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Archive for the ‘Fishing Lines’ Category

Heavy springtime rains saturated the wooded topsoil of the forests of Three Springs, PA. Winters that were spent filling hungry stoves with chopped wood melted away as the musty scent of burnt ash vanished and was replaced with cool, crisp air that seemed almost drinkable.

As blizzard snows melted away, tiny streams that ran amuck gathered into tributaries that could wash out entire driveways. Bob Cat, as my step-dad was called on the CB radio, carved a ditch with a backhoe back in ’72.

We needed dry land to keep our trailer from washing off the small ridge upon which it was parked. The deep channel, four feet deep at the time of original construction, had caved- in due to erosion and what was left was a little Grand Canyon in my view.

Despite the danger of catastrophic floods upon our land, I found the perfect location to build a dam that exists, in a near natural perfection, to this day. A natural mound appears amidst the willows– a little hump in the land, back where saplings once fought with sprouting acorns for the right to sunlight. I called the mound across the trench ‘Lady Slipper Dam’, but no matter how many of the orchids I attempted to transplant to the breast of my little Hoover, those delicate tissue tulips did not transplant well and were wiped- out due to my unquenchable desire to build a dam upon that little stream.

Like a beaver in heat, I flooded fields of the pretty flowers away, and as of 2016, none of the nearly extinct orchids exist on this piece of land despite the many years the pink little flowers spent attempting to make a comeback under the harsh sunlight of summer that came after neighbors moved in behind us just above the trench that marked a property boarder.

Bobcat never named the creek he dug to keep the basement under our green and white mobile home dry, but his common sense led to the creation of man made water-way that I, almost single-handedly, was able to tame for the purpose of forming a summertime lake that survived droughts of August. I spent so much time playing there, alone and with friends, upon the little damn that deserved a name.

The cool little pond glittered when shreds of filtered sunlight dripped through an umbrella of oaks and pines. Trout my brother Bill caught in a local creeks were brought home in buckets and thrived there. A million mosquitoes must have hovered up there at night, because our pet fish got fat, and lived most comfortably, at least until winter came and Lady Slipper Lake froze solid. We never knew where the trout went when the pond froze, and always assumed that a bear or raccoon got to them in the shallows of November.

A dam of mud and rock made one handful at a time was covered with moss gathered from northern sides of century- old locusts and elm. The organic carpet took to root upon the clay mounds. I dug deep down to find clay to use– chopping my way with chunks of broken sandstone through the roots of trees that seemed so long; my hands were cruddy and fingernails were encrusted with topsoil.

The damn was built a bit stronger, year after year.I chased spring showers like kick-balls. The neighbor boys came over to help– Chris Smith, shortstop of the Three Springs little league team was there to build. Chris had a grandmother who owned Miller’s Restaurant– a coffee shop across the road, downhill from our place, where eventually, that little ditch gave way to a more natural stream and crossed under a bridge on Hudson Street. The muddied currents we stirred passed down a gully just West of Miller’s Diner.

Chris lived in a trailer next door. When he wanted to come out to play with my three brothers and I, he’d stop at his grandmother’s restaurant and pick up four cans of Donald Duck orange juice. Chris always had a can of snuff too.

“What younz doin’ ta-day?” Chris would ask, handing us the offerings. Chris was an only child and lived with his mother. Like us, Chris’s parents were divorced, but Chris’s mom had not yet secured a second husband, and worse-off for Chris was the fact that he did not have any brothers. He thought of the dam as his too, although it was on our land.

“Puttin’ in a spill-way,” I explained, showing Chris a piece of plastic tubing I found in Bobcath’s race car garage.

Before finishing his juice, Chris would dig into the clay trench and grab handfuls of material for the damn. Brian Hoffman sometimes came over. He lived next door to Chris. The arguments over how to increase the size of the lake without having to take down the old dam and put up a new one were as common as our screams and yells when we played with a Nerf football in Brian Hoffman’s yard where there was another lake– a septic tank that bubbled like an untapped oil field somewhere in Iraq. His yard was so dry, with the exception of that black little pond, that clumps of grass only grew here and there, like Lady Slippers once did before I built that dam.

Tadpoles– the infestation of tadpoles that happened in our lake the first year we built it– handfuls of jelly with tiny spots inside. We had to take mounds of the tadpole embryos out of that lake, just to see our spillway work! We tossed them like Nerf footballs and played tackle on the moss and Lady Slippers near Lady Slipper Dam.

