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A Cane Pole and a Worm~~
Family Ties to Dad

by Barbara J. Robinson




One sunny day when I was four years old, my daddy took me fishing at a river in Springfield, Louisiana. This was my first fishing trip with Dad. The trip consisted only of a short walk from a small rental house down to the river. My equipment consisted of a cane pole with a red-and-white bobber to let me know when I had hooked a fish.

"Watch that red-and-white ball," Dad explained. "If it bobs up and down, you have hooked your first fish."

I didn’t catch a fish that day, but I learned a lesson at only four years old about baiting my own hook with a real-live worm. Dad said, "If you want to fish with me, the first thing you have to do is bait your hook." As I looked at the ducks floating on the river, I made up my mind that I would bait that hook. I wasn’t about to be sent back to the house to help Mom.

"Ugh, it might bite me. It looks like a baby snake."

"It’s not a snake, and a worm won’t bite. Just don’t let him get away from you. Worms are squirmy."

The worm wiggled, and I said "Ugh and oh!" But I finally got the worm on the hook. I kept my eyes trained on that red-and-white ball waiting to catch my first fish. That never happened, and I soon grew bored. I didn’t have the patience to ever make a good fisherman.

I lost my dad not long after that fishing trip, but as I grew up and heard girls display their disgust at baiting a hook with a worm, I always thought of that bright, sunny day on the riverbank with my dad and of how he taught me to bait my own hook with a real-live worm at only four years old. That was one early father-daughter lesson I would never forget. Even after my father's death, I always felt he was with me whenever I went fishing. I know he was in spirit.

I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at girls who wouldn’t touch a worm to bait a hook. That memory will forever stand in my mind as an early lesson in independence from dear old Dad. You see, I never had to have a man bait my hook for me. I was little Miss Independent, and I could bait my own hook better than most boys around. I often wondered if that was why I turned out to be such a tomboy. On the other hand, I didn’t see why women needed men to do things for them they could just as easily do for themselves.

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Bio: Barbara J. Robinson grew up to become a teacher after an early fishing lesson from her dear old dad. You can read more about her childhood episodes in her Southern memoir of creative nonfiction set in Louisiana and Mississippi, Magnolia: A Wilting Flower, available at your favorite online bookstores like Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. [Search “books," "Barbara J. Robinson," "Magnolia."] Readers may phone toll free 1-877-333-7422 to order from publisher.

More tales of Robinson’s relationship with her father are in her Southern memoir. Her website may be accessed here. Barbara is a member of the Florida Writers Association (FWA). She teaches language arts to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in the Sunshine State.

Write Barbara at: Magnolia2002@prodigy.net.

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