By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
March 13, 2002
Remembering an old boat and an old buddy
In the spring a young mans fancy turns to thoughts of love.
Unless he is an old fisherman. Then his thoughts turn to cleaning and oiling his reels, spooling on fresh line, sharpening dull hooks and checking out new lures down at the tackle shop.
That done, he zeros in on his true love. His boat.
There is nothingabsolutely nothinghalf so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.Kenneth Grahame, from Winds in the Willows, 1907.
I have owned and shared ownership in more boats than I can remember. Ive enjoyed more love affairs with boats than I have with cars and pickup trucks.
My first boat was a homemade job G.T. and I built with old boards pulled off the side of the barn. We took it down to the slough back of the house and launched it. It floated for all of five minutes.
This was during the Great Depression, mind you. I joined the Navy in 1941, and the first thing I learned was, if I called a ship a boat, my butt was toast.
After the war I returned home to McLemoresville, Tenn. (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens), to find a 12-foot John boat parked in the yard. I knew the Great Depression was over.
If I had a dollar for every fish Daddy, G.T. and I caught out of that tin tub, I could retireagain.
But on the eve of the 35th spring outing of the Clarks Hill Gang, I am thinking about another boat, the Forrestal II, and the old buddy who shared ownership with me.
We named it the Forrestal II after the aircraft carrier of World War II fame, the USS Forrestal.
It was a fishing boat, wide and slow, like its namesake.
And it was seaworthy, too. The storms were never so fierce, the winds never so strong, and the waves never so high that she didnt get us back to our campsite at the confluence of Fishing Creek and the Savannah River on Clarks Hill Lake. (Call it Strom Thurmond Reservoir at your peril.)
Sam Burgess and I bought Forrestal II in 1972. We had about as much business with it as we would the aircraft carrier Forrestal. What I mean is, we couldnt afford it.
Sam floated a loan at the old C&S Bank in Athens, and I paid him $50 cash every month as my share. Sam told Martha that I bought it, and I told Mary that Sam bought it. As far as I know, Martha and Mary never knew that their husbands were squandering hard-earned money on a worthless fishing boat.
But the Forrestal II was worthless only to the women folks, not to Sam and me. As far as we were concerned, it was priceless. Ah, the good times we had in er!
Sam is fishing that blue hole in the sky now, and I had the eeriest feeling when I sold our boat. It was almost as if Sam didnt want me to sell it, but bring it with me when I join him. But it just wasnt the same, fishing out of er without my old buddy.
Sam and I were different kinds of fishermen. I came here fishing. I mean, my daddy taught me to fish almost as soon as he taught me how to walk. He didnt toss any silly football into my crib. I went to sleep every night cuddled up to a tackle box.
Sam came to the sport late in life, and never was too serious about it. He spent about as much time watching the birds and wildlife along the shore as he did fishing in the lake.
Sam never varied his casting distance. He always threw his lure just as far as he could throw it. Made no difference to him whether we were in the middle of the lake or five feet from the bank. Consequently, when we were close to the bank, Sam cast his lure in the tops of some of the tallest pine trees in Wilkes, Lincoln and McDuffie counties. I used to accuse him of fishing for squirrels.
Anyway, after two or three years of this, I learned to judge Sams casting distance and would keep the boat that distance from the bank and Sams lure out of the woods.
Sam and I not only used the Forrestal for fishing. We used it for sleeping. Cooking, too. In fact, we lived out of that old boat for several days at a stretch.
One time we were cooking breakfast in the Forrestal when a sudden storm came up and blew the eggs right out of the skillet. So help me God, thats the truth. I had cooked the sausage and had just dumped the eggs in to scramble em. The next thing I knew, the eggs were in the bottom of the boat. (No, we were not drunk or hung over.) Sam and I never did get those eggs wiped up completely. And every time it rainedman, talk about slick!
The Forrestal had a 20-horse pull start motor on it, and during the last two or three years we always wondered if it was going to get us in. That old motor must have fixed itself a hundred times. (Neither Sam nor I knew which end of a screwdriver to hold.)
