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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... Trials & Tribulations

We had a somewhat calm year as far as car troubles go. As some of you know, this has not been the case for some time.

Our 93 Dodge Grand Caravan performed much better than on previous trips to Chicago. This January we made it ALL THE WAY to Chicago for the Sports Show without incident...except that just as we were arriving at our hotel, Michael noticed that the temperature dropped down lower than it had been all through the trip. It fluttered there, and then corrected itself to its previous reading. This worried Michael so much, that later in the week, he took the car in to the Dodge dealer in Des Plaines (where we always take it). After checking it out, they replaced the water pump. Can you believe this? We think we just might have an all-new car by now!

Betty took the Dodge up to Chicago again in October for the Chicago Marathon. This time without incident. Right now, it's running about perfect. We hope these aren't famous last words! Michael is talking about trading it in for next year, but Betty isn't ready to give it up just yet.

We still have the three old clunkers, which we don't consider road-worthy for long trips, so naturally we have had zero problems with them.

We hooked up to the Internet in late 1996 and entered cyberspace for good. Although we are really thrilled to be surfing the net, we did have a very bad experience. This spring, during a storm, our phone line was struck by lightning. The results were devastating! We lost everything but the hard drive and monitor. We lost our tape drive, zip drive, modem, communications board, motherboard, and printer. Our phone was fine, but we also lost our charge card modem.

It took us about a month before we replaced it all and got up and running again. So, take our advice, and disconnect BOTH your modem and electric during storms. Basically, we want everyone to avoid our dumb mistakes.

One Saturday night, with 100% occupancy, we left Mary in charge and went off to a party. Of course, with a full house, we never stay out late. We arrived home around 10 p.m. and saw a lot of people outside standing around. We stopped by Cabin 1 and asked our guests if everything was ok. They said everything was fine, except there was no water. We then hurried over to the wellhouse, where we met Al Ing (Mary's husband), and Wendell Barnes. They were trying to figure out the problem. They had no luck, so we called our trusty well-man, Bud Bryant. He said he'd be out first thing in the morning. In the meantime, we had our guests go to Black Oak Inn to get water and take showers (luckily we had that place)! And luckily we had such patient, understanding guests, because at a time like this, there's nothing you can do!

The next morning, true to his word, Bud Bryant showed up and went right to work. In less than an hour, we had water. The problem: A little piss ant had wedged his body between two electrical contacts inside the pump switch, and shorted out the switch, and gave his life in the process. Bud replaced the switch and left us with the evidence, which we will save to have as a backup (minus the piss ant, of course)!

...Chicago Marathon
Betty continued running this year and once again ran the Chicago Marathon in October. This was Betty's third attempt, and having successfully completed her first marathon the year before, she knew what she was up against.

Betty was more nervous going out this time, with the foreknowledge of what lay ahead. Also, the weather was warmer and more humid...not good for a marathon. So Betty was very happy just to finish, which she did in a time of 5:59:27, or a pace per mile of 13:42.5. This was very close to her time last year (6:00:40), but still a slight improvement. Betty ran with her brother Bill, her training partner, who finished in 5:12:09. Betty plans to run again next year, and hopes to keep improving her time.

We still have our two old dogs. Kala will be 14 in January, and has a little arthritis. Grant will be 13 in April. Both dogs are about totally deaf, but otherwise doing pretty good, with no major health problems. Herbie is gone, and cannot be replaced. We will miss him always.

Michael is still Oakland's Fire Chief, and doesn't seem to be slowing down. He is also on the board of the Bull Shoals/White River Chamber of Commerce. He is lending his expertise on the Internet feasibility study for the chamber.

Betty is a board of director on the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism Association, serving as Secretary, and also serves on the Marketing Committee.

Betty is still running on Ozark Isle four days a week. Michael walks with her three days a week. She is still hopeful he may someday want to take up running. And she always welcomes company on her runs if any of you would like to join her.

