Sunday, July 11, 2010

I REMEMBER...the smells of the fish bait shop in Oklahoma

...…the smells of the fish bait shop in Tishomingo, Oklahoma when I was a kid. I got to stay with my Grandmother Clara Whitlock and Grandfather Roy Whitlock in the summer time when I was between 5 and nine years old. My grandfather and I went fishing a lot (see post from April 23, 2009). My Grandfather was a cool guy. They say that if you are lucky, you will get your 15 minutes of fame in your lifetime. Some get more, some get less. My Grandfather, Roy Whitlock (my dad’s name was Roy George Whitlock) got five hours worth in 1928. He was a banker and was closing up one evening, got robbed, kidnapped, and was immortalized in this book about the notorious bank robberies in the twenties and thirties, as a means of income for the unemployed:

Page 103 from “Cabin in the Blackjacks – excerpts of Pretty Boy Floyd”:

…”Turn of the Stonewall First National Bank came the Following April, 1928. Three men found Roy Whitlock alone. They escaped in a roadster, taking Whitlock. They fled through the Allen oilfields and forded the Canadian River. When they stopped, Whitlock helped them divide the money, $691.70 in all. Each gave him $5.00, and they released him after dark to walk into Sasakwa. Before long the three were in the state prison.”

I remember the bait shop we stopped at before heading off to the fishing hold. That was a very long time ago (like 55 years or so), but I still have very vivid memories, complete with the sounds and smells of Lloyds Dry Goods & Bait Shop. We would drive there in a 1950 Plymouth. It had mohair seats and was incredibly itchy when you wore shorts (kid in the 50’s, summer time Oklahoma heat). We would walk through the main part of the store to the bait area in the back. You could smell it from the front screen door. It wasn’t a bad smell; it just had its own odors. For younger readers, think Disneyland’s ride - Pirates of the Caribbean, at the bottom of the lagoon where the boats launch...kind of damp, dank, musty and you are almost there. If you added dead crickets and crawdads, you would have it just right. There were two or three large concrete tubs (probably cattle water tanks) with aerators running constantly. You could hear the bubbling and motors running, smell the mixture of mossy fish tanks, crawdads, crickets, and earth worms as soon as you hit the front door. This was a great moment…it meant we were going FISHING!! I got a cardboard tub of red worms and my Grandfather got a dozen minnows. I got little hooks for bluegill & perch and he got big hooks for bass. I got a peppermint stick out of the big glass jar up front and he got a shot of something homemade from the back of the store. It was a man’s deal, I got the forbidden candy before dinner – he never mentioned it to Grandma and I never brought up his quick visit to the back of the store with Lloyd.

The afternoon was lazy, warm and forever etched in time down at the swinging bridge over Pennington Creek. It is good to have fond memories so deeply ingrained that the slighted sound or smell can instantly conjure up a 55 year old 15 minute experience.

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal." Albert Pine