Tadpole's Outdoor Blog

June 28, 2013

New Texas Laws

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

New Texas Laws Protect Seagrass, Control Aquatic Invasives

AUSTIN – Two of the dozens of bills that came out of the 83rd Texas Legislature affect boaters, anglers and other Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stakeholders.

One measure is a new law that will expand seagrass protection coast-wide. The other authorizes rules requiring boaters to drain and dry their vessels to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels.

House Bill 3279 establishes a statewide law that makes it illegal to uproot seagrass in all coastal waters. This is similar to an existing TPWD regulation in the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area near Rockport, where it is Class C misdemeanor to uproot seagrass with a motorboat outboard propeller. In connection with the bill, TPWD plans to enhance its ongoing coast wide seagrass educational campaign to inform boaters. The bill takes effect Sept. 1.

House Bill 1241 enhances TPWD’s ability to prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species, especially zebra mussels in fresh water.

Specifically, the bill gives the TPW Commission authority to enact rules to directly require boat operators leaving public lakes or other public waters to drain water from their vessels. This is intended to prevent the unintentional transportation of invasives to other fresh water bodies. It does not apply to salt water.

The new rules could be strategically applied to infested waters and nearby waters with a high risk of infestation.  Enactment of new rules authorized by this law requires commission approval, which will occur later this year and will include opportunity for public comment.

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June 27, 2013

Mr. and Mrs. Tadpole

Filed under: Family — Freddie Keel @ 6:44 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

fk_gk_061913Vacationing in Cancun

June 26, 2013

On the Bright Side – Mary Howell – June 26, 2013

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:26 am

 

The residents of Hemphill Care Center say a big thank you to all our friends from Fairdale Baptist Church for the wonderful fish fry which was given on the last Friday in May. Our Fairdale friends were named Volunteer of the Month of June. We send our congratulations to them.

 

Congratulations also go to the June Employees of the Month JoAnn Kusterman and Cree Mohr, and to our Resident of the Month Edgar Smith.

 

We have been blessed to have had several summer showers. Some of us remember that old timers said that if it rains on June 1st it will rain approximately 20 days before the end of the month.

 

We enjoyed having the Hope Family Clowns from Lakes Area Hospice to entertain us. They shared photos of us wearing our hats during our Springtime Hats Style Show.

 

After the annual fishing trip Edgar Smith was given the name “Turtle Man” since he had the biggest catch of the day which was a HUGE turtle. Stan Bible caught the first “keeper” but his wife Marti caught the most fish that day.

 

Appreciation is expressed to our June Bingo sponsors: Hemphill Church of Christ, Kelli from East Texas Home Health, Parkway Baptist Church, and Carletta from Consolidated Healthcare Services, American Legion Post #197, and Janet from Texas Home Health. We enjoyed the prizes given to the winners.

 

June birthday wishes go to our friends Berniece Perimon, Jacqueline Younger, Hebert Gilson, Mildred Jordan, Benton Poindexter, and Edith Parker. The Harbor Hospice will honor them with a party June 27th.

 

On Sunday June 16th our fathers were honored with a Father’s Day party given by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary #10351. Edgar Smith was recognized as the oldest father at age 94. Also honored was Stan Bible as having the most children, and Louis Scott as the youngest father.

 

The following Monday was National Vegetable Day. The residents enjoyed an all-vegetable lunch served by the kitchen staff. We were reminded of days from our childhood when we had fresh vegetables from our parent’s gardens.

 

During the month of June, worship services and gospel singing were provided by the following churches: Hemphill First Baptist Church, Hemphill Church of Christ, Fairdale Baptist Church, Community Fellowship Church, Parkway Baptist Church, Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Bethany Baptist Church, Harvest Assembly of God Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

Attorney Lonnie Davis was our guest speaker June 19th. He spoke about the origin of Juneteenth and the history of Sabine County schools before segregation. Mr. Davis kept our attention with his interesting presentation of local history and memories of his school days.

