In 1958, when Tom was about five, he and I joined a YMCA program called Indian Guides. Tom was Little White Buffalo and I was Big White Buffalo. Several of Tom's friends were also in the tribe, which was the Tonkawa Tribe. We had meetings, wore headdresses and played games. We did not do much camping; that came later when Tom was a Cub Scout and even more as a Boy Scout, where camping skills became a large part of the program.
We continued to make our annual trips to the coast. We usually went down to South Padre. We all enjoyed these vacations and did a lot of fishing and crabbing.
The boys were so different. Tom would fish all day and never lose interest. I think he was always expecting a big fish to grab his lure at the next moment. Chip on the other hand loved fishing, but only when they were biting. If he had been fishing for 15 minutes and there was no action at all he was ready to move on to whatever was next.
I remember one instance in particular regarding Tom. We were down at Lake LBJ in the hill country and had an opportunity to fish with a nationally recognized fishing guide by the name of Dave Hawk. Charlotte’s brother, Charles, and I went out one morning with Dave and Tom was already down on the pier when we left. Tom wanted to go so bad but three men in the boat was all the room there was. Anyway, as we left Tom was on the pier with his fishing pole in hand and his bait in the water looking wistfully at us as we pulled away. I thought about him all the time we were out on the water moving from one location to another across the lake.
After four hours of intensive fishing we had only caught about three black bass. Dave was saying, “You should have been here yesterday; we almost filled the boat with fish.” I had heard that before on other unsuccessful fishing trips! Well, as we pulled back in the dock, there was Tom still fishing, still in the same spot. As we were tying up I asked Tom if he had caught anything and he pulled up his stringer and he had about five fish. A bass, two sun fish and two Catfish. He had caught more fish then we three men had, even though we had the famous fishing guide to our advantage.
Tom asked if I would help him clean his five fish when I cleaned my one bass. Of course I said yes and he and I went over to the cleaning station by the pier and I started cleaning all the fish. As I was cleaning his catfish I was giving him a verbal explanation as to exactly how to do it. He was standing between me and the cleaning table and his head was just about level to my belt buckle. As I cleaned his catfish I had to skin it and there was quite a bit of blood on the table directly in front of Tom. His head started slowly getting lower; I thought he was just going to move for a better look but I noticed it got lower and lower. All of a sudden his head disappeared completely and I reached down and caught him. He had passed out colder than a mackerel.
That was when I realized Tom did not like looking at a lot of blood. Even to this day he is not a fan.
Photo of Lake LBJ found here.