Water temperature: creek arms, 71 degrees; main channel, 73 degrees
Water clarity: fairly clear
Catch ratings by species: black bass, 6; white bass, 5; crappie, 6; catfish, 6
Remembering LB Cook
In the last newscast I talked about dad's dream of owning a fishing camp. That was what my sister and I were told in the late 1950s after he and my mother had already placed bids on three sites on the new lake. It still wasn't a sure thing by a long shot. Cook Mercantile was put up for sale about that same time, and it sold in 1951. A few months later they got the call from the US Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock telling them that they were successful on the bid for the Theodosia site in Ozark County, Missouri.
Their next move was to sell the brick home on 1611 Joplin Street, pack up and move to what? My sister and I were shown a picture of a small cottage-type home at the water's edge where we could live. But there was no home. Dad and I camped out while we built the first dock. Then dad found a house to rent in the town of Lutie, about a mile from the lake. In 1953 we built the required motel and found a couple who would build a restaurant, which was also a requirement of the lease on the Theodosia site. It was to be a sublease, because the last thing Dad wanted to do was to operate a restaurant. Out of 12 lease sites on the new Bull Shoals Lake, Theodosia was the only one that required anything other than a boat dock.
Over the next few years we did well to hang on through a drought, flood and a fire that destroyed our new motel, but we survived, and each fall Dad would find a way to get some duck hunting in. It often required travel to other parts of the state. Waterfowl hunting had been one of dad's passions, along with quail and of course fishing.
In spite of the tough times, in the fall of 1958, Dad and a friend of his, Don Woolridge with the Conservation Department, made plans to go pheasant hunting in South Dakota, and I went along. The reason for the trip was that Don was writing a story about paying farmers for hunting on their property, and in our case, staying with the family. The story was called Mail Order Ring Necks and was published in Field and Stream in 1959. This planted the seed that started Dad's trips each fall to fulfill a lifelong dream.
The next year we were off to Wyoming to hunt antelope, again staying on a private ranch called Greenwood Ranches near Colony, Wyoming. The year after that we were back to Wyoming with a stop in South Dakota for pheasant hunting on our way home. While we were there a thing called the Cuban missile crisis happened. This went on for the next 25 years. Dad would take a month off and travel as far as Montana to hunt elk, mule deer, antelope and stop in South Dakota for pheasants or northern Missouri for waterfowl hunting.
Over the years there was still that little fishing camp that was growing and required more of my time, as well as Nadine's and my mother's. Like I said before, we were Dad's labor force. During the early 1960s wild turkeys returned to the Ozarks, and that became Dad's new passion that required him to take a week or two each spring to hunt them.
That was LB Cook at his finest, traveling around the country hunting and writing stories about it when he returned home. His dream of a small fishing camp worked out quite well. Don't you think? At this memorial service in April 2002 I had my good friend Joyce Noah sing the Frank Sinatra song I Did it My Way. I thought it then and still do today, it fit LB to a tee.
P.S.: Big changes are coming this year for the fireworks show over the water at Theodoisa. It'll start with a floating barge parked across the lake for better viewing and bigger mortars for a better show. This will cost about double what past displays have cost, so we have colorful canisters around town to help collect money. On June 21 Cash Saver Pantry will have its annual customer appreciation day with all proceeds going to the new fireworks show.