I wanna make, a memory…

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image When I was young, and I’m talking about pre-teen years here, I spent a good number of my weekends on Dauphin Island, AL. These were “visitation weekends” with my dad’s first wife (AKA: Adopted mom) and her boyfriend, whom we all affectionately called “Bucky.” Most of the time, my brother was not with us because he was usually incarcerated, I mean, um, somewhere else for the time being and so I was usually by myself.

At the time, my mother lived in a tiny bungalow that they had renovated. It had no central heat nor A/C, and in the winter, we all huddled around a small gas heater for warmth, and in the summer, we sweltered under ceiling fans. If we got lucky, every now and then a cool breeze from my mom’s room a/c would waft up into the loft where we slept. To this day, I cannot sleep hot and I suspect this has a lot to do with it (or so my the-rapist says)

Now, Bucky was/is an interesting fellow. Personally, he’s always been friendly to me and frankly, he probably put up with more than a lot of guys would. Of course, he also benefited from living off the alimony my dad was paying my mom at the time, but the point is, the guy isn’t dumb. He never said much, but what he did say was usually peppered with dry wit and one of the main things I remember about him, was his singing drinking songs to us during the long car rides from Mobile over to the Island. Despite being a functioning near-alcoholic at night, during the day, he retrofits nuclear power plants with computerized systems. Pretty impressive for a guy whom my dad’s second wife called, “One of the biggest drug dealers on the east coast.” She got this secondhand from a neighbor. Whatever.

I dunno. What I DO know, is that most weekends when I was at the Island, I would wake up at the butt-crack of dawn, tippy-toe out the door (sometimes, if I was feeling magnanimous, I would turn the coffee pot on as I left), walk about three blocks down the street to the 7-11 where I purchased a small container of bait shrimp. Or, if he opened early enough, I’d go into “Patronas'” seafood shop and purchase $1 worth of bait shrimp. Mr. Patronas was a great big (fat) guy who ran a pier-side seafood warehouse. Literally, the scrimp boats would pull up to his pier and sell him all their cargo. So, the man had some seriously fresh stuff. Most of the times that I went into his place, it was dark and he could be found sitting in a butcher’s smock on a bar stool watching TV while his crew scurried around. The place was all stainless steel and ice and he employed standing fans at either side of the room to push the smell around so that it wasn’t overwhelming after coming in from the Alabama heat. He was never outwardly friendly, but I seemed to notice that whenever he got me my shimp himself, I always seemed to come out better.
(On a side note, later, I went to school with his nephew and he and I ended up being best friends, though I didn’t know about the relation until much later. This is coincidental considering I went to school probably 60 miles from the Island.)

But the great thing about Mr. Patronas’ seafood shop was that he’d toss all his crap seafood off the pier into the water.

SHA-ZAM! Instant fishing buffet!

So there I stood, many a weekend, with my little fishing pole and my bait shrimp catching whatever it was that came to feed off the smorgasbord of junk seafood on the ocean floor. Most times, I’d catch little 6-8″ catfish, but often I’d catch crab, sunfish and the occasional something I couldn’t identify. But most times it was catfish. Over the years, I developed a tried and true method of getting the catfish off the hook without getting poked by their little poisonous fins (the fins wouldn’t hurt you, but they stung like hell and then itched for hours later). What I’d do is, let out a little bit of line and let the catfish dangle. Then, I’d start winding him up like a slingshot…just let the little feller whirl there on the end of my fishing pole and then I’d SMACK, hit him against the water! Usually, it took two smacks to stun the catfish so that I could take him off the hook without him wriggling around.

It was good times. In fact, it was the only thing I looked forward to on my visitation weekends. It’s also probably one of the only real things I miss about my old stomping grounds. We don’t have much fishing here in Atlanta, and certainly no salt-water fishing. So, I must say I’m looking forward to that aspect of this beach trip this weekend. We’ll be staying at a condo that’s right next to a marina with piers going out a bit into the bay. I’m hoping to impart some of my fishing enthusiasm on MLI and maybe even MLE if we can keep him from jumping in while we’re not looking.

Making memories–that’s what vacations are all about right? I’m going to try and keep that in mind for the 8 hours that we’re in the car on Saturday!


5 thoughts on “I wanna make, a memory…

    pamajama said:
    May 16, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I LOVE IT when you write about stuff like this. Great, great, great.

    David "Father of five" said:
    May 16, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Agreed with pamajama…. As per our earlier email!

    Enjoy the vacation!

    Allison said:
    May 21, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for this glimpse. Good stuff.

    Scott said:
    June 14, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Whoa, this is uncanny–Mobile is my hometown too! And I’ve been to Dauphin Island more times than I can remember!

    Anyway, I’ve never had any luck salt-water fishing, from a pier or the shore. I’ve caught fish, but nothing really edible. But my dad used to take me fresh-water fishing, in his boat, and I caught alot of edible fish–catfish, bream, bass, and white perch. And he taught me alot of fishing and boating skills, which I could easily employ today (they’re like typing, punching a speed-bag–things you never forget how to do).

    I speak in past-tense because my dad stopped fishing years ago. (Having developed heart disease, he felt unsafe in the boat, so far from land–he wouldn’t have had enough time to get to a hospital, if his heart started acting-up). And he sold the boat. So I haven’t been fishing in many years.

    When he dies, I’m reasonably sure he’ll leave all his fishing equipment to me. And I’ll get a boat of my own, and fresh-water fish again. Still, it will never be the same without my dad.

      dobeman said:
      June 15, 2009 at 7:16 am

      RE: Scott, thanks for dropping by. You didn’t say how old you are, but it’d be pretty cool if we were there at the same time. My main times there were in the 80s. My mom had a tiny little house of “Lackland” drive. She has that one and another rental there now, but her BIG house is to the left if you hang a left at the water tower. I haven’t been back there in years; mainly cuz it’s not quite the “family” destination that Gulf Shores is. But it’s always cool to find a fellow angler. I wish I had more time and access to the deep water to make it work getting a boat–even a small one.

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