Greetings And Happy New Year To All Of
Our 1997 Guests
Another year has
come to an end, and its 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 theres
the anticipation of meeting all of our new guests each year; each
of which adds something unique to our years 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.
Year in Review
New Owners of Stark's
Fame Has Found Us
From Our Guests (Lasagna
List of Area Restaurants
Have You Ever Been
Please Take Note
A Better Route to Get
Coming in 1998
Saying Good-bye, Then
1997 Results: Annual
Our Year in Review...
Car troubles just dont 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 Bettys 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 wouldnt 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 didnt 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 theyd 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? Its 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 Murphys
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
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
Heres 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 dont 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 couldnt 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 wont 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 Starks 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 Cushings Syndrome. His
blood tests were sort of borderline, and confused the issue. We tried
treating him for Cushings, 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 wed 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 dogs 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, hes 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 dont 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 Herbies case.
We must credit Mary Ing for making this possible. Mary works at Black
Oak, and has helped Betty tremendously with Herbie. Without Marys
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 cant run with
Betty. Michael takes them for walks once or twice a week on Ozark
Isle for about 30 minutes. Thats 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 Blackies
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
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, isnt 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! Bettys brother
Bill, who has been her training partner, finished in 4:51.
Michael is still Oaklands Fire Chief, and is still
going strong. Betty finally got him to start an exercise program.
Hes walking three days a week, as long as its 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 weve been talking with
the bank about it, and weve dealt with our bank and had quite
a few business loans with them in the past (and present).
Of course, were gearing up for next years
season, starting with the Chicagoland Sport Show that we will be attending
at OHare Expo Center January 23 to February 1. For those of
you living in the vicinity, we look forward to seeing you there at
Thank you all again for a very
good year. Were
looking forward to the coming year and seeing you all again in 98.
Owners of Starks Grocery
The new owners of Starks 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
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 Id like to feature a recipe from one
of our old guests that no longer stay with us, since theyve
moved here. Marlene Ryan is one of those versatile cooks that can
do everything: cook, bake, barbecue, you name it, its 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 Ryans 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
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.
List of Area Restaurants
178 Club (Potato Skins), Bull Shoals
Gastons, overlooking the White River
The Top Kat, State Line in Missouri
Hoppers, Mountain Home
The Front Porch (Daily), Yellville
Bamboo Garden (Fri. & Sat. Night), Mountain Home
178 Club, Bull Shoals
Freds Fish House, Mountain Home
Bel Arco (Fri. night buffet), Bull Shoals
The Back Forty, Mountain Home
The Top Kat, State Line in Missouri
Chelseas, Mountain Home
Bamboo Garden, Mountain Home
European House, Mountain Home
Th' Barn Cafe, Oakland
Bel Arco, (formerly Chastains) Bull Shoals
Tressies Lone Wolf Cafe (Cajun), Lakeview
Ole South Pancake House, Mountain Home (open 24 hours)
Couchs Barbecue, Mountain Home
ThBarn Cafe, Oakland
Chelseas, Mountain Home
Best Prime Rib
178 Club (Saturday night), Bull Shoals
Have You Ever
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
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
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. Its
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.
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
Also, longtime customers Ed and
Linda Pecora bought a home here in Oakland. They had been staying
with us since 1985. Its 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 Ryans, Kussmans, Halberts,
Lees, Bocskovits, Hicks, Weiths, Dan Ryder,
and Edna Torrigrossa as Black Oak transplants to Arkansas. Ron and
Dottie Kussman now own ThBarn 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 dont move down at
once, we think Black Oak will be just fine.
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 arent even
supposed to be in our lake, but they are, and theyre 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
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.
June 2, 8 a.m.
April 29, noon
Jig & Minnow
Fluorescent Lime Green
May 3, Evening
Jig & Minnow
May 4, Dusk
Jig & Minnow
May 29, 7:30 a.m.
Green & Silver
Downrigger 45 ft.
May 5, Early a.m.
Salt & Pepper
Machesney Park, Illinois
May 11, 7:30 a.m.
#9 Shad Rap
Machesney Park, Illinois
May 15, 5:45 p.m.
Minnow & #10 Hook
May 26, 7 a.m.
Silver & Black
Downrigger 35 ft.
May 7, Night
Worm on Bottom
13 years old
July 16, 6:45 a.m.
Clear, Calm, Warm
Black & Purple
Downrigger, 65 ft.
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