Thank you all again for a very good year. We re looking forward to the coming year and seeing you all again in 99.

In Memory of Herbie

It was fated that Herbie would become my dog.

I first saw Herbie in the newspaper. He was bounding through grass with a look of sheer joy, and he was a work of art. The local Humane Society was trying to find him a home, after being abandoned along a roadside with his mother and litter mate. I showed the picture to Michael, and asked if he would mind if I called to see if he was taken yet. I phoned and talked to the director of the Humane Society. I asked about the dog and she said she still had him. We must have talked for an hour, just talking about our mutual love of animals. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was screening me. At the conclusion of our long conversation, she told me she had decided to give me the dog, and that she had received more than a hundred calls about the dog. He was a yellow lab-golden retriever mix.

Herbie, beloved dogWe quickly fell in love with each other. Herbie came along at a time in my life when I most needed him. He filled a void left in my life when I moved away from my family and friends in Chicago to our new home in Arkansas. Michael made the adjustment quickly, but it was difficult for me. I was lonely for what I'd left behind. I missed the way our marriage used to be, and I missed feeling important. Herbie filled that void. Here he was ready to be loved, and to love me back unconditionally. He was my sidekick, my constant companion. I hated to leave him, even for a trip to town. And it was the same with Herbie. When I would return, he would fly at me, kissing me, and even biting my hand, not hard, but hard enough to let me know that he meant business. Michael told me Herbie would pout when I left.

Herbie was most happy when he had both Michael and I around. He loved us both. But he loved me more. He was very possessive of me, and wouldn't let anyone invade my space. He would place himself between me and Michael if we hugged. He was so protective, that when we were in bed, if Michael even started to breathe heavy, Herbie would jump up on the bed and stand over Michael and growl. We had a cage next to the bed for Herbie. After awhile, as Herbie got older (and wiser), at the slightest sign, even before we knew, Herbie would just go into that cage, and give a big sigh of resignation!

Herbie always accompanied me on my walks and runs on Ozark Isle. I felt totally at peace and secure with him at my side. As he got old, he started to have problems with his hind legs. One day, his back legs started collapsing. It got progressively worse, until he was finally in a canine cart. The cart was a blessing to us because it gave us more time with Herbie. He adjusted to the cart so well, that he would forget it was back there, and try to roll over and scratch his back, or take off running to chase some dog. At no time did Herbie lose his dominance over our other two dogs. He was still the same dog, except he was dependent on us now.

We would have done anything to save our dog. When it happened, it was so sudden. In a moment, our world changed. We rushed him to our vet, not knowing if he would make it. The vet sadly told us that there was nothing he could do now to help Herbie any more. We stayed with Herbie while our vet gave him his final injection. We took him home and buried him along our fence in front of our cabin. How I long to touch him again, to feel his velvety ears, his warmth, to see the love in his eyes. I am so lucky to have had a loving, devoted, friend and companion like Herbie. I wish he could have remained by my side forever.

Fame Has Found Us!

This year Black Oak Resort was featured in an article on fishing Bull Shoals Lake in the July issue of Midwest Outdoors. Sportswriter Bob Hendricks and his son Eric spent the better part of a week with us in early May. We fixed him up with some of Oakland's best fishermen to show him a variety of springtime fishing available. Michael also took Bob and Eric fishing, and of course they had their best day of fishing with him. We also showed Bob around town a bit, and we believe he had a great time. We thank him for the mention in his excellent article, which was very flattering, and justly deserved!

For All You Animal Lovers... And Then There Were Twenty...

Several fertile female cats have been added to our menagerie. It's not that we don't want to have them neutered. It's just that you can't take them away from their kittens, and by the time the kittens are on their own, the mommy cat is already well along on another pregnancy. And if you feed cats outside, others show up. This year, we had several litters of kittens born, and not enough takers. However, we did manage to talk several of our guests into taking some of them home.

