Friday, March 27, 2015

Fishing With Jim: Des Moines 1977

I met Jim while working at Yonkers while I was still in High School. he was a few years older, from Chicago and a student at Drake University in Des Moines. he seemed much older to me and Jim, more or less, became a mentor of sorts for my entry into the wider world.

he was a funny guy, somewhat well-read and interested in reading and writing, in Hemingway in particular. It was because of him I began to read beyond my usual eclectic Sci-Fi/Adventure material. We remained friends for some years--after high school but not much after I went to the University of Iowa, even though he married and settled in Des Moines. I don't know exactly how I lost touch with him, but he was a fun guy, wise in some ways.

Anyway, what I'm thinking of was a time we went fishing on a cold morning.

By then I had just graduated from High School with no real plans to attend college. I had run off to Florida for a bit, was working different jobs until he got me a job at the UPS warehouse there in Des Moines. I worked nights--maybe 4 to 1am or so 5 to 2am or some such--unloading trucks and sending packages on their way. I'm thinking he worked nights as well. So, he asked if I wanted to go fishing the next morning (or, that morning) when the sun came up and I said yes.

I had never gotten out much beyond my high school friends. I was not and am not a fisherman. Sure, I fished some as a kid. Bob Mauk and I used to walk down to Beaver Creek in Urbandale and fish and goof around in the woods that were there. But Jim came and got me and he had fishing gear and a cooler of beer and we drove out to Big Creek, a reservoir north of the city.

It was early in the day. It was early in the Spring. It was cold. It was just him and me and we baited hooks and stood around on the shore, casting into the murky Iowa waters and getting nothing. He had beer.

I was not used to the idea of drinking in the morning. This was new to me. I did not yet associate fishing--or really about any activity, be it softball or sports-watching or St. Patrick's Day or any Name-Your-Holiday Day--with drinking. I was nineteen. Yes, I drank beer occasionally, drank harder stuff now and then, got drunk now and then, but not during the day and not while fishing and not even every weekend.

What i recall is how odd it was to me. How cold the cold beer was in my hand. It was actually a pretty miserable day and I don't think Jim was any more a fisherman than I was. Yet, it was kind of fun. I'm not sure why he hung out with me. I guess he saw himself as a bit of a mentor, or maybe felt a little sorry for me (as I was a rather foolish guy most of the time) or maybe Jim was just bored. Anyway, he liked to talk and tell me things and I liked to listen. It was good.

That's it. I went fishing with Jim on a cold morning, holding cold cans of cheap beer, catching no fish at Big Creek. Nothing more. Nothing less. We did not get drunk and get into trouble or do anything funny, bad, unforgettable.

But I have not forgotten and I wonder where Jim is now and what he's doing.

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