By Brian Chasnoff
Seventy summers ago, a 16-year-old boy named C.P. Autrey climbed into a homemade canoe with a rifle, sparse provisions, a close friend and little else.
Escaping the Great Depression, the boys discovered a world of abundance as they paddled hundreds of miles down the San Antonio River to San Antonio Bay.
The journey brought hazards, including an upset hornets’ nest, canoe-smashing rocks and one angry farmer with a shotgun. But Autrey said he and friend Fred Burkett Jr. thrived in clean, clear waters, shooting squirrels along the banks and capturing plenty of catfish.
Today, Autrey, 87, lives alone on the North Side. Years after Burkett’s death, he’s been thinking a lot about their trek to the coast, not to mention worrying about how the river and bay have changed.