Archive for June, 2009

Squirrel Hunting

Thursday, June 18th, 2009



            Roy Edward, my childhood friend, got a new rifle.  A brand new lever action, Winchester 22 caliber that looked the world like my uncle’s 30-30 deer rifle.  He cut a handsome figure carrying that gun, looking a lot like John Wayne.  He even developed a swagger and walk like the Duke.  I carried my dad’s old Remington pump 22 caliber.  I must admit to a little jealousy.  However my old gun worked well, and was accurate.

           With all that firepower now in our control, we decided it was time for a squirrel hunt.  Saturday morning found us walking through old man Wingren’s pasture, over Long Mountain and down into Morgan Creek with all its pecan bottomland.  There, under those towering trees, we just knew there would be a world of squirrels.  We hunted, as best two 14 year olds knew how, until noon without even seeing our quarry.  I think our casual stomping up the creek may have warned the world of our coming.  We sat, leaning against a tree trunk in the thick leaves on the ground, disappointed and hungry.  As we sat there quietly, a squirrel peeked around a limb, high in the tree.  Roy Edward eased his gun to his shoulder, took careful, aim and shot him.  His first victory with his new gun.   We were both ecstatic.  We quickly dressed the squirrel, built a fire, fastened him on a green stick, and begin cooking our lunch.  We cooked and cooked for at least 10 minutes.  The flesh began to change color, especially after being dropped intro the ashes a couple of times.  We decided our feast was ready.  Roy offered me the first bite.  I demurred.  He bravely took a tiny bite.  He quickly passed the lunch to me.  With the first bite I realized that a meal cooked without salt and pepper, and such a short time, takes a stronger hunter than me.  It was not the tastiest dish to set before the king, and was hardly like our Mother’s Sunday chicken.

           Next Saturday found us at the city dump shooting cans and bottles we lined up against a old log.  There was no shortage of targets.  We didn’t have to field dress them, or try to have them for dinner.  And we could shoot till our hearts content, and be home in time to enjoy Mom’s fried chicken.

           I don’t know where Dad’s old Remington gun is today.  I know I never killed a squirrel with it.  I do know that was the last time Roy Edward and I went squirrel hunting.  As we said, “Busting bottles, and bouncing tin cans was more fun.”   








June Vacations

Monday, June 8th, 2009


            I guess June is our favorite month of the year.  Vacations for one thing.  A whole week to do whatever we want to do; sleep late, drive to some far and distant place just to get sunburned, work in the garden, and celebrate the end of the school year.  Kids especially enjoy June. The kids are drawn like a magnet to the pools, and lakes around the area.  They can’t seem to get enough of splashing, swishing, laughing, pushing and swimming in whatever water they can find.

            I looked up the reason we call this the month of June.  It is named for the Roman goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter.  I guess that is about as good a reason and any we might come up with.  June is also the favorite month for weddings.  Wedding bells ring out all across the area. Think of all the rice and confetti that is wasted this time of the year.  June the 6th is the anniversary of D-Day, when the Allied forces landed on the Normandy beaches to finish of the horror of World War II.  And June 21 marks the summer solstice, the beginning of summer.

            But vacations are the main activity of June.  I remember one vacation our family took all too well.  I rented a small camper to pull behind the family car and we headed for the beach.  The kids were ecstatic, I looked forward to the few days from the daily grind and Alice steeled herself to cooking in that little camper.  We swam in the salty water, dodged jellyfish, and picked buckets of pretty seashells.  Alice did a marvelous job of cooking and enjoyed wading in the edge of the ocean.  The kids and me were all covered with salt and sand, and sunburn.  The salt and sand we washed off easily, but the sunburn stayed.  I felt I was encased in a wool blanket that itched and scratched my tired body.  I asked Alice to drive us home.  She demurred.  I insisted, explaining my physical bodies plight.  She relented.  I explained the ways of driving with a camper hooked to the back of the car.  I retired to the camper.  I removed all my clothes except my shorts and went to bed.  Alice drove north towards home, gritting her teeth all the way.  Somewhere along the road we came to a small town with signal lights.  By now I have merciful gone into a troubled sleep.  A signal light flashed red and Alice slammed the brakes, coming to a sudden stop.  All the cooking pans in the camper were thrown to the floor with an enormous clatter and crash.  I awoke from my troubled sleep, fearing Alice had hit something expensive.  I leaped from the bed and out the door to see the wreck.  At that time the light changed to green and Alice sped quickly away.  Now here I am, standing in the middle of the street with nothing on but shorts and sunburn.  I gave chase and would have caught the runaway camper if the police had not caught me first.  He was kind and took me in the squad car and stopped Alice miles down the road.  She was surprised to see me sitting, nearly naked, in the police car.  I think she blushed as red as my sunburn.

