South Slope. Asheville.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lake Espy

Grandmother Edith's "architectural" sketches of the Lake Espy cabin and the budget she mapped out for the building materials needed to complete the project.
Lake Espy is located in my hometown, Headland, Alabama. These photos don't really do it justice. As a child I remember fishing with the family and occasionally some friends. Sometimes we would bring in several strings of beautiful bass and bream. The fish were deep-fried and served with hush puppies and french fries. Naturally, being in the South, sweet tea was always available. The cabin itself was built in 1980, and was the "replacement cabin" for the one that was destroyed by a fire some years earlier. To this day Lake Espy plays an integral part in the family and community. This weekend will be the Espy Cousins Christmas Party. And, during the course of the year, the cabin is the setting for Thanksgiving reunions, church functions, birthday parties, sleepovers, etc. I remember even my pee wee football team having an end-of-year bash at Lake Espy. If only the cabin had some updated kitchen appliances, perhaps even my wife could use it for one of her dynamic Thai cooking classes.

To see a Google Earth image of Lake Espy, click the Lake Espy Fishing link, and then click on the appropriate link to enlarge the map. Once that's done, be sure to use the arrows to zoom in. Lake Espy Fishing - Alabama Reservoir near Headland | Hook and Bullet

a video I shot in 2002


Dale Ezzell, Major Espy, Bill Vann - Fall 1964, Headland, Alabama

Not certain, but think that pix of Daddy, Dale and Bill was taken outside the old fishpond cabin, likely Thanksgiving afternoon.  The Peanut Bowl was on Thanksgiving night in Dothan and we really dressed up to go; we'd have Thanksgiving, then change into our ball clothes and head off to games, whether we were playing or not; things/times have surely changed.  We'd wear Sunday clothes, coats, "high heel shoes" et al.  I couldn't get in a stadium now in heels, in fact seldom wear them to church. 

                                                                                                                          -Aunt Marilyn

That’s a good explanation.  After studying it more, I’m certain it’s Lake Espy.  I think I recognize the precise location the photo was obtained. If so, this must have been the fall of 1964.  In the fall of 1965, we (the HHS Rams) played in the Peanut Bowl and I am not sure I would have been available for the photo at this time. Good research!!!  
                                                                                                                          -Bill Vann



Uncle Watty and cousin Beverly, Lake Espy - circa mid-'80s

w/ my siblings at an Espy Cousins Xmas party at Lake Espy- circa late '90s

Thanks to cousin Dale Ezzell for the following project.  It's my understanding it was his idea!

Cousin Sid Brannon recites Little Orphant Annie for family out at Lake Espy.

As the camera pans the room, you will spot various family members.  I am pretty certain this is the annual Vann family Thanksgiving at Lake Espy.  I certainly see my dad in his Auburn vest jacket.  Thanks to cousin Emily for making this video.

2016 fresh paint job


Anonymous said...

allen==i enjoyed the "lake espy" story on your site. of course, i remember the old cabin and also when freddy reynolds and i took our pony league team out camping for a nite. (several got onto boats and had a hand to hand, push and shove...until all were out of the boat into the water. it was not deep, but i often think about mocasins and snakes "coming to a noise or light" . fortunately no person was injured or came close to drowning. deedee was fishing by herself and "hung" a large bass. her reel/line "backlashed" and while she was "undoing/ the knots...she jerked the line and caught the fish. i think it was a 5 or7 pounder. jwv

Not So Stereotypical Southern Socialite said...

I love it! There are so many Lake Espy stories...Mila knocking down the brick wall to the original cabin when Marilyn was teaching her to drive, all the holidays, our Senior Class Party, Jeff locking himself inside (a couple of times), our cheerleading 'lock in' 1987, your dad & mine finding out Val & friends were the ones holding parties not some anon hoodlums, etc. Holds so many wonderful memories. One of my favorites was being out there w/ you, Ulegbek & Timor the night that the Soviet Union fell and they were talking about their home not being the same. Another not so fav but fave was watching Friday the 13th movies out there w/ the cousins from Watty's Beta Max. Geeze I could go on forever! Still a beautiful place; my family spent Easter there w/ kites this year. I know Major, Edith & Mila are all smiling down on this :) Luv U! N@

Anonymous said...

Bill Vann says......

Thanks for sharing this piece. I think I may have mentioned this: I’ve never seen the new cabin but I did spend a lot of time at the old one, not only at family gatherings but on “menya” afternoons with Uncle Major as one of his favorite fishing buddies! The old house was white with a 3-4 foot high cinder-block wall around it that was white-washed. There was no pier but to the left of the current pier in the corner that was a roof-only boat house for the one boat that Uncle Major kept—sans-motor as I recall.

I have several fond memories of the place: I loved walking around the top of the fence when I was little. It was dangerous but exhilarating. Jumping over the front and back gates from fence to fence was an art form. I liked brim fishing in the run-off area behind the dam. There was no easy access except by boat to the far end of the pond and I caught some nice bass there as did your granddad. One not-so-fond memory: a group of us JDs were mining out a hole in the dam with M-80s one Thanksgiving and I caught a missile in the arm that left me an ugly scar that I still carry. I was fortunate it was not to the face or an eye. I guess I was fortune that Dr. Martin came in off-hours and treated me but he was one ill-natured man! I also ended-up with a bad infection and was lucky to have finally gotten my arm back.

I hope things are going smoothly for you and Kade.

Jack Vann said...

I have childhood memories of the old lake cabin just like you have memories of the present one. It was roughing it a bit more just because it was a little less equipped and a bit smaller, and mainly because we all filled it to the brim at Thanksgiving. I remember many a time sitting on the white cinder block wall (which served to keep the cows out) eating lunch while balancing my plate on my lap. That served as “the kids table”. We would fish or throw a baseball or football depending on the season. The food would feed an army and the desserts were out of this world, led by lemon, coconut or caramel cakes by Aunt Edith, Aunt Grace and Aunt Emily.

Anonymous said...

Were you aware that Uncle Jim is a pilot and for many years had a plane—maybe two? I know he flew regularly while I was in HS because I flew some with him. I’m wondering if this aerial photo might have been made by him or from his plane? At one time there was a small but active Headland Flying group that included Wilton Holman, UJ, and Charley Smith. I’m sure there were others I have forgotten. You’re leaving a huge family legacy for all of your relatives on all family sides. Keep up the good work! Bill Vann

Anonymous said...

I stayed there with Watt for about a week, circa 1988, doing research on cases where whites were executed for killing blacks. For some reason I was never really interested in staying in his old house with his numerous “pets.” If you sell that cabin, I will give you more than you paid for it. Watt was a living example of a message of redemption, both for himself and for those he studied. - Mike Radelet