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Stories that will make you laugh and cry- from Uncle George- an old hippie

Fishing for fun and relaxation, gardening, New Orleans Jazz Fest and the Kentucky Derby

 If you like this story about fishing, then you should also read the sample chapter about fishing in my novel Blue Bayou Days, the Summer of 61.

April has been fun rewarding and disappointing. The very best thing about the month is that Heather, my daughter, 9-month old- grandbaby Keyda moved in with Angie, Aaron, and me out in the country in the woods near West Monroe Louisiana. Heather is now working for Whitlow Enterprises and we needed the help.


Since Angie and my new bedroom is across the long house where the garage once was, we get the liberty of not hearing the baby cry for her bottle at 5 AM every day. I get to hold my grandbaby and laugh with her and avoid most of the stress. The best is I get to be around my baby Heather and she has no ideal how much I love being around her through thick and thin.


Well after about 6 months of waiting on the welder to finish modifying the deck, we finally got our new old homemade aluminum bateau boat in the water. The Silver Fox is about 27 feet long and has a 95 horse power Johnson motor and I think she should go about 60 miles an hour. The first time Angie and I went out alone in Cheney Lake about 4 miles from our house. This was the very first time we had the Silver Fox in the water.


As my luck would go, although we had plenty of gas and charged up the batteries, the motor would not fire or start up. I had it in the shop a couple of weeks ago for a complete checkup and they said she was just fine. But on the water on Cheney Lake she would not start. Luckily the large trolling motor worked and we fished a couple of hours under the flooded cypress tree limbs for white perch, crappie, or as the Cajuns call them Saco let.   But they were not biting our shiners or minnows, I guess it was the abundance of fresh water from the abundance of rain we have been having.


When we finished fishing, we took the Silver Fox back to the mechanic who informed me that I needed to loosen the pressurized fuel cap valve on the gas tank and the motor would start. I guess modern water sport technology has left me behind. It will take more time to figure out how to use this new fangled depth finder and fish finder. Thank the good lord for GPS. I have been lost overnight on more than one lake. The mosquitoes ate me alive and the alligator’s scared heck out of me. I do love the simple life with GPS to get me there and back.


So the next morning we returned to Cheney Lake and used the motor, but Angie would not let me go past about 4 miles per hour. The fish as usual were still not biting. As we were strolling back to the boat dock, we noticed several fish jumping and feeding on the small creek over on the opposite side of the highway bridge.  By now Angie was driving the boat and I asked her to go under the bridge because I had spotted the fish jumping over there.


Angie mumbled something about what appeared to be barricades under the bridge. I looked at them and said go around them to the right. I was watching a cotton mouth moccasin swim from the barricades in the middle over to the bank on the right and was not concentrating on where we were going. There was a dark shadow under the bridge and I had on my traditional Hank Williams Jr. dark sunglasses.  Angie kept trying to tell me that something looked “wrong;” “the water just did not look right at all.” All of a sudden it appeared that the water was there for one view and then just simply disappeared. I was wondering just where in the hell it went. We were on the edge of a dam spillway and there was a 30 foot waterfall and a drop-off- just like that. I yelled at Angie to turn the boat off. She immediately threw the boat into reverse, saving us from descending from the little “Niagara Falls.”  She surely saved our lives. Who would a thunk it- someone stole the water. Now that my fiends was a real cliff hanger.


The next night all of us including Keyda got into the Silver Fox trying to catch some of those 30 pound catfish I had heard about on the Ouachita River about 8 miles from the house. It was a lovely night, the temperature was very mild, the moon was nearly full and the stars were bright. The wind was blowing pretty good and this kept the giant B-52 mosquitoes at bay. We would have gave blood at the river.

I gave Blood at a The Ouachita River in Monroe Louisiana


We were under the big and little dipper- I think. I wish I knew the constellations. The motor for some reason would not start again. I think the fuel level in the tank was too low for sucking into the carburetor, if boats still have carburetors.


We used the trolling motor to go out just past the cypress trees near the edge of the channel. I threw out the anchor and about 5 of us started fishing with worms, shrimp, and chicken livers. I hate putting chicken livers on hooks, they are so slimly. After baiting the hooks, I had a peanut butter sandwich. I wonder how much bacteria I swallowed from the chicken liver blood on my fingers.


As usual I could not find any flashlights and all we had was a plug into your cigarette lighter spot light. Heather was ready to go home before we got the boat in the river. I more or less ignored her for the first hour and then agreed that the fish were not biting and we should head home since it was a school night. I pulled in the anchor and immediately the river current took us down river about 200 yards. The spot light went out and I could not see the direction arrow on the trolling motor. I knew that the Columbia Louisiana Locks and Dam were 30 miles away and I could recall at least one boat that went over the spillway and the outcome was not very good. I counted all of the cypress trees we passed in a minute, took the square root, and determined that in less than 30 minutes we would be falling over the spillway. I had visions of us being drowned like rats, eaten by cotton mouths, alligators, and 30 pound catfish. Luckily, Nate thought of throwing back down the anchor. This allowed me to catch my breath and think. Angie tried the motor again and to my surprise it started. We made it back to the boat dock and I kissed the ground.


