Weekly NewsCast

Water temperature: creek arms 72 degrees; main channel 74 degrees

Water clarity: gin clear

Catch ratings by species: black bass, 4; white bass, 5; crappie, 3; catfish, 7


A family affair!

It all started 62 years ago when LB Cook and his son Bill arrived at a place called Theodosia to start a fishing camp to be operated by the Cook family. This was dad's dream, and my mother Pauline was OK with the idea, but looking back, had any of us known what was ahead we would have run the other direction in a hurry. 

Dad was the outdoorsy-type from an early age, even though his father was nothing like that. Dad had friends who taught him to hunt and fish, and it became obvious to all that my Grandad thought it was a waste of time, because it took dad away from the store. The store was Cook Mercantile on 15th and Main in Joplin and had been in business well over 50 years when it was sold in 1951. The store was Dad's work place unless he could sneak out to go hunting or fishing, and he did that often, especially when Grandad was away from the store. 

What you need to understand is my grandfather was 50-years-old when my dad was born and near 80 when I was born, so Dad had plenty of opportunity to tell the help to take over, because my grandmother was in very poor health starting in the 1930s, and she died in 1947.

Now you understand why a fishing camp on a new lake in the Ozarks was Dad's dream, knowing he could fish all the time. The one thing that didn't cross his mind, though, was that somebody had to work. He was smart and could always come up with a plan to achieve his goal, like entertaining newspaper and radio folks. Of course he always had to go along to show them where and how it was done. Mother and my sister Barbara moved from Joplin just before school started, and the next spring the camp was a reality. Barb graduated from Gainesville High School in 1955 and started college at MU in Columbia, so my mother and I became the labor force while Dad did his part promoting the new business. In 1958 Nadine Bushong became Nadine Cook, and our workforce had a new recruit. 

Fast forward 50 years to April 2002, and that's when Dad died and eight days later Mother suffered a massive stroke. So Nadine and I became the seniors in the Cook family. I had a wake-up call at Dad's memorial when I said a few words and stated that I had worked alongside my dad all of my life, and we were together everyday, making Dad's dream a reality. 

In the mid 1980s when Dad was about the age I am now, I started to notice something was wrong when he was working his shifts at the marina. He was quick to argue with customers, and he became harder to work with the older he got, unlike his carefree attitude of the past. 

Our family now includes our three kids and their spouses, who had helped out around the resort during their school years, but after marriage they all moved away. Our daughter Becky and her husband James Wilson worked in the grocery business away. Our son Ben lived in Springfield and worked at Bass Pro, where his wife Angie King Cook was a cosmetologist. Our son Bret and his wife Melanie Eacret Cook had moved to Oklahoma where Bret worked in the glass business and Mel worked in a nursing home. I knew I had to make a change, and my first call was to Ben, our oldest son, to offer him a job at the resort. He said he and Angie were doing OK and would stay in Springfield for the time being. My next call was to Bret and Mel, and with that call I didn't have to ask twice. They packed up and were on their way.

Bret became our fishing expert and won some tournaments, but his main job was maintenance around the resort, and after we switched from steel and foam docks, he was our contractor in charge of building.

In 1988 Ben and Angie returned so Ben could help me with boat sales and take over our service department. Nadine and I thought we could make this family thing work, so we bought the supermarket in town and  moved Becky and James back from Arkansas to run it. Midway through our 25 years at Cash Saver, we had to make a change at the market and Nadine took the reigns. It's still going strong with the help of Ben's second wife Vikki, who is the manager now at the market. Family business is tough, and most don't make it!

P.S: The Memorial holiday weekend was about perfect in regard to weather here at the lake. In spite of rain all around, we stayed dry. The lake level is new its new normal level of 659 feet above sea level and holding for now. Make plans to join up for the fireworks on Saturday, June 28.