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Fishers of Beer

Bill Miller drank beer like a wide-mouthed bass when he fished in the Juniata River. Six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon were secured with trout and catfish on a stringer and kept cool in the creek. He tossed his catch back into the river, after retrieving each new beverage, as a woman laundering there, generations before, may have tossed a pair of overalls or a simple dress made from sackcloth. 

Gradually, the load decreased in weight due to consumed cans of beer and a lack of biting fish. The sun was hot. The river drained his hope, but the beer was good and one could still throw the empty cans in the weed patch behind a fallen maple tree. 

Bill Miller was raised along the murky waters of the Juniata. He knew every bend and rapid. His fisher- heart remembered what it was like during the Depression when, with this muddy creek, his family was fed like multitudes of Christ, nourished by a simple act of faith– praying with line and good bait. 

There was no sense praying for the fish bite now. Even if Jesus showed up along the crick and told Bill to “cast your line over there”, he probably would not, because fishing had now become a hobby. It seemed Jesus was dead in America anyway, and besides, Bill’s family got food stamps and kids back then did not eat fish from the Juniata River, despite what the good book had to say about miracles and bread. 

His own offspring did not like the catches he brought home. Bread was fifty-cents a loaf. Bluegill and sunfish were ignored as a type of pest, like insects. By the 1970, most of what Bill caught while drinking beer was fed to the dog– a Siberian Husky named Sam. His children said fish from the Juniata River were smelly. The three girls and four boys had only a taste for the eggs from bottom- scouring catfish. Bill rolled his catfish eggs in flour and fried them into crispy hash-brown pellets in his well-greased cast-iron skillet. Many of the catfish from the Juniata weighed over ten pounds. Such a waste of fish, but lots of cat fish eggs. He called the caviar ‘scrambled cat eggs’ just to kid the kids to consume them. They were good with ketchup! 

Bill cooked for his children mornings before school, frying everything in Crisco. It was hard cereal they preferred now– not like the perch with spiny fins that sustained Bill when he was a lad and school was still an option and fishing was the way that a boy learned to read, after milkin’ the cows. 

Food stamps now– Booberries and Cheerios. 

The seven children would not eat fish from the Junitata River if it came in a box with a prize inside. They smelled that river every day when they awoke, squeezed tight next to each other, tangled in layers of electric blankets and sheets over-perfumed in inexpensive laundry fabric softeners. They slept soundly, wrapped as worms on hooks in upstairs beds. Their blonde heads housing blue eyes tossed gently on shared pillows as the orange sun of yesterday came back over the ridges that surround Petersburg, seemingly warmer than ever– full of hope and promise every day. 

They rattled to life each day as hooting whistles of locomotive trains passed through town at precisely 6 a.m. 

The whistles were as much a part of life as the calls of bluejay birds that are abundant there. The trains were headed to large cities East– places where the work was. Those trains rolled by every day on tracks that Bill helped to lay when he was still young and working. Now the only industry in Petersburg was fishing in the river that the train tracks followed through Pennsylvania. 

The railroad industry was gone. Bill fished days between odd jobs laying brick. Work was rare. It was all he had to do to pass long summer days when hunting season had lapsed. He needed to fish to keep his head straight. He wanted to shoot bastards like Jimmy Carter who ruined the world economic system.They were sending all the work that men like Bill did to China and Japan. 

Bill thanked God for his fishing pole and for being born in a time and place where China was still something to eat off of. 

The beer came in convenient cans now, although one could not use food stamps to buy it. Bill fixed lawn mowers and rota-tillers and used the cash to purchase a lure for life– Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer– and the funny thing was, there were enough broken lawn mowers in Petersburg that one did not have to go to church to pray for more wine. 

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Hunting season for savory white- tailed deer begins Monday in Pennsylvania. While housewives busy themselves with the tasks of shopping in malls and preparing sweet- baked cookies for the approaching Christmas season, men with newly grown facial hair, often referred to as ‘buck beards’, oil their guns while women careful construct bag lunches—turkey sandwiches and chocolate whoopee pies are stuffed in large pockets of insulated hunting coats. In the blustery cold of November in the mountains, the food along with thermoses steaming with coffee creates a little café of sorts in deer stands high up in trees.

All is peaceful in the rolling hills that surround little towns built in valleys. Sparkling holiday icicle lights adorn the edging frames of many homes. Up in the mountains under the canopy of naked grey tree branches in the dark of night, moments after the season’s first snowfall has blanketed the earth, all seems peaceful despite the fact that it is the eve of mass slaughter.

