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SHOOTING LEMONS AND FISHING FOR FROGS

by Tumbleweed Smith

Every 4th of July the Koger family gets together on a farm south of Lamesa to have fun and celebrate the holiday. Kid Koger's substantial home serves as headquarters. Family members of all ages come from as far away as New York City. They call their gathering place the heart of the golden triangle; between the communities of Klondike, Sparenburg and Flower Grove.

Kid's garage is filled with all types of coolers containing liquid refreshments and food. Each cooler has the name of the owner on it. Some Kogers or off-shoots thereof bring beautiful pies and cakes, steaks, pork tenderloins and all manner of home made and home grown goodies to eat.

Those in attendance take part in a variety of events: skeet shooting, rifle practice, coyote calling, pasture golf (played with a 7 iron and tennis balls), swimming in a concrete tank, cowboy poetry and music. I asked one of the musical family members, who has sung in Las Vegas, what type of music he performs. He replied, "both kinds. Country and Western."

Perhaps the most unique thing the whole weekend is lemon shooting. No, I don't mean shooting at lemons. I mean shooting lemons. They're fired from a home-made cannon. The guy doing the firing is Paul Blezinger of Houston. He's some kind of Aggie engineer who made his hand-held cannon. The barrel is about 40 inches long, made from two inch PVC pipe. The lemons are sprayed with WD-40 and lodged into the pipe. Attached to the barrel is a four inch PVC pipe about 6 inches long with a screw top on it. On the lid of this cylinder is a lighter device, something like a charcoal or cigarette lighter. When you push a button, it emits a spark that ignites of all things some Aqua Net hair spray that has been sprayed into the chamber.

The resulting boom is as loud as an aerial bomb and sends the lemon skyward out of sight. It travels up to 500 yards. The shooter aims it at barns or trees that dot the horizon. "I've got to get the trajectory just right," says Paul, while a small group of folks watch him shoot and cheer the good shots. Always looking for new adventures, they're considering a catapult to fire watermelons.

Gradually the folks gather up some of those ice chests filled with beer and head to a nearby place that grows gold fish and water lilies. "It's some of the best frog fishing in Texas," says Tom Koger, the poet of the group. "Some of these things are eighteen inches long," he says, as he tosses a fishing line into the water. They catch enough frogs to have froglegs for supper. Since there's about 30 or 40 people on hand, they need lots of frog legs.

They call their celebration THE REDNECK WHITE AND BLUE and wear T-shirts carrying the slogan "IF YOU'RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION YOU MUST BE FAMILY."

Planning for the family reunion starts in January or February each year, mostly by internet. Next year ought to be a big blowout, since the state will recognize the ranch for being in the family 100 years. I got to spend a couple of hours with the Kogers over the fourth of July and enjoyed every minute of it. Every family should do what the kogers do at least once a year.

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