Last week I was driving into town to mail some prizes
at the post-office and coming at me in the opposite lane
was Jake Fanortney, I hadn't seen him in twenty years.
Jake was likable, never had much in worldly goods and
just a tad on the odd side. Seeing him brought back
memories of a conversation we had at a lunch counter
well before the invention of latte's, mocha's, and
Peering over the top of his half-glasses he explained that
his grandfather, a inveterate fly-flinger, had passed on
many years before and his grandmother had managed to hang
on for a few more years at rest-home. Some meager belongings
had been 'passed-down' to his folks but, since they didn't
fish, had been stuffed in closets and attics for several
years. Eventually Jake fell heir to it and sought me out
for some free advise. Not that I had been in the habit of
selling my advise, there being a startling lack of customers.
I ordered a roll to go with my coffee, Jake had a habit of
takin' his time getting to the point.
Now, Jake's idea of fishing was a mix of those dangling
hook-arms in the glass cages in gas-stations and the occasional
venture with a cane-pole. Don't confuse that with a cane-fly-rod; a
cane pole, those twelve to sixteen foot models.
Jake was trying to tell me about all the fishin' stuff he had got,
and he wanted me to give him some idea of what, if anything, it
might be worth. He knew I was deep into the sport and assumed
I possessed all the necessary qualifications. He had scribbled
some names down on the back of a candy wrapper and as he
unscrunched the wad he started reciting names like a kid
at the front of a 6th grade class room.
"Leonard," he pronounced, and "Powell." (He was not a great
hand at reading writing, often complaining it was so close
to the paper it was difficult.) I sat trying to enjoy my
coffee and make some degree of sense of the other names he
read off, some of which I had treasured for years, some
I had only seen in print. It looked like Jake had inherited
a godawful fortune of very old, very good fly fishing gear.
I was immediately seized with a nearly undeniable impulse to
offer him a few bucks and take the problem off his hands, but
then that terrible nagging voice came upon me. No, not that
one, the voice of my wife wondering, "where the hell did you
get all that new fishing stuff?" So I decided to give him
a realistic evaluation as best I could and made arrangements
to go over to his place.
As I said, that was years ago and ever since I have wondered
about all the rods, reels, lines, creels and other various
bits of fly gear that get passed-down from generation to
generation for the rest of us. Many times to folks who have
no clue of their value or what to do with any of it. I told
myself that some day when I had everything caught up I would
write a column on how to avoid the situation, but never did
seem to get to it. Perhaps to recommend hang-tags on things
when you get old, or think you are getting very sick, but,
neither of those ideas seemed to work. I had a few others
equally as poor and just gave up on the whole process.
It seems like there should be a way so it doesn't happen,
but have no idea how to avoid it, unless it is just not to
'go,' so to speak. I, myself, am thinking of appointing Orvis,
or Cabelas to be in charge of any estate I my leave. They are
about the only ones who could make head and tails out of it.
Jake? He found a buyer, sold everything, gave up fishing all
together, invested the money in a new stock venture, made a
bundle, married a cute little blond thing and settled down to
a relative life of ease. He did give me an old creel for my
help but I have no idea what ever happened to it, must be
around here somewhere. ~ James Castwell