Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Part - 14e - Pond & Camp



In about 1942, Daddy participated in a U.S. Conservation Department program that allowed the County to build farm ponds. They built one, about three acres in size, and stocked it with Bream and Largemouth Bass.

The pond gave many days of pleasure for swimming, (all of us learned to swim there using two syrup buckets with a cloth strap tied to them for water wings) fishing, parties, and just good ole gatherings with the Greens (the principal at Millry School) and the Ezells (Pastor of Millry Baptist Church).

Later, due to erosion from hillside farming and two dirt roads, the pond had filled in about half way with sand. So, Daddy drained it, and we got Pee Wee Andrews from Mobile to bring in a dragline and dozer to rework it. I ran the dozer and together we widened the dam, put in a new spillway and built an island in the middle to keep from having to move so much dirt.

The island soon became a showplace, especially at Christmas time with a large, lighted tree reflecting in the water about seventy five yards from the road. Now, Azalea bushes, a couple of pine trees and Wisteria vines planted by Mother and Woodie turn it into a floral garden in the springtime.

Daddy built the camp house on the tractor wagon from left over scrap materials from a couple of jobs he had been on. It was 7 feet by seventeen feet with two single bed bunks in one end and two double bed bunks in the other. It had two by six foot long "flaps" on each side that could be propped open to let cool breezes blow through.

We first set the camp up just south of Bobby Dahlberg's fish camp at Bladon Landing, on the Tombigbee River. We built a three-sided lean-to for a kitchen and ate from a picnic table on the bank of the river. After a large flood almost destroying the camp, we took it home, cleaned it up and returned it to the river.

We jacked the house up about ten feet high between two gum trees, set cypress posts under it, built a kitchen on the end and an eight foot wide screen porch all the way across the front. Boy! Was that nice to sit on the porch with a cool breeze blowing, watching the tugs pushing coal, timber or fuel barges up and down the river.

We would keep two or three "Trot" (trout) lines all the way across the river most of the time to catch Catfish. It surely was good eating to clean and fry the catfish fresh, right out of the river!

Due to the fact that none of us had time to go to the River to use the camp, we moved the camp house from Bladon Landing on the Tombigbee back to the pond where it became the family gathering place on numerous occasions for Family Reunions where us younguns and the grand younguns would pick and grin, and all ate too much barbecue and homemade ice cream.

When we moved the camp house back to the pond, I took the tractor down the 25 mile trip to the river. We jacked the house up by rigging a come-a-long in a gum tree on one end and Daddy had the tractor pulling a cable on the other hooked to a roller in another gum tree. When they got it clear of the posts and beams, I took the chain saw and cut off the posts, then pushed the tractor wagon under the house. They let it down on the wagon.

I put a battery on the back top bunk and ran a wire to a flashing light on top of the roof. Then I headed for home right across US highway 84. While going down the old Henry Williams hill I let it coast for a little bit and it got a little “squirrely” and I really had to hold on to the steering wheel. Then when I got to the smaller hill just above Dunbar Creek, I let it go again and almost turned the house and tractor over. I really was sweating that one! I thought that it would be easier to hold it on that hill than the other one.

In June 1998, tornadic winds blew several trees across the camp house, causing irreparable damage to it. Maybe, someday, we can do something about getting another place down there.

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