Category Archives: Columnists

The Sportsman’s World — Of Flounder and Sheepheads

By Leon Archer

I was just this week talking with a friend in Florida about fishing.

I was interested specifically in the fishing in the Indian River Lagoon, because it had been so poor the past couple of years. He told me it was still nothing to get excited about in the Sebastian area, but it was a little better than last year.

Apparently some sea grass has started to grow here and there on the sand flats. He said it is a red grass, but it must be better than nothing. Grass makes all the difference in the river fishing.

I can’t begin to remember the number of times I’ve grumbled about the grass back when it was thick, and I had to keep removing it from my lures or bait. How I wish it were that way again.

Most of the grass then was some shade of pale green depending on the species and area it was growing in. There were patches of the red grass even then, but not any great amount of it.

When I fished in and around the grassy patches, I caught fish and grass. When I avoided grassy areas, I came up with less grass, but I also caught a lot fewer fish.

The reasons are simple. The grass acts as a nursery for small fish and crabs, providing food and cover. Most people would not believe the huge number of organisms that can inhabit a relatively small patch of grass, many of them are the microscopic creatures that baby fish and crabs capture for their early meals.

Just as the grass provides food and cover for the smaller inhabitants, at the same time it provides cover for larger fish who prey on the smaller, and so it goes right up the old food chain. But without that first link made of grass, the chain never forms.

I sure hope the grass makes a strong comeback. Even though I am not in Florida this winter, I certainly plan to be back there next winter, and I’d like to find the fishing better than I did the last two years.

My friend was telling me that it had been a good winter for sheepshead and flounder. They aren’t the kind of fish that prowl the grass beds.

The sheepies hang around docks and pilings. They seldom eat fish. Their teeth are made for nipping barnacles and small oysters off pilings. They are also fond of crabs, shrimp and sand fleas. They aren’t the easiest things to hook, being probably the most proficient bait stealers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

They are well worth pursuing, because they rival snappers for their table qualities. They are yummy.

The flounder are occasionally found in the grass, but more likely, if they are there at all, they will lurk just outside the beds waiting for an unwary small fish to wander out to see what the big world outside the grass looks like.

Flounder are fast predators when they strike, and a small fish seldom gets a do-over. Flounder are more often found on the flats at the edge of channels and in inlets where the current constantly brings them small fish struggling to hold their place in the fast tide water.

Flounder are fun to fish for, and the greatest challenge is to keep from getting hung up on bottom as one fishes. Most fishing is done with mud minnows or finger mullet kept near the bottom with a sinker weighing two to four ounces.

The bait needs to move back with the current until it is right in front of the waiting flounder. If everything goes right, and one has a bit of luck, a tap and then a feeling of weight almost like being hung up, will be transmitted up the line to the rod. Sometimes it is a false signal and one is actually hung up on bottom, but when the rod responds with a throbbing bend when the hook is set, it becomes worth all the time and effort.

Flounder are wonderful table fare, and one that weighs seven or eight pounds will feed a family with some left over for a snack later. They are mild and do not have the delicate flavor of the sheepshead or snapper.

I have never caught a lot of southern flounder, but I have caught enough to appreciate everything about them. They are a great fish, and the lack of grass has not had as negative an effect on them as it has with fish like the spotted sea trout.

I have enjoyed my time in Washington with our grandson, but I sure have missed Florida. I haven’t missed the weather Fulton has been getting, however.

Stay warm. Spring is coming.

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

The second half of the year has officially begun.

Students who have had 95 percent attendance, 95 percent on time to school, no major referrals, and no grades below a 70 percent will receive VIP status.

The official VIP celebration will take place this Friday. It is a great way to recognize those who have put their best foot forward this past quarter.

Honor Roll assemblies will take place next week for students who have earned either honor roll or high honor roll status. The assemblies will take place during Guided Study Hall, and students will receive a certificate and will have their picture taken.

The freshman class assembly will be next Monday, sophomores will be next Tuesday, juniors will be on Wednesday, and finally seniors will be on Thursday.

Students who will be playing a spring sport who have not yet received a physical can schedule one in the nurse’s office. Make sure to schedule one soon, spots fill up quickly.

Terracycling is still going on for the GRB Environmental Club, so if you have any empty shampoo or conditioner bottles, cream cheese tubs, applesauce containers, or yogurt containers, please bring them in!

