Wolf Pen Gap? Yes, one would think that there must be a very interesting story about such a place, and I suppose there is. For what I know about the area is that an early settler in the 1830s built some wolf traps in a holler (hollow) not far from a trail through a particularly mountainous part of the Ozarks about 10 miles northwest of Roaring River, Missouri, which was founded in 1832. The trail came to be known as the Ridge Road, and around a ten mile long segment of Missouri Highway 86 now follows it.
As a side note, the town of Roaring River was later renamed Eagle Rock, when it was moved farther downstream from the huge spring at the mouth of Roaring River in order to avert being flooded out during times of above average rainfall in the area. Considering the fact that the new site was located on top of a bluff overlooking the river, it is not hard to imagine how they came up with the new name, especially since bald eagles can still be seen around there.
Be assured that I am not talking about a trap for coyotes and/or wild dogs. For there really were timber wolves in the area back then, along with black bears, black panthers, mountain lions, lynx, bobcats, wildcats, elk, wild turkey and several types of deer, and all but the wolves, elk, and some of the types of deer still remain to a certain extent.
Yes, I am being serious about there still being some mountain lions, black panthers and black bears in parts of southern Barry County, Missouri. For what I have not personally encountered myself, my brother has.
One of those personal encounters of mine is even worth expounding upon (in my humble opinion, of course). For it involves coming face to face with a black bear when I was checking out an old holler tree that was still standing tall while squirrel hunting not far from the house. Now, the tree had to have been at least 5 feet in diameter, and when I started to circle around it, there was a bear about as tall as I was (around 6 feet) on the other side. I know this because our eyes met when the bear stood up.
Evidently, the bear was as shocked to see me as I was to see it. For we both took off in opposite directions almost immediately after our eyes met, but wait—there’s more! For after I had ran like I had never ran before for about 50 feet, I stopped and looked back to see that the bear had also stopped after going about the same distance and was looking back at me. It finally turned and ambled off down the hill, and I went back to the house, with my heart still stuck in my throat.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I was armed, but I figured that the .22 rifle I was carrying would have only succeeded in making him madder. So, instead of making fun of me, you should be marveling at what wisdom I displayed in the face of great possible danger!
Another noteworthy encounter with the more exotic wildlife of the area that I had around that time was not so close at hand, but it was every bit as intense. Well, at least it was to me. For it happened when I had to take a whiz really bad while riding with my mom on a trip to Cassville. Since it was after the sun had gone down, I was finally able to convince her to pull over on to the side of the road. I had to go so bad that I did not even take the time to close the door behind me before letting it rip, and then I heard a mountain lion cut-loose somewhere off in the distance.
Of course, if you have ever heard one, you can probably understand why the cab of my mom's pick-up truck had to be cleaned afterward—regardless of how far away that big cat may have been. For it sounds like a woman screaming, and I was not about to wait until I had finished my business before jumping through that open door and locking it securely behind me!
Now, where we lived at the time was not all that close to the Wolf Pen Gap area. For we were probably around 2-3 miles to the southeast, but a couple of very significant things (at least to me) are directly associated with it. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to distinguish it from the rest of the story to living in the Eagle Rock area.
The first thing involves no physical trauma, but in regards to the psychological side of things, it was worse on me than the great bike wreck. For I still bear the scars of finding out that my dad had been married when he had entered into the Army during World War II, and that he had also left behind a daughter when he was sent overseas.
No, it was not that he was leading some sort of a double life. For he had been estranged from his daughter for a long, long time.
Neither was it that he had failed to return to his former family after his time in the military was over. For his wife had left him while he was still overseas. In fact, he even received a Dear Fred letter, and all of his efforts at reconciliation had been rebuffed.
It was, however, the thought of Terry and me having a half-sister in Kansas that was at the heart of my psychological trauma. For I was of the opinion that this is something that parents should not hide from their children—regardless of the circumstances involved.
Oh, but I did not know the half of it yet. For after I kept asking if our half-sister looked anything like me or Terry, I was finally informed that she did not. When I asked why not, I was informed that we had been adopted.
Perhaps it was an overreaction, but the image I had of myself turned to dust the moment I learned that I had been adopted. For I could no longer think of myself as being half Dutch and Danish from my dad, and half Cherokee and Irish from my mom, and for the first time, I started to question just who I really was.
