Wednesday, March 25, 2015
“No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on a-comin'.” ― Captain Bill McDonald Texas Ranger
Few people know this, but when I was ten years old, I caught a real Texas Ranger and made him scream. It was 1954 and my father was the manager of the Sears, Roebuck store in Victoria, Texas. He was sure a gang was stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of merchandise but didn’t know how to prove it or catch them. The Texas Rangers (kinda of an FBI of the state of Texas) were called and they sent a Ranger named Ham Odum (picture at right) to pose as a cousin of Dad’s to do an undercover investigation. He stayed at our house and was in plain clothes. I was helping him unpack and saw his gun in his suitcase and was scared silly (I was just ten). He did indeed uncover, catch, and arrest the thieves who were men who worked for Dad and that Dad liked and trusted. Later, Dad took Ham fishing on San Antonio Bay just off the Gulf of Mexico about a half hour from our house. I got to go and we were fishing from a Chris-Craft cabin cruiser (about 30 feet long). We were fishing for speckled trout using live shrimp for bait with a cork float. The shrimp were put on a treble hook (nasty looking thing) and then cast far away from the boat. After the cast, you sat and watched the cork and when it bobbed you jerked hard to set the hook and started fighting the trout. I had done it before many times and loved going fishing. When we got to the spot in the bay that Dad liked, I climbed up on the front of the cabin and left Dad and the Ranger in the back. I had a little bucket of shrimp with me and carefully baited my hook because the barbs were very sharp. I stood up, and my little ten-year-old arms, threw the bait back and gave a mighty heave to get the cork and shrimp far away from the boat. My rod jerked before I even got the cast finished, and I heard a scream from the back of the boat. I looked back in horror and saw the Texas Ranger, Ham Odum, with my shrimp bait firmly hooked into his neck which was already bleeding. My heart leaped into my throat and I immediately remembered the big gun he had. I dropped my rod and jumped into the bay and started swimming to shore (well, what would you have done?). I didn’t get too far when I heard the boat and my father shouting at me to stop. They pulled me in, and a freshly bandaged Texas Ranger smiled at me and said, “I wanta shake your hand son. You’re the only son-of-a-***** that’s ever caught me.” He laughed, I fainted, and my father loved to tell that story to others so many times it became part of our family lore. I will never forget it. Now you know the real me, the kid who took down a Texas Ranger with a shrimp.