New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, July 15, 2024
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9. To Try to See the Old Man in the Sea

Since you knew that NOBODY in your camp had been in the lake yet it was quite mysterious and kind of scary to think that somebody had been walking around the lake, all around your camp. They must have been up to no good.

When I was a little kid, my great-grandfather, Ed Knower, knew that I was scared when I asked him how the footprints got there. This is what he told me:

Mr. Lake made the footprints. Mr. Lake was a great old guy who's job was to check out all the camps each night to make sure they, and all the people inside them, were alright.

He walked from camp to camp doing this. He'd check around and under every camp. Grandpa Ed said that you never needed to worry when you were at the camp because Mr. Lake made sure that everything was alright.

When I asked why nobody ever saw Mr. Lake, Grandpa Ed said that Mr. Lake was sort of like Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. Nobody ever saw them either, but everyone knew how much joy they brought to the world.

Well I sure felt better after hearing this.

As I got older I realized that this story was kind of fishy. The truth was that people often walked around the camps very early in the morning to look for soft-shell crabs. The water was so clear that you could see them on the bottom in the sand. Soft-shell crabs are delicious when they are fried or broiled. And there were lots of soft-shells around the camps during the summer, which is when crabs slowly crawled out of their old, hard shells to emerge larger, fatter, and more delicious than ever.

The story of 'Mr. Lake' has been passed down through my family for generations. My great-grandfather told me. I told my children. I will tell my grandchidren. And I hope they will tell their chidren and grandchildren. The link below brings you to a site that allows you to tell your family stories and to read others.