Father's Day has come and gone, but memories of Dad still linger
Father’s Day 2014 has come and gone. However, Father’s Day still is lingering in this old man’s head. It probably has something to do with age.
This year’s Father’s Day for this old scribe was excellent. Time was spent with son, Erik and his family, and calls and emails were received from daughter, Michelle and her family in Tennessee. The weather was great for outdoor activities. The hot dogs and hamburgers hit the spot.
As the weekend came to a close, memories of my Dad remained.
Although my father passed away four decades ago, Father’s Day still brings fond memories of the many good times we had in the outdoors, and the things I learned from my dad. And this isn’t the first time I’ve written about him.
Dad primarily was a fisherman. He hunted, but back in those days, the hunting was limited where I grew up in East Central Illinois. There were squirrels and rabbits, but no deer or turkey.
We couldn’t afford to travel to hunt.
Like most people those days, my dad was a live bait fisherman. He had a few old plugs in a metal box he used for tackle, but I don’t remember him ever using them. He did have a casting rod with linen fishing line. However, our fishing was limited to cane poles.
During my preteen years, we didn’t have a car. Our transportation was our feet. I remember walking several blocks to the Big Four railroad track, and then proceeding a couple miles north to where the railroad bridge crossed Big Creek. There always were some deep pools in the creek around the bridge, and that’s where we fished.
It often was a hot walk to the creek, but trees lined the bank and it was refreshingly cool when we arrived. We rarely caught big fish. Mostly, we caught bluegill and sunfish. But after we carried them back home, they made a tasty meal, cooked by mother, who also usually walked to the creek with us.
Sometime around my 10th or 12th birthday, my folks gathered enough money for a down payment on a used Studebaker pickup truck. That red truck changed our fishing horizons, we could venture to the backwaters of Wabash River, the Embarrass River, and several farm ponds. That also meant we could catch catfish.
A prized bait was catalpa worms. My job was to help pick the ugly worms off catalpa tree leaves during the brief period of the summer when they were available. My dad thought they among the best baits for catfish. He also used chicken livers, night crawlers and cheese stink baits. He raised the night crawlers himself. One of the key components in the earth mix where he raised the crawlers was coffee grounds.
He also had a special recipe for dough balls he used to catch carp. We didn’t fish for carp a lot, but when we caught small ones during early spring in clear water, they were pretty good eating. The secret ingredient in dad’s dough balls was strawberry jello,
The old Studebaker also brought about our first fishing vacation. It was a week at Freeman Lake in north central Indiana. We stayed in a little cabin, complete with a boat and set of oars. The boat was just what we needed to put out trot lines. The lines contained as many as 50 hooks and primarily were baited for catfish.
We had good luck and hooked plenty of channel cats. My dad let me run the lines with him several times a day. It was fun to hold the heavy line and feel the cats hooked somewhere ahead tug and pull. I would lean over and hold the big line, while dad netted the fish, and took them off the line.