Autumn in East Texas is quite colorful. The year 1952 was no different, with the trees changing to their vivid colors, mornings getting cool, and sometimes with fog mingled in. My brother-in-law, Robert Crosby, was a barber by trade. He loved animals, and loved to hunt and fish.
One of Robert’s pets was a large dog with the name Laddie. He was a mix of German shepherd and Collie, tan in color. He was easy to train, and had been taught a number of doggie tricks by Robert.
We decided to go on an overnight camping trip on the Sabine River in East Texas. The river had carved out a high bluff at this particular point, at least thirty feet high. Robert picked out a level spot to pitch our tent, and build a fire. Laddie, now around eighteen months old, was with us on his first outing of this kind.
The three of us spent the night inside the tent after cooking bacon and eggs on the camp fire for supper. Nothing smells quite as good as bacon frying in an old iron skillet, and frying eggs in the bacon grease. We had set a number of hooks, “set hooks” as they were called, along the bank of the river in hopes of catching a catfish during the night.
Early the next morning, it was cool and a heavy fog encompassed our camp site. We decided to “run the hooks” before breakfast to see if we had snared any cat fish during the night. Laddie was running and barking through the woods, enjoying himself to the limit. Then the unexpected happened.
Laddie was headed straight for the bluff with his head held high smelling the many aromas of the woods. I looked at Robert, and he yelled out to Laddie to “stop”. The young dog kept going, ignoring the warning. Laddie walked right off the cliff and fell the thirty feet to the river waters below.
Had he survived the fall? Robert ran downstream to a place that he could climb down safely to the waters below. There he found Laddie, wet and frightened, but unharmed. They were both able to climb back up to the top without incident, Laddie probably having learned a good lesson that day.
Robert joined the Texas Highway Patrol about six months later. He was shot and killed in the line of duty on November 24, 1954. My sister, Evelyn, moved back to my parent’s home, and naturally brought Laddie with her. I adopted him as my own, but he missed his master. He would never perform any of his “tricks” again for me.
I went off to college and Laddie disappeared one day and was never seen again. The river bluff is now under water having been swallowed up by the massive Toledo Bend Lake. But the memory of both still remains with me, and I have a few photos which help.