Decorative wind chimes made of metal and stone dance far below on back porches. The animals stir at the sound– blue tunes of a sad waltz. The deer, bedded down in soft down blankets made of freshly fallen oak leaves, turn long, spade- shaped ears in the direction of town and the music of the chimes. The animals notice the lights and through instinct, realize that when day breaks, nature will collide with man again.

Ringing as faint bells above swings that move like rocking chairs on summer evenings, autumn leaves gather on winds of the night and stack like sausages along abandoned black barns where long ago, before the man in orange, there were lives of family farmers whose wives baked in stoves built of heavy metal and fire and the men tended to cattle. Now the times seem silent to the deer—only the wind chimes and the far-away drowning moan of cars and trucks passing to and fro.

The fields are all bare with exception to power lines which cut through the heart of this heavily wooded paradise. Simple lives are lived here by all. Summers of gardening are long gone now—back when the deer helped themselves to the many fields of corn and clover. Tomorrow, in orange, the frost covered brown grasses of summer will be trampled by insulated boots of men, in search of game.

Nestled like a buck on Sunday night; held in the very palm of a grand valley, is the little town of Three Springs. Not long ago there, humming bird feeders made of hand-blow glass caressed morning Spring sunshine. The little birds, not much larger than wasps carried nectar here. Now, in the coldness of November, just the wind and the cold hem the slow stitch of time. Slippery woods for the hunters. This day is important. They eat so much meat.

Large industrial reams of waxy, white freezer- paper will unravel like that of an artist’s medium, preserving the sight of nature– loin, liver and rib. Wooden cutting boards inside cold, cement workshop garages are dusted then wiped white in lard. This is the surface where men with their boys stand elbow- to- elbow, holding razor sharp knives, drinking beer, carving carefully the carcasses of a delicacy that is much leaner and cheaper than beef.

The antlers although not edible, are the prized possessions to the bearded gods of high Appalachia. These people are modern civilization’s great hunter-gatherers.

Here is a link to the short story of the one that got away…

“Sink and Run”

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“Get your skinny asses inside the car,” Bill Miller yelled as he slowed the Plymouth LTD by pressing a worn break pedal with a cheap penny loafer. He wore his black penny loafers everywhere, even as house slippers while at home. The only time he put on boots was when he went to work in Tyrone building the county’s first public septic system—there he wore steel-toe boots, for he was a brick layer, and of course, he wore insulated boots when he went hunting, but even then, he would have preferred to have on his penny loafers.

“I said get in the car before I pull over and put a foot up your ass!”

Aunt Marg was sticking her head outside the car window, permitting the fragrant honeysuckle, aerodynamic winds to tease her spaghetti long hair. I was attempting to make the sound of the American Indian heading off to war with the white man—screaming at the top of my lungs into the winds that silenced my cries, popping my ‘O’ shaped mouth with my little hand, for only the woods outside to hear, and it is true, if a little boy falls from a car in the woods, no one hears him.

“Oh my God, Mom, Charlie’s head is stuck in the window.”

Liz, not turning to look at what damage she may have done, stared straight ahead with her beehive, bobby pinned hair unshaken and rolled the car window back down.

“I can’t swim at Whipple Dam,” Aunt Marg protested as she sat back in the leather seat. “The water is too cold there, so I gotta cool off now. Sorry about that Dad. I wish you would have taken us to Lakemont Park instead.”

“Go to bed,” Bill replied as he unconsciously guided the Plymouth and lit a PalMal cigarette with his lighter that lit with just one flick, despite all the wind blowing around inside. The phrase ‘go to bed’ was a term of endearment used by the Miller household. It was said in response to one who complained too much—

“I hate being poor. I wish I had new shoes for school this year.”

“Go to bed.”

“It’s so damned hot in the house, Dad. How much wood did you put in the furnace this morning?”

“Shut up and go to bed.”

“I’m going swimming at Whipple’s” I shared with Aunt Marg as I slowly made my way again to the open car window after picking all the white threads from a pair of cut-off shorts Mom had crafted from an old, worn pair of Toughskin jeans.

“Go right ahead. I ain’t. You’ll catch a case of the Whipples if you do, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“What are the Whipples?”

“You know, when you have goose bumps so bad that your lips turn purple. With nigger lips like yours, you’re bound to catch it.”

