Grandfather’s Tackle Box

Ken Steinhoff tackle box 03-14-2014I was on hold with Comcast when I heard a shriek in the other room. Not a happy, “Look, Publisher’s Clearing House just pulled up the driveway!” shriek. It was a “You’d better get in here right now!” shriek.

Wife Lila was supporting a shelf end with one hand and attempting to lighten the load on the shelf with the other. Paper products – paper towels and toilet paper – were flying everywhere. It seems that one of the plastic supports that held up the shelf since the middle 80s got tired and decided to take a nap while she was putting supplies away.

Of course, THAT would be the time the Comcast rep I was waiting for would come on the line.

After the shelf was repaired and Comcast dealt with (a pleasant experience, surprisingly), it was time to reload the errant shelf. Of course, that involved looking up at the shelf above it. “What’s all that stuff? Can we get rid of it?”

One of the items was an old, old blue tackle box with, as you can see, a whole forest of dust bunnies living on top of it. [Editor’s Note: I didn’t know what a group of rabbits was called. For future reference they are, “a colony, warren, nest, herd (domestic only), litter (young); specific to hares…A down, husk. Since I have learned a new factoid, that means I qualify for a nap.]

I think it was my grandfather’s

Ken Steinhoff tackle box 03-14-2014When I was a kid, I lived to fish. Every chance I could get, I’d head down to 3-Mile Creek with this tackle box hooked though one handlebar and my fishing rod and reel cradled across it. My name is written in red plastic label tape, but I think Dad and I both used it at various times. It has to be at least 75 years old, and I’m pretty sure it originally belonged to Mother’s Dad – my grandfather – Roy E. Welch.

I recognize some of the lures as mine, but I also see some of Dad’s stuff in there.

I really liked fly fishing. There was something about dropping a fly exactly where you wanted it to go that satisfied me. Plus, there was never any danger of me catching anything big, so a fly rod made even small fish fun.

Truth be told, my interest in fishing ended when the object of my quest got within hand-holding distance. I’d have been perfectly happy if the slimy thing made a spectacular jump and threw the hook back at me at the last second. I just went back to look at an earlier story I did about fishing. Nope, my views haven’t changed much.

You might notice that all my lures and flies are small. That’s because even they were larger than most of the fish I’d catch. Still, I liked artificial bait rather than live bait: you didn’t have to dig it, catch it, dissect it or listen to rubber worms scream when you threaded them on the hook. Besides, I thought it was an act of positive Darwinism to weed out the fish dumb enough to fall for fake food.

Panatomic-X film can

Ken Steinhoff tackle box 03-14-2014I bought film in 100-foot rolls and cut it into 30-exposure rolls in my basement darkroom. Those empty film cans like this one that contained Panatomic-X were put to a multitude of uses around the house. This one found a home in my tackle box.

When I first moved to Florida, I’d sneak out west of town on a slow day and fish some of the pounds and lakes in the wilderness near the city. I could turn up the scanner and the company two-way radio and pretend to be working while casting, mostly fruitlessly. The few times I caught anything, I’d toss it back. The last thing I wanted to happen was have to roll on spot news and forget I had a fish under the seat.

Sons Matt and Adam haven’t shown any real interest in fishing. I’ll offer my tackle box to them, and if they don’t want it, I’ll carry it back to Cape to let Brothers Mark and David divvy it up. Mark likes collecting old objects that he turns into art, and David is an avid fishermen. Maybe David can catch stuff with lures that are half a century or more old. I certainly didn’t use up all the luck in them.

You can click on the photos to make them larger if you want to see what I fished with.

Old Jackson Road

These pictures were taken at the intersection of County Roads 618, 620 and 306. Let me tell you how we got there.

When we moved out on Kingsway Drive, we – like most folks – called it Old Jackson Road. If you didn’t take Highway 61 through the 10-Mile Rose Garden to get from Cape to Jackson, you’d go by way of Old Jackson Road. You’d coast down from our house near Kurre Lane, make a sweeping right-hand curve past the Cape La Croix Creek concrete marker (it’s been moved) and keep on going. There was no such thing as Lexington in those days.

Girls sure were careless.

Just before you got to where Route W turns to the right, you’d cross an old steel bridge over 3-Mile Creek (where there was a deep swimming hole). It’s concrete these days and the water’s too shallow to swim.Thinking back on it, that area might have been used for more than swimming. We boys were mystified about how so many girls lost their underwear there.

After you passed the Seabaugh farm on the left, you’d curve around to go through the Houck Railroad Cut that features prominently in Steinhoff family lore. (Dynamite was involved.)

618 is closed for construction

Finally, you’d come to a place where you had to turn left to go over I-55. That’s the intersection of 618, 620 and 306. That’s where the first picture with the Road Closed sign was taken. If you went straight, you’d climb a short hill, then plunge down a steep hill with a sharp curve at the bottom. That’s significant because the last time I did that ride on my bike, I didn’t realize I could go that fast. When I hit the curve I became very aware of how tiny, tiny my bike tires were and how much it was going to hurt if I misjudged the curve and painted the blacktop with skin crayon.

If you survived the curve, soon you’ve find yourself staring at – and being stared BACK at – by the exotic animals that inhabited 5H Ranch. BUT, we couldn’t go that way Saturday because of the Road Closed sign.

Abandoned quarry

If you made the left turn and crossed I-55, you’d enter a curve that swept to the right and downhill. On the left was where Bill Hampton lived. His family owned Hampton’s Bakery on Broadway across from Houck Stadium. Bill shot our wedding in 1969. Just before you crossed a bridge at the bottom of the hill, there was a hill with an abandoned quarry cut into it.

You can tell from this cut why they hadn’t bothered to work it much. There’s some limestone, but it’s not of very good quality. The quarry would have been off to the left behind the trees in this photo. The road to it has been overgrown for years. About a half mile down the road was the turnoff to Old McKendree Chapel.

Hill has been taken down

Looks like the hill has been taken down enough that the ride down 618 isn’t going to be as exciting as it was.

 View back to Cape

You can see how much the grade has been flattened in this photo looking back toward Cape. It’ll be easier to climb on icy days (and on my bike).

It’s not just concrete

You’re driving on more than concrete when you go down the road” there’s an awful lot of steel in that slab. I hate to think how much of that rebar I humped one hot summer.