I am a teacher by profession. My Frank was a teacher by nature. Anyone who cared to learn, and hung around for a bit, would get lessons about hunting, fishing, adventure, romance, and life.
Let me talk a little about hunting and fishing first.
Frank taught folks how to select the proper gun for the hunting they were doing. Obviously, one would never harvest a mess of squirrels and a white-tail buck with the same caliber rifle. It could be done, but it is better done with the appropriate rifle to maximize the harvest while minimizing animal suffering.
(Yes, a mess is what a group of dead squirrels is called. If you ever had to clean them, you’d understand the term.)
He taught folks how to shoot a gun, or rig a rod and reel, sharpen a knife, dress the kill or clean the catch, cut it up, and even cook it. He figured they knew how to do the eating. Though for children, he did teach them how to pick the meat from the bones. Especially certain kinds of bony fish.
He also taught folks how to catch fish. The method depended on what type of fish they were after. Around here it was usually mullet, redfish, or flounder.
For mullet, his favorite method was a cast net. He’d sometimes take the boat, but more often he’d just wade down the creeks at Shired Island, off the sandy point. He could throw a cast net while standing in waist-deep water and it would open perfectly. He put his catch in a mesh bag tied to his waist and they would flow along in his wake. He usually caught enough to give away twenty or so and still have enough for our supper.
If he wanted to catch a redfish, a rod and reel was his tool of choice. He enjoyed the boat for this kind of fishing. The largest he ever caught was forty inches, nose to tail. He had to release him because the limit is twenty-seven inches. He pretty much tried to abide by the rules. (Don’t laugh. I said he tried.) As he got older and wiser, he tried harder.
Floundering : the act of wading in a creek, spotting a flounder after you bumped into him with your feet, and harvesting said flounder. When Frank went after flounder, it was with a light and a gig at night. Before our children were born, I went with him sometimes. He taught me how to shuffle my feet properly.
He had the pole with the light on the end of it down in the water. It was pitch black otherwise. No moon. He said it was easier to see the flounder lying on the creek bed on a moonless night.
When he spotted one, he gigged it and put it on the stringer. Just like with mullet, the fish would trail along behind him. Yep, right where I was, holding onto the washtub floating in a truck-tire inner tube carrying the floundering necessities. Every now and then one of those slimy things would touch my bare leg ( I had on knee-length shorts). I’d yelp and try to get up under Frank. He didn’t like that too much. It hindered his floundering.
Another couple went with him one time and she had the same slimy experience, except she reacted differently. The noise she made and the way she climbed up his back, he said later, kind of reminded him of a spider monkey. Her husband was not as tall as Frank. He stood and watched his wife with amazement.
When Frank got home and told me about it, I told him she was just trying to get out of the water. I could empathize. He appreciated me more after that.
After our children got old enough, Frank took each one of them floundering. They were smart enough to wear blue jeans and Frank’s floundering was a lot more fun for him and them.
So many memories… So many stories to tell.
Enough for now.
I love you and miss you, Frank. You taught me so much.