Sunday, November 23, 2008

Louise and I had been hitchhiking for several months. I think we were returning from New Hampshire and points between when we arrived in Denton, Texas in the spring of '70. Denton is a college town just north of Dallas. We had several friends going to school there. We spent a few days sitting in on classes and sleeping on couches. Suddenly it was spring break and time to move on.

One of our new friends invited us to go with himself and a couple of others to Port Aransas for splash day. How could we refuse? This was a 19 year old kid's dream. A Texas beach full of crazy, partying, Boones Farm Apple Wine drinking college boys. And girls!

As if that weren't incentive enough, our host was a rich kid. No, a very rich kid. I kid you not...we flew to Port Aransas in his private airplane. Our opening act was to buzz the beach from about 60 feet overhead.

If you've ever been to spring break you have some idea of what goes on. There are literally 10,000 college kids, very little sleep happens, much less sobriety and 3 days later, everyone disappears. Everyone goes back to school. Back to their responsibilities. 

Only, Louise and I had no classes to return to and our responsibility at the time was to explore. So we waved goodbye and we stayed.

With only a few dollars in my pocket, I decided to find a job. Told there was usually work on shrimp boats over at Aransas Pass, just a few miles up shore,  off we went. We went from boat to boat to boat with no luck. With only one boat in the harbor we hadn't yet asked, things were looking pretty grim. The captain was a not so friendly 30-something Yugoslavian. He was setting out at 3am the next morning and could use a "header", but I couldn't bring my dog.

did I mention Louise was my dog?

Louise was a stubby, little, curly-haired mutt named after my favorite sculptor at the time, Louise Nevelson. Louise Nevelson was famous for her black, found-object constructions. My Louise was solid black. My Louise stayed with the captain's wife and kids in town while we went out 500 miles into the Gulf of Mexico. 

I can't say what Louise did for those 30 days, but I had an adventure on a 50 foot shrimp boat with 2 crazy men, one of whom enjoyed threatening to throw me overboard daily. I started out seasick and ended up climbing on outriggers to disentangle nets in violent storms. I ate fresh snapper and moray eel and worked 20 hours a day and saw the sun rise and set on the ocean's horizon. I once saw the full moon rise as the sun set with nothing but ocean and sky and our small craft to interupt the magnificence.  When I returned, Louise and I had bucks in our pockets and we hitched to Colorado where we ended up living on a mountainside for 3 months and working in a zinc mine.

well, *i* worked in the mine. Louise stayed at home protecting the tent.

(the photo is of Louise Nevelson, not Louise the dog.)


Annie said...

I've always thought that would be fun to do, travel the country working odd jobs. I was/am too much of a coward to do it though.

cornbread hell said...

yeah. and look where it got me. odd.

Anonymous said...


Chrissy said...

this is a great story!

josephine terese said...

how the hell do i not know these things

cornbread hell said...

anon - thank you.

chrissy - high praise coming from a real writer. thanks.

josephine - these stories just never came up. and they weren't really typical bedtime story material...for instance, the threatening guy on the shrimp boat? he was like bill the butcher in 'gangs of new york'. he liked to toss boots and stuff to the sharks that followed the boat. they'd swallow them whole and he'd cackle at me saying, "you're next, sissy boy."

Lily said...

I forgot to ask, how did you meet Mother Theresa?

wendy said...


rainbowheart said...

Great post..thanks for sharing!

bayouwoman said...

Very entertaining. Glad I stopped by, thanks to our connection J at Willoswitch. Blogging brings folks together in the less than six degrees of separation! I'll be back!