By Norris Chambers

            Somebody in the distant past named the fairly large stream Pecan Bayou. I could certainly understand the Pecan part of the name but I had a little difficulty with the Bayou. All of the other streams in the area were called creeks, branches, draws or rivers. Most of them flowed into Pecan Bayou. Several miles downstream the bayou merged with Jim Ned Creek and the two now keep Lake Brownwood supplied with water. I had always thought of a bayou being a sluggish, marshy stream just barely above a swamp. The Pecan Bayou was a nice wide stream with many standing holes of water and was lined with tall trees and vegetation. There was an abundance of pecan trees. The streams emptying into the bayou were also lined with pecan trees. They were not fancy pecans. Some were small, some were large, some were soft-shelled and some were hard-shelled, but all I ever ate had a good flavor.

            In the fall when the pecans began to mature and drop from the trees many old timers in the area gathered a supply for the months ahead. A few of the more ambitious folks harvested and sold them to those who were not inclined to gather their own. A full tow sack full of pecans sold for about a dollar.

            We were not big collectors but every year our family and Clifton ’s family devoted a Sunday to pecan gathering. We brought along a big lunch and a block of ice for the ice cream freezer. Sometimes we brought a seine and a few fishing lines. It wasn’t just a work day, it was also a fun day.

            Everyone believed that we should have fresh fish for dinner so it was always decided that Clifton and I should take the seine and get enough for the big meal as well as drag out enough minnows and small frogs for fish bait. My brother Tom, Clifton ’s dad, brought a long bamboo fishing pole for coaxing pecans out of the trees and we had tied a twelve foot ladder on the truck in case the pole wasn’t long enough. Some of the branches on larger trees were out of our reach even with this equipment. Tom said the ones we couldn’t reach were for the squirrels.

            The morning went well. Plenty of fish were caught for the big meal and the ice cream freezer was kept turning by the Clifton ’s smaller brothers. We also managed to collect a bushel basket full of pecans and had started on the second when the call for dinner rang out. Our picnic

crowd began to gather and before long we were scattered  around the feast that was spread on a tarp on the ground.

            Suddenly we were shocked by a loud whacking noise and a heavy volley of leaves and pecans clattering down on us from above. They were splashing in the bowls of beans, soup, potato salad and whatever was on the eating mat. A quick look up revealed Clifton ’s younger brother, Clyde , high in the pecan tree above us whacking pecan limbs with the bamboo frail. The falling leaves and pecans continued until a few unfriendly shouts caught his attention.

            “Sorry!” he shouted. “I didn’t notice you all fixing to eat.” I wondered if he actually did it accidently or if it was a deliberate trick.

            “Come on down and eat,” his mother yelled. Then added, “If we can get the pecans and trash out of everything.”

            Clyde started moving cautiously around in the tree trying to find his way to the ladder. Somewhere in the maneuver he dropped the bamboo pole and it landed across the eating mat. Luckily it didn’t hit anyone but it was rough on a few dishes of food. Before anyone could think of anything appropriate to say the reckless pecan thresher was on the ground and preparing to partake of the feast that was spread on the tarp.         

            I don’t remember the food tasting any worse because of the pecans and trash. Maybe I was just hungry and didn’t notice.

            Clyde ventured to make a statement when the ice cream freezer was opened.

            “Well, at least it didn’t hurt the ice cream!” He was right. The ice cream was delicious as usual.

            The pecan gathering day could be called a success. We had two bushels of nice pecans. That would be plenty to get us through the winter.

            Was this pecan gathering a fun thing?  Everyone thought so. Maybe you ought to load up and make a trip to a creek to gather pecans. If you’re lucky someone might drop pecans, trash and the pole into your dinner table! That would make the day a real FUN DAY!