Jerry and Joanne Logan, of Naperville, Illinois, took one of Gravel Gertie's black and white kittens. They have named it Braveheart, and sent pictures. This cat lucked out, because Joanne and Jerry love their animals very much, and had already taken in a stray dog (Gypsy) from Black Oak Resort several years back.

Randall and Tawana Hughes, of Hartville, Missouri, took a yellow kitten (2nd litter) from Sweet Cakes.

Janice and Mike Maxa from our old hometown of Hanover Park, Illinois also took a yellow kitten from Sweet Cakes' litter.

Josh and Joanna Johnson of Tulsa took one of Gravel Gertie s white and grey kittens (2nd litter).

One beautiful chocolate lab puppy was brought to us by one of our guests. They found him abandoned along the roadside. We weren't ready to add another dog, so Mary took it home to try and find it a home. Then, our guests Michael and Carole Wolfe, of Safety Harbor, Florida, saw the dog and wanted it. We were delighted to find it a good home.

We are grateful that there are people like you who will save the life of a stray animal. Our thanks to you all. We hope all are doing well.

New Arrivals
In the last month, we added a grey male older cat, who was just skin and bones and very sick. He's turning really pretty now and is starting to put on some weight. He looks like he might be a Russian Blue.

Jitterbug is the kitten we took inside when he was found inside one of our guest's boat hull attached to the end of a fishing line, complete with hook. We don't know how long he was trapped inside, but we know the boat was on the lake for 24 hours with him inside before anyone heard him. His mother disappeared, never to return. He was very dehydrated and hungry, and we had to keep him indoors to give him antibiotics after the fish hook was removed. He has mellowed somewhat, but he was a devil cat at first. We were covered with bites and scratches, and were ready to give up on him and throw him out.

The dogs were constantly dodging him. He's calmed down now, and is a very handsome black and white cat. He has turned out to be quite a cat, with a dynamite personality. Our guests all want to take him home, but he's one cat we cannot part with. He loves people and dogs, but hasn't developed any love for the other cats. We especially want to thank Sarah, Kelsey, and Hannah Wilson, who, through their constant attention playing with Jitterbug, helped socialize him from the wild beast he started out to be.

"Best" List of Area Restaurants

We are sorry to report that one of our favorites, The Top Kat is now closed. It had great burgers and steaks, as well as lots of other good food (and drink). We are hoping that in the new year someone will come along and bring it back to life for us all. Meanwhile, we still have much to offer, most notably Th'Barn Cafe, which is only a short walk away from your door. Our guests love this place, not only for the great food at reasonable prices, but for the friendliest service you'll find.

We also highly recommend a trip to Hopper's for some of the best ribs you'll ever find. Being from Chicago, where great food can be found everywhere, we were surprised to find ribs that surpass any we have had. Hopper's ribs are the best we've tasted; lean and meaty, tender baby back ribs, with a sauce with just the right amount of spice and sweetness. Give them a try during your stay. They also have a full menu of other stuff, we just never get past the ribs. Moreover, Jerry Hopper provides great music every night (Tues. - Sat.) from 5 pm - 10 PM! He has one of the finest voices around and burns up those piano keys!

Best Entertainment
Hopper's Dinner Club, Mountain Home

Best Appetizer
178 Club (Potato Skins), Bull Shoals

Best View
Gaston's, overlooking the White River

Best Steaks
The Lakehouse Restaurant & Lounge, Gamaliel

Best Ribs
Hopper's Dinner Club, Mountain Home

Best Buffet
The Front Porch (Daily), Yellville
Bamboo Garden (Daily),
Mountain Home
Bel Arco (Sunday Brunch), Bull Shoals

Best Seafood
178 Club, Bull Shoals
Reel 'Em In Catfish, Mountain Home
Bel Arco (Fri. night buffet), Bull Shoals