My brother Bill laughed hysterically, breaking from a conversation with Uncle Steve about how to properly tie a hook onto fishing line—

“That’s what Charlie gets for chewing his blanket every night. You should see him—he puts almost the whole thing in his mouth. He stretched his lips and now they are gonna stay like that forever. That blanket turned brown and mom had to cut the edges off and re-sew it, but he’s chewin’ it again.”

“Shut up, Bill,” I said, crawling over him and Uncle Francis to a spot at the front next to Uncle Dave with greasy hair.

“Where are your sneakers?” Grandma asked.

“I don’t remember.”

“Well, who do you think is going to carry you all over Whipple Dam today?”

I stretched my legs over Uncle Dave, resting my pigs on Pap’s Pap’s thigh next to the steering wheel, hoping to engage him in a game of This Little Piggy. Grandpap Miller would playfully squeeze my toes when he was in the mood for horsing around and apply enough pressure to cause enough pain to make me yell like an indian in the old westerns that he and Liz watched every evening—after wrestling was over. I loved the game, especially when he rubbed the bottom of my pink little feet over his rough, sandpaper beard, only to bite my little toes with a denture-free mouth.

“I can go into water up to my neck now, Pap Pap! You should see me swim.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yep—was in up to my belly button in the crick back home. When Uncle Francis puts me on his back and goes under, I do too—you should see me. I can swim to the other side of the crick and jump off the bank if I feel like it.”

“I cannot believe I let you kids still swim in that filthy crick,” Grandma said. “It’s a wonder you don’t catch infantiagio or something. We don’t have town sewage like they are getting up in Tyrone. Just think of all the septic tanks in Petersburg. Where do you think they run off into? That crick ain’t good for younz kids. You are right, Charlie—it’s best to swim here at Whipple Dam. If the water’s cold, it’s fresh—that’s how you can tell good, fresh water.”

“He cannot swim all the way to the other side of the crick,” brother Bill objected. “He walks across the rocks we put up for a dam, that’s all.”

“You kids better not be building a God damned dam on the crick. The water already comes up to the cellar door if it rains too much.”

Grandpap Bill reached for the silver turn-signal switch and tapped it downward to indicate a pending left turn. We stirred the dust from the mountain roadway that led to a parking lot covered in limestone pebbles.

“Hurry-up, Francis. Get out and go claim that pavilion before the man carrying the watermelon makes it there first!” Pap Pap ordered.

Uncle Francis dashed past an iron, hand-pumping water fountain and rushed quickly to our favorite picnic place. He leaped upon one of the wooden tables like a flying ant, put a chew of snuff in his mouth, and sat with a serious look in his eyes, waiting for the remainder of the Millers to join him. The frown on his youthful face was mischievous but serious and the look in his eyes turned a shade of darker brown as his mind started to buzz from the pinch of Skoal between the skin of his lower lip and teeth that had recently grew in.

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Whipple Dam

Fish caught out of waters beyond the Juniata River watershed tasted better to Bill Miller’s children than the catfish snagged from the muddy creek that ran on the outskirts of the family property. There is but one method for preparing whiskered catfish for consumption, but freshwater farm-raised trout can be filleted into strips as thin as venison tenderloin and if dipped in an egg and rolled in cornmeal, the dish is as popular as pork, sauerkraut and dumplings on New Year’s Day. Bill Miller’s cast ironed trout were as delicious as his bacon baked beans.

To kill two birds with one stone or to catch one’s limit of seven trout from one fishing spot in one day required a trip to freshwater mountain lakes, like that of Whipple Dam. The creek down back didn’t have trout, just warmer water creatures like carp, catfish, fallfish and bluegill. To satisfy his family’s hunger for water recreational activities and rainbow trout fishing, Bill packed up the Plymouth LTD almost every Sunday and prepared the entire picnic meal himself, after digging his own fishing bait.

Not a drop of grease from two pounds of mostly white, non-lean bacon was wasted from the cast iron skillet in which the fatty strips were seared upon. Chop – chop –chop—Bill diced the crisp bacon pieces, creating slug-like morsels that slid down one’s throat like a greenie. The brown sugar and Campbell’s baked bean concoction was a meal within itself, but only a side-dish on Miller picnic standards.

Long panels of yellow Styrofoam were emptied of fleshy contents into the kitchen sink—how far man had progressed Bill realized, cleaning the chicken parts under gushing, ice-cold tap water. Bill noticed how very few feathers there were on the chicken, requiring a burning from his metal cigarette lighter that seemed never to go out, even when wet. There was a time when there was no time for fishing—only work on the railroads, but now, chickens were slaughtered with corporate axes—no more watching them flop around in the front yard, headless, bumping into things as they attempted one last time in their lives to take flight.

