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The Three Fishermen

 

††††††††††† There were three of them. There were four of us, and April lay on the campsite and on the river, a mixture of dawn at a damp extreme and the sun in the leaves at cajole. This was Deer Lodge on the Pine River in Ossipee, New Hampshire, though the lodge was naught but a foundation remnant in the earth. Brother Bentley's father, Oren, had found this place sometime after the First World War, a foreign affair that had seriously done him no good but he found solitude abounding here. Now we were here, post World War II, post Korean War, Vietnam War on the brink. So much learned so much yet to learn.
     Peace then was everywhere about us, in the riot of young leaves, in the spree of bird confusion and chatter, in the struggle of pre-dawn animals for the start of a new day, a Cooper Hawk that had smashed down through trees for a squealing rabbit, yap of a fox at a youngster, a skunk at rooting.
     We had pitched camp in the near darkness, Ed LeBlanc, Brother Bentley, Walter Ruszkowski, myself. A dozen or more years we had been here, and seen no one. Now, into our campsite deep in the forest, so deep that at times we had to rebuild sections of narrow road (more a logger's path) flushed out by earlier rains, deep enough where we thought we'd again have no traffic, came a growling engine, an old solid body van, a Chevy, the kind I had driven for Frankie Pike and the Lobster Pound in Lynn delivering lobsters throughout the Merrimack Valley. It had pre-WW II high fenders, a faded black paint on a body you'd swear had been hammered out of corrugated steel, and an engine that made sounds too angry and too early for the start of day. Two elderly men, we supposed in their seventies, sat the front seat; felt hats at the slouch and decorated with an assortment of tied flies like a miniature bandoleer of ammunition on the band. They could have been conscripts for Emilano Zappata, so loaded their hats and their vests as they climbed out of the truck.
     "Mornin', been yet?" one of them said as he pulled his boots up from the folds at his knees, the tops of them as wide as a big mouth bass coming up from the bottom for a frog sitting on a lily pad. His hands were large, the fingers long and I could picture them in a shop barn working a primal plane across the face of a maple board. Custom-made, old elegance, those hands said.

< 2 >

     "Barely had coffee," Ed LeBlanc said, the most vocal of the four of us, quickest at friendship, at shaking hands. "We've got a whole pot almost. Have what you want." The pot was pointed out sitting on a hunk of grill across the stones of our fire, flames licking lightly at its sides. The pot appeared as if it had been at war, a number of dents scarred it, the handle had evidently been replaced, and if not adjusted against a small rock it would have fallen over for sure. Once, a half-hour on the road heading north, noting it missing, we'd gone back to get it. When we fished the Pine River, coffee was the glue, the morning glue, the late evening glue, even though we'd often unearth our beer from a natural cooler in early evening. Coffee, camp coffee, has a ritual. It is thick, it is dark, it is potboiled over a squaw-pine fire, it is strong, it is enough to wake the demon in you, stoke last evening's cheese and pepperoni. First man up makes the fire, second man the coffee; but into that pot has to go fresh eggshells to hold the grounds down, give coffee a taste of history, a sense of place. That means at least one egg be cracked open for its shells, usually in the shadows and glimmers of false dawn. I suspect that's where "scrambled eggs" originated, from some camp like ours, settlers rushing west, lumberjacks hungry, hoboes lobbying for breakfast. So, camp coffee has made its way into poems, gatherings, memories, a time and thing not letting go, not being manhandled, not being cast aside.
     "You're early enough for eggs and bacon if you need a start." Eddie added, his invitation tossed kindly into the morning air, his smile a match for morning sun, a man of welcomes. "We have hot cakes, kulbassa, home fries, if you want." We have the food of kings if you really want to know. There were nights we sat at his kitchen table at 101 Main Street, Saugus, Massachusetts planning the trip, planning each meal, planning the campsite. Some menus were founded on a case of beer, a late night, a curse or two on the ride to work when day started.
     "Been there a'ready," the other man said, his weaponry also noted by us, a little more orderly in its presentation, including an old Boy Scout sash across his chest, the galaxy of flies in supreme positioning. They were old Yankees, in the face and frame the pair of them undoubtedly brothers, staunch, written into early routines, probably had been up at three o'clock to get here at this hour. They were taller than we were, no fat on their frames, wide-shouldered, big-handed, barely coming out of their reserve, but fishermen. That fact alone would win any of us over. Obviously, they'd been around, a heft of time already accrued.

