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Greetings And Happy New Year To All Of Our 1997 Guests

Another year has come to an end, and it’s time to take stock of the year just passed. We first want to say thank you to all of our guests of this year. Without you, we would not be doing what we love so much. That is, looking forward to seeing those guests that return year after year to Black Oak, who have now become friends. And then there’s the anticipation of meeting all of our new guests each year; each of which adds something unique to our year’s memories. Some will share our love of this area and what our resort tries to provide, and they will also become permanent guests of Black Oak. What other job could be so satisfying? We want to thank all of you for providing us with such a rich life here at Black Oak Resort.


     Our Year in Review
     New Owners of Stark's Grocery
     Fame Has Found Us
     From Our Guests (Lasagna Recipe)
     "Best" List of Area Restaurants
     Have You Ever Been Published?
     Please Take Note
     1997 Improvements
     A Better Route to Get Here
     Coming in 1998
     Saying Good-bye, Then Hello!
     1997 Results: Annual Fishing Contest

Our Year in Review...


Car troubles just don’t ever seem to leave us. This year, when we went to Chicago in January our Dodge Grand Caravan ran great. But, prior to leaving on our trip, Michael had one of our tires fixed twice for a slow leak. Well, it held until Chicago, when leaving the hotel one morning, we found an almost flat tire. So we spent one morning over at Wal-Mart having two new rear tires put on. This may have been overkill, but with our track record, we thought “Better Safe Than Sorry.”

The van ran great the rest of the year until the day before Betty’s October trip to Chicago for the Marathon. Betty was just getting home from a last minute trip to town, getting everything done for the resort before her trip. Just as she pulled in to the resort, she noticed the steering quit working. She called Michael. He found the tension pulley was bent, and the belt wouldn’t stay on. It was too late to do anything, and Betty was to leave for Chicago early the next morning. The next day, not being able to drive the car in, Michael and Wendell Barnes went to an auto parts store and bought another pulley and belt, and quickly put it on. The position of the belt didn’t seem to be quite right to Michael, so he called the Chrysler dealer in town, and asked if they would take a look at it before Betty embarked on her 550 mile trip. They agreed, so Michael drove it in, and they said everything looked fine. Betty was able to leave on her trip by 11 a.m.

This is not the end of the story. Betty got to Chicago OK, but the next morning, when hitting the nearest shopping mall, as she was pulling into the parking lot, the belt began making a slapping sound. Checking under the hood, it was in shreds. Luckily (or as it turns out, unluckily) there was a Montgomery Wards auto service center located at the mall. Betty drove the car there, where they had a look at the problem. They replaced the belt, and seeing nothing else wrong, sent her on her way.

When Betty called Michael to tell him the latest, he really started worrying if she would ever make it home. So he got the number of the Chrysler dealership that they’d gone to with their transmission problem the previous year. They said to bring it in before returning home, which Betty did. They found that the wrong pulley had been put on, and the latest belt had worn so much they had to replace that too. Since then, the car has run like a top. Tell us, are we the only ones in this universe to have such persistent calamities with their cars when traveling? It’s not like we take a trip without first having the vehicle checked out by the dealer. In both instances we did. We think we have a new variation of Murphy’s Law: If your car is going to break down, it will be at least 500 miles from home, or if it does break down near your home, it will be fixed and then immediately break down when you are 500 miles from home. And hopefully, next year, we will NOT have another car story to tell.


We had our first (and hopefully last) fire at Black Oak this year. Fortunately, the fire was in one of our smaller cabins, and was totally confined to the kitchen. The “perps” will remain anonymous, since they are very good customers of ours, even now. By the way, Michael was at a fire department meeting when it happened.

Here’s how it happened. John and Mary Doe were preparing a dish to take over to another cabin where they would be joining another family for dinner. They had the dish warming on the stove. As they left the cabin, Mary carried the dish over to their neighbors cabin, evidently forgetting that the stove was on low. Following close behind with a picnic basket in hand, which he set on the very same burner that was still on, was John. Out they went for an enjoyable evening for about three hours. Imagine their surprise and dismay when, returning to their cabin later that evening, they found a smoke filled cabin and a burned up kitchen. By this time, the fire had burned itself out.

