Tuesday, 29 July 2008
By Norm Jenson of Mostly Anecdotal
Most summers during the nineteen fifties I boarded a bus in Salt Lake City, the leave the driving to us Greyhound type. I liked riding the bus. I met people I would never have met otherwise. They were not like my friends or my parents, or anyone I knew. I fancied I was traveling in a foreign country. The passengers certainly seemed foreign to me.
Some hours later I would arrive in Idaho Falls. There were no freeways then, and the trip from Salt Lake took six or seven hours; it now takes four or five.
My Mom’s parents, the Borrowmans, lived in Lincoln, a small town on the outskirts of Idaho Falls. I never worried about my Grandma being there to pick me up since I knew her phone number, Jackson 2-7717. Grandma arrived right on time, driving her new 1955 Ford Victoria.
I would spend a week visiting. I liked visiting. I especially liked being the only grandchild there. Usually we would travel to Island Park Reservoir. Island Park was not what you would normally think of as an island, but rather an island of lakes, woods, rivers meadows and mountains. It is twenty miles south of West Yellowstone. The fishing is great at Island Park. Grandpa and his friends liked to fish the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River or one the reservoirs or lakes in the area.
The summer of 1955 - it was my favorite at Island Park Reservoir. We left early in the morning. It was cold and still quite dark, it felt even colder as we glided over the surface of the reservoir at 15-20 miles per hour. I snuggled behind my Grandpa trying to stay warm. I was anxious for the sun to rise, and for the fishing to begin.
Grandpa had taught me how to put a worm on my number ten snelled hook. “If you’re going to fish you have to learn to bait your own hook,” he said. The others were using spinners, spoons, and other gadgets I didn’t even recognize in their attempt to catch a few of the many trout found there.
No one had any luck at the first spot we tried so we moved on. The sun was higher in the sky now and it was no longer cold. We slowed, killed the motor, and glided to a stop. The anchor was dropped over the side. I attached a worm to my hook and cast near the boat. A few moments later I caught the first fish of the day.
“Good going, little guy,” said one of Grandpa’s friends. “Looks like your Grandson is a real fisherman Lorus,” he said. A few minutes later I caught another fish, and another. I was really enjoying fishing and the praise of the expert anglers. Grandpa gave me a chain to put my fish on showing me how to put the hook through the mouth and out the gill and snap it closed. I was still the only one catching any fish.
Now two things happened. First I realized I needed to pee and at the same time, one of Grandpa’s buddies asked me what bait I was using. We were in the middle of a reservoir; I’d just have to hold on - no problem. I told Dale I was using a worm. He said, “Oh God not a worm, that’s not fishing. Use a spinner, a spoon, anything, but not a worm. I’d rather not catch a single fish than have to use a worm.”
Five minutes later I caught another fish and another of the purists said, “Hell, I want trout for dinner pass me one of those worms.” I caught my fifth while he was still baiting his hook. Grandpa laughed and said, “Pass the worms,” and started changing his gear to accommodate hook and worm.
The first fellow to switch caught a trout. That convinced the others to change but not the diehard. I still needed to pee. “How long are we going to fish,” I asked Grandpa.
“If we start catching them as fast as you are it won’t be long,” he said. “We’ll have our limits in no time.”
I really needed to go, but was too embarrassed to tell anyone. We would have to return to the dock. We would never find this great spot again. I could hold on for a little longer.
My sixth and seventh fish came as fast as I could cast and reel them in. The others had all switched to worms. Mister I-don’t-use-worms, said, “I don’t like it but Mable will never forgive me if I don’t come back with some dinner.”
Everyone was rapidly catching their limits, but there was no way I could wait, my pants were wet. I remember thinking, I hope they dry before we have to get out of the boat and everyone sees what I have done. Not five minutes after I had given up the fight with my bladder, one of the men said, “I need to pee.” He stood and peed over the side of the boat. I couldn’t believe it, all I had to do was stand and pee over the side of the boat.
I quickly caught my limit as did the others in our party with the exception of you know who. He did catch enough for dinner, but not his limit. Grandpa started the Evinrude and we cruised across the reservoir back to the dock and the car. I held my chain of fish in front of me as I got out of the boat. I don’t think anyone noticed.
When we returned to the cabin, Grandma came out of the cabin with her Brownie camera to take a picture of my string of fish, the fish I was still holding in front of me. Boy, was I proud of the fish and the embarrassment they were saving me.
Back in the cabin Grandma told me how proud she was of me, and suggested that perhaps I would like to change my clothes for dinner. Grandmas.
The picture is of all of the Borrowman grandchildren taken sometime in the fifties, in front of Grandma’s house, from left to right. Back row: Steve’s friend Gene Hennen, Steve, David, and Keith Front row: Norm, Wayne, Doug, Betty Jo, and Janna Lee. The little guy up front: Jerry.
[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]