< 3 >

     Then the pounding came, from inside the truck, as if a tire iron was beating at the sides of the vehicle. It was not a timid banging, not a minor signal. Bang! Bang! it came, and Bang! again. And the voice of authority from some place in space, some regal spot in the universe. "I'm not sitting here the livelong day whilst you boys gab away." A toothless meshing came in his words, like Walter Brennan at work in the jail in Rio Bravo or some such movie.
     "Comin', pa," one of them said, the most orderly one, the one with the old scout sash riding him like a bandoleer.
     They pulled open the back doors of the van, swung them wide, to show His Venerable Self, ageless, white-bearded, felt hat too loaded with an arsenal of flies, sitting on a white wicker rocker with a rope holding him to a piece of vertical angle iron, the crude kind that could have been on early subways or trolley cars. Across his lap he held three delicate fly rods, old as him, thin, bamboo in color, probably too slight for a lake's three-pounder. But on the Pine River, upstream or downstream, under alders choking some parts of the river's flow, at a significant pool where side streams merge and phantom trout hang out their eternal promise, most elegant, fingertip elegant.
     "Oh, boy," Eddie said at an aside, "there's the boss man, and look at those tools." Admiration leaked from his voice.
     Rods were taken from the caring hands, the rope untied, and His Venerable Self, white wicker rocker and all, was lifted from the truck and set by our campfire. I was willing to bet that my sister Pat, the dealer in antiques, would scoop up that rocker if given the slightest chance. The old one looked about the campsite, noted clothes drying from a previous day's rain, order of equipment and supplies aligned the way we always kept them, the canvas of our tent taut and true in its expanse, our fishing rods off the ground and placed atop the flyleaf so as not to tempt raccoons with smelly cork handles, no garbage in sight. He nodded.
     We had passed muster.
     "You the ones leave it cleaner than you find it ever' year. We knowed sunthin' 'bout you. Never disturbed you afore. But we share the good spots." He looked closely at Brother Bentley, nodded a kind of recognition. "Your daddy ever fish here, son?"

< 4 >

     Brother must have passed through the years in a hurry, remembering his father bringing him here as a boy. "A ways back," Brother said in his clipped North Saugus fashion, outlander, specific, no waste in his words. Old Oren Bentley, it had been told us, had walked five miles through the unknown woods off Route 16 as a boy and had come across the campsite, the remnants of an old lodge, and a great curve in the Pine River so that a mile's walk in either direction gave you three miles of stream to fish, upstream or downstream. Paradise up north.
     His Venerable Self nodded again, a man of signals, then said, "Knowed him way back some. Met him at the Iron Bridge. We passed a few times." Instantly we could see the story. A whole history of encounter was in his words; it marched right through us the way knowledge does, as well as legend. He pointed at the coffeepot. "The boys'll be off, but my days down there get cut up some. I'll sit a while and take some of thet." He said thet too pronounced, too dramatic, and it was a short time before I knew why.
     The white wicker rocker went into a slow and deliberate motion, his head nodded again. He spoke to his sons. "You boys be back no more'n two-three hours so these fellers can do their things too, and keep the place tidied up."
     The most orderly son said, "Sure, pa. Two-three hours." The two elderly sons left the campsite and walked down the path to the banks of the Pine River, their boots swishing at thigh line, the most elegant rods pointing the way through scattered limbs, experience on the move. Trout beware, we thought.
     "We been carpenters f'ever," he said, the clip still in his words. "Those boys a mine been some good at it too." His head cocked, he seemed to listen for their departure, the leaves and branches quiet, the murmur of the stream a tinkling idyllic music rising up the banking. Old Venerable Himself moved the wicker rocker forward and back, a small timing taking place. He was hearing things we had not heard yet, the whole symphony all around us. Eddie looked at me and nodded his own nod. It said, "I'm paying attention and I know you are. This is our one encounter with a man who has fished for years the river we love, that we come to twice a year, in May with the mayflies, in June with the black flies." The gift and the scourge, we'd often remember, having been both scarred and sewn by it.

< 5 >

     Brother was still at memory, we could tell. Silence we thought was heavy about us, but there was so much going on. A bird talked to us from a high limb. A fox called to her young. We were on the Pine River once again, nearly a hundred miles from home, in Paradise.
     "Name's Roger Treadwell. Boys are Nathan and Truett." The introductions had been accounted for.
     Old Venerable Roger Treadwell, carpenter, fly fisherman, rocker, leaned forward and said, "You boys wouldn't have a couple spare beers, would ya?"
     Now that's the way to start the day on the Pine River

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††† Tom Sheehan

 

Mexican Cultures and Traditions 

††††††††††† The Mexican culture has a lot of nice traditions. We have a lot of holidays, and we celebrate most of them. Mexican kids play a lot of Mexican games that their parents played when they were kids. In our culture most of the people tell a lot of tales about witches, and some of them are real stories. In Mexico there are many herbal remedies that we use like medicines. 

Celebrating holidays in Mexico is part of the rich tradition and culture there. At Christmas time, unlike Lent, we celebrate posadas. Also we celebrate the birth of Christ. In our culture we used to sing a song called "Las Mananitas" to the Virgin Mary. It is a song that we use to greet people and to give respect to the Virgin Mary. Nativity scenes are very common in my culture. 

We have big parties that are part of our culture and traditions. At these parties we make punch that's kind of hot and spicy. We eat foods like nopalitos, a prickly pear, and capirotada. In Mexico we play a lot of different games than we play here. One of them is la roa. This game is a very common entertainment like a game of tag. Another game that we play is called bote quemado . It is like kick-the-can, and another game that we play, policias y rateros, is a game similar to cowboys and Indians, or cops and robbers. Another kind of game is called matatena, and we play this inside on the table or on the floor. We use a little ball and some little things like crosses, but if someone doesn't have the crosses, they can use stones to play the matatena. 