 

Later that afternoon the Pineywood Pick’rs entertained us with lively music and a bit of pickin’ and grinnin’.

 

Our sympathy is expressed to the family and friends of Jeanette Moyer, Larry Brown, and Helen Virgens.

 

Thank you to all of our staff, visitors, and volunteers that help to make Hemphill Care Center a good home away from home. They give us days on the bright side.

 

June 25, 2013

Free gun initiative begins in Houston neighborhood

Filed under: Misc — Freddie Keel @ 6:30 am

HOUSTON (AP) — Houston resident Cheryl Strain‘s inexperience with guns was apparent as she struggled to load shells into a 20-gauge shotgun.

Over the piercing blasts of gunfire in the shooting range, Strain’s instructor, Dan Blackford, patiently directed her on how to use her thumb to shove a shell all the way inside the barrel and feel it click.

“Now we got a round in the chamber ready to go,” Blackford said as he positioned her body on the right way to hold the shotgun. “Look down your sight, put that BB right in the middle of your target and press the trigger.”

Strain’s northwest Houston community of Oak Forest is the first neighborhood in the country being trained and equipped by the Armed Citizen Project, a Houston nonprofit that is giving away free shotguns to single women and residents of neighborhoods with high crime rates.

While many cities have tried gun buy-backs and other tactics in the ongoing national debate on gun control, the nonprofit and its supporters say gun giveaways to responsible owners are actually a better way to deter crime. The organization, which plans to offer training classes in Dallas, San Antonio, and Tucson, Ariz., in the next few weeks, is working to expand its giveaways to 15 cities by the end of the year, including Chicago and New York.

But others in Houston, while expressing support for Second Amendment rights, question whether more guns will result in more gun-related deaths rather than less crime.

Residents of Oak Forest say their neighborhood, made up of older one-story houses and a growing number of new townhomes, has experienced a recent rash of driveway robberies and home burglaries. On a recent Sunday afternoon, a group of 10 residents, including Strain, went through training at Shiloh Shooting, a northwest Houston gun range.

Kyle Coplen, the project’s 29-year-old founder said his group expects to train at least 50 Oak Forest residents and put up signs saying the neighborhood is armed.

“When we have a crime wave, we don’t just say let’s just increase police and that’s all we do. We do multiple things. I see this as one aspect of what we can do,” said Coplen, who graduated from the University of Houston with a master’s degree in public administration.

It costs the organization about $300 to arm and train an individual and about $20,000 for an entire neighborhood. All costs are paid through donations, said Coplen, though he declined to say how much his organization has raised so far.

While some residents in the neighborhood are supportive, several officials have mixed feelings about it.

Sandra Keller, Strain’s neighbor, said she is participating in part because of the helplessness she felt after her furniture store was robbed a couple of years ago.

“If you don’t have a gun, you’re just a walking victim. You’re just waiting for somebody to take advantage of you and your property,” said Keller, 64, after practicing at the shooting range.

But Houston City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, who represents Oak Forest, said, “I have serious concerns about more guns in homes.”

Cohen said she supports Second Amendment rights and believes that such a responsibility should include proper training and background checks.

David Hemenway, a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health who has written about firearms and health, said studies suggesting gun ownership deters crime have been refuted by many others that say the opposite.

“Mostly what guns seem to do is make situations more lethal because most crime has nothing to do with guns,” he said. “When there is a gun in the mix, there is much more likely to be somebody dying or somebody incredibly hurt.”

Proponents of increased gun ownership point to a variety of statistics to support their argument, including ones showing that some cities with strict gun control laws, like Chicago, still have high murder rates.

Blackford, the firearm instructor in the Oak Forest training, said the group is teaching residents not only how to handle and store a weapon but also when to use deadly force.

“The sad part is most people think if you’re pro-gun, that you’ve got this gunslinger attitude, that you are walking around looking for a gun fight to get into and that is so far from the truth,” said Blackford, a former Secret Service agent.

