More Jackson County Opinions...

FEBRUARY 11, 2004


By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
February 11, 2004

Keep your hook in the water’
I better tell the fish story right now. If I don’t, my mind will get to meandering again, and I will have broken my promise for the third week in a row.
Daddy and I were fishing Sidney’s Slough, a primeval-like swamp (oxbow) off the Obion River in west Tennessee. The area had a haunting look about it. Every wild creature imaginable lived there. You sort of expected a strange, grotesque amphibian to crawl out of there on all fours at any moment.
There was no way you could get a boat in there. So we wore rubber boots and stood on parcels of land that protruded from the water along the deeper stretches of the oxbow.
And we fished the old fashion way: long cane pole, line the length of the pole, No. 3 hook at the end of the line, lead sinker (later called a weight) ten inches above the hook, a cork (later called a float or bobber) two to three feet above the sinker. And live bait.
That’s the way Daddy fished all his life. If he were alive today, he’d still be fishing that way.
On this early, chilly October morning, we were using live minnows seined from Running Creek (real name) the day before.
Daddy baited my hook, threw out my line, and handed the pole to me. He picked out a spot 10 or 12 feet from me, and in about five minutes, pulled in a nice fish.
I hadn’t had a bite, was cold, and wanted to go home. I didn’t dare tell Daddy. I knew he was going to fish at least an hour longer, or until he thought Mama was ready to put breakfast on the table.
My minnow started swimming to the top. I lifted it out of the water and tossed it back in. It resurfaced immediately. It looked like it would climb a tree if it could get to it. I kept repeating the lift-toss exercise.
“Foot (followed quickly by the s-word), “Virgil, what are you doing?” (Before you judge my Daddy for his foul language, please give me a chance to explain what he was saying — and why.)
“My minnow keeps coming to the top,” I said. “I can’t make it stay down.”
“Foot (followed even quicker by the s-word), “keep your hook in the water, Virgil, keep your hook in the water.”
To the best of my memory, it was 1930 and I was 7 years old. In those days a 7-year-old kid did what his Daddy said. I left my hook in the water. Suddenly the water exploded at the end of my pole. It scared me half to death. The minnow disappeared in a flash, followed instantly by the cork. The slack line tightened. The straight pole arched.
I lifted the pole, but whatever was on the hook now didn’t want to come up. It was a tug of war. Finally, I led the fish to my feet. Daddy was there to “lip” it and lift it out of the water. I don’t know who was the proudest, me or Daddy.
It was not a big fish — a little under two pounds, Daddy guessed — but when it’s your first large mouth bass, it is huge. Nothing greater had ever happened in my young life.
Later, as I became an adolescent, then an adult, the lesson Daddy taught me that morning became much more important.
“Keep your hook in the water, Virgil, keep your hook in the water.”
He held the fish at arm’s length and bragged on it. And he talked to me about patience. He told me the fish had been trying to catch the minnow all along. “You kept jerking it away.”
I’ve been fishing a zillion times since then, and every time I remembered Daddy’s advice. I wish I would say I always followed it, but I occasionally missed a big fish because I was in too big a hurry.
As I took my kids, grandkids, nephew and great nephew fishing, it was my privilege to pass on Daddy’s wisdom. And when my semi-professional fishing buddy let’s a big one get away because of his impatience, I delight in telling him, “Keep your hook in the water, Rick, keep your hook in the water.”
As I grew into manhood, the hook and the water came to stand for other things.
When I made the high school baseball team, I could hear Daddy telling from the sideline, “Keep your eye on the ball, Virgil, keep your eye on the ball.” On the basketball court it was “Keep your head up, keep your head up.”
Eighteen years old, a high school dropout, far from home frightened, wondering if he would ever see McLemoresville again, the message that Christmas day in North Africa was “Keep your faith in God.”
Out of the Navy and in college without a high school education, doubting he could see it through, wanting to give up: “Keep your mind on your studies, Virgil, keep your mind on the goal. Don’t give up. Don’t jerk opportunity out of the fish’s mouth. Keep on keeping on.”
And now I am a famous, world-renewed columnist for The Jackson Herald. (Daddy would say “Foot” and the s-word in the same breath.) In this business I’ve faced a million deadlines, and I admit: some days I don’t have a clue. My mind is blank, and writing a simple declarative sentence is nigh on impossible. “Keep your fingers on the keys, Virgil. Remember Dr. Mellon. Keep in mind what he taught you in English 101 at Murray State. Fall back on your training. Sometimes you have to produce when the inspiration is not upon you. Keep on.”
When I was growing up, Daddy and I also gardened together. Now more than 70 years later, I still hear his voice from the back side of the Back Forty, “Keep your hoe in the row, Virgil, keep your hoe in the row.”
And so it is. When Daddy told me a long time ago to keep my hook in the water, he was talking about a lot more than fishing. He was talking — and teaching — about life.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
February 11, 2004

Low Carb - The American Diet
So, I heard about this new diet the other day. You probably haven’t heard of it, yet, but I’m pretty doggone sure you will soon enough, because it’s a very American diet. By that, I mean, and you’re not going to believe this, this diet I’m talking about helps you lose weight by encouraging you to eat as much fatty meat as possible! Isn’t that great and ironic at the same time?
The only bad thing is that if you’re on this miracle diet you can’t eat bread, because it’s got these things called “car-bo-hy-drates.” That’s a long word, so most people on the diet just shorten it by saying “carbs,” but apparently, they’re evil. I know, who would have thought?
I guess this whole cultivation of crops thing that led to what we think of as civilization was sort of a slight detour from the way human society is supposed to be, a five thousand year old fad if you will. Don’t worry about it though, because once people all around the world see the carnivorous-light, the bread lobby that keeps federal dollars flowing to the wonder bread plutocracy is going to crash and burn. Soon, we’ll all get back to having the life expectancy only achievable in already carb-less countries like Sierra Leone.
And if you’re thinking about going on this diet, you’ve got to be prepared to be vigilant, because carbs are everywhere, waiting around for your body to convert them into sugar, and occasionally, energy, which you only really need if you’re one of those 1950’s types who refuses to learn how to use the remote control. Anyway, I already mentioned that carbs are in bread, but did you know that includes biscuits? Donuts are a kind of bread, too. Flour tortillas have carbs, but I’ve heard not as many because they’re flat instead of being all puffed up, like American bread.
Crackers have carbs, too, so you can go back to licking that high-in-protein peanut butter off the spoon without anyone giving you a hard time. Long story short, just about everything you currently eat except meat and cheese has carbs, so if you’re starting to see the possibilities here, the “if-it-comes-from-cows-or chickens rule” is a good general guidepost, and technically speaking, dumplings aren’t made from chickens.
One of my favorite things about this diet is that it’s an American diet. We get to eat all the red meat we want. French fries have been revealed as a cross-Atlantic dietary plot, and so has French bread. Don’t get me started on pizza. I can’t count high enough to tell you how many carbs are in those thick crusts.
Yep, it’s about time we showed the world a thing or two about culinary arts. They need our help in learning how to consume things in general, and food’s a good place to start, maybe mixed in with some high-dollar sports. I can’t imagine that any people around the world wouldn’t feel privileged to have access to some baseball, bun-less hotdogs, and some apple pie without the crust. Wait, do apples have carbs?
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.
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