"A Bayou Runs Through It"
The Camp's history on Bayou Dularge started shortly after the
bayou was dredged in the late 1960's. Mr. Cliff Harrington (a/k/a
"Paw Paw") and Mrs. Norma (a/k/a "Na-Na") bought the camp, then known
as "Bali Hai" in the early 1970's. At the time the camp consisted of
only 3 rooms: kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. I made my first
trip to the camp as a toddler, and I still remember the wind whistling
through the cracks in the wall slats (sealed with freezer tape - the
progenitor of duct tape). Shortly after buying the camp, Paw Paw
aquired a Wellcraft V-20 I/O called the "Norma B." For the next
20 or so years, the Harringtons made regular trips down to the camp,
where they fished, shrimped, cooked, and entertained their friends and
especially their grandchildren. Over the years, a few additions
were made. First, a living room was added on the west wing.
Then two bedrooms were added onto the east. Paw Paw
finished his grand plan by extending the porch and putting in a
"hipped" roof. The camp was known as "This is the Way!"
made his first trip to the camp when he was less than a month old, and
he and I have been fishing together ever since. We made extended
visits to Dularge in the summer, and over the Thanksgiving and
Christmas holidays. In the 1970's there were still many weirs in
the marshes and the winter fishing was very easy. The more
popular spots were Dufrene Dam, Outlaw Dam (in Deer Bayou), and L'Eau
Dulce. I have vivid memories of those Zebco days when "limits"
were only logistical issues involving ice and freezer space. Once
at Dufrene Dam, Paw Paw counted 23 straight casts with double
yellowmouth trout (remember those old yellow/white shad rigs?).
Back at the camp, Coogan and I spent a lot of time outside: in the
marsh, behind the bulkhead, under the camp, and especially on the
fan-tail of the Norma B. At age 8, I received a Daisy BB gun from
Paw Paw. Coogan and I then eradicated the fiddler crabs around
the camp with wasteful abandon only known by 19th century buffalo
hunters. You may not know it, but the bayou holds hardhead
catfish year round, providing endless hours of enjoyment for young
anglers. As we got older, we started exploring the nearby bayous
and lakes - mostly in a little 14x48 flat boat. Over the years,
mostly through osmosis, we have become passable fishermen while sharing
camp managed to weather several hurricanes in the 1980's with little
damage: Juan and Bob came close to putting water inside, but mostly
they just left a huge mess of marsh grass and flotsam in the yard.
Nevertheless, our luck ran out in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew
passed directly over the Dularge area with winds over 130mph. The
devastation from Andrew was terrible: A barge broke loose and
rammed into the camp; the bulkhead was shattered, and the camp was
flooded with 4 feet of water. The camp sat empty for many months,
and Paw Paw considered a move to a new lot. In the end, Na-Na and
Paw decided to raise and renovate, though they were in their 70's.
Ten years later, Paw Paw passed the camp on to us. Coogan
and I have had to clean up after two more hurricanes: Lily and Rita.
Neither of these were direct hits, but each put another 4 feet of
water inside. It is obvious that the storm surge defense afforded
by the coast is diminished, and if a storm like Andrew hits again, it
is likely that there will not be anything left to rebuild.
Nevertheless, the camp is as much a state of mind as it is a
place, and its lure is irresistable to those who heve experienced its
Paw Paw passed away in 2005, but his legacy lives on in Dularge.
If there is a true legacy, it is that the bond we share as family
has been strengthened by our common love for Bayou Dularge.
I have tried to continue our family traditions - Claire and
Luke both made their first visit to the camp at less than 2 weeks of
age. Claire is learning how to work a Zebco 888 and can now catch
her own trout. It might be a tiny spot of marsh that is washing
away, but Bayou Dularge will always be a part of our lives.