Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

September 20, 2012

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell – 09/18/12

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:44 am



I am often reminded of an On The Bright Side column that I wrote twenty-eight years ago during my tenure as the Reporter’s Editor.


The column tells about a dignified man who came into the office one day and said “May I speak to the Editor?” the man’s eye got big and his mouth flew open when I proudly said, “I am the editor”.


He quickly said, “But you don’t look like an editor”.  I just smiled and the memory has brought laughter to me several times throughout the years.  I am sure that I did not fit his image of an editor.  I was not overweight, bald-headed and I didn’t even smoke a cigar!  I did not have appearance of Lou Grant.


We often misjudge people by the way they look or by the way they talk and walk.  My story sometimes comes to mind when someone meets me for the first time.  A few weeks ago I met a man who had been reading On The Bright Side for several years but had never seen me before  When he found out my name, he said, “Are you the Mary Howell who writes for the newspaper every week?”  I smiled and said, “Yes, I am”.

The man’s expression was the same as I saw 28 years ago.  I chuckled to myself as the new friend and I began a lively conversation.


How many times do we judge others by appearance or the color of their skin?


Isn’t it wonderful that God does not judge us by our appearance.  We can be thankful that God loves us regardless of how we look.  God’s love is constant and will never leave us or forsake us when we trust Him as our Savior.  He will give us a life on the bright side.



September 19, 2012

Easily obtained lake records going unclaimed

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:14 am

Easily obtained lake records going unclaimed

Sunday, 16 September 2012 09:22 John Keith LSN
recordsRECORD RIO: Charles Dewey caught this private water body record Rio Grande cichlid, weighing 1.52 pounds, on May 30 in San Antonio. Photo by Charles Dewey.

Many anglers either aren’t worried about catching record fish, or assume they never will.

But there are a number of water bodies across the state that haven’t even had submissions for certain species of fish, and this leaves the door open for the angler who wants to obtain a record for himself.

Ron Smith, of the Inland Fisheries Department of Texas Parks and Wildlife, said the relative newness of the water body program could be a reason for lack of submissions.

“We started the water body program in 2009, so some of the water bodies haven’t even had people submit records,” he said. “The program hasn’t had time to catch up with itself — not all the water bodies have been visited by a competitive angler that participates in this.”

Smith said the minimum requirements to submit a weight record for approval include a fish being at least half a pound for adults, or .2 pounds for a junior angler.

“People can submit a fish if there’s no prior record, and that will become the record until somebody beats it,” he said. “There are a lot of water bodies people haven’t submitted records for, especially in the catch and release program.”

The qualifications for a catch and release record are different compared to a weight record where the angler must find a certified scale. Anglers must submit a picture holding the fish, a picture of the fish being measured, and also have a witness who can verify the accuracy.

Another way anglers can get into the record books is trying a less common form of fishing, such as using a fly-rod.

“We have a lot of people who will set a record for rod and reel and then they’ll try other methods of fishing,” Smith said.

Charles Dewey of San Antonio is one of the more prolific record-setters in the state, setting 137 total records, nine of which have been state records. He said being aware of the records before he fishes a particular water body makes a big difference, as well as submitting records for less-popular fish.

“I’m well aware of the records and how to get them,” Dewey said. “And I mean, who wants to get the green sunfish record for Leon Creek? Well, I do.”

Dewey thinks that not only are some anglers unaware of the current records or maybe don’t have a fishing license, but they don’t care to go through the process to obtain the record, either.

“The bass record for Live Oak City Lake is 5.25 pounds, and I watched a guy pull out a bass that must have been 8 pounds, and the guy looked at it and put it back like it was nothing,” he said. “I told him it would have been a record and he said, ‘I don’t care about records, I just like to catch them.’”

Dewey said even though he enjoys catching records, he knows it isn’t for everyone.

“If you want it bad enough, you have to be dedicated,” he said. “Records are just icing on the cake.”

A quick look on the TPWD website shows examples of records that are unclaimed.

For example, at Falcon Reservoir, there are no catfish or crappie submittals for fly-fishing records. On Lake Tawakoni, there is no submitted white bass record on a fly-rod. On Navarro Mills, there is no submission for a largemouth by a junior angler, and zero submittals for any fly-fishing records.

September 18, 2012

how to fold a t-shirt in 2 seconds

Filed under: Misc — Freddie Keel @ 5:50 am

September 17, 2012

Fish-Selling Sting

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:35 am

State Game Wardens Conclude Fish-Selling Sting

AUSTIN — State game wardens have issued citations to nine businesses which illegally purchased game fish from undercover officers during a 21-month sting conducted by the Special Operations unit of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division.

In an operation that dates to June 2010, wardens in plain clothes began offering Texas saltwater species including spotted sea trout, red drum (redfish), red snapper, southern flounder and golden croaker to seafood markets and restaurants along the upper Texas coast. Of 42 businesses approached, only 9 of those illegally purchased game fish.

