My dad also built boats, some of which are still navigating the bayous. He used to soak the cypress planks in bayou (tied to a tree on the bank) until they were pliable, and apply them to the hull, shaping the lower bow into a curve. He nailed the plank in place and secured it with vices, so that when the wood was dry, the desired curve would remain as though it were molded.
His idea was that such a hull could attain more speed. I was his "cinch" girl. I'd climb into the hull, and hold a hammer against the nail tip, while Dad sunk it in - thus the nail would be bent on the inside, and could not come out. The boat he built for himself was named the Osprey. I loved that vessel. It was fitted with benches on each side inside the cabin which could be converted into cots, enough to sleep six people. There was no law saying that every boat should carry life preservers in those days, but Dad and Grandpa fashioned some from some dried cypress knees and canvas straps.
For my 12th birthday, Dad presented me with a beautiful little pirouge (most kids get cars), painted a lovely shade of grey. I used it to visit friends up and down the bayou, and gave rides to schoolmates in the afternoon, while they were waiting for the transfer (school bus) to pick them up to take them home.
Dad was also a fishing and hunting guide, a machinist, an inventor, and an mechanical engineer. Amazing when you consider that he had only a formal fourth grade education. When I write the story of my life (hopefully I will begin that project this year), he will certainly have a special place in it.
And I married a mechanic (machinist mate in the old Navy) so I am not surprised that all of my boys are blessed with skills that were obviously handed down from both sides of the family. Three of them are electricians and the other, the oldest boy, is in charge of the Motiva division for Shell Oil. The second one is living in Anchorage and works on the Slope. The third is shop foreman for Midsouth in Lafayette, who assembles panels, some of which are shipped to Alaska. The youngest also worked in Alaska, until he found he was missing too much of his beloved hunting and fishing seasons back home. He came home and now works for a building contractor.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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