Saturday night we celebrated my Aunt Gladys' birthday with a big dinner party at Sanderson's in Nederland. The food was great and, if you're ever in the area, you should give it a try.
In honor of Aunt Gladys, I would like to tell you a story about how she and my mom almost drove into the canal in Port Arthur with all of us kids in the car. Just your typical Southeast Texas Saturday afternoon.
Port Arthur, Texas, where we grew up, has a man-made island called Pleasure Island which was formed when the canals were dredged to build a seawall. At one time, the island had a ballroom and swimming pools and a carnival but by the mid-sixties, it was just another place to go crabbing.
Crabbing for my family involved my mom and two of her sisters taking eight kids, ranging in age from 2 to 12, either to the slippery seawall or to a muddy riverbank with string, raw chicken necks, a couple of nets and a couple of ice chests at daybreak. You'll notice that I didn't mention life jackets. Somehow, (no doubt by the grace of some very busy guardian angels) we survived. By noon, we would be finished crabbing and we would all go to my grandpa's house where we would boil the several dozen crabs we had caught and sit outside and eat them. Good times.
On the day of our adventure, my mom was driving and Aunt Gladys was in the front seat. My cousin Alan was sitting on Aunt Gladys' lap and my little sister Bonnie was probably sitting in the middle in the front. In the backseat were me, my sister Terry, my brother Stuart and my other cousin David. This passel of children ranged in age from around 2 to 12 with me being the oldest. Alan was about 3 years old.
When we got to the intersection on the island where we would ordinarily turn left to go home, my mom noticed other people going right. We had never taken the right turn before and for some reason on this particular day, my mom and my aunt decided it would be a good day to see what was on the other side of the island. Mom took a right and followed the two other cars thinking the road would loop around to the other side of the island and eventually take us back to the bridge which would take us back to the Port Arthur mainland.
As we drove deeper and deeper into the marsh, we kids began to get scared. The usual cacophony of, "he farted" or "he's looking at me" or "you stink" was replaced with the more quiet, "where are we" and "the road is too skinny" and "Mom, where are we going?"
Mom and Aunt Gladys tried to keep things upbeat but we could tell things weren't going well as they quietly discussed how the road appeared to be eroding as we drove on it which we kids had already noticed. If we looked out of the window on the passenger side, it seemed we were looking straight down into the canal.
To make matters worse, one of the younger kids made a poopy in his pants and it was a big stinky one. Alan started crying and we all told him to think happy thoughts.
When he kept crying, Aunt Gladys told him, "Alan, think of Mickey Mouse."
Alan said, "Okay."
When he kept crying, my aunt said, "Alan, are you still thinking of Mickey Mouse?"
He said, "Yes."
She said, "Then why are you still crying."
Alan said, "Because, I'm thinking of Mickey Mouse being killed."
In my twisted family, this of course caused hysterical laughter. Since we were only driving about 5 miles per hour, my mom stopped the car, got out and ran up to the total strangers in front of us. She told them she wasn't driving one foot more and would he drive the car past the narrow patch of road which he did.
Just another day in paradise.