More Jackson County Opinions...

JUNE 30, 2004


By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
June 30, 2004

Messing about in boats
Yes, I am the proud owner of a boat — again.
You think I’m too old to own a boat? I think you may be right.
I’ve messed about in boats since I was a kid. My daddy saw to that. He figured if I became a fisherman, I wouldn’t wind up in jail. He was right — so far. (How many fisherman do you know who are in jail? None, right?)
I don’t own the boat outright. Miles and I own it together.
I hate to admit it, but I believe my son and my longtime friend (friend?) and fishing buddy conspired against me.
I haven’t owned a boat since 1999. That hasn’t been a problem — until this year. Rick, Mike, Peckham, Hopper, Travis, Gomez, Tommy and Tom own boats, and I could always hitch a ride with one of them.
Most of the time I fished with Rick McQuiston. He and I are the only remaining charter members of the Clark’s Hill Gang, and it just seems right that we fish together.
At this year’s spring outing, it was different. To say that Rick’s relationship and mine was strained is putting it mildly. He not only didn’t invite me to fish with him; he wouldn’t let me get close to the Key West.
The other guys were more generous. I had the privilege of fishing out of Peckham’s Sled Rocket, Mike’s Eagle, Gomez’s Brown Bomber and my nephew’s Fireball Ranger.
But I still missed fishing with Rick. I mean, we had been fishing buddies for four decades, and now he left me high and dry.
He kept bringing up Harmony Resolution 14A, which the two of us negotiated, wrote, edited, polished, approved, adopted and crammed down the throats of the lesser Gang members.
Section III was the problem. I can’t believe he used it against me. Here is what it said:
“The boat owner is captain of his boat, and it is his prerogative to determine when and where others of the Gang will be welcomed to fish in his boat. It shall be considered rude, crude, gross and socially unacceptable for anyone to get in anyone’s boat uninvited. If such should happen, the perpetrator will be exiled, expulsed, beaten severely about the head and shoulders and excommunicated.”
Although other guys invited me to fish with them, I was devastated. I wanted to fish with Rick. Everybody could see how disappointed I was. Especially Miles, who came down for the weekend. That boy knows his old man pretty well. “Pop, we need to get a boat.”
I bet he said it a dozen times, and I bet that Rick McQuiston put him up to it.
When I got back home five days later, Shirley told me Miles had called. I knew he wanted to know how the rest of the trip went. He did. But first, he said, “Pop, we need to get a boat.”
At my age, I need a boat like I need a Jaguar convertible.
I love it! It is a Stratos 190 FS (fish and ski.) It is nearly 20 feet long, wide and roomy (five people.) It carries a payload of 1120 pounds, holds 40 gallons of gas, is powered by a 150 horsepower Johnson outboard, and runs 65 miles per hour. And it has more gadgets than a Jaguar convertible.
On June 14 and 15 Miles and I took ‘er to the Hill for her maiden voyage. We fished four of our 20 favorite hot spots (Weed Bowl, Lincoln County Drop-off, T.K.’s Flats, Area 53) and discovered one new place, Weed Bowl II. We caught 13 nice largemouth bass on top water lures. And we couldn’t find anything we didn’t like about the boat. It don’t get no better than that!
We picked an appropriate time and place to christen our new toy. I told you last week that Miles hung his Rapala on the limb of a fallen tree. We maneuvered the boat to the bank. Miles pulled off his shoes and socks and waded to the lure. A faithful kingfisher (my guardian angel?) watched the proceedings from a short distance.
Back at the boat, Miles removed a small bottle of champagne from the cooler. He poured a portion on the trolling motor and handed the bottle to me. I splashed some of the bubbly on the 150 horsepower Johnson. We toasted each other. And so it was the Wings of Time joined the Clark’s Hill Fleet.
Someday I will tell you how we came by that name. I have already informed McQuiston. I also told him to leave the Key West at home next time. No use of him dragging his boat all the way from Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.
I’ve invited him to fish with me, out of my new boat. I don’t hold a grudge because he didn’t invite me aboard his craft. And anyway, he let me join him on the last day of this year’s outing. That’s when the angel came down and the big fish hit.
Rather than being upset with my old friend and fishing buddy, I want to thank him for conspiring with my son to get me back in a boat of my own. Next time we meet at the Hill, I’m wearing my T-shirt with this message:
“There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” — Kenneth Grahame, from “Winds in the Willows,” 1907.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index


By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
June 30, 2004

Ah, Those Pools Of Summer
Every June, just as soon as school let out, our mother loaded us into the family car for the trip to Commerce. I was at least 13 before I understood that this was a choice on her part; up until then I thought of it as instinctual behavior. Birds flew south in the winter; Mother drove south in the summer.
And after the car had pulled up in front of our grandmother’s house on North Elm Street and we’d had one of Gran’s firm, floury hugs (in my memory, at least, she was usually making biscuits, hot rolls, or pie), there were just two things we wanted in life: a Coke from the drugstore and a trip to the pool.
Ah, the pool. In my childhood it was located above what is now Willoughby Park, and I have vivid visceral memories of everything about it, from the scary drive down the hill and back up if Gran was at the wheel going lickety-split, to the feel of the icy “sanitizing” water everyone had to walk through on the way in, to the cracks in the turquoise cement sides of the pool, to the patterns of light and shade as the sun moved above us, to the sight of Billy Hendricks doing a triple-gainer off of the (unbelievably flexible) diving board, to the sound of my mother saying, “Sue, get out of that water. Your lips are blue!” Oh, how we loved the pool.
Swimming and diving lessons were an annual requirement in our family, right up through Junior and Senior Lifesaving and (the bane of one of my summers) something called Drownproofing. My brother and I were taught by Jane Davidson and Terrell Tanner, and later by Bud Stone. My sister had Hardman Jones, who called her “rattlesnake” (affectionately, of course).
We were summer kids, little strange-talkin’ Yankees, and we probably would have been lonely, but thanks to the pool and the Recreation Department we had a social life: we made friends with the other blue-lipped kids who basically spent as much of the summer as possible in the pool. To this day, my fondest memories and firmest friendships have their roots in that pool water.
For two summers I was one of the Water Nymphs, a precision “aquabatic” team coached by Bud Stone. By the second summer, we were in “the new pool” (i.e., the current pool.) Like a marine drill sergeant, Mr. Stone yelled orders. He had us tread water, do back layouts, and repeat intricate moves until I thought my lungs would burst. I’d drift subtly (I thought) toward the side and hang a pinkie over the ledge, just to catch my breath – but no: I’d hear his sudden shout, each word emphasized: “Rice! Get off the side of the pool!”
There is a framed picture of the Water Nymphs on my desk as I write this – a gift from a former teammate – and as I look at it, and look back over my wonderful, watery summers in Commerce, I wonder: Can you place a monetary value on such things? Happy, healthy children staying fit and learning survival skills; lifelong friendships; laughter, pride, accomplishment, a love of sports; parents also meeting and making friends – aren’t these the very things that help weave together the fabric of a remarkable community like this one? Or are they just the ordinary benefits of the pools of summer.

Susan Harper is the director of the Commerce Public Library.
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