33 Artie Goes Fishing

Artie Goes Fishing with Bill 

Art was feeding the turkeys, which meant he was nearly done with his chores. He needed to take the milk cans to the milk room and maybe help Virginia if she was ready to process the milk. 

Then through the turkey shed window a movement in the yard caught his attention.

Art caught just a glimpse of Bill Richards entering the yard.  Bill was 17, a rugged, good looking farm boy.  His parents owned the farm about a quarter of a mile up the hill.  The farm consisted of more than 200 acres some of which butted the Alan property.  

Bill was an infrequent visitor as he had his own chores to do.  The Alan children were younger than him.  Virginia was the closest to his age at 14 almost 15.

His usual purpose in visiting was to borrow something his father needed, or return the last item borrowed. His father, Reggie, was a deacon in the Methodist Church. Artie had heard his father say in conversation that, “Reggie Richards met the qualifications.”  Artie did not know what that meant, but could tell it was a good thing from the way his father had said it.

Reggie and his wife Elizabeth had 4 children, including Bill.  Nancy was a year younger than Bill.  Edith was 3 years older than Bill, and had cared for the Alan children at times when Linda’s war work required her to stay at the boot plant over time.  Nowadays Edith was away at university most of the time. The oldest boy, Reggie Junior, was 4 years older than Bill.  Reggie Junior was married and helped with the Boy Scouts. 

Bill had come today to see if Artie wanted to go fishing with him.  Bill went to the house and knocked on the door.  Linda responded, “Come in.”

Bill cracked the door enough to get just his head in.  Bill greeted Linda, “Hi Mrs. Alan, I’m going fishing at Roseanne Brook and was wondering if Art wanted to go with me.”

Linda replied, “Hello Billy, how is your mom?”  “She is fine now, thank you.”  Linda asked, (referring to the fishing) “How long do you think you will be gone?”  Bill replied, “About three hours including the walk down and back.  I have to be back to milk tonight.” 

Linda said, “Thank you, Billy for asking me first.  Artie should be almost done with his chores and when he finishes, and if he wants to, he may go.”

Bill thanked Linda and pulled his head back out of doors, closing the door quietly as he turned toward the barn.   Bill walked by the entrance to the barn and went to where he had left his fishing gear.  His plan was not to let Artie know where he was going if Artie was not allowed to go.  

That issue settled, Billy retrieved his fishing pole and was ready to ask Artie if he wanted to go.

Virginia had been in the separator room to process the morning milking.  Not finding any milk she went to the barn to check on Artie.

Artie was now finished his chores until evening, but was checking behind himself making sure that he had not forgotten anything.

Virginia and Art met just outside the “tie up” in the 20 foot wide corridor that ran the 65 foot length of the barn. Virginia teased him a bit with, “I came to see if you fell into the manure spreader.” (The spreader was parked under the floor of the cow stalls.  Trap doors in the floor allowed the manure to be dropped from the “tie up” directly into the spreader.)

Each picked up a can of milk and headed for the milk room. 

Art planned to help Virginia crank the separator. Art could not do it by himself.  He was not tall enough or strong enough.  He also knew that it was hard for Virginia to operate the separator by herself.  The hand crank was long enough to allow two people to operate it.

Bill was about to step in the entry way. He was coming from the sunlit yard.  Virginia and Artie were moving from the relative darkness of the barn to the brighter entry way.

All three of them were blinded for a moment by the change of light, and collided. Virginia’s reaction was to protect the milk.  

Art stumbled around a bit, but kept his footing and the milk was safe.

Bill knew even before his eyes completely adjusted that he had bumped into a girl. The event had ignited some strange expectations and he was surprised to discover that it was Virginia with whom he had collided.

Virginia on the other hand was quite sure that it was Bill with whom she had collided.

Bill sputtered, “I’m sorry, I, I didn’t know I was here, I mean I didn’t know it was you.  I mean I didn’t know you were here.  Are you all right?”  Art thought, “He must have hit his head.”

Virginia responded rather sharply, “I guess you better watch where you’re going Billy Richards.”  Billy took the milk can from Virginia and as he did, he said, “I told you I’m sorry. It was just an accident. I could not see you.  I came to get Art, to go fishing with me.”  

On hearing that Art opened his mouth to say something, but did not get the chance before Virginia retorted, “You’ll have to ask my mother and she will not put her youngest child at risk by letting him get close to water with you.”

