by Larry Dablemont
I look forward to going to Texas County in Mid-September to meet with folks from the surrounding area at the old Melba theatre on Main Street in Houston. I am supposed to speak there at 6 p.m. to a group of people who wish to be published writers. I am not sure what they want to hear. Some of them might be much better writers than me. But I will do my best to answer questions and act like I know what I am doing.
As most of you know, I grew up in Texas County and went to school in Houston, where I wrote my first newspaper columns at the age of 18 for editor Lane Davis and the Houston Herald. But I intend to get there early on that Saturday just to talk with folks about the outdoors and the conservation problems we face today in the Ozarks and find leaders who are fed up with what is happening and would like to see something done to change it.
For that meeting, I will be there at 5 p.m. hoping that some folks from this Ozark region will show up to talk about making those changes. The MDC has become, with the influx of so much money, an increasingly corrupt organization, and they do a heck of a job of keeping it hidden from the public. We can change that and start to protect many of the innocent Ozark hunters and fishermen who their target of some rogue agents. But we have to get started, and I hope if you are concerned about what is happening you will show up on that Saturday afternoon to learn some things about the MDC, which will absolutely astound you.
Perhaps we can eventually change their mismanagement of our public lands, where making money from logging contracts seems to be the only goal, as wildlife becomes unimportant. If you think you could be a leader in such a conservation movement, come and meet with me at 5 p.m. on Sept. 15 at that old Melba theatre. I have a letter which everyone needs to see, sent to me by someone who has worked for many years in the MDC’s enforcement division. He outlines how the telecheck system helps the MDC to target those who use it to check deer and turkeys. You need to see that letter if you intend to hunt this fall. You will not believe what he reveals about how today’s agents are ignoring the laws which protect you and using that telecheck system to do it.
Some readers have told me they have purchased books I wrote in past years and would like for me to sign and inscribe them, as my autograph makes them perhaps worth a nickel more. But if you would like to show up early and aren’t interested in what little I know about writing, just come between 5 and 6 that evening and I will sign books for you. I will also give you a free Lightnin’ Ridge Magazine and while you are there you can see the old photos and artifacts from the Texas County and Big Piney River past.
One thing I think folks will find really fascinating is my collection of bluff-dweller artifacts from caves along the river, from the upper Big Piney to its mouth at the confluence of the Gasconade, and many of its tributaries. When I was only 13 or 14, wandering the river in the footsteps of my grandfather, I found perhaps the only ivory artifact known to have been discovered in the Ozarks, and prehistoric axes, carved bones, bone tools, etc. Some of what I have is different than anything you’ve ever seen before. And the old photos I am bringing taken a hundred years or more ago, with the antiques used by Ozarkians of that area in that time, might also interest you.
Several years back I wrote a book of short stories called, “Dogs and Ducks and Hatrack Bucks” which has 28 outdoor stories about boys, illustrated with great pen and pencil art. The idea was to get boys whom teachers could not get interested in reading… to get interested in reading. Anyone who has a youngster who likes the outdoors and hunting and fishing and nature and ghosts, can get one of those books for free if they want. I have given away a bunch of them, dozens going to schools that have kids with reading difficulties.
There is a certain amount of sadness in going back home to talk about the good old days. The Piney River is a poor example today of the wonderful free-flowing clean stream I remember. Many of my classmates from the 50’s and 60’s have passed on and others have moved far away. But I still have cousins around Houston, and a few people I remember with fondness from boyhood times. It will be quite a pleasure to meet with many of them and gather on a stage where I once saw Lash Larue and the Red Raider and Gene Autry in person, and longed to be like the cowboys in the old movies shown on that big silver screen behind it.
I also hope that at 6 that evening I can be of some help to those of you who want to write and have your work published.
You can reach me by calling the Lightnin’ Ridge office, 417/777-5227 or writing to me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO 65613. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.