A Letter to Grandpa Jack

A Letter to Grandpa Jack

Dear Grandpa Jack:

My finger-tips still whence with the blazing memory of watching you snuff out the used-up Marlboro butt with your bare finger tips. I still hear myself scream silently in horror at the nonchalant act of my real Marlboro Man hero.

I know I didn’t have that many years to actually be with you, but those I had made an indelible impression. Some of my earliest memories and photo’s with you were when you took me fishing and “frogging”. For some reason our frogging expeditions became world class in my young memory bank.

My five-year-old memory recalls climbing into the passenger seat of your light tan Studebaker half-ton pickup truck. Our first stop out of your driveway, shortly after sundown, was always to the same corner market. You would consistently purchase the same two items: one can of Ham’s beer and one bottle of Orange Crush soda. Somehow when we got back to the truck, the two drinks never got assigned to the wrong person, even though I had secretly hoped for such on more than one occasion. I would always watch you use the “church-key” to open your can with a quick snap and quiet popping sound. But then, you would do something terrific. You would take that ice pick and make a hole in the top of the bottle cap of my soda. With that act of creativity there were never any spills by the excited boy, out for the evening with his hero.

It must have only been twenty minutes or so before we got to the pond. We both made sure to save some of our libation for after the “evening hunt”. I still remember how you strapped the coal miner-like headlamp on both of us. We also wore awkward thigh-waders. Then you would pull down the long aluminum poles from off the top of the pickup. At the tip of each poll was attached a spring-loaded gig.

After what seemed like an eternity, we two stealthful hunters slowly made our way through the moonlit darkness, among the reeds along side the pond. Before long we would hear the distant sound of “ribbit” from the other side of the pond. After just a few seconds, another “ribbit”, this one was about 15 feet away. Once again, from the far side —“ribbit, ribbit”. Then immediately from our near neighbor –“ribbit, ribbit”.

We stood as still as a couple of telephone polls, just listening to the mating songs of our amphibious prey. Then ever so quietly we couched into our stalking posture and began to creep towards the closest frog sound. Since our only light was from the half-moon light bulb in the sky, you grandpa took the lead.

Straining to see where we were going and hardly able to contain myself, I took a small step towards the left of your guiding path. Suddenly I heard an uncomfortable sucking sound. I had stepped into the very soft and thigh deep mud and was stuck in the mud. My comrade…my guide…my hero…unaware of my plight continued forward, stalking our prey. The not so big outdoors was getting bigger by the second. Now, truly unable to contain myself, I uttered a muffled “h e l p, g r a n d p a …h e l p”.

With what seemed like and hour, but was actually 3 seconds; the strong Marlboro Man was lifting me out of the ooze. Then, without missing a beat we were once again moving towards the wild creature. Apparently my mishap did not stir fright into Mr. Bullfrog, since we immediately heard the “ribbit…ribbit” again.

Once again under the supervision of my big-game hunter guide, I was instructed to try to look close to where the frog might be. When we again heard the “ribbit…ribbit”, we turned on our headlamps and blindingly shined them into his eyes. He kept staring at the light even as we moved out into the water to get a better position. “Stare frog…stare”, I thought. The frog could still sing his song, but he was so transfixed that he could not move.

Eventually, we were within striking distance, about ten feet from our prey. You opened the spring-loaded jaws of my gig. Then I heard you say…”aim for the eyes, steady…steady…now!” At that command I pushed the long pole forward with all my might. I heard and then immediately saw a great splash. “Now bring the pole back to you” he said”. Oddly enough I was shocked over how heavy my poll was.

Keeping my light trained on the end of my pole, I caught first sight of the huge two-pound bullfrog attached to the gig end of the poll. Completely unable to control myself, I let out a joyous squeal.

It was then that I thought we both would fall into the jet-black pond water, bursting with laughter. For as soon as I let out my squeal, we heard a big “RIBBIT, RIBBIT” from the other side of the pond! Then in your best Grandpa Jack wit, you said, “She must think you are really cute”.

Finishing off the opened bottle of Orange Crush soda in the truck was celebration fit for a prince, which is exactly how you Grandpa Jack, made me feel that evening.

Timmy

 


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