As much as my mind wants to hold on dearly to certain
things, reality will not allow it. Am I like you in that
I want things to remain the same? Is there anything
wrong with wanting things to stay put once I get them
all arranged nicely in my little world? Permanent. Not
move around by themselves? Stay put.
Is it too much to ask that the hardware store should
remain there and it should only sell hardware? That
the lumber company should not move to some other part
of town and or start selling ladies clothing? Why can't
things stay put. Bugs the heck out of me. And it is
getting worse all the time.
It was bad when the bait shops of America disappeared,
technology gobbled them up. There is/was nothing that
can compare to the sights and smells and 'ambiance' of
a real honest-to-goodness bait-shop. I hear rumors of a
few remaining, hope they all are true. Our country
desperately needs more of them. And we need the old
fashioned 'sporting goods' stores too. The ones where
you went with your dad and he knew the name of the guy
who not only ran the place his name was a good old
American name like Fred or Ralph or something. And he
owned the place. Big stuff. Heady. Powerful. Most of
those stores are gone now too. Pity. Real pity.
Sometimes a major store would have a rather good supply
of the right type of sporting gear you needed but they
were very rare and often several miles removed from ones
home. I remember a couple of trips in an old stick-shift
car to such emporiums of delight. One thing I vividly
remember is show much bigger things were many years ago.
Rods, fishing reels, shotguns, counter tops, people. And
how much brighter the lights were in the stores. Perhaps
because I was viewing them from a slightly lower angle,
The goods have certainly changed. Silk fly lines, nylon
fly-lines, bamboo fly rods, canvas waders, good grief
there were even those heavy rubber waders, (still made
but not for fly fishing anymore) tin cups with felt
pads for gut leaders. Many things are gone now and
have been replaced by new and improved versions. Why
can I find no magic in a nylon leader, fluoro or
otherwise, like hidden in a gnarly old gut one of
unknown trustworthiness? Magic. That's some of what's
slipping away from me these days. But I'm getting off
of my point, if I ever was squarely on it at all.
The 'Big Box Stores' have arrived and don't look to be
going away anytime soon. So what effect do they have on
any of this? Plenty and I am not sure I like any damn
part of it. Now, unfortunately, I have gotten old and I
have a hard time making myself believe that some kid with
a backwards ball hat and droopy trousers knows more about
fly-fishing than I do. I tend not to buy things from these
types. No offense. If they can get hired, dandy. It is
just the bone in their nose I find distracting. I want
to reach out and jerk it the hell outta there. Carrying
on a conversation is just not possible as I tend to travel
in a world of English slightly above the third grade level
and find duo-sylabolic (bass is not a two syllable word!)
Often I find that if something is a good seller it is 'sold-out.'
This I find humorous and often point this out to the person
masquerading as a sales professional. They have no idea
that it is gone, how long it has been gone, when it will
be in, if it will be in, who does the ordering, when the
ordering is done, when the orders are sent in, when the
stuff is shipped, from where, when it arrives, when it
is put out on the shelf, and if it will be the same
price or not. Fred or Ralph always did though. They knew
all of it, the what, the when and the how much. I liked that.
It kept me coming back. I did not know at the time how much
I liked it. But now that it is gone I miss it.
I remember that one time (about 1959 I think) I saw Chuck Moulthrop come into
Bay City Hardware wearing a cowboy hat, a big one. Now,
that takes guts. This was downtown, Bay City, Michigan,
not Death Trap, Montana. He did it because he had been
fly fishing out west and that made it all right to do.
Lord how I was jealous, not 'of' the hat, but because
he had somehow 'earned' the 'right' to wear it. He was
my age. The son of the owner. That's what I mean. That's
the part of fly-fishing and the stores it lives in that
is gone forever.
But, I can't go back. One can never go back, only forward
and hope that the future is better than the past. And it
usually is better. Bigger, better, brighter.
Yesterday I bought a new hat. Not real big. A Stetson. Fedora. ~ JC