Monday, April 14, 2014


Early this morning I saw Tim walking along Hillcrest Dr. He looked much younger and healthier than I most recently remember him and appeared on a mission. His head was bent into the morning breeze and he had on a jacket that was lighter than he should have been wearing considering it was a bit chilly. As I passed he acknowledged me and I him, but I could see his mind was on other things. To me it appeared, he was on his way to “The Lake”; which in retrospect is probably as great an example of what Heaven should be like that I might ever consider. What’s so very unusual about this whole deal is that actually Tim is 86, lives about 45 miles away, suffers dementia, needs a walker to get around and requires semi-constant care. So, if it was him, we’re now entering The Twilight Zone, or something.

I’ll get to “The Lake” shortly, but first let me tell you about Tim and likewise, our extended family. My Grandma was the eldest of eight, Matriarch of the family, and a third generation Central Texan. Her next eldest sibling was Maggie, Tim’s Mom, who was born in 1900. Tim’s Dad was Timothy Lee whose family was from Tennessee. I believe he died at an early age because Aunt Maggie’s married name for the length of my memory was Crawford.  They were lifelong Central Texans. As a matter of fact, ALL Grandma’s generation spent their entire lives in Central Texas or the Hill Country.  If you’ve not done the math yet, that makes Tim old enough to be my father and I’m a solid 66 years of age.  It’s curious that of all Grandma’s siblings, Tyler & Blanco, Texas are as far as any of them “strayed” from “home” on a permanent basis. Our family was close, loving and constantly in contact with each other though certainly each led their own life. Truthfully, in the years since, all the cousins don’t get together as much as they used to and are now spread across a lot of the South and Southwest. Thankfully, no one’s attained “Damn Yankee” status yet, at least to the best of my knowledge.

Granddaddy and Grandma did spend near about 30 years in Houston before returning to Waco in 1947. Only a few years after that they purchased “The Lake” property on “Old Lake Waco” at the mouth of the North Bosque River. It previously had been owned by John Able who was part of the 4C Business College staff and ownership and was used as a “retreat “.  A prominent Waco attorney, Bob Davis’s home was next door and the jeweler, Don Fisher lived next door to the Davis’.

When initially purchased (I believe the property was around 5 acres in total), buildings included an old one bedroom cabin towards the property entrance with a clay Tennis Court across the road from it, down the hill on the lakefront was a “pump house”, a pier/cabin and an old concrete shuffleboard. Additions came to include a house at the top of the hill overlooking the lake, a covered patio at the bottom of the hill in front of the “pier house”, a corral/shed where we kept horses (mine, “Snow” White, a Palomino and Baby – ostensibly Daddy’s) and then later a White Faced Herford Steer – “Little Red”, a warehouse was built where the Tennis Court used to be for storage of Granddaddy’s business’ excess merchandise and equipment, a Bar-B-Que Shack with a HUGE Pit was next to the new house and of course Granddaddy’s separate “game cabin” next to his chicken coop and yard where he kept anywhere from 50 to 75 birds at any given time. White Leghorns and mostly hens, as a young child he would let me gather eggs and sell them throughout our home neighborhood for spending money. Perhaps I made 10 cents per dozen. It kept me in Baseball Cards.

In his “game cabin” Granddaddy had a coin-op bumper pool table as well as an honest to goodness shuffleboard table that must have been at least 20 feet long, both of which were no doubt “salvaged” from one Beer Joint or another. Granddaddy loved his “big boy toys” and even had found me an old Cushman Scooter that I could ride around on. He called it my “Putt-Putt” and it probably got up to 15 or 20 mph on flat ground, maxed out.

It was less than a ten minute drive across the “Old Dam” to “The Lake” and the trip was frequently made more than once daily. Trotlines were run beside the Pier House, chickens and livestock were tended to and a good time was had by all. By all, I include extended family as well as friends. Keys to the property were numerous and lots of folks spent lots of time there; exclusive, it was not. Adult “get-togethers” were ongoing almost daily and kid’s parties and Sock Hops seemed awfully frequent too. I suppose it was close to a private “country club” only staffed and operated strictly by the users themselves. To me, it was Eden.

It’s really hard to explain how idyllic a situation life at the lake was. We swam in the lake, shot B-B Guns, fished, had an old aluminum boat with some type of motor (so we could run the trotlines), shot off fireworks back when they still went “BANG!”, combed thru the brush, chased possums, once even caught a raccoon and generally experienced the good life. The operative words while there were: “Don’t worry, Be happy”.

Sadly Lake Waco was determined to be in need of expansion by the Corps of Engineers and lakefront property ownership subsequently disallowed. Half of the property was consumed by newly impounded water and eminent domain removed Shangri La from my life forever. That’s where my reference to Heaven comes back into play. You see, though I’m sure squabbles and hard feelings must have occasionally manifested themselves there, I don’t recall such. Considering my general upbringing, had I witnessed any I’m sure I would have remembered. That place, not the time, is looked upon (by ALL who still remember it) as one of respite and relaxation, of peace and joy, of caring and concern for one another, of charity and goodwill towards all; and by all standards is that not how we conceive of Heaven?

So, I guess that’s why it seemed to me that Tim was on the way to “The Lake”, beginning to transition from this world to one that would be considered much better. To see all the family that had arrived there before him and to catch up on things and get everyone else caught up before continuing farther up and farther in.

Yeah, that’s my concept of Heaven… Bonne cuisine et bon vin, merveilleux fellowship, Noel mechancete et laissez les bon temps rouler! Godspeed Cuz.