BACKWARD RIVER, ERUPTING COMMODE
by: Eddie Trapp
From my ledger, Wednesday, May 2, 1984. Last night there was over five inches of rain near Honey Grove. North Sulphur flooded, sending water two feet deep into fields and pastures. The South Sulphur headwaters did not receive as much and it was only up two feet. High water in North Sulphur got to the forks and, water seeking its own level, ran “backwards” up in South Sulphur. It was eight feet deep and running “uphill” at Bonners Point. Houston Elmore said it was the only time in history it had gone upriver that far.
Saturday, May 26, 1984. My fire department beeper went off at 4:45 this afternoon advising of a motorcycle wreck near North Sulphur on Highway 24. A man from Paris was traveling south and as he started up the steep hill lost control and slid along the pavement. His sandals didn’t offer much protection for his feet and skin was lost down to the bone. Other than more lost skin on hands and arms he seemed okay.
Sunday, May 27, 1984. This year the World’s Fair is in New Orleans and a few months ago I got the idea how neat it would be to go to it in a boat. Go down Red River until it gets close to the Mississippi, switch over by passing through a lock, and go on to New Orleans. My brother Larry was implicated in the deal and plans were made for weeks ahead of time. Our fourteen foot V bottom boat and ten horsepower Mercury would be used. We would drive to Alexandria to start since I had already floated the Red from Lake Texhoma to Alex anyway. Our wives would bring the kids and meet us at the World’s Fair. What a trip! A once in a lifetime deal. We couldn’t wait.
This morning it was time to start. Larry came to my house on Highway 19 at 4:17. Our ice chest smelled bad so we stopped at a carwash in Quitman to rinse it out. Gilmer at 5:55. Daylight came under a crescent moon. Five deer at 6:30. Marshall at 7:00. Louisiana Welcome Center. Saw a guy with a colorful vest embroidered with “Sober Daddy.” Probably a truck driver and that was his CB name. 9:00 Coushatta. Sawmill spraying water on huge piles of logs. Why? Maybe it keeps them from cracking until sawing time. Here they have “Starks” instead of Dairy Queens.
Campti at 10:20. Right beside the highway is a tiny house and yard with barely room to walk between all the concrete birdbaths, flowers, and yard ornaments. We just had to stop and talk to the people that lived there. Leo McCoy and his sister were very friendly as they showed us around. Said people always stopped and took pictures but never sent them back any as promised. Larry and I did take pictures and promised. Leo said he had lots more on his “gal-ree.” My grandpa McFadden used that term which is actually spelled, gallery. You don’t hear that much anymore. Now we just say, porch.
A cross beside the road showed where someone got killed in a wreck. I don’t see those in Texas. (As of now in 2011 it is common. I don’t know when the custom crossed the state line.) To Alexandria at noon and went by a Holiday Inn where we made reservations to stay in Gretna on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Got on the levee and drove south looking for a boat ramp. Came to a fence and had to go back north. Found a house near the river and a woman said we could launch for ten dollars. I’d eat a bug first. We kept looking and finally found a Corps of Engineers ramp under a bridge beside Highway 1. Now that we had the ramp located we drove to a 7-11 and bought some bleach for the still stinking ice chest. Went by the state trooper office and they said we could leave the pickup there while floating. Now for something to eat. Found a restaurant just west of Holiday Inn. Larry is a little particular about clean restrooms so when he didn’t return for a while I got worried. Finally he came back with a funny look and a story. He had spent a few minutes building a “nest” of toilet paper. When flushing time came the water backed up and erupted, soaking him all down under. Not a good situation. Said he started to stick his head out the door and holler for me to go out to the boat and bring him a life jacket. Next week, on the water.
Scorpio the Scorpion is one of the constellations that actually resembles its namesake and is fairly easy to find. On a clear night look south and to the right of the Milky Way. You may have to wait until next week because of our bright Moon. Look for the brightest star in the area. It will be orange Antares, the heart of the scorpion. Follow a trail of stars down and to the left to the curving, hook shape. At the very tip you can even see a tiny stinger, jutting off to the side at ninety degrees exactly like on a real scorpion.
Cousin Bill had been feeling poorly and the doctor came to visit. Gave him a big dose of castor oil. Cousin Bill asked the doctor if that would make him feel well enough to get out of bed the next morning. The doctor answered, “It better.”
A man’s wife fussed at him all the time for drinking so much whiskey. She got so mad one day she picked up the jug, took a big drink, made an awful face, and spit it out. Told her husband she didn’t see how he stood to drink that awful stuff. He looked at her and said, “See, you been thinking all these years that I’ve been having a good time.”