Remembering the good old daysPublished 7:39pm Sunday, January 15, 2012
There are some things that Minnesotans never get tired of talking about, like the weather, the woes of their favorite sports teams and the good old days.
While the weather is always an ice breaker when starting a conversation, a person doesn’t start on a positive note when you begin a conversation with “How about those Vikings?” As far as the good old days, that is a never-ending conversation piece that I am always ready to embellish.
When talking about the good old days in the outdoors, there are a lot of fond memories that can be revisited. I always remember the days of reading and re-reading articles in my old Sports Afield or Outdoor Life magazines. My cousin, Tom, had given me a bunch of his old hunting and fishing magazines when he left for the Army and they were some of my treasured possessions. I believe that I still have some of them stored in a box in the attic. I don’t know how many times I read many of the same articles over and over again and never grew tired of them.
In those days reading was a very important part of my life. There were no batteries needed to read a book, and if I had a certain book that I wanted to read I can remember checking at the school library at Southwest to see if they had that book. If they did and it was already checked out, I’d keep going back until I got my chance. My main interests were stories and books about the outdoors and Jim Kjelgaard was my favorite author. There were also books about football that centered mainly on the Ivy League schools such as Brown, Yale and others that were rich in the history of college football and were usually about someone trying to make the team and becoming an unlikely hero. Also on my list of favorites were stories about World War II and the heroic feats preformed by real men during the war.
I was also infatuated with the stories of the early settlers and the American Revolution. This is good stuff to know because you can learn how our country was formed and of the sacrifices men made to establish the freedoms that we have today. Reading books is a great way to put yourself in the middle of history or of getting away and visiting another place in time.
On another note, the good old days were also simpler times but in some ways harder times. I can remember going to town on Saturday morning, grocery shopping with Mom and my aunt Ruby. There were a lot of grocery stores back then and the one that I always was impressed by was the National Tea, which had an indoor parking lot. I believe the store was located uptown across the street from the Post Office. Wheaties, the breakfast of champions, and Shredded Wheat were our usual cereals of choice and the Shredded Wheat only came in one size. That cereal also contained baseball cards, which made it appealing to me. My mother would occasionally pan fry the shredded wheat by rolling it in an egg batter and serve it with hot Karo syrup and fried Spam. As a kid I looked at this as an evening meal fit for a king.
The good old days didn’t seem as complicated. Maybe that had to do with the fact that we had no easy access to information so we had to depend on the radio and early TV for all of that. Going to the movies would get you up on world events with the newsreels shown at the beginning of each show.
Fishing, for the most part, was much simpler back then because it seemed that all you really needed was the basic hook, line and sinker to catch fish.
Eventually someone came up with the green box, which I’m sure a lot of you either remember or actually owned at one time. I had a green box that I had bought from my uncle, Ben, thinking that I was now into modern technology and there would be no more marking the anchor rope every 10 feet with electrical tape (duct tape wasn’t big back then).
To be quite honest, that box never did work quite right. I had to send it in to the company a couple of different times to be fixed, and they finally told me that they could no longer get the parts. I often wondered if they were just tired of not fixing it. When Ben sold it to me he said that he had kept it in the garage for a few years and never used it because he didn’t want my aunt, Marcie, to know he had bought it. In hind sight I did almost wish that she had found it or that he had just kept it hidden in the garage.
It seemed like each time after I had gotten that green box fixed I would check it out just to see that it was working prior to heading north. It always worked fine when I tested it so when I arrived at the lake with my sure-fire-fish-finder in tow I just knew that the fish would be shown no mercy by the Herfindahl family fishermen. After using the thing for about two days, the lights would go out, and although the unit kept spinning there was no longer a flash in the flasher. This happened so many times that I was almost glad when the company administered final rites to my green box of futility. The part that was even more depressing was the package that they had sent it back in for the final time. The UPS truck delivered it in a box that had all indications of a new Eagle flasher on the outside. My friend, Bob, had stopped by the house to talk about an upcoming fishing adventure that we were planning when the delivery man walked up and handed me the box. As I tore the wrapping off the box and we saw the outside of the box Bob said excitedly: “They must have given you a new one.” But alas, as I peered into the box there in all its disappointing glory was the same old green box with a note of finality attached. I can’t even tell you a story of the good old days spent with the green box because there really weren’t any.
Just a reminder, the ice on the channel may be the reported 6 inches in spots but always use extreme caution when venturing out on ice that has a current flowing underneath it, especially with the unseasonable weather we have been experiencing. I know that there a lot of disappointed ice fishermen this year but on the bright side that heating bill is a lot easier to look at this year.
Until next time, play safe, watch out for thin ice, good fishing and enjoy the Minnesota outdoors experience.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the holidays and the coming year. They are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.