When I was about 9 years old, my family moved to the outer edge of Alexandria, Louisiana. The area was unique in that it was built just before the sub-division era, yet the area was not a part of the old town either. Luckily, for me and my older brother Chuck, there was a nice sized lake just behind our house. All we had to do was cut through the neighbor’s backyard, cross one street, go through another neighbor’s yard and bingo, we were at the lake.
When we moved into our new home, dad forbid us to go to the lake. We were sternly told, if we were caught at the lake, we would be dealt a serious whipping. Keep in mind, this was in the day of liberal use of a belt or other disciplinarian instruments. Being typical boys, we couldn’t wait for Dad to go to work so we could check out our new digs at the lake.
From the moment we laid eyes on her clear water and huge bass cruising the shorelines, we were hooked. I lost count of the “ass-whippings” we received as a result of our hard headed defiance. Our love for the lake and fishing was so powerful we could not pull ourselves away, even knowing a serious whipping was a certainty.
Most days, we would fish with the best intentions of being home before dooms hour, that being Dad’s punctual arrival home at 5:30. By 5:00 our casting became frantic….”gotta catch one more bass.” At 5:30 sharp, Dads whistle rang through the air with the dread of an air-raid siren. I would look at Chuck, he would look at me, and we both would say, “Oh crap.” We quickly gathered our gear and headed home with much trepidation.
Each time, we took our licks like men, knowing full well, tomorrow we would go back. Dad should have seen the light. Hell, there was a clear path beaten through the yards heading off toward the lake.
I can’t remember exactly when dad surrendered. I think we were about thirteen or fourteen. After one particularly serious “ass-whooping,” I stood tall before my dad and said, “You might as well give us permission to go because we are going anyway.” By then it was obvious I could take the best of what he could dish out and would gladly do so for a good fishing trip….He finally saw the light. He had two incurable anglers for sons ….he relented.
From that day on we fished without worry. We even managed to persuade him to let us night fish and frog hunt on the lake. He quickly became keen on the frog legs as well as an abundant supply of large bream and bass fillets.
We “generally” respected his request to be home before dark. We weren’t disobedient children, we simply could not help ourselves. We had to fish….it was in our blood and some sixty some odd years later, it still is.
I’ll see you on the water Chuck….I love you brother!