No, it did not have to go that far. For if my parents had of had some answers to my questions about who my biological parents were, along with the circumstances involved, the news of my adoption would not have been so devastating to me, but all of my questions were left unanswered.
Making it even worse was their reaction to my questions. For they took them as being a personal affront, and they became very angry with me for not acting like it was no big deal.
Yes, their anger would have been most definitely justified if I had of been disrespectful, but I would not have dared at that time. For I was afraid of my parents, and it was simply on account of asking too many questions after I had been told to shut up about it that I got into so much trouble.
Yes, I am quite sure that a very great many would still be of the opinion that my parents were justified in their reaction to what they would consider my overreaction. For gaining knowledge about their ancestry is not high on their list of priorities.
Nonetheless, I was (and still am) a very serious student of history, and I would spend hours fantasizing about who was in my family tree, and what part they may have played in the shaping of the times and places they lived in. I mean, were any of them Vikings? How about great warriors or explorers of any kind? Poets, preachers, princes, or paupers? The list appeared endless, but like dust in the wind, all of that was now blown away.
Well, at least in regards to the established starting points, it had. For I would have to start all over with my fantasies, which was really not such a bad thing, I suppose. In fact, I had a strange feeling that there was actually a lot of Hebrew blood running through my veins, and I found that to be most intriguing.
Of course, I now understand that it really doesn’t matter either way. For we are all the work of our Heavenly Father’s hand, and any thought of being more special in His eyes because of a specific bloodline is pure folly.
Now, Terry was most definitely a different story. For I do not remember him having any reaction to the news of his adoption at all, and years later, I found out that where he actually came from really didn’t matter to him.
No, I do not remember just how it came up. Neither do I remember just exactly when my little world came to an end. Since I was riding with my mom, heading south on the Ridge Road through the Wolf Pen Gap area coming from Cassville toward our home, it may have been in the fall of 1970, which would have made me almost 13 and Terry almost 8.
The other incident associated with the Wolf Pen Gap area involved a dream I had about a Tyson Foods semi-truck (a tractor-trailer rig with 18 wheels) pulling a refrigerated trailer headed south on the Ridge Road. To be quite honest about it, I am not sure if what I had was a dream or a vision. For it was as if I was watching the truck as it started down a particularly steep portion of the road. The driver geared-down and applied the brakes, but for some reason, he had no brakes to apply! So, he tried riding it out by driving the rig into the ditch next to the cliff-face on the northbound side of the road, but he hit a whistle (a galvanized water drainage culvert), which caused the whole rig to flip completely over the road and then roll over several times before coming to a rest about 100 feet down the side of the mountain.
A couple of days later, I think, my mom was heading south on the Ridge Road when she heard someone calling for help. When she stopped to investigate, she saw the wreckage of a Tyson Foods semi-truck about 100 feet below her.
Believe it or not, it was the driver of the rig who was calling for help, and despite driving down the road with her windows rolled up, my mom had heard him. After he called out again, my mom told him to not go anywhere (like he could while being trapped in the wreckage) as she went for help.
By the time she arrived at home, my mom was babbling quite incoherently. In fact, I was told that my dad had to give her a good shake in order to calm her down enough to find out what was going on. It took a few minutes, but she was able to eventually call the Barry County Sheriff’s Office in Cassville. For there was no 9-1-1 service in the area back then, and after several hours of work, the driver was finally freed from the coffin that had been the cab of his truck.
Several members of the Missouri Highway Patrol were also dispatched to the scene, and they started their investigation almost immediately upon arrival. Nothing appeared to make sense to anyone at first, and the driver was of no help at the time. For he was drifting in and out of consciousness, and he was quickly whisked away to the Southern Barry County Hospital in Cassville, with some very serious injuries. He was later transferred to a hospital in Springdale, Arkansas, which is where Tyson Foods is headquartered, as well as where he and his family lived.
After coming home from school that day, my parents told me about the wreck. I then told them about my dream, and after his condition had improved some, the driver was able to give his statement about what had happened. Lo and behold, his account matched what I had seen in my dream exactly, and chills raced up and down my spine when I was told what he had said. Furthermore, the official accident report issued by the Missouri Highway Patrol confirmed that what I had dreamed was what really happened.
Over the years, I have had many other very real dreams. Those will have to wait to be told about later, however.
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