by Dale Grubaugh
I stand on Inspiration Point and watch the sunrise over Mutton Hollow. It is a breathtaking experience — one that reminds me there is so much about the Ozark Mountains worth preserving; so much worth celebrating. My story in the Ozark hills begins awhile back.
I was just a kid on a farm near Cuba, Missouri, when my grandma told me about a book — a book she and grandpa read to each other on their honeymoon. It was Harold Bell Wright’s The Shepherd of the Hills. In fact, my grandparents were so inspired by Wright’s book they moved their family from North Platte, Nebraska, to Christian County, Missouri, in 1939. I was 10 when I read the book myself. My love affair with these mountains — here in Shepherd of the Hills country — began.
A couple of years before my high school graduation, my uncle bought a resort on Tablerock Lake. On my first visit, it felt as though I'd come home. During college, I worked summers at Silver Dollar City. That was my first taste of Ozark “livin.’” And it was then I began to sense God's call to these Ozark hills.
I moved here permanently after graduation, working first as a summer missionary, then as a pastor of a young congregation on the south side of Tablerock Lake. I’ve lived here now for over 30 years, working, pastoring and raising my family. In the last three decades, there have been lots of changes here in Shepherd of the Hills country — some good, some not-so good.
In recent times, I’ve felt the Ozarks — the ones I knew and loved — were being lost in the mad rush of progress.
Worse, I felt helpless to stop that loss.
Then, a few months ago, I was introduced to a young man with a respect and love for these hills — a respect and love that seemed very similar to my own. His name is Joshua Heston. His mission is to preserve and celebrate our Ozark culture and heritage. In time, I offered to help. Joshua not only accepted my offer, but invited me to join him in this “celebration of preservation” here in these Ozark hills.
So, now I say to my grandma, my heavenly Father, and to Joshua Heston, Thank you.
Thank you for beginning, for stirring, and — now — for preserving our culture, this celebration.
It is to this end I write.
January 27, 2009
Plate 1. “Elias Tucker,” Dale Grubaugh.
Plate 4. Moon Plantin’
from the Editor:
Dale Grubaugh, writing as “Elias Tucker from The Holler” is a valued contributor to State of the Ozarks. He is a man who loves his Ozark culture deeply.
As a Southern Baptist preacher and pastor, Dale has dedicated his life to the people of these hills.
Also, he has worked hard in many facets of the Branson show industry. And he has lived the Ozarks, fishing, hunting, appreciating the wilds that are so close — but so closely forgotten.
So, with that, say Howdy to “Elias Tucker!” And Dale, it’s an honor to have you a part of State of the Ozarks.
— Joshua Heston
Plate 6.Christmas, City-Style