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Aransas Pass, Texas

Brownsville was a boring place. There was not much to do except go to the movies and drinking.
There was a a cafe, like there is in any texas town, where all the shrimpers would hang out for morning coffee and eating. It was called "Higgies Cafe". It was named after the owner, Higgie. He was a white haired man who never spoke. The waitresses were all mexicans and they were all hot. My uncle was quite the racist and he used to call mexicans, "monkeys". His generation was probably one of the most racist generations in history. I used to give the waitresses big tips all the time and this would piss him off. I loved the mexican culture and took right to it.


Finally, I quit working for him. I could not stand him anymore. I had heard about a cool place called Aransas Pass, Texas; a small town across the bridge from Corpus Christi, where plenty of fisherman jobs were available. The trip from Brownsville to Aransas Pass was a desolate journey on the Trailways bus. The King's Ranch, which is about 150 miles long composed most of the trip. It's hard to imagine one person owning that much land. It is pretty barren territory.


When I got to Aransas Pass I got a job real quick as a texas rigman at 40%. The owner of the boat were the ****** Brothers who owner about 15 boats and they were all painted white with blue trim. They were known as the blue nose fleet. A lot of the racist shrimpers hated them because they were yankees, originally from Long Island, NY; where they made a lot of money as clam diggers.


There homes were in Fort Meyers, Florida but they would come to texas every summer for the shrimping season. They also were the only boat owners who had a few black captains. Hilbert and Scoop were their names. Hilbert reminded me of John Wayne. His brother Scoop was a very devout catholic who was a high ranking member in the knights of columbus.


I really liked those guys. Hilbert used to call me "Dangerous Dick" after he got to know me. Both of the brothers were very hard working and they treated the crews on their boats with respect. Hilbert would do all of the engine repair work on the diesel powered trawlers. Scoop would take care of the other parts of the business.
The captain of the boat I worked on was named Capt. Mitchell. He was from Georgia, about 40 years old, and had 8 kids back home in Georgia. Mitch chewed cigars like chewing tabacco. He did not smoke them. Mitch was a really easy going guy. He was not a "wheel house captain" [a captain who never leaves the wheelhouse to help the rigman head shrimp]. He had been shrimping for over twenty years but he was not an ambitious person. He would just drag one way for three hours, turn around and drag three hours back. He never used the try-net. A try net is a real small net that is set and pulled about every 15 minutes to see how much shrimp is being caught and how much trash fish is in the big nets.


Mitch loved to sleep so I used to pilot the boat. I pulled the try-net every fifteen minutes. I caught a lot of shrimp that way because when I got a good "try" I would turn around and drag through the area until the shrimp petered out. ilbert noticed right away that mitch caught more shrimp since I had become his rigman. I was on my way on becoming a captain, someday. I used to joke with Hilbert about becoming a captain. I would say, "Give me a 150 watt Apelco and call me captain".
An Apelco was the vessel's two way radio. I used to love to talk on the radio to the other shrimpers.


One of my first friends that I met in Aransas was a crazy bastard named Terry. He was a rigman on the WAF shrimp trawler. He had a rep for the fastest header in Texas. Terry was about 20 years old. He was from Ft Meyers, Fla. He never had much formal education because he came from a poor family but he was a smart guy because he was self educated by reading a lot.
Terry used to go off his rocker when he was drunk which was usually the case when we were in port. I remember the first day I met him when he got on top of the Wagon Wheel bar and took a piss. Terry had a girlfriend, a pretty mexican girl, who had epilepsy. They would fight a lot. One time when she was having an epilectic fit he started chanting out loud in the bar, "Come on throw a fit, throw a fit", while he laughed at her. Whenever T
erry would want a taxi he would holler out loud to the barmaid, "Call me a cab, I want a n*****". Terry actually started a fad with that one. He was not a racist but to the contrary liked black people. There were two black cab drivers there at the time and most of the shrimpers would not use them becausde they were black. After Terry's call me a n****** rant it became chic ato have a black cab driver. Like I said he was a crazy bastard when he was drunk. When he was sober you would never know he was the same person.
 
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