1. I had a couple of non-related flashbacks to the late 1980s. In the first one I recalled a winter night, trundling off to a movie at Alfred U., in which our four-month-old son experienced his first theater production. Woody Allen’s “Bananas” was good for belly laughs.
As Woody’s character rose to the presidency of San Marcos, the plotting seemed a little dated but the action was fresh and humorous. Our son’s attention was undivided– even during a milk break taken while sitting on his mother’s lap. “Bananas” must have been a red flag or a jolly admonition about the future.
The second flashback concerned a late-night talk with Mike and Tom in 1987. We were sitting at the National Hotel in Bath, conversing on my work with Great Elm Press and about our various literary goals. We also spoke a bit about our new-found interest in the streams and trails of northern Pennsylvania.
An old fellow, probably homeless and too drunk to see, wanted us to drop four quarters in the jukebox for a set of “country tunes.” Before I finished a selection for him, we saw two policemen entering the bar who then proceeded to arrest the guy. I approached the cops, saying, “I don’t know this man… but I just put four quarters in the jukebox for him. Can he hang around until his songs are played?”
The cops never cracked a smile .
[My thanks to the Slate Run Sportsmen blog (slaterunsportsmen.com) which first published Part 2 of this post (without pics)]
2. I first became acquainted with the Slate Run area in the 1980s. Making an occasional run between Virginia and western New York, I would sometimes stop at an alluring place like Pat Reeder’s Tavern on Route 44, locations I’d eventually link to an ancient Chinese drinking song– “In all these details there are secret truths; but when I try to speak of them, everything slips away.”
I bought my first PA, out-of-state, fishing license in 1987. I’ve returned to the wonderful trout streams such as those in the Pine Creek Valley ever since. I even published a book of poetry called The Wild Trout in response to the first two seasons of listening to the call of the Pennsylvania wilds.
In May of ’87 I participated in the first of many long hikes taken near Slate Run. To connect with my hiking pals, I had to drive my brother’s rusting and dilapidated car, stopping in Germania for directions on how to take a short-cut out to Pine. Late for my appointment at the trail-head, I drove frantically down Germania Branch then up and over the ridges, fearing that the car would die, choking on dust that mushroomed through the floor boards, in one of the most adventurous 24-mile drives I’d ever taken.
Difficulty aside, I found that the mountains were inviting. The Francis Branch looked good for fly-fishing; the Golden Eagle and Black Forest trails could lead me away; and the Slate Run general store, hotel and tackle shop would be there to sell me anything else required for salvation.
There I was. And it’s been upstream and down, ever since.
3. Lyman Run is one of the closest Class A trout streams to my home. I began my relationship with its four-mile stretch of special regulations water in May of 1987. I turned south from Pennsylvania’s Route 6 onto Thompson Road and found a scenic forestland of spruce, hemlock and deciduous trees. Before I suited up to fish, I was greeted by a wood turtle, a raven, and a black squirrel scurrying through the fog that lay upon the forested valley.
Fly-fishing for a mile or so, I saw only two or three other anglers. Overhanging branches competed with numerous brook trout for the nymph and dry flies I presented. Lyman Run was tight with alders and hemlock boughs but the sight of brilliant native fish brought smiles of satisfaction.
Back home, I learned about an accident that had just occurred. Elsie B. had lost control of her car and crashed into a big maple tree in my yard. The car was totaled. Leighanne had called authorities and had helped Elsie from her vehicle. Curiosity seekers drove by for the next few hours.
The driver hadn’t been seriously hurt but was ushered to the hospital. Her car had sheered off four feet of bark on the tree. An inspector came and suggested that we cover the wound with tar and black plastic. We needn’t worry about the tree’s appearance: “It looks better now than it did before.” So, no serious injuries, and we had a new “improved” version of a maple tree!
I spent an hour cleaning up crushed glass and litter. Elsie’s husband, Reggie, arrived and said, “If I’d known this was gonna happen, I wouldn’t of sunk so much money into the car.” A minute later, Ed Dickerson pulled up, feigning to lose control of his truck and shouting from a window, “Oh no! I’m gonna hit a tree!”
From here on out, we were extra careful when we had our pets and children near the road. “Bananas” was set to re-play in our heads.