The trip to Belle Glade

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Bill Roberts' Cracker Florida

John Newsom called me one night in the early '70s. He wanted me to join him for a job in Belle Glade on Lake Okeechobee for a big operator in the cow business that had cattle in four counties, Sam Knight.

I loaded my dun gelding “Shiloh” in my horse trailer the next morning. John had told me we wouldn’t need any dogs. We were to meet Mr. Knight’s foreman at Belle Glade that evening, leave our horses in his barn and he would check us into the Holiday Inn. Well, this was a new experience for us; usually we either stayed in a barn or a seedy motel. We took advantage of the accommodations and ordered our meals from room service. But, it didn’t last long, and about daylight the next morning the foreman got us out of bed and told us to meet him 30 miles away at the U.S. Sugar Company’s bull pasture in Clewiston.

We took our horses and met them at the Sugar Company’s cow pen. We penned a semi-cow-truck-load of crossbred bulls and was told to take our horses and follow the semi to Kenansville, which was a good 90 miles north up 441 almost to Holopaw. When we got to Kenansville, we turned east on a dirt grade to the cowman’s ranch. His place was called “Blue Cypress Ranch”. We unloaded the bulls in the cow pen and his foreman showed us to out quarters, which was a couple of rundown house trailers. No room service this time. For the next week we penned 

about 600 brood cows and wormed and sprayed them for parasites.

Before we left home in Marion County, John had an idea we would end up at the Blue Cypress Ranch and I knew that we would be close to some good bass fishing in Fellsmere Marsh, so I put a couple of casting rods and reels in my pickup.

The first two days we worked the cattle to almost dark, but the foreman let us off about 4 p.m. the next day and we went fishing. The canals on the outside of the ranch were full of bass and we had fresh fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We wound up the cattle work in the next two days and loaded our horses, ready to leave the next morning. But not before we loaded up on bass. When we got to Kenansville, we bought a Styrofoam cooler and iced the fish down for the ride back to Marion County.

John Newsom and I were in pretty good physical shape in those days 45 years ago, but it still took us two days to recover from all the driving and working in a hot cow pen – and eating fish five times a day.