Sometimes the motor would be purring like a kitten and all of a sudden it would cough and sputter and sound like a pea thresher. About the time we thought it was going to hit its last lick, it would straighten up, fix itself, purr like a kitten, and get us back to camp. In 12 years, the Forrestal never let us down.
My, how I miss that old boat and my old buddy. But I had to let em both go.
Ive owned several boats since the Forrestal, all of them larger, faster and fancier. But my fancy does not turn to them on the eve of the 35th outing of the Clarks Hill Gang.
I dont have a boat right now, and I doubt Ill ever buy another one. When youve used up your three score and ten and are on borrowed time, and when you are blind in one eye and cant see good out of the other one, messing about in boats can be hazardous to your health.
Not to worry. Ill hitch rides with younger members of the Gang. I am the oldest charter member, and my slightest wish is their command. Ill fish out of the Key West with Rick, out of the Eagle with Mike, out of the Sled Rocket with Peckham, out of the Flying Carp with Rob, out of the Stump Jumper with Gomez, out of Proud Mary with Hopper, and out of a brand new yet-to-be-named Ranger that Tommy and Tom, my nephew and great nephew, will pull all the way from St. Louis.
Therell be plenty of boats to go around.
No, there wont be a Forrestal or a Sam. But around the campfire at night, they will be remembered and talked about.
Virgil Adams is a former editor and owner of The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
March 13, 2002
Things to look for at a NASCAR race
Ive got to be honest with you.
This time last week, I had never been to see a NASCAR race live. I dont guess thats too odd of a thing. A lot of people have never been to a stock car race.
But my roommate had tickets to Sundays NASCAR event at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the two of us decided to make the trek to Hampton.
Except for watching drag racing at Atlanta Dragway, neither of us had been to any races. It was one of the most fun sporting events Ive been too, and I hope to go to another race soon.
In case you have plans to go to a stock car race this year, I have compiled a list of a few things you will and will not see at the track.
THINGS YOU WILL PROBABLY SEE
After consuming large quantities of beer, some girl will probably take her shirt off. Unfortunately, some guys will take their shirts off as well.
More than likely, a guy, who has consumed large quantities of beer, will be standing against the fence next to the track. When the pack of cars nears him, he will face the racers and turn his beer upside down, letting the force of the cars going by blow beer into his mouth.
Some guy, likely a Tony Stewart fan, will stumble through the stands yelling something about Home Depot. He will proceed to pick a fight with a Jeff Gordon fan, but will fall on his face because he has consumed large quantities of beer.
You will see a long, long, long line of people waiting to get cigarettes at the Winston tent.
Whenever Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the race, a large crowd of people who have consumed large quantities of beer will let out a collective cheer, obviously thrilled by the fact that a beer-sponsored car leads the race.
Somebody will probably say a few choice words about Jeff Gordon.
Somebody will take home a used race tire, and it will be the happiest day in that persons life.
You might run into your high school shop teacher at the race.
You will probably see a guy, who was fired up about watching the race, pass out in the infield and miss the entire race because he consumed large quantities of beer.
A lot of people will get sunburn, whether or not they have consumed large quantities of beer.
THINGS YOU WILL PROBABLY NOT SEE
You will not see a large group of people cheering for Jeff Gordon.
You will not see Kyle Petty win the race. Chances are, you probably wont see him finish the race either.
More than likely, you will not see your high school english teacher at the race track.
You will not see a person consume large quantities of herbal tea while watching the race from the infield.
You will not hear any boos from the crowd of people who have consumed large quantities of beer when Jeff Gordon, wrecks, blows an engine or runs out of gas.
Hopefully, I have cleared up any misconceptions you had about the race track. If I can be of any further help, or if you would like to give me free tickets to any future NASCAR races, dont hesitate to call me.
And if you are that guy who I saw consume large quantities of beer and fall down five or six rows in front of me, I bet that hurt.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. His email address if firstname.lastname@example.org.