There used to be two things you could count on during the summer when I was growing up, well, at least once we had cable television installed. Yes, I am of the generation where I can remember getting our first phone, still having black and white television sets, getting cable, getting the first computer in school, and only knowing a few people who had ‘car phones’ because the service was only available in Raleigh.
But enough about my age, and back to the two things you could count on during the summer. My step grandmother, affectionately called ‘Ma’, would always be watching the Atlanta Braves on TBS and she would always go fishing down by the pond.
The pond was a special place for us growing up. We had two rules at the pond. The first was you could only keep a fish if you were going to eat it or mount it. The second rule was there was never, ever any fishing on Sunday at the pond.
My friends and I regularly held bass tournaments there. The fishing was easy, the fish were big, and we learned the patterns the fish would fall for each year. Some days I would go fishing three times with three different sets of friends depending on who had to go back home and when. I was already home, so the pond and I would get to spend the entire day together.
I caught my first fish in the pond. A very unlucky bream that happened to get hooked by a big plastic hook on a play rod and reel set that was either purchased at Rose’s, Cook’s, King’s or Nichol’s. I can’t remember for sure which one it was, but I do know if it had to do with fishing or Star Wars figurines, they were the places to go.
We had the regular group come over on the bikes. Bobby, Scott, Mark, Mike, Pat, Brent, Vince, Johnny, yes, we would all fish the pond. The fish would always bite. The fish were big. The fish would always return for another catch another day. It is how we grew up.
A simple, little pond meant so much to so many and the lessons learned there would carry on to our kids. We all have grown up and gone our separate ways, but whenever we see each other it is as if we had just been together the day before. Some of us are no longer here, as time unfortunately is limited for our lives. But the memories carry on.
Yes, a simple little pond was at the source of those friendships. It wasn’t necessarily the reason we had those friendships, but it was as much a part of the memories of those friendships as baseball, scouts, and school.
We went to the reservoirs and lakes and rivers as we grew older. The fishing was never quite the same. The fishing was harder, the fish were not quite as big, and the two rules didn’t exist there. We didn’t all fish together. Our lives changed. The memories are still important but do not consist of the same fondness as that pond did.
Perhaps that is why the introduction to a show such as Andy Griffith portrayed Andy and Opie walking alongside the old fishing pond. The pond possesses a different feeling.
I ran into one of my old neighborhood friends the other night. We talked about baseball and fishing. We reminisced about the good old days.
You know, Ma, Elsie as I called her when I was older, probably had life figured out. During the summer it is hard to beat a day fishing at the pond and watching baseball.