I was going through some photographs this weekend and ran across one that brought back a memory and a story. It was one of those days that make you glad to be a dad. Spring on Lake Tyler with birds singing, dogwoods blooming, and a high of 75°. Our boys, thirteen and eight, were new to East Texas, and although we had family here, they were missing the friends they’d left behind in Dallas.
So it was good for all of us, after the chaos of moving, to get out and bask in the beauty of their new home-water. We had caught a few fish, but spent a good part of the afternoon just motoring around the lake, enjoying the weather, commenting on other boats, other fishermen, and admiring the nice homes with boat houses, some big enough to live in, our oldest pointed out hopefully.
By 4:30 they were getting restless, starting to pick at one another, and reminded me that I had promised them dinner at Mickey D’s. If I had been alone I’d have stayed till pitch-black dark, throwing buzz baits along the shore line and hoping for a monster blow-up, but I knew it would take me a while to get the boat out and battened down, so I headed back toward Hill Creek and the public ramp where we’d launched. I reasoned that leaving now we’d avoid the “dusk rush” as fisherman crowded the ramp, but as we swung around Langley Island I saw two boats already waiting, Darned. I aimed for the island bank across from the ramp so as not to impede boat traffic running up and down the creek and began idling in place. There was an older couple in the boat nearest us and a lady with iron-gray hair in a bun looked back at us and shook her head. Then I saw the hold-up.
The white and yellow cabin cruiser looked to be at least 24-feet long and it was attempting to mount a trailer parked at a 60° angle and blocking both lanes of the ramp. The pilot was doing her best to angle the boat enough to drive onto the trailer, but one of the piers prevented her from getting a straight entry so instead she managed to run the cruiser up onto one of the runners so that the blonde piloting the boat fell back on her butt and began trying to rise. This was made more difficult by a layer of beer cans which we could now see covered the floor of the craft. The girl in the passenger seat began laughing and then gave a “What are ya gonna do?” shrug to the four boats now waiting offshore. The woman driving the old Suburban with the jack-knifed trailer had gotten out and was laughing, too. She put her hands to her mouth and yelled, “We’re drinkersh, not driversh!”. Seen together, all three of these “drinkersh” appeared to have come out of the same mold but a generation apart. I was pretty sure we were looking at a family of buxom, bikini-clad, and obviously inebriated blondes ranging in age from eighteen to fifty-five or so.
Just as the Grandma turned to re-enter and re-position the truck, a flat-bottom with an ancient 20-horse Mercury raced up onshore to the left of the ramp and two young bucks hopped out. The bearded one trotted up and conversed with Grandma, while the other walked the trailer down to the cruiser and climbed in. He managed to back the boat off the runner while his buddy drove the old Suburban up the ramp a hundred feet, straightened the trailer behind the truck, and expertly reversed it back into the lake snugged up alongside one of the piers, leaving the second lane open for business. Boat buddy positioned the cruiser and ran it up on the trailer with his first pass, then goosed it till the prow hit the stop roller. By this time there were two more boats behind us in the line and we all began applauding. One buddy bowed and the other raised his fist out the truck window in victory as he eased the cruiser out of the water and up the ramp. The grandma hugged one buddy while the mom and teen daughter in the cruiser hugged the other. All of them waved to the crowd offshore and we waved back.