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"Let's Go Gator-Fishin' Kiddoes!"
by Leah Sellers
2013-07-25 09:57:37
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Uncle E.L. was a Great Outdoorsman and Sportsman.  Much to the chagrin of Aunt Margaret, he was always disappearing into the Big Thicket wilderness and Lakes of East Texas. 
Much to the delight of the Family, and any nearby Relatives, he always came back home with a truck loaded down with wild game and/or fish to be stripped, cleaned, gutted out, filleted and quartered, and then placed into his handmade smoke house, or grilled, or ground into sausage, or barbequed, or baked, or deep fried in a large cast iron frying pan.
He always Shared whatever bounty he brought Home with Family, Neighbors and Friends.  “Y’all come on over and grab a bite,” Uncle E.L. would always say.
Uncle E. L. always had a ready Smile and a Handshake for everyone he met, and was full of jokes and wonderful Life Stories of his experiences during Childhood, Marriage and Raising Children, Hunting and Fishing, his World Travels, and his Navy career in the Pacific during WWII.
He had a deep, dry whiskey timbre to his Voice, and a No-NonSense disciplinary regimen for the Children in his Life, whom he Loved to Teach all about the Wonders of Nature and Living Naturally and in Harmony with The Land (as he called it).
“Hey kiddoes, you wanna go fishin’ with me this evening’ ?”  Uncle E.L. rasped ?
“You bet’cha, Uncle E.L. !”  My two cousins, Pam and Fred, and my sister, Marie and I exclaimed altogether.  My other cousins and sisters were too young to go out on the Lake in Uncle E.L.’s boat.  So, we all felt very Special when asked to go with Uncle E.L. on his Big Thicket excursions,  no matter what they entailed.  Plus, he always showed us a good time and a good adventure.
“Alrighty then,”  Uncle E.L. clapped and rubbed his big rough hands together with gleeful expectation.  “Go ask your moms and dads if it’s alright. And if they say okay, then y’all grab your jackets and meet me out front at the pick-up truck.”
“Yes Sir !”  We all chorused, and went running through Aunt Margaret’s house to locate our parents, and beg to Go Fishin’ with Uncle E. L..
A couple of hours later we were all piled into Uncle E.L.’s fourteen foot aluminum boat.  The pirogue bobbed gently in the Lake’s dark waters.  The rhythmical ribbits and chirrups of tree frogs and crickets surrounded the boat’s inhabitants with an incessant, undulating thrumming.
“Will You kids, please, stop turnin’ your flashlights on and off !  You look like a bunch of gol durned Lightenin’ Bugs.  You’re gonna scare off all of the fish,”  Uncle E.L. admonished.
“Uncle E.L. why didn’t we go fishin’ in your big motor boat ?” Cheyenne asked.
“”Cause we’re out here for more than fish, darlin’,” Uncle E.L. answered matter-of-factly.
“What else can I catch with my fishing’ pole, Uncle E.L. ?”  Marie interrupted.  “All I’ve got at the end of my hook is the wriggling’ minnow you put on it.”
“Fred, sit down, son.  You’ll flip the pirogue over standin’ straight up in it like that.  You gotta move around this little boat low, and consider your Balance inside the pirogue at all times,”  Uncle E. L. warned.
“I need another minnow out of the ice chest, Uncle E.L.. I lost mine.”  Fred held up his empty hook and line.
“Fred, would you please be still.  You almost konked me in the head with your pole.  Stop swingin’ it around every-which-a-ways.”  Cheyenne complained.
“Fred, you have hooked my pants.  Stay still while I pull it out you goof
ball !  Marie demanded.
“You kids are so loud and restless you’ve probably scared off all of the fish and Gators for miles around,”  Uncle E.L. announced.
“Did you say Gators, Uncle E.L. ?”  Cousin Pam asked.
“I did.”
Suddenly, the pirogue lurched hard to the left.  The Four Cousins scrambled instinctively to the right, but Uncle E. L. kept his sturdy, lean frame low and in the center of the boat to ease the over reaction he was expecting from the Children.  All of whom were screaming and caterwauling to the top of their lungs.
“Fred, for Pete’s Sakes will you please be still.  There are Gators and Snakes in this Lake, and I don’t intend to be swimmin’ with any of ’em any time soon, if I can help it,”  Cheyenne chastised her Cousin.
“It’s not me Chey !”  Fred turned his flashlight on.  He was sitting in the very bottom of the boat along with Pam, Marie and Cheyenne hanging on for dear life right along with the rest of them.
“Fred, get up and shine that flashlight into the water right where I’m pointing.  ’I’m gonna get my Gun.”  Uncle E.L. said gruffly.
“Your Gun ?  What Gun ?!’  Cheyenne exclaimed.  “Have you gotta’ Alligator at the end of that chain your cranking up, Uncle E.L. ?  Are you bringing that thing into the boat with us ?!”
“Not until after I shoot it between the eyes,”  Uncle E. L. answered casually.
“You’re gonna shoot it between the eyes ?” Marie asked in horror.
“I swear, there sure is an awful Echo in this Boat.  You notice that, Fred ?  Everything that gets said, gets repeated,” Uncle E.L. winked in the shifting illumination of all of the bobbing flashlights.  Cheyenne, Marie and Pam had turned their lights back on as well, and were leaning in the direction of the underwater, and agitatedly thrashing Gator as close as the constantly rocking pirogue would allow them to, without losing their balance.
“Look, Uncle E.L. !  I can see the long snout and yellow eyes of the Gator.  It keeps rolling around and around.  Bless its Heart, it‘s gettin‘ all tangled up in your chain,”  Cheyenne cried out.