Thanks to the Weis supermarket in Huntingdon, a seemingly endless supply of food stamps, freshwater streams that were stocked weekly with trout and Bill Miller’s expertise as a cook for a poor family, there was always time to picnic at Whipple Dam.

Bill blanched the chicken parts for at least twenty minutes in a large pot of boiling water, refusing to remove much of the golden, nutritional, fatty skin that enveloped the plump, pink pieces of legs, thighs and back. The kids, like Bill, liked the dark meat. Only Liz, wife and mother, demanded a tender breast at Whipple Dam. The skin would be charred to crackling consistency over Kingston charcoal briquettes dowsed heavily with dangerous amounts of starter fluid.

As soon as the chicken parts were removed as lobsters from the boiling water, Bill covered it with splatters of hot bacon grease—that not used to keep the baked beans moist— and sealed the contents in exorbitant ribbons of tinfoil and packed the surplus of meal neatly in a snowy Styrofoam cooler next to several six packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer—often stopping his busy hands to check his long-sleeved flannel shirt to ensure he had enough cigarettes for a day of picnicking and fishing at Whipple Dam.

Uncle Dave, a skinny, snuff chewing prankster with greasy hair parted over his right eye was the oldest child still living at home and was granted front seat riding rights, sitting between his dad and mom just to ensure tranquility during the journey. Following the departure of Uncle Pete from one of the beds upstairs in the wooden house, Uncle Dave assumed the title of best fisherman, next to Bill, in a family that was born near the water.

Uncle Pete, a curly blonde with humungous blue eyes, unbelievably big ears and a nose so huge that he could sniff out trout underwater like a hound dog seeking rabbit in a thick brier patch, married Aunt Pat when he was just eighteen. Although he no longer lived at home, he and Aunt Pat attended all of Bill Miller’s outings. He inherited his father’s good fortune when it came to fishing. It was suggested by his mom Liz that Uncle Pete’s saliva contained the same enzymes found on the skin of the earthworm, and thus, the boy could catch fish without even trying—just like he did to poor Aunt Pat.

“Uncle Pete, why do you spit on your worm like that?” I asked one Sunday along the chilly, cold waters of Whipple Dam, trying to secure a piece of golden can corn on a hook that Uncle Pete helped me to tie securely.

“Go ask your Aunt Pat,” he said.

Aunt Pat had no interest in the Miller family’s obsession with fishing or Uncle Pete spitting on his bait. She stayed far from the water’s edge and fussed over flies around the picnic tables, ants, and deviled eggs.

The couple chose me as the ring bearer at their wedding. I remember standing next to Uncle Pete with a pillow in my arms—dressed in a fancy, checkered vest with puffy sleeves which accented my huge cowlick perfectly. I couldn’t understand why they cried while kneeled before the pastor.

“I do,” Uncle Pete said with tears rolling like rapids down his big, red nose. I asked my grandmother, Liz, why Uncle Pete turned into a crybaby at the wedding—

“That happens sometimes,” Mal Mal explained. “I think Pat’s ass is lined with gold.” …

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A muddy crick flows like molasses through Petersburg. Westerly breezes infused by pollen from creek bank honeysuckle are sweet enough to cause cavities. Winds in Petersburg, on misty summer mornings, sting nostrils with a salty aroma—a slight seasoning is in the air—the smoke from passing locomotives.

Burnt coal spewed into the atmosphere from the volcanoes of man, covering everything, even the wind which is bathed already with the scent of stagnant river.

The trains roll right alongside the banks of the Juniata River– for this is where the tracks were put down—along nature’s already beaten path. Like a line of black plug-in air-fresheners, they spill by like fallen pepper shakers.

The stagnant waters of the Juniata River are dotted will millions of tiny, floating islands—clusters of milky bubbles banded together to float as silver dollars in the river along which so many poor reside—the piss from thousands of brown and white spotted cattle—all grazing along where the railroad runs and the river that guides the trains originates.

Crick banks are black—no longer the soft muddy wooded areas along the muddy waterway they once were. Tons of coal has fallen from the locomotives passing through Petersburg forming a black beach of sorts, not good for burning nor sunbathing on, but swimming in the crick was fine even with the cow piss.

