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And now you know: A Boys Day on the Lake

By Mike Louviere

The Sabine River has been the lifeblood of Orange. It was the river that brought some of the first settlers to Orange, it was the river that brought trade goods to Orange and carried finished products from Orange to the rest of the nation. There were railroads, and there were highways that were little more than dirt roads that ran in and out of Orange, but the slow moving river was what made Orange and kept Orange a growing town. The river was also where citizens went for recreation.

Excursions on the river were popular for all types of recreation, from simple sightseeing to fishing trips.

Captain A.L. Myers ran his fast gasoline launch, Nicholas, on regular Saturday trips to Sabine Lake. Reports on these and other river excursions were regularly reported in the Orange Daily Leader.

One such trip was a party to go to Sabine Lake that was headed up by Bob Lester who was the manager of the Southern Pacific Railroad yards in Orange.

The Nicholas left Orange at 6 a.m. and ran to Middle Pass on Sabine Lake. They dropped the anchor at 7 a.m. and began to unload a large seine. Expectations were that they would catch about 300 pounds of fish on the first haul of the seine. Reality was far less than that. The second haul was even less. They decided to change location.

Capt. Myers took up the anchor and moved the Nicholas across the lake to the Shell Reef. They made several hauls there and caught a lot of fish. The men set up a camp on the reef, built a campfire and began to fry fish and shrimp. The Leader reported that “they all ate to satiety of fish and shrimp”. There were several baskets full of fish, mostly catfish left over.

John Tracy was too hungry to wait for camp to be set up and began to eat raw shrimp. In his haste, he forgot to pull the head off of one shrimp. The shrimp went down his throat head first and caused a tickling sensation that made Tracy break out in laughter.

“George Walker is a heavyweight,” reported the writer.

Some places in the lake have very soft bottoms. As the seine was being drawn, some noticed that Walker was getting shorter, then shorter, then, finally stopped pulling. Walker was “mired and sinking out of sight.” Some of his friends rescued him and laid him out on the reef to recover.

J.L. Stoudenmever was the keeper of the shrimp bucket. He nearly spoiled the fishing when he spotted a bunch of lilies floating toward him and thought it was an alligator. “With an unearthly yell he tore through the water in a manner designed to scare all the fish out of the water.” Will Joiner threw a catfish at him and stopped his “wild careening through the water.”

One member of the party was walking along the edge of the reef and imagined that a snake had bitten him. He began to loudly call for an antidote. It was discovered that the snake bite remedy had been left at home. “That broke up the fun and everybody voted to go home. The homeward trip began amidst a gloom so thick you could almost cut it with a knife.”

In those early years, reports of social activities were regularly reported on in the Leader. In addition to being social news, they also had an entertainment purpose. It seems from reading these old reports that no one was immune from having any sort of “social fiasco” reported and it was all done in the spirit of having fun.

This writer wonders after reading this report what sort of “snake bite remedy” was left behind and caused such consternation that it broke up the party.

“And now you know”