 

Light In the Darkness

“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”           Psalm 91:2”  

A number of years ago, I found myself asking whether life was essentially a pleasant journey with the occasional painful trial along the way,  or whether it was more of one long, arduous test with occasional moments of peace. 

I have since come to think that for the young, it often appears more like the former and for those of us who have seen the passing of more years, it seems more the latter.

This was and is in the context of a culture that still knows the remnants of blessing that came with the faith and faithfulness of so many who had gone before us.

In other cultures the perception might be much different.  But in every culture life has its trials; its tests to be endured. The way we approach them either leaves us in a weakened condition or stronger than ever.

One thing is certain, sooner or later everyone who trusts in Christ, will have that trust tested in a significant (and often painful) way. Each of us is a little different in this respect and something thing that severely tests one person is but a hiccup for another.

Even in areas where the test would be severe for any believer, such as the loss of a child, a spouse, a serious accident with permanent consequences, one whose faith is strong may seem to be tested for only a short time while the for another, whose faith is not as strong, may struggle for a long time before coming out the other side.

But one thing of which we can be certain is that our faith will be tested.

Our Lord told His people in Ezekiel  21,  “Testing will surely come.”

There is purpose behind the testing of our faith, of course. God is not a precocious, whimsical God who delights his fancy at our expense and James explains that purpose.

He writes, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (Chapter one)

We all know that in the raising of children, the ultimate goal is for them to reach adulthood as mature individuals prepared to face life’s trials and demands.

It is much the same in our spiritual lives. When we are born again, we are born into a spiritual world to which we had been dead. At that point Paul says, we are babes in Christ.

The Lord’s purpose for that new life is that we grow into mature, right-thinking adults; full of faith and able to trust Him in all areas of thought and life.

It is to this end, James says, that He allows us to be tested, that our endurance may be fully developed, so that we become perfect and complete in Him… needing nothing else.”

Can you say with the psalmist, “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

 

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

If you’re someone who enjoys outdoor activities, there’s no better place to be than in Upstate New York.

From snowmobiling and skiing in the winter, to fishing and boating in the summer, there are so many opportunities for sportsmen to enjoy all that our region has to offer.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll want to take note of important sporting license changes that went into effect Feb. 1. Adopted in last year’s state budget, the changes are aimed at saving hunters and anglers both time and money through reduced license fees, reduced license types, changes to license dates and more.

These license fees were increased in 2009, before I became your senator.  Since then, we’ve been working to roll back some of the increases and taking steps to get more New Yorkers to enjoy our great outdoors.

To learn more about these changes, I encourage you to visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website at www.dec.ny.gov.

In addition to lower license prices and other changes that will make things easier for outdoor enthusiasts, there is another important update for sportsmen that I would like to share.

Just recently, I led a bipartisan group of more than a dozen state lawmakers in calling on Gov. Cuomo to join in supporting the use of Side-by-Side recreational vehicles, or UTVs.

In a letter to the governor, we urged him to amend his state budget proposal to allow UTVs, which are becoming increasingly popular with the elderly, couples and families. Our state is losing out on tens of thousands of dollars in state revenue through registration fees, and taxes from retail sales of UTVs, as well as countless tourism-related jobs by prohibiting UTVs, which because they are slightly larger than standard four-wheelers can exceed outdated weight limits in current law.

This latest effort builds upon legislation I sponsor that would raise the defined weight of an ATV to 1,500 pounds to allow certain UTVs to be registered in New York state.  This legislation has passed the Senate in each of the last three years.

Not only are outdoor activities a lot of fun, they provide a major boost to our state’s economy too. Each year, the Central and Northern New York regions host thousands of visitors from outside the area.

It’s these sportsmen who eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels and purchase hunting and fishing necessities from our various shops throughout the region. The contributions by these outdoor enthusiasts are monumental, as they are responsible for generating more than $1.5 billion in revenue annually for our state.

As your state senator — and someone who also truly enjoys outdoor activities — I’m looking forward to working to support initiatives that improve the experience for sportsmen.

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast with suggestions for ways to improve hunting, fishing and other activities in our state, I invite you to contact me at ritchie@nysenate.gov.