Harris County Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen, whose deputies patrol Oak Forest, said that while he believes the best deterrent to crime is effective neighborhood watch programs, he believes people should have the right to protect themselves.

“In terms of having a shotgun, after you’ve been properly trained on it, to have that in your home to protect your home, I’m for it,” he said.

Strain, 46, a single mother who has never owned a gun, said she was nervous firing the shotgun but that more training will help. She also had her 12-year-old son Rory practice firing the shotgun so “if God forbid something happens, he could be prepared as well.”

June 23, 2013

CAMP SAN AUGUSTINE BY: NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Neal Murphy — Freddie Keel @ 6:15 am

 

Most of us older folk remember when San Augustine was the home of a German prisoner of war camp.  This camp was hastily built in the spring of 1944 on the site that was the fair grounds for many years. The site is now the location of the Rodeo grounds and high school football practice field on state highway 147, just north of the high school.

war_camp

I was around eight years old when all this activity occurred.  I vividly recall the large tents which housed the prisoners, eight to a tent.  The guards were housed in smaller tents, two in each.  Captain Walter Brooks was the camp warden and was assisted by Sgt. Tony Ball and Staff Sgt. Gordon Stickel, among a number of other guards.

Camp San Augustine was a satellite of Camp Fannin, located in Smith County near Tyler.  It normally housed 331 prisoners though swelled to near 1,000 just before it was closed down in April of 1946.

In 1943 the lumber companies in East Texas suffered from a lack of male workers because these men had been drafted into military service.  The harvesting of trees was behind schedule and the saw mills were losing money.  Some hired females to work in the forests but this did not work out as most thought the work too dangerous for them.

The timber industry was further damaged due to a severe ice storm which occurred on January 13, 1944.  Thousands of pine trees were felled or otherwise damaged.  This, combined with the lack of male workers, prompted the U.S. Government to dip into the 80,000 pool of German prisoners of war and move many of them to camps in East Texas – Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Chireno, San Augustine, and in Shelby County.  Their work duty was identified as “Forestry”.  The prisoners then filled in the gap of male workers in the forests.

war_camp1

I recall that many of the San Augustine citizenry were uneasy having to live in close proximity of those “Nazi criminals”.  To add insult to injury, the prisoners were given the first batch of ice in the mornings while the locals had to wait.  The prisoners were also given packs of cigarettes before the locals could purchase theirs.  All this had a negative impact on the attitude of the community.

Soon after the camp was in operation a German translator was sent to San Augustine to work there.  His name was C. George Goetz, born 4-09-1912 in Germany.  Mr. Goetz married a San Augustine lady and eventually owned and operated a clothing store in San Augustine, and was elected state Representative.

Mr. Goetz was fond of stating that he was the most popular man in the area because beer was available inside the facility.  San Augustine was a dry county at the time, however the camp was owned by the Government.  Beer was made available to the prisoners and those who worked there.  Mr. Goetz reported that many local men would “drop by” the facility just to drink beer and discuss the progress of the war with him.

Camp security was rather lax as compared to prisons of today.  However, not many prisoners attempted to escape.  Two men did escape one night and wandered through the underbrush for a couple of days.  They began to have red bumps on their legs and torso which they mistook as the “pox”, and scurried back to the camp for medical treatment.  Their red bumps were actually East Texas chiggers or red bugs as I knew them.

On another occasion a prisoner escaped but was spotted by a young boy playing in the area.  He notified his father who called the sheriff.  The prisoner’s freedom was short lived.  It seems that the prisoners were treated quite well, on the whole, and were well behaved and good workers.

A German family living in San Augustine at the time, the Keidels, had migrated from Germany many years before.  Their brick home was directly across the street from the POW camp.  One of the Keidel daughters became friendly with one of the prisoners. She would walk across the road and visit with him through the fence as often as she could.  After the war ended, the prisoner, Otto Rinkenauer, returned to San Augustine and the couple were married.

