by Guest Columnist Richard Frye
Cornbread VS Little Boats:
A man on the dock smiled at me and muttered
"Ain't no damn way I'm git'in in a little
thing like that! I'm just too big and too old for such nonsense...you
This is a small community so I won't mention
any names....I'll let folks figure it out for themselves! I just smiled
at the 6 footer about 225 pounds and pointed,
"That's one of my boats coming
in.....the yeller and white one!"
"Well," he continued, "It sho do cut the
water good! How'd ya get da wood to bend like that? You know ... making
it pointy at both ends and all?"
"We....ll," I said, ....to make him feel
homey and all that!
"You know!.... it takes all the clamps in
the world, a washtub of screws, lot's of glue, and a nominal amount of
plain ole cuss'in, cause it'll bust if'n you ain't real careful!"
He paused a second or two then rattled off,
"Yeah ...you know...I tried to bend some plywood one time to make a round
roof top on my dog's house. Had to use the front end lift on my tractor
to weight it down but the damn stuff busted anyway! See that scar right
thar?" he pointed just over his right eye..."Took nine stitches to fix it
when that plywood flew apart and smacked me a good'n! Almost knocked my
ass right off the tractor! Boy was I pissed! Had to go all the way to
town to the emergency room to git it sewed up ...you know! Made me late
git'in to the stock sale! I go every Thursday you know!"
Heart medicine I take prevents me from
drinking alcohol in any form but as the man beside me babbled which seem
like forever, I felt persistent urgings arising, beckoning me to a bottle
of Johnny Walker Black Label hidden in the depths of a kitchen cabinet for
many years! You know...just in case of an emergency! The brief thought
was pleasant but rudely interrupted when reality set in, knowing all the
time I'd have to settle for some Tylenol! Shaken, not stirred!
He stood there in awe as Andy Scott, our
local cub scout leader (who has now has joined the wacky world of homeboat
builders) expertly guided my boat (his first time in any boat) gently to
the lower dock with a big smile on his face. He'd spent a good half an
hour paddling around in heaven...he called it! Although it took some
doing, four of us were able to get Andy out of the boat with out any of
the help or Andy's 360 pounds of bulk going for a swim. This guy, you
know ...the one that won't git in that little thing!...said to me,
"You know....If'n it'll hold him...ain't no
doubt it'll hold me! Mind if give it a try?"
A couple of minutes later, and after some
brief instruction on the use of a double paddle he was off and headed
across the lake. When he returned, he said,
"You know...I could git used to this! Shore
beats luggin that jonboat around or trying to paddle it in when the
battery goes dead! Carl stood up in it one day and we both went swimmin!
Never would tell me why he stood up!"
I lifted my boat from the water with one
hand, threw it on my shoulder and walked off! He was hot on my heels!
"Hey...wait a minute! Can I tote it fer ya?"
Visions of 12 year old scotch came back and
flooded my brain! When we got to the parking lot I took the boat from him
and loaded her gently on top of the car after taking my fishing tackle out
of the boat!
"You mean you got all that fishin stuff in
there too?", he blated out with astonishment!
After "visiting" with him a while longer, I
reluctantly agreed to build him one. Since back in mid summer he told me
he's done more fishing this year than he's done in over the past 10
years! He kept on about how light his boat wuz, how safe it wuz, and how
he didn't have to fool around with a trailer, motor, etc. or a dead
"You know,"...he told the locals hanging
around at the rural store/gas station, "I just putt'er in the back of my
pickup, drive up to the edge and plop her in! You know?...that's all
there is to it, and that ain't half bad for someone that's going on 65!"
He sold his aluminum jonboat, motor and
trailer and showed me some of his new fishing tackle, fishing rods,
portable depth/fish finder, a new PFD, floating minnow bucket, fish
basket, distress kit, marine first-aid kit, etc.! Some other stuff I had
only dreamed about!
He brought his boat by not too long ago for
me to repair. Said he swung the tractor around a bit too fast and too
close and the brush hog knocked a hole in the side! The repair was simple
enough and a couple of days later after the stock sale he came by with his
"new" stuff. I helped him load the boat in the back of his pickup. He
picked up something off the seat and handed it to me with a $50 bill on
"That's fer fixin it and my wife made this
cornbread fresh fer ya this morning! I always take a pawn with me when I
go fish'n! Goes down good with Mountain Dew!".... and he was headed off
to a lake somewhere out of state in West Virginia!
But just before I could git back inside
where it wuz safe, he yelled,
"Hey! you know!...you oughta come with
me...you know...bring yor boat too! My brother-in-law, he has a place down
there right on the lake...you know! He might want you to build him one!
You know!......I ain't givin him mine no matter what kinda damn deal he
wants to make! No sir!..Just ain't gonna do it!"
Now I don't want to compare boats, mainly
speaking of canoes and kayaks since there are so many of them that do a
great job! But ...you know! It goes to show you that anybody can have a
good time in a small boat! No trailers, lightweight, stable for fishing,
easy to paddle, in other words, no hassle!
Even my wife was amused by this old fellow
that she recognized from a township meeting. Glad to see a person
enjoying life! And thanked him for the cornbread ....which by the way was
delicious! She looked at me in an odd way and asked what I was looking
for. I said "My bottle of scotch!" My heart stopped when she said, "Oh
that!" I reached for a heart pill! "Honey, it's been in there so long I
figured it was spoiled so I poured it out!" .............. You
know!....I think I'm gonna cry!