I don’t understand why, but I have been thinking about fishing poles this morning. Not just any, but the ones I am seeing in my mind’s eye. My five-year-old mind. There were just a small gathering of them, and they stood, propped up, in the corner of the Fruit Cellar, in the basement or our home, when I was growing up. Those poles.
We lived in Dayton, Ohio, on a street with lots of houses, side by side. Our house looked a lot like all the others. It was some sort of two-story contraption, white on the outside, with an attic and a basement. Those walls contained 7 children and 2 adults, some of which could be seen hanging out of windows from time to time. But what I can see today are those fishing poles, still down there in the corner. The “Fruit Cellar” was actually my Dad’s tool room. It had shelves along the one wall. The room itself was painted White-Wash white, but the walls were a little cracked and crumbly. Yet the entire room was kept immaculately. In fact, it felt a little sacred when you walked through the door. Hallowed. Quiet. The shelves were perfectly arranged, every hammer, screwdriver and plier, lying in pristine rows. It was a bit like a display unit at a hardware store, only better. And then there were the containers. Containers filled with acutely specific items. Washers, or screws, or nuts, and the like. Some were old baby-food jars, which were affixed to the undersides of the shelves, screwed in with their lids. Other containers were old margarine containers, with plastics lids. Stacks of them, with labels.
It was organized, efficient, and meticulous. Anyone was welcome to use anything in that room. But there was a stringent rule. You left every little bit of that place as you found it. If you borrowed a tool, you put it back. I can hear those words this very minute. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
Yes, everything was orderly. Right down to the paint cans underneath the shelving, arranged in rows. The finest printing topped each of the cans, identifying the corresponding rooms to paint color. Dining room. Front bedroom. Kitchen.
Yet, the only thing that seemed out of place were those poles. None of us fished. We went to the Kroger’s if we wanted any fish. I imagine, at some point in time, Dad may have taken any of us to a big pond somewhere in Dayton, or slightly beyond. I can only remember one such expedition, and I can’t say if my Dad was there or not. But my Grandpa was, cigar in mouth, sacrificing unsuspecting worms as he baited the hook for me. I was, and still am the youngest. And on that day, I was the only one to catch a fish. As my recollections stir, I can remember feeling that I was completely bored out of my mind. It felt like torture for a five-year-old. I really wanted to skip rocks, or go play in some mud. To this day, that is still my view of fishing.
I’m not sure what happened to those poles. Mom & Dad eventually moved into a Condo, as they approached their final years. Away from that big old house, with too many stairs, an no more kids clattering about. I never saw those poles anywhere at their Condominium. And when I cleaned out the place after they died, I’m fairly certain they were not there.
And that is how it passes. Time, and all its moments. Those things that were once there, huddling in corner, waiting for their big day. And now gone from that place. Gone from my time and from that house’s time.
But remembered. And somehow kept. Still. As a part of me. And now, a part of you.
“The past is never where you think you left it.”
― Katherine Anne Porter
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
― William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
“Why should we look to the past in order to prepare for the future? Because there is nowhere else to look.”
― James Burke, Connections