Best Hamburger
The Back Forty, Mountain Home

Best Atmosphere
Chelsea's, Mountain Home

Best Italian
Dino's, Mountain Home

Best Oriental
The Blossom Cafe, Mountain Home

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

Newest Restaurants
Tressie's Lone Wolf Cafe (Cajun), Mountain Home
Cafe Santa Fe, Mountain Home

Best Breakfasts
Roberta's Back Street Cafe, Mountain Home
Th'Barn Cafe, Oakland

Best Salad
Chelsea's, Mountain Home

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

Best Cheese Cake
The Lakehouse Restaurant & Lounge, Gamaliel

From Our Guests

I always have a hard time picking a recipe from all those I sample from our guests each year. This year is no exception, but I finally decided on this one from a long-time guest of ours, Lisa Bristow, who hails from Braidwood, Illinois. I also found out that green beans, which are the featured vegetable in this recipe, are very, very good for you. It seems they contain one of those non-vitamin substances (maybe an antioxidant?) that are so good for your health. So, everyone eat your vegetables, and I know you'll enjoy this recipe.

Sweet-Sour Green Beans

     8 slices bacon, diced
     1/2 med. onion, chopped
     1/3 c. vinegar
     1 tsp. sugar
     1 tsp. salt
     1 tsp. cornstarch
     2 1-lb. cans tiny whole green beans
           (You may also use fresh or frozen)
     1/2 tsp. garlic (fresh or powder)

Fry bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tbsp. fat. Sauté onion in fat. Mix vinegar and cornstarch. Blend in sugar, salt, garlic. Add to onion. Stir 'til thickened. Drain beans, add with bacon to onion mixture and heat.

1998 Improvements

This was another year of high maintenance projects.

  • We painted the pool and fixed the final leak(s). It looks beautiful!
  • We built a brand new 20x32 storage barn. It's a two story, big enough to hold just about all our junk, and allowed us to get rid of the old red barn, which was way too small.
  • We replaced all the rusty steel cable on our dock with stainless steel. Now it won't be blown away.
  • We installed new vertical blinds in Cabin 4.
  • We installed a new heat pump/air conditioner in Cabin 9.
  • We put a new wood deck on Cabin 9 and put stairs on the deck of our duplex (Cabins 1 and 2).
  • We re-roofed the office. Now all the roofs match!
  • We put a new 25' Color TV with Remote in Cabin 2.
  • We also made our final payment on our Dodge van! Yeah!

Coming in 1999

Every year we promise you all that we will get our lodge completed. This year we are going to make it happen. We have of course, changed our mind about the design once again.

Here's the latest plan. The lodge will consist of three levels.

Main Level/Guest Area:

  • Reservation desk
  • Gift and tackle shop
  • Dining area/meeting room. Tables and chairs, seating 60 persons at round tables. We will probably seat a lot more with long tables.
  • Food Service Area. This is not going to be a restaurant, but rather a food staging area with refrigeration, dishwasher, warming ovens, microwaves, coffeepot, storage. We can use this area for our potluck or catered meals.
  • Fireplace and Big Screen TV.
  • Personal computer for our guest's use
  • Pay phone
  • Washrooms
  • Private Club (Adults Only) with pool table
  • Deck with BBQ on lakeside
  • Manager's apartment. We will live here for now. It'll be much roomier than our present arrangement!


  • Laundry facilities for our guests
  • Work-out room with free weights, exercise videos, perhaps some exercise machines, probably a treadmill for sure
  • Storage

Upper Level:

This will depend on how much square footage we have for our main floor, but we plan to have at least one rentable unit (called the penthouse). Right now, we are thinking about a three-bedroom, two-bath unit. We will probably take this over in the off-season for ourselves, and rent it out April through October.

The entire building will be No Smoking, but we plan to have a nicely appointed smoking area outside for you die-hards.

We will not begin taking reservations until we have a firm completion date. We expect to complete construction mid-1999 at this point. We are still finalizing our design, and plan to bring it with us to the Chicago Show for you to see.

Coffee, Tea, Or...

