Across The Tracks

In 1957 there was an ice house in Perry, Texas that was, at that time, the home of the cheapest gasoline in our part of the State. I’m talking about $.18 or $.19 per gallon, when all the other stations in central Texas were selling it at $.25 per. The proprietor of this establishment was a man called Zippo. No other name, just Zippo.

My Dad, John H. Bryan, had, as is said, never met a stranger and accordingly he and Zippo became fast friends. They were such friends that Zippo told my Dad that he could go fishing in his small lake, approximately one acre. The lake was located on a dirt road, just over the railroad tracks, across Highway 6, from Zippo’s place. There was one stipulation my Dad could only keep one bass!

Being hard at work in college, I couldn’t make the mid May trip up to Marlin and I especially missed going to Zippo’s little lake. Our technique of fishing small lakes and stock tanks was to begin walking around the edges casting our trusty, yellow “Piggy Boat” spinners. Then we would wade out until the water was belt deep and cast back toward the shore using Lucky 13’s. During the heat of the day we would switch to Pico Perch’s, an early plastic, swimming minnow type plug.

My Dad started off the Lake Zippo epic by walking around and casting his yellow spinner toward “bassy” looking spots. His first cast produced a three-pound, bass! Now he faced a dilemma, stop with this one or try for a bigger one? He released the first bass, kept fishing, the bass kept hitting and he kept releasing.

Finally, having caught a dozen or more, his dilemma was solved when the bass, pictured, a five, plus pounder hit his spinner bait, jumped four times and was finally slid up on to the bank. He kept this one. Calling it a day, he stopped by Zippo’s, showed him the fish, filled up his gas tank with the cheap gas and drove back to Marlin, where before filleting the fish, my Aunt Lil took this picture.

Shortly after this, Zippo, closed his operation and either died or moved away and we lost contact with him. Every time we would pass through Perry, my Dad would comment about the little lake and the nice bass he caught the one time that he fished it!