Editor’s Note: Growing Up in Bandera is available in book form! Visit the Bulletin’s office or call 830796-3718 for more info.
Springtime is fast approaching and I’m looking forward to some warmer temperatures. It’s always been that way for me but now the reasons are a bit different.
For many years I found myself bass fishing even in the most extreme winter weather conditions. I was obsessed and I spent many days fishing from the frozen icy deck of my boat. The low temperatures would cause the line guides on my rod to freeze and yet I kept going. There was no way I wanted to work in a similar situation but fishing was just different. Times like those would make me more appreciative of the coming warmer days of spring.
Today the boat and rod and reels have collected several months of dust and cobwebs. My thoughts are not even focused on such things. Rather I am thinking about the days ahead when I will have the company of my great grandkids. The days might include some perch jerking fishing lessons with a cane pole or simply continuing some of the traditions carried on by many generations of Bandera kids of all ages. It was always challenging to see who could skip a rock the furthest distance across the surface of the Medina River. Sometimes it was simply chunking rocks just to make a splash. I now jokingly call it trying to fill the river with rocks. If I had a penny for every rock… Because of their ages I will have some weekdays available during school time to take the kids to the river and we can get into the water without the bother of crowds. Now that will be special as we can visit Dripping Springs where Bandera’s young folks have learned to swim for over the 150 years the town has existed. Their first time jumping off the big rock and swimming to the shallows will be epic in their minds as it was in mine many years ago.
Of course we are going to include hot dogs and marshmallows along with watermelons just like back in the day. There won’t be an open small fire on the riverbank like we used to enjoy due to modern day rules. It was fun just gathering up sticks to build those fires and then enjoying the fruits of our labor by roasting weiners and marshmallows on willow tree limbs we had cut and stripped. Things will never again be like the days when my mom would load up all of her kids in our old Chevy pickup truck bed and head down the gravel roads to the river. We often had friends with us or picked them up along the way. The hot summer sun would make that metal plate in the truck bed so hot we knew to wet our towels in the river so we had a cool place to sit on the way home.
That event played out over and over as I was Growing Up In Bandera. It was like a scene from the Little Rascals as that old truck was loaded with kids and creating a cloud of dust as it traveled down a gravel road. Sometimes we were being chased by a neighborhood dog that we encouraged by waving towels, hollering and kicking our feet at it off the back of the truck. It was what my mom often referred to as acting like a bunch of wild Indians.