the very end

The absolute end of West Street was home to the Missouri Highway Department, where it operated until purchased for a financial institution.

That’s where a pair of extremely tall pine trees stood, which had become a signature of that part of town. One was cut by the Mercy hospital organization, for some unknown reason. The other one was slated to come down until protests were made.

Finally, rains came

While most of the past month was extremely dry, rains were around for the last part of the month. With autumn now upon us, the Almanac has this to say in coming weeks for the weather predication department.

There are some areas that will experience blustery weather, expected for this time of the year. The Midwest isn’t supposed to experience any unusual weather happenings.

Parts of the Rockies and Plains, under dry conditions, could experience heavy dust storms toward the end of the month.

So far as outdoor work is concerned, where conditions are favorable, now is a good time to do that transplanting you might have had on your mind earlier in the year. Again, in areas of favorable climate, root crops could go into the ground at this time.

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.