Thursday, December 22, 2005

Captain Shreve's Snagboat Camp

In 1833 Captain Henry Miller Shreve, Superintendent of Western River Improvement, began dismantling the 165 mile long log jam known as the Red River or Great Raft.  Shreve had earlier invented the snag boat and his creation had a jaw-like bow that could yank snags and tree trunks out of the water.  The trees and snags were then cut up with a saw mill on the boat’s deck.

In 1835, the Shreve Town Company was formed by eight businessmen at the site of Captain Shreve’s camp.  When a rival group started a nearby town they called Coates Bluff, the Shreve Town Company hired Captain Shreve to divert the river slightly.  He did so, leaving Coates Bluff without access to the Red River.

Today, Shreveport, named in Captain Henry Miller Shreve’s honor, is Louisiana’s second largest city and Coates Bluff little more than a faded memory.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Leaving Louisiana in a Driving Rain

I tried sneaking away from Vivian yesterday before my new girlfriend Rita realized I was going.  I didn’t quite make it.  She wrapped my neck in a damp embrace, trying to keep me from leaving.

Rita chased me, smothering me in wet kisses.  When that didn’t work she tried to blow me off the road.  Finally, at the Oklahoma border, she gave up and let me go.  Some relationships were never meant to be.


Monday, September 05, 2005

Armadillos Swarming Northward From Texas

Like everyone else, I've heard the rumors that thousands of the little prehistoric beasties are leaving Texas and moving north. This morning, I got actual proof of the situation. Here is a picture of a Texas armadillo that I found invading my kitchen. I'm calling National Geographic! HAPPY LABOR DAY

Friday, September 02, 2005

PAPA'S PIROGUE - a Cajun short story

This story originally first appeared in 1991 in the 20th Anniversary Issue of the magazine Skylark

