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Growing up in Bandera

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Fall is my favorite time of the year for several reasons. School is back in session after summer vacation so there is less traffic on the lake. People are anticipating colder weather, so the pleasure boats and jet skis are dry docked. The cooler temperatures mean the bass will be congregating on the points in feeding frenzies. So, what’s not to like?

As a youngster, my favorite season was spring. The weather patterns were warming, indicating summer would soon follow with the highly anticipated summer school vacation. I wasn’t yet an avid baseball fan, so spring training wasn’t anything I was aware of or following. That would come later in life when I went through Army basic training with Ken Holzman of the Chicago Cubs. Every kid in the neighborhood claimed to be Mickey Mantel when we stepped up to the plate on the field near St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

It was a time to get some cane poles rigged up with hook, line, sinker and a cork. Yes, I know, the corks were actually made of plastic by that time, but the old-timers only had cork floats in their earlier life, so I naturally picked up on their angling lingo. Here I am in my seventies and they are still corks to me. Plastic or not!

Back in the day, I got most of my fishing and hunting needs from the Western Auto Store. It was where the Bandera Bank parking lot is now located. They carried a big variety so that made it the go-to place. We didn’t need to worry if the store was closed when we suddenly discovered we were out of hooks or .22 shells. Most all of the filling stations in town carried an adequate supply of the basic needs. The old Texaco station even carried some fishing lures like the ones I have today in my vintage lure collection. Back in the day I didn’t have to worry about being asked my age when buying my .22 rifle shells.

Even though our winters are mild compared to most of the country, I can recall some frigid walks to school. While attending St. Joseph’s, I had a three block walk south unless Tom Adamietz hadn’t yet planted his corn field. It was my shortcut which made my trip a little over two blocks. Walking over to the high school was sometimes brutal because I would be headed north and directly into a blue norther.

Summer was hit and miss for me while Growing Up In Bandera, depending on my mom’s chore lists. She often had to hunt me down because I was spending every minute I could down on the river. I was often tempted to ignore that old truck horn honking, but I knew the consequences involved so I always came running.