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Monday, May 31. 2010
Today we take time to honor and recognize our troops who have died while defending our way of life.Â In the North, tradition was that Decoration Day began in New York in 1868, but, in reality, it really started in Virginia soon after the end of the Civil War.Â This is one of my favorite stories!
Now, enter my Grandmother, Linnie Ross Sanders Wallace, born in 1866, , who I wrote about on May, 27, 2007, in "A True Texan".Â She was a Civil War baby boomer, and a rebelâ€™s daughter.Â Her Father, Levi Sanders, hadÂ spent four years fighting with the 6th Texas Cavalry across Indian Territory, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.Â She made sure that I knew what â€œDecoration Dayâ€, now known as our Memorial Day, was and just what it meant.
Within a month after the end of the Civil War, May 1865, ladies in Winchester, Virginia, formed a Ladies Memorial Association, (LMA), with the single purpose to gather fallen Confederate soldiers within a fifteen mile radius of their town and provide them burial in a single graveyard.Â Once that task had been done they hoped to establish an annual tradition of placing flowers and evergreens on the graves.Â There were Federal troops buried along with the Confederates and they received the decorations also.Â Within a year, ladies across the South had established over 70, LMAâ€™s.
In the first year, these LMAâ€™s had assisted in the recovery of over 70,000 Confederate dead!Â The ladies of Lynchburg chose May 10 as their Decoration Day.Â This was the day that Lt. General Thomas J. â€œStonewallâ€ Jackson had succumbed to wounds.Â The Richmond LMA had chosen May 31 because that was the day the populace of that town had first heard the guns of war in 1861.
Vicious Reconstruction laws not withstanding, by 1867, Decoration Day flourished across the South and it was a day that southern spirit and pride surfaced. Alabama, Florida and Mississippi celebrated it on April 30; North and South Carolina on May 10 and Virginia finally compromised on May 27.
Then in 1868, in the North, May 5 was officially designated Memorial Day.Â This was later changed to May 30, because no significant battle was fought on that day.Â In May 1968, at Waterloo, New York, Pres. Lyndon Johnson â€œofficiallyâ€ recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day.Â Still later, our government intruded and made the last the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, a Federal holiday.
LBJ should have studied his history better!Â He began his career as a history teacher at San Jacinto High School in Houston, and taught Linnie Rossâ€™s youngest, daughter, Hazel.Â He soon switched to teaching civics, government studies.Â Maybe he was deficient in American history?Â
Saturday, May 29. 2010
In May of 1980, I decided to make an afternoon trip to one of the creeks feeding into Lake Conroe for a go at some bass.Â Having been given some brief instructions about getting to the spot, along with the possibility of catching some fish, I left work early and headed out.Â Going the â€œback wayâ€ from my home in Cypress, Texas this was a less than one hour, trip.Â Heading up FM 149, now freeway and four lanes all the way to Texas 105, and going through Montgomery, I continued north on 149 for two or three miles, crossed the first bridge and exited the road.Â
There was no launch ramp, just two ruts leading toward the water.Â Huffing and puffing my twelve-foot, aluminum boat, electric motor, battery, paddle, rod and tackle box, I, with wet feet, unceremoniously launched it.Â This is the same one that, in Georgia, I caught the twelve pound, bass out of a year earlier.Â Push polling with the paddle, finally paddling, I got the boat into deeper water, cranked up the electric motor, headed under the bridge and started casting.Â My bait of choice was a dark green, Lucky 13, a proven top water plug.
Outside of the creek channel, there was a big hydrilla, a very intrusive moss, laden flat, a likely looking spot, with a few lily pads thrown in and I headed toward it.Â Pick a spot in the moss, cast out, let the 13 sit until the rings disappeared, then twitch it and repeat if necessary.Â My second cast, after the rings settled, abruptly, a nice bass came out of the water and, on the way back into the water, clamped down on the Lucky 13.Â Having caught a lot of bass in the past, Iâ€™d never seen this before, a reverse blow-up!Â After several jumps, I reached down and lipped it, a nice, four pounder.Â Throwing it back, I kept on casting and twitching.
Casting into another opening, letting the rings settle, twitching the plug twice, another bass, a twin of the first, exploded into the 13 and the fight was on.Â Landing it and throwing it back, I continued casting for the next hour, with no luck.Â Heading back towards the â€œlaunch rampâ€, I figured that with the lake up this would remain a good spot through June or until the water level dropped.
Getting home, I told Randy about the spot and gave him better instructions about finding it.Â He went up there the next weekend with a friend and was using a jig around the bridge pilings and caught a spinning rod and reel.Â It was a nice expensive, outfit that we cleaned up and used it in salt water for the next twenty years!