Papa's Pirogue

Uncle Admiral's booming voice vibrated Tommy Picou's murky brain, recalling him from a rapidly fading dream. Groaning, he rolled over and pulled the pillow over his head. No use. The pillow failed to mask Uncle Admiral's vocal demand that he get out of bed.
With half-opened eyes, Tommy peeked out and focused on his alarm clock. Five in the morning it informed him. He closed his eyes for a fleeting moment but realized it was no use trying to sleep any longer and rolled out of bed. When he wandered into the kitchen, his loud uncle started in on him.
"Felix, dat boy a yours gonna sleep his life away."
Felix looked nothing like his older brother. Compared with Admiral's portly frame and gray hair, Felix was bone thin, his own hair and mustache jet black. He chuckled at Admiral's remark as if it were a compliment.
"Ain't nobody can hold a candle to Tommy when it come to sleeping, no."
Admiral grinned. "You was de same way, you was young."
Tommy blinked sleep from his eyes and poured himself a cup of stout Cajun coffee from the blue enamel pot on the stove.
"Tom-my," Uncle Admiral said, accenting the last syllable of his name. "Gonna catch dat big catfish today, no?"
Tommy shrugged his shoulders noncommittally as he sat at the table with the two men.
"You bet we are," Felix answered for him, slipping a knot on a treble hook. "We spotted him las' week wallowin' in de big hole `neath that willow tree on de far side de lake. Mus' be forty, fifty pounds. His ol' head bigger dan dis whole table," he said, pounding the table top.
When Admiral spoke, his voice vibrated the walls of the tiny cabin. "Little brother, you doan care you catch dat fish. You jus' wanna git you new pirogue wet."
"May-be," Felix said with a grin.
Admiral's laughter rocked the table as he stood and walked to the door. "Tom-my -- you git dat catfish. And pull you papa out if his new pirogue zink to de bottom a da lake."
Admiral crawled behind the wheel of his big white Cadillac as the sun peeked over the cypress swamp. Felix followed him out the door, waving goodbye as he pulled back the tarp and checked
his new pirogue.
"Tom-my, I git de boat ready. You mama made some gumbo fo' breakfas'. Eat it, you hear, then les catch us some fish."
Tommy watched his father disappear behind the cabin, then
opened one of the two big ice chests. One held supplies, the other was for the fish they caught. Removing the lid from a container labeled gumbo, he tasted the frozen contents with his fingertip, made a face and returned it to the ice chest. Then he followed his papa out the door.
"Tom-my," his father called from the water's edge. "Hur-ry. You got lead in you pants?"
Tommy finished buttoning his shirt as he hurried to where Felix waited beside the sleek little canoe-like boat. Red lacquer coated the new pirogue made of cypress and mulberry.
"Watch you feet gittin' in de boat," Felix warned him.
Felix put his ice chest in the front, then sat down and pivoted his feet over the hull. Tommy pointed the bow away from shore, gave it a push and jumped into the back without tipping it while Felix relaxed and lit his corn-cob pipe.
They ducked under moss-draped cypress trees as Tommy paddled them through a lily pond, past turtles on a stump and a snake swimming in the opaque water. When they reached the middle of the small lake, the sun was already high above the trees and sweat trickled down Tommy's face.
Tommy swatted a horsefly buzzing around his head as Felix spotted the first white plastic bleach container floating in dark water. He motioned Tommy to paddle to it.
"Dat's de first jug," he said.
Tommy eased the pirogue beside the jug and his father lifted it from the water, deftly hoisting the attached string. After reeling in about ten feet, They saw the head of a fish break the surface. Felix lifted it out of the water and dumped it into the live box in the center of the boat. Then he baited the treble hook with a hunk of stinking blood bait and tossed it back into the lake.
Another bleach container bobbed in the water about fifty feet away. A string connected the two jugs and individual lines hung from the string to the bottom of the shallow lake. The two connected jugs were the first of ten -- a passive fishing contraption known as a trot-line. After Felix secured the catfish, he motioned Tommy to continue, holding the line as they moved, feeling for the next bottom stringer.
"Know why I like a wooden boat Tom-my?" Tommy didn't answer but shook his head no. Not expecting an answer, Felix continued. "Cause metal boats vibrates and cause headaches and high blood pressure. Your great-grandma lived a hunderd-two years and she never rode in a metal boat."
Felix let the line slip through his fingers until they came
to the next hook, then pulled it from the water, detached the flopping catfish and tossed it into the live well.
"Tom-my, you know why wood's much better than metal?"
"No Papa," Tommy said.
"Cause a wood boat absorb vibration and soothes you nerves. It doan git hot and drive de fish away. If you git a hole in it, it doan zink like a metal boat."
Felix stopped talking when they reached the next jug, but smiled and caressed the smooth side of the pirogue. Pulling another fish from the water, he dumped it into the live well and crossed his arms as Tommy paddled away. They checked several
more lines before heading for the last jug floating beneath the big willow tree.
"Tom-my," Felix said. "You know an outboard motor last two, maybe tree times as long on a wooden boat. It shake itself to death on a metal boat."
Tommy nodded and maneuvered the sleek red pirogue beneath branches of the willow tree that draped almost to the water's surface.
"If we gonna catch grandaddy catfish, he gonna be on de end of dis line right here, `neath dis ol' willow tree," Felix said, slapping the side of the boat.
Tommy held the paddle perpendicular to the path of the slow-moving pirogue and let it drift beside the last bleach jug.
Felix grabbed the line with one hand and gave it a tug.
"Musta hung up on sumpen."
Felix's teeth clenched around his corn-cob pipe as he
grabbed the line with both hands and pulled, carefully measuring
the tension he placed on it.
Tommy shook his head. "Ain't hung, Papa," he said. De line's movin'. You got sumpen on it."
Felix watched the line scribe a semi-circle in opaque water. Smoke from his pipe floated into the branches of the overhanging willow, his teeth still clenched around its stem.
"If dat a fish, it mus' weigh a hunderd pounds."
He pulled the line from the water, eyes and veins bulging
and smoke from his pipe billowing like a fast-moving train. Tommy worked the paddle to steady the boat, but the slender pirogue rocked like a bobbing cork in a flooded drain pipe.
"Hol' it steady, Tom-my," Felix called, now standing for better leverage.
Tommy tried, stroking the paddle in a futile effort to stabilize the narrow-hulled craft. Felix shuffled his feet like a log-walking contestant and kept pulling line from the water as the pirogue rocking precariously. Soon, a large shadow appeared, just beneath the surface of the murky water.
"We got it Tom-my," Felix yelled, excitedly.
As the head of a fish broke the surface, Tommy's and Felix's
mouths gaped in unison. It was a huge catfish with two brown liquid eyes fully twelve inches apart and whisker-like protuberances extending a foot on either side of its massive head. They looked for all the world like giant feelers.
Felix's little hand net was useless and he slipped both thumbs inside the creature's mouth, trying to hoist him into the boat. With all his strength, he managed to pull the fish out of the water, even though its body was fully as long as Felix's six-foot frame.
Felix grinned broadly, still puffing the pipe, and strained to ease the passive creature into the boat. But as he did, the huge catfish suddenly twisted its girth. Like an unwinding rubberband, its big tail swept ninety degrees in the water, the unexpected motion causing Felix to step back to regain his balance in the rocking pirogue.
Felix hugged the squirming monster and yanked but couldn't pull it out of the water. Like a reluctant dance partner, the catfish squirmed in his grasp, then slashed the lake with its powerful tail.
"Whoa-a-a-a-a-a-a!" Felix yelled, releasing his grip on the catfish and desperately windmilling his arms.
Totally out of balance, their combined weight flipped the unstable pirogue and Felix and the fish plummeted into the water as Tommy grabbed an over-hanging branch and held on, listening to
the splash and ensuing struggle as his papa attempted to maintain his grip. No use. The catfish squirmed loose, sank beneath the lake's murky water and disappeared.
Felix bobbed to the surface and treaded water, the corn-cob pipe still clasped firmly in his clenched jaw. Long black hair dripped down over his eyes and when he tried to brush it aside, he watched his ice chest gurgle twice and sink. The little red pirogue floated beside him, upside down.
"Pa-pa," Tommy said, still hanging from the tree. "Know de difference 'tween a wood and a metal boat?" Felix didn't respond and Tommy answered his own question. "Flat-bottomed metal skiff don't flip over when you haul in a big catfish."
Already considering his brother's inevitable ribbing, Felix frowned and blew a stream of water from his corn-cob pipe, causing Tommy to laugh so hard he lost his grip and fell, with a splash, into the lake.