Poetry Corner

60s Music, by Jim Farfaglia

 

“Send ‘em back to England,”

my dad said,

as The Beatles shook their mopheads

on the Ed Sullivan Show—

 

but imagine our world

with no Strawberry Fields,

with never knowing Eleanor Rigby,

without having Eight Days a Week?

 

People laughed at The Mamas & Papas:

skinny Michelle, hefty Cass

and hippy-dippy John and Denny,

who seemed a little too far out—

 

but what kind of world would this be

where there’s no California Dreamin’,

nothing to get us through a Monday Monday

and no one to Dream a Little Dream Of Me?

 

Yes, where would this world be

 

without The Stones’ search for Satisfaction,

or The Doors offering to Light My Fire?

What if there was no Hanky Panky,

no Dancin’ In The Streets?

 

No ‘60s music?

How strange it would all seem—

in fact, wouldn’t it just feel like

A World Without Love?

The Sportsman’s World, by Leon Archer

Memories of Ice Fishing

 

By Leon Archer

My father was a die-hard ice fisherman, and I fished many a cold winter day on Sandy Pond with him.

We mostly fished for perch, but sometimes I’d put in a line for Northern Pike, not because they were a favorite fish for the family table, but because I liked to catch them.

We seldom came off the ice without enough perch for several meals. We usually fished off the Elms or on Renshaw Bay. On Renshaw, we sometimes got into the big bluegills or crappies, and late in the season we occasionally caught a few bullheads through the weakening spring ice.

I probably wasn’t older than 4 when I started going with my father, and by the time I was 10, I was an old hand at the game. I can’t remember a time when it was too cold for us to fish for a half a day or more, but maybe that was because my father was wise enough to avoid going on the blisteringly cold days and the ones when a mean wind was blowing.

That doesn’t mean I never got cold. My hands suffered the most, because we used buckeye minnows for bait, and my hands were constantly getting wet if the perch were biting well. After a few hours, I could hardly move them.

Dad knew it was time to leave when I stood around with my hands tucked into some place out of the cold instead of holding a pole.

When I was about 13 or 14, people started fishing on Sandy Pond with Swedish Pimple jigs. That was a wonderful innovation for us, and we completely gave up using minnows, which kept my hands a great deal warmer.

The pimples caught perch just as well as the minnows had, and often even better. I think it was Louie Ten Gauge who introduced us to the jigs. We still used mousies some days when we were on Renshaw and wanted to catch some big bluegills and sunfish, but if they didn’t show, we’d change over to pimples.

We used to take one or two trips to Black Lake and fish for walleyes. That was when I was fairly young. As I grew older, walleyes grew ever scarcer on Black Lake until it didn’t pay to drive up there for them.

It wasn’t until years later that dad and I started to fish tip-ups on Oneida for walleyes, and for several years we did really well on them, but dad never lost his love for fishing perch on Sandy Pond.

After I was married and had a family, he would hit the pond on his own if I wasn’t able to go with him. It was just in his blood.

I took my boys ice fishing a few times, but I’m not sure they enjoyed it as much as I did, and after they were grown, I pretty much gave up ice fishing. I had too many other things that interested me more than freezing my buns off out on a frozen pond or lake.

The final straw came when I started spending the winters in Florida. Once I learned I could catch fish in January while wearing shorts and a T-shirt, I was done.

As long as it has been now since I fished on hard water, I still don’t even have to close my eyes to see a bobber floating in a hole filled with slushy water trying to freeze over. I can picture the bobber slowly sink as a big perch gently took the bait, or jump and plunge beneath the ice as a smaller, hungry perch grabbed the bait and ran.

On Sandy Pond, I always used a small bobber even with a Swedish Pimple. I think watching the bobber move was one thing that gave me great pleasure, almost as much as pulling in a nice jack perch that I had enticed with my lure.

If I was ever to venture out on the ice again, I would want one of the collapsible ice fishing shelters with a small heater, and I’d want to get on and off the ice with a snowmobile. Cold just isn’t in my repertoire any longer.

How things have changed, but I don’t regret a single moment of those icy days of yesteryear, especially the ones with my dad.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

John and Mary

Just in case you were wondering, John was the most popular male baby’s name 100 years ago, in 1914.

Also in the top 10 were William, James, Robert, Joseph, George, Charles, Edward, Frank and Walter.

One hundred years ago, Mary topped the list as the top female baby name followed by Helen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ruth, Anna, Mildred, Elizabeth, Frances and Marie.

