Herman Arthur Merritt
My Dad looked at my fifth grade report card and looked up at me. I held my breath.
"Its not bad but you could do better. Now your Uncle Joe has invited us to go along on a camping trip down on Perdido Bay next summer. I told him I would let him know if we could make it. If there were some A’s on next month's report, I would for sure say, yes."
"Boy, oh, boy! I can do it if I study real hard." So all the next month I memorized all my lessons and the report card had all A's on it. That cinched it. I could hardly wait for school to be out. Finally the day came.
Mom fried a chicken and baked a potato pie. I helped Dad pick out a couple of the best watermelons in our patch and put them in the wagon on top of old Pete's hay. We left early in the morning to be able to set up camp and have a picnic lunch at noon.
The camp site was among some giant live oak trees loaded with hanging Spanish moss. It was situated on the south side of the bay on a high bluff overlooking the water. The first thing I did was to run over and take a look at the bay. It was much larger than I had imagined it to be. There were white caps all over and the waves pounding the shore sounded like somebody dumping buckets of water from our back porch.
My next thought was how much fun it would be to sail off the bluff using the big wagon umbrella for a parachute but Dad said, no.
After lunch, Uncle Joe brought out two crab nets and showed my cousin Bob and me how to look for crabs and scoop them up. This was great fun and we soon had a tub full.
He also had a cast net. There were mullet in great schools. Some of them jumping out of the water. He waded out and made a few casts and caught so many Bob and I could hardly carry them. While Dad and Uncle Joe were cleaning them, we waded out to about waist deep and played around till we were tired out.
In the meantime, Dad had strung the tarpaulin up between two of the big oak trees and had a fire going. Aunt Dot and Mom had baked some corn bread and were frying the fish in long handled frying pans and Uncle Joe had a pot of crabs cooking.
I ate so much fish and corn bread my stomach hurt. Uncle Joe dipped up the crabs. I didn't like them, and besides I was too full of fish and corn bread.
Dad brought out the watermelons but nobody wanted any. Mom mentioned pie. I wanted some but was too full to hold it.
Uncle Joe, who had not been back from France very long, began telling war stories. Bob and I spread our blankets where we could hear.
Lightening bugs were all over the place, blinking like shooting stars. Katydids were singing noisily and crickets were chirping all around.
I looked up at the sky. There were more stars than I had ever seen before and they looked lots closer than they do at home. A hoot owl called from way across the bay. Then one answered from the tree right over us. Bob sat up and said, "Did you hear that?" He moved closer to me.
Our fire had burned almost out. Old Pete was noisily chomping on his hay. My eyelids were getting heavy. I closed them and when I opened them it was daylight. The sun was climbing up out of the bay like a big fiery ball; then I smelled coffee. Boy, it smelled good. I am not allowed to drink it but have tasted it. It doesn’t taste nearly as good as it smells.
After ham and eggs with fresh hot baked biscuits for breakfast, Bob and I ran and jumped off the bluff, landing on the slope and sliding on down to the beach. We spent the morning swimming, water fighting, and collecting clams from the sandy bottom till Dad and Uncle Joe called us up. They had the mules hitched to the wagons ready to leave.
It was good to get back home, but we sure had a good time and would like to have stayed longer.