Betty was called over to survey the damage. At first, it looked pretty bad, but, after cleaning up, we wound up with a burn-damaged, though still workable stove top, a destroyed range hood (which took the brunt of the fire damage, and probably stopped the spread of the fire), a charred upper cabinet, smoke damaged paint in the kitchen, and a couple of burned utensils and pots. After thoroughly cleaning the entire cabin of smoke: washing walls and windows, cleaning the carpet, curtains and bed linens, repainting the kitchen walls and ceiling, and replacing the range hood and upper cabinet, the cabin is as good as new (except for the range top).

We really were lucky in a way, because it could have been much worse, and we could have had the cabin burn down, or possibly spread to another cabin. Also, John and Mary were feeling quite bad about this too, and we reached an amicable settlement with them for damages. Our insurance would not have paid on the damage, since in order to afford insurance at all we have to have a high deductible. Also, it would probably have triggered a premium increase. By the way, John and Mary are staying with us again next year. So all of you, please be careful and never leave anything on the stovetop, which a lot of us do! I don’t anymore.


We also seem to have a wind story each year. This year, it was our dock that broke loose on one axle holding it to land. What we found was that the cable had rusted underneath the water, and with a very strong gusting wind, the cable couldn’t take the strain, and finally snapped. We had Jim Jensen, our good friend and local deputy sheriff, who is also a scuba instructor, re-anchor our cable with the good part that was left. We then had to replace the steel cable with stainless steel cable, which won’t rust. We should have done this in the first place. Lucky again for us, there was no damage, just some anxious hours. We are getting paranoid about hearing that wind blowing out there!

...On a Personal Note

We have some sad news. This year we lost two friends that many of you knew.

Pebble Barnes passed away after a long battle with breast cancer. She was married to Wendell Barnes, who has helped us at the resort for many years. She was also our very dear friend. Also, Ron Stark, of Stark’s Grocery passed away from mesothelioma, which is a very deadly form of cancer that is caused from exposure to asbestos. Many of you knew Ron from the store or from his fishing guide service. His wife Betty sold the store, and is still living in Oakland.


We still have our three dogs, but the past year was a rough one. Herbie, our twelve year old golden lab, started having problems using his back legs in December 1996, roughly a year ago.

Our vet initially thought his problems were complicated by a muscle weakness that was due to Cushing’s Syndrome. His blood tests were sort of borderline, and confused the issue. We tried treating him for Cushing’s, and the treatment almost killed him. For a while we thought he might have bone cancer. While we were in Chicago, he went into liver failure, and we thought we’d lose him while we were away, which crushed us. But, he recovered, and we brought him home to begin the long struggle to keep him alive.

By May, he no longer could use his back legs, and the vet recommended euthanasia. Betty could not go through with it. We took him home instead. Betty started phoning to see where she could get the canine cart she had seen on the Drew Carey show. One of the local pet stores was able to locate a number. The cart is made in Big Sky, Montana, and has to be recommended by the dog’s vet. The dog has to be in otherwise good health, and have strong forelegs. Luckily, Herbie was still otherwise healthy and strong. We ordered the cart, and Herbie adjusted to it very quickly. It has been a lifesaver for Herbie and for us! He can use it for all his doggy business, so he can get around on his own outside. He can really book with it, and has even chased stray dogs away. Inside, he’s down, but he scoots around when he wants to, and even our vet has had a change of heart about Herbie and his quality of life. Up to now, Herbie is in good health, and is a very happy, spoiled dog, who is coping with his limitations like a trooper. He is still top dog, and the other two dogs still don’t try to challenge him.

We know this is not the solution for everybody, because it takes a lot out of you and calls for very diligent caretaking, which can be very time-consuming and physically exhausting. But we all agree now that it was the right thing to do in Herbie’s case. We must credit Mary Ing for making this possible. Mary works at Black Oak, and has helped Betty tremendously with Herbie. Without Mary’s help, we could never go away for more than three hours at a time. Herbie needs to be walked every three hours to keep from having accidents inside. Mary is the only one who can lift Herbie up into his cart by herself, other than Michael. Betty has done it, but has a hard time. Mary is very strong, and we are so grateful to have her help.

The other two dogs are still healthy, but they are starting to slow down. Kala, our oldest dog will be 13 in January. She is starting to go deaf, we think, but otherwise still looks very young. Siberians are known to be long-lived. Grant will be 12 in April, and is healthy and fat. Both of them sleep a lot more now, and can’t run with Betty. Michael takes them for walks once or twice a week on Ozark Isle for about 30 minutes. That’s about all the exercise they can handle now.

