Favorite Fishing Trips
My mother was a great fishing outfitter and guide. She would always befriend a little old lady in our newest town we moved to that had a favorite fishing hole, a friend's pond or lake or deep bend in a creek on someone's grandpa's farm that we could fish in.
Mother could round up enough cane poles (borrowed, usually) to outfit us--Cliff, her, and me. Mom had a green thumb, and as she dug in her flowers, saved the worms for a future fishing trip. Mom would put on her favorite big hat, peddle pushers, and tennis shoes. We'd tie the poles on the side of the car, and here we'd go, folding chairs and picnic basket full of pimento cheese sandwiches and Ritz crackers in the trunk to make a day of it.
She and her friend would stake out the shade tree and stump in the water to spend their day, after she checked the pond for snakey areas and sprayed us sticky with Off Insect Repellant. She didn't use much Off herself. She had tassles on her hot brim to scare off the biting flies, if that didn't do it the Salem Menthol smoke would discourage the bugs.
"Save 'em all," she'd say. "We need a mess of fish." Wasn't unusual for her or my oldest brother Cliff to catch the first fish. Cliff would fish the whole area and with luck catch the whopper. He'd experiment with different baits--grubworms, lizards, pimento cheese--whatever would ride a hook.
If the first trip to a new fishing hole was a success, next trip she took the whole neighborhood. Mom was a strong Christian, good samaritan, and caregiver to shut-in's. She took care of old folks in our new village. She took food, old clothes, a smile and a good card game to brighten their days! My mother was a great organizer of fun. She included everyone, which confused me somewhat. I liked "us four and no more" (I hear Wilse, my Dad, saying).
At her funeral in 1992, she was remembered as a community caregiver and good samaritan. She learned these in her Horatio, Arkansas, upbringing, checking on old uncles and aunts daily and weekly, writing them letters (loaded with Scripture).
I was riding shotgun as she made her rounds to a lot of old people's homes. I remember the homes as hot and musty smelling. She would stay for hours if she felt they needed company. Many times, she would invite these old folks to come home with us for a meal or two. When we would take them back home, Mother would give them books, clothes, pies, cakes--anything we had to help people out.
Back to fishing. We would normally catch enough fish to have a "fry" with all the trimmings. Of course everyone was invited. Lots of hush puppies, french fries, coleslaw, iced tea. Card game optional. Canasta for old folks. "Go Fish" for us kids. Rules made up by Mom as we go. Oh yeah, and homemade ice cream. Cliff and I taking turns pouring on the ice and salt and cranking that handle until it froze. My sister Susan helped too. She would sit on the ice cream freezer.
I am so blessed to have these childhood memories, to have had loving Christian parents giving us love, care, and outdoor adventure.
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