            We did make it home.  The kids were exhausted, but happy to have splashed in most of the water at the coast.  My sunburn healed, but the memory of that vacation lingers on and on. 



Summer Swimming

Monday, June 1st, 2009


Summer Swimming



            What beautiful weather we have been having these last few weeks.  Summer is on its way.  When we were kids we started testing the temperature of the water in our swimming holes sometime in March.  The grass was greening, and wild plum tree buds were swelling, surely the cold had drained from the pool.   Still cold?  Hoo boy, you bet.  Even April, with the bluebonnet’s flowering, showed little improvement in the feel of the water.  Some of the bigger boys, to show their bravery, would jump in.  We noted they just as quickly jumped out and hurriedly dressed.  The Merry Month of May came with the glory of spring and the water began feeling less painful.  But marvelous June soon came and we knew our time had arrived.  The rest of the summer our address was Old Man Wengren’s stock tank. 


   Now when I say swimming holes I didn’t mean swimming pools.  We did not even know what a swimming pool was.  A place to swim was usually a stock tank up in someone’s pasture. Our favorite was Mr. Wengren’s.  It was hidden away from any road by live oak, and cedar trees and other brush.  That allowed us to swim the way young boys were meant to swim, in the buff.  The stock tank covered at least half of an acre and was plenty deep.  The dam holding the water back was tall, grassy and plenty broad for us to get a running start to jump in with a big splash.  We kept one kid on ‘look-out’ for Mr. Wengren, for he would sometimes come chase us out.  When the look-out saw him coming we would grab our clothes and scatter like rabbits into the trees and brush.  I think that added to the adventure of the swim; forbidden fruit.  And I think he may have gotten a kick from watching us run in all directions.


            But the water was not as you might expect.  It was a light creamy tan tank of water, somewhat the color of fresh milk from Mother’s cow.  You could not see into the water at all.  And some times the smell was not all that good either, but it was water and we could swim in it.  I have seen stock tanks in other areas that were reddish, and stock tanks that were grayish.  But our swimming tanks were all a beautiful creamy tan, with a muddy bottom, and we liked it that way.  We had heard of pools in the big cities where the bottoms were cement and the water crystal clear.  I’m not sure we even believed those stories.


            Well we all grew up and went our ways, chasing our various fortunes.  Some of us found them, some of us didn’t.  I fear most of us found the cement pools with clear water really did exist.  To bad.  However, this summer, as I am driving around and I find a stock tank just the right color, with a muddy bottom, I might just stop, crawl over the fence, and take myself a real swim.

Hard Way to Fix Supper

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Weather is a topic of conversation we all enjoy. “Sure hot for this time of the year isn’t it? I think this is the coldest spell we have had all winter. My, it is getting dry. Will it ever quit raining?” are a few of the things of weather we discuss. Of course there are the subjects of high winds, black clouds, snow and sleet storms. But the most feared weather happening is the hailstorm. They come unexpected, quickly, and often very destructive.

Back in the ‘30s Mom and Dad had a little farm up the North San Gabriel. It was on a high, dry ridge in the open country of that part of Central Texas. The land was thin, and sparsely wooded with a few fields Dad planted in oats, corn and cotton. Mom took care of the house, milk cow, chickens and a flock of turkeys. The house, cow, and chickens were an easy task to take care of. The turkeys had to be watched for they had a tendency of wandering off and had to be driven home each night and be penned to protect them from coons and coyotes. And the hens had the habit of hiding their nests in the brush and along the creek banks. She followed them, stole their eggs and brought them home to place under setting hens to hatch. Soon she had a flock of about 40 frying sized turkeys about ready to market. These added turkeys took most of Mom’s days. Just keeping up with the young turkeys and driving them to pen each night became a task.

Spring came early and wet that year. The weather at nights was still cool, but the days were hot and turbulent. This was a perfect condition for breeding severe weather. In the middle of one sultry evening and angry black cloud built up in the north west and rumbled and roared. Soon, with lighting and thunder the cloud swooped down and raced across the pasture bringing a killing hailstorm. Mom raced across the pasture and fields, making it to the house and safety. In it’s fury the hailstorm stripped the trees, beat down the crops, and killed all the turkeys. The storm left as quickly as it had come, leaving a strip of destruction across the land in its wake.

Mom and Dad were devastated. Looking across the fields of beat down crops, and killed turkeys, all seemed to be lost. However Dad’s Pollyanna nature soon found one small bright ray of light in the bleak picture. Dad loved gizzards and livers, but seemed to never get enough. Dad called some of the neighbors and invited them to a feast for dinner. They came, helped butcher the young birds, and fried a mound of gizzards and livers. Dad ate all he wanted. And he never ate another gizzard or liver the rest of his life.

Now, when I see a black cloud in the northwest, thundering and lighting or hear a turkey gobble I think of Dad and Mom and the night they ate all the gizzards and livers they wanted for a lifetime.