Will Edwinson

Author & Storyteller

More World War II Memories—Plus a little Fishin’

Tin Foil

Image courtesy of artzenter/Freedigitalphotos.net

 In one of my previous posts I mentioned the tin shortage during World War II and how my mother used to guard the tin foil icicles she used to decorate the Christmas tree; how they had to be hung with meticulous care so they could be recovered to be used another year.  I was sometimes able to coerce Mom into letting me help hang those little buggers, but my patience span was not very long.  I began to get careless in the way I placed them on the tree, and I was soon fired from that job.

 My reflection about those tin foil icicles prompted a comment from a friend.  He said when he was a kid he remembered the tin shortage, because he was involved in the tin drives.  I had forgotten about those until he reminded me of them.  I wasn’t involved much in those drives, because my interest was in collecting beer and pop bottles for recirculation. (I was too young to appreciate the recirculation effort; I was mostly interested in the penny and two penny premiums paid for those bottles.) But, anyway, my friend said he remembers gathering empty cigarette packages from the side of the road, or wherever, and separating the tin foil from the paper of the package.  After he had mentioned this, I remember seeing tin foil balls around the house in those days myself.  Mom was doing her part to save this metal and turn it in for recycling.

 There were other shortages. Things like butter, sugar, gasoline, tires; and of course, there were no automobiles or trucks for civilian use produced during the war years.   Even farm tractors were in limited supply, and those that were produced came with steel wheels because of the shortage of rubber; synthetic rubber had not yet come onto the scene to the extent that it is today. But the people didn’t seem to mind too much.  They may have grumbled at these inconveniences, but they took them in their stride.  They stood strong and even accepted the loss of several hundred thousand lives of American soldiers. We were at war; freedom was at stake.  Hirohito  and Hitler had to be stopped at any cost.

Boy & Fishing PoleWell, enough of that.  On to the fishin’ part of this blog post  One of my cousins and I liked to fish the canal that ran through my hometown of that time, Grace, Idaho.  The water ran fairly slow, and if we tired of fishing, we could always swim.  This canal contained mostly Carp, but we didn’t much care about that, just so long as we could catch a fish of some kind.

We would make our short walk to the canal, set up and started fishing.   I had a steel telescoping pole that I used; I don’t remember what my cousin’s usual pole was, but on this particular day, I noticed he was carrying a pretty nice pole.  I don’t remember if it was bamboo or some other material, but I was sure it was a high end pole. I said to him,  “That looks like a pretty fancy pole. Is it by any chance your Dad’s good pole?”  He told me that it was.  I told him I hoped he’d asked permission to use it.  He informed me he hadn’t.  Things started to go downhill from there.

Most often we fished sorta like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer fished.  We’d set our poles at anchor and lay on the bank soaking up the sun chatting about this or that waiting for a fish to hit our bait.  We had been lazying on the canal bank for awhile when I happened to look over and saw my cousin’s pole heading for the middle of the canal.  Those who have fished for carp, know they hit the bait on the run and skedaddle.   My cousin jumped up and dove into the canal swimming with all his strength; one mission in mind—save that pole.  He was certain his life was in jeopardy if he lost or broke it.

He caught up with it, grabbed it, and reared back bending the pole into the shape of a horseshoe.  My fear was that the pole would snap into two pieces any minute, and my cousin would be in trouble up to his ears.  I jumped into the canal and tried to grab the line so I could relieve the pressure on the pole. The battle between fish and boys was now on….

You can read this story in its entirety by clicking on the free download button at upper right of this page to receive a free copy of my book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures, and read the adventure entitled “Fishin'” .


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