Apartments set into the skyline of Dallas
were expensive, beautifully landscaped, with every amenity for gracious
living. Set into a life style there was every opportunity to enjoy
whatever one's heart desired. A jogging place on a grass green carpeted
track, a spacious group of tennis courts, private swimming pools too
many to count, or one of olympic style designed with the most natural
site surroundings, all were readily available.
"Our lease is up, are we going to
sign up for another six months?" Chester was directly asking his
wife how she felt about continuing on with these living arrangements.
"I don't know." Lela was
hesitant to give an affirmative answer.
"Not happy here?"
Lela frowned. "It isn't that."
"There is everything here to enjoy."
"Then what?" Chester was
willing to be agreeable with whatever she wanted.
"Well, I can't explain it."
"I just don't feel I have a handle on the boy." "He is
off and gone, and who knows where he is." "Frankly, he could
be in any one of five hundred apartments, or whatever playground."
"I worry about not knowing." "I find myself treking this
place out only to find him in a playground all the way across the
These were the reasons they were driving
the back roads around Dallas. The year was 1972 and the city was just
getting ready for another tremendous growth. At the time there were
still places out from the major complex which were country homes,
sometimes vacant and it was one of these they were able to rent. It was
a small home in a complete country setting. A wheatfield was rich, tall,
verdantly green while it came sweetly kissing the edge of their lawn.
Gentle soft warm winds would waft across the stems bringing a breath of
life to their neatly mown lawn. To have an old fashioned clothes line on
the back of the yard was an immeasurably pleasant moment for the young
mother to be able to hang their clothes there for the fresh smell of the
outdoors on them, instead of the perfumed odor of the dryer.
In these seemingly safe spaces Lela
relaxed. She loved to look out the window to watch her boy zipping
around the yard on his go cart, or to watch him and his friend scooting
up and down the dusty road on their bicycles. She could even see them as
they would dash around the edges of the pond setting in the middle of
the pasture next to the wheatfield.
The boy was six years old but when he
came in to inform her that he needed a gasket for his go cart, Lela felt
she was seeing his development and growth. "It sure beats him
coming in with a soft drink in one hand and a candy bar in the other
from the corner Jiffy Trip." Lela told Chester when he came home.
For several days the boy had been coming
in to tell her about dead cattle around Pond. Lela was raised with
brothers and she was always a little careful about being gullible as to
their stories. This was the attitude she had now. She brushed him off
with an answer, "Oh Yeah!" "Well, you are a big
boy." "You will think of a way to handle this problem."
Or, she might say, "Guess, we had better call the Vet."
As the child kept coming to her over a
period of several days she began to wonder about his persistence.
"Chester," she was asking her husband when he came home,
"do you think we should look into this business about dead
"Whatever, you think." He was
They drove their pick up truck through
the gate of the pasture and up to and close to the edge of the pond.
There it was. The eyes protruding above the water was exactly what she
had seen in nature stories and they were easily recognizable as that of
"Oh my! Oh my! Oh dear me!" Lela
was aghast to think she had not listened to her son. To make matters
worse the log looking creature was just as busily following the
movements of the boy in the back of the truck.
"Look at that thing!" "I
believe it is actually trying to stalk us."
After the animal control had been called,
and had roped the alligator, allowing it to wrap itself up in the rope
just as they had seen on television, only then could they talk about the
times the boy had played along the edges of the pond. Maybe the
alligator was just too well fed on the cattle it had clawed to be
interested in the little boys who were there within its clutches.
Whatever, the reason the beast had not bothered the boys they did not
question. It was just too close a call for them to have experienced.