More Jackson County Opinions...

OCTOBER 20, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
October 20, 2004

Clark’s Hill Gang upgrades quarters
The 2004 fall outing of the Clark’s Hill Gang is history. This one was different. Instead of sleeping in tents, on the ground, on picnic tables and in the cabs of pickup trucks, we slept in real beds in two lush cabins (lush by our standards) at Elijah Clark State Park. Getting there was half the fun. Of course I jest.
That the park is 17 miles by land and 15 miles by water from our favorite fishing spot complicated matters and forced us to fish strange waters. Not good.
It was the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ fault that we had to make this drastic change. At the end of September, the Corps closed our favorite campground. That would be Hester’s Ferry at the confluence of the Savannah River and Fishing Creek.
Fishing Creek is where the Honey Hole is located. After 36 years, we know every stump, every drop-off, every flat, every point, every submerged rock and log, and every other structure that shelters lunker bass. We always catch fish in Fishing Creek.
Some Gang members were excited about trying to upgrade our quarters this year. Junior charter member Rick McQuiston, on his own, without checking with me, the senior charter member, appointed Rick Peckham chairman of the Clark’s Hill Gang Executive Accommodations Committee. Not good.
Peckham, a long-time regular member of this prestigious fishing society, said he was humbled to be named to such a responsible position. “My burning goal in this challenging new assignment is to locate and secure luxury rental accommodations for myself and my beloved Gang members.
“Of course, I can’t guarantee bargain rates,” he added.
Another thing that complicated matters for this old fisherman was that all of our planning and communicating were done via e-mail, which I hate. I guess that is the price a computer illiterate pays for getting too old too soon.
Anyway, Peckham announced in a subsequent communique’ that he had found some luxury accommodations for the fall outing. “The Soap Creek Lodge and Resort is a 4 Diamond/5-Star facility, and I am sure that we would be very happy there.”
He didn’t mention the rate because he knew us old retired members on fixed incomes would consider it outrageous.
Peckham is selling automobiles and making a lot of money. McQuiston is selling packaging machinery and making a lot of money. They can afford a 4 Diamond/5 Star resort.
McQuiston made his preference known in an e-mail to the Search Committee chairman. “I’m thinking the pristine banks of Fishing Creek. I’m thinking a posh villa somewhere between the Windless Cove and the Honey Hole. Ideally we’ll have a veranda and dock combo. The boys won’t have to walk so far for a drink after a hard day of hauling in lunker bass.
Ordinary Gang member Travis Kitchens checked out facilities on the Internet. He came up with The Barracks at a place called Hickory Knob. “Ideal for groups up to 13,” he wrote. “Facility includes four bedrooms with an assortment of bunk, single and double beds, two baths, a kitchen with cooking and eating utensils, and a living room with television. We, of course, don’t use eating utensils. Rental rate is $128/night. Probably not available though.”
Peckham decided that was not what we needed, wanted and deserved. So he kept looking.
McQuiston put in his two cents’ worth -- again -- and tried to get me, the senior charter member, involved. Not good.
Here is what he said in an e-mail to me: “Peckham’s latest report indicated his and Kitchens’ Internet endeavors are not progressing expediently as hoped.
“His brilliant alternative is a Feet-on-the-Street Task Force. The idea is personal contact in the Fishing Creek area. It would require affable one-on-one communication with area locals. ‘Affable’ precludes all Gang members with the exception of you. (Gee, McQuiston, thanks! I didn’t know you cared.)
“The idea is to first visit the Fishing Creek store and make our intentions known. Let them know we’re mature and responsible; also that we have a lot of financial resources. After all, we are about to sell our property in Jefferson. (OUR property? McQuiston has this crazy notion that the Gang is going to share in MY income from the sale of MY house.)
“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to make some nice little flyers with your name and phone number. Leave them at the store and on the doors of prospective waterfront villas. Exercise extreme caution when approaching and leaving villa grounds.
“Also be sure to lay on a healthy dose of the Virgil Adams you-can-trust-me stuff. Use your own uncanny instincts and judgement from this point.
“That’s your mission, Virgil.”
I did not accomplish the mission. In fact, I didn’t do anything.
Peckham continued to work hard and finally reserved cabins 14 and 15 at Elijah Clark State Park.
Nevertheless, one long-time regular member was not happy, and in a message to all of us, gave his reasons why any location other than Hester’s Ferry at the confluence of the Savannah River and Fishing Creek would not be satisfactory. Here is Dennis Hopper’s take on the situation:
“The Hichory Knob barracks sounds great except for the historical response of the Clark’s Hill Gang to new locations. For instance:
1. It might suggest that certain people try to fish in a new spot. The horror! The horror!
2. It might suggest that certain people fish in spots which don’t have a name.
3. Certain people do not feel like they are fishing unless they are flaying lures at that same old comfort bank day after day.
4. Certain people might have to find a new stump to throw at.
5. A certain former high-ranking naval officer would not know how to behave in the enlisted barracks environment. We would have to find him a Puerto Rican mess boy to shine his rattle trap lures. (That would be Mike McQuiston, Rick’s older brother. Mike is a retired U.S. Navy Commander. We call him Admiral. He had this to say to Hopper and the rest of the Gang: I’m not sleeping with the enlisted people.”)
6. A certain fisherman who is older than white dog (censored) rejects any attempt to wet a line in strange waters, saying ‘Wail, if ya ain’t never wet a line off that bank down thar from the old turnip patch, then ya cain’t tell iffen them thar fish knows yer thayer.’ (You weren’t talking about me, were you, Hopper?)
7. Certain fishermen would be confused if there were a commode to (censored) in in the middle of the night instead of the same spot in the woods. They might actually tinkle without getting any on their toes.
8. Certain people who puke beside their chairs around the campfire would have to practice holding it for the bathroom.
9. Certain people would not be able to pursue those false claims about other people’s snoring because of the walls.
So, it sounds like a great idea to actually sleep in a bed and be out of the rain. But the Clark’s Hill Gang’s mental makeup would not allow it. That’s number 10.”
Rick McQuiston responded thusly: “Pretty good list there, Hopper. Thanks for not mentioning me as one of those certain tunnel-visioned people.”
What a joke! McQuiston fits all of ‘em, except 5 and 6.
I know you can hardly wait for me to tell you about the other half of the fun -- after we got there.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
October 20, 2004

