Once upon a time, kids didn’t have cellphones, computers, satellite or cable.
Saturday mornings often found mothers busy cleaning the house and, if the kids were in range, they became targets for unexpected and unwanted chores. The smart and quick ones would run for the door in hopes of an escape to the countryside and parks.
It wasn’t too unusual to see dads leading the way, often followed by a scurrying canine intent on avoiding a bath. It was usually these two culprits that gave the kids the idea to vamoose in the first place.
My dad was one of those people that taught me to be that Saturday morning ne’er-do-well. He’d look at my brother and me and proclaim, “Boys, it’s time for a wild party,” and he’d head for the door. We’d take one look at mom, armed with bucket, broom or mop, and quickly follow.
We’d round up fishing rods, ball gloves, footballs, basketballs, BB guns and the occasional neighbor kid who had been outrun by his own dad. Pop would grab an old green Coleman cooler and we were ready to take over the world.
If there was time, we’d stop at one of the local small grocers, especially one with a well-stocked candy display, used comic books, shelves of Wise potato chips and enough Orange Crush, Canada Dry and Dad’s Root Beer to fill the cooler. Dad, showing a modicum of adult responsibility, would usually purchase hot dogs, trail bologna (pronounced “baloney”) and cheese so he could later claim that we’d been properly fed.
Sometimes we’d go to a bait shop where we’d buy nightcrawlers and redworms that would tempt silver-sided channel cats and bluegills. If we remembered the minnow bucket, shiners were added in hopes of luring a few crappies to the stringer.
If it happened to be a lucky winter, it was cold enough to have iced ponds and plenty of snow, courtesy of Mother Nature. “Ice sliding” (a skill developed by those of us without skates), sledding and snowball fights were the favorite games until we finally huddled around a campfire to unthaw fingers and toes. I’ve never had a better meal than those roasted hot dogs as they were gobbled from ketchup-stained mittens.
Other times, there would be the simple pronouncement: “Let’s go for a drive.” We would pack a picnic lunch or plan a pizza stop and he would pilot the car to whatever destination we chanced upon.
Some of those drives looked to become tedious, but the surprise arrivals were always great fun. Sometimes it was along a creek, a zoo or historical site, a park, a hunt for morels, my uncle’s country home on a Pennsylvania hillside, or an old cemetery where we’d hear about family history. Every one of those trips turned into its own adventure.
So there you have it: one kid’s view of what can be learned from a dad. It isn’t about money, the latest gadgets or toys, designer clothes or other “stuff.” It isn’t even about escaping chores. It’s about the value of a parent’s time and how to convince your kids to take advantage of the offer. It’s about how that time can change the future.
I know that value well because, for me, it ended unexpectedly 49 years ago today, the day after Father’s Day, during that long-ago June.
For me, those impromptu country drives, fishing forays and Saturday escapes are cherished memories.
Your kids are building theirs now, even if they don’t know it yet. Don’t put it off.
Happy Father’s Day to all.
“In all of your living, don’t forget to live.” — Ricky Maye
“It is my fixed conviction that if a parent can give his children a passionate and wholesome devotion to the outdoors, the fact that he cannot leave each of them a fortune does not really matter so much.” — Archibald Rutledge
Along the way:
Fisheries biologists from agencies across the Great Lakes region have run a project in an attempt to capture grass carp in Lake Erie tributaries.
The effort encompassed three days of sampling and included a rapid response element to collect grass carp for research and removal. The entire exercise was conducted Monday through Friday.
Sampling sites varied throughout the action and included the coordinated use of multiple electrofishing vessels, trammel nets and electrified trawls to collect adult or juvenile carp in the Sandusky and Maumee rivers.
Crews from the Ohio Division of Wildlife; Michigan DNR; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Minnesota DNR; Great Lakes Fishery Commission; The Nature Conservancy; U.S. Geological Survey; Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks; New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Michigan State University; Ohio State University; and the University of Toledo participated in the research.
This project was part of continuing efforts to remove invasive grass carp, assess grass carp capture techniques, and increase information on grass carp populations in the Sandusky and Maumee rivers. This year’s work incorporated results from the 2017 coordinated unified response that tested grass carp collection strategies and the potential to control the species.
• Tomorrow: 50-bird trap shoot, program starts at 12:30 p.m. with practice at 11 a.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• Monday: Steel challenge .22 rifle shoot, 5 p.m., HCCL, 13748 Jackson Township 168, Findlay.
• Thursday and Friday: Trap and skeet, open to the public, 5 p.m., UCOA, 6943 Marion Township 243, Findlay.
• June 24: 3-D mixed animal archery match, registration opens 8 a.m., Field and Stream Bowhunters, 11400 Allen Township 109, Findlay. Contact Harold Spence at 419-423-9861.
• June 24: Air gun field target shoot, Wyandot County Coon Hunters, 12759 Township Highway 133, Nevada 44848. This shoot is free and open to the public, so bring friends and family to check out what air guns are all about. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 419-458-0001 for information.
Abrams is a retired wildlife officer supervisor for the state Division of Wildlife in Findlay. He can be reached at P.O. Box 413, Mount Blanchard 45867-0413 or via email at email@example.com.