March 16, 2014

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 39

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Woods and Swamps...
In the late 1930s, us boys started venturing out into the woods and swamps.  We could walk for miles and miles before we went from one end of the swamps to the other.  
There were usually open forests because cattle ran loose in there and they kept all the underbrush down.  There weren’t any briar bushes or little saplings growing, just open forests of hardwoods.  Beautiful forests.
We would roam around all out in those woods and swamps.  Even before we were old enough to have guns to go hunting, we’d go to the edge of the forests.   I mainly remember seeing and hearing all the birds that lived in the forests, especially the red birds.  The birds would feed on the red halls I mentioned earlier.  
Along the head of the lake there were big willow trees lining the bank.  Their limbs would cast shadows over the edge of the lake.  You could hear mockingbirds and red birds singing from the dark hidden places up under the willow tree branches.  
The sounds would come out across the water.  Those are the kinds of things I remember from around the lake, the meadows and fields.  The golden broom sage would blow in the breeze and look like waves. 
There were always grown people out in the forests.  They would be out there cutting trees or camping.  You could smell the wood smoke throughout the forest.  It was a good smell.  It would make you hungry just smelling the wood smoke. 
I used to like to go out in the fields and meadows behind the school over on the Peck place.  Late in the evenings you could hear the field larks.  A sound I loved to hear.  You could hear the field larks calling to one another from hidden places. 
I remember being out on the lake and seeing hundreds of turtles on logs and old fallen trees.  You could hear brim popping out in the water as they would feed.  I’ve seen huge white cranes flapping lazily across the lake.  I haven’t seen any of those huge white cranes in years. 
Lake Lovelace
I also remembering being on the lake when there wasn’t a breeze and the water looked like glass.  It would be really quiet then all of a sudden you’d hear, “Pow!”  It would be one of those huge alligator gars rising up out of the water, sailing through the air ten or twelve feet and landing back on the water.  When they would hit that water it would sound like a cannon went off. 
Deer Hunting...
In the 1930s through the 1950s hunting deer was just like it had been back in the teens and twenties.  Most of the deer hunters kept deer dogs.  In the Fall of the year, when deer hunting season opened, you could hear the dogs running every day.  Along about the late 1950s and early 1960s, the forests and swamp areas were pushed down to plant soybean fields.  
Along Lake Lovelace...
About midway between town and the Peck place there was a place on the bay of the lake called Nichol’s Point.  It was on the town side of the lake.  There was no point as such that stuck out in the lake.  There was just a spot along there that they called Nichol’s Point. 
The story goes that a Mr. Nichols [once lived in the Gillis house] waded off in the lake at that point and cut his own throat and drowned.  I’ve heard from the old folks that Mr. Nichols had been gambling and had lost lots of money.  He was despondent and that’s what happened. 
Lake Lovelace
Almost directly across from Nichol’s point, on the other side of the lake, the bank of the lake kind of sticks out in the water. 
They called this area Barfish Point.  A barfish is a type of bass.  It used to be a lot of barfish in the lake.  I never hear of anybody catching barfish out of the lake anymore.
On down the lake past these two points and on past Stack Island was a place called Squyres Ford.  When the lake got real low in the Fall of the year you could cross over on horseback.  This was prior to the dam being put up between this area and the Ouachita River in 1954.  I imagine there were men that knew where Squyres Ford was back in the 1930s. 
The spots that I remember along Lake Lovelace...
  • We’ll start with the head of the lake, right here where it starts close to town.
  • Mills Bayou runs into the lake.
  • The next two places would be Barfish Point on one side and Nichol’s Point on the other side of the lake.
  • The bay of the lake.  Some people called it Peck’s Bay because of its location.
  • Across from the bay of the lake is where Billy’s Bayou runs into the lake. 
  • Then there’s the island.
  • A little farther down, Cash Bayou runs into the lake.
  • Next you come to The Rocks where gravel is on the lake bed.
  • Goose Bayou runs into the lake.
  • After Goose Bayou you come to Stack Island.
  • On the other side of Stack Island, on down the lake, Black Bayou runs into the lake
  • Somewhere down in that area is Squyres Forde.
Moonlight Picnics on Lake Lovelace...
Lake Lovelace
Back in the 1930s about half of this little village turned out for the moonlight picnics on Lake Lovelace.  I believe it was on Thursday evenings. 

Families would go down to the lake just before dark.  We carried picnic lunches.  The children and some of the grown-ups would go swimming. 

About 1935, my mother, daddy and I were going down to Lake Lovelace one evening for a moonlight picnic.  On this particular occasion, we were driving down the gravel road to the lake in Grandpa Steele’s old car.  
We got about halfway to the Peck place and some colored people had run off the road in an old car and hit an electric power pole that ran alongside the road.  
They broke the pole and the line was down.  Along the field where the line had fallen, the grass was popping and smoking and burning.  The line was also laying across their old car.  The people that had been inside the car were outside of it and some had a few cuts but none of them were badly hurt.  It was obvious that they had been drinking. 
We stopped and daddy got out.  Mother and I stayed in the car.  Daddy told the driver of the car that he was going on up to the Peck house to use their telephone to call Jonesville and ask for a repairman to come fix the line.  I remember Daddy telling them several times to stay away from the car. 
We went on up to the Peck house and Daddy called Jonesville to report the trouble.  After Daddy made the call, we went on down to the lake.  We had been there for fifteen or twenty minutes when some other people arrived and told us a colored man had gotten killed down the road.  They said the man had tried to get back in the car to try to crank it back up.  When he touched the car, he was electrocuted. 

Note:  Parts 1-38 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

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