Tag Archives: Buck Roy

Ollie And The Rain Barrel

I’m not sure just when this next story took place as I had completely forgotten about it until Buck reminded me of it in a phone conversation a year or so before he died. When I asked when it happened, his words were, “We were old enough to get into trouble.” That wasn’t terribly helpful because that covered a lot of years! We finally isolated it down to when we were in our late teens.

Four people were involved: Mike “Buck” Roy, Alvin “Al” Bartlett, me, and Oliver Darrel “Dee” White. We were kind of a “rat pack” that ran together for decades. Buck and Dee are both deceased now.

Dee lived on Williams at 16th Street. Actually, he lived in a small garage apartment behind his parent’s house and had lived there for as long as I knew him. Dee was two years younger then I was, and I meet him when he joined our scout troop. His folks were not poor and the house was large enough for Dee to live inside, but he didn’t. They fixed up the garage, and Dee had this really cool garage apartment complete with a bathroom where we liked to hang out.

The conversation I am about to relate began by Dee expressing the desire to have a nickname, and he wanted a cool nickname. He was already called “Dee” shortened from Darrel, so the request seemed rather strange to the rest of us, but then Dee could sometimes be a bit strange.

Curious, we asked what name he would like to have, and his reply was “Ace”. And he said it with a straight face, but that didn’t stop the rest of us from laughing. “Lib” White, his mother, would not have tolerated “Ace” for even a second, but Dee, I mean Ace, persisted, and we resisted. “Ace?” Really?

At which point, we began calling him by a nickname we knew he absolutely hated. His first name was Oliver, and we sometimes called him “Ollie” when we wanted to irritate him—like at that moment. That was always guaranteed to send Dee into a dose of the vapors.

After we had our laugh, we finally agreed. I think Al started it, and Buck and I picked up on where he was going with it. “OK, we’ll call you Ace, Dee,” said Al.

That lit Dee up. “Not Dee! Just Ace,” he insisted.

“OK, Dee, I mean Ace,” Buck said. “We get it.”

“Dammit. ACE!” Dee insisted even more assertively.

“OK, OK, ACE it is, but, Dee, this is gonna take some getting used to,” I chimed in. Buck and Al nodded their heads in agreement.

Ace became exasperated then and even more vocal about his nickname. The rest of us were thinking he needed another trip to the rain barrel.

The Rain Barrel

Dee (or Ace if you prefer), an only child, was a bit spoiled and could get disrespectful sometimes. We mostly verbally slapped him down when he did that to us or simply ignored him. But there was one time he dissing someone, and we could not ignore it, and we all ganged up on him to administer some “brotherly love” discipline.

I don’t remember just what he said, but in front of us, he was very disrespectful to his mother. It was bad enough that those of us who witnessed it were offended, and not because we were all pillars of society always showing respect to our elders; it was just that bad.

The Whites had an old whiskey barrel in the backyard, and it was full of water. I don’t recall why they had this barrel of water. It was just sitting in the middle of the yard and doing nothing beyond that and collecting water.

Someone made the comment to Dee that his words to his mother were uncalled for, and Dee pushed back with something like, “What are you going to do about it?”

The gauntlet had been thrown down. The “double-dog-dare” had been figuratively tossed into the ring. Buck, Al, and I looked at each other knowingly. We all three looked at the barrel and then Dee. Lib White was watching all this and must have suspected something was about to happen.

In perfect unison as if rehearsed, Al, Buck, and I said, “The barrel!”

Dee looked at us with a confused expression on his face, then at the barrel, and back at us as we closed in on him. He laughed a mocking laugh! And that did it! The three of us were on him before he could take even one step. We had him off the ground and unable to do anything but squirm as we headed for the barrel.

About then Lib White figured out what we had in mind and called out from the back steps of their house, “Don’t drown him!”

Dee went into the barrel head-first and we held him down while he thrashed around throwing water over everyone. After an appropriate amount of time (short of drowning), we brought him up, and he was spitting out profanity between gasps for air.

“You going to apologize to your mother?”

The answer was a defiant “no” laced with profanity.

Back into the barrel he went, and this time he stayed down longer. We brought him up sputtering and cursing. “You win! You win! I’m sorry!”

We let him go, and Lib sighed with relief we had not drowned her only child.

I don’t remember how much longer the Whites kept that barrel around, a few years at least, and every time Dee got smart-assed, we would suggest it was time for another trip to the barrel. That usually calmed him down.

And we never did call him Ace.

 

The pic is of Dee and his wife, Patsey, in 2004.

 

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SCUBA – Part 1

That stands for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. The SCUBA system and the modern version of sport diving were invented by Jacques Cousteau in France right under the noses of the Nazis during World War II. By the late fifties and early sixties, the cost of the equipment had come down enough many in prosperous post war America could afford it. TV shows like Sea Hunt staring Lloyd Bridges, which aired from 1958 through 1962 and in reruns for years after, plus The Aquanauts (CBS 1960-61) staring Keith Larson and later Jeremy Slate, played a major role in promoting the sport.