Our cats number around eight. We still have Bat Ears, Baby Bat Ears, Sweet Cakes, Little Bit, and Jack. Little Blackie’s sister still comes around (we never gave her a name) occasionally, but is kind of skittish and a loner. Two new cats have come around. A female whiny cat (white with brown and black) we call Gravel Gerty. Also, another male, black and white that is constantly fighting with Jack, still unnamed. Jack has gotten very fat and lazy and still tries to enter the cabins every chance he gets. We lost little Tripod, our three-legged cat, this year.

A big thank you to Rodney and Renee Poynter and Kevin and Jean Lowery for taking two of our kittens. They are the only two that survived.

...Chicago Marathon

Betty continued on her quest to complete a Chicago Marathon, and this year she was victorious. She completed the 26.2 miles in 6:00:40, which if you figure it out, isn’t a very fast pace (13:45). But she was very happy just be able to complete it. After all, there were lots of people who finished after her! Betty’s brother Bill, who has been her training partner, finished in 4:51.


Michael is still Oakland’s Fire Chief, and is still going strong. Betty finally got him to start an exercise program. He’s walking three days a week, as long as it’s not raining!

Betty continues with her running, but has cut way back for the next couple months. Betty is still a director on the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism Association board and serves as secretary.

As soon as this newsletter is in production, Betty and Michael will sit down and begin hammering out their plan for the lodge (to be built in 1998). We have preliminary approval for financing with our bank, but have to show them the building plans and a lot of other paperwork before the final approval. We are confident that there should not be any problems with financing the project, since it has been a couple of years now that we’ve been talking with the bank about it, and we’ve dealt with our bank and had quite a few business loans with them in the past (and present).

Of course, we’re gearing up for next year’s season, starting with the Chicagoland Sport Show that we will be attending at O’Hare Expo Center January 23 to February 1. For those of you living in the vicinity, we look forward to seeing you there at Booth 822.

Thank you all again for a very good year. We’re looking forward to the coming year and seeing you all again in ‘98.

New Owners of Stark’s Grocery

The new owners of Stark’s Grocery are Tom and Cristie White from Columbus Junction, Iowa. We welcome them to our community and wish them much success. They have added gas pumps and now are selling fishing and hunting licenses. They also sell fresh hot coffee and fountain soda to go. They are open 7 days a week year ‘round from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer). They have renamed the place Oakland One-Stop. Please stop by and see them when you come down next time.

Fame Has Found Us

Black Oak Resort continues to rate mention in travel articles. This year we were promoted in a September 14, 1997 feature article about Bull Shoals Lake in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Our resort was listed as one of the places to stay on a short list of two (we were mentioned first).

From Our Guests

This year I’d like to feature a recipe from one of our old guests that no longer stay with us, since they’ve moved here. Marlene Ryan is one of those versatile cooks that can do everything: cook, bake, barbecue, you name it, it’s always delicious. Marlene has served this dish at some of our resort get-togethers. It is always a huge success. Do not think traditional lasagna here, this is an Americanized version, but one that I definitely prefer.

Marlene Ryan’s Lasagna

1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
2 c. (1-lb. Can) tomatoes, cut up
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1/3 c. water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. oregano
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 lb. lasagna noodles, cooked
2 6-oz. pkg. Kraft Natural Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 lb. Velveeta Pasteurized Cheese Spread, sliced
1/2 c. Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese

Brown meat. Add onion. Cook until tender. Drain off excess fat. Stir in tomatoes, paste, water, garlic and seasonings. Cover. Simmer 30 minutes. In 12 x 8 inch baking dish, layer noodles, meat sauce and cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8. Serve with a salad and garlic bread (and maybe some wine). Enjoy!

You may add more or less of the cheese, according to your taste. Marlene doubles this recipe and freezes one pan. Take out of freezer and heat at 350 for 45 to 60 minutes, covered. Also may be reheated in microwave.

