“Climb On My Back” Said The Alligator

Okay, growing up in Florida you know that place is crawling with Alligators.  There’s not a lake around that didn’t have at least one living in it.  When I was a kid there was a lake down the hill from me that me and my friends use to swim and fish in all the time.  Mind you it housed a couple of gators too.  But youth makes you invincible.  I remember one time we were driving by and apparently one of the gators was trying to eat one of the peoples ducks who lived on the lake so someone was called to remove the gator.  As we drove by they stopped us to see if we had some extra rope and of course knowing my dad we did and we stopped, he got the rope and proceeded to help them wrangle this gator.

Same lake different day, one year the lake has dried up a lot.  Enough that we could actually walk across it from one side to the other and it never got above our chest.  Well the smart thinkers we were, me and my friends decided we were going to try it and we proceeded across the lake.  As we are walking the bottom turns mushy and slimy.  It wasn’t until we got smack dab in the middle that we all noticed the gator on the shore off to the side, luckily not where we were heading, watching us.  Well that freaked us out and put a move in our step.  We got across and didn’t go back in for several days.

Another time, there was a popular place to swim by a dam.  It was on a river.  We are swimming having fun and me and my friend decide to swim across the river cause we wanted to go up on the dam.  We get to the other side and EVERYONE is yelling from across the river and pointing.  We look and 20 feet from us by the damn is a 10 ft gator just lying in the grass, apparently watching us the entire time.  Needless to say we didn’t swim back across.  We walked to the the gravel bridge (HOT gravel bridge), barefoot, and crossed there to get back around to everyone.

Now my dad loved calling gators to the boat.  He would call them, they would pop up in the water, disappear, he’d call again, they would pop up closer, then disappear again.  It would scare the crap out of me.  Well one time, it came back on him but let me come back to that story.

First me and my friend were fishing in that same lake at night.  We would catch a few fish, bait our hooks, wash our hands in the lake and sit and wait for the next bite.  Well while waiting we see a cop doing a patrol around the lake.  He stops, shines a light on us then out onto the lake by us then turns it off and moves on.  We didn’t think much of it.  Eventually we decided to go to shore.  As we are walking across the road the cop comes back around and stops and asks if we saw him shine the light.  Well duh of course we did.  He asks “Did you see the red eyes 5 feet from your boat while you were washing your hands?”  Um no actually didn’t see that.  “That’s why I shined the light, too light up the gators eyes.  He was watching you.”  After he left we looked at each other and were like “Why didn’t he tell us to get out of the water?  He just shined a light and left.”

So back to my dad.  One day I’m home on vacation and me and him go out fishing.  We go down this narrow area of trees in the lake.  The boat barely fits through.  We hear a loud crash behind us.  Hmmmm we keep going.  Eventually we have to stop.  The front is blocked with a wall of lily pads.  I look and say “hey look, a baby alligator”  My dad asks where and I point it out.  He says there are two.  I look and sure enough there are two.  I keep looking and start counting 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15.  I look at my dad and say I think we are by the nest.  Now this is the first time in my entire life I have ever seen the slightest bit of worry on my dads face.  He looks at me and says, “I think we need to leave” and proceeds to back the boat out slowly.  We get out on the lake and suddenly he has his courage back and what does he do?  Starts calling gators to the boat.


8 thoughts on ““Climb On My Back” Said The Alligator

  1. Kitt Crescendo

    You know…there is a lady in my writer’s group…a native Floridian. She tells traumatizing stories of Florida, too. In fact, she’s writing her memoirs based on her experiences…trying to come to terms with all the things that scared her so much growing up.


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