After the war ended, the government began closing the POW camps.  Camp San Augustine remained open longer then any other branch camp. Consequently, other prisoners were housed there, temporarily swelling the number of prisoners to over one thousand.  The camp was finally closed in April of 1946 bringing to a close a unique era in the history of San Augustine County.

SOURCES:

  1. Personal Knowledge.
  2. Mr. Curt Goetz
  3. “Nazis In The Piney Woods” by Mark Choate.
  4. Photos courtesy of Tony Ball and Dorothy Mae Tannery

June 22, 2013

Game Warden Field Notes

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:01 am

The following items are compiled from recent Texas Parks and Wildlife Department law enforcement reports.

  • Drifting Away
    Two Val Verde County game wardens responded to a distress call involving a small child trapped in a drifting boat.  The boat had drifted into the middle of Lake Amistad with a 7-year-old child, and the family was unable to retrieve it.  The wardens quickly responded with their patrol boat, found find the vessel and reunited the young boy with a very grateful family.
  • The All-Knowing Game Warden
    A Floyd/Hale County game warden saw the driver of a pickup truck shoot a .22 rifle into a wheat field across the street about 30 feet away from where he was stationed.  While the warden tried to get a license plate number, the vehicle took off and stopped about 100 yards down the road. The driver then fired another shot into the field.  The warden took off in the direction of the vehicle and caught up to the driver a few miles down the road. The driver admitted to shooting grackles in the field and did not seem happy to be stopped. He then told the warden he knew what he was doing was wrong and that he should go find a real criminal. The driver then asked the warden how he knew that he was the one who had shot off the road and wanted to know who told on him. The warden politely let the individual know that he sees everything that goes on and left it at that. The man received a citation for hunting from a public roadway.
  • Fishing for Trouble
    A Hemphill County game warden and an Ochiltree County game warden observed a group of nine people in a remote section of Palo Duro Lake, upstream from the main lake in an area that is rarely used recreationally.  Undetected, the two wardens approached the group on foot and saw various actions associated with possible illegal fishing activity.  After watching the group for a while, the wardens split up and approached the group from opposite directions.  When the wardens announced their presence, the group scattered and the wardens saw that one of the men was carrying a scoped black rifle.  After several tense moments, the wardens were able to talk to the man and got him to put down the rifle.  When the group was rounded back up, nine individuals from Oklahoma were found to be in possession of various types of fish, including 24 undersize crappie and 5 undersize channel cats.  These were removed, measured, photographed and released.
  • Swim at Your Own Risk
    A Lubbock County game warden and a Deaf Smith/Castro/Parmer county game warden were patrolling Buffalo Springs Lake when they noticed two young girls trying to swim across the lake in an area with very heavy boat traffic.  Both girls appeared to be very exhausted and were struggling to stay above water.  The wardens quickly responded as one of the girls went underwater for an extended amount of time.  The girl then surfaced as the patrol boat arrived at their location.  Both girls were rescued and pulled aboard the patrol boat, then delivered safely to the shore.  The wardens then took a moment to educate the very grateful girls about the dangers of trying to swim across the lake.
  • Hand-y Fishing
    A Smith County game warden was patrolling boat ramps around Lake Palestine when he saw three people in the water hand fishing.  A fourth man was on the bank putting fish in the truck and watching the parking lot.  The warden watched the fisherman from the bushes for about 45 minutes.  When the last man came out of the water, he eased a snag pole to the man who was looking out, who quickly put the pole on the back of the truck.  The warden made contact with the group and tickets were issued for no fishing licenses and for taking fish by illegal means and methods.  The fish were returned to the water.
  • Abandon Ship
    A Grayson County game warden was checking striper fishermen on Lake Texoma when he noticed smoke coming from a boat about three quarters of a mile away.  The warden notified the local fire department and approached the boat.  Two people had stopped their 16-foot jet boat and noticed smoke coming from the engine cover.  The boaters attempted to put the fire out with their fire extinguisher, but the fire was too intense.  The occupants put on their life jackets and abandoned the boat and a passing fisherman picked them up.  The warden transferred the two men to his boat and transported them to a local marina.
  • In Tow
    A Dallas County game warden and a lieutenant were patrolling Joe Pool Lake for water safety violations when they saw a boat towing a tube with a 12-year-old child well after dark.  The wardens made the stop and determined that the driver of the boat was intoxicated and they arrested him for BWI.
  • Age is Just a Number
    A Williamson County game warden saw eight teenagers walking down the road toward Lake Georgetown.  They parked in a grocery store’s parking lot a mile from the lake and were “borrowing” a shopping cart to carry their ice chest and belongings.  While discussing the shopping cart issue, the warden noticed another individual carrying an ice chest.  When asked what was in it, the owner said there was nothing in it.  The warden told him that it didn’t make sense to carry a brand new ice chest to the lake empty.  When asked to open it, the teenager hesitated.  But when asked a second time, it was discovered the ice chest was just a big container for his marijuana, pipe and a bottle of eye drops.  After the teen was placed under arrest and told he was heading to jail, his response was, “But I’m seventeen.”
  • “It Was My Dog’s Fault”
    Two game wardens and a cadet filed multiple citations on an individual for violating the daily bag limit for white bass.  The violator had 21 fish over his daily bag limit.  He claimed it was his dog’s fault and that he needed to get a fish counter.
  • Cedar Tree Helps with Traffic Stop
    While patrolling county roads for hunting activity, a Burnet County game warden came across a truck that was having a hard time staying on the roadway.  The truck then ran a stop sign and the warden attempted to stop it.  The truck sped up, so the warden pursued the truck for 15 miles down several county roads.  During the chase, the driver was throwing beer bottles out of his window.  The truck crashed into a cedar tree, getting stuck, and the warden took the driver into custody.  He was charged with evading arrest and driving while intoxicated.

