Friday, November 30, 2012

The American Worker

Often our country's workers are the unsung heroes that we pay no attention to as they silently go about their business each day.

Today I noted these workers trimming trees along the power lines near our home.  This is to remove the branches in near proximity to the wires that might sag onto the wires during a heavy ice build-up.  It makes sense to get ahead of the possibilities.

With snow on the ground, a temperature in the teens, and a gentle breeze blowing, it can't be a wonderful experience to be up in that bucket, but there he is.

Thank you, gentlemen, for doing your job in not-so-pleasant-conditions.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

E. J. Dailey's Trapper Supply House

Although my father had been a hunter when younger, and owned a rifle and a shotgun, in his middle years he no longer used them.  We children always played with toy guns, but were not allowed to handle my father’s weapons.  It was undoubtedly a good idea, but we didn’t think so.
When I was about thirteen or so, I found a new friend named Dean Cox.  His family owned and operated a greenhouse a couple of miles from our dairy farm.  Nearly every Sunday afternoon I rode my bicycle to his home to hang out and see what sort of mischief we could get into.  Dean, whose parents obviously thought differently than mine, owned an old Mossberg .22 caliber rifle.  At some time in its distant past it had been clip fed, but the clip had long since disappeared reducing it to a single shot, bolt action, model.  Often on our Sunday afternoons together we would use his rifle to target practice.
This is what E. J. Dailey’s Trapper Supply House has been reduced to today.
First though, we would have to make the half-mile trip down the road to E. J. Dailey’s Trapper’s Supply House, where we bought our afternoon supply of .22 caliber ammunition.  I loved that part of our afternoon at least as much as our target practicing later.  Dean and I would walk the distance with Dean telling jokes the entire time.  I never did understand where he learned them all.  Once we neared our destination it was not hard to know we had arrived.  E. J. concocted his trapping scents on the premises and the smell would nearly cause us to gag, but after a few minutes of getting used to it, it wasn’t too bad at all.
The Trapper’s Supply house was a wondrous place for Dean and I even though it was no more than 10’ X 25’.  E. J. had an old desk in one corner, near the front, where he handled his correspondence with trappers all over the world.  He also had an ancient typewriter, on a pull-out tray of the desk, with which he wrote his column for the Fur, Fish, and Game magazine.
Next there was a small area where he had a gun rack with several guns.  It was an ever-changing array as he dabbled in gun sales on a regular basis.  Also in this area was a shelf with many different common calibers of ammunition.
From there you could pass through a doorway into his inner sanctum where he worked on his trapping lures for sales.  Shelves were lined up with the various lures for each species of fur-bearing game.  Also in that section was a selection of knives for hunting and trapping.  I bought a Utica Kutmaster Muskrat Skinner folding blade knife there when I was about 14, and I carried that knife in my right front pocket until I was about sixty years of age.  By that time one staghorn handle had cracked and the blades were honed down to about half their original size.  My brother Fred saw it one day and asked about its origin.  He decided I should retire my old faithful, so he found a new one nearly like it somewhere, and bought it for me.  The newer one had fake bone handles, but I carry it yet today after having given my original to my youngest son.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Gullible Young

I was all of 19 years old, and thought of myself as rather worldly what with 2 ½ years in the Navy already under my belt.  I had joined VP-8 a Navy Patrol Squadron with a dozen P2V5F aircraft the preceding August.  Our squadron was destined to be split up into three groups beginning in early January 1958.  Three aircraft and ¼ of the squadron personnel went to the Azore Islands.  An equal number of our members were scheduled to Argentia, Newfoundland, “The Rock”, while the remaining ½ remained in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, our home base.  After three months we were scheduled to rotate stations.
As a newer squadron member I was to remain at the home base during the first three month period.  However another squadron member with my exact rating was married and his wife was due to have a baby during the three month period so I agreed to take his place deploying to Argentia with the first group while he remained at our Quonset Point home base.
Little did I realize that for three months our enlisted personnel had nothing to do, but eat, sleep, and work.  There was no way to leave the base to go on any sort of liberty.  We worked whenever there was work to do.  The rest of the time we slept, ate, or played cards mostly.  The card playing most often was some sort of gambling, mostly poker of one sort or another.
So it was that one evening I was playing poker with several “friends”.  Four players were actually in the game while two or three others stood around watching.  A fellow that worked right in my own shop with me named Fitzpatrick was sitting across from me.  In a hand of five card draw I drew one card to the Ace, King, Jack, and Ten of hearts just because it didn’t cost much to do it.  Against all odds I drew the elusive Queen of hearts for a Royal Flush unbeatable hand.  Fitzpatrick after his draw held three aces and a pair of deuces.  Our betting began to escalate quite rapidly causing the other two players to drop out.  Another fellow that I knew quite well, named Alonzo, had been standing behind me for a long while.  Suddenly he grabbed the cards from my hand and threw them on the table face up with the garbled statement, “Lookee heah what dis boys got.”  This immediately caused me to win the hand, but with little in the pot versus what the potential win was.  I went on to lose my entire stake and had to quit shortly thereafter.
It was a very long time before I realized one day that Alonzo had been tipping off Fitzpatrick throughout the entire game that evening what I was holding.  When Fitz continued to bet against my Royal Flush Alonzo could not make Fitz understand to quit so took the action that he did.  Being young and gullible I always had to learn the hard way.