Friday, June 19, 2009

Fishing with my Father

My father, my uncle and my cousin, about 1943.

From my earliest memories, I remember camping by a river or stream, my father would leave the family picnicking by the old pickup truck, converted for camping, while he and my older brother would go off fishing. When I was a little older, my father dragged me along too and let me fish in the best fishing holes. Where I would usually catch a fish or two and then my fishing line would turn into a massive tangle. He would return later and patiently untangle or replace the line. Then off we would go fishing again, till the mosquitoes were biting more than the fish. Once, while it was late my father cast his line and he caught something before it hit the water. A bat had snatch his fly and his line was circling up in the air. It wasn’t till he reeled it in that he found out it was a bat.

On opening day in the fifties and sixties, my father would wake us up at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning where we (sometimes my sisters were invited) would crawl in the car or truck and fall fast asleep, soon to wake up at an eating establishment somewhere near a lake or stream, usually Rockport, Strawberry or Schofield. We would eat an early breakfast where other fishermen gathered on opening day shoulder to shoulder eating a hearty meal. We would then go to a lake, stumbling in the dark over rock-covered shorelines and then shiver as my father would build a small fire. By the time it was light, we would be once again shoulder to shoulder with fishermen and you could walk across the lake stepping from one boat to another.
Sometimes my father would take a shortcut to a fishing place. Once we traveled on the roughest and dustiest road ever (a lumber truck road, with 10" of dust), only to find pavement at the other end.
Whether its fly fishing a river or drowning a worm in a big pond, he taught me to be a good fisherman.

The week before he died, he tried fishing but was in too much pain. It has been almost 20 years since my father left for a better fishing place. The fish around here are pretty much safe.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strange Brew

Being a stickler for words when transcribing wills, I came across a group of words my ancestor Elizabeth Cooke ( Transcribed here), had given to her daughter (also my ancestor) in her registered will proved in 1618.

I first read this as ‘a stove of stax and agylefatt’.
It didn’t make much sense, then I thought ‘fove of fax’, ‘fove of flax’ and even ‘stone of flax’ (14 pounds of flax) which seemed to make more sense, but what was an agylefatt? Two months later while reading other wills (which I do quite often) I found an inventory ‘In the brew house a mashefatt and gilefatt’, (well duh, I thought the ‘a’ was connected to gylefatt) now I could determine what the meaning of the words were. It was ‘a gylefatt’: a tub for fermentation of ale. And the ‘stove of stax’ most likely was used to roast grains to make malt or boiling water for pouring in a mashefatt. The mashefatt being the tub or vat where the crushed barley or other grain was soaked. Even if the only malt that you consume is in your ice-cream. It doesn’t hurt to learn a little about medieval practices.

Word of the Week:
Gylefatt, Gilefatt = A fermentation tub for ale.