“Tales From The Summer of ‘77”.

This forum is to share stories that are meaningful, or entertaining. The posts can be original stories, stories passed down in a family or a region, they could be based on a person's experience, childhood, or basically on anything. They could even be fictional, or humorous, so long as they are stories.
User avatar
zzyzzogeton
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:47 pm

“Tales From The Summer of ‘77”.

Postby zzyzzogeton » Sat Jul 01, 2017 5:30 am

Back in the summer of 1977, shortly before I was set to graduate from Texas A&M and be commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy, I had a small "problem" :( .

I had to take the last 2 courses for my major during the summer after most everyone else had graduated and been commissioned in May 1977 because right before my Junior year ended, the Navy changed the mandatory “ROTC required classes” to add a History and a Government/Political Science – 1 was offered at only 1 time in the fall and the other only 1 time in the spring. And they happened to fall right on top of 2 Major required classes offered in a similar manner. ::teary_eyes::

My choices were
a) Take one or the other set of classes my Senior year and then take 1 class each in the following Fall and Spring semesters
b) take the ROTC mandatory classes my Senor year and Major classes over the summer in Galveston, graduating only 3 months late

Now I ask you – as a young man on the verge of charging forth into the world of adulthood, would you pick to

A) waste a year in school ::td::
or
B) spend a summer fishing nearly every day, playing in the surf, chasing girls, drinking beer, and ultimately getting to watch Star Wars (episode 4) THREE times on the first day it was shown since you and your friends were the only 5 people in the theater that day? :mrgreen: ::ds:: :mrgreen:

I chose “B”. I spent the summer of 1977 taking 4 classes, instead of the minimum 2. Why 4?? First, because I could, :mrgreen: and second, the extra 2 classes were field classes where I could go fishing every day. ::ds:: I also had a couple of paid gigs for a couple of professors. ::tu::

That summer there were only 7 students living in THE dormitory on Pelican Island, TAMU-Galveston. Yes, back them the university has exactly 1 dorm with about 20 2-person dorm rooms. We only had two guys and 5 women. We all had individual dorm rooms. The dining facility was 20 yards from the dorm. Three meals a day, except Sundays, when we were on our own for supper. We just had to let the cooks know the day before if we weren’t going to eat the next day. The cooks in the kitchen for the dining hall had it easy with us. Most of the time we told them to not worry about supper for Fridays and Saturdays – that we could just scrounge. So they’d leave us all kinds of sandwich fixings in the Dorm Common Room refrigerator. And get the night off to go home early.

“What Went On – Part 1”.

With 1 of my field classes, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, I supervised a group of students dragging nets through the open surf, between 2 jetties and in the back bay (Galveston Bay). We would start the open beach site at 0730, try to be at the jetties site by 0930 and the back bay by 1130. Then off to class at 1400.

The first net was 450 feet long. We’d walk the net out 150 feet, deploy out in a 150 line parallel to the shore and then walk the end sections to shore.

Then we’d all pull like heck catching every fish that could be caught by 1 inch mesh netting. When we got to the shore, we would sort every fish by species, and weigh and measure every fish, rapidly throwing as many as possible back into the water.

Then we would do a follow up drag using a 50 foot ¼” mesh seine to gather smaller fish. Any fish larger than an inch or so in girth was ignore and thrown back without measurements as they would have been caught in the larger mesh net and counted that way.

For study purposes, we would extrapolate out area strained to try to maintain similarity of areas samples. A 450 foot ¼” mesh seine would have need King Kong and Godzilla both helping us pull.

The purpose of the study was to track fish species and size over time. It was interesting to be catching small baby mullet in the bay and watch how fast they grew and to track when they left the bay and started showing up in the open surf/jetty areas.

The “worst” days during that summer was when the mullet “re-invaded” the shoreline surf when they hit 10”-12” and about 1# each. There was a 2 week period where we would pull in the big net and ha.ve upwards of 1000 mullet. We would “recruit” anyone that could walk and breath at the same time on the beach to help pull in the net. Those days, we “sampled” the mullet – We counted them into 5 gallon buckets, weighed the buckets and dumped fish back into the surf as quickly as possible. We would individually weigh and measure 50 fish to use as an estimate. Lots of fishermen got free bait those days.

I only ran the study for 3-1/2 months, but Dr. Landry kept the study going for another year to get a 15 month picture of fish development rates and species presence/density levels. The study mimicked one done about during the 1950s along Corpus Christi beach/bay habitats.

One of the cool things about the work was if we caught any legal sized Southern Flounder, Atlantic Croaker, Pinfish or Black Drum, we could keep and eat them.

Finally, we get to the knife content of this tale – I would gut the fish on the beach with a plastic handled “fish knife” I bought for $1 at 2nd hand store in back street Galveston and thrown them in an ice chest filled with “free” ice from the kitchen. When I got the fish back to the dorm/kitchen after class, I’d use a couple of the cook’s butcher knives to clean the fish and then put them on ice in the kitchen refrigerators. The cooks would do something with them for supper or lunch the next day.

We had fresh fish for lunch at least 2x/week and sometimes 3x for supper. Fried, grilled, poached, baked, steamed, boiled, broiled - if there is a way to cook a fish, we had it. The kitchen management folks were confused at first because the kitchen wasn’t going through their budget as fast as was expected. Once they figured out what was going on, they got really happy as I was able to save the university kitchen budget $2k - $3K that summer. In 1977 dollars. They used the “unused funds” to buy some needed stuff for kitchen upgrades.

More tales to follow.

