Fishing is the only activity that held my interest, for more than a few minutes, while I was growing up here in Point Pleasant during the 50’s. You could grab a handful of clams right out of the mud and crack them on the rail of our old wood row boat, pick out the broken shells and then slide, the clam, whole, right down your throat. (or chew) I might mention that before you got to use the rowboat you got pushed out in the river with nothing but oars, after you learned to swim of course, which served as your first, “BOATING SAFETY COURSE,” (There was no written test)

It was so simple back then primarily because there were no fish police or clam cops and you could identify what kind of fish you caught before it broke the surface. Nobody kept really small fish, except for snappers, mostly because of peer pressure. If you attempted to put a small fish in the fish box your fishing buddy would usually chide you into making a different decision the next time.

It wasn’t easy finding anyone to go fishing in the canal with me for my track record with safety issues was not the best so I usually dragged my younger brother along, who shall remain nameless for reasons that will become obvious as we proceed.

One beautiful day, when I was about ten years old I dragged said brother along to go bottom fishing in the canal with a couple of small hooks, a few blood worms and one fishing pole. We both knew from our vast experience, that the hot spot would be right next to the old Point Pleasant Hospital. (someone was watching over us, with good reason) As a matter of record, I caught the first fish and instructed younger, “no name,” brother to remove the hook. He screwed up and got the hook implanted in his finger next to his thumb nail. We tried to remove the hook but were reminded of why there was a barb. No it would not come out and as, “no name,” started to cry I sprung into action and told him to start walking up the hill to the emergency room. Getting through the front door was somewhat problematic since the hook was still attached to the line and yes to the rod and reel also. (My dad would not allow me to have a knife in my tackle box or I would have cut the line. I guess it had something to do with me shooting “no name,” in the head with an arrow a few months earlier? …story for another day)

The nurses seemed rather amused although I didn’t think it was the least bit funny. This unfortunate event was severely cutting into my fishing time. I was very relieved when the nurse approached my younger brother with a pair of scissors and cut the line. I knew he would be in good hands so I told him that when he got fixed up to meet me back at the same, “Hot spot!”

Apparently the nurses called my home and while I was fishing a very large mean looking grown man…(MY DAD) came strutting down the hill to inquire why I had left my brother at the hospital, by himself, and continued to fish. Somehow I knew, “The fish were biting,” was not the right answer and remained silent. I think I remained in my room when we got home for an awful long time before anyone ever spoke to me again.

I finally was able to purchase a fillet knife years later (I think I was twenty five years old) and my hookemandhackem life began….OH HAPPY DAYS!

…Bob Hackem…