Now, for the rest of the story, Lake Conroe was once considered one of the top five bass fishing spots in the nation.Â We did fish this spot for the next year with some success, but then, to control the hydrilla, the State of Texas introduced grass carp, white amur, supposedly these fish were sterile, but they werenâ€™t!Â Within a year and a half the carp had eaten up our fishing spot.Â By 1996 the carp, without any vegetation to eat, died out, vegetation rebloomed and the bass fishing improved with it.Â Now the State, the lake front property owners, various interested national organizations, fishing clubs and the San Jacinto River Authority are working together to control the hydrilla and other harmful plants and the fishing should improve.
Thursday, May 27. 2010
Here in central Texas for the past few days weâ€™ve had some unusual weather.Â It has been very, very windy, fifteen to twenty-five from the southeast and there have been thunder storms all around us. Rain wise, weâ€™ve had showers and almost an inch, but the heavy stuff has missed us, same for this past Monday afternoon.Â The heavy rains had moved south of us in a line from Burnet toward Killeen.
Monday evening, around 7:30, Iâ€™d been in the old house reading my e-mails and when I walked outside and looked up, there were two rainbows that seemed to be right over my ranch.Â What a pretty sight. the clouds breaking, the colors. and just think, there were two of them
The rainbows were so big and so close, that I couldnâ€™t take a picture of both of them in their entirety, but from where I was standing it looked like the pot of gold was pretty close to Evant, Texas
Tuesday, May 25. 2010
As things sometimes will do, events happened to cause me to change my entire attitude about salt water, fishing.Â Bobby Baldwin, my high school fishing buddy and close friend, had access to a twenty-three foot, cathedral hull, boat with a hundred and sixty-five, horse engine and outdrive, a real boat! We took it offshore fishing twice and both times stopped by the Galveston Jetties where I was shown a spot, on the Gulf side of the South Jetty that became my honey hole for the next forty years!Â I caught the biggest trout of my life there in 2000, but thatâ€™s another story.
My first trip to this â€œsecretâ€ spot was in late May 1964.Â We, Bobby, Freddy, his brother, his father-in-law, Tom and I, were headed off shore but stopped to sample the spec fishing.Â This was the second time out for me, the first being in 1953, a long time between trips, but that soon changed!
We caught several nice speckled trout, but since the wind was only blowing five to ten out of the southeast, we cranked up and headed for the twelve mile, rig.Â Trolling around it we caught several nice kingfish and then, for safetyâ€™s sake, headed in early.Â The boat owner, Tom, didnâ€™t want to be caught out after dark with any kind of a problem.
Heading in we talked about boating safety and how treacherous the Gulf of Mexico can become with very little notice.Â Hearing Tom, but being young, some of his sage advice stuck, but it took several big, storms later in my life for it to really sink in!
Several weeks later, our next trip out was cut short by the weather.Â Just after we anchored up at the â€œsecretâ€ jetty spot and had cast out, one spec was hooked and landed, then the wind came up.Â With the boat beginning to pitch, Freddy became very ill.Â This was my first brush with, mal-de-mere, or sea sickness, but definitely not my last. Â
Getting the anchor in, we headed across the Galveston channel and stopped to fish behind the protection of the North Jetty.Â Fredâ€™s sickness responded to the calm water and he became well again.Â We had virtually no luck except for a three pound, spec that I landed.Â But, before we headed in, we spent time casting spoons among the twelve inch, bluefish, catching several.Â These are blues that by the time they migrate around to New England, weigh thirty to forty pounds!
This salt water fishing was beginning to catch me too, it was exciting, add the uncertainty of the weather, along with the fishâ€™s hard hits and big pulls and going fast in the boat, were things that I really liked!Â Little did I know that within two years, I'd own my first boat and get very serious about salt water fishing.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Sunday, May 23. 2010
Being a self taught fly fisherman, Iâ€™ll have to admit that it was never my cup of tea.Â Having purchased an outfit in 1957, using it sparingly for several years, only once in Colorado and then for the last time in 1969, I never really gave fly fishing a chance.Â And yes, I have excuses.Â One, most of the places that I fished for bass on had real brushy banks and rolling a cast up under the brush wasnâ€™t the easiest thing for me.Â Two, not many folks in Texas were salt water, fly fishermen.Â Three, fly fishing from a boat was iffy at best.Â And, four, I never became a proficient caster.
But, gearing up for some serious top water, bass fishing, in May of 1957 I used some of my hard earned money and purchased me a fly rod, direct drive, reel and loaded the reel with a floating line.Â Adding leader material along with some small poppers with one small hook, decorated with little feathers, I was ready to go after â€˜em.
From my reading I knew that the line was cast out and there was no â€œslingingâ€ out of a plug, so hieing down to a near by school ground for some practice, I flailed the air, finally gaining a slight degree of proficiency.Â Being young, it never dawned on me that plenty of room was needed behind the caster and this fact didnâ€™t show itself until after tying on a little, popper and making a failed, back cast.
