- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
By Whitney Keith
Reflections has dug into the lives of Douglas County residents, showcasing their passions, talents and gifts. We have also traveled beyond this area, showing readers places that they may want to visit someday.
Here’s the year in review for Reflections, with our wishes that the next year be as fun-filled and heartwarming.
We hit the ground running in the new year with a series on the four newest businesses to come to Ava – Papa Smoke’s, Milford’s Garage, P. Cox Thrift Store and Hucklebuck’s.
Papa Smoke’s and Hucklebuck’s expanded the dining options for Douglas County, offering mouth-watering barbecue just a short distance from each other.
P. Cox, located along that same strip of NW 12th Avenue, is a fun, funky thrift store owned by a newcomer to Douglas County. While visiting there, we saw several formal gowns, fine china and beautiful curtains.
Milford’s Garage is unique among the mechanically-inclined in Douglas County.
At the garage, customers buy their own parts to fix their vehicles, and are only charged the labor.
Love was in the air in this month filled with pink, red and candy hearts.
We featured three couples whose long-lasting relationships are a testimony to their devotion to one another.
Norman and Ruby Alcorn celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Nov. 4, 2009.
The couple went to the courthouse to marry, and Ruby (who was age 14) put a number 18 in her shoe.
“I didn’t want to lie, so I was able to tell the truth and say I was over 18,” she said. “It was kind of sneaky, but it worked.”
The Turner family had three brothers who married three sisters.
Nellie (Wilson) Turner told the stories of the families.
The older couples were Coy and Christine Turner and Leslie and Mavie Turner.
Coy and Christine were married when Nellie was still young, but Leslie and Mavie married just a year before Nellie and her husband, Noland.
“There were 15 double cousins between all of our kids,” Nellie said.
Henderson and Allie (Miller) Gentry met at the roller skating rink in 1947.
Allie said she quickly noticed Henderson.
“He was a good skater and he knew it,” she said.
“There wasn’t anybody better!” Henderson said.
To finish up the month, we featured Assumption Abbey.
The decision was made by the abbot of New Melleray Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1950 to go ahead and send some monks down to start the foundation of the future monastery in southern Douglas County.
This year, 2010, will be the 60th anniversary of that time.
March had a final “lovebird” couple, then some Irish-based stories for St. Patrick’s Day.
It is with sadness that we reflect on our last lovebird couple.
Herschel and Bonnie Pahl completed 31 years active duty in the Navy before moving to the Ozarks in 1973.
In fall of this year, Herschel passed away.
The Pahls raised “black baldy” cattle, made furniture and traveled extensively after their retirement.
When Bonnie suffered a stroke, Herschel devoted himself to caring for her. The couple moved to Ava, where they were active in the United Methodist Church and Herschel wrote several books.
“Thanks be to God!” Hersch concluded at the end of that interview.
We then went to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Ava, which hosts a large St. Patrick’s Day feast each year, complete with Irish stew and scones.
Then Bridget Sorensen, a native of Ireland, talked about her upbringing in Waterside Londonderry, and following that, Pete and Kathy Mooney talked about their many trips to Ireland.
April begun a far-flung series of local day trips, which were interesting and (typically) historical vacation destination within a few hours’ drive of Douglas County.
We first went to Bucks and Spurs Guest Ranch, a working “dude” ranch owned by Cecil and Sonny Huff.
The ranch had guests from Sweden, Denmark and Chicago when the interview was conducted.
We then covered Dawt Mill, a popular destination for locals who enjoy floating on the river, now complete with a new casual-fine dining restaurant.
Mansfield’s Weaver Inn had been painstakingly restored by Mike and Connie Roberts, staying true to the building’s history while making available many amenities for the bed and breakfast’s travelers.
Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch at Rockbridge is a yearly tradition for many area families.
The ranch offers fly fishing, hunting, a restaurant, horseback riding and lodging.
They have also recently began shipping their smoked trout to customers.
River of Life Farm borders the North Fork of the White River, which offers many excellent canoeing, kayaking, and rafting float opportunities.
The River of Life Farm Outfitters is located at the heart of the North Fork River, known as the “Falls” (a rock ledge 2-3 feet high).
May is graduation time for area students, and to celebrate that, we reminisced with some former graduates of Ava High School, including the classes of 1951, 1960, 1950 and 1955.
Each of the classes enjoyed remembering their younger days, and some even had some precious photographs of the groups in high school.
June had a variety of stories, with a local business, a wedding chapel and two July 4 celebrations being featured.
Voyne and Naida Hartley opened Hartley Shoe Store in 1971.
The store building used to be the Bank of Ava.
“Our middle storefront window is original to the building,” current owner Glen Hartley said. “The Bank of Ava logo was painted so that it was almost etched into the glass.
