Marion Co TOC
Graphics by Rhio
Legend of "Bucket Joe"
Submitted by: Shane & Sandra Rice (Shaneyrice@wmconnect.com)
When you navigate the waters of the mighty buffalo;
Joseph Daniel Rice was born in Yellville, AR and if you described him in one word it would have to be a "Dreamer".
He was always searching for the "Confederate Gold" that was hidden somewhere on White River. He believed of an image of a " Turtle" found carved in a tree its head pointed the way to the next sign and the next until it lead to the Gold. He also told of a "crazy man" who carried a butcher knife in a bucket that wandered the Ozarks around the turn of the last century.
Joe didn't like school, I think he was bored with it, so at the age of 17 he joined the U.S. Army. Right out of "Boot Camp" he was "shipped out" to Korea. He earned one of only twenty medals awarded for stamina and endurance for doing 72 hour long drills.
Upon his return from his tour in Korea he never was quite the same. He spent most of his time exploring the wilderness of the lower Buffalo River. He kept to his self mostly because when he did interact with people his ideas usually found him at "odds" with them, to put it mildly. When someone crossed him he was very likely to punch him in the nose. Joe was always quick to take the side of the "underdog" and got the reputation of being a "brawler" and suffered many broken bones and consequently time in jail. He would give you anything he had and never worried about saving for a rainy day.
I learned most of what I know about the river from "Bucket Joe" and there was always a good possibility "if he wanted you to" you might see him on the river I noticed that he always carried an old galvanized rusty bucket with him. He kept the bucket full of various things that you might need if you were to get caught out after dark in the wilderness. An old tarp, a piece of pine knot, a knife, and an old 44-magnum revolver Thus came the handle "Bucket Joe".
Joe loved Buffalo River and always treated her with the utmost respect. He knew every shoal and was even able to navigate it in the dark His ancestors, the Smiths and the Wootons, once owned farms near the mouth of Big Creek .His great aunt "Viney Isom" made moonshine when she lived on the Buffalo. Joe and I found the "worm" from a "still" we figured was hers in a hidden holler Joe called "The Wish Bone" a few years ago.
So when you float the Buffalo River keep an eye out for you just never know when you might get lucky and meet "Bucket Joe"