BIG TEX IS GONE – FOR A WHILE
by: Eddie Trapp
In last week’s article we were settling in for the night while on a Red River float trip. During the night coyotes howled and yapped on the Oklahoma side. Several house dogs far in the north barked for a while as if to announce their territory. Friday morning, October 19, I loaded the tent and gear then Zack and I moved on downriver at 8:30. When floating without the motor we only traveled one to two miles per hour. The two horsepower motor while just idling carried us at a blistering four mph. At 9:00 we passed the mouth of a creek coming in from the Oklahoma side and I saw an irrigation pump that Mr. Morse had told me about the previous afternoon. Lots of tumbleweeds on the bank and several that had rolled out into the river.
Just east of the pump at 9:11 a five foot long gar did its porpoise act. Its body was bigger around than a loaf of bread. Zack rides right on the front of the boat and watches for critters. One of his favorites is a beaver. At 9:15 a beaver crashed out of its den and sounded like someone threw a bowling ball in the water. Zack was really nervous for the next thirty minutes as he watched for another. At 10:00, I stopped and tied the boat to a drift near the bank. Used shrimp for bait and fished a few minutes. Caught two small channel catfish and put them in an ice chest to fry later on my small stove. Red River channel catfish look much different than those from Cooper Lake. On the river they are a much lighter color and have many spots.
The strong northwest wind and shallow water did what it could to dampen our spirits but we were still having a great time. At 10:40 the boat hit bottom and stopped again so I had to shuck my jeans and drag it a while. After getting through the shallows I continued floating and came to a quarter mile long shelf of flat rocks on the Oklahoma side. Passed the mouth of a Texas creek at noon. Coordinates were 33 52.430 and 95 18.295. At 12:30 the motor hit a stump and sheared a pin. Took the motor off the boat, got it in with me, replaced the pin, put it back on the boat, and going again. At 1:00 there was an old silo or some kind of tank a few hundred yards out in a field on the Texas side. Someone’s nice deer stand at 1:10. On stretches where the river runs the way the wind is blowing there are whitecaps on the water like it has been for the last two hours. I had planned to fry the catfish along about now but no way to keep the fire going with wind like this. I’ll cook them later. About 1:45, I got a call that Big Tex had burned down. What a historic moment! Broke and replaced the second shear pin at 2:25. By 2:30, I was passing the rocks and nice house on the Texas side north of Woodville, Kanawha, and Kiamatia. What a view those people have.
My plan had been to end the trip at Highway 37 north of Clarksville but by 3:40, I was nearing the mouth of the Kiamichi River and that was only about two thirds of the way to 37. Either go up the Kiamichi to the 109 Bridge or spend another night on the river. Since I had only packed for one night I motored up the Kiamichi a few miles where Jean met me at the bridge. When you plan a river trip and the weathermen predict ten mph wind, double it at least.
About the time I learned enough about my old phone to barely get by, it wore out and now I have a more complicated one. If by myself I have to call somebody if I want to send a picture or do some of the tricks. And what really gets me, they still put directions on shampoo bottles but don’t even make an instruction manual to go with new phones. You get an instruction book with a new car. Why not a very complicated phone? In college I learned that one sign of a healthy mind is being able to adapt to change. Since then I’ve reminded myself of that when I get aggravated but whoever made that saying up didn’t have any idea of the change this world is going through today. Change to him was probably something like a small propane cigarette lighter being invented.
’63 classmate of mine, Larry Whitlock, commented on the Solly Hemus article and mentioned that baseball has quite a collection of strange names like Heinie Manush, Choo Choo Coleman, Wee Willie Keeler, and Willie “Puddinhead” Jones. Thanks Larry, and let’s try to make our fiftieth reunion next summer.
Three days in one week lately Jean and I worked on trails through the deer woods, putting up markers and trimming small limbs out of the way. Seems like an October ritual. The next week, Junior Larkin, Kenneth Gillean, and I sat by the river two or three afternoons. Other rituals, but not human ones, were carried out. We noticed that about 5:10 little frogs would start making their calls from downstream. Others picked it up and moved it upstream out of hearing around the next bend. 5:50, barred owls, local name “eight hooters”, would start their hooting. Coyotes would perform about 6:45. At 6:50 we would hear wood ducks making their whistling noise upriver around the bend and would soon cruise by us on their afternoon trip to the east. About forty in groups of four or more until 7:00. Next the mosquitoes appeared and seemed to attract bats that zoomed overhead. Sit on a creek bank some day and get your relax going.
A small town had two barbershops right across the street from each other. Competition was strong. One put up a sign, “We now have $4 haircuts.” Next day the other one had a sign, “We repair $4 haircuts.” firstname.lastname@example.org