An Ozarks Heritage Lives On

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”
― Gustav Mahler

If you take a look around at any grocery store, waiting room, classroom, cubicle, you name it, it is unavoidable.  Human progress is rolling forward and we’re more efficient than we’ve ever been.  Accomplishing more with technology than our forefathers would have ever thought possible.

In the face of this progress there have been some casualties.  Consumerism makes it perfectly acceptable to trash something your grandpa would have repurposed 3 different ways before ever dreaming of discarding.  Along with the disposable nature of things purchased, the desire, interest, and often work ethic required to physically create something new is almost lost.  Is there anything more appealing some days than to return to a simpler way of life?  What follows is one example to capture a piece of that if you’re willing to commit some time and effort.

While I’ve had interest in reading the work of author Larry Dablemount of Lightnin’ Ridge Publications I have not had time to really pursue recreational reading lately.  An old friend from high school, Bob Schwab brought his works to my attention and his books look like a perfect winter holdover reading.  What fascinated me most however was when Bob let me know he was planning on building his own wooden john boat.  Not being the handy type myself, I was definitely inclined to see someone else try this first. What follows is a simple photographic journal that illustrates what the process of building your own wooden john boat might look like.  

June 14, 2019

“Book says it’s a 16-20 hour job, start to finish. I think that is BS. Kids and I may give it a try. 2 weekends and evenings should get it done.”

June 20, 2019

“Already gathered up some scrap we had laying around and started on our forms.”

June 27, 2019

“Need to fit the front and rear. Then the bottom. Been slow going.”

July 5, 2019

“She is laying out the spacing for screw holes.”

July 17, 2019

“First time flipped upright”

July 28, 2019

“First coat inside and sides.”

July 31, 2019

“100% done.”

August 10, 2019

“In it now.  Paddled upstream from a low water bridge about 1/2 mile. Float back down. No leaks.”

There are some treasures in life that you don’t appreciate enough until they are gone.  Old men and women’s stories of sacrifice that are unthinkable in today’s era of ultra convenience.  Summers with your kids while they’re little and they still like you.  The simplicity of time in nature, without electronic devices, and teaching your kids about things unthinkable in today’s world.  A time when you would and could build your own stuff.  When a scarcity complex was not a psychological condition but just reality.  Living near the river, camping, and catching your dinner.

Our lives have become more complicated but some things lost on the path to progress should not be forgotten.  Efforts like that of Bob Schwab and his family have made to create this wooden john boat are a prime example that we should all look for something we see falling behind.  A tradition or practice of value from days gone past that still has enduring value.  This blog is all about fishing and it’s a tradition in my family that I intend to carry on for generations.  That love and respect for nature will be an enduring tradition to keep close and pass on to others.  Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever you love, find that equivalent in your world.  Then go do more of it!   Whatever you value, hold on to it, teach others, so they may carry it on to others. 




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Patrick Ritter

Patrick Ritter is the founder of River King Fishing, LLC.  Raised near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the outdoors, especially fishing, has always been a passion.