Sunday, August 31, 2008

BBC Quixote and I disembarking Walnut Branch

The fishermen who came here at the turn of the 20th Century called this locale Sand Point. Its previous inhabitants, I've been told were members of the fierce and reportedly cannibalistic Karankawa tribe.

The area later was known as Star, The Pass, Mustang Island, and Tarpon. According to the Port A South Jetty newspaper, it was finally named Port Aransas by the U.S. Postal Service.

I've been coming down here for years, with my grandparents, later with friends, and more lately with my family. I hitchhiked down here and slept in a tent on the beach for about a week in the early 1970s while I looked for a job on a shrimp boat in a nearby harbor.

I lied about having shrimping experience, and the Norwegian boat captain - Bronko Viducik - threatened to throw me overboard when he found out I had never popped a head off a shrimp to feel its heartbeat.

No matter, I was seasick for three days on that wooden hull boat. It bobbed around in rough seas like a cork.

So I limped back home, and two weeks later, the friend who had convinced me to go down there showed up with a pocket full of cash.

"Get on a steel hull, they don't rock as much," he explained.

So down there I went again, and landed a job as a shrimp header on a 70-ft steel hull shrimp boat, the "Nancy."

The boat was still there last time I checked on it, 30-odd years later.

And now, it looks like I will be "still there" the last time you checked - futuristically speaking.

Come down to Port Aransas, New Philippines (you know where), and you'll find me in my own office just off the ferry, at the Port A South Jetty newspaper, where the dress code is casual Friday every day, and I'll be learning the concepts and consequences of "island time."

Surf's up and the fish are biting. Have a nice day.

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