I can tell it’s in the dead of January because about every day in the mail I get gardening catalogs and fishing catalogs. Browsing through them for something that might catch my eye — something I just can’t live without — made me start wondering when our lifestyles became so complicated?
When I wuz a kid, going fishing consisted grabbing a cane pole with string line from a feed sack and a hook, a length of binder twine or baling wire for a stringer, digging some worms, catching some grasshoppers, seining some shiner minnows or some crawdads, and walking or riding my horse to my choice of ponds. I didn’t even consider fishing in someone else’s pond or stretch of the Marmaton River trespassing. In all my youthful years, I only remember getting run off of property one time — and that’s perhaps a story for another time when I’m sure the statute of limitations has expired after 60 years.
Likewise, gardening wuz simple in those days. My dad, Czar E. Yield, bought one variety of about every veggie, red and white seed potatoes, and maybe two varieties of sweetcorn. He plowed and disked the garden and we planted all the stuff and hoped it yielded more than the effort we put into it.
Not so simple today. Everything for sale today seems to have the hype of the trademarked huckster trying to coax our hard-earned bucks from our wallets.
Let me give you some examples from a recent fishing catalog stating that it was all about the essentials for fishing. From the 100 or so fishin’ reels advertised in the front, a few of the trademarked names I could choose from included: Prodigy, Verano, the Revo Elite, the Toro Winch, the Rocket, the Beast, the Orra SX, the Black Max, the Tatula 200 HD, the Ballistic EX, the Laser Pro, the Low Pro Linecounter, the President, the Quantum Smoke, the Speed Freak, the Calcutta Conquest, and the Stradic. The prices ranged from around $300 to around $150. From start to finish, I couldn’t find a simple Zebco 44 reel that I always use that I can buy for around $30.
In the fishing rod section, I found these trademarked names: Legend Tournament, Eyecon, Triumph, IMX Series, Fantasista Registra, Veritas, Vendetta, Predator, and Duckett MicroMagic Pro.
In the fishing line section, again nuthin’ simple. I found: DepthMaster Lead Core, PowerPro Super Slick, Zero Impact, Depth-Hunter, 832 Advanced Braided, FireLine Crystal, Vanish, IronSilk, Magnathin, Spiderwire, and Smackdown.
And the hyper-fun reached a crescendo in the lures section. Some of the trademarked names that screamed the loudest from the page were: The Realimage, the Pork Chop, the Grave Digger, Sidekick Lipless, Hot Metal Shad, the Scatter Rap, the Husky Jerk, Fire Stick, the Silent Square, the Rock Crawler, Action First Bull, and my favorite name the Strike King Naked Rage Blade. I looked, but couldn’t find, the Heddon Lucky 13, Lazy Ike, and the Jitterbug lures when I experimented with artificial lures in my youth.
The gardening catalog veggie and fruit trademarked names were nearly as shrill. I found: Prime-Ark Freedom berries, Sunpeach tomatoes, Mama Mia Giallo peppers, Warty-Goblin pumpkins, Galilee spinach, Adelaide carrots, El Gordo muskmelons, Annihilator green beans, Dandee Red and Prairie Magic apples, Big Kahuna Blue Ring ginger, Ruby Perfection cabbage, Black Magic kale, Kossack kohlrabi, Ping Tung eggplant, Valley Sunset strawberry, and Mary Washington asparagus. You get the picture? And I won’t even touch the trademarked flower and shrub names.
Now, I recognize all I’ve talked about in this column is progress and improvement. It’s will never go back to the way it wuz, nor would I choose that it do so. But, sometimes the simple days of yore tug fondly on my heartstrings.
My friend Jay Esse from Colorado sent me this story. Year’s ago a carpet installer has just finished installing new carpet in a large farm home living room. He wuz ready to grab his tools when he noticed a lump under the new carpet.
He felt in his shirt pocket and, sure enuf, his soft-pack of cigarettes weren’t in their accustomed place. He wuzn’t gonna take up all that new carpet for a pack of cigs, so he pounded his tool box down on the spot until it smoothed out.
When he got back to his pickup, two things happened. First, he noticed his pack of cigs on the seat. Second, the lady of the house called to him from the back porch, “Hey, Mister. Have you seen our pet canary anywhere?”
Oops! Zip lip and drive!
Friend Jay added, “I’m getting so old that all the stuff I wanted, but couldn’t afford, I don’t want anymore.”
I feel the same way a lot of times.
My friend Willie Joe from Mt. Vernon, MO, says he watched the Golden Globe awards on TV and afterwards he commented to his wife, “It beats me how in the devil can all those wooly, ugly, dirty looking, half-shaven old geezers end up with those good-looking, sexy gals?
His good wife replied, “You and Milo ought to know. It worked for you guys.”
Since the topic has turned to shaving and beards, how about ending this column with a wise quote about beards. Miss Minnie Pearl once said, “Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic. You don’t mind going through a little brush to get there.” I’ll buy into those words. Have a good ‘un.