The story goes that a powerful arctic front pushed into Texas with ice and snow back in the 1960s. It put the whole northern Panhandle into a deep freeze for a couple of weeks.
So two good ole boys were talking, Jim Bob and Billy Fred. Jim Bob said the nearby Longhorn lake had frozen solid enough to drive a truck on it and go ice fishing, just like they did in Minnesota and northern states. Billy Fred had his doubts, but Jim Bob said, “Listen: Longhorn lake’s a small lake. Not that deep. So it froze good. I drove my new truck out to the middle yesterday – a mile out and a mile back. No problem, solid as a road. We could go out there tomorrow and cut a hole in the ice, and get us a ton of fish.”
Billy Fred said, “Well I guess if you already done it, I’m game.”
Next mornin’ they drove out on the ice early. No problems. At the middle, where they judged things would be good, they stopped. Billy Fred was going for the grub hoe and ax in the back of the truck to cut a hole in the ice, when Jim Bob said, “Why do all that work when I have this?”
Jim Bob reached into his tool box and pulled out a stick of dynamite. He was grinning big and proud.
His buddy said, “What the hell you doin’ with dynamite?”
Jim Bob said, “Worked on that tunneling road crew last summer. Saved a stick or two for 4th of July and for emergencies – like suddenly getting to go ice fishing.” He smiled, devilishly.
His buddy clapped his hands and said, “Alright! You’re the stuff of legends, Jim Bob. You sure that fuse is long enough?”
“Two feet,” Jim Bob said, with great assurance. He lit it and threw it hard downwind. It flew about 40 yards and hit the ice and slid another easy 30 yards.
And then Jim Bob’s dog – did I mention the dog? – took out after it. Paladin was his name. Jim Bob’s black lab – unfortunately – was an exceptionally well-trained fetcher. That dog took out across that ice like a shot. He was just a gray streak on that white ice. In six seconds he had picked up that dynamite and was faithfully (and proudly, I might add) returning it to his master.
Well Jim Bob and Billy Fred started jumping up and down and yelling for the dog to drop it. “No, no, bad dog, release,” they said, but he kept coming. So, Jim Bob pulled out his pistol and shot four times, just over the dog’s head. Paladin was confused by this. He didn’t understand why the guys were behaving so badly when he was doing such a good job. So Paladin ran in a great wide arc around them and took refuge under the truck.
The fuse was getting a bit short by now so Jim Bob and Billy Fred began running toward the far side of the lake, slip sliding across the ice. Paladin wasn’t gonna let them leave without him – so he dropped the dynamite and ran after them.
It blew. The front end of Jim Bob’s new truck was lifted five feet off the ice and when it came down the ice was gone and so the truck did a header into the water – a nice swan dive that saw the tail end go in last, and like a good Olympic dive, left hardly a ripple in the water. But as the lake was only about fifteen feet deep in the middle, the CB antenna still rose a foot above the water.
Billy Fred and Jim Bob and Paladin were all fine, physically fine. But Jim Bob was crying inside because that was a new truck. He had decided against insurance because as he told the agent, “I’m a careful driver.”
And there the truck has remained all these years. Poor Jim Bob has had to put up with the constant ribbing of people asking if he’s “fished his truck out” or “still teachin’ that dog to fetch dynamite,” or “What’s your favorite lure, a silver and red F-100?”
But if you go out there to the middle of Longhorn Lake today, they say, you can still see, if you look carefully, a slightly rusted old CB antenna sticking up a few feet out of the water. Sometimes people attach little notes to it that say things like, “Ice fishing prohibited here,” or “No bottom fishing,” and even poetry: “Roses are red, violets are blue, Jim Bob’s truck is right below you.” Don’t you love small towns for never lettin’ it go?