In our culture we usually learn tales from kindergarten. When I was in kindergarten I remember that the teachers told us a lot of tales to entertain us and to learn more things, to educate kids. There are a lot of tales that I knew, but they had a lot of bad words, and were dirty and are for older people. When I was in Mexico I learned a lot of tales, and some of them are scary, but I like them. In our culture there are a lot of ghost stories. Another story from Mexico, unlike tales for kids, is called "La Llorona," and it is a very old, scary, and popular story. There are many books of all kinds of stories, but people make a lot of ghost stories to make the papers more interesting for books, so people buy more. Some people believe in witches and tell stories about them. In our culture there are witches that take your money like doctors and they do not do anything for you. Some people say that witches bite on your flesh because sometimes when you get up in the morning, and you look at your body you have something that looks like hickies and sometimes that happened to me. 

We use a lot of remedies in Mexico to cure people that doctors don't cure. Unlike prescriptions, many home remedies that people use to cure sickness are made at home. Some remedies that we use to cure people are not used by doctors. These remedies are a part of our culture and traditions. Using remedies to cure people is another way of curing yourself without having to go to the doctor. The use of remedies is more common in older folks. The young people tend to believe more in science than in old customs and traditions which include the use of remedies. Some of the things that are used to cure people can be used by people who are involved in doing witchcraft. Some people believe that this curandero can remove a jinx by using these remedies. 

We celebrate every holiday every year in Mexico. To have fun we play a lot of different games. Our culture is full of many tales that make my culture more interesting. Some people in Mexico believe in witches and tell stories about them. Sometimes Mexican people don't go to the doctor and use home remedies. These are some of the traditions that make Mexico a unique place. 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Edna Hernandez

LOOKING FOR AMERICA

 

I am not sure how long I was in the Rose Keller Home Orphanage in Lakeland, Florida.

Several police officers came to my Granny and Grandpa's house, and took me away to the orphanage. I overheard them telling the matron that I had been taken away because my Granny had been beating me almost on a daily basis.

The schoolteachers across the street at the Dixieland school had told the police that they were afraid that my grandma might beat me to death.

The next day, one of the matrons at the orphanage took me to see a "special doctor" because I had not been able to speak for almost a month. No matter how hard I tried, no words would come out of my mouth. I couldn
ít even make any sounds.

When we returned to the orphanage after the trip to the doctorís office, one of the women who worked at the home, started yelling at me for no reason.

I was sitting on the top step of the stairs, just like I did every day, all day long, just minding my own business. She told me that I was going on a trip to see America. Still I refused to move. All at once, she grabbed me by the legs and started pulling me down the stairs. My head bounced on every step, as she drug me to the floor below. I was taken outside, placed into the passenger seat of a waiting car, and off we drove.

We rode for what seemed to be forever. She smiled at me, nodded, and told me that, "We are going to see America together."

We drove for a long, long time. Suddenly she looked over at me and asked if I liked to eat fruit. All of a sudden she pulled off the road, and turned into a small fruit stand. When she got out of the car, she instructed me to wait and to not touch anything.

I looked over at the wooden stand and saw little American flags all lined up in a bucket. I climbed out of the car and picked up one of the pretty flags, waving it around, from side to side, and over the top of my head.

"I'm going to see America," I told everyone who would happen to walk by.

This old man took the flag from my hand and placed it back into the bucket. Then he picked up a large American flag, almost as big as I was, and asked the woman how much it cost. She smiled and told him the price. He reached into his pocket, took out his wallet, and paid for it. Then he handed me the Flag.

"Welcome to America little boy, this is a wonderful, wonderful country," he stated.

The woman and I returned to the car and continued our drive to see America. Again, we drove for hours. Finally, she slowed down and we turned into a set of big white, wooden gates. There were many great big high metal fences around the entire place. All at once, she stopped in front of a big, white, brick building.

This strange looking man and a heavyset woman came walking up to the car. The man yelled at me, "Don't just sit there. Get your little ass out of that car!"

As I got out, the man immediately snatched the American Flag from my hand and threw it onto the ground. I ran over as fast as I could and picked it up. I began shaking the dirt off my flag.

I told him, in a very stern voice, "The American Flag was never supposed to touch the ground, and now I would have to burn it like the rule says."

Once again he snatched the flag from my hand, broke the staff in half, and threw it back onto the ground. I stood there staring at that men mean old face.

I guess I had finally found "wonderful, wonderful America." The America the man at the fruit stand had told me about. I guess our journey to find America was finally at its end.

Little did I know that even a great country, like the United States of America, had its own form of terrible concentration camps. Places like the Childrenís Home Society in Jacksonville, Florida. Special hidden little places that people called orphanages. Homes especially built for the little boys, and the little girls, that nobody else in the world wants.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Roger Dean Kiser