“That’s a Gator’s Death Roll, Baby.  If a Gator grabs hold of you, he’ll drag you to the bottom of the lake and roll you around until you drown.  Then he’ll drag you back up close to or onto shore and make a meal of you.  Gators are smart critters,”  Uncle E.L. explained.
“Gators are Amphibians.  I learned that in my Science class at school,”  Cheyenne added.
“You mean they actually teach you somethin’ useful in those textbooks ?’ 
Uncle E. L. teased. “I give you Books, and give you Books.  And all you ever do is eat the Cover.  Ha !  Ha !”
“Ooh, Uncle E.L. the boat is rocking harder and the water is churning even more.  I’m scared !”  Marie yelled unexpectedly.
“You grab hold of yourself, Little One.  There is nothing to fear here.  Just watch your ’Ole Uncle E.L make tomorrow’s supper out of this ’ole Gator,”  Uncle E.L. smiled.
“Uncle E.L. the Gator’s head is comin’ up out of the water !  Cheyenne yelled excitedly.
“So it is.  Fred hold that light steady.”  Uncle E.L. leaned over and slid his old double-gauge shot out from under the back seat of the pirot.  He leaned over the side of the boat.  Disengaged the Gun’s safety.  Aimed his shot gun and fired twice.  Ka-bloooeee !  Ka-bloooeee !
Almost immediately, the boat stopped rocking, and the night air was deadly silent.  Even the frogs and crickets had stopped singing.
“Uncle E.L.  It’s a Female Alligator that’s full of Eggs,”  Cheyenne whispered.
“What makes you say that, Child ?”  Uncle E.L. asked with his side grin.
“I don’t know, Uncle E. L. It just popped into my head.”  Cheyenne answered quietly.
“You’re weird, Cheyenne,”  Fred pronounced.
“She’s no such-a-thing, Fred.  She just has an over active imagination.  And all of us has got one of those every now and then,’  Uncle E. L. declared.
“Now, you kids help me haul this Gator into the boat.  We’re gonna head on back to the truck and get this critter home.  I’ve gotta skin it.  Butcher it. And get it on ice.”
“But we haven’t caught any fish yet, Uncle E.L.,” Cousin Pam moaned.
“Child, this Gator will feed the Family for a week or more.  And the way I fry it up in cornmeal batter, you’ll swear you were eatin’ fresh Catfish,”  Uncle E.L. answered.  “Now, help me drag this Amphibian up into the boat.  All of ya’”
“Yes Sir !”  the Four Cousins answered in unplanned unison.
“I don’t want to handle the end with the head, Uncle E.L..  Just in case it’s not quite dead yet,”  Cousin Pam said.
“I’ll handle the end with the head.  Put your lights into the row prongs, and help Fred with the back end,”  Uncle E.L. directed.
Uncle E.L. cranked the limp, Gator further up out of the water, and the four of them situated the rest of the Gator’s body into the bottom of the boat.
“Wow !  We did it,”  Cheyenne got up from the bottom of the pirogue, and eased herself back down on one of boat’s seat’s.  “It was easier than I thought it would be.  And the skin of the Alligator feels so neato-
Mosquito ! ”
“We all stink like the Gator.  I have mud and water all over my clothes,”  Marie complained.
“A little mud and water never hurt anyone, Child,”  Uncle E.L. laughed aloud.
“The Gator must be at least eight feet long, Uncle E.L.,”  Fred guessed.
“I’d call that a pretty good guesstimation, young’un.  I plan to make a nice pair of boots and maybe a belt or two out of this critter’s hide.  He’s big enough,” Uncle E.L. acknowledged.  Then Uncle E.L. grabbed the long pole from the side of the boat, and pushed the pirogue out of the small, swampy alcove he had nestled the boat into earlier that evening.  “Now, Pam, you’re closest to the boat’s motor.  Pull on the line and start ’er up !”
“Aye, aye, Captain !”  Pam saluted.  And cranked the boat to sputtering life.
The next morning, the Four Cousins sat at a long, homemade picnic table under the shade of a large old Oak Tree in the front of Uncle E.L. and Aunt Margaret’s home, relating and embellishing their harrowing tale of the Gator Hunt to the rest of their younger Cousins, Brothers and Sisters.
Uncle E.L. strode up to the table alive with laughter and shrieks of  excitement.
He sat a large clear glass jar full of water and floating off-white, roundly cylindrical shaped objects.
“Ooooh !”  Was the general exclamation from everyone around the picnic table.
“What are those nasty things, Uncle E.L. ?”  Cousin Pam asked while wrinkling her nose in disgust.
In fact, almost every Child sitting at the table purveyed the jar filled with the Strange Floating Objects with wrinkled noses.  But most of their Eyes were filled with Interested Curiosity.
“Those are Gator Eggs.  Found ’em in the Female Gator I butchered late last night’”  Uncle E.L. answered.
Uncle E.L. squinted his amber eyes at Cheyenne.  “You’ve got a Gift, Child.”  Then smiling broadly at his Uncomfortable Niece he added,
“Looks like that ’ole Gator wasn’t the only Amphibian ridin’ around in my ‘ole Bayou Pirogue last night.  Some of God’s Creatures are just born to live with one foot in one world and the other foot in another.”
“Now, you kiddoes all run in and get cleaned up.  Y’all need to help your Mamas set the table for Breakfast,” Uncle E.L. cheerfully directed.
Then holding his hands high up into the air, Uncle E. L. growled,  “Arrrgh !  I’m the Gator Man come fresh from the Swamps to Eat all of the Kiddoes I can !”  He ran at the table causing every child to jump up running and screaming in delight all the way up the steps of the front porch.  One child after another slamming the screen door right behind them.

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