If you all read my post entitled “My Early Years…Growing Up”, I mentioned our family trips to our beach house in Sargent, Texas. This was during the era of the 1950’s, 60’s and part of the 70’s. I’d like to share with you some details of the adventures that we had back in those “good old days”. I was just reviewing some websites that are out there about Sargent and I encourage you to look them up. They will show you what Sargent looks like today. It was about a 3 hour drive from our house back in those days. We would pack our swim suits, sunscreen, hats and snacks, and we would take off for “the beach house”. The property belonged to my mom’s parents…Grandmamma and Granddaddy Stewart. They would go almost every weekend, but we would go about 3-4 times a year, actually during the summer months while my brother and I were out of school for summer vacation. Grandmamma kept kitchen utensils and whatever food she was going to cook down there, so all we needed to supply was the fish, crabs, coquinas and whatever else we caught! Talk about fresh seafood…without the restaurant prices.
Our family looked forward to those trips to the beach house. On the very special occasions when my aunt, uncle and 3 cousins from Dallas came down to join us, they would leave early in the morning and drive straight through from Dallas, to Sargent. That was a long trip for them! We would leave usually around mid-morning and go out the old Telephone Road to the Angleton turn-off, then continue on until we came to the little white church on the left-hand side of the road where we knew it was time to turn off to the right at Bailey’s Prairie, Texas…Population 8! We would keep going a ways until we got to Sargent. There was a combination store and gas station where Daddy would fill the car with gas, while Mom, my brother and I would go into the store to get snacks, cold drinks, candy or whatever we wanted, as well as to just stretch our legs. We would then get back into the car and make the short drive to where the old rickety bridge was that connected the mainland to where the beach-front property and the Intracoastal Waterway property was. If there was a boat or a barge coming through on its way to parts unknown, the bridge would rise and let them through. Sometimes a line of cars would accumulate on that little road until the boat, barge, etc had passed by, then the bridge would come back down again so that we could all pass over onto the road leading to the beach houses. When we drove over that bridge, it always made a clackety-clack sound that I will always remember. I sometimes wondered if that bridge would support the weight of the vehicles passing over it…and it always did! We would cross over the bridge, drive a little distance to the “main road”, turn left and start on our journey over, I think it was a total of 13 little “hills” on that road until we reached our beach house. This was after we rebuilt the houses on the banks of the canal. Prior to that, we had beachfront property and a house on the Gulf, but, “thanks” to Hurricane Carla in 1961, that house was demolished and my granddaddy obtained property and built 3 houses on the canal. There was a little shed right on the bank of the canal which was used as a place to rest or take naps and it also was mainly used to keep tools and supplies to clean fish which we caught in the canal. There was also a regular small house which is where the grandparents “lived” when they were at the beach house. It was actually a one-room house divided by curtains forming 3 little rooms – a bathroom, a kitchen and their sleeping area. Outside of their house and attached to the side was the shower area. Then, there was the big house which was larger and built on stilts so that it looked like a 2-story but was actually just one big area with walls and curtains dividing the various rooms. This house actually slept around 12 people so that when we all went, there was plenty of space for all of us. The inside of the house consisted of a large kitchen area, complete with a long table, a refrigerator, a sink a stove and cabinets for storing cookware, glasses, etc. There was also a cot on the other side of the room where 1 person could sleep. Then there was a wall and behind that there was a larger room which served as the bedroom with more cots and I think even a bed. The back of the house contained the bathroom with the toilet and sink. The shower area was the one outside of the grandparents little house. I was always a little afraid to take showers down there because there were gallinippers flying around and, even though they were harmless, being a little girl, I didn’t like having them in the same area! There was also a large area underneath the house which served as a type of garage for the boat and for one of the cars. They other cars parked outside in the “driveway”.
One of the fun features about having property right on the banks of the Intracoastal Canal was that at any time of day or night there were barges that would travel up and down the canal on their journeys to any given place. When we saw them coming there came a point at which we could see the barge driver and he could see us. We would put one arm up in the air and make a pulling down motion as if to be pulling on a rope. This was our “signal” to the barge driver that we wanted him to toot his barge horn…and he always did. We would laugh and squeal with delight whenever he driver sounded the barge horn for us! Sometimes at night when we heard him coming, we could also see the bright headlights on the barge. We would go outside and signal him to blow his horn and he would. It was a great thrill for us.
When we went fishing, the family members would usually catch a variety of flounders and “big reds”. I always caught croakers, which we always threw back! My successes were catching crabs. My grandparents had a crab net in which we would put raw bacon, let the net down into the canal with a rope, come back a few hours later and behold…it would be full of crabs. The crabs would be taken into the tool shed, cleaned and prepared for a crab boil. The adults would be more successful at catching fish and if we caught enough of them, we would have a fish fry complete with fried potatoes and salad. It was a real feast and great fellowship enjoyed by the whole family. One one occasion a multitude of tiny little shellfish called coquinas wash up on the shore. The family went out and collected them and brought them to Grandmamma who made a big batch of coquina soup which was immensely enjoyed by all.
Coming up…the water skiing adventure!