Do you have friends who will bait your hook?

Published 10:00 am Sunday, October 9, 2022

By Bonnie Brown

Many years ago when I worked in the Registrar’s Office on campus, I hired a student from Cut Off, Louisiana named Ricky Adams.  He was a transfer student and his wife Carla was in a Ph.D. program.  He seemed rather subdued, but slowly we became friends.  When the 1994 ice storm hit, we became better acquainted as he and his wife who lived down the road from us on Woodson Ridge Road moved in with us.  We had two fireplaces so we had heat.  He and his wife had a small freezer full of seafood, so he provided food and cooked some wonderful meals—and we all lived quite comfortably in spite of the inconveniences the ice storm brought.  In fact, we felt a little guilty that we were doing so well in spite of no electricity, all the downed trees and limbs, and ice on the roads.  Ricky contributed some battery-operated lamps to add to my oil lamps so we had light.  We learned to play the card game Boure and enjoyed one another’s company immensely.

When Ricky and Carly graduated and returned to Louisiana to use their newly-minted degrees to craft their careers, we agreed to stay in touch.  Unlike others with whom I made this pact, Ricky did indeed stay in touch.  We had the good fortune that Ricky’s wonderful parents, Rose and Donald Adams, were willing to share their family with ours.  

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Ricky always talked about the bayou as if it were a magical place—and to him it was and is.  The bayou isn’t so much a place as a way of life.  Once when Ricky and his family visited, I made fried chicken and all the southern dishes to go along with it.  I saw Ricky sort of picking at his food and asked about the chicken.  His response was “I don’t eat yard bird so much.”  So you see, Ricky’s Cajun heritage consisted of food found in the water—shrimp, fish, crabs, clams, oysters.  It was the bayou way of life.  

I remember when our sons Dennis and Jeff were young, we had an old wooden boat that we’d take out on Sardis and go fishing.  The boys liked the outing and the fishing.  I on the other hand would take a book and spend more time reading than fishing.  We were thrilled when Ricky invited Tom and me to come visit Louisiana and go fishing “down the bayou” with him and his dad.  Little did I know how different this fishing experience would be.  

We started out in the boat in water that stretched as far as the eye could see with grasses waving in the water.  When Ricky’s father Donald came to a huge gate in the middle of all that water, I was puzzled.  He took out a ring of keys to unlock the gate and guide the boat through.  I had to ask about that.  He explained that those areas were private.  When we arrived at the location to begin fishing, Ricky baited my rod and cast it out, then handed it to me.  Immediately, a fish took the bait and I excitedly began to reel it in, much to the delight of Tom, Ricky, and Donald.  I landed the fish and Ricky took the fish off the hook and threw it in the cooler.  I stared at it so I would be sure to remember that it was MY fish.  It had a sizeable black dot near its tail, and I was certain I would be able to identify it later on that day.  We fished for a few more hours then headed back to the Adams’ house.  It was a nice catch of fish, mostly red fish.  When I started looking for my fish, I realized that ALL the red fish had dots on their tails!  What?  I decided that I would therefore identify my fish by the one that was the biggest!  

So, as you collect friends along the way, make sure they are the ones who will bait your hook and take your fish off for you.  Oh, and don’t forget to appreciate the treasured family you are gifted because of an ice storm!  

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. Contact her a