I hope you all had a happy Father’s Day and were able to actually spend it with your father “making memories.” All I have now are the memories. One memory in particular always comes to mind – fishing in the farm pond.
I grew up on a farm in Perry County near the town of Marion. My dad lived off the land, planting and tending crops, fattening heifers and steers, baling hay, and fishing. He loved fishing, whether in the pond on the back of the farm or on the Black Warrior River. Fishing the small farm pond was the best for me!
My daddy and his buddies took their kids on an overnight fishing trip to the pond one Father’s Day weekend. I had my cane pole cut from a bamboo grove on the way to the pond and my Maxwell House coffee can full of wiggling red worms. The pond was sooo big! But, now I know it was not so big after all. What a fun weekend “making memories.”
The dads placed their sons and daughters on the bank in front of known-to-be-productive fishing holes and baited the hooks. We caught bream! Big bream, if I remember right. That night my dad built a fire, heated the dutch oven of oil, and fried them up. Seems like the only thing we ate was fish. Those men taught us how to eat a bone-in bream. There is an easy way and a hard way. I still share that knowledge when I see someone struggling to eat a whole bone-in bream.
After a fun evening catching fireflies and frogs, the daddies put the kids to bed. Bed was a folding cot with blankets. I remember listening to the men gathered around the camp fire laughing, no doubt telling some tall tales. I rarely understood what they were saying, but heard my name every now and then. Even though it was a hot day, the nighttime was cold to me. I curled up in a ball and fell asleep. When I woke up the next day, my blankets were wet with dew and the fire was only smoldering. The daddies were still snoring. I lay under the damp blankets wondering if I had any red worms left so I could fish again and if my daddy would ever wake up.
My daughter Alison and I fished on the Locust Fork River. I remember her first fish at about five years old. As I tried to take just the right picture, she was saying, “Daddy my arm hurts,” as she tried to keep the fish held high awaiting daddy’s right Kodak moment. Now, I have a grandson, Kohen, born just this month. I hope he and his granddaddy can make some memories on the Locust Fork River one day. Cane pole, red worms, and a pretty day! I will show him how to eat a bream the easy way.