What happened to our lakes and ponds?

Published 12:41 am Sunday, May 26, 2013

If you drive down Marshall Richardson Road you cross the railroad tracks that used to be part of our very active railroad system that brought a lot of freight into the Magic City and employed many workers. Just past the tracks is a service station that stays busy every day. As you pass on down that road you see a section of pretty homes with well-kept yards, a great neighborhood. On the other side of the road is a tract of land the school system became interested in several years ago that never came to be. This part of Marshall Richardson Road has grown to be a nice section of our town and a great neighborhood, but few people remember what used to be there.

In years gone by, there was a pond (that some called a lake) that covered a big part of this area. This pond was really big and was only 2 or 3 feet deep with a lot of fish and frogs, and snakes by the way. Several men around town would go there and catch some of the little perch to use as fish bait on their trot lines or lines attached to a limb overlooking the river. Some even used these little fish as bait in the big lakes out from Varnado. Some of the kids helped and really liked fishing in this local pond, back when young people usually walked wherever they wanted to go.

As for the frogs, it was a different story because some young men would go at night and shine a headlight out over the pond, and when a frog was spotted they would shoot them with a .22 rifle. The problem with that was someone had to wade out in the shallow water and pick up the frog. There was always a snake or two that was also looking for a frog leg dinner and it sometimes became a tricky situation. Frog legs were considered a delicacy by some back in those days but finding and shooting them was a sporting event for several young men who didn’t worry about the dangers.

Another body of water that we all called a lake was behind the old Pine Tree Inn where the parking lot for Winn-Dixie is located. This pond of water was really pretty and was visited by a lot of visitors to Bogalusa who usually came for business at the paper mill. It got to be the home of a lot of ducks and was visited by wild geese every so often. The local ducks were the Muscovy breed — more pests than beauty fowls. These were without a doubt the nastiest things to have around.

The ducks had multiplied to the point that they were a real nuisance, and the management people at the restaurant gave the ducks to our daddy. He and a friend went at night and rounded up the ducks one at a time and brought them to our wooded area with a little creek running through. The old Muscovy ducks made themselves at home in the creek and started raising even more. They would get up every morning and fly around the neighborhood. There was one neighbor with a fishpond behind his house that the ducks liked to visit. Several times he came and asked to borrow shotgun shells to shoot the ducks. Several neighbors would shoot at them as they flew by, and after several years there were no more ducks.

Another pond was just past the north end of Austin Street, and it was noted for the number of frogs living there. About that time one young man came with a frog gig, a three-pronged fork with sharp pointed metal arrow type fronts. This gig was attached to a wood handle about 12-feet long, and this young man caught several frogs.

I have been asked about a lake where the Redwood Bowl is now, but others say there never was a lake there, so who knows? Our lakes or ponds of the past are all gone now, and that is probably a good thing for safety’s sake. We have been provided many things over the years, and the good Lord has blessed us well.

May He bless you all today.