We have a beautiful yard. We have about 2 acres out in the woods. Three pink concrete pigs dominate the view from the road. The front yard is covered with white oaks and wild pecans trees. The squirrels love it. We have a new yard man, named Larry. He is a very colorful dignified black man raised on a farm near the Warrior River near Birmingham, Alabama. He is about 2 years older than me about 61 or so but he obviously has had a much harder life and is in a lot better shape than me. Larry said that he has picked cotton in Alabama, but he never liked it because it hurt his fingers. Me- well I never picked cotton.


Larry and Nathan have been planting a large garden of tomatoes, peas, okra, sweet corn and you name it. They are also planting several cypress, oak, dogwoods. They also planted 2 giant Sequoia Trees that we purchased in California Sequoia National park this winter. They also planted 4 California Buckeye trees from the Buckeye that Angie pickup beside the mule deer that we saw in the national park. I can’t wait to eat those home grown tomatoes and sweet corn. We also planted more azaleas, day lilies, roses, giant sunflowers and other plants in 3 flower gardens. Larry’s next project is to create a small pasture along the side of the house for about 4 tame horses, a few goats, and some chickens and roosters to wake us up in the morning- cock-a-doo-da-doo.


Not all has been guns and roses.


We have had several break-ins lately, like every time we go out of town. They took some of Angie’s mother’s jewelry and several hundred dollars from our son’ portable safe. Now there is a good idea, get a portable safe and let the thief’s take it home and open it at their leisure. They really ticked me off when they hooked a chain to one of my smaller pink concrete pigs and drug her down the road, killing her and breaking her to smithereens.  The vandalism and break-ins have become so common that I have put up some infrared motion seeking deer hunting cameras and several motion seeking sensors with alarms. The last time we went out of town to conduct the LaPlace Smoke School, I placed the alarm next door at Angi Hemperley’s house (Angi is the voice of Whitlow Enterprises, she answers the phone most of the time.)


We had not gotten very far from Home when Angi called and said we had a break-in. Richard, her husband, heard the alarm, walked over in the darkness to our front yard, and saw 5 teenagers standing guard in the front yard, 2 coming out of the doggie door and 2 coming out of the side door. He was able to identify some of the neighborhood kids and called the sheriff office. The kids ran down the road and through the dark woods. I would not do that, run through the woods at night. I know there are rattle snakes in the area. One kid had several scratches form the briars in the woods when the sheriff caught her. They left in such a hurry that they left my Jack Daniels, Crown Royal and Vodka out on the front porch.


Since this has been going on for several months almost a year, I turned them over to the cops and the court. I heard they will get about 3 days in detention. I sure hope it stops them. I just do not feel secure unless I am there with my 357 Magnum.


All of the family, all 6 of us went down to New Orleans for Jazz Fest. That turned out to be very disappointing and a waste of time and money. It seems like they could find an indoor location or a better month. I seems like it always rains in April and October in New Orleans. I can remember a lot of wet smoke schools there and in Baton Rouge over the past 25 years. It rained the entire time that we were there for the first day of Jazz Fest. We had umbrellas, and raincoats, but it was simply pouring and lightening, and then there was the baby. Keyda was drenched, we all were. I sat there about an hour soaking wet and decided that Billy Joel simply was not worth catching Pneumonia.


Then there was the Kentucky Derby, that actually did remind me of Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras because of the costumes, and the paid parking within miles of the Derby. It reminded me of St Charles Street where people turn their front yards into parking lots at $30 bucks a car.


There had been severe thunderstorms and copious amounts of rainfall the day before. I had already decided that if it rained Derby day that I was not going to repeat the wetness of Jazz Fest. We managed to find a place to park nearby for $30 bucks, and caught a ride on a golf cart to the ticket counter. There were over 150,000 people there. I do not do very well in crowds. We waited in line for the tickets and the ATM machine because they did not take our Master Charge Debit Card. They actually only accepted Visa. What is in your wallet? Then we made our way through the mass of people down the aisle and through the tunnel to the Infield for general admission. Naturally we forgot our yard chairs, blankets, and suntan lotion. We laid down on the wet grass. I tried to entertain Keyda and shield her from the sun. I laid there about an hour and got fed up. I had grown tired of looking at the long fancy dresses, cleavage, and the fancy hats and realized that we could not see the race track. I was thinking of just how much comfortable that hotel room queen size bed was and how well you can see the race on the TV. Although the Red Dodge was across the street and down the alley from the main gate, I was worn out form bumping into the crowd so we took a cab back to the truck. The cab ride took 30 minutes and cost me another $27 bucks because all of the roads were blocked off. We got back to the hotel and watched the race. My horse, Big Brown, won but I could not find out how to bet. Such is the story of my life; I could have been a millionaire. I was saddened by the second place horse that fell and broke 2 ankles and had to be put to sleep.


I haven’t given up on this return trip from Louisiana to Kentucky. The LSU Baseball team is playing UK in Lexington tomorrow at 1 PM. That will be only the second LSU game that I have seen this year. I love LSU baseball and always have. LSU beat Kentucky today and I think we have a chance to make it into the SEC Tournament at Hoover near Birmingham. I am planning on making the trip if LSU makes the tournament. That will be my second trip. You should go.

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