Sale barn a great place to spend time

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Back in my youth, there was a set of stock pens along the railroad tracks south of the ice plant at Thayer.

The railroad held stock there for rest, feed and water on the way to market.

Horse traders also sold and traded horses out of those pens.

I remember my friend Jimmy's Grandpa Peck buying a mustang horse for Jimmy to ride at those pens.

Herman Cash told me that when he was a lad, traders came through on horseback and stopped to trade with the locals at those pens.

At that time, the Beatty Bros. Auction barn was located near where the Wal-Mart in Thayer sits today.

A new auction facility was constructed by Homer Crews, Everett Ross and Arden Risner in 1945 or 1946, at the end of Monroe Street.

Later, Jess Garrison took over the operation of the Thayer facility.

About 1950, the Reese brothers (Jimmy and Cotton) built a livestock auction barn at Mammoth Spring on the south side of the road, near the dam.

The West Plains Cattle Auction was owned by the city (at the spot where the Civic Center is now located) and was ran by the Farrar's (Frank and Jack).

West Plains held its auction on Monday, while Thayer's auction was on Wednesday and the Mammoth Spring sale was on Saturday of each week.

At one time, Mr. Dethrow had an auction facility at Alton.

None of those auctions exist today, however the Hoovers now operate a large regional facility north of West Plains.

At any rate, I was a big lad before I learned that the New York Stock Exchange had nothing to do with livestock.

The sale barn was a great place to spend time.

It was interesting to watch the traders outside the pens try to buy stock as they arrived in the back of pickups and wooden-stake body trucks.

They would then re-sell them at the auction hoping to make a profit.

It was a challenge to try to catch on to the subtle nuances of the sellers and buyers as the auctioneer sold the animals in a swift exchange as they went through the ring.

A host of dealers made a living buying and selling at the auctions and at certain times of the year, the sales lasted until late into the night.

Some big-time traders made the rounds buying up horses or cattle to take to other parts of the country.

Paul Hoover from West Plains bought a lot of stock. Mr. Ray Lum of Texas (originally from Vicksburg, Miss.,) and Doc. Ben K. Green in Texas were legendary traders. Odie Owen at the Joplin Stockyards also took advantage of the horse and mule market as tractors replaced horses.

They bought horses and mules at a discount in parts of the country that were mechanizing and took them to sell in places that still relied heavily on horses.

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