“Best” List of Area Restaurants

Best Appetizer
178 Club (Potato Skins), Bull Shoals

Best View
Gaston’s, overlooking the White River

Best Steaks
The Top Kat, State Line in Missouri

Best Ribs
Hoppers, Mountain Home

Best Buffet
The Front Porch (Daily), Yellville
Bamboo Garden (Fri. & Sat. Night), Mountain Home

Best Seafood
178 Club, Bull Shoals
Fred’s Fish House, Mountain Home
Bel Arco (Fri. night buffet), Bull Shoals

Best Hamburger
The Back Forty, Mountain Home
The Top Kat, State Line in Missouri

Best Atmosphere
Chelsea’s, Mountain Home

Best Oriental
Bamboo Garden, Mountain Home

Best Value
European House, Mountain Home
Th' Barn Cafe, Oakland

Newest Restaurants
Bel Arco, (formerly Chastains) Bull Shoals
Tressie’s Lone Wolf Cafe (Cajun), Lakeview
Ole South Pancake House, Mountain Home (open 24 hours)

Best Breakfasts
Couch’s Barbecue, Mountain Home
Th’Barn Cafe, Oakland

Best Salad
     Chelsea’s, Mountain Home

Best Prime Rib
     178 Club (Saturday night), Bull Shoals

Have You Ever Been Published?

Betty is gathering together all the recipes from our guests over the years and compiling a Black Oak Resort Cookbook.

Send us your favorite recipes or even better, bring them down and prepare them for us to taste test!

All of you whose recipes are selected for publication in the cookbook will receive a complimentary copy. The cookbook will be ready in 1999.

Please Take Note

Our area code has changed from 501 to 870!
Please update your records so you will reach us when you call to make reservations.

1997 Improvements

This was a year almost exclusively devoted to maintenance, which is something we cannot afford to neglect if we want to keep our resort looking its best.

Our biggest undertaking was painting all our cabins with a solid cedar-color stain, and they look better than ever! No more uneven weathering and mildew. The improvement is amazing. They still have a new natural cedar look, since we used that color stain.

Of course, we replaced worn cable to our dock, as mentioned elsewhere in this letter.

We had all seats on our pontoon reupholstered, and they look brand-new.

We refurbished one of our fiberglass 16 ft. fishing boats with new seats, live-well, transom, and all new gelcoat.

We replaced two shower doors in Cabins 2 and 6.

We reupholstered the kitchen chairs in Cabin 6.

We replaced lots of tires: 4 on the Dodge Van, 2 on the Toyota, 2 on the Chevy Van, and 2 on our old tractor. (There are lots of rocks here in Arkansas).

A Better Route To Get Here

For those of you coming from Illinois to get here, we have found what we think is a better way to get around St. Louis than on I-55. Take the south end bypass around St. Louis instead of the 270 bypass. Take I-55 to 255. Take 255 South to 270 bypass. Take 270 to I-44 West. This is not as congested and is shorter than the 270 bypass and takes less time. It’s only five minutes longer than going straight through the city.

Coming In 1998

Our biggest, and perhaps our only substantial improvement this coming year will be going ahead with our construction of our lodge. We plan to have in it our home, plus office, reception area, laundry, meeting room, big-screen TV and satellite system, workout room, fireplace, and whatever else our budget will allow.

Of course, there will be continued maintenance projects, the biggest one for now is repainting the pool.

Saying Good-bye, then Hello!

Adding to our growing list of customers, who quit staying with us and move here instead, this year we say good-bye to Mark and Karen Lamb, of Des Moines, Iowa, who bought a home right here in Oakland. Mark and Karen have been staying with us, usually twice a year, since 1986.

Also, longtime customers Ed and Linda Pecora bought a home here in Oakland. They had been staying with us since 1985. It’s going to be hard to replace such good customers, but we are glad to welcome them to our community. Ed was recently elected president of our Oakland fire department, and is a volunteer firefighter. Linda has been working here at Black Oak, so we still see them a lot. Mark and Karen have about 5 more years before they can permanently move here, since Karen is a nurse at the VA hospital in Des Moines, and has to work five more years before retirement.

They join the Ryan’s, Kussman’s, Halbert’s, Lee’s, Bocskovits’, Hicks’, Weith’s, Dan Ryder, and Edna Torrigrossa as Black Oak transplants to Arkansas. Ron and Dottie Kussman now own Th’Barn Cafe, and have done a tremendous job with the place. Dottie serves on the fundraising committee for the Oakland Fire Department and runs Bingo each month as a fund-raiser. Marlene Ryan serves as secretary for the Fire Department, and also serves on the fundraising committee. Jim Ryan is a Lieutenant on the Fire Department and a First Responder, and serves on the board of Oakland Area Improvement Association. Frank Halbert is a volunteer firefighter. Rich Lee is Assistant Chief of our fire department, and a First Responder. Jeanette Lee is our dispatcher. Dan Ryder is Assistant Chief of the Clarkridge FD.

