Friday, April 22, 2011

J.B.'s Deer Camp

by Kenneth Brown, Springfield, MO
The Ozark Uncle's 
Facebook friends have read his occasional postings about the project he calls "Deer Camp."  The project is little more than a small house on a vacant lot at the edge of the Wilson Creek flood plain barely one-hundred yards outside of the Springfield city limits.  But the Ozark Uncle and several of his family members see it as a chance for a temporary existence without TV, phones, or air conditioning, and a pot-bellied wood stove for heat in the winter.
J.B. & Magdalene (Neal) Collums
Hope, AR
The "Deer Camp" designation is in honor of the late J.B. Collums of Hope AR who passed away in April 2010 at the age of 81.  J.B. had a real deer camp in southwest Arkansas, although he befriended every buck and doe that wandered into his kingdom.  While the Ozark Uncle's skill set is so limited that he must hire everything done at his "Deer Camp", J.B. had been a welder and mechanic--he had his own tools and even his own bull dozer.  He did all the work himself at Deer Camp including putting a dam across the creek to create a lake.  He even engineered an efficient spillway and flood control valve for his dam.  J.B. Collums was married for 63 of his 81 years to Joy's cousin, Magdalene Neal Collums.  In the past decade, the Ozark Uncle and Joy got to know them and see that they were an almost perfect couple--supporting each other through thick and thin--always sensitive to the needs of the other.
Magdalene's skill set is unique too -- she got her college education in English at nearby Henderson (AR) State University, and has been a prolific writer and award-winning poet for the past almost forty years.  
A couple of weeks ago, the Ozark Uncle told Magdalene about his "Deer Camp" and he asked her if she could be moved to write a poem about J.B.'s "Deer Camp."  Her first response was one of hesitance but within 48 hours, she had produced this wonderful piece of verse.
Should you have asked him what it meant to him-
He would have answered, he would have told you
That it was piece of  him and peace in him,
A wonderful place
Where shadows were still
And oak trees hung low,
An 80-acre tract
On the banks of a lake,
His hands had made,
Where songs could be heard
From flocks of birds,
A magical place,
A sanctuary  that restored his equilibrium,
Soothed his soul and calmed his racing mind.
With J. B. gone almost a year -
Not just in November but all of the year,
We cherish the time we had with him
And wish we could do it all over again.

by Magdalene Collums, Hope AR
March 2011

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