Wardens made video and audio recordings of each illicit sale in addition to preserving cash received and receipts as evidence.

“While we were disappointed that some businesses knowingly purchased game fish for resale, 33 Texas businesses did the right thing and turned our wardens down,” said Col. Pete Flores, Law Enforcement Division director.

In all, wardens sold 418 pounds of fish for prices ranging from 60 cents to $4 a pound.

The number and type of misdemeanor citations filed include:

Two for purchase of protected fish (spotted sea-trout and red drum; seven for purchase of aquatic products by a wholesale fish dealer; two for having no retail fish dealer’s license; three for purchase of aquatic products by retail fish dealers; two for purchase of aquatic products by restaurant owner, operator or employee; two for possession of under size spotted sea-trout; two for possession of under size red drum; two for possession of under size red snapper and two for possession of under size flounder.

For each of these 23 Class C misdemeanors, fines can range up to $500.

According to TPWD, the nine business who are accused of purchasing the illegal fish are:

T.H. Seafood Market, Seabrook

Pier 8 Seafood Market, Seabrook

Alans Seafood Market, Kemah

Alief African Meat and Fish Market, Houston

Stingrae’s Waterfront Grill, Sargent

Daily Seafood, Houston

Hillman’s Seafood Market, Dickinson

Star Seafood, Dickinson

CN Seafood Market and Restaurant, Houston

September 16, 2012


Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:00 am






At approximately 3:15pm, Lemmie R. Butler, an instructor of manual training, turned on an electric sander.  It is believed that the sander’s switch caused a spark that ignited the gas-air mixture that had collected inside the school.  Witnesses stated that the walls of the school bulged outward, the roof lifted from the building, and then crashed back down.  The main wing of the school structure collapsed.  The force of the explosion was so great that a two-ton concrete block was thrown clear of the building and crushed a 1936 Chevrolet parked nearby.

I was only six months old at the time thus I do not recall this tragedy, but remember my parents and others discussing it for many years.  The New London school explosion occurred on March 18, 1937.  It destroyed the school of New London, Texas, a community in Rusk County.  The disaster killed more than 295 students and teachers, making it the worst catastrophe to take place in a United States school building.

Estimates of the dead vary from 296 to 319, but that number could be even higher as many of the residents of New London at the time were transient oilfield workers.  There is no way to determine for certain how many of these roughnecks collected the bodies of their children in the days following the disaster and returned them to their respective homes for burial.  Approximately 600 students and 40 teachers were inside the building at the time.  Only 130 escaped without serious injury.

In the mid-1930s the Great Depression was in full swing, but the London school district was one of the richest in America.  A 1930 oil find in Rusk County had boosted the local economy, and educational spending grew along with it.  The London School was a large structure of steel and concrete which was constructed in 1932 at a cost of $1 million dollars.  In today’s economy that would approach $16 million dollars.  The London Wildcats ( a play on the term “wildcatter”, or oil prospector ) played football in the first stadium in the state to have electric lights.

The school was built on sloping ground, and a large dead-air space was contained beneath the structure.  This turned out to be a deadly situation.  The school board had overridden the architect’s plans for a boiler and steam distribution system, instead opting to install 72 gas heaters throughout the school building.

The school board made another mistake in early 1937 in cancelling their natural gas contract and had plumbers install a tap into Parade Gasoline Company’s residue gas line in order to save money.   The natural gas extracted with the oil was seen as a waste product and was flared off.  As there was no value to the natural gas, the oil companies turned a blind eye to this procedure.  This raw gas varied in quality from day to day.

Untreated natural gas is both odorless and colorless, so leaks are undetectable.  Apparently gas had been leaking from the residue line tap, and had collected inside an enclosed crawlspace that ran the entire 253 feet length of the building’s façade.  Students had complained of headaches for some time, but little attention had been paid to it.

The resulting explosion was heard for miles.  The most immediate response was from parents at a PTA meeting in the gymnasium, a separate structure roughly 100 feet from the main building.  Within minutes area residents started to arrive at the scene and began digging through the rubble, many with their bare hands.  Roughnecks from the oil fields were released from their jobs, and brought with them cutting torches and heavy equipment needed to clear the concrete and steel.

London School bus driver, Lonnie Barber, was transporting elementary students to their homes and was in sight of the school as it exploded.  Barber continued his two-hour route, returning children to their parents before rushing back to the school to look for his four children.  His son, Arden, died, but the others were not seriously injured.  Barber retired the next year.

Aid poured in from outside the area.  Governor James Allred dispatched  Texas Rangers, highway patrol, and the Texas National Guard.  Thirty doctors, 100 nurses, and 25 embalmers arrived from Dallas, Texas.  Airmen from Barksdale Field, deputy sheriffs, and even Boy Scouts took part in the rescue and recovery efforts.  They soon discovered that most of the bodies were either burned beyond recognition, or literally blown to pieces.

