Random acts of kindness, now that's a nifty idea.
I didn't come up with it; I think Oprah developed
the phrase, not necessarily the action itself. But,
never the less, a fine concept, especially when
executed without expecting anything in return.
As hurricane Charley plowed into and through the
state of Florida recently, I would be willing to
bet many folks weren't prepared for the devastation
they would find the following Saturday morning,
especially down on the southwestern coastal towns.
I would also be willing to bet a good number of
those same people didn't expect to become looked
upon as heroes and heroines in the eyes of their
fellow human beings, and neighbors.
A hero, as defined by Mr. Webster, is; in
mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry,
who is endowed with great courage and strength,
celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by
the gods. Those are mighty big shoes to
fill by a regular Joe, or Jill, but it is happening
as I type these very words.
Observations since Friday the 13th, 2004
I saw a woman on television cooking dinner on a
gas grill from her back porch. She was being
interviewed by a local television station
concerning the fact she, and her neighbors,
didn't have power, and it was ninety-two
degrees. She shrugged it off saying the
people a century and a half ago didn't
have the convenience of electricity, and
she would have made one hell of a pioneer
woman, as she laughed it off in front of
the camera. No big deal, right? Here's the
heroism part. She was ninety-something years
old and was cooking for five of her neighbors
and their families. No complaining, no patting
herself on the back, but in the eyes of her
neighbors; a heroine.
A man shows up on a corner down south with a
refrigerated truck filled with bags of ice,
television cameraman goes live, figuring a
price-gouging story was taking place. The
"clincher;" he was giving the ice away to
folks that had no power. He had rented the
truck, bought the ice out of his own money,
and had driven down there from over two hundred
miles away. A hero, plain and simple. When the
reporter asked him why he would do such a thing,
his only reply was, "Just the right thing to do."
I stopped a power company crew from South
Carolina, out in my work area to thank them
for what they were doing. One big, burly guy
just said, "Hey, we're just paying y'all back
when we didn't have power when hurricane Hugo
tore us up." I'm sure when they "threw the switch,"
they became heroes to several thousand folks
Another power-line crew from Mississippi pulled
up in front of our home the Monday after Charley
came through. I ran to the front to offer them
something cold to drink, or something to eat.
The gentleman just shook his head and said, "We're
taken care of." That night our power came back on.
They were my heroes, even though he said they were,
"just doing their job."
Some emotions are hard to define...
It's a thirty minute commute to work each morning,
but the trip leads me through vast, green pastures
where deer sometimes graze, and the small community
of Osteen in Volusia County. Not many people live
there, maybe a thousand. It was dawn, and up ahead,
on State Road 415, I could see the massive glow of
yellow, flashing lights. It had been almost a week
after Charley, and I knew these poor folks hadn't
had power since the storm. As I approached the town,
there had to be at least seventy-five power trucks
and a dozen tree surgeon vehicles, all lit up with
their yellow lights, lining the main drag through
town. What a sight! Just the presence of this
tremendous team brought out a lot of town-folk. My
eyes welled up with tears, partly for the people of
Osteen, but mostly for those men and women far away
from home. I could only blow my truck's horn as I
passed all those heroes, those that held fire
gathered in ropes of wire. Later on that afternoon,
I stopped to watch part of the operation. The two-way
radios were blaring with the voices of those that
were coordinating the restoration of power, and I
heard something echo from the radios that, again,
brought tears streaming down my face. "Okay boys,
let's everyone back away from the lines, we're
just about to make a whole bunch of folks happy."
Someone somewhere threw a switch and the town lit
up, air conditioners began blowing cool air,
refrigerators and freezers kicked on, the people
cheered and the men with the trucks smiled.
This is the last I'll mention Charley, the article
isn't about him anyway. This is a fly-fishing website,
for Pete's sake. What do heroes and fly-fishing have
in common? That's pretty easy to answer. There sure
were a lot of members of FAOL voicing their concerns
about us Florida folks in the wake of Charley. A lot
of you rode that storm out with us from all over,
and there's not one of y'all that wouldn't have
reached out if we had asked for your help. We know
that. Whether it be hurricanes, tornadoes, fires,
floods or any other disaster, we all reach out,
especially this neighborhood of fly-fishers
"...In mythology and legend," as Mr.
Webster defines heroes...the legend of fly-fishers;
would-be heroes. Thanks from the Florida gang.
See y'all next week. ~ Capt. Gary
One sad note; Two of our "heroes" from an
Alabama power company were heading home in their
utility truck Tuesday, August 24, 2004. They struck
a semi, flat-bed that was parked along US 17-92 and
I-4 outside of Daytona and lost their lives. They
came to help us. We will forever be indebted to them.
Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to their
families and their crews.
Gary grew up in central Florida and spent much
of his youth fishing the lakes that dot the area.
After moving a little closer to the coast, his
interests changed from fresh to salt. Gary still
visits his "roots" in the "lake behind the house."
He obtained his captain's license in the early '90's
and fished the blue waters of the Atlantic for a little
over twelve years. His interests in the beautiful shallow
water flats in and around the famous Mosquito Lagoon came
around twenty-five years ago. Even though Captain Gary
doesn't professionally guide anymore, his respect of the
waters will ever be present.
Gary began fly fishing and tying mostly saltwater
patterns in the early '90's and has participated as
a demo fly tier for the Federation of Fly Fishers
on numerous occasions. He is a private fly casting
and tying instructor and stained glass artist,
creating mostly saltwater game fish in glass.