Before we begin, I need to tell you that I have no idea who it was that allowed me to use these wonderful old photos. If you will contact me, I will credit you immediately!
Today, Missy Jones writes of the place we all used to love. How many hundreds, probably thousands of school picnics, parties, and reunions did we have there? Running and playing in the park, climbing up to the old lookout, swimming in the pool, what fun we all had!
Oh, how we loved to go to Lake Eanes, and we thought of it as a long journey (Missy was born in 1930). Of course, it’s only about a 5 or 6 mile drive (south of Comanche), but back then we looked at it as a long, long trip. Today, we can make that long trip in about 5 minutes!
Lake Eanes was so pretty, and I have so many childhood memories. There were giant pecan trees, many with long, rope swings hanging from tree limbs. A favorite cousin, Ovel Dingler, married to my cousin, Lena Mae Steward, would push me in the swing so high that my feet would touch the leaves and the limbs in the tops of the trees. I am sure that I was screaming at the top of my lungs, and I always wanted to go higher, higher.
There was also a big, covered pavilion or tabernacle. It was square shaped with a cement floor and a tall pointed roof with shingles on top.
In the park, under two big, beautiful trees, were very long wooden picnic tables with attached benches down each side. They were painted white, and down the sides were painted words in black like Smith family, fourth Sunday in August. That meant that anyone could use the table except on the fourth Sunday in August, when the Smith family would be there to use it.
Of course, there was a beautiful swimming hole. (By the time I came along, there was a pool.) This was natural and was located on the south side of the park. On the left, there was a rock wall with a walkway for you to walk across. On the far side was a walkway around the edge of the swimming hole, and a path that you could take to climb up to the top of the hill on the south side of the swimming hole. There were about 3 diving boards set at different heights on that walkway to the top.
At the very top was a rock room, with walls about 4 or 5 feet tall, and you could see for many miles from that point (We called it Lookout Tower.). I always thought that Indians might have used this for a lookout point because you could see so far.
I remember that in the pool, toward the west end, was a little island. It was rocked up, and there was a pretty weeping willow growing out of the island. There was also a children’s pool. It seems that it was located toward the west end of the pool.
We would plan and plan for our reunion lunches. This was usually a big gathering with my family members coming from out of town. My mother was a very good cook, and a favorite was fried chicken. Now this wasn’t chicken bought cut up in the store and wrapped in Saran Wrap. No, this was chicken that had been running around in the chicken pen and the garden until my mother grabbed them, wrung their necks, dressed them, and fried them in good lard.
She also made a potato that was so good, and everything tasted better eaten out like that. I remember that it was mashed potatoes with sliced boiled eggs, cut up onions, pickles, vinegar, and mayo. There would also be meat loafs, roasts, big pots of fresh potatoes, black-eyed peas, fresh green beans, pans of cornbread, and desserts everywhere. Everyone had fresh fruit for peach or blackberry cobblers, and many women made banana pudding, with slices of bananas and vanilla wafers dotted across the top…paradise for children eating lunch there.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Camp Bowie in Brownwood was a training center, and Comanche was always full of soldiers from the camp. These men were a long way from home and lonesome. Many families met them on the square and invited them home with them for the weekend. Many soldiers also came out to Lake Eanes, and many of the families with reunion groups and plenty of good food would invite the soldiers to have lunch with them.
I’ll bet those soldiers really enjoyed that home cooked meal! I can just see those soldiers sitting down back at camp and writing to their mothers, “Guess what? I went with some fellows to a nearby town, Comanche, that has a park called Lake Eanes. There were people there for family reunions, and they asked us to eat lunch with them. It sure was good, and it made me want to be back home for your cooking!” -Missy
As Missy talked, I was reminded of something I had forgotten. One thing that I loved about family reunions at Lake Eanes was that there might be 3 or 4 (or more) families having reunions there at the same time. That was great because you could mingle among the groups and visit with LOTS of people that day.
So now you know!