All of Eric's books are available at AmazonBarnes & Noble, and on his iBook author pages, and his Website.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Eric Wilder on Joe Mazza Show

Joe Mazza

Eric's August 14th interview with Joe Mazza was postponed and will take place tonight beginging 1:00 am Sunday, August 22nd. Subjects will include Eric’s book, Ghost of a Chance and questions about the energy problem. The always entertaining Mazza, known far and wide as the king of late night radio, has hosted such industry icons as Debbie Reynolds, Bobby Vee and Dwayne (Dobie Gillis) Hickman. His trademark voice is recognized throughout the industry.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Joe Mazza, the King of Late Night Radio, to Interview author Eric Wilder

Joe Mazza will interview author Eric Wilder beginging 1:00 am Sunday, August 14 about Eric’s book, Ghost of a Chance. The always entertaining Mazza, known far and wide as the king of late night radio, has hosted such industry icons as Debbie Reynolds, Bobby Vee and Dwayne (Dobie Gillis) Hickman. His trademark voice is recognized throughout the industry.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Crossett's Headless Ghost

There is a scene in my novel Ghost of a Chance where Buck McDivit sees a light coming from the water’s edge. Having recently witnessed what he thinks is a ghost he investigates to find Wiley Johnson, fishing off the marina’s dock by the light of a flickering lantern. Wiley offers Buck a beer, listens to his ghost story then tells him one of his own.
“Sounds like a paranormal occurrence, at the very least.”
Wiley explains that he once checked out the local legend of a ghost that supposedly haunts the railroad track near Crossett, Arkansas — the ghost of a train conductor that literally lost his head during a railroad accident.
As every writer knows, there is a little truth in all fiction. This is true of the story about the headless conductor — a ghost I saw with my own eyes.
While attending college in Monroe, Louisiana, I worked at a bowling alley. Much in the manner of all fine Louisiana establishments, the bowling alley had a lounge. After closing at midnight, I, along with Trellis, the mechanic, Chuck, my roommate who also worked at the bowling alley, and Joe, the manager had a few drinks in the lounge. The discussion led to ghosts, the headless conductor of Crossett in particular, and we were in the right frame of mind to check it out for ourselves.
Crossett is a little town in Southern Arkansas, not far from the Louisiana border. We stopped at a convenience store along the way to make sure we had enough beer for the trip. After passing through Crossett, we crossed the railroad track and parked beside the road. A jillion stars lit the clear Autumn sky — a good thing as we hadn’t thought to bring a flashlight. Joe waited in the car while Trellis, Chuck and I walked down the dark track in search of the headless ghost. Even in our advanced state of inebriation, we never really expected to see it, but see it we did.
Darkness and surrounding trees and vegetation made it hard to judge distances, but we almost immediately saw something on the track in front of us — a hundred yards, perhaps a thousand yards away. It was a dim, incandescent blob of light that danced just above the tracks. When we moved toward it, it moved away. When we walked away from it, it chased us.
We stayed on the tracks for what must have been an hour, the dancing blob of light present the entire time. We all saw it, even Joe, the bowling alley manager that had driven us to Crossett. Joe didn’t drink alcohol.
We saw something. Granted, it may have been swamp gas or some other unexplained phenomena. What it seemed like to me was an entity, a real being that sensed our presence, meant us no harm but had fun “playing” with us. Don’t believe me? Then I urge you to go to Crossett, Arkansas and check it out for yourself.


