A Restoration for Dignity…#139 (the 70’s)

A visitor to Lake Thunderbird

A visitor to Lake Thunderbird

It was secured from its temporary storage domain having been neglected and abused,  no longer a proud stature of its adumbration but a memory of attainment being retained.   A new concession was accorded,  a redemption to again accommodate its intended ambition.  A renewal of esteem to be enhanced with the tenderness of application,  a restoration of dignity would prevail.  The residency of purpose was to install a meaningful artistry,  once again providing awareness to its physical attributes,  a brush of countenance would again endure with the ensconcement of a majestic allurement  the results bringing a once forgotten prominence.

The 1954 18 ft. aluminum hull 8 passenger Lonestar seaworthy vessel finding a home at Gary’s S.W. 46th Terrace residency   The musician having discovered the vessel relegated to the weed infested back-lot of a boating sales concern on South Shield Ave. in Oklahoma City,  a despairing sight,  its presence adorning a trailer and an undersized 35 horsepower Evinrude motor.   Its past history was of the Texas Gulf,  the vessel small in stature for a proud  inhabitant of the sea,  a neglected relic of the past .   A restoration,  a gleaming white coat of paint,  the wooden interior beckoned an ocean blue coat,  new light fixtures,  the twelve volt electric starter,  forward and reverse controls all renovated for activation.  A celebrated launching at Lake Thunderbird in Norman was instilled,  although the diminished power train was inexpedient,  the 35 hp Evinrude would suffice for the pianist aspirations,  providing a recreational ride around the lake for his family and a platform for fishing.

Marina at Lake Thunderbird

1954 18 ft. Lone Star

  When Gary first bought the Lone Star in 1970 the journey to lake Thunderbird was found to be somewhat of an obstacle ,  the 35 mile road trip, the boat ramp insertion and extrication of the craft was time consuming and with an additional problem,  the Oldsmobile Wildcat having no trouble pulling the craft but the 63 Comet was a different story.  The Lone Star was wider, longer and  towered over the smaller struggling Comet, the added weight making it difficult to obtain 60 mph.   Gary making an inquiry at the marina about a rental slip, discovering an unsheltered inexpensive rental space for one hundred dollars per year.  A visit with band member  Jerry Willis asking if he would like to share in the slip expense and use of the boat,  the majestic Lonestar finding a new residency.   The first family lakeside gathering found his wife Kaye, young Scott,  Marlo and an unexpected invite,  his mother-in-law Helen venturing on the waters of the resplendent lake for an excursion around a portion of the 60 mile shoreline.

Lake Thunderbird

 An abundance of crappie

An abundance of crappie

An early morning expedition to Thunderbird finding Gary,  Jerry Willis,  his wife Darlene, her three sons Corky, Ricky, Donny and  friend Donna aboard the 18 foot Lonestar,  all excited about a fishing venture.  The Thunderbird fishing emporium was apparent to bass,  catfish,  bottom feeding carp and the ever schooling crappie with some other unacquainted species.  The motley crew having little or no luck in the coves, Gary deciding to venture to the lakes dam site where he had success before and it wasn’t long before an array of schooling crappie began to flourish.  The pianist knew it was time for an immediate conversion from single hooks to the multiple hook crappie rigging.   Darlene having never before fished, on her first cast with the multi-hook rigging,  the bobber disappearing, a retrieval discovering three crappie on her line,  an exclamation of exhilaration prevailing,  Gary admitting that he had never achieved an introduction to fishing like that.  The schooling crappie adventure concluding,  the group returning to Jerry’s residence discovering a total of 82 crappie harvested with one disposition.  Gary discovering  no one was interested in cleaning the catch,  save Jerry’s eldest son Corky, noting the difference between people who fish and true fishermen.

White caps on the lake

Dave and John the sales representative for KWHP radio remained regulars at the Derrick Club,  Gary having acquired the stations services in the past to promote the club.  Dave having being very inventive,  renting a large carbon arc searchlight, stationing it outside of the club to correspond with a special night broadcast, the beacon in the sky seen for miles designating the club’s location.   Gary having related his fishing stories about lake Thunderbird, the two bachelors having never been lake fishing deciding they were interested.   The 2:00 a.m. closing having arrived and passed, Gary and the prospective fisherman remained in the locked club awaiting a time to leave for Norman so they could arrive at the lake just before dawn.  Entering the marina boarding the 18 ft. aqua transport,  the fishing gear still in the rear bench where it was stored,  the three consigned with an ample supply of beverage, bait and expectations.  Proceeding with diligence in and out of several coves but this morning finding the submerged marine life elusive, Gary having experienced that the ideal time for the fish to bite had arrived and would soon erode.  The late morning overcast sky was darkening the musician was aware of the possibility of  thunderstorms,  a tornado watch having been forecast,  but was confident they could abscond to the marina if a menacing weather status developed.

The expedition continuing, the wind beginning to expedite briskly and for the first time it was noticed that a white-water crest was beginning to develop on the lake.  Off in distance, southwest of the lake there appeared to be a wall-cloud forming, the boat beginning to bob with the swells, Gary decided it was time to depart and return to the marina.   Activating the starter button the motor turned over briefly but then came to a halt, the battery having lost its initiative.  Dave and John having a concern look on their face and it deepened when Gary told them that he had never pull-started the motor before and being the slightest of the three he gave it his best, the motor barely turned over.  The much bigger John volunteering but the Evinrude was in decline, failing to even fire and with the craft  buffeting, the water lifting the boat that was beginning to drift, it was apparent the anchor no longer was set.  The riveting motion and drifting continued, as did the adrenalin, the three deciding to don life jackets, although Gary mentioned that the worst that could happen would be that they would drift ashore.   A scanning search for other lake activity found a vacancy  save a person in a small ten foot boat being swept along by the waves toward the marina, Gary making an effort to stand up,  maintaining his balance, waving for recognition.   The person in the boat noticing their quandary, turning about into the wind-driven waves to attempt their deliverance.  The small craft tossed about, a rope line being cast, the person aboard fastening it to enact a tow, the Lone Star towering over the rescue boat,   Gary realizing the only reason the smaller boat could make any headway was because the marina was downwind..   Entering the marina area,  the normally subdued waters of the slip area were abashed with white water,  the waves splashing dockside, the boats moored in their slip bobbing like corks,  the towed Lone Star cresting against the docking area, Gary leaping to the boardwalk and with the tow line in hand conveying the craft to its appointed disposition.

A resulting conversation with the two advertising entrepreneurs finding their first lake fishing experience would probably be their last, especial if accompanied by  a journeying tornado touching down.






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