Many reporters arrived to cover the story.  Among them was Walter Cronkite on one of his first assignments for United Press.  Although Cronkite went on to cover World War II and the Nuremberg trials, he was quoted as saying decades later, “I did nothing in my studies nor in my life to prepare me for a story of the magnitude of that New London tragedy, nor has any story since that awful day equaled it.”

A new school was completed in 1939 on the same property but directly behind the location of the destroyed building.  The school remained known as the London School until 1965 when London ISD consolidated with Gaston ISD.  The name was then changed to West Rusk High School, and the mascot was changed to the “Raiders”.

Experts from the U.S. Bureau of Mines concluded that the connection to the residue gas line was faulty.  The connection had allowed gas to  leak into the school.  Since the gas was invisible and odorless, the leak was unnoticed.   To reduce the damage of future leaks, the Texas Legislature began mandating within weeks of the explosion that thiols (mercaptans) be added to natural gas.  The strong odor of most thiols makes leaks quickly detectable.  The practice quickly spread worldwide.

In 2008 some of the last living survivors of the explosion shared their personal stories of their experience with documentary filmmaker Kristin Beauchamp.  The feature length documentary, titled “When Even Angels Wept”, was released in 2009 and was a first-hand account of the disaster.  It is told mostly by survivors and eye witnesses.  They share what they experienced on the afternoon leading up to the blast to what it was like to spend days searching East Texas towns, hospitals, and morgues for missing loved ones.

As of 2010 the New London School Explosion stands as the deadliest school disaster in American history, and the third deadliest disaster in the history of Texas, after the Galveston hurricane of 1900, and the 1947 Texas City dock explosion.






PO BOX 511



Cell: 936-275-6986

Email: sugarbear@netdot.com

September 15, 2012

do not go swimming or noodling

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:43 am
Tags: , ,

wow, how would you get this into your boat?

Ownership of the above photo has been claimed by Dutch angler Lucas van der Geest, who reports catching the 187-pound wels catfish near Po, Italy in 2003.

September 14, 2012

TPWD holding auction for surplus items

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:07 am
1031606661DOING WORK: Dozens of items hunters could use at their deer lease are up for auction, including this tractor. Photo by lonestaronline.com.

Hunters looking for a cheap way to secure equipment for their deer lease now have an opportunity to make some bargain purchases.

From Sept. 10 through Sept. 21, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is holding an online auction of surplus property, with items located throughout the state.

According to Greg Nash, the lead maintenance specialist at Guadalupe River State Park, items will often be sold at a good price, but sometimes bidders get a little carried away.

“I’ve seen some things go for cheaper than I thought they should, and some go for more expensive than they should,” he said. “It’s just the nature of the auction.”

Items included in the auction are dozens of vehicles, a tractor, an ATV and deer feeders. Those interested do not have to bid sight-unseen.

1031606636LOW-PRICED PROTEIN: Not only reserved for vehicles, the auction also has multiple deer feeders up for bid. Photo by lonestaronline.com.

“People can come out and look at the item,” Nash said. “We have a certain time frame set up for people to come out and look.”

Sept. 18 from 8 a.m. to noon, and then 1 to 3 p.m. is the preview time. TPWD employees and family members are not allowed to bid in the auction.

To view the items on sale, visit lonestarauctioneers.com.

September 13, 2012

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell – 9/13/12

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:07 am

 On The Bright Side

Mary Howell


September is the ninth month of the year and one of four months with a length of 30 days.  September and December are two months that begin on the same day of the week in any year because there are 91 days separating September and December.


September is one of the warmest months in the Southern United States.  Northern states have warm September days but the nights are cooler.  Autumn begins in September.    This is conducive to the beginning of one of our favorite sports, football.


Although Labor Day is the only legal holiday, September is host to several historic events.  Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” during the attack on Fort McHenry.  President McKinley died of gunshot wounds inflicted by an assassin.  Congress passed the Selective Service Act, providing for the first peacetime draft in United States history. 


The constitution of the United States was signed in 1787.  Japan surrendered in World War II as Victory over Japan on September 2, 1945.   First Congressional Congress assembled in Philadelphia in 1774.  President McKinley was shot by an assassin in 1901.  California became the 31st state in 1850.   Mary Ann Fischer gave birth to four girls and a boy, the first surviving quintuplets in the United States in 1963. 


A few famous people born in September were Jesse James, J P Morgan, Jr., Queen Elizabeth, Antonin Dvorak, Robert Taft, Walter Reed and James Fenimore Cooper.


September has always been a special month for the Howell family since our mother, Leta Thorp Howell was born on September 12, 1909.  We also celebrate birthdays for my brother-in-law, Neal Murphy on September 2 and My sister Jane Howell Creech on September 22 and our niece, Angie Barber on September 18.


I want to wish everyone happy September days on the bright side.


September 12, 2012

2012 hunting season is just around the corner

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:13 am

Our game cameras are shooting some nice images

of deer, coons, birds and rabbits.

Notice right ear of this young buck.

September 11, 2012

Kayaking time

Filed under: Family — Freddie Keel @ 6:38 am


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