By the time I graduated from high school in 1962, I had a strong interest in diving, which, at that time, was limited to snorkeling when we went to Florida on rare vacations there. In the summer of 1962, my friend Dee White announced to the rest of the gang he was taking SCUBA diving lessons. That immediately got the rest of us interested.

Buck Lane Diving Mod

Buck and I were the first to follow Dee’s lead and promptly begged a diver we knew to teach us how to safely do that. I had been reading everything on the subject I could get my hands on and had developed a bookish knowledge of the sport. It was enough for me to figure out we had chosen the wrong person to teach us. He knew less than we did.

By reading and picking the brains of other divers like Dee, we developed what we thought was a satisfactory level of knowledge about the sport and how not to “get bent” or experience an air embolism. We acquired a copy of the US Navy Dive Tables and learned all about decompression to avoid the dreaded bends, which could paralyze and even kill you.

So we bought our equipment and went diving. This included: mask, fins, and snorkels, one 72cf tank, one backpack for strapping the tank on our backs, one dive watch for timing our bottom time, one wrist depth gauge, one demand regulator (the thingie that supplied the air in the tank to our lungs), and a spear gun. We were now undersea hunters!

I had access to a boat, the Yellow Jacket Buck and I almost sunk on an earlier camping trip to Cat Island. Buck also had access to a boat. Look out Lake Pontchartrain, here we come!

The lake was a good place to begin. It was rarely over twenty feet deep anywhere, and back then, it was relatively clear with twenty feet visibility at times. The Causeway bridge stanchions and the powerline towers in the water off the end of Williams Blvd were great fish attractors, mostly Sheepshead with an occasional Jack Cravelle showing up, but the latter was too fast for us to get a shot at them. We shot tons of sheephead and feasted on fish after every trip.

Eventually we joined a dive club, and there were many to choose from back in the early sixties with more than a half dozen in New Orleans alone, ranging in size from close to a hundred members (Dixie Divers) to some with maybe only a dozen. We joined the Bajaos, which had 30 to 40 members at any given time with maybe twenty or so who were active. The big three were the Dixie Divers, the Hell Divers, and the Bajaos. Some of the members had been at this for many years and proved to be a helpful source of information. Club membership also provided us with access to diving in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Bajaos were named after the Sama-Bajau people of Indonesia, sometimes called the “Sea Gypsies” or “Sea Nomads” because they essentially live on the water and, it is said, get seasick when they go on land. I have experienced this after a three-day dive trip in the Gulf. After all that time on a rocking boat, when I stepped on dry land again, it was moving! I suddenly felt nauseated and had a hard time walking at first.

The oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana are a diver’s paradise with all manner of fish for viewing or spearing, mostly the latter for us undersea hunters. Favorite targets were red snapper and grouper, with lots of Amberjack, large Warsaw Grouper, and huge Jew Fish (also known as the Goliath Grouper) for the more daring. In the sixties the record Jewfish taken spearfishing was 559 pounds.

During the summer, the Bajaos met every Wednesday night in the backroom of some bar and planned our adventures for the coming weekend or some upcoming spearfishing rodeo. It was a great life for a 19 year-old kid.

Part 2 continued here…

The pic is of Buck and me in 1963. He is holding a Barracuda he shot, and I am holding an empty speargun for the one that broke my line. We switched to stainless steel cable after that.

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Today, I lost my best friend …

Lane & Buck ca 1963Michael (Buck) Roy and I have been friends for nearly 60 years now. During that time, we were like the closest of brothers. In fact, he lived with my family for a spell when we were teenagers. He went to be with the Lord this morning around 9am.

In a way, I am glad he’s gone, because he suffered with Lewy Body Dementia. He was aware he was quite literally losing his mind, and as expected, it scared him, and not many things scared Buck. It would scare me, too. I know he would not want to live in his own private hell of non-existence, dealing with the frightful hallucinations he was having as a result of the LBD.

He’s at peace now.

It is hard to put into words one’s feelings for another after being so close for so long. We shared so many adventures together, some of which I have written about here and here and here. (And I will write more as they come to mind.) We spent many a night around a campfire, discussing things that made no sense to us and things that did, solving the world’s problems and maybe helping aggravate a few. Our minds worked so much alike, it was scary. I suppose that is what drew us to each other.

Buck, which is what all of us who knew him from childhood called him, was one of the most outgoing people I ever knew. He could strike up a conversation with anyone about anything, even if he knew nothing of the subject. It was very hard to not like Buck. It was very hard not to smile when around him for any but the briefest periods. We did smile a lot, and we did laugh a lot, and we even wept on each other’s shoulders when we were hurting inside.

We knew the other would be there when we needed help, have each other’s back in a fight, even down to burying the body if it ever came to that.

Buck is gone now, but will never be forgotten. The best part of his passing is I know I will see him again in eternity. You see, when he was a teenager, Buck accepted Christ as his Savior. He went forward at a Billy Graham Crusade in New Orleans. Our separation will, therefore, be only temporary. And once again we can sit around a campfire, this time in Heaven, and swap tales.

In the meantime, I am going to really miss him.

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