As our trip north came to an end, our first stop was Peck’s Market, and then on to the post office at Hankins, NY. There was a surprise waiting for me there. I had thought that my assortment of curves and fastballs had shut down anyone stepping into the batters’ box. However, a fellow named Robert Moase from Sweet Valley, PA, swings a fast bat. He whacked that batting practice fastball into right for a clean single. Hmm, I’d better pitch this fellow carefully. The curve balls regarding who did the fish plates in Bergman’s book “Just Fishing” fooled him along with the question asking for the author of “Fun with Trout.” I thought I had his number, but to my dismay I had to watch the next six pitches sail into the bleachers. He even hit my dancing knuckleball. Yikes, this batter is hitting my every pitch. Check that bat to see if it’s legal. It seems as if I am up against the Babe Ruth of fly fishing trivia. Aha, the Carl Hubble screwball that was the last question had him swinging like a rusty gate.
Even so, Mr. Moase’s hitting has earned him two poorly tied flies. Judging by the very nicely tied soft hackle fly tied on a #200R hook that he sent along, he has little need of any of the Tangler’s flies. After seeing the way he hit my pitches, I do not think Mr. Moase will be taking any bus rides down to Scranton any time soon.
Within no more than 30 minutes of our reaching the cabin, the telephone rang. It was Jim Graham, telling us the terrible news that his brother Ed had suddenly collapsed and died shortly after lunch. Losing a friend you have known for 45 years left Barb and me feeling numb. We will miss his company, but at least Ed left us with a thousand great memories. In some ways living a long life is almost a curse. So many friends who were expected to be with you forever are suddenly no longer there. Ed now fishes on the far bank of a wide river. Because of the dense fog hanging low over the water, we can no longer see him. In my mind’s eye, I can still see that graceful four-point rhythm that was Ed’s casting style. His casting was accurate enough to win the Upper Delaware Chapter’s casting contests twice. Barb and I have been blest knowing so many wonderful people who have always shown us how to become better flyfishers. Ed Graham was one of those.
Today, May 3, in Hancock, New York, we will be mingling with a number of the best bamboo fly rod builders east of the Mississippi. I will try to be quiet and listen for a change. This will be a great chance to learn a bit more of how to build a first-class bamboo rod. Perhaps Barb and I will be permitted to cast a rod or two. That could be a dangerous experience for my wallet. However, I promised Barb no more rods, unless I sell a few. I would have a difficult time giving up any of the rods we currently own. So, for now, no more bamboo fly rods. Repeat after me, no more bamboo fly rods.