Sun Perch On The Frio

My first trip to the Frio River will never be able to be retrieved from the depths of my psyche, being that I was only 1 year old. Yet it may have started even at that tender age. I was the youngest of 8 and can only image my older two brothers dangling a wiggly little orange perch in front of my wide eyes as my 5 older sisters jumped about to see my reaction. That would have been typical of my brother Joe and my sister Julie & Susan for sure. There was always some hush hush mischief going on behind mom & dad’s backs. My father adhered to the big bait-big fish theory. We used heavy salt water tackle with big redfish hooks and setting trout lines with that wonderful smelling blood bait was a must. I still love the smell of that stuff; it conjures up a flood of memories and feelings of times when just dad and I would go out at day break to bait the lines and retrieve the cats from the night before.

Serious Fishing

When I was young, Dad loved to hunt and fish. On weekends in the fall, when the redfish were running through the bays, he would frequently take me fishing at Christmas Bay, near Surfside. When he was old enough, my younger brother Joe usually came along. Sometimes Uncle Marion or Uncle Adam would meet us there, other times it was just Dad and the boys. Dad wasn’t one to do things halfway and fishing was no exception. We would usually load up the station wagon on Friday night and leave for Surfside before dawn on Saturday. Dad’s favorite spot to fish was on the last of three oyster bars that jutted out into the bay. I think he liked that one because it was the hardest to get to and the least likely to be visited by other humans. In those days, it wasn’t unusual for us to fish for two or three days and never see another person.

Unfortunately for us boys, you usually couldn’t drive the station wagon close to the first oyster bar, never mind the third. Dad would get as close as he could and pick a high spot of sand to camp on. There was a good reason for this; I can remember a few times when the high tide came in and we were high and dry, but surrounded by water. If the high spot Dad liked was overgrown with salt grass and brush, he would check the wind, light a match and burn us off a spot to camp on. It wasn’t unusual to see large rattlesnakes scurrying across the sand fleeing from the smoke and fire. After the fire was out, Dad would drive the station wagon up on the high spot and we would either pitch a tent or put up a tarp for shade.

Daddy

“Hi, Daddy, How are you doing?” I query.

” Okay, Sugar. Where’s Fred?” he replies. There he stands in his garden, hoe in hand, dressed in his old sleeveless undershirt and baggy khaki pants; he’s oblivious to the fact that one pant leg is rolled up, the other is down, and his tennis shoes don’t match.

“Fred’s in the house saying hello to Mom, but I’m sure he’ll be out in a minute to see how your garden is doing.” I comment. This seems to satisfy him and he goes on hoeing the garden.

I never know what to say to my father, but I make another stab at it. “The tomatoes are beautiful this year. Are you selling any?”

The Black Bear Road

When I was 5 years old, I was scheduled to go into the hospital to have my eye operated on. Before I went into the hospital, Dad and Uncle Marion decided to take me on a fishing trip to help get my mind off of the upcoming surgery. In his younger days, Dad was one of those guys that would fish darn near anywhere and Uncle Marion was even worse than Dad. The only places that they didn’t like to fish were where they might accidentally encounter another human being.

Uncle Marion had a secret fishing spot deep in the national forest just east of New Waverly. I seem to remember the lake was named Hoffstetter or something like that. It probably has a golf course and subdivision surrounding it by now, but in those days, it was pretty much free of human inhabitants. We started out in Uncle Marion’s pickup truck after Dad got off work on a Friday evening and reached the logging road that led to the lake right at dusk. We slowly made our way to the lake with lots of stops to remove fallen trees and to smooth out the ruts that were too deep for the truck. While we were traveling down the logging road, Dad and Uncle Marion had a long conversation about the black bears that inhabited the thick woods that we were traveling through. We were all kind of disappointed that we didn’t see any, but Uncle Marion assured us that there would be some hanging around the lake. By the time we reached the lake, it was after 10 pm and we were all tired. …

A Man’s Man

My Dad believed that women needed men to take care of them. I am not arguing with that. When I fell in love and wanted to get married at the tender age of 20, I was so worried that my parents would disapprove of the man I had chosen.

Fred, being 21 years older than me was not the only issue. The fact that he had 5 children, whom were all teenagers, worried me. I was afraid my parents would not approve. And, approval was very important to me.

What A Character!

Over my 50 some odd years on this earth, I’ve met a lot of people. Plain vanilla people are fine, but in my adult life, I’ve always been fascinated by people who are different, people who might be labeled as strange, weird, eccentric, or people that just plain march to a different drummer. We sometimes refer to these type of people as characters. My dictionary lists the following as one of the many definitions of character;

…a person of a specified kind (usually with many eccentricities); “a real character”

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