THE CHICAGO METROPOLITAN GAZETTE
SUNDAY MAY 6, 1923
by Skiz Gazelle
This one I call, ‘THE OLD BAMBOO.’
Upon reflection of one of my more recent fishing jaunts to the Catskills on the Beaverkill at Craigie Clair, I was reminded of the innocence of youth by what it was that a little but gallant eight year old tyke said, and then soon asked of me. The honest to goodness conversing started with a very serious facial expression, followed closely by some vigorous fidgeting. The boy’s name by the way was Jessup but as he told me, “Almost everyone around here calls me just ‘Jessie’.”
He began by saying, “Gee whiz, if you’re just who I think you might be, and I think maybe that you might just well be the guy from the newspapers, Mr. Skiz Gazelle, on account I heard tell this morning down in town that you were around these parts fishing and such.”
Well I nodded and then the boy Jessie smiled quickly, but then soon became serious once again.
“Then maybe since you are the guy who writes all those really swell fishing stories, and will even tell in the paper to whoever will read and listen just how to catch the very kind of fish that mostly all the people who go out after fish want very much to catch, how come you never ever fish with a bamboo fishing pole, or even use worms or a bobber, like my Grampy Effron and Uncle Cecil fish with? Because just in case you don’t know about such a pole they can catch lots of fish just the very way that you can. But remember, they just use worms and a bobber….and oh yeh a hook of course.”
“Sonny,” I said to him. “Wait a while.”
Then, with a smile, I walked proudly back to the fliver truck I rented, grabbing a long old pole I long before dubbed as ‘The Old Bamboo’. It had been given to me, with instructions to take very good care of it, by a former slave woman called Mamie Julep. It was at a time I had occasion to fish the mighty Potomac at Harper’s Ferry. She was a nice old black great great grandmother who unfortunately passed away just a few weeks after that. But that’s a whole other tale that I’ll gladly share in this column sometime soon. So anyway, with that very pole in hand, I walked still proudly back to the boy Jessie who by now was passing the time skipping stones across an eddy just below the smallest of the man made ripples on that stretch of the famed Beaverkill. His eyes lit up like two Chinese lanterns.
“You do have one,” he exclaimed. “And it’s just like Grampy Effron’s and Uncle Cecil’s!”
“Yup,” I responded. “And I’ve caught plenty of fish on It, and I call it ‘The Old Bamboo’.”
Then the boy Jessie walked closer to see it better.
“Gosh,” he said softly. “The Old Bamboo,”
Then he looked up at me squinting as the sun shined upon his face.
“Mr. Gazelle,” he said before a question. “If’n I ever get a bamboo fishing pole of my own can I call mine ‘The Old Bamboo’ just the same?”
“Jessie my boy,” I said, “There’s only one fishing pole, bamboo or other, that I know of called ‘The Old Bamboo’. This one. And as far as I’m concerned that’s the way it’ll always be.”
I watched as the boy named Jessup lowered his head. Then I crouched beside him. After a moment I extended my hands offering to him ‘The Old Bamboo’. He looked at it and then looked at me.
“Take very good care of it Jessie,” I said. “Take very good care of ‘The Old Bamboo’!”
“Golly, you mean it’s mine?” he asked.
“Yup indeed,” I said. “It’s yours.”
That bamboo fishing pole, the one that old Mamie Julep gave to me, was one of my favorite possessions. But I had had a good many days filled with fishing admiring and enjoying it. It was then time for me to let someone else have the chance to do the same. After all, old Mamie Julep was generous enough to me and so now I was passing that generosity on to the boy Jessie. It was worth all the fish I’ve ever caught just to see him beam up and smile as broad as a boy could ever smile. And I’m sure that looking down from heaven old Mamie Julep was also smiling broadly. I know I was. Of all the fishing trips and adventures I’ve endured and enjoyed over the years, out of all of them, this one, this one where upon I landed merely a small 14″ brown trout, and two even smaller 10″ brook trout and alas catching no lunkers, this trip to Craigie Clair meeting the boy Jessie and giving to him ‘The Old Bamboo’, my prized bamboo fishing pole, ranks in my book as a tie for my all time favorite outing. The other one, the one it tied….my trip to Harper’s Ferry on the Potomac. The one when I met that most generous old Mamie Julep. And so faithful readers that’s my story of ‘The Old Bamboo’.
(A fictional story written on September 12th, 2015 by John Patrick Seekamp of a made up 1920’s fishing columnist and his weekly column syndicated to most Sunday newspapers in the U.S. and other parts of the world!)