Monday, March 31, 2014

Part Eleven: Catching Supper at Little Jetties

As I stated in his first post, once weekly I plan to feature a guest writer, my husband. Since we have no children, he has been painstakingly writing down the stories of his childhood to share them with his then 9 year old niece. I wanted her to know what kind of childhood her beloved Uncle was able to enjoy. While enjoying them myself I thought these are so much fun to read, why not share them? So here are the short missives of his memories of growing up in wilds of Florida during the 1950's and 1960's. They're packed with misadventures, romance, and all the confusing things that can happen in our youth. Even though his hometown of Jacksonville is a big city with over a million residents now, during his childhood it was several small communities surrounded by countryside.

This is his story.

(Please note: None of the photos in this post are from our files. They are all from the internet.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Catching Supper at Little Jetties
by Steven R. Hudson

As I mentioned before, we are a family of fisherman and many of our happiest times revolved around weekend fishing trips. We could not afford the luxury of a boat but fortunately there were many great fishing spots that could be accessed from shore in Duval County. One of Dad's favorites was the Little Jetties as they were locally known. This was just off the Old Mayport Rd. at the confluence of the Intracoastal Waterway and the St. Johns River. Huge granite boulders had been placed here to prevent erosion and protect the river and waterway channels. On any pleasant weekend anglers would gather here upon the great rocks and cast their lines. Fishing from the rocks could be dangerous. The boulders were irregularly shaped and slippery. When you reached the top you could look down on the barnacle encrusted submersed embankment as it disappeared into the dark river water. I remember how eerily beautiful it all seemed. When I was younger I would spend most of my time chasing Fiddler Crabs on the muddy tidal flat behind the jetty or trying to catch tiny fish trapped in the many small pools left by an ebbing tide. When I was older Dad would let me fish with him on the rocks. It was glorious being high on the jetty wall with the wind from the nearby sea in our faces and the constant chatter of gulls overhead; my little brother chasing fish in the tidal pools behind us as I had once done.

Surf fishing at Mickler's Landing was another favored pass time. You could drive out onto the beach there from A1A and at low tide, drive on the hard packed sand as far as you wished. We had a most memorable weekend at Mickler's when I was ten. The Mealers joined us for an overnight surf fishing trip. A makeshift camp of beach blankets and folding chairs was set up on the beach above the high tide mark. Our moms had prepared enough sandwiches, snacks and drinks for the weekend. The only clothes we brought were the bathing suits we wore for it was summer and the night would be warm but made comfortable by a breeze off the Atlantic. Our dads got out their fishing rods and tackle boxes and walked along near the surf, looking for that "spot" where there was sure to be fish. We boys were sent on a mission to find Sand "Fleas", a mud dwelling crustacean that is excellent
bait for Pompano. After we had gathered enough Sand Fleas to satisfy our dads, we began exploring the sand dunes. They were remarkable in the evening light, starkly white against the dark Blue-Jack Oaks and Cabbage Palms that grew on their backsides and out to A1A. The dune tops were adorned with Sea Oats that swayed softly with the ocean breeze and White Morning Glories grew along the footpaths that led way to the beach. Later that night we laid on our backs in the wet sand and gazed up in wonder at the Milky Way and millions of stars that were now so easily seen against a black sky, unsullied by pollution from city lights. We scraped away wet sand and watched in amazement at the flash of tiny phosphorescent organisms hidden there and all the while the surf pounded relentlessly against the shore. Late in the evening a pickup truck drove up to our camp site. There were two men in the truck and our moms were frightened. They told us boys to run down the beach and fetch our dads. When our dads came up they walked over to the truck and we could hear angry words being exchanged. Thankfully, the two men drove away after this verbal outburst and we did not see them again. Morning came and it was time to pack up our stuff and head for home. It had been a great weekend even though the fishing had been poor. My friends and I were sad to leave. It had all been such fun.


Deb said...

I love that you are your husband are sharing the stories of your lives on your blog! Such interesting reading. Thank you and have a great week.

Anonymous said...

Another great memory. I've never been fishing but I often see folks enjoying what you describe here. Have a great week.

linda said...

Enjoyed another chapter of your hubby's life. I am not a fisherman either, but my hubby is/was, big time. We went to Destin every single year and he went out deep sea fishing, and I stayed in cabin with 3 babies.....thus my dislike for Florida! lol

Carol B. said...

Another great story. I came from a family of fishermen too. I think my dad and my uncle would rather fish than eat or sleep. The few fishing trips I went with them were so much fun. I'm enjoying your stories.

Simply Linda said...

I am so enjoying reading your life Steve. Sure makes me smile & brings back my own memories. Blessings

Patsy said...

I enjoy his story's very much and we have always had fishing trips added to our life as children and adult's.
I have been told to watch out for sand fleas but don't guess I have ever seen one. Thanks for the photo.LOL

White Lace and Promises said...

Great stories. Fishing was a big part of our lives too and David's daddy's. Their vacation was always fishing and camping. Not camping for us. Not a roughing it girl myself. Keep sharing.


Thistle Cove Farm said...

I dearly love to fish; another thing I miss about Dave. It was something we both enjoyed.

Sparky @ My Thoughts Exactly said...

I'm always amazed at how many people can relate to fishing. Having grown up in Central Florida, I fished all my life too. When Hubby and I where first married, we fished ALL the time!

Thank you everyone for your always welcome comments. ~:)