Monday, October 24, 2005

Deadly Catch

We reminisce this tale and debate the accuracy of our memory. - So much so, that we challenge each other to describe our own version on our blogs. Josh, who pens the “My Mule” blog, and I have known each other since the early ‘70s. Josh’s older brother Charles Chadwick, my twin brother Joe, and older brother Big John witnessed the event. The players’ identities remain mysteries. Now, nearly thirty years later, they refute the truth.

One of the country’s largest city parks, Eagle Creek Reservoir is found on the Indianapolis northwest side Designed for flood control and nature habitat, the reservoir serves as a recreational area and city water supply, The reservoir headwaters at 79th street and runs south 4.5 miles to the dam near 34th street. The 56th street causeway bisects the vessel. The dam, completed 1968, retains 1350 surface acres. The primary forage fish is gizzard shad and it supports Walleye, Bass, Bluegill, and more. Boats are limited to a 10 hp maximum.

Josh’s dad was a phenomenon at buying boats. In fact, this pontoon was the first of many future boat purchases. He bought it and a small speedboat in the same summer. Undoubtedly, he acquired them in a brilliant barter. This was a typical 1970s aluminum pontoon boat - green, 16’ deck, aluminum railing, green Astro-Turf carpet, and 10hp motor. I have no recollection of seats, benches, storage, or canopy. With anchors front and back and a “helm”, it was no frills, pure boat. Josh’s dad called it ‘Annie’s Pride”. We called it the USS Wet Dream.

Charlie and Big John were in the same grade and shared an equal obsession for moto-cross motorcycles. Josh, Joe and I share adventures of backyard minibike racing, camping and fishing. We relied on our older brothers to drive. Big John drove a custom (homebuilt 76 Dodge) van. It sported lakester side pipes and rally wheels outside. Hideous brown shag carpet squares and wood paneling adorned the interior with a black velvet-like upholstered couch, CB radio, and huge-ass quadraphonic 8-track stereo (8 speakers, 4 brands). Aerosmith and Blue Oyster Cult. . . Awesome in quad!

I shudder at the following memory. Even thinking about it makes me feel like I’m swallowing a tennis ball. For on that day, we knew not what horror await.

On a crisp autumn afternoon, we boarded. An inventory of gear included fishing poles and a compliment of tackle like spinners, jigs, worms, hula-poppers, and other brightly colored shiny things. We stowed coolers for soda and sandwiches and one to bring home our harvest. We carried fishing licenses, seating and gasoline. I sported a life vest and pith helmet, a prophetic preparation. This day we preyed on Pomoxis annularis, the elusive White Crappie.

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies,
Farewell and adieu you ladies of Spain.
For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston,
And till nevermore shall we see you again.

Josh and Joe sat on the fore deck, their lawn chairs in front of the railing. Between them was Josh’s disproportionately large tackle box. (You see, Josh was a small kid. He, weighing less than 100 pounds when on his freshmen wrestling team, owned a 30 lb tackle box.) While dual figureheads surveyed the horizon, all eyes strained for evidence of our tasty prize, Charlie captained from the ship’s helm in one of the chairs we swiped from his mom’s card table set. John and I made passage mid-ship.

We cast lines at the 56th street bridge, our little boat bobbed happily in the gentile swell. Time passed fruitlessly and we agreed by majority to try our luck near the dam. Josh weighed the bow anchor and Charlie the stern. We struck out for the inlet at the southwest corner. I felt uneasy as the engine roared at flank speed for I knew, cruel mistresses are luck and the sea.

Entering the inlet, a throng of bank-side anglers greeted us. We found the hot spot but we were late.

WHAM!!! The bow pitched down and rolled to starboard, hell-bent for murky depths unknown. Tearing metal raped the pristine tranquility of the park, the sound Godzilla screams as he tromps through Tokyo.

A white water explosion engulfed the craft, luckily sending Joe and the huge bait box tumbling over the railing and into the boat. Tilting forward, the now exposed screw sang wildly. Charlie scrambled to silence the banshee and a wide-eyed John grasped helplessly at a hoagie. Josh! . . . poor Josh went overboard to embrace certain doom. He thrashed fighting death with every stroke.

Thinking quickly I collected Joe and all of Josh’s lures except one hula-popper, tripped the engine kill switch and put mustard on John’s sandwich. I stripped my safari style chapeau and threw it to my floundering friend, knowing its buoyancy would support his picayune body. He grabbed his life raft and paddled toward shore.

By the time the pontoon resurfaced the deck held six inches of liquid. Within minutes the game warden arrived in the water cop boat leading an aquatic cavalry of emergency equipment. His assessment determined that an improperly stowed anchor had fallen from the bow, snagging a submerged stump and nearly capsizing the boat. “Roscoe, your cool headed action saved everyone on board”, he said to the applause of the embanked anglers. Later, we went for pizza.

Kind ladies and gentleman, I’m no braggart. This is but a humble fishing story. Undeniably, had James Cameron learned of this legend he would have wasted no time on that other boat movie.

You might ask, “What happened to Josh?” . . . Josh swam to shore like Harrison Ford did in “The Fugitive”.


At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The critics say:

“Is this about you or josh?”
– Roscoe’s sister, N

“I don’t know who to believe!”
- Roscoe’s sister, J

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Capt. Teach said...

The cool parts about Josh are all true!

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A stor this unbelieveable must be true. Only the parts about this Josh?> sound reasonable.
But thanks for the memories.
Lars & Ingrid

At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo. A tale well told.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger josh williams said...

If the Foggy Mountain boys like ya, you are on your way. Dont forget your buddy Josh. You can have your pith helmet back?

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL I cant help but notice a small difference in the stories... truth must lie somewhere in between lol

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Roscoe,
We were just recalling the summer when the all the Williams' went to Hawaii for the summer and Joshie found a tiki totem necklace and wouldn't take it off and and we all started having bad luck and Josh almost got bit by a tarantula and Charlie went surfing and almost died and we got stuck in a cave and Josh wouldn't take the necklace off, we can't remember what else. I think he still wears it. Caitlin

At 9:08 AM, Blogger Roscoe said...

I remember something about your dad throwing it in the airplane toilet. I also remember seeing it and Josh’s blue arm. He jabbered about Toty Tiki for weeks. Didn’t he make us sing Happy Birthday to Toty when he turned fifteen? I thought Josh gave it to that little kid who had big glasses.

At 12:10 PM, Blogger josh williams said...

Seems you guy's memoroies is lots better than mine. I dont remember any of this?

At 12:21 PM, Blogger BigBill said...

HMMMMMMM! Josh tells it differently....I am torn trying to figure out which tale to believe....
this will take some time...
I will let you know...Bye the way just blogging around and thought I would drop a line....No pune intended I don't know if there are any stumps around...LOL


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