Early Lessons Pay Big Dividends When Kids Grow Up
By Bernard Williams
My paternal grandmother, Alberta Williams, lived with us. She had to in her early 80’s when I was born; don’t remember her exact age, but I do know she was around 97 when she passed away. Well, grandmamma loved to fish. My mom says she started taking me fishing as soon as I could walk.
I was raised on a small farm. We were poor financially, but I didn’t know it. My parents worked outside the house as well as on the farm. My dad raised all our food including cattle, hogs, chickens, corn, cotton, and vegetables. In those days we only had to purchase flour, sugar and a few other small grocery items. I would have the time of my life exploring the outdoors as a kid. I grew up with hunting dogs, and cats––that’s right, we had cats that caught everything from birds to snakes, and a rat or two every now and then.
I remember one morning when I was about 5, she called me from the breakfast table and asked if I wanted to accompany her “down to the pond” as she would call it. We had an 8 or 9 acre farm pond behind the house. My answer was always “yes ma’am.” In those days you never said just “yes” or “no” to an adult. I gathered up my pole and away we went. The pond was about 200 yards behind the house and it was off limits to me as a kid unless I had adult supervision.
Grandma had an innate ability to find a bream bed, I thought it was some kind of magic. Little did I know, she knew the scent. She would say, “Boy, you smell that watermelon?” I would say, “Yes ma’am,” knowing I had no idea. I just wanted to put my pole in the water. She would bait my hook with night crawlers we had gathered on the way to the pond. Dad had a worm bed he’d started long ago. That worm bed stayed full of night crawlers on one side and red worms on the other side.
She would pitch my worm out near an old stump and then bait her hook and do the same. This particular day, as soon as my hook sank beneath the surface, a huge hand-size bluegill swallowed my bait and the fight was on. The fish gave a tremendous pull. For a small boy, this feeling caused tremendous excitement, almost to the point of wetting my pants (which is what I did!). She helped me land the fish and get it into the basket. Again, she baited the hook and instantly the same thing happened––another hand-sized (or better) bluegill.
I can’t remember exactly how many we caught that day, but I do remember my little sister getting extremely mad about being left out of our fishing adventure. I’ll never forget the look on my mom and dad’s faces when they returned home to a table full of bluegill fried up with green tomatoes. Oh boy, it’s kinda like Jerry Clower used to say, “It’ll make a puppy pull a freight train.”
My grandma had only two grandsons. I was the youngest. The older one, Johnny, was almost my dad’s age. Grandmamma looked at Johnny like a son, but looked at me like a grandson. I’ll never forget the fishing lessons she gave me and the whippings she helped me avoid.
Guess its true, that’s what unforgettable grandmothers are supposed to do––spoil the grandkids.