We think our ex-customers have proven to also be a big asset to our community. Just so all of you don’t move down at once, we think Black Oak will be just fine.

1997 Results: Annual Black Oak Fishing Contest

Once again, the hottest month for fishing turned out to be May again this year! Even the April and June entries were both really close to May (April 29 and June 2 and 5). We think it would have been more evenly distributed between April, May and June, except we had no slow warm-up, just winter to summer!

Illinois once again leads the pack with winners. We could say that they are the best fishermen, but to be fair, we just seem to have more people from Illinois than any other state. We had lots of multiple category winners: Todd Eckert, with three, Mike Philipps and Mark Spiewak both with two. These three fish hard, and have been coming here for many years, so they know their stuff. You guys may find an armada following you around the lake next year!

We had a mere child beating out his father. Thirteen year old Eric Immke was fishing with his father, Bill, when he hooked into a huge hybrid striper (13.2 pounds). These fish aren’t even supposed to be in our lake, but they are, and they’re growing! The record hybrid is 22 pounds 1 ounce, and came out of our own Bull Shoals Lake. Just another reason to bring your downrigger equipment along.

The fish were bigger in four categories (largemouth, smallmouth, crappie and rainbow). We also added two new categories (hybrid striper and bluegill). We also had one lone woman winner, and a three-way tie on white bass.

We are raising rainbow trout at our dock this year for Game & Fish. They will be fed twice a day until they are released in the lake, usually in April. Also, lots of big fish are hanging around the dock, attracted by the feed and the mouthwatering little trout. Hope they stay! Those of you coming down early next year may get to see them all.

As for lures, downriggers are still producing with Pro Kings and Pro Spoons. The Shad Rap is always one of our best-producing lures. It seems all the big fish were mostly caught in the early morning on calm days this year. Or maybe we just have a lot of calm days? You never know with statistics.

Largemouth Bass
4.2 lbs.
Gerry Patterson
Smithville, Ohio
June 2, 8 a.m.
Foggy, Calm
Pop-R Silver/Black
Smallmouth Bass
3.9 lbs.
Rich Gelden
Waukegan, Illinois
April 29, noon
Sunny, Clear
Jig & Minnow
Fluorescent Lime Green
Kentucky Bass
2.9 lbs.
Todd Eckert
Waukegan, Illinois
May 3, Evening
Jig & Minnow
Blue/White Metalflake
White Bass
(Three-way Tie)
3.1 lbs.
Todd Eckert
Waukegan, Illinois
May 4, Dusk
Clear, Calm
Jig & Minnow
Blue/White Metalflake
White Bass
(Three-way Tie)
3.1 lbs.
Mark Spiewak
Chicago, Illinois
May 29, 7:30 a.m.
Clear, Calm
Pro Spoon
Green & Silver
Downrigger 45 ft.
White Bass
(Three-way Tie)
3.1 lbs.
Chuck Sevick
Festus, Missouri
May 5, Early a.m.
Clear, Calm
Bass Assassin
Salt & Pepper
6.4 lbs.
Mike Philipps
Machesney Park, Illinois
May 11, 7:30 a.m.
Sunny, Calm
#9 Shad Rap
2.1 lbs.
Mike Philipps
Machesney Park, Illinois
May 15, 5:45 p.m.
Sunny, Windy
Minnow & #10 Hook
Rainbow Trout
6.4 lbs.
Mark Spiewak
Chicago, Illinois
May 26, 7 a.m.
Overcast, Calm
Shad Rap
Silver & Black
Downrigger 35 ft.
Channel Catfish
15.3 lbs.
Todd Eckert
Waukegan, Illinois
May 7, Night
Limb Line
Whole Bluegill
1.0 lbs.
Karin Geers
Affton, Missouri
June 5
Sunny, Calm
Worm on Bottom

Hybrid Striper
13.2 lbs.
Eric Immke
13 years old
Saunemin, Illinois
July 16, 6:45 a.m.
Clear, Calm, Warm
Pro King
Black & Purple
Downrigger, 65 ft.


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Black Oak Resort • P.O. Box 100 • Oakland, Arkansas 72661 • Phone: (870) 431-8363


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