March 4, 2011

Letter From Donovan Weldon To His Father

[Ed. note: Donovan and Edwin were my grandfather's brothers]

Donovan Weldon
The Corpus Christi Times
Corpus Christi, Texas
Tuesday, May 17, 1927

Dear Dad:

Was surely glad to get your letter. Have read it half a dozen times. Got one from Mother with it. While I know I don't write any too much, I jump on letters from you and Mother as soon as I can get my hands on them, and they help to keep me going. It isn't all sunshine being away from home, although I am awfully well pleased here. I keep busy enough that I don't get homesick, but I sure get lonesome sometimes.

I am sending you a couple of pictures taken on our fishing trip last Saturday and Sunday. They aren't really good, but they show what we catch down here, once in a while. The fish is a red grouper (I think that is the way you spell it), and I caught it on a redfish line, which is meant for a fish a lot smaller. He weighed over 40 pounds, and was a tough one to get in the boat. We managed to get him up fairly easily, but when we started to get him in the boat I thought we had lost him, he thrashed so. The line was not nearly strong enough to hold him when he got a direct pull, but Vance Griffith, who was with me, got a gaff hook under him and hauled him in. Vance is publicity manager for the Chamber of Commerce, and a good fisherman. He took the picture with the Graflex camera he carries with him, but for some reason they did not show up well. This fish was caught near the jetties, nineteen miles from the pass, where we fish for redfish.

We had a lot of fun on this trip, going down Saturday and coming back Sunday afternoon. Only the two of us went, but we caught more fish than on any previous trip. Van had a run-in with a shark while we were fishing in the surf. The pass is right on the Gulf [of Mexico], and you fish in the surf off of a sandbar where the water is about 4 feet deep. We had caught a half dozen big reds, and Vance had them on a stringer tied to his belt, floating about 6 feet away from him. They weigh so much you have to let them float out that way. About 1 o'clock at night (you fish at night for the best ones) I heard him yell about 100 feet from me, and began thrashing the water with his pole, and a shark about 8 feet long had the fish.

It was as moonlight as day and we could see the shark in the water with his back sticking up. Vance had the stringer tied tight and couldn't let go, and it dragged him about 20 feet before he scared it away by whipping it with the pole. It got our best fish, and just left us the head. The sharks won't bother a man, but if you have any fish in the water outside the bar, they will sure get them. We are going to try a stunt with them by putting a fish on a stringer and trying to harpoon a shark. I never heard of it being tried, and neither did Vance, but the fishermen say it might work, so we are going to try it the next time we go down. One of us will carry the keg, attached to one end of the line, and the other will take the harpoon and bait fish. Vance will try the harpooning stunt, for he can throw one. He harpoons porpoise from motor boats a lot, and there is really an art to it. What will happen when we hit one, I don't know, for Mr. Shark will probably take keg and all out to sea, but it will be a lot of fun, anyway.

Aside from working, fishing, and swimming, I live a mighty simple life. I leave the office every afternoon and go straight to the beach, after dressing at home, and swim for an hour or two. I have gotten accustomed to the salt water now, and can swim all right in the waves, though at first I was a total loss. Then I go home, take a bath, shave, and go to town to eat about 7:30. At night I read, having only about one date in ten days or so. I know a lot of people here, but have not gotten interested in most of them. Spend a lot of my time at Vance's house, or riding with him and his wife. They are fine people. Also spend some time with Ralph Bradford and his wife; he is manager of the Corpus Christi Times. They have been mighty nice to me, and have invited me to dinner a couple of times.

The exercise I take has sure made me feel better, and I am brown as a Mexican and hard as a rock. Tell Heywood I will take him on in a scrap now. There really has been a mighty big change in me. I weigh 170 and am not a bit fat. I go to bed at night early, and am usually ready to sleep, for after we swim we always run down the beach to the beacon, which is a mile away. Usually we run both ways, making a two-mile jog, and I have gotten so used to it doesn't bother me a bit. And I row a lot. An hour's steady rowing is just good exercise when you are used to it.

Vance and I are going to get up in the morning at four and row out to the light, two miles past the jetties, and try for trout. We go out often, getting back in time to dress and get to work by eight, and sometimes get some nice fish. But you never can tell when they will biting there. The mackerel fishing is just starting, and I want to try that too. That is the sort of fishing you would like, trolling for them in a motor boat. They are supposed to be mighty game.

I started this to be a short note, and wrote on this short letterhead, but it seems to be a rather long treatise on recreation in Corpus Christi. It is also novel to me, and I am so interested in the sport here that I could keep on by the hour. I can't get used to catching fish that pull like a mule.

Will have to stop and get out some copy, so give everyone my love, and tell them I would surely like to see them. And ask them all to write me often.


P.S. Mr. Lewis just phoned that they have put me on the committee to draw up a constitution for the Junior Chamber of Commerce, which was organized here last week. They have a mighty fine bunch of young fellows here. There is another banquet next week -- I get to meet a lot of people that way.

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