As expected, that has changed a lot during the past 100 years. While most of those names are still around, only two remain among the most popular boys’ names.

The most popular names for baby boys 100 years later are Liam, Noah, Ethan, Mason, Arden, Elijah, David, Jacob, Jackson and Lucas. During the past 100 years, John has slipped from first to 39th, and William is now the 11th most popular boys’ name.

The most popular girls’ names in 2014 are Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia, Mae, Isabella, Amelia, Charlotte, Lily and Ella.  The only female baby name from 1914s top 10 included among the 2014 top 40 names is Anna at 36.

I was curious to see what names may have been popular when I was going to elementary school in the 40s. According to the Social Security website, the most popular boys’ names during that period were James, Robert and John – not too different from 1914 when those names were third, fourth and first.

Other familiar 40’s names were William, Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Michael and Ronald.

Mary was still the most favored baby girls’ name during the 1940s, followed by Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith and Susan.

Come to think of it, I did have girlfriends named Barbara and Patricia, and two of my girl cousins were Carol and Sandra.

My own name, LeRoy, was further down on the 40s list at number 89. It was spelled with a small r and most likely pronounced differently than my mother’s preference. The nickname I have always preferred, Roy, was at number 43.

As for the lowest of the low during the 40s: For the boys, Fredrick, Jonathan,  Kent, Wendell and Bennie were at the bottom – and on the girls’ side, Stella, Rosie, Patty, Veronica and Michele.

I discovered that some of my canine friends during those years had made the popular human names list – Jake, Fritz and Rudy. I haven’t found Bruno yet.

Or Is It a Sit-down?

I found this among a collection of columns I have written: Hodgepodge, March 4, 1980:

America has a hang-up . . . or is it a sit-down?

We seem to be hung up with, as the sophisticated French say – la derriere; or in crude Americanese – the fanny.

Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Television is full of rearview action.  Charlie’s Angels probably started it; Underalls commercials followed close behind, and how about those jeans with their famous back pocket?

Baby’s bottoms are not exempt with another popular commercial constantly pointing out which is the driest.

The rear-end exposure syndrome, known to those in the know as “mooning,” reared its behind close to home last fall as some Hannibal cheerleaders were caught in the act.  A similar problem with a busload of Buffalo area soccer players was reported recently.

Last week, a Moline, Ill. secretary sought posterity for her posterior as she attempted to take a photograph while sitting on her company’s new copying equipment. Appropriately enough, she was canned.

Sports figures are guilty, too. A great football or basketball play is often acknowledged by a teammate with a friendly pat – and not on the back.

It’s time for a change. We must all get behind the revolution. No more waiting for the bottom to drop out of the market; no more come from behind wins in sports, or betting your bottom dollar; no more rear admirals or rump roasts, and Fanny Farmer will just have to change her name.

That’s the bottom line.

It’s February

February, as the second month of the year, is the shortest – it has 28 days – 29 in leap year.

There are two accepted pronunciations of the month, which are considered standard and correct. February may be more often pronounced Febuary, as in January and Febuary, but the seemingly preferred pronunciation is Feb-ru-ary.

There are several important days worth observing, in some cases celebrating, in February.

Candlemas Day, on Feb. 2, is a feast day commemorating the presentation of Christ in the temple.  Feb. 2 is also observed as Groundhog Day.

The accepted belief is that if a groundhog emerges from his burrow on this day and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

Feb. 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 22 is George Washington’s birthday, and Presidents Day (officially observed as Washington’s birthday, on the third Monday of the month since 1971) is popularly recognized as honoring Washington and Lincoln. The day is also sometimes observed as a celebration of the lives of all U.S. presidents.

Feb. 14 is St. Valentine’s Day – a day for the exchange of tokens of affection.

Well-known persons born in February include Lisa Marie Presley, Farrah Fawcett, Tom Smothers, Hank Aaron, Natalie Cole, Garth Brooks, Robert Griffin III, Bill Russell, Florence Henderson, Michael Jordan, Vanna White, Sidney Poitier, Charles Barkley, Steven Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor and celebrating every four years on Feb. 29 – Dinah Shore and Jimmy Dorsey.

When I was in elementary school, students thought February was a great month and that Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were our greatest presidents because we had both of their birthdays off from school during the short month of February.

