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From the West Plains Gazette

New Folks at Dawt

Text and Photographs by: Russ Cochran


For the past several years I have been one of the judges for the annual Hootin’ and Hollerin’ Queen contest at Gainesville. Each year, Master of Ceremonies John Harlin introduces me as a “Dawtaholic.” It’s true . . . I plead guilty. Dawt is probably my favorite place on the planet Earth. I can go there when I feel bad; the positive ions from the moving water never fail to cheer me up. I go there to swim in the cold water at least two or three times a week all through the summer. If you see what you think is a walrus plowing up the river, it’s probably me.
My father was co-owner of the Ford Garage in the 1940s, and he worked a hard six-day week. When Sunday came, he would load us all into the car and head for Dawt. My folks, Rick, and Bill J. would spend the day fishing. Mike and I would swim and explore the small creek that fed into the North Fork just below the dam. In the evening, Mom would fry the fish and make fried potatoes for us to eat on the river bank. My Grandma Morrison loved to fish off the big rock just below the dam. To my family, and especially to me, Dawt is a sacred place.
A word of advice: Don’t be discouraged by the cold water at Dawt . . . it’s only cold for a few minutes. Most people make the mistake of jumping in and then just standing there hugging themselves and moaning about how cold the water is - exactly the wrong approach. You should jump in and start swimming like crazy. After a minute or two the water won’t seem cold. Then, when you get out, you’ll tingle all over and feel wonderful. Try it!


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