Bill responded somewhat triumphantly, “She already has.”

Virginia’s mouth was open but nothing was coming out.

Bill knew that the chores must be done first. He calmly took hold of one handle of the milk can that Art was carrying.  This left Virginia empty handed and Artie nearly so for Bill was taking all the weight of both cans. Virginia moved up the passageway ahead of them and opened the door to the milk room for Bill. Stepping into the room Bill put the milk cans on the table, then assembled the separator and poured in the raw milk.

After putting a large pitcher under one spout and the milk can under another he started turning the crank. In a few seconds cream was coming from the one spout and milk from the other.

Bill started using both hands and the centrifugal drums of the separator made a higher pitched sound as Bill turned the crank faster.  Artie was amazed and wondered, “Will I ever be that strong?”

In less than 20 minutes the milk was processed and in the cooler.

Bill said, “Come on Art get your gear.  We need to get to Roseanne Brook. The trout are biting.”

Artie was off like a shot to collect his gear.  Bill turned to Virginia, who spoke first in a near whisper, “I’m sorry too.”  Bill confused said, “OK?.

Bill turned to follow Artie, then turned back in Virginia’s direction and saw her following him with her eyes. Then with a warm smile she said, “Thank You. See you again soon.”  Her smile vanished as she thought, “That is a stupid thing to say.  This is Billy Richards, not Clark Gable.”

Bill took a step, but missed the door way.  He ricocheted off the door frame and stumbled out of the shed.  He kept walking and did not look back.

Virginia mused and a subtle smile appeared on her face. She was enjoying the feeling of somehow being empowered.

Bill and Art met in the barn yard and Bill strode off in the direction of the lake. It was all down hill to the lake.  The tree line at the base of the long gradual slope canceled the railroad tracks that bordered the lake.  (Maranacook Lake, one of the 2000 or so, lakes in Maine)  It is about 7 miles long and a mile wide at the widest point and thought to be, at the time, 150 feet deep at the deepest point.  As they walked, Winthrop village could be seen on their right nestled on the South east shore of the lake.  Directly across the lake on the long slope rising from the lake parts of a road could be seen as it skirted the far shore.  A few moored boats bobbing in the sunlight could be seen.

Bill mentioned to Artie about his new shoes. Art looked down at Bill’s feet. Bill recited the virtues of his new BASS moccasins.   Bill was quite proud of them and mentioned, not incidentally, that he had bought them with his own money.

They headed in as straight a line as possible for the brook which was about a mile away.

They crossed corn field, hay fields, meadows, and finally reached the woods.

As they entered the strip of hardwood trees that bordered the railroad right of way, the shade closed around them and a blue jay announced their presence.  They walked with a cacophony of late summer smells swimming about them. The woodsy perfume changed subtly with every few steps as their movements changed the alchemy of the air they breathed.  The crunch and rustle of twigs and old leaves under foot had replaced the muffled thud of walking in the field.  

Art could see the sun reflecting back from the lake as it flickered through the trees.  Almost at the same moment he could see 5th cove and then the snapping turtles sunning themselves there.

They continued past the cove, then climbed the railroad bed, crossed the tracks, and down the other side to where the brook passed under the railroad right of way.  

Bill worked down the edge of the brook with some difficulty.  Moving from rock to rock, the under growth catching on his clothes.  

Art was stymied with his fishing pole snarled in the bushes. Bill saw his problem and laid his pole down came to rescue Art.  Bill, carrying Art’s pole, worked his way back to his own pole.  He took both poles in one hand and looked for a place from which they could fish.

Art was catching up, as Bill made a little hop to a rock that was just out of stepping distance. His foot slipped on the rock.  In an instant Bill was knee deep in Roseanne Brook, his new shoes getting initiated into service. Art wanted to laugh but thought better of it and waited to see what would happen next.

Bill did not say a word, nor try to get out of the water. He just turned in Art’s direction and instructed him to walk to where Bill was standing. Bill carried Art to a good spot from which to fish. Bill also found a spot to stand that allowed him to float a fly down stream.

Bill was feeling a little down hearted because he thought he had probably scared the trout out of biting.

Meanwhile Artie had tied a fly to his line and then with a flicking motion, dropped the fly behind a large rock just down stream.  He payed out the line slowly, watching intently for the fly to drift into sight.  No sooner was Art able to see the fly than he saw a grayish shadow beneath it and a small splash as a trout broke the surface.