Louise George with her latest book: "The Remarkable Plans for Captain Travis O. Evans," the story of a man from Ada, Oklahoma who made his life on the sea.

"I love his stories, and I love that old man," said Louise George.  Captain Travis O. Evans was born in Ada Oklahoma and migrated to California with his family at the height of the Great Depression in the 1930's.  There, for the next 75 years he found his life's calling on the sea as a sailor, commercial fisherman, and ship's captain.  George helps Evans tell his story in a new book called "The Remarkable Plans for Captain Travis O. Evans."  She will be signing books at the Window on the Plains Museum on Saturday, January 15 from 2-4.

Evans was an unlikely sailor on the Pacific Ocean, but poverty and chronic drought during the Great Depression drove millions of families from Oklahoma and the Midwest to try to find a better life in California.  What these "Oakies"  found in California was anything but a warm welcome and prosperity.  Evans' was living with his family in a tent on a California farm with few job prospects when he met and befriended a commercial fisherman originally from Germany.  Evans enjoyed the old man's stories.  When his new friend invited him to come on his next fishing trip, Evans agreed.  The 19-year-old from Oklahoma found he loved the sea, and he was hooked for the rest of his life.

Evans spent years following the tuna from the waters off of Mexico as they migrated north to Alaska.  He caught a lot of fish and managed to make a good living.  A heart attack in 1951 put him on land for three years.  He sold his fishing boat and operated a grocery store.  But he was not able to stay away from the sea forever, and when the opportunity came to go back to sea on a tug boat, he jumped at it.  As time went by, he studied to be a ship's captain, a long and difficult process, and worked as the skipper of drilling ships and fishing boats.  "The stories he's got to tell," said George.

One day while fishing well out to sea, Evans, who had brought his family along as part of the crew, was putting fish in the hold when his son, Tommy, said a bait boat was approaching.   Evans thought that was strange because bait boats did not usually come that far out to sea.  When he climbed out of the hold Evans was shocked to see a hospital ship, the USS Constellation, bearing down on the tiny fishing boat.  Katherine, his wife, was at the wheel.  She had not been able to see the approaching vessel because a plexiglass panel obstructed her view.  Evans managed to get to her and help steer away from the ship, but it had been close, so close that when he looked almost straight up he could read "twin propellers, stay clear" printed on the side of the ship as it towered overhead.  "Another 10 seconds or so and the whole family would have perished," he told George many years later.  "Way out to sea like we were, nobody would have ever know what happened to us.  The ship was probably a 600 foot ship.  When a ship that size hits a little wooden boat, they don't even feel it."

George said Evans is a man of faith.  Even when he was at sea, he often shared his Christianity with others.  He was, she said, "a great witness out there on the ocean."  In the book, he talks about how his faith has sustained him through the highs and lows of a long, active life.

Evans is retired now.  His son Danny operates his fishing boat.  But Evans is not completely landlocked now.  He helps maintain the boat and manages a trip on the sea every now and then.  George traveled to California several weeks ago, and she and Evens signed books together on his 99th birthday.  "It was gratifying for both of us," she said.

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