Cars and Walleyes

by kfrego

Our family purchased a new car in 1952. Grandma was our babysitter while mom and dad went to pick up the car. New cars were few and far between in our world. Most farm families couldn’t purchase new cars because there were other priorities for the small amounts of cash they had. The sight of this magnificent, brand new, two tone green car, lots of chrome, and a beautiful interior has remained with me all my life.  My admiration for nice cars is as strong today as it was on that day in 1952.

The west branch of the St. Regis River bordered the farms of our family and also my grandparents. Lincoln Bridge crossed the river not far from home. It was a steel framed bridge with a wood plank deck which rattled and banged when a vehicle crossed it. The river under the bridge was wide and shallow except for a narrow channel running down one bank. Adjacent to the bridge was an old road which went to the river bottom. You could drive most of the way across the river on a rocky bar. The shallow water meandered through the rocks on it’s way downstream. When the car needed washing dad would load us in the car and head for the river bottom below Lincoln Bridge. We played in the rocks and the river while dad ,and sometimes mom, washed and rinsed the car with buckets of river water.

When the car was finished dad would open the trunk and pull out his fish pole. His favorite walleye hole was a couple hundred feet below the area where he washed the car. We would continue playing while dad went to see if any walleyes were interested in his favorite wooden plugs. Dad returning to the rocky bar with a 24 to 36 inch walleye was not uncommon. If he caught a walleye, the rest of the fish in the hole either vacated for safer waters or lost their appetites. The fishing was done for the day.

Life doesn’t offer many experiences which could compare to returning home in a shiny new washed car and a nice fresh walleye meal in the trunk…..all from the shadows of Lincoln Bridge.