But he had his moments, and now that I'm getting a bit older, I tend to think more about the nice things I remember about him rather than the bad.
Like any guy, he'd get a bug in his bonnet about certain things and do them with a passion until he lost interest in them. Fishing was a bug for a while. For a couple of years before I turned 10, he was big into fishing. He bought a bass boat, spent way too much on rods, reels and tackle, entered fishing tournaments ... and rarely if ever caught one fish.
He took me on one weekend tournament to Bull Shoals Lake in southern Missouri. The only thing I remember was that we had to sleep in the bed of the pick-up truck ... and the two guys we encountered who swore they were drunk on Pommac, which even at that age I found hard to believe.
Southwest Missouri is a fishing place. The White River rolls out of Arkansas where it was dammed up in the early 1950's to create Table Rock, Taneycomo, Bull Shoals and Pomme de Terre Lakes. A little town just southwest of Springfield, Missouri ... named Nixa, became the gateway to the lake area. And in 1957, Nixa Sucker Days was dreamt up by the local bigwigs to bring the business to their town in May, the kick-off of the fishing season. The fact that the Sucker, a bottom feeding river fish not found in any of the lakes didn't seem to phase the locals.
A Sucker is kin to the Catfish, only with more bones than there are planets in the Milky Way Galaxy. Basically, they're inedible, but since it's a well known fact that people will eat an old truck tire if you slather it in batter and deep fry it, a bony bottom feeding river fish is no big deal.
For a few years, Dad and I would go to Nixa Sucker Days on a Saturday afternoon. No Mom, no sisters ... just the old man and I. There would be fishing demonstrations, plenty of beer ... and of course, NO deep fried Suckers, because no one could catch them. Instead, there were plenty of deep fried perch, which were just as bony and inedible. But the memories I have of the outings are nice ones.
Anyway, the other night I was staring off into space, which I am apt to do from time to time. And I remembered Nixa Sucker Days. So, I got on the intertubes to see if it was still around.
And it was. But ...
You know how a lot of places and venues are being named now for corporate sponsors? Like the Boston Garden is now the TD Banknorth Garden. And the Rose Bowl is now the Fritos Chili Cheese Bowl?
Well, Nixa Sucker Days went and got them a corporate sponsor.
Springfield, Missouri is a town always in transition. It used to be the welding capitol of the midwest. Then it was the banking capitol of southern Missouri. Now ... it's the hospital capitol of the whole area. Oldsters come from thousands of miles to put down roots in Springfield so they can be serviced in their twilight years by the town's big two health conglomerates ... St. Johns and Cox Health. One for the Catholics, and one for the Protestants.
And there's a rivalry for the old people's business. So, what better way to build goodwill, than to sponsor some events?
And to that end, Cox Health decided they would put their money ... and their name on Nixa Sucker Days. So, starting in 2012, Nixa Sucker Days is now ...
Cox Sucker Days.
I'm not kidding. Here's the logo:
Needs A Little Refinement
And if you still don't believe me, here's the article.
They had to know what they were doing ... Right?