Ralph Foster, a college buddy, and I drove up to the gravel pits outside of Romayer and seeing some bream beds along the sides of a pit beside the road, I decided to try out my new gear right there.Â Attaching a small, yellow popper, I attacked the little fish.Â Â My first cast in anger, resulted in the line and little popper hanging up on a low bush behind me.Â Rearranging myself, with no back cast foul up, my second cast was a flopper with all the line â€œglobbingâ€ on the water in front of me.Â Amused at my antics, Ralph said, â€œJon, you look kindaâ€™ silly with that line all wrapped around you!â€Â Back to the drawing board!
Finally, after a successfully presented cast, the little popper dropped quietly on to the water.Â The rings of the displaced water quieted and with a slight tug on the line that I was holding in my left hand, the small plug twitched once.Â Nothing.Â Another twitch and the popper was engulfed by a small fish, type unknown.Â After a spirited battle I slid the little, hand sized, bream up on to the bank and admired my first catch on a fly rod.Â Throwing it back, while adding several more hand sizers, that also went back, I switched plugs, tying on a chartreuse, popper.
My first cast with the â€œgloâ€ bait was met with a different kind of strike.Â This one hit going away, and cleared the water, a keeper bass!Â This bass actually pulled line from my left hand and jumped several more times.Â It definitely put a bend in my rod, but the rod and pressure of the line finally became too much for the fish.Â Reaching down to lip it, I clipped the almost, two pounder to my stringer.
Adding a big bream, I guessed its weight was a pound and a half, I called it a day.Â Catching them on this light stuff was fun, but casting was a problem for me!
Ralph caught four nice, bass while I was fumbling around!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, May 21. 2010
Our spring arrivals are here in central Texas; our bluebonnets, our hummingbirds, followed by our barn swallows that are busy finishing a new nest on our back porch, plenty of red wasps and yellow jackets, and the newest â€“ fire wheels, sundance or Indian blankets, or binomially, Gaillardia punchella.
For some reason, these beautiful flowers came up this year.Â In the past, we hadnâ€™t seen them in these numbers.Â It is a hardy, drought tolerant, annual, native to the central United States, it is easily established from seed and forms dense colonies of brilliant red flowers with yellow rims. Here's a dense colony, with a few sunflowers mixed in, in my yard.
It is almost un-Texan to say it, but fire wheels are nearly as pretty as bluebonnets.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Hill Country Happenings at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Wednesday, May 19. 2010
The accommodations were nice and the sea food was excellent, but the softball left much to be desired.Â Stumpy, managing the team last week, and his Texans left too many men on base, committed several very, key errors, hence the results werenâ€™t good in Pensacola.Â Finishing third behind the Southeastern 70â€™s, who beat the Georgia Classics 9-7 to win the tournament, Georgia coming in second, The Texans didnâ€™t get the opportune hits, loosing to Georgia 11-10 twice and Southeastern once, 16-11.Â Errors were our bane and caused over half the runs we gave up to be unearned!
Georgia and Southeast are two very good teams, so are we, but eliminate the miscues, or we get a couple of hits at the right time, the story would be much different!Â But last weekâ€™s games are history and we have to look ahead to our next tournament either in Dallas or Baton Rouge, however, who knows how these games will turn out, since we play with a round bat, a round ball, on a square field! Weâ€™re just blessed to still be playing at our age!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Sports at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Monday, May 17. 2010
Something was shaking me, maybe them hogs?Â â€œBoy, time to go check the lines!â€Â It was my Dad and checking my watch with radium numbers, it was 3:00 AM.Â Back into the cold water, and it was really cold now, but keeping a stiff upper lip, I said nothing, more growing up.
Pulling up the first line there were firm tugs coming back to us, we had five more cats on the first line, two blues, two yellows and one funny one, my Dad called a high fin blue, but later I found out that it was a channel cat.Â Baiting up as we went, we found many twisted stages meaning we had lost more cats than we had caught.
The second line, more pulls, had three more cats, all yellows and several twisted stages.Â It looked like we were loosing more than we caught!Â Â We kept the eight weâ€™d caught in my wet toe sack and went back to bed, but my Dad was up with the sun.Â More shaking, more hogs?Â No, just my Dad, saying those cold words, â€œLetâ€™s go check the lines.â€
Gasping when the cold water hit me, saying nothing, more growing up, we checked both lines, six more cats, two blues, three yellows and another high fin.Â Crossing to the other side we rolled up the first line, returning, we checked the second line, took the fish off, walked back across the river and rolled up our second line and set to, cleaning the fish.
Our total for the night was eighteen catfish, which meant some good eatinâ€™ for everyone!
However, I was still suffering chills from the cold water!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
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