At the end of every year, there comes a unique time for the Corps of Cadets. Finals end on a Wednesday around May 15 or thereabouts. And Final Review, a parade review where the seniors are honored as they march in their "final" review, and the underclassmen get promoted to the next class, is held Saturday. Now, being the intelligent reader, you can see the gap there. Let's see. Thursday and Friday of that week all the Corps members are still around A&M for Final Review with NO academic responsibilities whatsoever. A parent's worst nightmare. So we in B-Company, and the entire band in fact, used these days every year to plan an all out bash on the Guadalupe River in San Marcos. A canoe trip. We'd depart for San Marcos on Thursday afternoon, and show up in town with alcohol. When I say alcohol, I mean tons of alcohol. Kegs, cases, flasks, trash cans, ice, bottles, and cans full of beer, liquor, beer, punch with everclear, beer, whiskey, gin, tequila, margaritas, beer, mad dog 20/20, and did I mention beer? In short, we were stocked. And we'd plow through alcohol until we had fire running through our veins.
When I was a sophomore was definitely the year this trip got the most out of hand. Art Torres, a junior, myself, and four freshman were filling an El Camino and going around "borrowing" cool signs. We got a great big stop sign, a neighborhood watch sign, a deer crossing sign, some cool creek signs, and so on until we had about half a dozen signs upside down in the back of the El Camino. And this is when we get pulled over by the fuzz. For, of all things, having a burned out license plate light in the back. A stupid bulb, and we are pulled over. Well, we are lying down in the back thinking, "Please don't let him see the signs, please don't let him see the signs, please...". I mean, we were only "borrowing" them, but we didn't think he'd see it our way, and there were probably enough to make all of us party to a felony. Well, things were going okay, and then we mentioned we were in the Aggie Band on a canoe trip. Lucky for us, this guy LOVES the aggies. We were recounting some great stories with this guy, and developing some genuine rapport when he spotted the Mad Dog 20/20 in the cab. And all the guys in the cab are under 21. He asks whose alcohol it is, and Art, quick on the pick up, said it was his. He was also the only fellow older than 21 amongst the lot of us. Fortunately, the rapport we'd built led the officer to chastise us for leaving the alcohol up with the minors when it should be in his hands. He took the Mad Dog, and accepted the criticism. Then we waved good bye to the officer. He never saw the signs. And its a good thing there is a statute of limitations on this kind of stuff. Well anyway, you think that is the story, but its only getting warmed up.
So we get back to camp, and everyone is plowed, and someone says, "Hey, lets go see the tracks in San Antonio!" Great idea to a bunch of guys drunker than skunks at 2AM. Heck, San Antonio is less than 60 miles away. We're there. Now you may be wondering what tracks I am referring to. Well, its a morbid tale really, but I'll tell it anyway, and you be the judge. Back in the 1920's or 30's or thereabouts, there was a school bus that got stuck at a rail crossing, and was struck square by a locomotive, and everyone on the bus was killed. They named all the streets in the subdivision now adjacent to this tragic spot after the dead kids. As I said, morbid. Anyway, the urban "myth" that has now arisen (especially popular among young folk such as we were) is that if you go there, and put you car in neutral by the tracks, that the "ghosts" of the dead kids will push you over. Having been there a couple of times in high school, I can tell you that there is a distinct grade, but people still go, and put baby powder on the backs of their automobiles to try and make out the handprints of the ghosts that are pushing the car. Anyway, morbid as the story of the spot is, the urban myth is quite intriguing. So 15 of us or so jump into five cars and head for San Antonio. Now I claimed no knowledge of how to navigate our way to these tracks. Yes, I had been there, but I had always been driven there. So I didn't know how to get there. At least three other guys swore they knew EXACTLY how to get there, and, incredibly, we got three different routes. And then, in spite of our guides, we got lost and separated. Unbelievable. But true. Anyway, as I recall, it was almost 3:30 AM, and we were lost on Military Drive (not the best part of San Antonio by the way). So the group of three cars I was with spotted the two other cars, and they did a U-Turn to follow us. Then we all pulled over on the shoulder to admit defeat, give up, and head back to San Marcos.
That's what was happening, but to the police cruiser, he sees two cars turn around, follow three other cars, and then they all pull over on the roadside. He's thinking, "Drug Deal". Or worse. Anyway, the cop pulls up, and we are like "Wonderful, gimme my registration", while pulling out licenses. Then this officer gets out, looks us over, pulls out a double barrel shotgun, points it in the air, and fires. POW! "Hands in the AIR!!!" he screams. "Where I can see them!!!" Then he grabs his radio mike, and screams, "I need backup...NOW!!!" All of us are looking at each other thinking this guy has flipped, and that there are real criminals he could be chasing. We tried to explain this, but he was deficient in the "humor gene". Within minutes, there are five cars, and we are all splayed outside the cars getting frisked, and when we'd try and get a word in edgewise, they'd stick a fairly large caliber pistol in our faces, so we humored them. Finally, an officer shows up, and says that we are okay, and can go. Apparently, the police thought we were skinheads (not all that unbelievable considering our short haircuts). And there had been two skinhead killings that night. So I guess I can see why the officer was a little paranoid. But the officer had made the intuitive leap when hearing one of the personalized license plates was "AGBAND", and figured we were aggies (I am damn glad San Antonio has smart senior officers). Anyway, after this second fiasco, we returned to San Marcos without incident. I know what your thinking. What about the canoe trip? Well, it was always the night before that provided interesting stories. As for the canoe trip, it was fun, and we canoed. That's it.