The Dreaded Visit to Hagerman’s Wildlife Refuge

Ever have to do something with your elders that you hated as a kid and later came to appreciate and even enjoy doing the same thing when grown? This will be in the next book, “Notes About Growing Up And Kin”.

When I was little one of the most dreaded things we did was take my grandmother Turner, Leta Bell, to the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge on Lake Texoma, followed by a trip to McGehee’s catfish house in Oklahoma. Bird watching and eating catfish were two things very low on my list of things to do as a kid. But Leta Bell loved them both so dad loaded us in the car from time to time to indulge her.

Hagerman’s is on the shore of Lake Texoma and is filled with birds of varying types. Leta was big into bird watching so she had many species of birds to observe as we drove through the place and watched the birds come and go. Or we just sat still if nothing was moving. Being bored out of my mind on such trips I always brought a book or some Mad magazines to read. I recall bursting out in laughter once reading the satire of the movie “Little Big Man” in Mad. Everyone asked what was so funny so I held up the page with some Indian chief eating a huge cheeseburger. Leta commented dryly that even Indians ate burgers too. Indeed they did I realized. And back to the birds we went and me back to reading Spy vs. Spy on the next pages.

After enduring flocks of cranes and other fowl we would head back west and north crossing the Red River into Oklahoma to go to McGehees’s to eat catfish which Leta, plus mom and dad, enjoyed. I liked the hush puppies the best as most kids do even though I ate the fish too. As I grew up I loved to eat catfish and just about any other type of aquatic protein. And that is the ultimate point in the end to digest.

As a picky little kid I was bored and could not wait to get home after eating catfish and watching birds. Watching the boring birds was the worse torture to endure – at least the hushpuppies were some consolation, eh?. But as I got older my tastes changed and I loved catfish and could even appreciate seeing birds especially when I was out with my daughter when she was little. What was once a dreadful thing to endure was now something to relish and look forward to. So if you are young do not despise and dread the things your elders do for fun since one day soon enough you may be doing those same things too!

Author’s note. McGehee’s still exists near Marrietta, Oklahoma. And Hagerman’s is still there full of birds too…..


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