Bubba is fortunate enough to have a few vague memories of Bush Lake back in the day. Bug is not so lucky.
Bush Lake was the most awesome experience of our lives together, me and your daddy. You went North of Fred and down a dirt road that fell off the map and into a pigtrail of mud and pines. Better know how to drive in the mud or have a four-wheel drive.
The camp house set right on the edge of the Lake. A wooden structure covered in old tin-type from the newspaper. Fascinating just to read. There were "windows" and screens all around. Wooden flaps covered the screened windows. Stick a pole under the flap and lift it. Cool evening breezes coming in, helped by a 6-volt fan in the window by each bed in the summer. No TV. No phone. Cell phones didn't even exist...this was the early 80's. Just quiet and crickets. Fireflies and wood smoke. Enough beds to sleep over a dozen. Wood stove in the main room. Bucket & dipper in the kitchen by the butane stove for water. No ice box (refrigerator) until about a year before the fire that burnt it all down....and it was butane!
Imagine a Friday night. Everyone coming in. All the hello's and hurrahs. Runs to put out corn at stands. A meal around a table, started with prayer. Then the sound of a Mercury 20 horse starting and the boat headed down river to check the lines. Some braving the cool waters in the dark with a bar of Ivory soap to bathe, while huge galvanized tubs roasted on the stove to heat water for the #3 washtub that awaited the water by the back door of the camp.
Dishes done and baths accomplished, fish in the fish box and time for Forty-two by the light of coal oil lamps. Sure fire thing Punk or Pete would have old faithful (double 6) every time. We'd play until someone won the meatball game and then everyone would head off to slumber on a feather mattress and clean sheets. Sometimes goodnight would be called out like on the Walton's.
Next morning, no thought of sleeping in. Janie was in the kitchen cooking her plate sized pancakes for everyone. Then some went hunting, some back to bed, some to dishes and after a brief rest, some to cooking lunch. Food was always plentiful, as there were chickens free ranging at the camp, catfish and white perch in the lake and always a hog at home in the pen. A mix of "good blooded" or tame hog with a piney woods rooter. Best of both worlds. All flavor and tender.
Around noon there might be 20+ people at the camp.
Some hungry for Janie's vittles. Some wanting to swap hunting stories. Afternoons found folks swimming if it was warm enough, or out on the lake for white perch fishing if anyone brought minnows, or playing new challengers at 42, while others conversed, read sporting magazines or napped.
Then the evening hunt came round and everything started over again. It was truly the best time of my life. Although the first time I ever went there I was thrown for a loop! Bathing in water others had bathed in! Too much iron in the water to wash my contacts. One spotted mirror to try to apply makeup. LOL I learned to let go and just enjoy. And it became the happiest time of my life.
Tears fall as I type this. Because I can't think of it and not miss it terribly. Miss those that made it what it was. How I wish it could have gone on long enough for each of you to have clear, vivid memories!!!
But fire came to the camp house. Sambo had it rebuilt. But it was too nice, too new and the magic was lost. Then we lost Janie in the wreck and then Punk to a stroke. Nothing is the same. But if Uncle Bill is in there, I know he'd love to have you stay over with him. Bring back his own memories. And pass some on to a new generation.