Time Out From Television
As someone who recently reconnected to the video grid after an absence of nearly four years, I feel like Rip van Winkle. A whole lot has changed during my time-out from TV.
For starters, commercials take up even more time than they used to: a quarter to a third of every hour. I used to be doing well if I managed to run to the bathroom during the commercial. (Yeah, right, it was singular back then.) Now I can run to the bathroom, finish the dishes, hunt up my glasses, and still have time left over.
Plus, as someone pointed out to me, the commercials are synchronized to come on at the same time on most channels. This is a really ingenious and satanic ploy on the part of broadcasters, who must’ve all gotten together and said, collectively, “Take that, you channel-surfers!” Now all we get from surfing is a broader range of commercials – or just the same commercials on different channels. (My personal favorite is the little shy guy who is cured of his “social anxiety disorder” by a drug whose side effects include nausea, diarrhea and seizures. Maybe they give him something to talk about with his new friends?)
Another thing I can’t help noticing is that there’s not a whole lot on, other than commercials – which is funny, since there’s a whole channel devoted to telling us what’s on. Reruns rule, especially “Law and Order,” “American Justice,” “Cold Case Files,” and “Crime Scene Investigators.” (Do you think we’re obsessed as a culture?) True night owls can occasionally catch old episodes of “Cheers” and “The Golden Girls” which seem quaint to the point of being Victorian, almost as if they’d happened in some parallel universe which (apparently) I used to inhabit.
Eeriest of all is the fact that there’s far less news. We could usually count on the major networks to run news shows at 5 or 6, and again at 10 or 11 – and to make such a serious attempt at being objective that if they did have a bias, they themselves were the only ones who knew it. Now, as the major networks become more and more minor, we’re left with the blatantly biased Fox “News” Network (“we retort, you deride”); CNN, whose saving grace is Lou Dobbs (I love the way he consistently refers to “the so-called debates”); and PBS. That’s not much, when you consider that there are about 66 channels on standard cable TV.
Yesterday I saw Howard Dean interviewed on CNN. When he pointed out that the General Accounting Office had warned President Bush’s administration 18 months ago about possible problems with the supply of flu vaccine, the screen went black, the sound vanished, and a “news brief” was hastily patched in because of “technical problems.” Mr. Dean returned just in time to say goodbye. I had that old parallel-universe feeling again, but this time the parallel universe was the former Soviet Union.
Well, I’m getting sleepy. I think I feel another four-year-nap coming on. Wake me up if TV gets to where it’s worth paying four or five hundred dollars a year for, okay?

Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.


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