If you like your beer, a cocktail before dinner, or a glass of wine with dinner, you need to be forewarned about Arkansas' liquor laws.

Some counties are dry here; some are wet. Some restaurants serve beer and wine, a lot don't. Some restaurants allow you to provide your own liquor and will furnish the setups. You can't buy liquor in the grocery stores, but there are liquor stores. Liquor stores are not open on Sunday. Some restaurants require that you purchase a membership ($5) in their private club before they will serve you a drink.

For those of you who don't drink, this doesn't concern you. For those of you who do, we have all the answers to your questions. We recommend:

  • Bring your own liquor with you to start. This avoids the problem until you run out, or want a drink out somewhere.
  • Ask us about each restaurant's policy, or ask when making reservations.
  • When eating out, remember that only one person in your party has to be a member in the private club for all of your group to be served.
  • If you just drink beer and wine, some restaurants serve no hard liquor, and you don't need any membership.
  • Remember that this is one of those laws that doesn't apply to drinking the stuff, only to selling it.

So, you needn't concern yourself with all of this. However, a little knowledge ahead of time will prevent any unpleasant surprises on your vacation with us.

1998 Results: Annual Black Oak Fishing Contest

The month of May was once again the hottest time of year for fishing, with three winners in our fishing contest. A close second with two winners each were the months of April and October. We also had a surprise winner in January!

Illinois was the leader in wins as usual, with Missouri coming in second. We were happy to have Mike Purifoy back as a winner for our adopted state of Arkansas.

Lots of women winners (four out of nine!) this year. Congratulations, girls! You better watch out, guys.

We also had virtually all repeat winners. This proves once again that persistence is the quality that most produces good fishing. All our winning fishermen have fished Bull Shoals Lake many times.

Fish were bigger this year in 6 out of 9 categories: White Bass, Walleye, Crappie, Kentucky Bass, Rainbow Trout, and Channel Catfish. We also had a lot more Catch and Release winners. Our special salute to you! Although we wonder if Mike Philipps was able to release that 3-inch bluegill!

All our winners will receive an additional 10% discount on their cabin, plus a Black Oak cap or T-shirt.

Congratulations, winners!

1998 Fishing Contest Results

Largemouth Bass
3.8 lbs
Al Latimer
Marseilles, Illinois
April 6, 10:30 a.m.
Sunny, SE Wind
Blue Rapala, Broken Tail
Deep Diver, 15 ft

White Bass
3.3 lbs
Kathy Spiewak
Chicago, Illinois
May 28, 8 p.m.
Clear, Calm, Warm
Lime Green Pro Spoon
Downrigger, 40 ft

7.5 lbs
Karin Geers
St. Louis, Missouri
June 4, 8 a.m
Clear, Calm
Black & Gold Pro King
Downrigger, 35 ft.

Smallmouth Bass
3.2 lbs
Connie North
Park Ridge, Illinois
April 29, 1 p.m.
Sunny, Calm
Lure Jensen Hot Shot
Pink & White
"Catch & Release"

2.2 lbs
Bill Sligar
Oak Forest, Illinois
October 4, a.m.
Overcast, Windy, Mild
Silver Mr. Twister with
1/4 oz leadhead jig
8 ft.


12 oz.
Mike Schroeder
Hoffman Estates, Illinois
May 21, Late Afternoon
Sunny, Calm
Chrome Spoon
"Catch & Release"

Kentucky Bass
3.2 lbs
Mike Purifoy
Marion, Arkansas
October 4 at Night

Rainbow Trout
7 lbs 7 oz
Carol Vinson
St. Charles, Missouri
January 19
Crippled Herring Spoon
Blue & Chrome
15 ft.
"Catch & Release"

Channel Catfish
17.9 lbs
Mike Philipps
Davis Junction, Illinois
May 14, 9 a.m.
Hazy, Calm, 75 degrees F
3-inch Bluegill
"Catch & Release"

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


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