“When the sun is shining just right, you can still see it.”
Hartley Shoe Store closed its doors for the last time this fall.
Swan Creek Chapel, a wedding venue, opened at the beginning of 2010 in the old town of Ongo, located along Highway 14 near the Douglas-Christian county line.
The Heart of the Ozarks Healthcare Center Fourth of July Celebration wasn’t just a celebration of Independence Day this year.
It was also the 25th anniversary for the event, which started in 1985.
The Celebrate America Fourth of July event at Highway Church of the Nazarene started around 1996-1997, according to church member Rod Vandyne.
“It started out being just a deal we did on Sunday afternoon for the church,” he said.
The event started as a patriotic presentation by the church choir one year when the Fourth of July landed on a Sunday.
Squires’ Fourth of July Picnic was the first story of the month, followed by a re-opened concert venue, a national park, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and a very talented local resident.
Fred Spurlock had a dream to re-create the “Squires Picnic” that was a popular community event from 1900 to the 1940s.
The Independence Day picnic and celebration started in June of 1983 as a “thank you” for the community that supported the volunteer fire department.
Black Oak Mountain Amphitheater is located in Lampe, a small town south of Kimberling City.
The amphitheater, which was originally built in 1983, was re-opened this year under new ownership and management.
The season started out May 30 with Lee Greenwood and John Michael Montgomery, followed by Travis Tritt and Tanya Tucker on June 11.
Then Kansas, Styx and Foreigner made an appearance.
Alley Spring National Park is one of the most photographed spots in Missouri, but is also one of the most fun places for a weekend camping or floating adventure.
Alley Spring is located between Summersville and Eminence on Highway 106. The park is a two-hour drive from Douglas County, mostly down U.S. 60.
In 1932, Laura Ingalls Wilder published the first of her “Little House” books, which described the pioneering of the Ingalls and Wilder families during the 1870′s – 1890′s.
All of these nine famous books were penned on Rocky Ridge Farm. The museum is open from March 1 to November 15.
Squires resident Marla Yeager recently had one of her quilts, called “Borealis,” featured on the cover of American Quilter Magazine.
August continued the local day trips, along with another talented local resident and the beginning of a new series.
The Old Harlin House in Gainesville is a historical landmark that still has great appeal for visitors today – namely, terrific dining.
Junior Marriott, owner of Marriott Music in Ava, placed first in the open division of the Grand Lake National Fiddle Fest in Grove, Okla., which was held June 10-12 of this year.
Most small towns in southwest Missouri have town squares, but few have one as full of businesses and restaurants as the Ozark Court Square.
The Ozark square consists of a central courthouse and lawn, surrounded by four sides of buildings, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Ava R-I football program started in 1948, with a squad that ended the season with a record of 1-5.
The Ava boys scored only 46 points to their opponents’ 123 that season, not an auspicious start to what may be Ava’s most beloved sport.
The football field cost $6,000, and was paid for by certificates bought by local businessmen that were later redeemed at face value from earnings of the school’s athletic activities.
September saw the series on sports history at Ava High School get started. We discussed the football squads of 1977, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1993, 1994 and 1954.
We also had an overview of the softball squad at Ava, with the conclusion of that next month.
This month started with an overview of the 2004, 2006 and 2007 softball teams, followed by a story on the volleyball program at Ava High.
We then traveled to Cedar Gap, a small community between Mansfield and Seymour, for the annual Apple Butter day.
The event raises money for the local Mennonite school by selling homemade apple butter, a lunch and auction items.
We then covered Sho-Me Feeder Pigs, a pig auction barn that was located south of Ava for several years when feeder pigs were a lucrative business.
In November, we visited our local Mark Twain National Forest rangers and archeologist for information about the many fire towers that used to be used to spot fires in the forest.
We then did a story for Veteran’s Day on the Jenkins family, which has a long history of service in our nation’s military.
Then, Brad Hunter and Don Graham told us the secrets of coyote hunting and its roots in fox hunting in the Ozarks, followed by the annual Turkey Bowl, which local couple Morris “Morrie” and Carol Wash had as a special Thanksgiving tradition with their children and grandchildren.
In December, we featured local business Davis Auto in honor of their 50th anniversary, followed by a story of the local charities who support those in need during the holiday season.
We followed that up with a story on the “Angel of Ava,” who anonymously sent money to many local residents in Ava in 1940.
We finished the year with a story about the Golden Age Games that Heart of the Ozarks Healthcare Center participates in every year.
In closing, we enjoyed reflecting on the past of Douglas County and surrounding communities this year, and hope to find many more places to explore in the coming year.
Reflections is a weekly column exploring the history of Douglas County. Current topics include local festivals, school history and Douglas County residents who have a special talent. If you have an idea for an article, please call 417-683-4181 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org