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by Ralph E. Gordon

The old man and his grandson arrived at the creek with their fishing gear and the Little Igloo Grandma had so carefully packed with peanut butter-jelly sandwiches and bottled water. There was nothing fancy about their fishing gear -- just a couple of regular cane poles and box of worms from the local Quick-Stop. They brought a few extra hooks and some extra line. Grandpa knew the boy would be fishing for jay-birds, in the thick trees that lined the shallow stream, just as he did when he was that age.

He couldn’t find the path he used to walk when he was a child. It was grown over with weeds and a large colony of litterbugs had nested there. He picked his grandson up and carried him safely above the broken beer bottles, the red-bugs and other vermin that might be lurking in the unsightly mess. A few old landmarks remained which led him to his favorite spot where he used to fish more than a half century ago. The hardwood forest had been clear-cut, and replaced with fast growing hybrid pines, which were planted in rows like wheat or corn. A few trees, which the environmental laws had required the timber company to leave along the banks of the creek, were the only reminders of the old forest and the magic it held.

He had wanted to show his grandson the pristine and virgin forests where he grew up, but it was gone for the most part. But he knew the boy had no memories or images of what it used to be. To him, this was the way the forest was supposed to look. With that in mind, the old man drifted back to his childhood and recaptured that magic for just a moment . . . a priceless and fleeting moment.

He found his favorite old fishing hole where he never failed to catch a big mess of catfish and red-bellies, but it was almost dry compared to what it was when he was a kid.

“Maybe we will catch a few anyway,” he said to himself, as his six-year-old grandson tugged on his pants legs in excitement and anticipation -- the one thing that had not changed over the years.

And that was what this fishing trip was all about.



Ralph Gordon is a fifth generation Mississippian who lives in Union, Miss., with his wife Pat. He is a retired salesman for a major lawn and garden equipment manufacturer and former executive director of the Union Chamber of Commerce. Ralph is an active member of the Newton County Historical Society and serves on the Board of Directors of The Boler's Inn Museum Foundation. He received his education at Beulah Hubbard High School, East Central Community College, Delta State University, and has studied writing at Millsaps College.

The focus of Ralph's writing (poetry, songs, humorous short stories) is on local and family history with an emphasis on Southern folklore. He is currently writing his first book. A regular contributor to the Journal of The Newton County Historical Society, his stories are also published in the Oxford So and So. Three of his songs were recorded by Mountain Gypsies, a well known Arkansas bluegrass group. The Mississippi Department of Tourism displays two of Ralph's history-based poems at the Vicksburg Welcome Center.

Read more of Ralph's stories:
Mississippi Writers' Guild
The Free Lunch
Gone Fishing
Lady Longwood
Mama's Spaghetti...
Salute To A Hero


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