A song from the 70’s lamented, “They paved Paradise, put up a parkin’ lot.”
I found myself humming that line when I stopped by one of my favorite teenage fishing spots a few years back.
It was during high school alumni weekend in Thayer, a typical rail-and-river town located at the six o-clock position in Traveler country.
Thayer is located just a mile north of Mammoth Spring, Arkansas.
Technically, I’m not a true alumnus, since I moved away from Thayer after the tenth grade, but I have fond memories of the two years I spent in that small town.
More importantly, my former classmates had invited me to come, and I hadn’t seen them in well, too many years to talk about.
So I decided to make a road trip of it. I’d attend the reunion, reconnect with my buddies from that bygone era, and revisit the creek where I used to wade-fish for smallmouths, goggle-eye, and anything else willing to attack my small arsenal of ultralight lures.
It was a nine-hour drive across Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas. As I finally crossed the last state line into Missouri, it was raining so hard I could only pick up familiar landmarks between the steady, rapid strokes of my wiper blades.
With people to see and the weather unpleasant, I decided to postpone having a close look at my old fishing hole in Warm Fork River under the bridge on the southeastern edge of Thayer.
Warm Fork is named a river, but is actually more of a large creek. It flows south into Arkansas, then becomes Spring River after collecting a huge amount of colder water from Mammoth Spring.
After a rendezvous at one restaurant and supper at another, the rain had stopped, and my best friend Ray and I went to the Homecoming football game.
The alumni committee had more food for us after the game, and by then I was ready to sleep in late Saturday morning. Late, for me, is about seven a.m.
More classmates gathered for lunch on Saturday, then Ray drove me around our old stomping grounds along Warm Fork River north of town, where Ray had grown up and had invited me out to his house on Sunday afternoons.
His father’s farm had river frontage, and we fished in the creek during most of those visits.
We also pulled into a front yard along Route 00 to participate in an impromptu bull session, where I learned about ways to manage nuisance beavers and local landowners who might take a dim view of shooting them at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.