Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: Fishing from the Bank, a Texan’s Memories

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Sometimes I wax a little philosophical. It is not that I have any degree of intelligence or hoard some great reservoir of personal knowledge, but rather that I attempt to seek some types of guidance and direction toward life. Being somewhat weak and uninspiring, I struggle to recognize those talents that historically have made average men into the mold of greatness.

The older I become, the more reflective I aspire to be. In these moments of past awareness, I have journeyed back into the past and dwelled on individuals who may lack the veil of prominence, but nevertheless have impacted my life into a positive vein.

In my youth, Seymour, Texas was more than my home; it was an adventuresome walk through life. Although it was somewhat dusty and remote, it provided me with the comforts and identity that haunt the corridors of recognition for present generations. A vast assortment of people and personalities called Seymour home. People lived their lives that in appearance seemed mundane, but many had a greater depth of universal awareness and understanding about life than the inhabitants of some universal mecca of learning may have exhibited.

Caussey's Corner: Fishing from the Bank, a Texan's Memories

Photo: @maryamee via Twenty20

Saul Hays was one of the half dozen or so individuals who impacted my pre-teen years. Of all these characters, Sal was the most noteworthy. He taught me how to fish, and spit, while depositing on my young mind knowledge of the secrets of women. He drove an old white junker car that smelled of wet rubber boots and Stink Bait Charlie. During my life, I have had occasion to visit this measured storehouse of recollection, and applied this learning to my life—especially understanding the knowledge of fishing.

During the summer, Saul and I fished every day. We took his small boat to nearby Lake Kemp where we fished from just after dawn to late evening, unless we caught our limit sooner. It was during these long hours, sitting in the hot sun just off a jetty land point or at rest in a quiet cove, that Saul enriched my life with the philosophies of an older man who had traveled little, but fished a lot, and spent an inordinate amount of time in deep thought. We didn’t discuss politics, people, religion, geography, or current events, but we did belabor the topics of wind direction, location of schooling fish, differences in dough-bait, and why most women like to kiss. At the age of 10, that kissing stuff ranked just below mixing stink bait or the proper way to gut a carp for me.

For hours we would sit, eat, talk, sleep, and fish. Sometimes all at the same time! This was a wonderful environment for a young boy. Saul actually listened to me, although I had few verbal skills and was terribly lacking in any degree of sophistication or gratuitous intelligence. This later would improve, whether by benevolence or decree discovery. What was most impressing was that Saul had an answer for everything. He told me how the lake turned over in the spring, and what caused fish to spawn and where, and why summer was hotter than winter, and why girls smelled better than boys.

Caussey's Corner: Fishing from the Bank, a Texan's Memories

Photo: @jacquev925 via Twenty20

And on occasion, when I was able to muster a question slightly better than one from an orphan gnome, Saul gave his foolproof answer, “That’s the way God wanted it.” I was always impressed with myself because I fished with a guy who was on such a personal relationship with God that he knew what the Almighty wanted or didn’t want. Two good questions from me always brought out his expressions from the Omnipotent. Where do babies come from, what is sex, and why are girls so soft were three question that brought expressions of frustration, and a deep forehead frown under his short-brimmed straw hat. Although he did attempt that soft girl explanation momentarily, he ended up yelling at me to quit moving around in the boat.

Late one hot August afternoon, as we sat in the boat eating summer sausage, onion, cheese and crackers, Saul looked at me seriously and said, “Son, I have met this lady and we are going to start keeping company.” Now I didn’t fully understand what that keeping company meant, but felt it wasn’t a good omen for me, because Saul kept looking beyond me toward some loons playing near the shoreline.

As the water gently nudged the side of the boat, and early evening gulls horse-played in the aquatic daylight, I cried the tears of a child. My best friend had found him a girl. She was probably soft, smelled good, and knew about sex were the only reasons I could think of why he didn’t want to spend time with me.

Several weeks later, I saw Saul and his girlfriend at the bait house. They were driving a big blue pickup, pulling a brand new bass boat. Saul mumbled a soft hello, paid for his minnows, and got behind the wheel of the truck. His lady friend sat right over next to him. As they drove by me, Saul winked. From the truck dangled a sliver of light reflecting from the new minnow bucket. I smiled the smile of childish understanding. Saul didn’t trade me off for something that smelled better, felt soft, or had sexual expression. He traded me off because she had better fishing equipment. Guess I’ll go back to fishing from the bank.

Durhl Caussey is a syndicated columnist who writes for papers across America. He may be reached at this outlet or [email protected]