Someone started the fish book the year the boat was built. Dad was six years old that year and I can imagine him hanging around Grandpa’s shop listening to the Uncles as they hammered and glued and put the boat together. In a weird time shift, see me at 6 years old in the shop at our house in Oregon where my Dad was building his own boat. Mahogany. I remember; the smell of planed wood and many coats of varnish.
Family and friends journaled the trips with who caught how many fish and how much they weighed. A competitive bunch it seemed from the fish book, with many days spent in the boat.
The fish book is a snapshot in time; Eddie was my Grandpa and Esther the Grandmother I never met (and am named after) who died in this year of the fish book. I remember Mr. Larson who was called Mr. Larson by children and adults alike. He owned a creamery. My Great Uncle Ralph who told stories of riding the rails in the depression and always had time for us kids. Decades later he gave me a vintage silver toaster when I moved into my first apartment. I still have the toaster which has moved on from vintage to antique.
By 1935 I see my dad and his brother Edsel are included in the fish book. They would have been in their early teenage years and obviously had followed in the family tradition and become serious fishermen by then. That never changed. I recall the day my Dad sold his last boat. He was standing in the driveway, very unsteady on his feet and already suffering the indignities of Alzheimer’s when his last boat was pulled away on its trailer. There were no words to say; we just turned away, went into the house without speaking and had a cup of tea.
My Dad is missing from the fish book record in March and April 1942. He was in the Navy on a ship.
This note is in my Dad’s handwriting. I don’t know where the fish book waited out the time the sons were away at war. He came home and I suppose in trying to find some semblance of normalcy in what had been anything but normal years, opened the fish book again.
The fish book ends here, but I know the fishing didn’t end. When both my Dad and Edsel came home from the war, they worked through the night to ready the boat and motor that had been stored away with the uncertainty of who would use it again, and when that would be. They took their Dad fishing again.
When I think of all we are going through now with the virus; the pandemic, I think of the fish book.
We miss seeing each other and travelling. We live with the fear, sadness and anger of things out of our control while we change our lives to control what we can. We can easily look at this and say Damn the virus – that’s why this page is blank.
The thing is, this year will pass just as 1942 did and when it does we need to be ready to work through the night to ready our boats and fish again.