Letter From Asa McDonald
Submitted by >Annie Laura (McDonald) White
This is a short story my Father Asa H. McDonald wrote in his beautiful old style handwriting,
unfortunatly on the back of an old shirt card.
A Story of Long Years Gone By
I Asa H. McDonald, when a young man of 21 or 22 years was a way down on the Mississippi River at work at a place known as Tunica Island, now this Island was about three quarters of a mild long and a little over a quarter of a mile wide. Now when the River got up to a certain height the water run around the other side of the Island which was the east side of the Island.
In former years small steams boats often went around that way to shun the stiff current, but later it filled up and grew up with willows. Now this Island was covered over with fine cotton wood timber and Mr. Louis Phillips who I had worked with for 3 or 4 years at other places went to that Island as overseer and manager to cut, hull and raft up the timber, and when we would get enough rafted up the company would send a big toe tug up after it. So this was the nature of our work. Well I went down there in January and stayed till July. Now when spring begin to open up the mesquites got so bad till we could not sleep.
Now the very closest place we could get a mosquito bar was 7 miles, which was down on Morganzy 7 miles away. Now I don’t think there was but about one mosquito bar in camp and it belong to a man by the name of Joe Louis the cook. It might be that Mr. Phillips might have had one. . Well they got so bad we could not sleep so me and Alford Phillips, Mr. Philips son, which was my buddy pardoner which worked together and bunked to gather and I believed was considered by Mr. Phillips two of his best trained boys especially on water.
Now we had a fine good size light running skiff with 2 pair of ors I used the front pair which was to guide or steer the boat, so we were just about prefect, and when any thing had to be gone after in the boat me and Alford went .So it came to pass that we took out down to Morganzy after some mosquito bars. Well it didn’t take long to make it down there going with the current, but it was not that way coming back.
We got our bars and started back to camp. We just entering in to a mild eddy this means that the current was going our way, when the great Side Wheel Steamer Hill City came plowing the River. So Alford and me decided we would give her a race. So we took out to give her a race. So having the eddy in our favor we stayed right side by side with her until we reached the end of the 2 mile eddy.
Now there was quite a lot of people, passengers on the steamer and when they seen us staying right side by side with her it created quite a little excitement or rather aroused their curiosity and quite a number of them came out to the banister of the boat and stood and watched us, Sometimes some of them would give us a hand wave as if to say, come on boys. So to cap it off, when we reached the point at the end of the eddy we turned out and dropped in right behind her and when we done this it stir up quite an excitement among them and they went back on the end of the boat and stood watching us as we was crossing the River. Well of course when we got in the River she went right on from us, for these big steamers made 20 to 30 miles an hour.
Then we eased our way on to the camp. I could have told lots more but is a long story. Those big mountain waves looked dangerous but as we understood just how to handle our boat it were easy rowing. Well we got home with our mosquito bars and oh boy we sure did sleep.
Well I am now 85 years and 7 months old liken eleven days. Of course I am not
able to perform these things like in those long gone by years, but it brings
remembrance to me to think of those good old times. So till I write my next
story I will say goodbye.
Written for dear daughter Audrey