…. No, I was not kidnapped by gypsies or bitten by a tick. …. We have been travelin’ but that’s not why Ye Olde Website has been stuck in neutral. …. I’ve been wrestling with an “issue” which I will now reveal …. AND we celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of Pier Fishing With Dad with a replay.
I’ve been about to knock out a new column on several occasions over the past week but every time I was “about to” I realized I was in either a foul mood or a depressed one. I owe you fine folks better than that.
Missus and I have been on the road and will be again this coming weekend but “access to the Internet” is the primo prerequisite to anywhere we go, so it should not matter where we are. We were down at “da beach” with dear friends last weekend plus in Cheraw SC. Next weekend we will be up at Roaring Gap in “da mountains’.
How can we do all that you ask with gas being at $4.00/gal and rising? Easy. Being hardcore right-wingers we have a special PIN # we punch in at the pump that gets us the special Friends of Dubyah $2.00/gal rate. It’s the same number we use to get 100% health care for $25/mo. It really upsets Maxine Waters and Howard Dean that we have that special “right-winger rate” which is almost as good as getting the discount itself.
Which is an appropriate segue to “the issue”. My friends, you know my “politics” and you know my disgust with the current condition of politics in this country. We just put a freakin’ space capsule on Mars yet we have three candidates for POTUS that reek with a toxic combination of dishonesty, disgust and repugnancy. The future prospect for America’s survival is dimmer than it’s been since Valley Forge. The adjoining reality to that is that there is darn little/nothing I can do about it.
If Hillary flimflams the nomination …. there will be a race war. If McCain beats Cocoa Puff …. there will be a race war. If Cocoa Puff wins …. there will be a race war. Maybe it’s just me but Everything “tastes like chicken”.
America is heading into a perfect storm with a general electorate finally dumbed down to “barely biped” at a time when competent leadership is critical with no competent leader anywhere in sight. Politics has become the plaything of immoral rascals operating under a conveniently compliant cloud supplied by an arrogantly incompetent mainstream media. …. And there is darn little/nothing I can do about it. But I can control what’s said on this website.
When I’m in a deep funk I’m simply not going to subject you to that. Most of you share my “funk” so why overdose you on this absurd crap. Essentially, henceforth, if I can’t come up with something good to say, then I’m not saying anything at all.
My new personal motto is (1) Love my family …. (2) Cherish my friends …. (3) Be as civil as possible to those I encounter in my daily pursuits; an ever-increasing number of whom are utterly clueless. A 4th category …. those aggressively determined to destroy our way of life in America, I shall oppose with my dying breath but not in these columns. The math now favors that 4th category bambozzling that 3rd group. So be it.
And what better way to begin this latest concentrated effort to be a bastion of pleasant thoughts for you than by reprinting our #1 most reader response column of all time. Hopefully a blueprint for future columns.
Pier Fishing with Dad …. (originally published April 9, 2006)
…. The Triple S pier on Atlantic Beach was torn down several weeks ago. The Sportsman’s Pier may suffer a similar fate soon. Pretty soon they will all be gone … victims of escalating real estate prices. If you grew up within 3-4 hours drive of “da beach” in the 60s, chances are you spent part of your youth “pier fishing”. My Dad and I did and those memories came rushing back as I read this latest story of “progress”. ………..
We lived about two hours from “Morehead”. Straight down Highway 70 past Dover and Cove City, the Tuscarora Fire Tower and the straightest stretch of road I believe I’ve ever seen. Fifteen miles straight as a string. There was no bypass around New Bern back then. The New Bern Fire Station had a bear over its door. To Havelock pass “the kicking machine” and Dick Parker Motors at Cherry Point … that WWII jet outside the entrance to Cherry Point Marine Air Station was “cool”. Around Cherry Point you started to smell the salt air.
There was a dog track on the outskirts of “Morehead”. Yes, it’s name is Morehead City, but we just called it “Morehead”. Rex Restaurant and The DoNut House on the right. You knew you were “at the beach” when you passed the marinas with their yachts.
My Grandmother had a beach house at 2709 Evans Street in Morehead right on the Sound about three blocks from the bridge. She would move down on Memorial Day and stay thru Labor Day. No air conditioning in the house but the breeze off the sound made for the best sleeping ever. If Grandmother was in the house, sometimes we would go down on Friday night, otherwise we would leave home “real early” Saturday morning to catch the tides right. High tide is the best fishing of course.
