Water temperature: creek arms and main channel, 77 degrees
Water clarity: fairly clear
Catch ratings, by species: black bass, 5; white bass, 5; crappie, 5; catfish, 8
A few weeks back I received word that Greg Janian had died, and I realized all three of the young guys I met when I arrived in Ozark County were all gone, and with them a chapter of my life. The first I met was Dwight Ledbetter on the first day dad I stopped at Ledbetter's Store in Lutie, then Greg a couple of days later when he came by out camp and later Jarrett Robertson when we became friends at Lutie school, a one-room school.
I was born in Joplin and lived there until I was 11. I thought I had a good life doing what city kids do like going to the movies on a Saturday afternoon. A good friend of Dad's, Homer Rains, owned a filling station on the corner of 16th and Main and during the summer he would pay me to mow his grass at his station. The are was small, but I would take out push mower (no motor) the city block from our home and Homer would give me a quarter and tell me to go to the movies. That quarter would get me a ticket, bag of popcorn, candy bar and a Coke. The theater was half-way between Homer's station and our store on 15th and Main. After the movie I would pick up my mower that Homer had used to cut his own grass.
Compare that to a Saturday at Theodosia when I would get up at first light where we lived on a houseboat next to the boat dock, grab my fishing rod with a topwater lure and either fish the point a the mouth of our cove or go toward the back of the cove. It seems like I always caught or missed several bass on most trips then I would head to the dock to work. This was was summer when the Spring rush was over, so at about noon Greg would come to the dock, and we would load up and head out water skiing. Our ski boat was one of our Lone Star rental boats with a tiller handle, a 25 horsepower Johnson that belonged to Greg. We both learned to ski behind it.
We had taken the motor to Doc Sallee in Isabella where we he had a machine shop and did his magic to gain a few extra horsepower, so this was our speed boat. Jarrett would join us from time to time, but his interest was music and he was very good with any string instrument. Our speed boat came in handy when the there of us would head down the lake to visit the Pontiac and Oakland boat docks. The owner of Pontiac had seven daughters, plus the cafe owner had a daughter named Sandy that Greg dated one sumer, so our speed boat made several midnight runs south. Looking back, what I thought was a good life in the it didn't begin to measure up to my new life at Theodosia. Even today, after all the ups and downs, I would never go back. This August we will add another cook to our family when Mitch and Latasha will have their second child. He will be the fifth generation of Cook males to live at Theodosia.
P.S.: Joplin had a reputation as a tough town and living that I was unaware of. Homer Rains, who owned the filling station, always carried a big flat billfold with a chain hooked to his belt, so each night he would carry the day's money home with him several blocks from his station.
After a busy Saturday, he headed home late and pulled up to his garage in the alley behind his home, go out to open the door and someone hit him in the head with a metal pipe and cut his belt to take the billfold. He suffered some brain damage and never worked again.
Also on another Saturday night, I was walking home from our store on Main Street at closing time around 9 p.m. when I went by a bar with a big plate glass window. Two drunks were fighting, and one knocked the other out the window on top of me. All I knew to do was get out from under the drunk who was notmoving, and I ran all the way home and told my mother what happened. She cleaned me up to stop the bleeding where I was cut by the glass and remarked that it was just another Saturday night in Joplin.
Make plans to join us this Saturday at Cash Saver Pantry in Theodosia for great catfish and lots of prize drawings plus entertainment by the Schofields, Kermit, Sandy, Dale and a few friends.