A Man And A Lake
The Earthquake Lake
I heard the rumblings of Reelfoot at my house. My family lived about 30 miles from the lake. The windows would quiver and it got our attention, but nobody was concerned. We heard the story many times of the 1811-12 quake and how the lake got it's name. Legend has it that a Chickasaw Chief had a son born with a crippled foot. When he learned to walk, his foot had a rolling movement, and the Chief named him, Reelfoot.
My brother Archie, came home from the war in 1949. He wanted to have a career in the Navy. While on duty he was badly injured and was hospitalized for several months. His right leg was broken in multiple places. Some of the bones were too shattered to save and had to be removed, leaving him with a limp. After several attempts to return to active duty, he was unable to perform at peek level. Navy personnel issued a medical discharge. He had a hard time adjusting to what was fated him. That's when he took to the lake.
He bought an old truck and a tackle box with compartments. Traded in his navy blues for a red checkered long sleeve shirt, a pair of ankle boots and a camouflage hunting cap. A collection of lures and jitterbugs and plastic worms filled the garage along side reels and bamboo fishing canes. It was on that lake that the healing began. Soon, his pale face turned to a leathery tan and a prideful smile returned when showing off his silvery prize.
He made the decision to buy some property and raise tomatoes. Love of nature and the land made him happy. He married his long time girlfriend. Life returned to normal and fishing took second place. It was good news when he heard his wife was expecting. The prospect of being a father was the most exciting thing that ever happened to him.
Two weeks before the baby was due, movement stopped. The baby was still born. Two months later, his wife died from complications. He never married again but he had a life long affair with the lake. As he got older his limp was more noticeable and he was a little quieter. But if you got close enough to look under the brim of his sweat dried hat, you would see the eyes of a tempered soul.
Archie was 85 when he passed away, but the sun keeps rising on Reelfoot, a sanctuary offering up silver prizes to men, burying their secrets and healing broken dreams.
Randle Flowers, Reelfoot guide
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