Bob Mitchell: Old photos sparked good memories

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

There is a good chance that one of these days many photos discarded during a change of address will have been a mistake, but the time to salvage any of them is long gone.

Significant numbers of them, especially those from long ago, were turned over to the Barry County Museum where Kathy White went over them thoroughly getting as much information about them as we had available.

One piece included was a panorama of photos with information about the publishers of the Cassville Democrat from the purchase of the paper in 1872 until the Ray family era ended in 1995. Hopefully, that particular piece will remain a permanent feature of the facility.

One photo stood out

A picture that went by the wayside, but still lingers in memory was from the early 1950s after Sue had purchased a new 1951 Ford in Cassville, and advertised in the Cassville Democrat for riders to California, upon obtaining Dr. Durham’s sisters, they headed west for San Diego. She drove all the way, eventually arriving at our apartment on First Street. That vehicle proved to be the only transportation for those in the Public Information office at that time and furnished transportation for several outings.

The one photographed back in those days was a short distance south from Diego, across the border into Mexico for two couples and a single person out of the office. The purpose of the trip was to attend a bullfight as they were held each Sunday.

Had no information

Making the trip “cold” that is without any information, we crossed the border, which was no problem in those days, and got to the arena not knowing the cost or any particulars.

At the site, there were Sue and I, special friends Dick and Ellen Conrad, and Dick Underwood, who we figured would be the best one to get out and obtain some information. While he was performing this task we went south, turned around and returned to the entrance. There, Underwood motioned us to enter the crowded parking area.

He had the fee information, plus a charge for someone supposedly to look after the car and dust it upon leaving the dirt parking lot. The watching part was recommended highly at the entrance.

Then we had to see if our finances would purchase two more tickets since Underwood had purchased three. Pooling our funds, we barely made it, with five seats on the shady side of the arena. This was one of the best moves of the extremely hot day.

Only movie stars

We were not the only ones choosing the shady side seating since right down in front of us were Patricia Neal and Gregory Peck, which was our closest encounter with movie stars in nearly two years.

Their early departure was either due to the bullfight processes or the fact that they were being approached throughout their stay by autograph seekers or those simply wanting to be closer to their popularity.

Border no problem

During those days the U.S.-Mexico border was no problem. Most of the time, you simply drove through, with no questions asked and no vehicle search performed. The return trip north usually amounted to one question by officials, “where were you born?” which was covered by our license plates.

Only a very few times was our vehicle searched and then only the trunk was opened. In subsequent trips to that area and staying on North Island’s Navy Air Base housing, we were even closer to the border, but it was recommended that we not cross into Mexico.

Frequent dog races

After I had helped Ben Salyer get shore duty off a ship, we made frequent trips to Tiajuana at night for dog races, especially when a particular group of greyhounds were running.

On one particular daytime race schedule, we were in our seats when a voice behind us called out, “Bob and Sue, what are you doing here?” Turning around we discovered some hometown folks, Truman Thompson and his cousin from Eagle Rock.

At that time, he and Chan Griffin were administrators in the Grandview, Mo., schools.

His news from home was well taken in while hopefully cashing some winning tickets.

COVID-19 increases

Big jumps in COVID-19 cases in three states are those who opened fully from suggested cautions provided by medical people. This condition exists in Florida, Texas and Arizona. Relatives in Florida report 18,000 cases an increase in one 24-hour period.

One of our favorite locales, Dade County, and particularly Homestead, was the hardest hit of the South Florida communities. Most of the statistics coming down the pike these days are from areas not heeding the medical suggestions and warnings!

Be safe everyone, follow the suggestions of the medical people.

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.