Wind has never been his friend


G. Sam Piatt - PDT Columnist



You can look out my kitchen window across the wide bottoms to the Ohio River, and across the river is the site of the steel mill in New Boston that closed for ever in 1980.

Just upstream a bit, next to Graf Brothers lumber mill, is the site of the Hooker Chemical Plant, which closed forever in 1971. The railroad spur’s still there and there are concrete and steel piers on the river for loading barges.

Somewhere in that area is evidently where the $1.3 billion aluminum mill announced Wednesday will go. Brady Industries and Gov. Matt Bevin’s office didn’t pinpoint the exact site, except to say it was outside the city limits of South Shore.

Wherever it goes it is tremendous good news for the entire Tri-State region. And tremendous good news calls for a celebration.

And what better way to celebrate than to go fishing?

I hooked Dad’s Old Boat, the Sears 50-year-old 16-foot aluminum V-nose with the not-very-old 15-horse Merc, to the 13-year-old Ford Ranger (I like old things) and headed out for the 28-mile drive to Greenbo Lake. Let the newer Bass Tracker set for another trip.

The forecast was for an afternoon thunderstorm and by the time I arrived at the lake and launched the boat the wind was gusting at what felt like a good 25- to 30-mph.

My father died 22 years ago at age 87, but it seemed I could see him in the front seat, where he sat on so many wonderful trips while I operated the outboard and electric trolling motor in an effort to put him on the fish.

He was shaking his head from side to side disapprovingly. As much as he loved fishing, he feared rough water.

I don’t think he could swim. I never got the chance to put him to the test, except for that one time on Kinniconick Creek. That was the day we sunk a smaller 12-foot car top boat, but he was close enough to shore to frantically grab some tree roots and pull himself to safety without his feet having to search for the bottom.

WIND NOT A FRIEND

The wind nearly yanked the rope out of my hands as I tied the boat to the dock and went to drive the trailer up to the parking lot.

I found it impossible to fish the shoreline with the trolling motor. After getting blown around a point or two, and finding no haven where the wind wasn’t gusting, I tried trolling with the outboard, which hadn’t been started in more than a year until I cranked it to life in a barrel of water at the side of the house.

The wind slammed the V-nose from one side to the other, making it difficult to keep the boat on track until I could make it back to the dock.

The new jobs announcement still called for a celebration. I know. I’ll take the family to the Red Lobster, where the fish and shrimp and big crawdads are served on a perfect platter.

GOOD OLD DAYS

Ohio and Kentucky hunters who have lived out three score and ten years of life can recall those happy hunts of the 1940s and 50s, when rabbits bounded out of every woodpile and a dozen or more quail would flush from thick cover in the corner of fence rows.

My father was a railroad man with the C&O for 50 years, never a farmer, but my fourth-grade year we rented a big farmhouse just outside Ashville, Ohio. This is a little town just east of South Bloomfield. In those days its chief industry was a factory that canned peas, green beans, corn and other vegetables brought in by farmers from the surrounding fields.

There are some happy boyhood memories of the times my father would take my older brother and me on hunts for rabbit and quail.

My uncles would drive up from Kentucky just to get in a weekend of bird and rabbit hunting.

It was my Uncle Arlie who taught me how to imitate the call of the female quail. I became so proficient at it that, in the evenings, when the season was in, I called the bob whites within range and my brother would drop enough of them with his .22 rifle to provide supper.

Pheasants, too, were plentiful in the Ohio farmlands, although we had better success with these slow rising majestic birds when we traveled west to the fields around Washington Court House.

The wild game is not so plentiful these days, and neither are the hunters.

But the memories of the good old days will always be with us.

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G. Sam Piatt

PDT Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.