Writer caught up in a time warp

By G. Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist

Please don’t ask me any questions right now.

I’ve got this one big question I’m concentrating on, one that I‘m using all my powers of cognizance on in hopes of arriving at an answer.

It’s very complicated because it involves a time warp.

To be precise, events that happened in my life half a century or so ago are now appearing as though they happened just within the past week or so.

It all began with a phone call last week from Marcus McCleese in Olive Hill.

Last week I wrote about Marcus and his buddy, Arnold Greenhill, breaking the ice on Kinniconick Creek to launch their boat.

Within the next couple of hours Marcus would hook and bring into the boat one of the biggest muskies ever surrendered by the Lewis County stream.

I didn’t mention it then but that was the third time I’ve wrote about Marcus catching that big wintertime fish.

The second time was five years ago.

And the first time I wrote about it?

Fifty years ago – in 1972, when the catch actually took place.

I had gone to work as a reporter for the Portsmouth Daily Times in 1971.

All the information I got about the catch came from Mrs. Roe of Roe’s grocery in Camp Dix, where Marcus had brought his fish in to weigh.

Her meat scales did not go high enough to weigh it.

But they measured it – 52 and one-half inches. Marcus came back later to tell her that it weighed a fraction over 31 pounds.

I had no reason to doubt Mrs. Roe’s report.

But for 50 years, off an on, I tried to reach Marcus in an effort to determine that I had all the facts right, and perhaps for more details on the battle.

I tried again when I wrote about the catch in 2017.

No luck.

Was Marcus McCleese still alive and well in Olive Hill, Kentucky?

Well, I was still alive. And Marcus was probably younger than me.

Everybody, it seems, is younger than me these days.

And then last week comes this phone call from Marcus, who had read the column.

I wasn’t home.

He left a message, but no phone number.

And for some reason his number did not register on the phone.

The number listed for him in my 30-year-old Olive Hill phone book does not work.

Even the information lady on 411 had no luck.

So, I’m still hoping to someday talk to Marcus about his big catch.

And now, my feeble brain is wondering: Marcus, did you catch that muskie 50 years ago?

Or was it last week?

Oh, well.


Speaking of time, if I can manage to live 34 more days, I will reach the double eight.

Checking with my genealogical report, I find that I will become the first member of the Piatt clan to reach such an astronomical number of years.

Most of them have passed on in their 70s.

Aunt Mae, who worked long years as a cook in the Jewish Home in Cincinnati, might have reached her 80s.

Mom and Dad both died at age 87.

I have often thought that might be the year my number is up.

I’ve already had a prayer answered: I have gotten to see the tulips in the front yard bloom again. And one day next week I hope to accomplish my first fishing trip of the spring.

We all want to stay here as many days or years that we can.

But, because of loved ones who have gone on, we yearn to check that place out, too.

And what better day for that than the day Jesus arose from the dead and left us with a promise, by faith believing, of eternal life?

The poet, James Whitcomb Riley (1846-1916), said it best about those loved ones who have left this life believing in Him and His promises:


I cannot say, and I will not say

That she is dead. She is just away.

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,

She has wandered into an unknown land.

And left us dreaming how very fair

It needs must be, since she lingers there.

And you – oh you, who the wildest yearn

For the old time step, and the glad return,

Think of her faring on, as dear

In the love of There as the love of Here.

Think of her still as the same, I say,

She is not dead – she is just away.


By G. Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.