Ode to Port Aransas
Years ago, I discovered the island of my life when my father brought us across that perilous one-way causeway that was used for two-way traffic. It was, in some ways, an ominous island in those days. Other than the Tarpon Inn, there were very few facilities for tourists. Open gambling. Open bars. Not so friendly.
I was a child then. As soon as I was old enough to pay for my own transportation, I started coming back to Port Aransas, drawn by the lure of the surf and edible creatures that dwelled in it. It was then I met Jay Barr. He was my host at his Island Retreat. He, with Bill Ellis of the Tarpon Inn, helped me arrange fishing trips for my Austin television show. I'd leave early in the morning to fly to the skinny, short, shell-covered Port Aransas landing strip where a fishing guide, usually Ted Helf, would be waiting. My brother, Wally, was a cameraman. I was the fisherman. Out we'd go for a morning of fishing. Wally would film the action. We'd be back at the studio in Austin by 4 p.m., develop the film, and at 6 pm. Port Aransas on the air with all the action.
Back then, Jay and Wanda Barr aided and abetted our efforts of covering the Port Aransas story so many times, so many ways. He recognized the importance of publicity. He lived a life of service.
If you ever witnessed Jay wearing that silly seagull hat and singing with Patsy Jones that silly seagull song you know he loved life. And now his song: "…And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover. And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trek's over."
Cactus Pryor is an Austin radio personality, author and columnist.