Bob Mitchell: Meador brothers made their mark

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Cassville’s personality list included a threesome of brothers that made their mark, not only on Cassville, but actually the region, with their involvement along their special lines of expertise.

Out of the three, Fred Meador was the one with whom my experience was most important.

The other two were Eli, who associated a number of early years with the Cassville Republican newspaper, and his brother, L. E., who was known for his involvement with Drury College and Springfield city government, which resulted in him being recognized with the naming of a city park in Greene County.

Fred the hardware man

Meador-Haddock Hardware in Cassville was a solid part of the business community in Cassville for decades. Fred Meador was the inside the store part of the partnership and John Haddock was the plumber and outside man in the operation. Their partnership lasted a long time and served many purposes in the community.

Fred Meador will always be a memory of mine, setting in his mezzanine office in the store, which was just off the square in the southeast section of town between Sixth and Seventh streets. Upon entering the store you would always be greeted by his voice coming from the elevated location. If there were something you needed assistance with, it would require him to come down a flight of stairs to provide you what was needed. How many trips he made up and down those steps were never counted, after all, very few customers could always help themselves in a country hardware.

Not his long suit

Meador, well established in the community, lived on Gravel Street, but he seldom walked to work. If he had, it would have given him some thinking time for his outlook for the future of Cassville.

His involvement with the early Cassville Industrial Development Commission undoubtedly saved the organization from destruction from a previous administration that was personally motivated and made most of its moves in that direction. His belief in the organization and the possibilities it held for the future of the community was outstanding.

To be correct in this line of thinking, Meador had a strong support effort coming from banker Arthur Smith, whose vision of Cassville was the same for the pair.

Between those two, the IDC moved toward an open corporation dedicated to making Cassville’s future solid.

Once scolded me

Meador once scolded me good during one of his IDC sessions when he was leaving the chairmanship and someone nominated me to replace him. Asking for the nomination to be lifted on grounds of lack of experience, his retort was, “Youth involvement is important to Cassville, and how else can experience be obtained without service?” He did then let the nomination withdrawal stand.

After the meeting ended, Meador asked me to remain for a short talk, during which he reiterated his feeling toward the youth of the community becoming more involved in all aspects of the IDC operations.

His feelings along these lines proved true in the l970s when an obviously youth-designed program in the organization brought Cassville the claim of having more manufacturing jobs in the community than the town’s population.

A last encounter

It did a number of hearts good during the ground breaking of FASCO’S arrival in Cassville to see Meador, in his later years, arrive on the grounds with Mrs. Meador in their automobile. Acknowledging him from a quickly arranged speaker’s stand was one accomplishment I’ve always cherished.

Meador later, by telephone, remembered our encounter in an earlier IDC meeting and restated his opinion that a youth involvement and an IDC that remained public was the best medicine for Cassville.

That outlook or theory might well be applied to any organization in a rural area where too often older ways of accomplishing what is of benefit to a community won’t cut it any more.

Perhaps what any community today needs is more people with the thought direction of the late Fred Meador!

Spike thoughts

Considering the weather that this area has experienced over the past couple of months, it might be well to remember that we experienced thunder in February. Now, it’s a long established theory in these Ozarks that “thunder in February brings frost in May,” and it did just that. Under this theory, many an early planting has been destroyed.

I received a surprise telephone call from Carl Smithson the other day. He’s now retired from the insurance business in Neosho, living in Springfield. He is a son of the late Don Smithson, who served on the Cassville city council a number of years and a brother of the late Wayne Smithson, barber-poultry grower.

As a reminder, Sunday is Flag Day, a good opportunity for those not flying Old Glory to obtain a United States of America Flag and fly it daily. Remember if you are doing this after dark, it might need to be lighted.

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.