My Dad Never Showed Me How To Fish With A Rod And Reel

My dad was too figgitity to sit and fish. He picked things to do that would keep him on the move. Cec never watched sports either, that would require sitting in one spot for a few minutes. He never was much on sitting in a movie theater, either. If he did go to a movie he’d be up and down 20 times, coming and going.

We took Bonnie Gay and Cecil with us to a music concert, I think it was a time Tammy Wynette and George Jones came to the Palmer Auditorium. I think Charley Pride was there too. It was a really memorable night. Tammy came out on the stage and was talking to us for just a second. While she was talking the drummer was tapping the stick against the side of the drum. That irritated Ms. Wynette so she decided to straiten him out in front all of us. It seemed to go on and on. I felt sorry for the poor drummer, like I’m sure the rest of the crowd did. My best guess is Cec missed that. He only stayed seated for maybe 5 minutes, the he was up walking around trying to find a place to smoke. Not sure he ever came back and took a seat.

He never was one to sit and read or watch TV. However, in his later years he took to watching cooking shows. He would watch for hours. He loved Yan Can Cook. He also loved to watch infomercials and watching Bob Ross paint pictures. I think Bob Ross painted the same picture every episode. I know his frizzy hair always looked the same.

If I learn to patiently sit still with a pole in my hand it would have been from my mother, Bonnie Gay. That little ole woman could sit all day long and never get a bite and not be bothered at all. I remember her telling me to “just leave your bait in the water. You won’t catch anything with your hook up here on the dock”.

We stayed down on the coast one summer, I think it was 1961. Cec was working on a construction project in Woodsboro and had a little house rented. So that summer we joined him. She would take us over to Bayside, a thriving little fishing village just a few miles from Woodsboro. There was a long wooden pier that we would fish from. She would pack us a lunch and we’d spend all day there. Sometimes Cec would come join us in the late afternoon and we’d stay until late at night fishing under the lights. You never knew what you’d catch. But almost every time you cast, something would come back in within a few minutes.

The strange thing about Bayside. Now when I go there, or cut through there from trips to Rockport or Port “A” over the years, there are remnants of the old pier and some other somewhat familiar things, severely altered by hurricanes and the years. It’s been over 50 years. But the shocking thing is the water is mostly gone. The area of the pier is mostly high and dry. I’m not sure if the sea level has dropped or silting from years of farming in the area has filled in that part of Copano Bay.

I guess when I look back on my life, I took things from both parents. Hard work from them both.

From My Mom: A steadiness and patience. She put up with Cecil Lewis for all of her 57 years, minus the 15 years before they married, that would be 42.
A deep need to help people. She never turned down anyone on anything. Even though she was near the bottom in birth order, 8th child out of 11, she was the anchor of that family. The one that brought them all together. The only one that stayed tied to Smithwick for her whole life.
A need to hug everyone. She wasn’t afraid to touch people. I’m her on steroids, when it comes to hugging. Boy’s growing up don’t especially like being hugged, but that never deterred me, nor does it now. Yes they still get aggravated with me, I think. Grandkids accept it better for some reason.
My mother was always a great cook. Nothing was better than her fried venison, fried taters, gravy and biscuits. Her fried cottontail was pretty good too. My love for cooking must have developed for from her.

From My Dad: A restlessness and a need to not sit still for long.
I have even display a temper reminiscent of Cecil Lewis. But with an ability to get over a temper fit almost as fast as it came over him, is a trait of ours.
A desire to lift a helping hand. It didn’t matter who was doing what, he’d stop and lend a hand.
A certain hard headedness that seems to be a Lewis thing.
We share in a real human quirk to be able to over look major screw ups, as with employees or sons, but come completely unglued with small things that matter little.
Never tell Cecil Lewis something couldn’t be done, because he would always prove you wrong. I’m kind of that way too. A challenge is what we both looked for. He would do some things in the most unorthodox ways, but he’d make it work.
For better or worse, I think he was more able to make money than he was able to hold on it. I share in that trait as well.

Back to the beginning of this story, I don’t want to imply that Cecil Lewis wasn’t able to bring home boat loads of fish. He just didn’t do it standing on the river bank with a pole in his hand. More on this will follow in a story from Kenny Lewis.

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