Shadowed figures stood along the banks waiting for the gunshot signal to begin fishing. The flag on the pole at the historic Civilian Conservation Corps lodge hung straight down,signaling minimal wind and generally pleasant conditions for the big event.
Betty Bruner Layton, who turns 89 in a few weeks, fired the opening gun next to Jerry Dean, hatchery manager, for the ceremonial opening of fishing season at the park. Fishermen immediately began casting lines and pulling in fish.
For Layton, the occasion revived sweet memories. Her grandfather, Roland E. Bruner, had established the hatchery 100 years ago, and her father, Roland E. Bruner Jr., returned from World War I to help run the pioneering recreational resort.
Layton, who now lives in Leawood, Kan., lived on the grounds of what is now the park until 1927. She recalled there was nothing in the early years like the big gathering that opens trout season now. Around a dozen people at a time made a crowd in the early years, Layton recalled. On Sundays, more residents dropped into the family's restaurant for trout and watercress salad.
"You had to be a real fan to come in those days," Layton said. "The roads were so bad."
According to John Dow, Layton's son-in-law, Roland Bruner Sr. originally stocked the hatchery with trout brought to Monett by train, possibly from Colorado and probably on ice. It took numerous trout hauling trips to Monett in Bruner's Model T truck before the first fish made it to Roaring River alive, Dow said.
Layton recalled the only way into the Roaring River valley was from the north at the time. Layton told Dow her father had to back up the hills, which Dow deduced was due to the gas tank being behind the driver's seat in the Model T, and gasoline was gravity fed to the motor.
The opportunity to honor the Bruner family grew out of a visit made by Dow to the park four years ago during a business trip to Monett. Dow told a park official his family had owned the facility and subsequently struck up a relationship and correspondence.
Layton, who has extensive family archives, has unearthed numerous photos of the early days at Roaring River. She presented two panoramic scenes to park officials during a formal ceremony on Sunday at the park lodge.
Layton's 5-year-old great-great-grandson, Clayce Roland Dow, along with his dad, got the #4 and #5e fishing tags for the day.
For the fishermen on the banks of Roaring River, the centennial celebration of the hatchery was just another day to enjoy the park.
Terry Anderson, of Monett, was back for his 33rd opening day. When asked about his best memories of Opening Day, Anderson said, "I've watched a fight on the opposite bank, been hooked in the eye by a fly rod and caught a lot of fish."
Diane Klein, of Monett, had been convinced to fish for the first time on Opening Day with her co-worker, Roie Hudson, of Cassville. Klein said she was having "an excellent time."
"There's no such thing as a bad day fishing," Hudson added.
At the gunshot, the count of tags sold had reached 1,431 for adults and 273 for children. The count was 306 smaller than the same time for the last Monday opening in 2004, and 130 less than last year's gunshot count on a Sunday.
PHOTOS OF OPENING DAY AT ROARING RIVER APPEAR ON THE PHOTO GALLERY