Here and there a tree has managed to set root at the base of the long coal pile running alongside the crick, right next to the sandy brown river—a rather large tree, one not trimmed by track clearers during the great excavation that took place when the iron rails were first put down here after the Great Depression.

It grows like a weeping willow although it is a horse chestnut.

This was my grandfather’s favorite fishing hole and we swung from a rope in this tree, barley missing his head.

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Bill Miller drank beer like a wide-mouthed bass when he fished the Juniata River. Six-packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon were secured with trout and catfish on a stringer and kept cool and fresh in the water. He tossed his catch back to the river, after each beverage, as a woman laundering there, generations before, may have tossed a pair of overalls or a simple dress made from sackcloth.

Gradually, the load decreased in weight due to consumed cans of beer and a lack of biting fish. The sun was hot. The river drained his hope, but the beer was good.

Bill Miller was raised along the murky waters of the Juniata. He knew every bend and rapid. His fisher- heart remembered what it was like during the Depression when, with this muddy creek, his family was fed like multitudes of Christ, nourished in the wilderness by a simple act of faith– praying with line and bait.

Now there was no sense praying for the fish bite. It seemed Jesus was dead, and besides, Bill’s family got food stamps and kids didn’t eat fish from the Juniata, despite what the good book had to say about miracles and bread.

His own offspring didn’t like the catches he brought home. Bread was fifty-cents a loaf. Bluegill and sunfish were ignored as insects. By the 1970, most of what Bill caught while drinking beer was fed to the dog– a Siberian Husky named Sam. His children said fish from the Juniata River were smelly. The three girls and four boys– Florence, Roxie, Pete, Dave, Francis, Steve and Marg had only a taste for the eggs from bottom scouring catfish that Bill rolled in flour and fried into crispy hash-brown pellets in a cast-iron skillet. Many of the catfish from the Juniata weighed over ten pounds. Such a waste of fish, but lots of cat fish eggs. He called the caviar ‘scrambled cat eggs’ just to kid the kids to consume them. They were good with ketchup!

Bill cooked for his children mornings before school, frying everything in Crisco. It was hard cereal they preferred now– not like the perch with spiny fins that sustained Bill when he was a lad and school wasn’t an option and fishing was the way that a boy learned to read, after milkin’ the cows.

Food stamps now– Booberries and Cheerios.

The seven children wouldn’t eat fish from the Junitata River if it came in a box with a prize inside. They smelled that river every day when they awoke, squeezed tight next to each other, tangled in layers of electric blankets and sheets over-perfumed in inexpensive laundry fabric softeners. They slept soundly, wrapped as worms on hooks in upstairs beds. Their blonde heads housing blue eyes tossed gently on shared pillows as the orange sun of yesterday came back over the ridges that surround Petersburg, seemingly warmer than ever– full of hope and promise every day.

Somehow they lived through it.

They rattled to life each day as hooting whistles of locomotive trains passed through town at precisely 6 a.m.

The whistles were as much a part of life as the calls of bluejay birds that are abundant there. The trains were headed to large cities East– places where the work was. Those trains rolled by every day on tracks that Bill helped to lay when he was still young and working. Now the only industry in Petersburg was fishing in the river that the train tracks followed through Pennsylvania.

The railroad industry was gone. Bill fished days between jobs laying brick. Work was rare. It was all he had to do to pass long summer days when hunting season had lapsed. He needed to fish to keep his head straight. He wanted to shoot the bastards ruining the world economic system and sending all the simple work to China and Japan.

Bill thanked God for his fishing pole and for being born in a time and place that taught a man how to be thankful and not greedy like most in the cities had become.

The beer came in convenient cans now, although one could not use food stamps to buy it. Bill fixed lawn mowers and small motors on lawn appliances like rota-tillers and used the cash to purchase a lure for life– Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.

He strung the six-packs like fish, unlike the un-pressurized, stunning intoxications offered in home-brewed moonshine of the 1940s. They drank warm then. Booze came in jugs and could not be kept cool in the river. Things were bad, but this was all he ever wanted in life– to fish, drink and enjoy the peace and quiet when the kids were at school and that river was still flowin’.

Life was about fishing, not wealth he thought as he finished another six pack.

Others in Petersburg who worked at the bank in town or traveled far off to work jack hammers on long stretches of interstate highway complained that there was never enough time to fish. They ate fast food all the time and always accepted the fish that Bill’s family had lost a taste for– in trade for a six-pack or two– just to get Bill through the currents of the simple life on food stamps.

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