What’s Around the Corner
When my Dad was in his 80’s, I'd go and visit him and Mom in western Washington. During my stay with them Dad and I would take short trips to places we had been before. Usually, as we started a journey we'd sing an old song from the Depression years. Like this:
"Just around the corner.
There's a rainbow in the sky.
So, let's have another cup of coffee
And let's have another piece of pie."
Before we left on our excursions, he'd ask Mom: “Clara? Would you make some sandwiches for Donnie and me and don't forget a surprise." With a box full of food and a big jug of coffee, we were set for the day. "Where to?” I asked. Dad pointed off toward Old Seattle and the Garfield District where all the Germans used to live. The traffic thinned as we drove into his old neighborhood. "The high school is at least 4 times bigger than when I went here." We both noticed lots of black people out and around and Dad said: "The place looks a lot neater and cleaner than when I was a kid.
Did I ever tell you I was a whizz on the basketball team. Of course, now, you got to be 7 feet tall to be any good. That building over there used to be a livery stable. The guy that owned it converted it into an auto repair garage and learned mechanics as he went along. Let's go down to the piers” We crested the hills above Elliot Bay and the berths where ships of all sizes were tied up. Dad sang an old song as we drove down to First Avenue which followed the water's edge.
"We went bowling
Down by the rolling
Down by the rolling sea .
We put three shots
In their lobster pots
So they won't bother me…”
He commented that he had spent a lot of time down around the ships back in the twenties. He even thought about going to sea. Just a thought.
First avenue took us to my old fishing hole. There was a young black man just pulling up a crab net. We parked and watched as he gingerly put the crab in his bucket. "Man that's sure some big crab you got there." I said. "I used to fish up and down this place back in the 50’s.” I filled him in on the best bait to use. What your retrieving speed should be like. The best tide to catch the most fish. The fish that hung out there were: Rock fish, Sable fish, Perch, Flounder and a shark on occasion.
The guys name was Joe Nelson and he lived up where Dad had spent part of his childhood. He was a nice guy and we shared our tuna fish sandwiches with him and we all had a cup of coffee and a piece of apple pie that was the surprise.
Later as we pulled out to go home Dad yelled out the window: “See ya round Joe. Don't catch all the fish!” Joe yelled back: “You got it, man!”
Some time later we took another trip way over to Tacoma. We parked at the boat rental dock. I got some herring for bait and we walked out on the promenade that went over a mile along the bay. Beautiful blue green water. As we walked along Dad was kinda slow and he told me to go ahead and get to fishin'.
As I hurried along once in awhile I'd look back and Dad was using a folding chair as a cane and he'd stop and look around and wave me on. I got to the best fishing area and scurried down some steps out onto the gravelly shore. The tide was out at least 200 feet. I rigged up my fishing pole and cast away out where the tide was running and then leaned the pole against my chair and waited for a bite. In a few minutes, Dad set his chair next to mine and we waited. Dad talked about his aunt Bertha who had lived across the Narrows in Gig Harbor. He used to visit her and drop me and assorted friends off to fish the day away right here at Point Defiance.
The day was as lovely and warm as the Puget Sound area can be and a few people wandered over from the walkway and Dad would strike up a conversation with them or tell a joke. At some point while he was laughing, we heard a voice calling: ”Hey you guys. How's the fish?"
We looked up and recognized Joe, the crab fisherman, crunching across the beach toward us. He told us that a couple of days after he met us he went fishing at his crabbing spot and he caught some sable fish and something bit through his line so he was going to get some wire leaders and get whatever it was. Just then I got a bite. Just a Tap Tap. I let the line go a little bit slack. Then the line tightened up again. I set the hook. After a good fight, I slid a good sized flounder up on to the shore.
Joe admired the fish but he had to meet his girlfriend at the boathouse: “See you guys some other time and thanks for the fishing tips." With that he was off to see his darlin’. The evening came down so we packed up our stuff and went home. Mom had dinner ready for us fried chicken, apple pie and coffee.
The rainbow was on up ahead somewhere.