Old Photos: What Could Have Been

I have remarked often how much I like old photographs, of family members…to include me. After several years of cleaning out my mom’s hoarding home (after she died) and my just passed aunt’s hoarding home looming, I have come across some gems. Much of my young life is hazy. Partly because I am getting old, partly because of life style habits and partly because my folks didn’t take a lot of pictures of me past a certain point. I try not to take it personal, alright?

SwittersB (9 y/o) @ Wallowa Lake, 1957

So much comes to mind when I look at this photo. I am holding one of those confounded, damn closed faced spinning reels. I recall that this was our first camping trip. Odd now that I think about it as my folks were fairly outdoorsy, raised on farms. My dad survived several years in WWII on the Aleutians Islands, and then moved in to work the Al-Can Hiway to it’s completion. He was no lightweight. When he came home my folks worked two years clearing a piece of land they intended to homestead. But, that fell through. So, they were tough kids. 

So, here we were with borrowed camping gear and borrowed fishing gear. You might wonder why I am looking that way. No, not the clothes! My gaze. Am I looking down at that damn reel wondering how does one get that tangle out of that reel housing? Was it a look of ‘how will I tell dad that I screwed up the reel again?’ No, it was me staring down off a dock into the water with the blinding sun glaring up off the water. The only respite I had was that cool hat my mom must have bought from a woman at the resort store. 

Yes, that was my first excursion with a ‘pole’ and my dad’s as well. My dad never touched a ‘pole’ again until about 25 years later, when I took him fishing at another lake with my young boys. We used regular spinning rods then, plunking the gunk off the bottom with success as I recall.

By then we had had many camping trips under our belt. By then I was an avid fly fisher and owed it, as I have recounted here before, to a neighbor boy (Lenny) who tied flies for Audrey Joy at Meier and Frank Department Store in Portland, Oregon. That simple connection with Lenny (and his Tied Down Caddis he tied) and my Uncle Felix, who handed me an old fly rod, took that closed face spinning reel and rod out of my hands for good. 

That’s not to say I can’t still manage a spinning reel or level wind when not a soul on the boat in Alaska cares a hoot for a fly rod, but I have to give thanks to my dad, Lenny and my Uncle Felix regardless of the rod I am holding.

Now those clothes? I must be short waisted because every photo of me back then has the waist of my pants up into my armpits.

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