June 21, 2013

Catching assortment of fish

fk_amberjack_061713Whether it is a 20 # Amber Jack from the surf

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fk_croaker_061713or Croaker from Lagoon

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fk_fish_061713or a perch from the lagoon.

June 20, 2013

On The Bright Side – Mary Howell

Filed under: Mary Howell — Freddie Keel @ 6:28 am

 

The month of June is one of four months that have thirty days.  We always think of Father’s Day as the most important holiday in June but June has attributes to celebrate.  A quick look at the Internet reminds us that June 14th is Flag Day.  The first flag of the United States was adopted by Congress in 1777.  As we know now, our flag had thirteen stripes representing the first 13 states along with fifty stars which represent the fifty states.

 

June is named for the Roman goddess Juno.  The month of June is a popular month for weddings perhaps because Juno was the goddess of marriage.

 

June is also a popular time of the year for Vacation Bible School.  Sabine County churches of various denomination will be sponsoring Vacation Bible Schools to teach the children about God’s love and His Son, Jesus.

 

Historic events which occurred during June were Benjamin Franklin’s discovery of electricity and the Korean War began in June, 1950.

 

The flower for the month of June is the rose.  The rose is a symbol of love and appreciation and the rose also is the flower of passion.  Roses come in a wide variety of colors.  Each color has a different meaning.  Red roses symbolize love, white roses symbolize innocence and purity. Light pink roses are a symbol of admiration or sympathy.

 

Although June only has thirty days, let us be thankful for every day that God gives us a life and have a life on the bright side.

 

 

