I am now editing away on “Notes About Growing Up”. Here is another tale about the weather here in Texas. And also a catfish and making a good impression on someone.
One warm day when I was a senior in high school me and the Grantham brothers, who I played football and drank beer with, decided to go up to Red River and fish. Well that was only part of the story since we also wanted to drink a lot of beer too. We piled in my car, toting our fishing gear and drove to Lindsay and bought a ton of beer. With our brew safely packed in an ice chest with a ton of ice since it was hot we cruised up the Farm To Market roads which turned into dirt roads to the Horseshoe Bend area north of Calisburg and set up on a cliff about 25 feet above the water. We then opened the beer – Michelob and its funny tapered bottles for me – and cans of beer for the brothers, the type they liked I do not recall. We preceded like most high school boys to quaff, cuss, and actually try to catch a fish.
After a bit I got a bite but I could not get the fish over some obstacle down below. I went up to the edge and tried different things to no avail and then the real fun of the day began albeit shrouded in our intoxicated states.
Like Wile E. Coyote on the Roadrunner cartoons the ledge gave way and I dropped. I lost hold of the fishing pole but I grabbed onto a root sticking out of the side of the cliff and dangled there above the dark red water not knowing if some rusted, jagged old refrigerator rested below dumped there by some other drunken nabob. I screamed for the brothers to help me and they stumbled towards me with haste. Then just like on the cartoon the root gave way and I dropped like Wile E. to the water below.
But no old piece of metal or a jagged piece of rock was there, I landed on a flat sheet of sandstone safe and unhurt. My fishing pole was a few feet away and I picked it up and reeled in my catch – I nice catfish in fact. The brothers did not catch a thing but I did, obviously in a unique manner. So I walked down the water’s edge a bit to a place where the cliff sloped down and petered out and walked back to Gary and John who were quite amazed I was OK. Safe and sound I was but our next trial and tribulation was at hand.
After emulating Wile E. Coyote I am sure I guzzled another beer to gather myself back together but then I noticed something off to the southwest in the now ebbing light nearing sundown. There was a BIG thunderhead coming our way. Having camped out down in the river bottom I knew we could get stuck in the sand and mud if we remained for the soon to arrive torrential rains. We piled everything in the car and started home. We left the dirt roads and got onto the paved Farm To Market Road and the darkness covered us, a cloud had come up and it was here. The old folks used to describe a big, angry meso as a “cloud” and for sure this was one dark, menacing cloud with a large anvil spreading out for miles. And angry it was because the bottom fell out and we could hardly see the road. We went slowly but then the hail core went over us and my car was getting pulverized by the large icy stones from above. We thought we were doomed and in our still buzzed state thought we would be sucked up into a tornado and killed, our parents finding our crushed bodies in my wrecked Chavelle Malibu surrounded by empty beer bottles & cans and half-empty bags of chips. But no, we were greeted with a sign of salvation of sorts in the dark: up ahead was a house surrounded by large trees with its lights on. I angled off the side of the road to get under one and hopefully to safety and got stuck up to my axles in mud. And the car kept getting pelted with hail of course as we sat there stunned. Plus we could see the folks in the house peering out at us no doubt wondering what the Hell we were doing in their yard in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. But finally the rain and hail stopped and we walked up to the door of the wood frame house and knocked on the front door now fearing the wrath of whoever owned the house.
The door opened and there was an older man and his wife. I explained that we had been down at the river fishing and were rushing home when the bottom fell out. I added I was trying to reach the comparative safety of his trees to shield my car. And asked if I could use his phone to call my parents, no doubt fearing the lightning bolts of their wrath too. He allowed this small act of kindness and I called home.
Mom and Dad got a wrecker sent out and they pulled my car out, undammed somehow except for lots of hail dents, and we headed home. Before we left I told the man that I would come back on Saturday to fill in the huge ruts my car had left in his yard. And that I did. That next Saturday when I was working in the oilfield with Paul we went to a lease near the man’s house and filled up the back of the pump truck with sand. We drove to the house and I filled up the ruts in the yard and smoothed them over while Paul watched, he was pretty amused by all of this of course. The man who owned the house was very pleased with this act of contrition and for years told my Dad how much he appreciated the fact that I had actually fulfilled my promise and came back unlike what many other teens would have done.
That was one unusual series of events but I did get the catfish too which Mom baked and I happily devoured. So in the end I got the fish, we did not get hurt or sucked into a twister like Dorothy, and I made a good impression on a man who was expecting me to be a run of the mill, uncaring smart assed punk. So this goes to show that you never know what you might reel in when you go fishing and a cloud comes up.