As we are fully into the summer vacation season, I am fondly reminded of all the summer fishing experiences. Experiences that not only were with my Dad, but with my grandfather’s as well. These were some of the best times as a kid, we often didn’t realize it then but now that I can look back it’s totally different. As a parent, my Dad was making history, not sure he realized it then, I sure didn’t, but I do now.
I had a conversation with my Dad about an old tackle box of mine, and I never really gave that old box a thought until I had the chance to reflect on the conversation. I’ve had that same tackle box since I was 10 years old, it was the coolest Plano on the market with a dual-opening lid, triple trays on each side and very deep well for storing other cool stuff. It’s crazy to think my tackle box is 40 years old, my Dad had his own way cool tackle box made from heavy duty metal, not high-impact plastic. I bet it’s 60 years old, not that I’m putting a date on it, but, it is the coolest. As for what’s in the tackle box, there are memories, tons of memories, not to mention the assortment of baits, collected from my Dad, Grandpa and various other fisherman that had to share their success’ with a kid at the lake from time to time. The stories Dad would tell of his fishing excursions with his buddies at the river, and the shock of an eight-year-old boy to hear him speak of night-crawlers, catfish, crackers, cheese and ring bologna snacks. The stories my Grandfather would tell of catching the big one, or the time we let some chap in the boat who was going along the shore saying, “I sure wish I had a boat, man if only I had a boat” and being neighborly grandpa and I took him out in the boat where he proceeded to “teach” us his method of catching crappie. Well we did just fine on our own method with a live minnow and a bobber, this old chap swore on using an artificial minnow, with a bobber rig and jerking it through the water with the most unusual stroke. After an hour-and-a-half, we didn’t catch a thing and returned him. Little would we know at the time, the guy was a writer, an outdoor writer and he didn’t have a flavor for the truth either. Sunday afternoon our lake was a madhouse of boats flocking in from everywhere all day long, now it is only 122-acre lake so it can get cramped real fast. Curious as to why today, why everyone chose Skinner Lake on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Well our fine little friend as it turned out, wrote a story about Skinner lake, for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and a tall-tale did he write! He spoke of the huge haul of crappie he had caught out in a boat on the south-east corner of the lake, with his jig-n-rig method. That explained the sudden popularity of our little lake. He forgot to mention just how he got into a boat, and secretly I held back the info of the hot-crappie spot on the lake, and in hindsight I’m glad I did. We also can’t forget the nights with my little brother John, catching crawdads, or accidentally leaving worms in the tackle box for a smell we will never forget.
I’m sure there was a lesson in the boat experience, and maybe Grandpa knew the guy was a blow-hard, and took him out in the boat to prove his actions were as accurate as his talk. For many times, he who talks the most does the least, it has only taken me 40 years to learn that. I must thank my Dad, and Grandpa for the snippets of wisdom along the way.
Memories, like that and many more, that’s what’s in that tackle box and ingrained into my soul for the rest of my life. Pre-Instagram, Facebook and YouTube activities, sure we have some photos, maybe even some VHS tapes, Polaroid prints and a few pictures of our times. However, nothing beats these memories. They simply can’t be beat, these are the moment’s legacies are built on and lessons of life we learned to share with the next generation. This summer, I thank those men who poured so much into my life, and Mom too of course. I salute all of you, pouring into others these kinds of memories.