June 18, 2013

Tips for Keeping Bass Alive in the Heat

Filed under: Fishing & Hunting — Freddie Keel @ 6:32 am

#The hotter the weather, the more difficult it is to keep bass in livewells healthy, especially during tournaments, when heavy limits of fish may be held for several hours until weigh-in.”Dissolved oxygen is the single most important factor for keeping bass alive,” said Randy Myers, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologist from San Antonio. “It is very difficult to supply enough oxygen to keep tournament limits of 30 pounds or more alive. Such limits are common at Falcon, Amistad and other Texas reservoirs.”Modern bass boats typically have two ways of maintaining oxygen levels in livewells. One is to continuously exchange water in the livewell with lake water. The other is to mix air with water so that oxygen in the air can be dissolved into the water. For specific instructions concerning livewell management procedures see http://assets.espn.go.com/winnercomm/outdoors/bassmaster/pdf/b_con_KeepingBassAlive.pdf.Unfortunately for the fish, neither method can maintain sufficient oxygen in the water when the weight of fish in the livewell exceeds one pound of fish for every gallon of water and water temperatures are high. “There is only a small buffer between the oxygen level maintained by recirculation systems and the oxygen level detrimental to fish survival when a livewell contains a small to moderate limit of fish,” Myers said. “Fish displace water in the livewell, reducing the amount of water available to hold oxygen, and in the case of a heavy limit, there may not be enough water in the livewell to hold sufficient oxygen to keep the fish alive.”

garrett_bass_129211

Tournaments exact a penalty for dead fish brought to weigh-in, so anglers do what they can to keep their catch alive, but their options are limited. “It is not advisable to continuously exchange water during summer months, because reservoir surface water temperatures often become excessive later in the day and can contribute to mortality,” Myers said. “Alternatively, anglers can add ice to the livewell to slow fish’s metabolism, run recirculation pumps continuously to provide oxygen by mixing and exchange water in livewells only two or three times a day.”

Recent research by TPWD showed that during summer months most mortality of tournament-caught fish occurs one to three days after they are released back into the reservoir. This is called delayed mortality. “Delayed mortality ranged from 18.2 percent to 43.1 percent of the fish in tournaments held when the water temperature exceeded 79 degrees Fahrenheit,” Myers said. “Adding mortality of fish weighed in dead can result in total mortality of 50 percent. Use of appropriate livewell management and fish-care procedures will increase the likelihood of long-term survival of fish caught in tournaments and then released.”

TPWD hatcheries routinely use oxygen injection in hauling tanks to maintain the health of fish even when transporting more than one pound of fish to one gallon of water. “However, boat manufacturers do not offer oxygen injection systems, and very few tournament anglers have installed oxygen equipment on their boats,” Myers noted.

In addition to being a fisheries biologist, Myers is a tournament angler, and he has installed an oxygen injection system in his personal boat. “The total cost of components is less than that of many high-end fishing rods,” he said.

TPWD’s Inland Fisheries team in San Antonio tested various oxygen cylinders, regulators, hoses, connectors and diffusers and developed a simple, effective and safe system that anglers can install in their bass boats. Equipment was evaluated on three different bass boat makes, each having a slightly different recirculation system. Testing revealed that livewell oxygen concentration after one hour was about twice as high for the oxygen injection system compared to standard recirculation.

“Proper installation and operation of an oxygen injection system will ensure oxygen levels remain above the preferred level of 7 mg/l even when livewells contain heavy limits,” Myers said.

Tournament-caught fish also often suffer from overinflated air bladders, a condition called barotrauma. This condition can be relieved by a procedure commonly called fizzing. For information about barotrauma and fizzing see http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/?req=20110202d.

June 16, 2013

“THE TORNADO” – NEAL MURPHY

Filed under: Uncategorized — Freddie Keel @ 6:01 am

 

My cousin, Glen Anderson, and I were playing in my front yard that spring afternoon of March 5, 1943.  We had a new metal dump truck that we were using to move dirt all over the sand pile in a world of our own making.  The country was on a war footing and occasionally an airplane would fly over our small town.  Hearing a roaring noise we looked toward the sky for a military airplane flying overhead.  Instead of an airplane, we saw an ugly dark cloud in the northwest sky hanging low over the horizon. Glen decided it was time for him to go home, so he ran up the highway toward his home about a quarter mile away.

I ran around to the back yard of my home and found my grandmother, my fourteen year old sister, and my fifteen year old brother staring at a tornado funnel cloud approaching us rapidly.  My grandmother, Mary, was wringing her hands while chanting, “Oh, Lord! What should I do with these kids?”  My older brother, Richard, suggested that we run and  lie down in a ditch, which looking back was not bad advice.