Happy February.

. . . Roy Hodge

Jerry’s Journal, by Jerry Kasparek

Margaret Beckwith was my good friend.

She died last Saturday, Jan. 18. I got the sad news just before I sat down to write my every-other-week column. It was going to be Part 3 of North Sixth Street.

But I decided to put it aside for now and instead dedicate it to my dearly departed friend.

I have no special claim to Marg’s friendship — she was a good friend to everyone she knew. Some were more “close-knit” than others, however,  but far too many to list all their names here, except for maybe her niece Barbara Collins who is quick to say: “We did everything together . . . It’s hard to lose someone you’ve had your whole life.”

I’m going to miss her too, just like so many other people will. They’ll miss her at all the school sporting events cheering on the teams.

They’ll miss her at Mimi’s — Marg just loved going to Mimi’s — she was a steady customer at breakfast and she would table-hop to talk to nearly everyone in the place!

And, they’ll miss her at all the other places you might see her around town where she’d always greet you a warm hug. She was Fulton’s very own “Joy-germ” ambassador.

She was a positive kind of person; the kind of person you’d liked to be around. She enjoyed life and good food, and pretty clothes in pastels, pink, yellow and blue — blue was her favorite color and her house is generously decorated with it — and she made a very delicious strawberry salad she was always glad to share when a special occasion called for it.

Margaret White, as I first knew her, was a year behind me at good old Fulton High School, and a very good athlete. Her picture is in my Class of ’51 yearbook as a member of the championship junior class girls’ volleyball team that beat the senior girls’ team that winter, and she captained the junior girls’ basketball team that almost beat my classmates’ team as well.

She took up bowling and golf in later years and was good at those sports, too.

As the years flew by, I’d run into her once in a while and knew she worked in Niagara Mohawk’s commercial office here in Fulton, had married her long-time boyfriend George Beckwith, and was the mother of two little boys, Goerge and Billy.

When NiMo shut its commercial office doors in the early 1980s, she was transferred to the office that housed the line crew on the Howard Road out in Volney where my late first husband Mike Hogan also was employed.

Thus, as side-by-side workers often do, Marg and Mike became close friends and confidantes, sharing stories about their families and lives, and their enthusiasm for our high school wrestling team of which they were both avid fans.

Whenever I’d see Marg, she’d tell me nice things about Mike, what a good guy he was, about how proud he was of his kids and grandkids, and about how much she knew he loved me. It meant a lot to me, especially after he passed away.

Marg was at my house almost night and day when Mike died that summer of 1998, dishing out food, doing dishes, doing whatever needed to be done, and giving solace to my family and other friends. There was no way I could ever thank her enough!

Even when George died, there was nothing I could do to match what she had done for me.

That was Marg — always thinking about somebody else — always the first one to lend a helping hand.

Perhaps, though, her greatest amount of time and energy was spent (besides her dedication to her beloved husband and family) on school sports and the student athletes.

She was a member of the Fulton Athletic Booster’ Club and was instrumental in its awards programs at Bodley High School, as well as being involved in their many other activities.

Margaret seldom missed a game — football, basketball, wrestling, soccer, boys or girls, be it home or away — and she knew the coaches well and loved the young athletes who played the games and could tell you the name of each and everyone of them. And they knew her!

She simply adored young people, and it’s more than safe to say her crowning moment came when she become a grandmother.

She loved being a grandmother! She doted on her five grandchildren like they were precious jewels. She babysat them when they were little, took them places as they grew up, and nourished and nurtured them. You’d see them all together — she and George and the children — at Mimi’s for breakfast.

When she was diagnosed with cancer a little over a year ago, she took it as well as anyone could, and was determined to do everything she could, chemo treatments and all, so she could enjoy her grandchildren as long as she could.

She put up a good fight too, while at the same time facing the inevitable as bravely and cheerfully as she could.

Now she is gone.

Death will come calling to all of us someday. I just hope when it’s my time, I can face it with the same kind of grace and dignity Margaret Beckwith did.

May God rest your soul, my friend, I love you.

Part 3 of North Sixth Street coming soon: Hopefully I can get it written up and in for next week.

Meanwhile, here’s my caveat:

Reader beware! I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share. Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up.

I hope you have fun reading my stuff. Your comments, additions and corrections are always welcome. You may contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!