“Hurry up, Daddy!”
I was impatient. The promise of going to Dairy Queen was all that had registered in my 6-year-old mind. The fact that the soft vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone was to be the end of the day’s adventure was somehow lost on my comprehension of time.
So Dad and I piled into the old station wagon that so many times had been our vacation cruiser on road trips to New Hampshire and Maine. Just the two of us on this trip, my older brother already starting to discover his own way of doing things; my younger brother not coordinated enough to handle a fishing rod, no matter how tiny and plastic one might be. No, this trip was to be a Dad/Son trip.
Off to the local reservoir with a pail of bait – earthworms dutifully dug up the evening before to entice whatever might be lurking in the shallow waters. “Drowning worms,” I remember hearing, probably from the old Bert and I records my Dad loved so much. We knew Bert, or at least my parents did, because Mom cleaned his house in town. I almost expected to hear the sputtering of the old Blue Bell, Bert and I’s famous boat. But not today.
Today was to be a quieter experience. I trudged behind my father, seemingly aged at the time but really in his mid 30s, as we walked along the gravel path to the rock walls where we could cast our lines. I nearly lost the rod on my first try, Dad’s quick hands snagging it out of the air as it flew from my hands. A little practice and it was like I had been doing it all of my young life.
We caught some rainbow trout, stocked in the reservoir to keep company with the usual crappies, bluegills, and yellow perch company. Occasionally we saw bullheads, but not this day. I was excited to reel in my own rainbow, only to see Dad reel in an even bigger one. Later, he would tell Mom that the big one was my catch.
As the hours passed I forgot my earlier urgency to quicken the pace. Eventually, we did get that ice cream cone, but while thoroughly enjoyed, it was no longer the highlight of the day. Instead it simply capped my appreciation of the better things in life. We ate trout for dinner that night.
David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores late summer 2017. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.