I’ve never been good at remembering people’s names, and it doesn’t get any easier with age and experience. Allow me to explain.
The weather forecast for Slate Run, Pennsylvania wasn’t looking good: a high of 87 degrees, with drenching humidity and a solid chance of storms, but I was going there to fly-fish, come Hell with raindrops or big water.
The Pine Creek watershed, including all of Slate and Cedar runs, had been hit with heavy rains all week, and the streams looked fine for kayaking but not so much for casting with a fly.
It had been a couple of years since I fished on Slate Run proper. I was interested in seeing if the ebb had bottomed out, and if the wild trout populations had recovered. Several years ago, a Slate Run survey by the Fish & Boat Commission suggested that recovery was imminent, based on the number of brown trout young-of-year.
Catching an 8-inch brook trout on my third or fourth cast of the morning, and then a 9-inch brown trout shortly afterward, I was starting to feel that maybe Slate was finally coming around.
It wouldn’t be an easy task. The stream was flowing very high and mostly clear. Wading was close to impossible, especially without an implement for support.
Retrieving my beadhead Prince nymph from the pocket water, I felt a big fish slam the fly and turn over once. It vanished in the whitewater with a fly in its lip. Things were looking better here on Slate, for anglers if not for trout.
I saw a man about my age, or older, walking the streambank under the pines. I stepped out to say hello. I didn’t recognize the fellow, whose name was Ed, but he knew me from the Slate Run Sportsmen meetings, and we quickly got to talking on the ways of people and trout.
He’s a fly-fisher, but had broken his back a while ago, and now has to use a cane or a walker on his Slate Run rambles. He enjoys painting, and often works from a photograph that he takes while checking on the water.
Just before I got back to my fishing, I told Ed it was good to speak with him along the creek, and added, “What is your last name again?”
Ed’s heritage is German through and through, and even though I’ve had plenty of experience with complicated surnames from the old country, I could not remember Ed’s last name. I still can’t remember it, damnit.
With due apologies to my new acquaintance, I know it’s not as simple a name as “Schmidt.”
Giving me his full name for a second time, Ed recalled a joke that he had to tell. He said, “You’re a senior citizen, like me, right? Well, listen to this…
“An old couple came home from a big dinner date at a restaurant. The old man and woman got out of their car, and a young neighbor who’d known what they were doing saw the couple and wondered how the evening went.
“The wife had gone into her house, but the neighbor stopped the old guy just before he got away.
How did it go? asked the young neighbor.
“The old guy said it was fine, not bad at all. Then the young man asked him where the restaurant was.
Oh… down the road a ways. Not far.
So what did you have? What was the food like?
Oh, I don’t know, remarked the old fella, with some apprehension and concern. It was pretty good, I guess.
What’s the name of the restaurant that you and the Mrs. went to?
“Oh shit, thought the old man. Now he’s got me…
Uh, the name has something to do with flowers, he said… A spring flower… What’s it called… with lots of smell and color, but with thorns.
Rose? asked the neighbor. Is it Rose?
Oh. Yeah, that’s it! exclaimed the elder. He then put his hand to his mouth and yelled to the house…
HEY ROSE! What was the name of that restaurant we went to?”
Ed and I departed, laughing loudly.
I went up to the next big pool on Slate Run and quickly got a nice wild brown trout on the line. This colorful specimen, just before release, measured 16 inches along my new fly rod.
Maybe I should run into Ed every time I’m on the water!
Although the sun’s heat had pervaded the depths of the gorge, I felt like making a joyful noise. It might be a little premature to say, but I’ll say it before I forget— the Slate Run fishery seems healthier and more abundant than it was a while ago.
Now, speaking of joy, let’s have a listen to Harry Nilsson’s “Joy,” and… chuckle.
I think I know Ed’s brother. His name is, uh, oh, wait a minute…I’ll get back to you on that one.
Good story, and great photos – pretty successful day out, and you’re bound to run into Ed out there again (have one of those awkward situations where you just can’t remember his name – this happens to me all the time at school, not ideal for a teacher…)
Ed Who’s brother, Plaid? Oh uh, yeah Ed! Of course. My god, we should all have easy names to remember. You’re still young yet, so you’ll be fine. Thanks for reading and commenting, and don’t FORGET to stop by again!
Glad that the new rod has been able to join you on some nice trips so far! Is that nice bridge on the site of the rickety (but fun) old suspension bridge that was just upstream from the hotel?
That’s the new bridge. There’ll be no more swaying back and forth when you cross on this one. It’s built to last a while, and even old guys can do it. Have rod, will fish. With thanks!
At first, I laughed at that joke. Then I remembered how old I am. Like you, I can remember faces from decades ago, but not the name of someone I met yesterday. As always, thoroughly enjoyable, Walt!
Jim, Stay young, my friend. I’m glad that we can laugh at times. With thanks!
Beautiful Walt. It looks like that new rod is helping you seek out more than just trout. hahaha. And running into Ed seems to have sparked something more than a day of good fishing. Still having a laugh at the joke.
Good to hear it, Doug! And you hit on something here. I’ve always looked at a fishing rod as a multi-purposed instrument. It catches fish, but if you work it right, it’s like a poet’s pen or a walking stick to new horizons. Glad you had a chuckle, man.
I thought I was the only one who couldn’t remember a last name or for that matter the first name of an individual at times. I see the new fly rod got a work out on the Slate Run. The image of the fog on the stream should be framed! Thanks for sharing
Bill, You’re not alone in this, for sure! Thanks for coming along and for commenting.
Walt, thanks for sharing your interaction with “Ed”. I think I am in the same boat as you when it comes to remembering things. Never forget the good times, though! That is a beautiful Brown on that new rod!
Glad to be aboard the same boat with you, Mel, having a good laugh at the times of old. And thanks for noticing the trout/new rod. A pretty pair before they went their separate ways.
Who’s a Senior!!
I don’t know. Can’t remember. Dale?
Walt – very nice! Is that the old suspension bridge over Slate run where the Black Forest trail crossed? boy that brings back memories!
It is, Mark! Thanks for remembering that fun, old suspension bridge behind the Hotel. That poor old bridge got washed out some years ago and now has been replaced by a rock solid crossing. The new one isn’t as entertaining as the old one was, but now there’s crossing when the water has a rip to it. Glad this brings back some memories for ya.
Beings as I have run full bore into old age, I find the only thing funny is that I get senior discounts, but always forget to ask. Luckily I still remember what a beautiful trout looks like.
Entering the senior bracket isn’t a funny thing, Howard, but at least you have a sense of humor, one that will get you through (along with the image of a beautiful trout, and maybe something else). Thanks!
I was lecturing on the “joys” of Harry Nilsson just the other day! It’s a damn shame that more people don’t know who he is these days.
Whether you think he’s great or good, or good or bad, or good/bad, good/bad, etc., he’s unique. Can put the lime in yer cocoanut, too! Thank you, Bob.
Credit is due any senior who can recall a story like that.
Mist coming off cold water that’s awesome.
That’s what I was thinking, Alan. It was easier for him to tell the story/joke than it was for me to remember it! It was very misty that morning in the gorge. Quite cool.