Musings on a dark and gloomy day

G. Sam Piatt

Friday was a rainy, overcast, gloomy day, not fit for outdoor activity, but perfect for curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book.

I have two great loves, one is reading, and the other is writing (let me quickly add – for self-preservation – that these two pursuits do not supersede my love for Bonnie, my wife of 64 years).

Reading brings much pleasure. A good novel is hard to put down, and when we must lay it aside for a while, there is much enjoyable anticipation of getting back to it.

I recently discovered a new writer. When I picked up a book titled, “Who Buries the Dead,” a historical novel (early 1800s in London) by C. S. Harris, I thought I was dealing with a male author.

But a photo inside the back cover showed that C. S. Harris is a handsome, youngish-looking woman. And she is certainly not a new writer. I found that she has written more than 20 novels, including the Sabastian St. Cyr (a crime investigator) mystery novels, one of which I have become so engrossed in.

It takes me a long time to read a book. Not because I’m such a slow reader, but because I’m constantly stopping, checking back a few pages, studying how the author used those wonderful descriptive phrases that make reading so enjoyable.

At the beginning of Chapter 14, Harris describes the scene of Sebastian’s wife, Hero, feeding their new baby boy:

“Hero cradled her infant son in her arms and watched in the glow from the fire as his tiny fists opened and closed against her bare skin. She’d discovered a rare peace in the quite hours before dawn, when the world still sleeps and the only sounds are the whispered fall of ash on the hearth and the soft suckling of a babe at his mother’s breast.”

Sometimes it takes me three rechecks to finish a library book. One thing I don’t like about library books is that you can’t mark in them. Books that I buy are filled with underling in red and notes written in the margins.

With library books I carry a notebook in which I copy entire sentences. These can be used later in my writing, making sure to rephrase them in my own words to avoid the deadly disease of plagiarism.

While reading is pleasurable, writing is work. I don’t remember what author said it: “I hate writing, but love having written.”

A good writer must organize written thoughts in such a way as to be understood, but also in such a way as to never be misunderstood.

After 50 years of writing newspaper and magazine stories, I’m still laboring to learn the trade. And the language.


For years I’ve written about the old Cave Run Crappie Crew’s campouts for crappie fishing at Cave Run Lake. They catch some pretty sizeable crappie, the biggest I’ve reported on having been a three-pounder by the late Boyd Noble.

This past week Bob Griffith of Ashland sent me a photo of a crappie taken from the lake nearly 30 years ago that was bigger than any either I or the Crew had dreamed of swimming there.

The photo of Bill Dodd May holding his catch was published in the Nov. 16, 1989 edition of The Salyersville Independent. He caught it Oct. 29. It weighed four pounds and one and one-half ounces! It was 19 and three-fourths inches long.

“Bill Dodd worked for me at Ashland Oil when he caught this crappie,” Griffith said in his note accompanying the newspaper clipping. “He thought it was a (state) record.”

But when they took it for weighing to the fish hatchery located below the dam, it fell short of the record by four and one-half ounces.

The Kentucky record, white and black lumped together, weighed four pounds, six ounces and was caught in 1997 by Kevin Perry from a farm pond.

The Ohio record crappie, black, weighed four pounds, five ounces and was caught by Ronald Slone from a private lake in 1981. The record white weighed three pounds, nine ounces. Kyle Rock caught it from a farm pond in 1995.

G. Sam Piatt

Reach G. Sam Piatt at or 606-932-3619.

Reach G. Sam Piatt at or 606-932-3619.