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A good friend from several years back, J.C. Owsley, stopped by the Herald Office for a brief visit last Wednesday.
J.C., a former county agent with University of Missouri Douglas County Extension Office, has moved back to his native Cross Timbers but keeps up with the goings-on in Douglas and Ozark counties. In fact, Owsley was in Ava to trail ride the Crystal Lake property with some of the Douglas County Foxtrotters.
J.C. subscribes to the Douglas County Herald, and told us he really appreciates being able to read the newspaper online. He said that’s how he knew of the trail ride last week; he also knew about the retirement of his coworker in the Extension Office, Don Pinckney, and he knew that Don had more recently been presented the John Dickison Award by the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce.
Owsley said he has to read the Herald to keep up with things down here now that Lorene Heinlein is gone. She was his source of information before.
Nobody can cover any more ground in conversation in a short period of time than J.C. In the brief 20 or 30 minutes of visiting, we covered county government (Owsley served a hitch as a Democratic county commissioner in Hickory County after leaving Ava), shared stories about cattle and horses and the high price of gasoline, and J.C. and Herald ad manager Jody Porter swapped some stories concerning Owsley’s son, Jesse, and a high school ensemble they were in, directed by Jack Floyd.
J.C. Owsley was a part of one of the dumbest and one of the smartest decisions I ever made as a young newspaper reporter.
The dumbest thing I did was to volunteer to cover a story at New Life Farms. The smartest thing I did was to invite him to go along.
This would probably have been in the early 1980s. We left Ava about daylight and drove east on Highway 14, then south somewhere around the Blanche community to arrive at our destination about the time those folks would be rising for the day…or so we thought.
Although I had talked to one of their people a few days earlier and told them I was coming, apparently the word didn’t get around. To say the least, those folks were not expecting visitors when we arrived.
Now, for those of you who haven’t met J.C., he stands about 6-foot-6 and at that time probably weighed in the neighborhood of 260 – maybe more. This kid was glad to have him along when the first response to our knock at the door was “What do you want?” or something similar to that. I also remember someone saying something similar to “Go away!”
As I recall, what prompted the story at that time was New Life Farms had received a contract to provide hydraulic ram pumps to be set up by Peace Corps workers in Nepal. These pumps were designed to operate solely on water pressure and would pump water uphill without electricity.
Although the residents we’re speaking of were certainly different than what one normally expects to find in Douglas and Ozark counties, the people at New Life Farms were not uneducated. In fact they were intelligent, many with college degrees, and had apparently been using these pumps in raising their own “crops”in that remote area of Douglas County where there was not a lot of casual traffic.
Anyway, it was good to see J.C. last week and we’re hoping he will come back this way again when we can take more time to visit.