The Triple S was “our pier”. I’m not sure why but everybody just had “their favorite pier”. One of my pals had a beach house about 100 yards from The Sportsman Pier. Next to Coury’s Villa. That was “his pier”. We tried the Oceana a few times (between the Triple S and Sportsman). The Triple S was the closest to Fort Macon.
I don’t recall what a day pass costs back then. Dad took care of all that. I suspect it was around $5.00. The pier house had a little restaurant that served a good hearty breakfast and burgers and such throughout the day.
We weren’t real serious fishermen. We started out with regular spool reels but graduated to “spinning reels” as technology advanced. My Dad and I shared a tackle box. We had a few lures but mainly we used shrimp on double hook rigs. We bought the fresh shrimp from the man in the pier house. It came in a plastic bag.
When we planned a trip I would practice casting in our back yard a few days prior. I would pick out one of Mom’s azalea bushes and try to drop the plug in front of it.
When I was a very little guy I was always afraid I would let go of the rod and it would fly off into the ocean. It never did.
Mainly we caught “spots” … about the size of your hand. They gave a good pull especially if you caught two at a time. Sometimes we caught croakers. In the Fall you caught “skates” which were small sting rays and were basically trash “fish”. Flounders put up a good fight because of their shape in the water.
When we were using spool reels we always casted “overhead” and you had to make sure no one was walking behind you. Spool reels would “backlash” if you weren’t a good caster. Later with “spinning reels” you could “flip” the bait out by leaning out over the railing and tossing the bait from underneath.
The big excitement came when “the blues were running”. Everyone got out “seahawks” and “mirrolures” and bombarded where they thought the school of blues were. Catching “a blue” was a big thrill as even a small blue put up a big fight.
I recall that nobody got mad with each other. Once you established your bench or place along the rail everyone respected “your space”. I wonder if that is still the case? Probably not. “Pier civility” probably went to hell along with civility in everything else … sigh, sob, sniff.
Way out on the end of the pier was where “the king mackrel guys” hung out. We never tried that. I was never comfortable “way out on the end of the pier”.
As my Dad and I sat on our bench waiting for “a bite” I’m not sure what we talked about. I think we “just talked”. No great life lessons exchanged … just Dad and me “pier fishing”. When the tide was going out there wasn’t much action so we just sorta sat and watched the tip of our rods.
For years I thought Europe was “out there”. One day I looked at a map and realized that Bogue Banks ran east and west and not north and south … that is still confusing.
We would leave in the late afternoon after the last high tide. Dad drove. I would be tired from being out in the sun all day and would usually fall asleep around New Bern.
Other piers were built down towards Emerald Isle. Thompson Steel Pier and Iron Steamer were two I remember. Every new pier was supposedly over “the best fishing hole” in the area.
Hurricanes hit fishing piers like tornados look for trailer parks. “Hazel” “The Hurricane to end all hurricanes” wiped out a few of them. They would be rebuilt until recently.
Dad and I also did some “fresh water fishing” in ponds around our town. Mainly drowning worms but an occasional bream or catfish. Once we went to the stocked pond at Barrus Const Co and caught a big string of crappies and bream. I have a picture of it. Once I caught a 3.5 lb bass. We had it “stuffed”. I still have it. Mizzus thinks its “gross”. It hangs over the door in my inner sanctum. It reminds of a special time with me and my dad.
Dad died during my Junior year at Chapel Hill while I was at Super Bowl II. I left the area and chased corporate rainbows for twenty years. When Grandmother died in the mid 70s “the family” decided to sell the beach house and divide the $$$ rather than squabble over who got it. Being a quite dysfunctional bunch, squabbling was a liklihood. Chuck Sledge told me last week that house would probably bring $1.5 million in today’s market … Yikes!
When Kid was old enough we took her to “da beach” and we walked out on the piers. She has absolutely no interest in fishing. “Yucky” was her description. Dad and I bonded thru “pier fishing” at “da beach”. Kid and Mizzus bond by shopping at “da Mall”.
Memo To Dad: I always kinda figure you are reading these silly musings. Surely Heaven has “wireless”. Did you think I’d forget “pier fishing”? No way … thanks, Dad!
We found a terrific new restaurant at Atlantic Beach – Crab’s Claw. It’s just off what used to be “the Circle” on the beach. Great food, great service and “on the ocean”. We’ll go back.
Do you think McCain, Hillary or Cocoa Puff ever went “pier fishing with their Dad”? I think that should be a prerequisite for POTUS …. don’t you?
The Sportsman’s Pier was indeed torn down a year ago to create three ocean front lots ….. none of which has found a buyer.