About 26 years ago some friends invited us to visit their lake place and gave us the typical left turn / right turn directions using a few highway signs and a lot of landmarks. The final landmark prior to arriving at their place was a hard right turn at the Crazy Woman Campground.
Making that right turn soon became a frequent and routine part of our life. We were looking for a getaway place at the lake and the mobile home park just past that right turn at Crazy Woman seemed to fit our budget and provide what we had in mind.
A few days ago as I made the left turn (turn right going you gotta turn left when you come back) and headed for the highway and home I paused a little longer than normal in front of the Crazy Woman (I actually stopped at that stop sign, maybe a first.) and reflected on twenty six years of memories. Most of them very good memories; if it is OK I will share a few.
The Crazy Woman Campground was a unique little place consisting of a small convenience store with gasoline, beer, bait, tackle and enough groceries to get you through the weekend if you wasn’t too picky and didn’t check “use by” dates. The other end of the building was a bar complete with a pool table and a couple card tables. They also had about a half dozen mobile home or travel trailer spaces, after all it was a campground.
Bob and Judy were the proprietors at Crazy Woman, they were newcomers to Haskell County, I think they were from Oregon via Wyoming but they adapted well to the Eastern Oklahoma lifestyle. We always ran a tab while we were there and paid our bill when we started home. When Cale and Conner were about three the highlight of a lake trip was going to Bob’s, loading up on candy and putting it on Paw Paw’s bill.
About 10 or 15 years ago the EPA took away the gas pumps (grass still doesn’t grow there), bread, milk, beer and ice sales dwindled forcing the store to close, leaving the bar. I think a combination of poor sales and declining health forced them to close the bar. About a year ago those health issues forced Bob and Judy to go back out west to be near their children. To Bob and Judy: we enjoyed having you in Haskell County and you did the Crazy Woman Campground proud.
I have so many memories of fun times with family and friends, especially during the first 20 years of those right turns, I could probably write a book instead of a blog if I shared all of them. I have neither the skill nor desire to write a book so I will try to generalize, touch a few highpoints then share a few pictures.
Sharyl and I didn’t have these wonderful things called grandkids when we started making those right turns, there were only two grandkids in our social group, a baby girl and her cute little blond headed brother named Brock.
I have to share a quick (I hope) Brock story. He loved to fish with his PaPa; after a morning of having absolutely no luck, nothing biting, we’ve all been there, Brock analyzed the situation and identified the problem. He told his PaPa he needed a new hork (cork), if his hork would just go under like it was supposed to he would surely catch a fish.
As an adult Brock is a proud United States Marine, he has defended freedom around the world for several years. He has a darling little girl of his own, I hope they find time to fish and I hope he gets her a better hork than his PaPa got him.
We were fortunate, over the years, we had good horks and caught a lot of fish. A few times each summer we would pool our resources and have a fish fry. Sometimes we would cook for 50 or 60 people, other times maybe just three or four couples. I think I liked the whole bunch of folks kind better. I was usually in charge of cooking the fish and hush puppies. Everyone would start eating long before I finished cooking, some of the sympathetic ones would feel sorry for me because I wasn’t eating. I’ll just say it would take a special kind of stupid to cook that much fish and be hungry. You have to sample enough to know you are putting a quality product on the table.
Dava was in high school and Lori in college when we started the Crazy Woman run. The early years (pre wakeboard) we did the water ski, tube, kneeboard routine. Some of the guys learned to barefoot and were pretty talented on the old standup jet skis. I don’t think I was ever athletic enough to barefoot, I’m sure Sharyl could have, but given the opportunity as a young man I think I could have given them a run for their money on the Jet Ski.
Sharyl and I became grandparents in ’91. Grandkids are fun anywhere but they are real fun at the lake. Lori and Steve made that right turn a few times a year when the kids were small. As the kids got older, baseball and life reduced the frequency of their lake trips. Often the kids would go with Sharyl and I, those times were good because we didn’t have that parental interference. What happened at the lake stayed at the lake.
Dava and Rick on the other hand are Lake People, they bought a boat then a marriage license. They bunked up with us for a couple years, then bought the place across the street. I think Braxton was four weeks old the first time he got to hang out on the beach, Luke was born in the middle of winter so he had to wait a while. The guys did a lot of sleep overs at our house and Maw Maw made a lot of cinnamon toast; a breakfast favorite at the lake. Just last week I found her special mix cinnamon/sugar shaker tucked away in a corner of the cabinet; yes I dumped it.
I fished a little with all the grands. Rylie was the best fishing partner of the bunch. Cale and Conner argued continually about who caught the biggest or the most fish, they just couldn’t relax and fish. Braxton and Luke had fun part of the time but Rylie would just fish like an old pro. I thoroughly enjoyed fishing with all of them and hope to have more of those days.
About fifteen years ago we added a Wave Runner (Jet Ski) to our little fleet. We thought the grand kids would enjoy it, believe that if you will, we bought the thing for us. I thought the speedometer was wrong on the thing, there is no way I was doing 50 mph. We decided to just run it and the bass boat side by side about 30 mph or so just to verify the speedometer. Sharyl was always pretty competitive and you give me a steering wheel and an internal combustion engine I will do anything in my power to beat you to the other end. That little 30 mph speedo test turned into a full bore dead heat race to the other end of Brooken Cove. It was a slow day on the water; the only people at risk was us.
As with daily life, lake life changed over the years. We continued to make that right turn at Crazy Woman but we busted the budget and upgraded a little bit in ’94 and again in’08. The last upgrade left us with a pretty good second hand double wide with a huge deck and a heck of a view and about an acre or two of gentle slope down to the water to mow.
As Lori’s kids got older, their lake time decreased as life seemed to interfere. About four years ago Dava and Rick quit making that right turn at Crazy Woman, they are still Eufaula lake rats, just changed home ports.
Some of the old friends that helped make those memories still make the right turn at Crazy Woman, it just seems that we don’t show up at the same time very often.
The past three years I have spent an awfully lot of time up on the hill past Crazy Woman alone. It has been a favorite writing venue for me, I am doing this one from home. I still enjoy a morning cup of coffee on the deck or a cold drink later in the day. That right turn doesn’t put the same smile on my face that it did when I was planning to cook fish for about 50 people.
You have probably guessed where I am going with this. I have changed ports. I think the new owners will smile when they make that right turn at Crazy Woman just like I did for many years.
If my reasons aren’t obvious and you would like to ask why; I could give you a real long answer, a long answer or a short answer. Let’s go with the short answer: It was time.
I will introduce you to the new place, still at the same lake, in a few days or a few weeks.
I hope you enjoy the pictures.
Consider a donation to the Cancer research organization of your choice.
Good Night and God Bless.