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#MemoirMonday Fishing With My Father

July 10, 2017 , , ,

Dick on a family fishing trip

Dick on a family fishing trip

My father was a fisherman. This sport consumed his free time and a lot of his money. I think he inherited the love of fishing from his mom. It was mentioned in some early notes by my great-grandmother that Olga, my grandma, was an ace fisherwoman as a child.  It was a family activity for multiple generations.  We would go to lakes in Arkansas and Oklahoma when I was very young.  After we moved to Pennsylvania I don’t really know where or if my dad went fishing. The Allegheny River near our home was way too polluted for fishing, and Lake Erie was on the way to completely ruined too.  I think he just fished when he was down south visiting his parents.

Our family moved to Venezuela in 1963, to a rural part of the country.  My father was the general manager for Mene Grande, aka Gulf Oil in the Eastern part of Venezuela.  Maracaibo, in the west, had another operations manager.  The companies built camps for their workers.  Service companies like Halliburton had small camps, and sent their kids to school at the large camp, by agreement.  My dad was the boss of all the people in my neighborhood and all the people we knew in other towns.  I was a princess of petroleum.  Inside the camp life was lavish.  Outside life was primitive by the standards I knew in Pennsylvania.

One of the privileges my father enjoyed was being invited on fishing trips by service companies.  We also had a yacht at our disposal in Puerto la Cruz, so my dad had his own deep sea fishing craft with a full crew.  I liked the yacht part because I never had to fish.  I was not really into it.  I ate them, but that was about it.  I got to water ski when my father was not trolling for fish in the Caribbean Sea. That was excellent.

We went into the jungle to a fishing camp owned by some service company on a jaunt to catch a fish called Pavón.  It is large and free, and was very abundant in the Amazon Jungle.  We flew in a WWII German plane with the owner/pilot. He was most certainly a Nazi who got out with his plane.  It still had military style seating in not much.  You just get strapped to the side of the plane and bounce around in an open metal fuselage.  I believe we were in Colombia, but there were no signs of statehood.  There was a tiny trailer and an indigenous family of caretakers.  It was the hottest place I had ever been in my life.

We set out in small boats, a couple of guys stood up in the boat and shot the crocodiles in the head when the approached our boats.  The bloody and creepy memory is clear in my mind is the amazing heat.  Finally we landed and started casting lines from the shore.  The Pavón were biting and we were catching them non-stop.  A few Piranha were caught and set up on the bank, far from the water.  They were snapping their awful jaws together rapidly an hour after they had been taken out of the river.  They were scary as hell.  I quit fishing after my first 15 fish or so.  I walked back away from the shore.  I spotted a black jaguar ahead of me walking perpendicular to my own path.  I froze and was unable to scream for my adults who were close, but not visible. The majestic cat must have known I was there, but kept his eyes forward and walked on into the jungle. I quickly made it back to the guys with the guns and told them, but nobody thought it was a great idea to chase the cat.

Memory is an unreliable source of fact. I know I must have embellished this story in my mind a bit, but I am sure of the central elements.  I remember the jaguar as a vivid spirit message that came to me because I had stopped fishing. I felt an odd blessing that came with the sheer fear of the moment.  I am very glad I went fishing in the Amazon, but not because of the fishing.  I had a destiny that included an exotic tropical wild animal crossing my path with no desire to harm me.  I did some fishing as an adult, but always with a hand line.  I am not a rod and reel person, nor am I greedy.  I am pretty sure that the sport of fishing has something to do with feeling what is unseen.  Do you fish, gentle reader?  Literally or figuratively?



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I love the stories about your family. This one sounds like it’s right out of a movie!


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

July 14, 2017

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