Forty years ago Port Aransas was a very quiet little fishing town on the northern tip of Mustang Island largely shielded from the tumult of the 1960s. When I think back on that insular world I grew up in from the perspective of today, it seems as though it was the ultimate haven for those exhausted by social upheaval. The inhabitants were mostly service people or business owners that operated bait shops, fishing charters, 1930s-style vintage motel cottages, convenience stores, and restaurants.
We were immersed in the beach and fishing lifestyle. There was the quiet beauty of a desolately empty beach in winter; the massive crowds descending from all parts of Texas during holidays and summer. There were fishing tournaments drawing contestants from across the state and beyond. On the island you could hear at nearly all times the constant rush of breaking surf, and after a surf session walking for hundreds of yards back to our cars the harsh onshore wind violently flapped our surfboards this way and that. From March until November we were dazzled and overheated by the marvelous and blistering Texas sun.
The characters in this story are completely fictional yet someone who lived through that time especially in that place might recognize certain kinds of events or personalities as genuine; they might think of people they knew or might recognize in the characters some things they themselves might have been. We were growing up in a world we took for granted but didn’t think about or understand. The little league field bore the name of a local boy killed while fighting in Vietnam. The plain wooden sign erected in memoriam was a symbol that neither myself nor any of my friends paid any attention to — though we walked past it everyday at lunch to buy chocolate covered donuts and Dr. Pepper at the Island Cafe.
That place and time seems almost other-worldly — and all of us in it decidedly unworldly. In the late seventies what we wanted was to live what we considered the true fire inherited from the previous decade: Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll. And we did create that world — we lived it — without malice but with consequences both mundane and horrible.