As most of you know, I’ve had the unique opportunity of living off and on for the past three and a half years in the little town of Montgomery, Texas which is eighteen miles from Richards, the town where I was raised until I was thirteen years old. I came back to take care of my mother who had Alzheimer’s and I had a chance to connect to her in a way that was at once incredibly sad and unbelievably healing for me. I had similar, but not so intense, experiences with my second mother Willie and my favorite aunt Lucille who was my father’s sister. I’ve lost all three of these women in the last eighteen months. They were, along with my grandmothers, pillars of strength for me in my life in different ways. I can only marvel at the examples they’ve been when I consider the times they were given for their journeys. Remarkable. Truly remarkable.
During this time I’ve roamed the back roads of Grimes, Montgomery and Walker counties in my old Dodge Dakota pickup – sometimes in the company of my dogs – sometimes in my own company. I’ve re-visited the house where I grew up and friends and cousins that I barely knew since I’ve been away for more than forty years. I could still recognize the house and remember the love that filled it. My cousins and friends welcomed me home as if I’d just left yesterday.
My partner Teresa and I bought a house on Worsham Street in Montgomery, and neither of us expected the joys this neighborhood has given to us. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I rock on the front porch as I look up and down the little street. Instead of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I have the irrepressible Huss Brothers. The Little Women of Worsham Street are friends that would make Louisa May Alcott proud. Houses in the ‘Hood at Christmas have so many lights and decorations they put Disneyland to shame. If Andy Griffith hadn’t lived in Mayberry, he might have been happy in Montgomery.
Today I set off on a road trip with my dogs Red and Spike to find Stubblefield Lake, the one spot I never was allowed to go fishing with my daddy. it’s been sixty years since our fishing trips, but I can still remember my disappointment when he would announce he was going to Stubblefield Lake with my mother or one of my uncles and shake his head when I asked to go. I tagged along to every other fishing hole he knew – but never to that lake which then assumed magical proportions to me. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the lake and wondering where in the world it was.
Thanks to the omniscient internet, I located this lake that was made during the Roosevelt administration by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937. Guess where it is? Eleven miles north and seven miles east of Montgomery in the deep piney woods of the Sam Houston National Forest. And I do mean deep and remote, but less than a thirty minute drive from Worsham Street. If I’d started from Richards like my daddy would have, it would be eight miles south and seven miles east for him. I had imagined it was an exotic distance from Grimes County and accessible only to a chosen few.
Steps to a fishing spot?
I think I heard my daddy say, Well, you finally made it to Stubblefield Lake. Yes, I did. I didn’t have his company or a fishing pole in my hand. Instead, I had a camera to take pictures of a place that I don’t want to forget.