Tears and Laughter: My people like to fish

I met Colleen in Thomaston. I can’t remember her last name. I’m not good with names. Colleen has an antique shop across the street diagonally from the farm store that had brought me to town. There are no blaring signs. You won’t really know either are there if you don’t already know they are there. It is like stepping back in time. The building Moseley’s Feed Store is in was built in 1905, so while the truck was being loaded I started taking pictures. I was fascinated by this town still there, but not as it used to be.

I had crossed the street to get a better angle when I saw her watching me through the window of her shop. I am pretty sure she thought I was crazy.

I had not noticed her store was open, but she welcomed me in and immediately asked my favorite color of Depression glass. Every gravy boat that ever sailed through Thomaston seemed to have ended up in Colleen’s shop.

I bought a bowl that reminded me of one I had seen one year on Aunt Liddie’s table at Christmas when I was a kid. I guess that is what draws us into antique shops. These things we can hold in our hands and look at that make us feel connected to our old family.

My people were just people. They were country and poor, but happy I like to think. Content. They worked making an honest living all week and on the weekends they fished. They were good at it and this knack and appreciation did not skip my father.

Growing up I can’t remember when I learned how to fish. I can’t remember not. So I guess it was no huge surprise for me to grow up and marry a man that was into catfish farming. Catfish evolved to cows over time. Fences and gates went up and nobody fishes anymore except for a handful of people, including a retired man whose name I can’t remember.

I am certain he told us years ago. I just never asked him to repeat it.

He would come alone, this old guy from Mobile. He told us he would also fish at the Causeway, that he always had, and that was enough to remind me of my family. My daddy, who grew up in Mobile, my granddaddy, and uncles…they fished along the Causeway too.

He would stop by every year when he would come to his camp house in Coy. He would hunt there, but fish here. Over the years is trips became less frequent. Time took his hearing first, then his vision failed to the point he was required to acquire a fulltime driver.

Each time we would see him, we worried it could be the last.

But this past week, a familiar white Tacoma pickup pulled up to the gate. A stroke has taken his voice now and he seemed smaller, perched there in the passenger seat. He is in his 90’s now, but he spoke with his eyes. They were bright and excited.

I was happy to see him and explained to his driver how long he had been fishing here and about how he used to fish at the Causeway too, like my people.

I told him he had always been one of our favorite fishermen. That he was one of a few people I would still even let through the gate.

Now the wait will begin again, to see if time allows him another return. And…I don’t even know his name.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.