Herald Outdoors Columnist
The tacklebox was nothing special. Neither were the lures inside it. Nor was it old; just your average plastic, mid-size Plano hip-roof model, one that opens outward in opposite directions revealing two sets of shelves and compartments.
That smacks a little strange where I'm concerned. Garage-sale tackleboxes that normally catch my eye are those of a bygone era, receptacles that might by chance contain a pricey antique plug or two, something with which to turn a profit. No conversation pieces in this one. Nothing a collector might want.
"It was Daddy's," the lady said. "He died last year. You can have the box and whatever's in it for ten."
"Give you eight," I said.
"Let him have it," said an older woman in a lawn chair beneath a pecan tree. She looked bored.
I handed over the correct change, a five and three ones.
"Thanks," I said.
There was no further acknowledgement of the transaction by either woman. Mother sipped her coke and fanned as daughter turned silently away, shuffling the bills in her hand.
Back home, it struck me how organized an angler "Daddy" must have been. Every lure in every compartment on every shelf was neatly nestled ("filed" might be a better word) in its place. The cavernous base was clean, devoid of debris and clutter. Admirable, I suppose. A little sad, too. The man probably never experienced the adventure of untangling an unearthly snarl of rusty treble hooks and old fishing line or felt the euphoria brought on by the discovery of half a pouch of Red Man thrown in three weeks ago and forgotten. A little on the dry side, but nonetheless chewable.
Ah, well. Lack of "character" notwithstanding, it's a good box. Good lure selection, too; Rat-L-Traps, Rapala crankbaits, a couple of Johnson Silver Minnows, a Devil's Horse or two. Nice stuff. Not used too much. Seems my benefactor didn't get to go fishing as often as he wanted.
Or is there another side to the coin? Could it be this box is in such good shape and these lures so pristine because the man somehow didn't find fishing to his liking? I've seen it happen many times. A person, usually middle aged or older, goes looking for a pastime, thinks he finds it, then discovers it just isn't his cup of tea. Enthusiasm wanes and all the excitedly purchased trappings are relegated, only slightly used, to the attic or utility-room shelf.
Until death do they part, one eulogized and buried, the other bartered and sold.
"Let him have it."
Thinking back on it, Mama did sound right detached about the whole thing.
Enter the writer, the storyteller.
Careful now, y'all. He'll break your hearts. He'll have you crying in your coffee or your beer in nothing flat. He'll take that first possibility and embellish the pure hell out of it. He'll have you believing "Daddy" was your own dead grandpa, a gentle, earthy, pipe-puffing soul who purchased the Plano tacklebox he'd long had his eye on, stocked it lovingly with his favorite lures and carried it fishing but once before passing into the Great Lake Beyond where all good old fishermen go. He'll decry the lack of feeling, the absolute injustice of a wife and daughter who so willingly and unemotionally parted with this heirloom, a family treasure lost forever to Mammon for the sum of eight drastically inflated dollars. His fingers will rapidly course the keyboard and his story shall fly through the air at the speed of light, first to newsroom computer screens, then to paper, then to readers' eyes. He shall read your plaudits in his email inbox and graciously respond to your worshipful praise. You will liken him to Ruark, Buckingham, Rutledge, all the great outdoor writers of the ages.
But not just now. Not yet.
Right now I'm leaning toward possibility #2 as I run this Devil's Horse of "Daddy's" by that stump over there.
Man, oh man! That dude sure left behind a passel of fine lures.
Did I tell y'all I got the whole kit and caboodle for just eight bucks?
Comments? Questions? E-mail Herald Outdoors Columnist Bob Kornegay