Black Creek, Croghan 1962
SUNY Jefferson
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Black Creek, Croghan 1962

Michael Keck

In April of 1962
it did not matter to anyone if I carried my fish pole on the bus to school
or asked the driver to drop me off at the bridge over the Black Creek in Croghan on the way home.
He didn’t need a note from my mom,
didn’t need permission,
did not have any concerns.
We knew each other, used first names, knew where each lived.
My two brothers and sisters gave me the “look” because of the snow falling, but I had boots on,
had 'em on all day.
It was the first day of trout season.
There were worms in my short sleeve pocket, but I lied to mom,
telling her that I would stay right there next to the bridge,
instead of walking straight on the Beaver River, running high,
where there was an over-cut bank that I could fish from,
bouncing a buck tail streamer that my father had tied along the bottom
looking for big trout.
With snow falling, I was stripping the fat line into a pool by my feet without paying enough attention to
the time as boys like me do.
Boys then did not have watches, we lived by the light.
“Be home by dark” was all that we needed to know better, but it got late and mom couldn’t find me.
She stopped into the bar and sent my dad after me, giving him hell again for doing nothing.
I saw him coming down through the pines following my old tracks in the snow.
His face was red. He only wore his old pair of L.L. Bean moccasins, a wooljac shirt, opened. No hat.
“Jesus Christ. Do you know what time it is?”
It was my experience that it is better not to answer a drunk.
He looked up and down the river; at my feet were two large trout, gasping for air
as pretty as the Adirondacks are.
He had come to live here once himself after his father died in a mill accident.
He had been eleven also.
“What are you using?”
“One of your streamers.”
I would have to move away that summer. He did, too, after my mother kicked him out.
It was the last time we ever fished together.
Sometimes a life is just how you find it.
There doesn’t have to be any blame affixed to it.