Friday, July 18, 2014

Fishin' In Hawleyville

Sometimes all it takes for an idea for a post is a car trip with an old friend. Yesterday I took Ellen to Shenandoah for a belated birthday lunch. We have been friends since our freshman year in high school.

I have wanted to have lunch at The Sanctuary, an old church turned restaurant, for a long time. Each time I planned an outing there with someone it didn't work out. Finally! The ambiance was as I expected, the food was good and the companionship even better. We had a nice luncheon. (To paraphrase The Wizard of Oz, "Pay no attention to that man behind the sign!" I was aiming for a shot of all the pretty flowers.)

As I most often do if a trip affords it, I take one route going and a different one coming back. I checked the IDOT website before going to see if there were any detours or road construction delays. It showed only one, which turned into two. I decided to use my knowledge of those blue line highways and head off across country which took us into Shenandoah from the north via Essex. So when we left I decided to go back on Highway 2 through Clarinda. As we were leaving that town headed toward Bedford Ellen said, "We could go through New Market." To which I replied, "Or Hawleyville."

Ellen had never heard of Hawleyville and we did not end up going that way, but I had to tell her about my memory of fishing in Hawleyville with my Grandpa Joe. We had been shopping in Clarinda with my grandparents. On the way home through Hawleyville, which never was too large of a town and now only has a few homes left, Grandpa decided he wanted to stop at the East Nodaway River bridge and go fishing.

Somewhere I do have a more recent picture of the bridge which looks very much the same today as it did in this picture from 1908 which I found on the internet. (Credit to Merrily Tunnicliff) Grandpa must have had a fishing pole with him but he didn't have any bait.

The car was pulled over along the road side and down the bank to the river Grandpa, Dad and Ron went. Mom, Grandma and we girls stayed on the bridge to watch them fish.

The thing I remember most about that day was what Grandpa used for bait - cockle burs! Those little green, spiny, stickery seed heads from one of the most noxious weeds like the one shown here. Who on earth would think of using a cockle bur for fish bait? Grandpa Ridnour! To the amazement of the bridge onlookers, Grandpa began catching fish! I'm pretty sure he caught enough to take home for their supper.

When I consider it today, I believe the fish Grandpa caught that day were most likely bullheads - they are known to bite on just about anything. I can remember eating my share of these catfish relatives. We caught them in our pond as well as the small creek that ran through our pastures.

Or maybe my Grandpa was just a natural born fisherman - a fish whisperer in today's nomenclature. He did love that pastime. This picture was taken on one of their trips to relatives on Grosse Ile, Michigan in the Detroit River. Left to right, Murl and Martha Kendrick (Martha & Grandpa were first cousins), their son-in-law and daughter, Dayton & Cleo Lessner, my grandparents, Delphia and Joe Ridnour. Grandpa looks pretty happy with that day's catch.

It is a very good day when you can enjoy an outing with a good friend and recall a significant childhood memory.

(Hawleyville is north of  Clarinda on Hwy 71 about three miles and then east on J31 about three miles until you cross over the East Nodaway River. As the old saying goes, "Don't blink or you'll miss it.")

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