Monday, February 2, 2015

An Old Bridge, Old Magazines, and Old Bolt

The owner had these boards added so that he could get a view from the bridge and a better perspective of previous generations.
I have mentioned here that a couple of years ago I bought a tract of land with a small cabin on a little creek back in the middle of nowhere, mostly for my kids and grandkids to have when I am gone and forgotten. There is an ancient, high, iron bridge on my place, crossing the creek and it stands on rock outcroppings with no road coming or going. It shows no names or numbers anywhere and the flooring is long gone except for a couple of old decaying wood beams.
Downstream a little ways is a standing fireplace and the remains of a 1920’s lodge, which I have been told was a retreat for local politicians and businessmen from Collins and Humansville, Missouri who liked to get together and drink during the time of prohibition. Even the local sheriff and his deputies joined them, according to legend.
Next to it is a huge spring that once provided water to local people during the depression when severe drought caused wells to go dry. I have been told that at times on Sunday afternoon, wagons were lined up there to fill barrels with the cold pure water. Surely the old iron bridge was a means of getting there, but I cannot find any history of it. If any readers know anything about that iron bridge over Brush Creek in St. Clair County, please contact me.
And somewhere out there, someone must know how to handle old, old pages of antique magazines. I have two 1859 magazines, which are more like little newspapers, and the fragile pages, maybe 20 in all, are enclosed in a plastic bag. I am afraid to take the pages out without an expert to advise me on how to do it. But as you can imagine, I would give anything to read some of those pages. The magazine is entitled, “The Leisure Hour, a Family Journal of Instruction and Recreation.” One issue is marked Thursday, April 28, 1859 and the other is Thursday, August 11, 1859. In time, I believe I will donate them to a museum, but I hope I can open them without seeing the pages fall apart. If anyone can help with this, please let me know.
There may be an interest too in a stack of old newspapers I found in a cabin way back in the wilderness of the Ozarks years ago. They are called the Kansas City Drovers Telegram from the 1940’s mostly. I can hardly handle them without damaging the pages. I found one sports story in a 1951 newspaper which declares that Roy Campanella hit two home runs for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Joe Dimaggio hit one for the Yankees. It proclaims that the St. Louis Browns had beaten the Detroit Tigers because of three perfect innings of relief pitching “by the fantastic Satchel Page”. The standings showed eight teams in each league, and the Cardinals were in fourth place in the National League, 18 games behind the Dodgers. The Browns were in last place in the American league, but only 33 games behind the Yankees.
Of course I collect old outdoor magazines and have a whole room filled with hundreds of them dating back to 1908. At a farm auction recently I bought 14 bound volumes of Life Magazine from the mid 1930’s into the early 1950’s. Each volume has about 20 or so magazines inside so there must be nearly 300 Life magazines to look through. Life was published weekly back then. How in the heck did they do that?
While there isn’t an overwhelming amount of nature and outdoor material in them, there is some, and it is fascinating. Old ads with legendary sports figures, and actors are found all through those pages, with full-page movie circulars for movies like Gone With the Wind, and amazing photos from World War II. If I start going through them, I can’t stop and the world I am living in is gone. In those pages I am carried back to a time which our grandfathers lived and revered, as difficult as it was.
I am going to bring some of the oldest of those ‘Life’ volumes to our big outdoor swap meet on March 28, for those who want to just sit down and look through them and marvel at the historic pages. And while I can’t write much in these columns about that swap meet because there isn’t enough room, you can send me a stamp and I will mail you a circular giving a map and all the information. Tables there are free, but if you want one, you need to have us save one for you now. For those who know all about computers, you can find the information on my website,
For the first time in a couple of years, I have a litter of tiny Labrador puppies, the progeny of Bolt, my number one companion and the 3rd or 4th greatest Labrador in the world, and his mate, Hallie who surely is in the top 20 or 30. For forty years I raised hunting Labradors because I loved the breed, and hunted upland birds and waterfowl with the enthusiasm of a squirrel on a bird feeder. I only have two Labradors now, but at one time I had a dozen or more, and my dogs were well known, appearing on a dozen outdoor magazine covers and even a Cabelas catalog cover. In those forty years I raised hundreds of puppies, chocolate and yellow mostly. I love little puppies! And in those forty years I never once sold a puppy to a broker, nor allowed one to go to a puppy mill to become brood stock. And many times I just refused to sell one of my puppies to someone because I had a gut feeling it wouldn’t get a good home. A dog is a special treasure in the lives of outdoor people and if you don’t love one when you raise and train it, your soul isn’t in the right place.
I hate puppy mills and I learned that puppy mills operate with American Kennel Club registrations, and so I changed my dog’s registrations to United Kennel Club out of Ann Arbor Michigan. I did that partly because an AKC representative came to my place about 20 years ago and imposed fines on me because I had eight dogs in my spacious kennels and none of them had collars. She was a huge woman, who didn’t know I was a writer. She came in my house and told me the fines would be about 500 dollars and I could pay her. Then she went on to tell me what a terrible organization she worked for, how they had her go to dog sales in Oklahoma and Kansas where she often transferred false registration papers on stolen dogs and sick dogs and animals that had had tortured lives in puppy mills.
When I wrote what she told me, she denied it. She also denied telling me that American Kennel Club had just rented new offices in New York increasing their costs almost a million dollars per year and the fines they were trying to impose, plus increasing registration costs, were needed to help them pay for it.
Knowing what I know about them, I urge everyone who has a dog to transfer registration to the United Kennel Club. More and more, hunters who do not want to breed their dogs are just ignoring registration papers. If old Bolt had no papers at all, I wouldn’t trade him for two goats and a pig and a yard full of chickens! I want to see his little puppies get the very best of homes, with hunters who want old-style hunters and companions, that look and act like the big old hefty duck dogs from a hundred years ago, when there were none of them bred for field trials, nor crossed with other breeds to create pointing Labradors. Before I would own a pointing Labrador, I’d get a pig to hunt mushrooms with, and I’d hunt bullfrogs with a gig!
Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613 or email me at

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