January 14, 2017: Every time I hear “Build Me Up Buttercup” or “Holly Holy” I’m transported back to a simpler time… 1968, back in Patterson was a world away from the way things are now. My family had just moved from Bayou Vista, and maybe because my Mom and Dad grew up in Patterson and Calumet, they gave me a little more freedom to roam around. I was 13 years old, and a whole new world was opening up for my exploration.
One of the activities that I was allowed to engage in was camping out, and for 2 or 3 years I did it as much as I could. There are hundreds of memories to be mined there; some good, some bad, some ugly. But all fun now, and this one came to mind this week. You never knew who would show up—sometimes 1 person, usually 2 or 3. On this particular Saturday night there ended up being a large group at our favorite place to camp.
There was a patch of new growth scrub trees along Red Cypress Road, not far (maybe a quarter mile) from LA 182 (old US 90) along the north side of the road. It consisted of a mix of young trees and briar patches; the tallest trees being maybe 15 or 20 feet tall. There will be much said about this camp-out area as the stories come out, so I’ll leave that for later.
As I started to say earlier, before I side-tracked, on this night there were maybe 10 or 15 people there off-and-on as the night went on. Some of the older guys had vehicles (and became our mules to go get beer) so the number varied throughout the evening. Yes, we drank beer, and as much as we could get our hands on depending on how much money we could scrape together.This night we probably drank 5 or 6 cases, 120 or 148 cans of whatever was available… and we had much fun!
I’ll fast forward to the early morning of the next day, just before sunrise; those of us remaining were beginning to sober up (a little, anyway) and were getting bored. Gazing at the piles of empty cans littering our immediate area, someone came up with the genius idea to build a wall of beer cans across the road! That perked most of us up enough to begin gathering up the cans, and we soon organized into 2 groups; one to gather cans and another to stack them neatly into a wall stretching from one side of the road to the other. Every now and then someone would stumble into the on-going construction and knock down some of the wall—after much cursing and yelling, eventually the project would resume.
I’m going to pause here for a moment to name names. Keep in mind this was many beers ago… I may leave out some culprits, but if they were there they’ll know who they are! In no particular order: Lee Felterman, John Felterman, Larry Beard, Donald Trock, Chuck Toney, Jeff Dolci, Joe Stewart, Glenn Jumonville, Keith Gary, Perry Gros, Timmy Leggett, Jack Smith, (I’ll edit this later as other names pop up through the fog), and yours truly. Now, back to the action…
Once we had run out of empties, we lay back in the weeds along the road admiring our creation. And it was a wonder to behold! In my memory it was 6 feet tall and solid as a rock. It was probably more like 18 inches of precariously stacked beer cans, but it was ours! And we were proud of our creation.
We only had to wait a short while before we heard a car coming down the road from US 90…. and then it came around the curve, at a pretty good clip, too! We waited in intense anticipation for the possible reaction, and at first, the car slowed as the driver saw this un-anticipated wall of something across the road; and just as we gasped in realization that it was Mr. Barr, the mayor of Patterson!—(I remember visions of handcuffs and angry adults)—he must have realized what it was, and he floored it!
He hit that wall probably going 60 miles an hour, and beer cans exploded off in every conceivable direction! We all burst out in a unanimous cheer of wild excitement and relief as he kept going toward the intersection, and we slapped hands and laughed and started to round up our things to get the hell out of there in case somebody with a badge showed up to investigate the Great Wall of Beer Cans.
We never did hear anything about it from the authorities, grown-ups, etc., but boy, that was a fun story to tell at school on Monday morning! It was a helluva ending to a long Saturday night on Red Cypress.
To be continued; same life, different story…