Today, while my wife and I were sitting at the breakfast bar having lunch, I looked at my sandwich which had lunch meat and cheese with vegetables. I told her about the one day fishing trip my brother and I went on with our dad.
I was about 10 or 11 years old and my brother is 14 months younger. There were certain things I had very definite opinions about, especially when it came to food. Normally I was not a picky eater, but when it came to sandwiches I drew the line about what I liked and disliked. Some of my favorite sandwiches were meatloaf, tuna fish and of course peanut butter and jelly, excluding grape. The meatloaf sandwich was to be made with mustard and ketchup, and the tuna fish with Kraft salad dressing and lots of onion and dill pickle, mom and I were in agreement about that. Sandwiches which I partially disliked were bologna and cheese sandwiches, together or separately (I have consequently learned to enjoy cheese since then), and I certainly did not like mayonnaise, to me it was the nastiest, slimiest substance ever invented.
We had planned to go fishing a couple of days before and on the appointed day dad woke my brother and me up about 3 o’clock in the morning. Still half asleep we got dressed and went into the kitchen and had breakfast. I don’t remember what we had for breakfast, but soon after we were in the car and heading out to go fishing. Dad had the car packed up and ready to go. In the back seat were the fishing poles, tackle and a lunch, which he had probably prepared the night before, this was before seat belts and we sat in the front seat three abreast.
Along the way my brother and I usually went back to sleep, getting up at 3 am was not a common occurrence. The rhythmic hum of the tires on the road and the gentle swaying of the car created within us a feeling of comfort and sleep overcame whatever conversation was taking place at the moment.
It did not seem that we had been going very long, but we felt and heard the change in the car and quickly came wide awake with the feeling of the car slowing down and the sound of tires crunching in the gravel. Looking around and not seeing very much, because it was still before sunrise, we gathered together, collected our gear and headed down to the river, each of us carrying a fishing pole and a small tackle box and dad also carrying our lunch.
A light mist or fog still hung to the top of the water, but soon it would be gone as the sun warmed the air. Setting down our equipment we scouted out our positions, making sure that we each had room to cast our line without getting tangled in bushes, tree limbs above or each other. With this in mind we put our poles together, set up our line and baited the hook. Looking around one more time we cast our lines out into the water.
We sent our lines upstream, letting the line be gently carried along by the current. As the line came down the river we carefully and slowly reeled in the line so we could feel the tug of a fish as he took the bait and started to run. Fishing is a sport of long periods of extreme patience and short bursts of excitement. You can spend many hours casting, reeling and moving up and down the river all the while waiting for that certain feel. Many times you may come away with nothing or on that one lucky day, go home with your limit.
On this particular day I do not remember if we caught any fish or not, it was just a time that my dad, brother and I had to ourselves, fishing was just an excuse to get away and be together. My brother, it seemed to get more of dad’s attention, had a knack of creating in his line what my dad called a bird’s nest. This is where the line balls up in a big tangle in the reel. He and my dad would spend more time untangling his line than fishing. Dad would after the third or fourth time send me down to untangle his line. My dad and my brother are not very patient men, in spite of all the fishing they have done over the years.
Late in the morning, about 10 or so, dad asked if anyone was hungry, of course after getting up so early I knew I was. He opened up the container that he had packed our lunch in and passed out sandwiches. Dad was not one to ask what you would like in your sandwich, he just made them all the same, the way he liked them.
It wasn’t a great surprise that all he made were cheddar cheese sandwiches floating; it seemed to me, in mayonnaise on white balloon bread. Being hungry and far from a diner, not that I had any money, I opened up my sandwich and with my finger started to scrape off as much mayonnaise as I could. To dad this was sacrilege to waste all that good mayonnaise. I may have to choke down the bread and cheese, which I did not like anyway, but I wasn’t going to endure all that slimy, nasty tasting stuff it was swimming in.
That day I decided that if we were going to go fishing together again, I was going to fix my own lunch. I may have to endure some ribbing about not liking what dad had packed, but I was going to enjoy whatever I packed to the fullest.