Born a mile or so from Black Bayou in the little Louisiana town of Vivian, Eric Wilder grew up listening to his grandmother’s tales of politics, corruption, and ghosts that haunt the night. He now lives in Oklahoma and continues to pen mysteries and short stories with a southern accent. Please check out his AmazonBarnes & Noble, and iBook author pages.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ghost of a Chance -- Book Review

My cousin, Boston radio personality Angela Bonin, read Ghost of a Chance and wrote this about it:

“Congratuations dear Cousin. You certainly created a couple of memorable characters, set in a compelling location, inside a fast-moving story. You are a master at dialogue. It rings true most of the time, and this is a major skill missing in lots of novelists. I also admire the way you end chapters. Many end not only logically, but with a strong visual image that lingers satisfyingly after you close the book. Buck is a man of integrity, but also deeply flawed with his alcoholism, which makes him interesting and foolish. You can see that he will never "get the girl" because he is so unstable and unreliable. And all through the chapters we keep hoping he will not continue to be his own worst enemy. You tell a good yarn. The story has multiple layers. It is easy to see this as a screen play and a movie. And it is easy to see how you can create more stories for Buck in a series.”

Thanks, Cuz

Eric Wilder Interviewed on Daybreak USA

Al Lerner and Richard Stevens, hosts of Daybreak USA, talked with Eric Wilder yesterday. Their discussion included energy, and Wilder’s novel Ghost of a Chance. Daybreak USA is part of the USA Radio Network and carried on many stations in the southwest. The show features “national news, sports and interviews with the day’s newsmakers.”

Monday, July 18, 2005

Author Eric Wilder Appears on Jordan Rich Show

Last night, Oklahoma author and energy expert Eric Wilder fielded questions from Jordan Rich, WBZ in Boston, about the impending energy crisis and his new book, Ghost of a Chance.  Rich, one of the nation’s most intelligent and thoughtful interviewers, kept conversation about the hot-button topic lively, as did many listeners that called in with their own concerns about energy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Interview with Ira Fistell, KABC Los Angeles

A reader brought to my attention that the interview, based on the prior announcement on this blog, could either be midnight Saturday, July 16 or midnight Sunday, July 17.  The interview is at midnight Saturday, actually 12 am on Sunday, July 17.  Sorry for the confusion (hope I get it right!) and I hope you’ll all be listening.  Thanks,  Eric

Broadcasting Legend Ira Fistell to Interview Eric Wilder

Ira Fistell of KABC Radio, Los Angeles, California will interview Eric Wilder on Saturday July 17th at midnight, Central Standard Time.  The interview will last an hour and should really be a good one.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Tom Pope Interviews Eric Wilder

Eric Wilder appeared today on the Tom Pope Show, Powernomics Radio Network.  Topics included Wilder’s novel Ghost of a Chance, and what many believe to be a rapidly growing energy crisis that is already approaching critical mass.  Pope, a thoughtful, intelligent man, conversed with Wilder during the breaks, poignantly conveying the fears of his very large listening audience that the rapidly rising price of energy is not being addressed, either by the government or the private sector.  Like Pope, Wilder believes immediate dialogue must begin in order to address this important, perhaps one of the most important, issues facing the nation.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tom Pope of the Powernomics Radio Network to Interview Eric Wilder

Eric Wilder’s media campaign continues on July 11 at 10:30 am when Tom Pope interviews the author of Ghost of a Chance on his national broadcast.  Topics expected to be discussed are the energy crisis, and racial issues highlighted by the new book.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hip Hop Connection's Rod Murray to Interview Eric Wilder

Rod Murray of the Hip Hop Connection will interview Eric Wilder on August 4th at 12:00pm Eastern Time. Subjects will include the oil situation and racial issues in Wilder's new mystery, Ghost of a Chance. The Hip Hop Connection is aired on The program also airs in Africa. An integral part of the plot of Ghost of a Chance concerns a racist East Texas judge.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Oklahoma Author Eric Wilder Interviewed by The Inquisitor

An interview with Edmond, Oklahoma author Eric Wilder appeared in the weekly Shreveport, Louisiana newspaper The Inquisitor.  Reporter for The Inquisitor, Kerry M. Kirspel, wrote the article discussing Wilder’s expertise in the oil business and the author’s new mystery novel Ghost of a Chance.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Eric Wilder Interviewed by Rick Barber, KOA in Denver

Radio talk show host Rick Barber interviewed Eric Wilder this morning on topics ranging from $60 oil to Wilder's new mystery, Ghost of a Chance. Barber is a featured host on Clearchannel KOA in Denver, Colorado. ( (