Actually, we had no time to go anywhere as the funnel cloud was headed straight toward our house.  We all ran into the house and out the front door. Standing on the front porch we saw that the tornado had made a right hand turn and was traveling directly through our small town.  I saw debris flying everywhere from the cloud about half a mile away.  Then it began to hail, or actually chunks of ice fell from the sky, not like regular hail.

My grandfather, Big Daddy to us grand kids, was terribly afraid of dark and dangerous looking clouds.  He could tell if the clouds contained high winds, heavy rain, hail, or a tornado with just a quick study of them.  Several years before I was born he and my father had constructed a “storm cellar” about half way between our houses.  They dug a hole in the earth approximately ten feet square.  They walled it in with planks, put in a metal pipe for ventilation, built steps down to the bottom, and a large wooden cellar door to seal it off.

I recall several occasions when Big Daddy came to our house during the night and warned our family to “head for the storm cellar till this storm blows over.”  Dad would throw me over his shoulder, gather up the rest of us and take an oil lamp into the cellar and close the door.  The storm cellar had been stocked with drinking water, lamp oil, matches, a flashlight, one cot, and a couple of cane-bottom chairs.  Not quite the Holiday Inn, but adequate protection from the elements.

If there ever was a time that we should have been in that storm cellar, it was now.  We just did not have enough advanced warning to make it there.  So, we were depending upon fate, or angels, to see us safely though the storm.

My mother, Alice, was working as a beautician in her “Powder Puff Beauty Shop” in the downtown area of San Augustine when the tornado hit.  My father was in his office in the county court house when he noticed the angry, dark funnel cloud bearing down upon the town.  Panicked, he decided to drive the three blocks to the beauty shop and get my mother.  As he drove his old Chevrolet up in front of the beauty shop he saw tree limbs, sheet metal, lumber, and plate glass blowing past him.  Suddenly, his car lifted up off the pavement several inches, then sat back down.

He lay down in the driver’s seat until things settled down a bit, then ran into the shop to check on my mother.  She was fine but well shaken.  She had to physically restrain a customer who panicked and tried to run out the back door at the height of the storm.  Immediately after pulling her back inside, a large plate of glass crashed into the concrete steps and shattered.  Lightning had struck something at the shop, and a red ball of fire came out of an electrical outlet and danced across the floor.  Other than these incidents, the ladies were not injured, now was her shop damaged.

Worried about their house and family, mother and dad got into his car and headed toward home to check on the status of  “Murphy Hill”.  Heavy damage was evident all around them, as houses, barns, businesses, and trees had all suffered.  Fear welled up in their hearts as they raced the two miles out Highway 147 to our home.  They noticed that the German concentration camp had no damage which relieved their fear somewhat.  As it turned out, we were all fine as the tornado had turned away from us and turned more easterly through the downtown area.

Only one fatality was caused by the storm.  A young boy, Ezra Bryant, was killed when struck by flying timber.  Only five other minor injuries were reported.  Although there was a lot of damage we were lucky considering only one fatality and a few minor injuries.

Later on that evening I recall hearing fire trucks and ambulances from neighboring towns arriving to assist our small volunteer fire department in rescue operations.  Doctors and nurses from Center, Nacogdoches, and Lufkin came to render aid.  Military authorities and members of the Texas Defense Guard from Nacogdoches, San Augustine, Angelina, and Sabine Counties  all responded within hours.

All of this made a deep impression on my seven-year old mind.  I drew pictures of the tornado funnel cloud over and over for several years.

Back to the storm cellar.  It was used several times up until I entered high school.  My dad purchased a new Bendix television set from Tom Saunders, and we always watched the weather reports.  Big Daddy lost his storm forecasting job to the weather men.  Over time the storm cellar caved in and my dad filled it with dirt.  Today I cannot pinpoint its exact location, only the general vicinity.  But the memories are still there.

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