User avatar
313 Mike
Gold Tier
Gold Tier
Posts: 2912
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:59 am

Re: “Tales From The Summer of ‘77”.

Postby 313 Mike » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:14 pm

Cool story, and impressive that you are able to retain all of this memories from 40 years back. Priceless to you and your family I am sure. Might want to think about putting them down on paper for future generations.
Mike

There are those who are...and those who wish they were. He himself decides.

User avatar
zzyzzogeton
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:47 pm

Re: “Tales From The Summer of ‘77”.

Postby zzyzzogeton » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:27 pm

Thanks, Mike.

Whenever I dredge one of these tales from the La Brea Tar Pit of my mind, I save them as Word Documents, where they reside on my computer, later to be archived with backups (finally remembering NOT to say "tape backups" :wink: , and they also get printed out and put in an old fashioned folder in a real file cabinet.

Yes - I am an OLD SCHOOL computer nerd who used punch cards and learned NOT to trust computer storage long before punch cards became museum history.

For some reason, it is not difficult to remember stuff from any time in the past. Where I run into problem is shopping lists and linking names to faces. When I go shopping, if it isn't on the list I probably won't get it. It only took my sisters and mother a couple of years to understand that when I go shopping it is with a mission - get in, get my stuff and get out. If you don't think that an item is important enough to write it on the list, then it isn't important enough to buy.

I ran into a guy in DFW once while waiting to fly to South Korea for a month long exercise back in August 1993. As we (other reservists traveling to SK) were standing around yacking, this full bird AF type walked up to see what all the Navy folks were doing and I said

"Hey, I know you. Can't remember your name, but weren't you the AF Major who was in a 3 week class on "super-secret burn before reading electronic equipment" at Point Loma back in February 1985?"

He looked at me like I had rocks in my head, then thought a moment and replied

"Oh, Yeah. Hell, I had forgotten about even taking that class, much less when it was."

Sure broke the ice with him, impressed the heck out of my fellow officers, but scared the bejeezus out of the Navy O6s traveling with us.

"Wait a minute. You remember stuff like that?"

"Oh, yeah. I can even remember every bar we went to last year in Seoul." and started naming them off with directions how to get to them.

"I remember conversations almost verbatim as well. I just can't remember people's names very well."

I think that was the beginning of the end of my hanging out with the O6s in the Reserve units. :mrgreen:

My brain is chock full of trivial stuff no one else would care enough to waste cranial storage space remembering.

Like--
- all my license plates since 1972,
- the order of port visits for all 5 overseas deployments and my 19 month tour as Ship's Navigator for the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19), Seventh Fleet's flagship
-the location of every street in a 120 square mile fire district.

I'm a sad, sick puppy. ::mdm:: :mrgreen:

User avatar
zzyzzogeton
Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:47 pm

Re: “Tales From The Summer of ‘77”.

Postby zzyzzogeton » Sun Jul 02, 2017 3:33 am

I mentioned in the first post that I had a couple of paying gigs that summer.

One of them was a little strange. :shock: Knowing what I know now, I should have never taken the job.

My major was Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Fisheries Ecology. I was on very good terms with all the professors in the Department. When they found out I was going to be in Galveston all summer, a couple of them were ecstatic.

One of them was conducting a study of parasites found in sharks. One of the problems he was encountering was that in order to study shark parasites is that you have to catch sharks to get them. My job that summer was to catch him some sharks and deliver them to College Station.

According to the professor, sharks like to swim along the gulley between the sand bars.

Every Friday evening swim out to the second sand bar, with a pipe strung through one end of a 100 foot gill net. When I got out there with it, I’d drive a pipe into it with a sledge hammer, release the net and let wave action deploy the net towards the shore. I’d then anchor the shoreward end with another pipe and go about my playtime for the evening. Yes, I was "swimming" in 5 to 8 feet of surf dragging a net and carrying a 10 foot 3/4" galvanized pipe and an 8# sledge hammer. ::facepalm::

Then on Saturday morning, I would swim out to the outer bar, pull up the pipe and let the wave action drive the net to shore. As the net moved in, I’d swim in and pull the first bar pipe and drag the net to shore. ::facepalm::

Here comes the knife content for this post. The knife I would use was an Old Hickory boning knife (6” blade) that I bought at the same 2nd hand store in Galveston.

If there were any sharks in the net, I would slit their right sides from gills to the posterior end of the body cavity and throw the sharks into vats of formaldehyde, then drive the vats to College Station in the university truck I was assigned for the project and drop them off at the Nagel Hall loading dock.

For every shark I caught and delivered, I got paid $25. In an era of a $2 minimum wage, the pay was very good. ::ds:: ::ds::

Some Saturdays was a wash out with no sharks in the net. Best morning, I had nine 4 to 5 foot bull sharks. Most mornings, there was 2 or 3 sharks in the net. There would also occasionally be some edible fishes in the net. Those would get cleaned and put in the kitchen freezer back on Pelican Island.

One morning, in addition to 2 sharks, there were 53 Sea Catfish ranging from 8 to 10 pounds. I ended up putting about 50 pounds of fish in the refrigerator and then delivered another 300+ pounds to a couple of nursing homes on the way up to College Station.

In hindsight, what I was doing was pretty stupid. Swimming out amongst a bunch of dead fish in a gill net while uncaught sharks were possibly swimming around was not very wise. A couple of time, just the head and part of the body of large fish caught in the net were there and the last 2/3 had been bitten off.

But, I was young, dumb, broke and willing to help the professor. :mrgreen:


Return to “Mostly True Stories”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest