Pith Helmets and Hula Poppers
Crappie's Cove Thirty Years Later
If you visit www.roscoestuff.blogspot.com you will get Roscoes version of the tale.
Or scroll down past my account of what really happened that day and see what my brother Chuckles memory conjures.
Abandon all hope ye who enters these paragraphs. I have a tale from the sea so terrible that upon first reading you would beg to have your most personal uncharted parts dry shaven daily with the splintered skull cap of Blackbeard himself for all eternity, rather than reading the tale again!
The story, based on fact but rendered inaccurate ,hobbled by my memory, I think it happened a long time ago. I may remember it as a tale of my courage and grace under fire, that is how my memory best serves me.
Memory I have found is not a servant called upon to dutifully reply to my every need but a jester that makes me look silly and the fool without effort, without fail and without thanks.
Around 1975 myself ( a man of uncommon courage) Roscoe , Roscoes twin brother Joe, my brother known as Chuckles and Roscoes big brother known as big John. Ventured fourth on the devils waters of Eagle Creek Reservoir on a small 14 ft. pontoon boat, an experience that would change us all, even my memory. We borrowed the boat from my dad and it was not in the best of shape, powered by a10 horse unreliable aka "Johnson" motor. In today's dollars I would guess he paid around $2.00 large for the entire vessel.
We somehow launched the boat and went to Crappie cove as I will call it because we were going to catch some Crappie. I was sitting at the head of the boat, the front part not fenced in, sitting in a aluminum chair cushioned with nylon straps next to "Joe" he sat proud and ready to pitch in and help with the lines if need be, an able seaman if ever one lived. We were jointly in charge of watching for stumps and such and I also had the highly esteemed job of anchor boy. Not a small responsibility when you consider that an anchor can keep a boat from falling off the edge of the earth and such. Never mind that it was a small mushroom shaped anchor which even in my young mind I considered to be of little prestige but I was still in charge of something, my peeps trusted me!
Again I sat at the head of the boat, huge tackle box at my side saddled with duties and responsibilities, I was proud and maybe a little cocky. My brother "Chuckles" was at the helm, or holding onto the outboards tired and trembling arm. "Roscoe" was in his chair and "Big John" was sitting beside him in his chair I have to think it was not made of aluminum and nylon because even at 16/17 the boy was not suited for a mere mortals chairs, hence the name "Big John".
We anchored off a likely spot for crappies, bass, krakens god knows what else but there was structure and anyone worth their salt knows that where lie structure there lies fish. I tried every lure in my arsenal and nothing, not a soul on the boat got a byte so I was given the order , pull anchor and lets "move on up away". I did so with much theatrics , a determined look in my eye, a certainty of purpose , feigned muscle strain and finally laid the anchor beside my chair calm on the exterior but barely able to contain my excitement about the coming order to drop anchor.
Brother Chuckles had the old Johnson wound out and we had to be doing nearly 7 knots when all the world became confusing. The boat began to dive nose first into the water, my legs were wet all the way to me bum, I looked behind me and first saw the Johnson's propeller spinning in dead air, I could count the spin of the blades , my brother looked very confused trying to shut down the power, "Roscoe" was holding tight to his pith helmet with both hands and his brother "Big" was holding on to Roscoe with one hand and the side rail with the other.
Funny thing about big brothers they can treat you like hell your whole life and all at once in time of need they are protecting you from plunging into the depths of the devils waters...God this is a long story! GAW!
Here is what happened . Ole Anchor boy set the anchor to close to the edge of the boat and it fell off while we were speeding down the cove, the wimpy mushroom anchor gained a tight purchase on something and almost made us end over end the 14' pontoon boat. My tackle box was swamped with water, I lost a hula popper out of my tackle box, the boys would not help me fetch it as it drifted into the stumplands, and to this day I curse their names. I lost some other priceless items but will refuse to hold a grudge, I think the boys where just frightened , an emotion I am unfamiliar with. However I did recognize the look in my friends eyes.
We figured out what happened, I was chastised for no good reason and then we went back to the ramp and loaded the boat, most of the crew a little shaken, as I remember I was calming them with cheerful words and distractions. Since Chuckles and Big John were around 16/17 we went to Shakeys Pizza afterwards. The elders ordered a couple of their famous pizza pies, with black olives and a couple of pitchers of beers, the youngin's (13/14) snuck sips of the beer when the help was not looking. We may have even sang along to the "If you knew Suzy" follow the bouncing ball prompter on big projection screen. All of us changed one way or another, all of us trying to forget or make light of our brush with death, all the while I tried to distract my friends and sibling so as not leave their psyche's damaged for life, I needed them to grow up normal and responsible, hell one of them might need to bail me out of jail sometime, keep em sane was my thinking, no need to molly coddle the poor bastards just keep them sane.
Consider this tale of the sea and tell me it does not rival, if I may be so bold the "Flying Dutchman" ? Dare ye counter? I thought not.
It is said even to this day that if you venture onto Crappies cove late in the afternoon, you can hear a ghostly popping sound, said to be my lost hula popper searching for a safe purchase in my beloved tackle box. Copyright Josh Williams 2006