Here inside the park we stock the stream nightly with rainbow trout raised locally in our hatchery. The number of fish stocked changes from night to night depending on the number of people fishing the previous day.
Spring, 1954. I was 9, my younger brother, Ray, 6. A friend of the family took us down. We parked in the lot across the street from the old park office. Our 'guardian' pulled a tarp and a blanket out of his trunk and said, "good night", sleeping on the ground.
Ray and I ran around like we'd been released from prison! We'll never forget it. It's been almost 60 years since that first visit. The stream has changed tremendously: not all for the better in our opinion.
Ray was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. (He's okay now.) But the first thought I had was, "I'll never be able to go to Bennett if anything happens to him!"
Bennett is that special for us: a mystical place both past and present that binds us and restores our family.
We can't go out on the 'new' dam without seeing our Dad leaning on the wall, watching us fish. If we were really "onto them", he'd brag, "those are my boys." The stranger would ask, "what are they using?". "I don't know and they won't tell me!" he'd reply.
We have been and still are deeply grateful for Missouri maintaining this sacred, enchanted valley all these years. The memories of our lives and those of our ancestors are captured in the eternal waters cascading over the 'new dam'.
Till the next siren blows.