Exciting Ice Fishing (But not on Sunday!)

Mom and Dad, though, insisted that Sunday was always for church. I grumbled somewhat but went along with them and Laverne to Central Methodist Church on South Cass Street [in Traverse City]. From the top of the steps it was possible to see the bay [Grand Traverse] though, and one Sunday as we came out I noticed the ice out there doing strange things. I convinced Dad that we should walk over to check on our shanty.

While the bay was still frozen, an extremely strong north wind was blowing toward Traverse City. Far up the bay, the ice had broken up and waves were actually rolling under the remaining ice coating. Oddly, it had not yet broken up at the south end but was bending and groaning under the unusual stresses being exerted against it.

It was obvious the bay was about to break up. As we stood there glumly watching, a lad came by. ‘I’ll go out and get your shanty for a dollar,’ he offered. Dad declined, saying he wouldn’t risk anyone’s life like that for any price.

Sadly, we watched as one after another of the cluster of shanties tipped and fell into open water that soon appeared as the ice gradually gave way. Not wanting to see our beloved casket box [his dad worked as a wooden casket maker] meet a similar fate, we turned and walked on home.

Next day, I just had to get back there to see if anything could be seen of our little fishing structure. I was shocked and delighted to find it still sitting jauntily on the ice that was, once again, firmly joined together by an unusually low temperature during the night.

When Dad got home from work, the two of us walked out to get our shanty. We found we had, unknowingly, put it on one of the thickest pieces of drift ice in the bay and that is what saved it.

Dad, however, had other ideas to explain the salvation of our beloved fish shanty. ‘See what happens when you go to church on Sundays’? he commented.

boy-bike-buster-charles-1995Taken from a new book I found (at a thrift store) and am reading about a boy growing up in Traverse City, Michigan in the 1930s. That lad is Gordon Charles, longtime outdoor editor of the Traverse City Record-Eagle and winner of over twenty writing awards. The book is titled A Boy, a Bike, and Buster: (his dog) Fishing and Hunting in Michigan’s Good Old Days and was published in 1995 by Traverse Outdoor Press. It’s a nice, easy read with lost of fishing and hinting tales – a good end-of-the-day read. I found this section of chapter 2 interesting, also reflecting the age in which he lived, when Sunday keeping was the norm, no matter what one’s church affiliation was.

Published in: on March 6, 2020 at 10:09 PM  Leave a Comment