I have known Nick Lewis all my life. If I’m wrong about that I surely have known him since we were together at Albany Junior High School in our home town of Albany, Georgia in 1956. That’s certainly the better part of sixty years. I probably met Terrell Cooper, our faithful sidekick during those years, a couple of years later.
The attraction among us was the total lack of reverence we had amassed in our short lives. We had big backyards at home that were full of holes and every hole was filled with discarded reverence we felt we no longer needed. Even worse was our collective sense of humor. Not only did we have huge irreverent senses of humor but no one was spared, included ourselves, when we chose to jest and poke fun at the world. We took no prisoners.
After our school days were over we took to the working class. Colleges back then had more irreverence than they could spare. Besides, it was easier to raise hell and get in trouble without school administrators interfering.
Sometimes we would meet after work at the Pig ‘N Whistle drive-in. This was a favorite cruising spot for our age group. Car-hops worked the parking lot and a lot of kids did not realize The Pig had a dining room off to one side of the lot. Sometimes when we finished work we would gang up in the dining room where you could gather a bigger audience of guffawers, gigglers and horse laughers and assorted other idiots who loved a lack of reverence.
I feel sure it was in the Pig N’ Whistle dining room that Terrell, Nick and I drank cold beer and decided we were master frog giggers. They sent me for the gigs. I rigged the gigs because they always said I was the best gig rigger. It was an old Tom Sawyer rub they would use on me to get me to do the work. I got the gigs and we met back at The Pig after dark.
Because I couldn’t see too well (my lenses on my glasses were thicker than the bottoms on coke bottles, they often told me) I was always extremely cautious about taking my precious fanny into dark water without being armed with a pretty good flashlight. I would try to find a flashlight with at least 16 batteries. What I really wanted was one that would blast out a beam of broad daylight.
I forgot to mention there were a few things I did respect. I had a great deal of respect for alligators (in all sizes) and cotton-mouth water moccasins (also in all sizes). I knew enough to recognize the reflection of red-eyes in the beam of the flashlight. That would be your typical gator. Frog eyes would shoot back an emerald twinkle that would make your mouth water. If you were so nervous your mouth would not water, then you had to have another beer to calm you down.
I’m not sure I remember the reflected color of a moccasin’s eyes. I do remember you could spot a water snake for a quarter of a mile down a crooked creek on a smut black evening if you were overly cautious like I was. And I can vouch that a skinny white boy can jump twelve feet straight into the air if a beaver’s tail slaps the pond water as a warning sign on a moonless night.
So we piled in Nick’s Ford sedan and we headed out the Gillionville Road to exhibit our gigging skill. Since we were totally irreverent, weather reports and flash flood warnings did not seem to effect us like they did normal people. I think Nick turned back south off the Gillionville Road onto Mud Creek Road (who knows where we really were). It was a dirt road and things went along swimmingly. That’s how we referred to things after as we plowed headlong into a creek raging across the road in full flood mode.
We sat there for a few seconds. The engine died. The car began to fill with good old Mud Creek’s muddy creek water. The car had those high floor sills over the rocker panels and your feet rested in little square compartments. Compartments that also quickly filled with water.
Swimming to shore soon became one of a diminishing list of options. It was then that Nick performed a miracle: it’s one I have never witnessed before or since. He started the car. Let me rephrase that. He cranked the doggoned car. He put it in reverse and backed us out of the creek. The water was up to the bottom of the windows and Nick Lewis drove us out of there backwards.
We drove back to the Gillionville Road and found a huge oak tree with roots about six inches above the surface of the dirt. Nick parked the big Ford atilt on those big roots and the water poured out of it for what seemed like forever. We took a beer break.
We decided to go to a pond we knew in Baker County. It was a beautiful place. There were huge bull frogs all over the place. We took a beer break.
Then we took our gear and Nick and Terrell went one way around the pond. I went in the opposite direction. I soon reached a place where a stream fed the pond and it was so swampy I could go no further.
I began to backtrack and followed the path Nick and Terrell had chosen. It was no time before I came up on this big frog that looked like he might have weighed as much as three pounds. I just knew two pounds were all leg. I stalked him carefully, slowly and slyly. I eased up on him. I eased up on him again. It must have taken me thirty or forty-five minutes to get a good stab at him. In a perfect spear tossing heave that would have made Tarzan envious I nailed the frog to the ground right beside a big log.
After reaching the same swampy area I couldn’t cross Nick and Terrell found me when they returned by the same path they had taken around the pond. I was sitting on that big log staring at my prize winning frog still ruthlessly speared on my gig.
They told me later (after I had a beer break) that they couldn’t get me to speak for a while.
The frog on my gig did not have any legs. They had gigged him and relieved him of his legs when they first started around the pond. I had spent almost an hour stalking a frog that couldn’t hop.
That’s when I quit drinking beer.